Abu Hamza, the radical Islamic preacher notorious for his hate-filled sermons, was in reality working secretly with British intelligence "to keep the streets of London safe" by "cooling hotheads", his lawyer claimed in a US court. Holding up what he said were reports from Scotland Yard, Joshua Dratel described the cleric as an "intermediary" who cooperated with MI5 and the police to try to end foreign hostage-takings and defuse tensions with the Muslim community in Britain. The extraordinary admission will fuel conspiracy theories that he was allowed to preach hatred without arrest for so long in the UK because he was working with the security authorities."Will fuel conspiracy theories" is a bizarre statement. This admission has actually verified those conspiracy theories, which means they are no longer theories. (Semantic note: We're not talking about the strict scientific meaning of theory here. Strictly speaking we're talking about hypotheses or narratives, but I'll continue to use theory because it's familiar in this context.) Let's peel the onion. Start with the most basic question. Is al-Qaeda a real radical movement, or is it a CIA-designed sting? We know for a fact that al-Qaeda began as a CIA-designed operation to keep Russia busy in Afghanistan. Not a secret, not a theory. Open fact. After the beginning, the facts are less obvious. We have plenty of separated data points showing CIA and FBI using radical Muslim propaganda to stir up stings. Most of the arrests since 1993 have been stings, young discontented Muslims who were not doing anything illegal until FBI gave them a fully-rounded and tempting scenario to work on. This created the overall impression of a large and well-financed radical group, when in fact most of the financing was done by FBI. And of course we have current news from Syria, where we are arming and supporting al-Qaeda to fight against Assad. Just like we did before, just like we've been doing all along. Most of the available data indicates an organization that is mostly a CIA tool. Some parts of al-Qaeda in some countries appear to be operating independently, but they have to make connections to the CIA-owned parts, which means they aren't truly independent. CIA can monitor and influence them indirectly. So. Movement or sting? Given the limits of available knowledge, which is more like a fact and which is more like a speculative hypothesis? Sting is more like a fact, supported by most available data. Independent operation is a hypothesis supported by very little data. At this point in history, all major "conspiracy theories" that don't depend on Martians or Venusians have been shown to be factual in a basic sense, leaving details aside. Some were always true, others have turned from false to true recently. The professional conspiracists, just like the professional theorists who call themselves "scientists", enjoy adding multiple layers of epicycles. They toss in innumerable organizations and names and secret thingamabobs that don't need to be there. Some of those professional theorists are being pushed by FBI AP's to make their theories more outrageous, some just enjoy complexity without being pushed. But after you Ockhamize the frills and filigrees, the basic points are true. The last "theory" to click into place was the common schizy notion that "my mind is being monitored by the Authorities." Schizies have believed this for centuries, with embroidered details corresponding to the technology of the times. Until 20 years ago this idea was purely imaginary. Purely crazy. Now it's true. See Snowden.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.