In a move which would, three decades ago, have seen classic movie The Blues Brothers stillborn, British cops and officials are seeking to prevent private sales of ex-police and emergency services vehicles and uniforms.
The Telegraph reports today that senior plods at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), allied with officials at the Home Office, believe that fiendish terrorists might buy up former patrol cars, ambulances and other official paraphernalia. Masquerading as righteous servants of the state, the miscreants might then penetrate security cordons or checkpoints to unleash havoc, perhaps by means of suicide vehicle bombings.
"What concerns me," said Hampshire assistant chief constable Steve Watts, "is the lack of legislation available for the police service to adequately address the threat of pseudo-emergency service vehicles." ACC Watts was talking to the Telegraph in the context of a recent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) report, which apparently highlights recent Middle Eastern terrorist operations using ambulances. JTAC is a joint intelligence clearing-house serving the various UK security services, including spooks, plods, armed forces etc.
ACPO have said that they need new laws to control trade in official vehicles and uniforms, citing the JTAC report. This follows a recent refusal by global online jumbleshop eBay to comply with Home Office requests to stop dealing in such items. Such new laws, in addition to retrospectively rendering the Bluesmobile illegal in Blighty, might have a devastating effect on the strip-o-gram industry as well.
It appears that the JTAC terror-watchers specifically mentioned a February vehicular suicide-bombing attempt in Iraq which involved an ambulance. However, the vehicle's medical markings don't seem to have really helped the terrorists, as suspicious Iraqi plods opened fire anyway as the driver attempted to get past a checkpoint. The "ambulance" blew up before it could get inside its target, a police station.
The JTAC analysts also mentioned the fairly routine use of ambulances by terrorists operating against Israel, though this has been standard practice for a long time - it's hard to see how it has only now become more relevant to the UK, especially as JTAC admitted they had no serious indications of any such plans on the part of UK-based terrorist groups. Despite that, the Telegraph still chose to headline their piece "Al-Qa'eda style terrorists planning UK attacks with ambulances bought on eBay".
We think this is absolutely beautiful, far better than "Unknown, possibly non-existent terrorists conceivably planning UK attacks with stuff bought on eBay".
The Times also covers the story, and quotes governmental terror-suppression watchdog Lord Carlile as saying:
“As independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, I take this issue very seriously. In my view, as a general rule, all emergency service vehicles should be clearly decommissioned so they cannot be used to imitate emergency services.”
Here on the Reg, it's our goal to be ahead of the pack when it comes to this kind of stuff. If we're mining aged Israeli newswire info, rebranding it as serious intel* and moving to change the laws of the UK as a result, well then. Let's get serious about it.
Terror pants of death
We present for ACPO, JTAC and Lord Carlile's consideration another fiendish terrorist trend. Just a couple of years ago - well after the ambulance fashion began - Israeli checkpoint guards stopped a suicide bomber with 20 pounds of explosives "sewn into her underwear", which was presumably of a fairly voluminous design.
The conclusion is clear. The wearing of large, commodious undergarments in which explosives could be secreted must be forbidden, with thongs compulsory for everyone except authorised government employees wearing special ID badges.
eBay, Marks and Spencer and other businesses who cynically aid the merchants of death in pursuit of selfish commercial profit motives must be legislated out of business if they continue to sell big pants to potential enemies within. And Bridget Jones must join the Blues Brothers on the list of films banned for incitement of illegal terrorist-aiding activities.
That is all. For now. ®
*Always common practice when writing classified intel. Or at least it was back when your correspondent was compelled to read the monthly JTAC summaries and similar products, anyway.