Report: Counter Terror Expo 2010

by Louise Almond of londontruthaction.org
21st September, 2010.

‘Who really benefits from 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’?’ asked our banner at the Counter-Terror Expo 2010.

‘We do! It keeps us in work…’ was the jovial response from a passing group of Navy personnel.

Quite.

But 9/11 has not just provided the foundational myth that has allowed the Anglo-American governments to justify increased ‘defence’ spending on their modern day crusades, unhindered by public opinion and international law; the terror myth has also provided a huge boost to many private sector businesses including, of course, the counter-terror sector. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, which, as a CIA insider told Harper’s magazine in 2006 [1], plays a large part in driving government policy – an extension of the already all-powerful arms industry. And it has an annual trade show in London.

The Counter Terror Expo describes itself as ‘the premier global event for professionals tasked with ensuring a formidable and effective response to the threats we face today.’ [2] Exhibitors range from the worlds largest arms manufacturer BAE Systems [3] to small, seemingly unrelated businesses such as Highway Care Ltd, and visitors came from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and nationalities. Both exhibitors and visitors provided an interesting audience to talk with about the questions surrounding 9/11 – an important audience to convince that while they may benefit in financial terms from the terror myth, the unending resource wars it is used to justify are, literally, costing the earth.

So our action was very simple – turn up in the morning, give out leaflets to the people queuing to get in, and try and engage them in conversation. What I gained from this action was a concrete realisation that regardless of the people one is tasked with talking to – arms dealers, military officials, war criminals – it is of paramount importance to remember that these people are human beings. Here’s why:

Throughout the morning we all talked with the people queuing round the block to visit the expo, giving out leaflets documenting mainstream media articles that contradict the official account of 9/11 [4] and discussing our differing perspectives on that information. Obviously not everyone was receptive to our message but through being cordial and non-confrontational we managed to talk to a lot of people and get a lot of leaflets into hands.

After a few hours (and a little too late, as the queue had died down considerably) a group of anti-arms protesters turned up and immediately started on the offensive with shouts of ‘Shame on you’. An attempt to chalk the outside of the Exhibition centre led to several of the protesters being involved in a scuffle with police and then four riot vans turning up [5]. For the three or more hours we had been there, there had been only two very friendly police officers keeping a casual eye on things, but suddenly there was a line of police guarding the front of the hall.

Obviously I completely understand the passions felt by the protesters. The arms industry and its callous desire for ever-increasing profits is the money-hungry, blood-thirsty core of the Anglo-American war machine. But those which are responsible for its design were not likely to be in attendance at the Counter-Terror expo on a cold and rainy April morning, and even if they were would they listen to people who are shouting at them? One has to ask as an activist how effective it is to be angry. In fact while expressing anger may help you to feel better, it is likely to alienate your message from the people who need to hear it most – those who can actually make the choices required to exert real change.

What must be understood is that people working in industries such as counter-terrorism or institutions such as the police force and armed forces, are actually on the receiving end of an even bigger propaganda machine than your average Joe. These people are constantly pumped full of fear, endlessly told we are on high terror alert from unseen dark forces both within and without of our national borders. To appear at their side, caterwauling slogans of hatred and fighting with police officers only makes them assume that you too must be feared, that you do not in fact want peace, but the mounted head of an arms dealer on your wall as a trophy of your anti-establishment credentials.

If we are ever to end war, if we are ever to uncover the truth, then we must drop all concepts of division and communicate with one another on a human level – Campaign Against the Arms Trade protester and BAE systems worker, English Defence League marcher and Unite Against Fascism activist, Peaceful dissident and SAS soldier. We must talk with passion and clarity and we must listen with compassion and intent. Most of all we must remember that human beings are being attacked with tools of psychological warfare and propaganda never before imagined [6], they are not ignorant nor apathetic, but very scared. And it is only through leading by example and showing love to all people, that we can truly show humans need not fear one another and so by extension have no need for a counter-terror industry.

Photograph courtesy of Yvonn Jakobsen

Endnotes

[1] ‘Meet the Counterterrorism-Industrial Complex’, Harpers Magazine (September 19th, 2006) http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/09/sb-meet-the-counterterrorism-1158675678

[2] Counter Terror Expo http://www.counterterrorexpo.com

[3] ‘BAE Systems Tops List of Biggest Arms Companies’, New York Times (April 12th, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/business/global/13arms.html?_r=1

[4] The londontruthaction outreach leaflet consists entirely of facts as reported by the mainstream media – hundreds of which are documented by Jon Gold in his article ‘9/11: The Facts Speak For Themselves’ http://911truthnews.com/the-facts-speak-for-themselves/

[5] Photographs courtesy of Peter Marshall http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2010/04/apr14-02.htm

[6] Dir. Scott Noble http://metanoia-films.org/psywar.php

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