Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, this week declared that “Britain is facing its most severe ever terrorist threat and fresh attacks in the country are inevitable”.
Aside from ramping the general fear and angst levels up considerably and contributing to the propaganda arsenal of right-wing and Islamophobic groups, his speech to an audience of “security journalists” – those members of the mainstream media who cut and paste press releases to justify and trumpet the US-UK invasion of Iraq and other disastrous foreign forays – was a clear attempt to appeal for more money and resources and thereby expand the military industrial complex.
Parker at once turned up the fear factor and blew the trumpet of MI5, in an apparent attempt to justify the expansion of the service from 4,000 to 5,000 staff members. But the Muslim diaspora is all too familiar with the military and security industry exploiting fear in this way in order to seek a larger share of national budgets.
In Pakistan, the civilian sector is desperately trying to take back power from the military and intelligence agencies, who have become a huge burden on the national economy, controlling the majority of resources through convoluted and corrupt military businesses. In Algeria, military expenditure has steadily increased its share of national spending since the advent of the War on Terror, and in Egypt, the military has expanded to such an extent that it has developed a military business empire.
In order to justify this hunger for expansion of the security state, Parker cast MI5 as heroes, operating bravely under the threat of an amorphous enemy who could be anywhere and strike at anytime, made up of “extremists of all ages, gender and backgrounds, united only by the toxic ideology of violent victory that drives them”.
While the threat of political violence is real, and the need to keep citizens safe is essential, this broad and sweeping statement vastly overplays the threat. In doing so, Parker shirks his responsibility to be of reassurance to the populace, rather bowing to the narrative of the profit-hungry, fearmongering elite.
Furthermore, statements such as this are certain to alarm all those who have been declared “extremists” by the state through flagrant data-mining at airports under Schedule 7, and the underhanded surveillance of its shady right-wing think tanks on campuses and elsewhere.
The expansion of the security state, in the manner in which Parker seems to drive at – through the bolstering of its secret intelligence services and its associated counter-terrorism programmes that hammer away at the rights of all, is a danger to society.
Ignoring abuses against Muslims at home and abroad
Politically violent incidents in the UK, Parker said, have claimed 36 lives. However, failing to acknowledge that the deaths of over 5000 civilians in US-led airstrikes in Syria is a major contributing factor in violence at home means MI5 is skewed towards perpetuating the problem.
The carnage in Iraq is even more horrific. According to the Nobel-winning doctors organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility, the UK/US invasion in Iraq killed one million Iraqis in ten years since it began in 2003. This figure does not include deaths among the three million refugees of the invasion. It was out of this violence, Obama admitted, that ISIS was born.
In Afghanistan, US/UK supported interventions killed 220,000 since 2005 while 80,000 have been killed in Pakistan. This brings the estimated total of people killed in these three countries to around 1.3 million in ten years of the ‘War on Terror’.
And yet of this devastation, Parker makes absolutely no reference or mention.
He also makes no mention of the increase in hate crimes and attacks against Muslims on the streets of Britain (in June, reported hate crimes peaked at 6,000), crimes that are often prompted by the same scaremongering tactics adopted by Parker in an effort to mobilise support for a shadowy secret agency that has committed multiple abuses in the name of the War on Terror and continues to cover up other abuse in order to “protect the realm”.
Trumping up fear in an effort to rake in more cash while failing to acknowledge the very real grievances of Muslims, betrays the dogmatic agenda at the heart of MI5: to use Muslims as tools through which to enact ever more oppressive policies, while increasing profit share.
Parker presents the problem as all ideology, despite former MI5 chief’s warning previous prime ministers of the risk to national security if the UK continues to wage wars abroad. Because it is at war with an “ideology”, MI5 is in ever more need of more money and more resources in order to further their failing approach and lend weight behind the government’s failed policies, such as PREVENT.
But ignoring the real causes of political violence while continually beefing up the security apparatus, is quite simply a financial black hole that has no end in sight. It is also dangerous.
Only by addressing an aggressive foreign and domestic policy can there be solutions. Hyping fear and throwing money and manpower at an agency that ignores this basic truth, is to the detriment of all, not least of all those whose concern is with peace.
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