Racist bombs in West Midlands?

16 Jul 2013 by CST

Other than in Government and West Midlands Police counter-terrorism circles, there appears to be little general interest in the fact that there have been two improvised explosive devices placed outside mosques in recent weeks. The devices were just over five miles apart, north-west of Birmingham, in Walsall (19th June) and Tipton (12th July).

The Tipton device exploded at 1pm on Friday 12th July, coinciding with both the funeral of Drummer Lee Rigby and the first Friday of Ramadan. Nails and debris were strewn outside the mosque and surrounding buildings. The area would normally have been filled with worshippers attending Friday prayers, but these had been put back one hour due to Ramadan. Nobody was hurt.

The Walsall device exploded “late on Friday” 19th June. Nobody was hurt and local residents did not initially realise what had occurred. Police subsequently arrested a 75 yr old man on 27th June and searched his home. He was released the next day on bail pending further investigation, as Police appealed for help in identifying a white man seen carrying a small bag at 10pm on the night of the explosion.

It is always risky to speculate about the perpetrators or possible motives for such events, especially when nobody has been charged. It is, nevertheless, entirely plausible that these two bombings are connected to each other. Similarly, we have to consider the possibility that one or both of the bombings occurred in the wider context of anti-Muslim racism that has followed the Jihadist murder of Lee Rigby.

In this respect the situation we now find ourselves in may come to resemble the early stages of David Copeland’s neo-Nazi nail bombing campaign in London in 1999. As Nick Lowles notes on the Hope not Hate website, Copeland’s campaign began with a mistimed device in Brixton, before moving to Brick Lane and culminating in the deadly bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.

Returning to the West Midlands and the present day, it remains to be seen how many people are involved in these bombings, either as co-conspirators, or as copy-cats. For now, we do not know if there will be more bombings, nor if it will move on to include targets beyond Muslim communities.  We do not know if people will yet be maimed and murdered: but it should not require bloodied bodies before the rest of Britain wakes up to what may be happening here.


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights