Thursday, 4 June 2015

How to be a terrorist victim

Demonstration against ISIS in Hanover last year
photo: Bernd Schwabe in Hannover
It has been about forty years since I was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Services operative (ex Canadian Intelligence, the equivalent of the British MI5). I volunteered for this work after I learned of a planned terrorist attack in Calgary that had targeted three downtown office buildings for bomb attacks. People commonly tell me about their problems, and I commonly try to help them. Sometimes, my help does nothing at all: three women have approached me with stories of spousal abuse but, despite my best efforts, I could nothing for any of them. The first time, I thought I had made a difference. The woman I worked with told me she was going to move out that very day, but she didn't, and the following morning she arrived at work with a fresh bruise on her face. I was really disappointed in myself. I was a teenager. What did I know?

So when a workmate told me that he had been invited to join a terrorist cell, I knew that any help I gave could not be just for him. Sure, I think I could have easily talked him out of it. He already had serious doubts, that's why he came to me. But what would it matter if I prevented the creation of another terrorist? There would be plenty more lining up to take his place. I realized that I would have to betray his trust and, after he left, I made a phone call to someone who would know who to contact.

The would-be terrorists were all Métis, a distinctive cultural group who had been politically active for a few years hoping for better representation. Genetically, they are a mix of European and First Nations people and their culture originated in the seventeenth century. The leader of the terrorist group was not Métis at all, but I did not know that at the time, neither did my workmate.

I got a phone call after lunch. The conversation started like this:


"What time do you get off work?" the man's voice asked.

"Four-thirty" I replied.

"I'll meet you in the parking lot then, I'm driving a ...".

At no point did he give his name, nor who he worked for, nor what the phone call was really about. He didn't have to.

In the car, he flashed his badge and told me his rank and name and that the purpose of the RCMP Security Services was to guard against the Communist infiltration of Canada. He explained to me, as we started to go for a drive nowhere in particular, that as an SS agent he could never come into physical contact with anyone whom they were investigating and that such contact was only made via operatives. As the RCMP SS had been getting some bad press around that time, he addressed that problem too. He explained that were you to route a foreign agent through the Canadian justice system, several new agents would have replaced him or her before there was even a preliminary hearing. They did things their own way and it was the only practical way to operate. This was nothing new to me and I sympathized with him about the situation. Just over ten years after this, the SS was no more, being replaced by a civilian agency who would follow the letter of the law. Nowadays, they still call in the RCMP for "tricky cases" but not much is said about that...

He explained to me that the Métis terrorist group would have been started by a Communist agent, most likely KGB. Part of the Soviet organization would send agents to places where minority groups could be convinced to fight against perceived injustices through terrorist acts. He said that the real purpose was not in the creation of violence, but to spread fear and dissent, "to break the backbone of the country" as he put it. The KGB had no interest at all in any minority groups problems, such groups were nothing but cannon-fodder to them.

So I volunteered and over the next few weeks reported to various agents, meeting at a different restaurant each time to pass on my information. Once, the same agent told me that if my cover became blown, I could offer my workmate police protection in return for any information. This surprised me: "You would really do that? I asked incredulously, "Of course not!" he laughed. There was another agent who reminded me of the TV police detective Columbo, just as rumpled, he looked as if he shopped at the Salvation Army, and acted as if he was not even listening, but he never missed anything and would ask me about something I had said earlier using verbatim quotes. Although my own role was minor, and they must have recruited many more operatives, the terrorists were scattered and their explosives were captured (2,000 lbs of explosives in a shed just outside town). My workmate never joined the terrorists, I just had him ask his recruiter various things to "help him make up his mind". I was relieved not to have had to offer him the fictional police protection.

The terrorist threat never became public knowledge. It was a completely successful mission: no one had been terrorized at all. Most terrorists are dupes who start out as idealists. What they are really fighting for is not what they think it is.

Whenever you hear about a terrorist attack, you are also hearing about about a government with an inefficient intelligence network, or a government that is using foreign terrorism to propagate their own "domestic terrorism" in order to reduce their own citizen's freedoms. Reporters make almost as good dupes as idealists. Think about it. If there was no demonstration, or if the demonstration was not reported, then ISIS would have been very disappointed.

What really saved the German Muslim's demonstrations came from an unusual source:

"The campaign was welcomed by the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann. 
""It is good that Muslim associations are putting up a fight against the terrorism of fanatical Islamists," Graumann told Deutsche Welle."

Well done, Dieter Graumann, ISIS must have really hated that response. That their actions brought Muslims and Jews together was not something they wanted at all.

I am not giving you weekly reports of the ISIS destruction of archaeological sites, nor am I trying to convince you not to buy any Syrian antiquities because they might be looted from such sites. To do so is to play into terrorists hands, to become a dupe. They want you to be indignant, upset, and to obsess on what they are doing. That is why they are doing it. If you can make collecting such things "politically incorrect", then you can be sure that studies of such things and their cultures will diminish. That is exactly what ISIS wants. Certain archaeologists, by acting as if all antiquities are sacred, are playing into the iconoclastic belief structure of ISIS (perhaps this dogma was picked by ISIS as the time was just right for it). Not only that, but these same archaeologists are making people wonder if they care more about ruins than the people who live near them, so it is a double bonus for ISIS.

That's all I'm saying about the subject. I do not want to promote terrorism any more than this. Refuse to be a victim.

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