From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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A fast-moving investigation

1 August 2005

It’s been fascinating to watch , from afar, the development of the London bombings investigation

There are really two investigations: the official police probe and, in a parallel universe, the media investigation – which is the important one. Check the actual news releases on the London Metropolitan Police website, and you’ll find precious little: On 7 July three bombs exploded on London trains and one on a bus; something to do with four young Islamic chaps, apparently; many dead; the suspects seem to have died in the explosions; public asked to help. Two weeks later three bombs fail to explode on trains and one fails to explode on a bus; four coloured chaps run away; get caught on CCTV; public asked to help. That’s Scotland Yard for you: all British reserve; guarded and imprecise; cards played close to the chest.

The media probe is a different thing though. It’s driven by leaks from sources that claim to have the inside running on the police investigation. The sources always speak “on condition of anonymity”, they “suspect that”, or are “probing whether”this or that suspect had “links with” somebody or something.

Scenarios appear and collapse with alarming frequency. Tidbits of information about the lives of the presumed bombers are elevated to critical significance. Total gibbering irrationality is no obstacle to publication and the collapse of the theory is never attended by explanation or apology. Along the way, the sleazy scribblers have built up a sprawling, politically-charged, semi-official conspiracy theory.

First up, the 7/7 explosives were confidently reported to be military-grade professional stuff. That lasted a couple of days, until the police raided a house in Leeds and found, according to anonymous sources, a bathtub full of the home-brew explosive TATP (or “Mother of Satan”as the tabloids claim the al-Qaeda folks call it). Instantly TATP became the media position.

The house had been leased by an Egyptian biochemist named Magdy el-Nashar, but he’d “fled” to Egypt. Suddenly the media had a master bomb-maker and the fugitive was duly “seized” by the Egyptian police at his parent’s home. But after a few hours the Egyptian Cabinet – no less – pronounced el-Nashar to be an innocent man who’d come home for a holiday. We have to trust the ’Gypos: we “render” terrorism suspects to them to be tortured, so I guess they must know a terrorist when they see one. As the days passed the bathtub full of explosives quietly morphed into traces of the common household products from which TATP is made. The scribblers had committed themselves to the amateur bomb scenario but their only suspect hadn’t panned out. No problem. The hot lead went cold, but the scribblers scribbled on.

Then there was the yarn about the car-load of bombs left at Luton Station. There were reportedly “nine” bombs (neatly coinciding with the nine “controlled explosions” said to have been used on the car), or maybe it was “four” … until, at last report, it was two “pill-box”-sized thingies. I guess there wasn’t much left of them to show us after the controlled explosions. The four bombers were also said to have been caught on CCTV praying at the car. A juicy detail … but we’ve never seen that either. Nor have we been shown the CCTV of the supposed bombers with the man they reportedly spoke to at Kings Cross station. Funny that.

Weirdest of all perhaps, was The Great Perfume Purchase lead. A downmarket tabloid “revealed” that, a few days before he supposedly blew himself up, Lindsay Germain had purchased £900 worth of designer perfumes from three shops – requesting particular brands. It was breathlessly hypothesised that this was because perfume is 99 per cent alcohol – which would add an incendiary effect to the bombs. But why the bombers needed to purchase Boss and Yves St Laurent, when they could have got a bigger bang with cheap rubbing alcohol was never explained. And why didn’t the master bomb-maker get serious and run up some napalm out of petrol and egg white? To this possum, the designer perfume purchase looks more like a small-time drug dealer’s money-laundering technique.

Shortly before the failed bombings of 21/7, the theory that the four bombers were patsies gained traction. The “police sources say” version of the dupes scenario held that the 7/7 bombers had intended to plant the bombs and withdraw safely, but were tricked by the master bomber: when they pressed the button to start the timer they perished with their victims. It fitted the facts a bit better than the suicide bombers theory but not as well as the notion that they were unsuspecting couriers, totally innocent of intent to kill.

But just as the innocent-dupes scanario began to gain ground, the investigation of 7/7 was overshadowed by the “failed” 21/7 bombings. Curiously, all four bombs failed to go off and all four perps managed to disappear, in spite of the by-then heightened security on public transport. How likely is that?

Three weeks into what’s billed as a “fast moving investigation”, it looks to me like the cops really haven’t a clue who did it. They might do better if they broke out of their conceptual lock about almost undetectable al-Qaeda cells composed of unremarkable, law-abiding, fun-loving, young muslims with no previous form and began to ask the old and essential question: “who benefits”. But if they did that, they’d have to take a long, hard look at some of their colleagues in MI5, the CIA and Mossad. Far safer to let the fuzzy media version prevail, salute the flag and sing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

I wrote the above for the Sydney City Hub (a monthly) a few days before 1 August. Since then the number of bombs supposedly left in the car at Luton has spiralled to "16" and the characteristically unreliable US ABC has even published what purports to be X-ray photos of one of them.

Nick Possum


Who duped the London bombers?
18 July 2005

Citing police and MI5 sources, The, a mainstream British internet publication, has now admitted the probability that the four London bombers were in some way duped by a master bomber . This theory has been widely reported internationally (for example by the Sydney Morning Herald, 18 July 2005).
In the Mirror’s scenario the master bomber cynically tricked his team into thinking that when they pressed the button, they were setting off a timing device that would give them sufficient time to leave the target area. Instead, they pressed the buttons, detonated the bombs and killed themselves as well as their victims. ...
There are considerable problems with the version of the dupes scenario publicized by the Mirror. READ THE FULL ARTICLE >>>

By any spin necessary
Why imperialist spokesmen are distancing the London bombings from the Iraq war
10 July 2005
One of the surprises of the London bombings has been the line taken by prominent imperialist spokesmen. Tony Blair, Charles Clarke, John Reid, Condoleezza Rice and John Howard have all been careful to say, or imply, that the bombings were not specifically related to their nations’ invasion and occupation of Iraq.
At first glance, this is a bizarre position, but on further reflection the reason for it is obvious.