Complicit – Channel 4’s war on terror

Complicit - Channel 4's war on terror

Channel 4’s obsession with ‘home made terrorists’ has been a feature of its drama and documentary schedules ever since the 7/7 bombings. In part this is a genuine refusal of those in positions of power to acknowledge that anyone could be angry enough to regard the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan as illegal and hypocritical acts of imperialism masquerading as ‘spreading democracy.’

When Israel is allowed to slaughter thousands of Palestinian civilians with the tacit approval of the west, whilst China is allowed to suppress their population because there’s billion dollar contracts at stake, whilst socialists, ecologists, anti-globalisation campaigners, pacifists and muslims are regarded as ‘enemies within’ by the British political/capitalist establishment, why would anyone dare to question the ‘war on terror?’

In part, there’s also a genuine ‘black propaganda’ element to isolate and marginalise those ‘bad muslims’ who do not want to ‘join in with the British way of life.’ Channel 4 has been at the forefront of this campaign of vilification and last night’s in many respects, excellent drama ‘Complicit’ underlined not only the media’s but the political spin master’s message.

In the world of our political and media overlords, these ‘extremists’ simply woke up one morning and decided to plant bombs on trains and busses, for a grin. These ‘homegrown terrorists’ are dupes, they have been fooled into their view of the world by false prophets, probably with hooks for hands, eyepatches and parrots screeching ‘death to Israel’ instead of ‘pieces of eight. ’

These evil jihadists are intent on destroying civilisation ‘as we know it’ (y’know KFC n’ shit) and replacing it with a global caliphate based on sharia law. Their motivation is simple; they want the promised paradise of martyrdom and those lovely ghostly virgins. Silly boys!

Now, this isn’t a defence of such acts in any way. Of course targeting civilians on their way to work, students, tourists and shoppers was a wicked act. Such random acts do nothing to further a cause and cause zero impact to those who use selective warfare to enrich themselves and their corporate pals. Not only have the ‘homegrown’ plots been counter-productive but often they’ve been botched and farcical; the shoe bomber, the underpants bomber, the Glasgow car bomb. These people aren’t the IRA, never mind Al Queda, they’re just a disparate bunch of angry young men who are fuelled by a sense of injustice.

Chris Morris’s ‘Four Lions’ was perhaps the best critique of the confusing and confused mind sets of some jihadists, people who are committed for a variety of reasons yet lack the essential guile and subterfuge required to become genuine guerrilla fighters. The suicide bomber, unlike previous ‘volunteers’ has the ultimate weapon however, cos he or she aint coming back to plant another bomb or shoot another soldier. That’s how committed they are. Faced with such fanaticism, it is any wonder the intelligence services and the military fear suicide attacks so much and want to present these men and their backers as one dimensional monsters.

And so to ‘Complicit.’ As I’ve said, in many ways, this was an excellent drama, well acted, well plotted and well directed. It covered some telling issues in an understated if a tad unbelievable way. David Oyelewo plays Edward, a black British intelligence officer with a burning love for ‘his country.’ Edward thinks he’s discovered a plot by a radical islamist called Waleed Ahmed to bring ricin into the country.

However, he finds it hard to persuade his white bosses that his ‘hunch’ deserves ‘resourcing.’ Here there’s an excellent exchange with his female superior, the icy automaton, Judith who questions why Edward feels he’s been overlooked for promotion without ever mentioning the fact of his skin colour. She knows why he thinks it and he knows she knows but he won’t say it and she therefore dismisses it. There’s a great shot when Edward and two black cleaners are the only people in the office; he’s THAT dedicated y’see, working all hours to catch this motherfucker. He’s the only black face in the pub but that don’t get Eddy down cos HE REALLY LOVES HIS COUNTRY. Note to terrorists; get inside MI5 by signing on as a cleaner!

The slow pace of this drama unfolded in a way that made sure you were watching a BIG IMPORTANT PRODUCTION with BIG IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY. Yet, for all its style and Cairo location shots, the whole thing felt about as real as an episode of Spooks. Edward meets the ‘man from the ministry’ a typical toff type who has arrested Waleed and two farmers he was buying the raw materials (castor bean waste of all things ) to produce the stuff. The farmers and the suspect have obviously been tortured and the Egyptian police and military blame each other and both are seen as vicious and incompetent. This causes the man from the ministry problems as y’know torture’s kinda frowned upon by the do-gooders.

The (pre-Islamic Brotherhood) Egyptian authorities found no ricin at the farm and Waleed sticks to his story about these farmers being his friends and knowing nothing about ricin. He’s just a muslim on his way back from a wedding in the Yemen, so Edward goes the farm himself, on his own (cos he’s a maverick loner see?) and after a quick shufty finds three canisters of ricin in a ditch. Doh!!

But, Edward’s faced with a dilemma of his own because Toff Boy is playing by the book, the fool! Even knows Waleed is lying through his teeth and so interviews Evil Muslim Man on his own. There follows an almost comical dialogue between the two as they both explain their own take on ‘Britishness’ and ‘freedom’ until, right on cue, Waleed asks Edwards why the establishment have let a nigger into MI5. Seemingly Edward, despite previous scenes, has never actually thought about this and explodes yelling ‘BECAUSE I LOVE MY COUNTRY.’ Er, so that’s done and dusted then.

Eddie gives Waleed a bit of rough treatment then – wouldn’t ya know it – this cool and collected assassin literally spills the beans and says the ricin’s already on its way, ready to go.

Oh no, now this is a major ballache. Eddie knows that he can get a torturing colonel he’s unearthed to get Waleed to confess where he’s sent his deadly package but also knows this would break the do-gooder protocols forbidding the torture of suspects. Blimey!! He can’t to sleep for worrying. He blimps at the attractive Egyptian girl from his bedroom window again for a bit of light relief.

He doesn’t want to torture Waleed but then he doesn’t want to be responsible for a ricin attack on his beloved homeland. Eventually, Edward makes the call to the Col, Waleed gets a Cairo pedicure and toff boy tut tutts at his treatment. Ah, but the canisters have been tested and one does contain ricin, so Waleed was lying all along, just as Eddie knew.

Back in London, rather than get a hero’s welcome, however, Edward’s ordered to meet Dame Judith Sourtits (who reads The Guardian don’t ya know cos we’re all in this together yah?) . The address Waleed gave up under torture was false – maybe someone could’ve checked that beforehand eh? – so the ricin’s still out there somewhere ‘ready to go’ maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe never. That’s what ‘terrorism really is’ as Waleed kindly points out.

On top of all that, some do-gooder Egyptian blogger has photographed the Terror Colonel with Edward together, exposing the spooks to yet more lefty accusations of torturing innocent terrorists. Can’t have that old boy, off you go, flanked by two security guards. Clear your desk and good luck finding another job. Maybe you could become a cleaner or something?

See what thanks these guys get for protecting us from evil doers? Makes you sick dunnit? Cue, Waleed Ahmed with solicitor playing the good citizen tortured by the evil intelligence services act and cut to innocent London day trippers pedalling around a lake, visiting a pop concert, or watching their kids enjoy a ride on the carousel. Hey, that’s Eddys daughter and there’s Eddy in a tracky not a nice suit and he looks haunted because the ricin’s ready to go, maybe today, maybe next month, maybe next year, maybe never. That’s THE REAL TERROR see?

There you have it (spoiler alert far too late eh?). The creed according to Channel 4 and the western governments to justify their illegal wars and the suppression of ‘free speech.’ Free speech has limits you see. You can’t expect to see the Afghan war from the Taliban’s side because that might throw up some awkward questions. You can’t listen to those who supported Gaddafi or Saddam or Hamas or Assad because you may find yourself agreeing with them.

These people must be rendered as inhuman, as other, as tyrants and fanatics, as threats to global peace and especially business just as those Ruskies were, just as those Chinese were before they ended up making everything. North Korea’s next on the list except they’ve er, got nukes and a real army so let’s go easy eh?

People who offer a different way of life, a different notion of society, community or belief rather than invented nation states that protect the wealthy and divide the poor, are the enemy whatever era we live in. They are the enemy because money makes money and nothing can interfere with that one basic principle; greed and self-preservation is what all of it’s about. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today’s ‘islamists’ are yesterday’s commies and anarchists, who were last century’s Jacobins and witches who were last millenia’s infidels and heretics. I’ve got no doubt that there are some utter psychopaths, sadists, women haters, despots, murderers, rapists, child killers and monsters among the jihadists, just as there are in any society, yes, even within the BBC and the Houses of Parliament, even within the Vatican and The Pentagon.

