The Black Glove

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s obvious when you look at the picture that each of the two men is wearing a black glove on the left hand.

Yes, it looks odd, but airports are full of oddity. The first time I went to Brussels I was convinced there were two airports, one called Zaventem and another Bruxelles National. That was over twenty-five years ago, and already in those days the Belgian capital was a full of North African immigrants.

The hotel receptionist, himself an Arab, explained that in fact both airports were one—it was my introduction to the uneasy cohabitation of the Flemish and Walloon peoples, an issue which fractures Belgium.

It is manifested by separate governments, police forces, and streets with names in both French and Dutch—the ‘European’ street in Brussels, Rue de la Loi, is also named Wetstraat.

And I can assure you plenty of Walloons will be pissed that the site of the March 22nd attacks is not getting called Bruxelles National on CNN.

The locals have solved the airport problem in true Belgian style—by ignoring both names and calling the place Brussels Airport. And that’s the essence of Belgium, it’s a nation of compromise, so right now no one there can understand what the hell’s going on.

As in most of Europe, the population is ageing—Belgium has a replacement rate of 1.8, below the magic number for developed nations, 2.1. A similar rate exists in the UK, and for the same reason—immigration.

The Arab workers settled in places like Maalbeck and produced large families, in contrast to the native Belgians, who were down to a kid or two. Long gone the days when the king became godfather to the seventh consecutive son, and the queen to the seventh daughter—although the rule still exists.

And it is from these disaffected youngsters, mostly second-generation nationals born in the eighties and nineties, that men of the black glove emerge. Their stories are depressingly similar.

They haven’t succeeded in life, and their late teenage is a millstone of petty crime: drugs, burglary, robbery, jail.

Jail unites them into a family, glued by radical Islam. Their new-found faith lays the blame for all their woes squarely on Western society.

They return to society imbued with an alternative image of themselves. They’ve become young warriors of Allah, defenders of the faith, determined to destroy the crusaders.

To do that effectively, faith is necessary but not sufficient. These men need money, they need logistical support, they need an information network. As in any underground organization, and we have many examples of those in the West. There’s the French Resistance, in World War II, the Irgun and Stern gangs in Palestine, the Red Army Faction, the IRA, and the Basque ETA.

Some of these have become the rule of law. General de Gaulle became president of France, the Haganah morphed into the Israeli Defense Force, and members of the IRA are part of the Northern Irish Executive.

But others have been destroyed.

20-20 hindsight. Two men, each wearing a black glove potentially housing a detonator. Both dressed in ISIS black, face exposed, intending to die. Next to them a man hiding his face and dressed in white.

20-20 hindsight. Two men, each wearing a black glove potentially housing a detonator. Both dressed in ISIS black, face exposed, intending to die. Next to them a man hiding his face and dressed in light colors, planning to live.

Throughout their history, all these organizations share the following: ideals, armament, safe houses, communication and logistics, visionaries, victims, militants, traitors, backers and fund-raisers.

I’ve probably forgotten something, but the point is there are at least ten common items. And the militants in the picture are only the ideals bit. So maybe the best way to fight terrorism is not to kill terrorists—because for every one you kill, two more emerge.

Killing the visionaries won’t solve it either—but a visionary only becomes a messiah when he can work miracles, otherwise he’s just a nutcase ranting on a street corner.

And without money, there ain’t no miracle.

I’m sure Western intelligence agencies are working along these lines, looking for the safe houses, the bank accounts, the weapons caches, the backroom bomb labs, the peroxide and acetone purchases.

Because only by destroying the picks and shovels can we deny them the gold.

The Belgians might start by showing a little internal unity. And revoking the law that forbids raids between 9 pm and 5 am, unless there’s a crime in progress, or a fire.

As you tuck into your Easter egg, spare a thought for the chocolate capital of the world.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: