Belgium has become the latest victim of a terrorist attack. Daesh/Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the bombings in Brussels, and the authorities there have named two of the suicide bombers as brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.
The last three terrorist outrages in Europe have all been carried out by brothers. Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were part of the group who carried out the Paris attacks on 13th November 2015. Continue reading “Brothers Grim”
Apple have refused an FBI request to help crack the iPhone of a terrorist.
Ray McClure, the uncle of murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby has said that Apple is protecting terrorists, and that ‘life comes before privacy’.
I think Drummer Rigby’s uncle is mistaken, both in his assumptions about what Apple is technically capable of, and the moral trade-off between life and privacy.
We need to understand that Apple are not being asked to decrypt just the iPhone of one particular terrorist. They are not like a landlord with a spare key that will open a particular door. If they were, then there would be legitimacy in Mr McClure’s complaints. A judge could examine the particular case at hand, and then sign a warrant that permitted entry to the property or decryption of a device. Targeted surveillance and privacy violations are a legitimate law enforcement tool.
But that is not the request. Instead, the FBI have asked Apple to hack their entire operating system in such a way that would enable them to by-pass encryption on any iPhone. Including mine. Continue reading “I Take Full Responsibility For Apple Inc Protecting The Privacy of a Dead Terrorist”
Following the awful knife attack at Leytonstone on Sunday, the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv has been trending on social media. It has been so widely shared that it was discussed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and even the Prime Minister repeated it during his speech.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
To recap, the phrase was shouted by a passer-by at Muhyadin Mire, who attacked a fellow passenger on the London Underground system, allegedly shouting “this is for Syria”. Mire has been charged with attempted murder. Continue reading “#YouAintNoMuslimBruv: How We Became Savvy Propaganda Merchants For Good”
I am fascinated with the Waterlogue app, which converts any image into a watercolour. Most apps and PhotoShop filters that purport to recreate a particular artistic style seem to do a poor job of it – mangling the image but without reproducing the essence of the art form.
Such ‘artistic’ filters are usually used to convey a sense of beauty. The examples from the Waterlogue community all have an extremely traditional subject matter: landscapes, portraits and still life, framed rather conventionally.
I put six of recent history’s most famous yet shocking images through the tool. The results are below. They are instantly recognisable, and although the paint removes detail from the images, I find them just as sad as the photographic versions.
Continue reading “Shocking photographs reproduced in watercolour”
Yesterday, the Prime Minister re-announced that his Government had targeted British citizens with missiles fired from RAF drones. Two men are dead. The Sun and others have cheered the news. Others have expressed grave concern. Continue reading “Why we shouldn’t execute Islamic State militants with air-strikes”
An extremely odd and disconcerting story was reported in the Guardian this week, regarding a National Youth Theatre play that has abruptly cancelled, just two weeks before its opening night. There are fears that ‘Homegrown’ was pulled due to the sensitive subject matter: young people drawn to ISIS.
I spoke to the Huffington Post about the issues raised for English PEN: Continue reading “Quoted in the Huffington Post discussing ‘Homegrown’”
Another article on Huffington Post, published yesterday. I’ll write something on the launch event too at some point soon.
Today we mark the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attacks on the London transport system, which killed 52 people. It’s also exactly six months since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, in which 12 people were murdered.
The public response to both these outrages was an overt show of defiance to the terrorists. In the days after the London bombings people shared ‘We Are Not Afraid’ images and continued to ride the tube. Immediately after the Paris attacks, ‘Je Suis Charlie‘ became a message of solidarity and a statement that we will not be scared into silence.
The Paris killings also inspired artists to pick up their pens, pencils and paint brushes. Some of the most eloquent responses to the tragedy were not words, but pictures. A new book, Draw The Line Here, which brings together over a hundred such cartoons, will be launched today in London. Continue reading “‘Draw the Line Here’ Mocks the Men in Masks”
Last week I recorded a quick Periscope video blog making some predictions about terrorism and technology.
I think that very soon there will be some kind of outrage – either a terrorist attack or a shooting spree – where eye-witnesses stop to film the events as they unfold. They may even put themselves in danger to broadcast live via Periscope or similar live-streaming apps.
Discussing this with some friends of mine, I was told that was a ridiculous suggestion, and that any eye-witnesses would simply run for cover rather than film a murderer on the loose. But I have a hunch we will soon see examples where the urge to film and share trumps the urge to fight or flight.
I don’t know what the consequences of this will be. I just think it will happen. What do you think?
Ever since the ISIS murderer and propagandist ‘Jihadi John’ was revealed to be a British engineering graduate called Mohammed Emwazi, our news media has been saturated with reports about his school days, his personality, and the possible causes of his radicalisation: he ran into a goalpost as a kid; he went to school with Tulisa…
The coverage grates. Its full of cod-psychological comments from former pupils at his school, noting the fact that he was a ‘loner’. Reading these quotes, I’m reminded of one of the insights from Serial, the podcast phenomenon about the murder of a Baltimore schoolgirl Hae Min Lee in 1999. That series makes the point that people are susceptible to a confirmation bias in their memories. When told that someone is a murderer, people naturally recall those incidents where the person acted weird or like a ‘loner’. But alternatively, those who are convinced that the convicted person is innocent remember him as friendly and outgoing. Continue reading “Building the Mythology of Jihadi John”
Three schoolgirls from East London have left the UK to join ISIS, and everyone has an opinion. Some people say they are no better than Jihadi John, and that joining the fighters for Islamic state is tantamount to participating in the beheading of aid workers. they should be considered enemy combatants and we should not care one joy for their safety.
Other people say that these girls are victims: of brainwashing, of a culture that doesn’t value them, or of a society that offers the youth no aspirations. They’re essentially kidnap victims and we should mobilise to secure their safe return.
Here’s an idea: perhaps they’re both? Fully culpable genocide-enablers; and victims.
Continue reading “These jihadi brides are fully culpable victims”