Do we gain any more understanding of the issues that produced 911 or 7/7 by refusing to accept that any opinion that doesn’t conform to a pre-ordained narrative is invalid? Do we find out anything about what motivated young British born men to blow themselves and others up by dismissing them as ‘evil.’ This kind of opinion can get you a jail sentence these days because there are limits to free speech in any democracy. It’s US v THEM.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.



Chlorophyll on the tracks…

20.11.12. I went to Metal art studios this afternoon, at Liverpool Edgehill train station, for Ailie Rutherford: The Psychic Life of Plants. An admittedly pseudo scientific experiment to communicate and listen to potted plants via headsets and wire cables.  Simply plug into the soil and stem, relax, let your mind float downstream with the aid of some amplified white noise, and let the plants transmit. So what did our sun-sucking chums want to chat about? My ciggy clouded untrained third eye was getting pylons, birds eyes and tall woods at night, and my potted little hardy did drop a leaf onto my sketch paper, affectionately I like to think. The girl next to me recorded what looked like an elephant when she sketched it.  A manual typewriter was used to type comments onto the sketch papers when we’d been disconnected.  Bit of a sort of Rorshach test for plant botherers like myself all in all but curiously refreshing on my CNS. I was hoping for a bit more to the event, especially maybe a presentation about Cleve Backster’s experiments and links to shamanic Golden Bough stuff.  We had a good chat on the way out though, and the Metal people are good art hosts. The research is there that suggests plants can “tell the future”.  My personal view is that plants are highly attuned to life cycles and adapting to survive, and don’t have cluttered or distracting mental lives, so it is likely they have refined pre-cognitive ability.   The next day I did want to find out how my plant was, I’m polite like that, wondered if it had a memory of me and our short time together?  I’ve included a short film of the so-called Backster Effect for you to look at.  Think only good thoughts folks, you never know who’s listening in.

Review by Andrew Millar


They’re In There Somewhere : Andrew Millar


October 6, 2012


The Rocksavage power plant can be seen from the M56.  I am on the way to Runcorn Bridge, destination Warrington.  So many heavy industrial sites and districts, rural shapes and reflections can only really be seen whilst moving past or through them on a train or from the road.  Rocksavage doesn’t seem to be exerting much energy of its own.  Some vapours indicate that it is switched on but there is a mechanical stillness; an outward absence of human interaction and presence.  A bar of uncultured (uncultivated?) low growing contour free wildland between the motorway and the power plant works serves well, even if unintended for the purpose, as a natural security screen from curious pedestrian rambles. A dozen or so seagulls seem to have been alerted to something. No trees or any raised vantage points of significance.  I like this landscape. I want to know what it sounds like. Glimpse of the Weaver and river banks, a rowing club pavilion. Maybe one day, we’ll stop the car and get out.


The Weston Point Expressway is the carriageway for traffic between Runcorn and the M56.  The Expressway is flanked by an informal colonnade of trees. It is a steady business like road with no traffic lights.  The contours and functionally mangled structure of Rocksavage works can be glimpsed through gaps. There is a football pitch prominently situated adjacent to the towers and pipes.  It looks decent and properly marked out. Road traffic signs along here are for destinations with names like Catalyst that the colour stratification coding, the brown in this instance, distinguishes as a place of interest.


We approach the Runcorn Bridge and the town.  A different ownership to this section of road, the view, the language, the architecture.  The Expressway route manoeuvres obtusely as we near the Ship Canal; it is disorientating, to get a glimpse of the tall undulating metal bridge not very far away but we are not driving towards it.  A few buildings can be seen adjacent to the road; they are stone and brick, nineteenth century built warehouses.  They may have had the same business and employment ethos as the Rocksavage chemical works. They don’t seem accessible from the Expressway.  Road traffic signs are less evocative, less emblematic and point to places and the distance in miles.  As we rise from the sliproad and the bridge is straight ahead it is time to engage with other drivers.  I find most doorways and entrances to interesting buildings are blotched by something that you really don’t want in the viewfinder.  A billboard at the gateway to the bridge (what do engineers and geographers call this?) has a photograph of a young girl wearing a luminescent tabard and a safety lid.  “Please drive carefully my Daddy works here” she is quoted. I keep an eye out for the Daddy just in case he is about like a Troll.  I don’t know if pedestrians are able to cross here.  The people I see are in cars and vans.  Some domestic rooftops down there.  We cross the river.


