Top police chief: ‘We must start negotiating with Al Qaeda’
A police chief was slapped down by the Government yesterday for suggesting Britain could open talks with Al Qaeda.
Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said he knew of no terror campaign that had not ended with negotiation.
In other words: “We have been absolute idiots in our dealings with terrorists in the past. Why should we change our methods now?”
The article continues:
- - - - - - - - -
And he said his 30 years spent tackling the IRA had convinced him that security work and arrests were not enough to defeat terrorists.
But his suggestion was immediately dismissed by the Foreign Office.
A spokesman said: ‘It is inconceivable that Her Majesty’s Government would ever seek to reach a mutually acceptable accommodation with a terrorist organisation like Al Qaeda.’
I don’t agree. The present dhimmitude of Her Majesty’s government indicates that such behavior is more than likely at some point. Sir Hugh has just been a bit — ahem — premature in his statements.
Jonathan Powell, ex-chief of staff at Downing Street, also says the Ulster peace deal shows talking to terror groups can work.
He said negotiating with Al Qaeda might seem pointless now, but a political solution would be needed in the end.
The analogy between Al Qaeda and the IRA is a spurious one. The IRA, for all its brutal bestiality, had limited and well-defined political goals: sovereignty over Northern Ireland. It had no aspirations to expand the Irish Ummah and rule the entire world in its name. However detestable it was, its worldview was not eschatological and messianic, nor grounded in a megalomaniacal “holy book”.
The IRA was, and remains, containable for the British government. Al Qaeda is not.
Sir Hugh, a leading contender to take over from Sir Ian Blair as chief of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘If you want my professional assessment of any terrorism campaign, what fixes it is talking and engaging and judging when the conditions are right for that to take place.’
Asked if he was saying we should talk to Al Qaeda, Sir Hugh said: ‘I don’t think that’s unthinkable, the question will be one of timing.’
He also called for the number of police forces to be slashed from 43 to nine to better fight terrorism.
This last point is an interesting one. Is he calling for the consolidation of existing police forces, to make them more like regional Gestapos than the community-based “bobbies on bicycles” of the past?
If so, it should make it easier to crack down on “racist” speech as well.