We interrupt a prolonged period of radio silence on the occasion of the terrible bombings this morning in London. This blog, inspired by Langston Hughes, asks - "...Or Does it Explode? - and hopes that the answer is a creative burst, not a destructive blast. Alas, not the case today in London.
There is much discussion about the motivation for the London attacks: G-8 summit, Iraq, the 2012 Olympic selection, etc. But one factor not mentioned is that Tuesday marked the start of Abu Hamza al-Masri's trial in London. Could there be a connection?
Al-Masri (Arabic for "the Egyptian") is an Egyptian-born(!) cleric who held court as the head preacher at London's Finsbury Mosque for many years. Abu Hamza is quite a sight, with one glass eye and hooks for hands - for self-proclaimed wounds fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
The U.S. government has requested Al-Masri's extradition in relation to several terror charges, but first the British government is putting Masri on trial. That case got underway with great media fanfare on Tuesday morning, as the imam faced charges including encouraging the murder of non-Muslims.
This post is mere speculation - there is no evidence yet of a link between the trial opening and the tube/bus attacks this morning.
And the relevance to this blog's main focus is simply the point that Al-Masri for years had far more civil rights in the streets of London than he did in the streets of Cairo. His example embodies many ironies of the status quo, where the Middle East's civil rights desert and the West's abundance of civil liberties exist side-by-side.
UPDATE: At least some of this post's general speculation has reinforced by the arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat, a close associate at Abu Hamza. As CNN reports: "Aswat reportedly interested investigators when they discovered that about 20 calls had been placed from his cell phone to some of the four bombers."