Lot of traffic signs.  Chevrons.  Roundabouts and increased lane size.  Traffic lights and phasing.  Not many non-corporate advertising signs.  No handmade, homemade or handwritten signs or notices.  Diminished pavement.  No litter.  No overgrown garden, itinerant Buddleia or quirky front yard domesticity.  Everyone is in a car or walking across a retail carpark. The carparks are edged by evergreen and hardy shrubs, that modestly thrive in gravel and bark mulch. This is the Zen landscape.  Greys and muted blends.

where do you live?

where do you live?


Langley Mere is a commercial site. The grounds are near woodland.  The sign at the entrance to a drive is illuminated and the soft elegant font could be used by a hotel.  Widnes Waterfront is a retail park.  The Trigger Pond 2 for 1 pub.    A highway sign for Warrington: “home of the Warrington Wolves”.  A brown heritage signpost: “World of glass”.  Prominent  directions to a medical centre, a leisure centre. A bus to M/S.  Boulevards.  What is a park?  Winwick Quay.  The Heath BusinessPark.  Falconers Green.


We arrive at Falconers Green, a suburban housing estate with garages and short cul de sacs and a tidy green with some well established old trees. The crescent roads and ways offset monotonous lines.  Children are playing on bikes and scooters in front of the house.  My twin nieces and nephew want to go to Blackberry Hill. They take the BMX looking bikes and I borrow a camera and we set off up the road. Their only instruction is that they wait for me before crossing the road.  I don’t know if Blackberry Hill is the name the children and mums have decided to call it as there is no signpost.  It is not a hill but is set apart from the tarmac and houses. There are blackberries though and we pick some. It’s a small woodland area with muddy paths.  There are brambles, birch and a pond.  The pond has a film of green algae and looks like a good undisturbed habitat for frogs and insects.   We walk out of  the woods and take some photos on the steel pedestrian bridge that crosses a busy carriageway.  We don’t cross to the other side.  The children point to an unseen place called Toptown they say is near, I don’t know if this is a real name place.  I stamp on the bridge and enjoy the ringing noise.  Trees to climb on the journey home.  A few cars and people pass us.  When we get back to the house I sit in the car on the drive as I like to write undisturbed whilst things are fresh in my memory.  The children rap on the window and tell me to hurry up.  They know a little about how the pedals and indicator stalks work.  I go and wash my hands.   The bathroom is a friendly maelstrom of toy dolls in various stages of dismemberment and watery entropy.


Travelling back through Warrington, Widnes, Runcorn.  I don’t know where all the drivers and passengers live. There is a lot of activity on the roads, and there is a lot of roadway.  Sometimes you can estimate, though not assume where people might live, when you see them as pedestrians.  Clothes, appearance, voice.  Back on the M56 and pass under non-euphemistic signs for the oil terminals.  On the way through what I think was part of Widnes I saw a banner on a low warehouse behind an industrial fence: Namasto Interiors. It reminded me of the Sanskrit and Yogic word “namaste”, exchanged as a mindful and graceful salutation between people.

These Books Are Made for Walking

Brilliant post from Gerry C  on his superb site. Explores the fascination with walking and paths through literature. Great photographs here too.

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De Quincey in Everton

Famed for Confessions of an English Opium Eater, De Quincey was a great writer and thinker, but he was also a chronic walker (for instance after escaping from Manchester Grammar School, he walked through Wales en route to London). He was an associate of the Lake poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge etc) and lived in the Lake District but he also spent time in a cottage in Everton.

This wonderful site charts aspects of the Everton days. ou’ll find links and articles here too to a wide range of the blogger’s interests, especially Soul. This is the blogger’s profile:

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Introducing Psychogeography

A short introduction by Emma Smith to the word that is bandied about and which has spawned a minor publishing niche. It would be illuminating to map the zones in which the word is bandied about.

The article is on the Critical-Regionalism website.

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Zona Issue 1

The print version of the first edition of ZONA will be out very shortly. Meanwhile, you can read the magazine by clicking on the MAGAZINE button at the top of the page. We’ll be adding related content to this issue on the site.

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