Thursday, 15 June 2017


Murder or manslaughter?

The Grenfell Tower fire in London will be down to poor property management, and that is one thing in which the UK’s capital city is not in short supply. I was variously a porter, caretaker and building manager, and have the proud record of being fired twice for disagreeing with incompetent management. But that is not the point.

When I first started working for an agency in the summer of 2008, I quickly mastered the art of overseeing buildings, and one aspect of the job interested me very much. Within six weeks of my first posting, and with no background check other than a photocopy taken of my passport – and I know a Serbian illegal immigrant in London who has three passports, all false – I was given a job looking after 200 apartments for two weeks. The apartments comprised an entire avenue in Maida Vale, a swanky part of west London. And so, suddenly one Monday morning, there I was with access to all of them via keys held in the office cabinet. No one really knew, to a certainty, who I was.

Now, let’s suppose that my real name is Hassan Jihad, and I am a soldier of Allah. For the first week of my fortnight’s stint, I scope the place out, and generally ingratiate myself with the residents, becoming known and trusted. I get to know who lives where, how capable they are, when they come and go. Then, probably on a Saturday afternoon when a lot of the police are taken up with football, myself and my three accomplices – who have been briefed via personal meetings in pubs, where devout Muslims famously don’t go – and without telephonic contact or any email stupidity, we get busy.

With the keys to the flats that I have identified, my fellow troops begin entering apartments I know to be occupied. No guns, just knives and machetes. The slaughter begins. I don’t join them, as I am duct-taped to the chair my comrades have strapped me to. There are missing keys in the cabinet, clues to where my accomplices are carrying out their butchery for when the police arrive. But they are not the right clues.

Now, although my order of assassins are using non-ballistic weapons, the balloon is bound to go up at some stage and, as you would expect, the excited whoop of police sirens is finally heard. Someone – actually, quite a lot of terrified residents – will be on the pavement as the police arrive. As the armed officers begin to assess the situation – blood can clearly be seen spattered against one window of a third-floor apartment – at least one officer will ask the calmest person he can find if anyone is in charge of the building. That would be me.

Officers with guns boot down the office door and see me taped to the chair, duct tape across my mouth to further delay things. They don’t rip it off. They are gentle and kind, under the circumstances. They remove it slowly.

Then I go into my act. I actually asked an actor guy I met in a pub how they fake other moods, states, and emotions. It was a casual chat, but he taught me much. I gasp and choke, wild-eyed. The police have been trained for this. Don’t traumatise a victim. If you do, the target information you want from them moves farther away. And, boy, do they want target information.

One of the officers has cut me loose from the chair so that I can move my arms. The first thing I do is point straight at the key cabinet, with its eight empty hooks. The door is flapping from its hinges, broken because I myself broke it. I gasp;

“That’s where they are!”

The good cop asks;

“Did you see how many?”

“Two. They have knives. Big knives! Be careful!”

One stays with me. The other takes down the numbers of the eight missing keys and bounds off to tell his co-workers. There’s only one problem. They are not the right numbers.

Before my friends tied me to the chair, and gave me a couple of decent punches to draw blood and bruises, I gave them sets of keys to eight apartments. Then I moved the keys from eight different apartments onto the vacated hooks. But they weren’t just any apartments.

I was very busy during my first week in my new job, as one ought to be. One of my tasks was to find out which apartments would be empty on Jihad Day, as we called it. Medium and long-term, I mean, and during my brief reign. The people on holiday, the properties that were for sale or rent. And these would be the ones with the bombs inside, easily detonated by percussion caps primed to be struck by a kicked-in door. I laid the devices at my leisure.

Of course, when the carnage is over, my fellow jihadis are all dead, and the police discover my ruse, I will go to prison for a long time. However, just as my friends are martyrs in heaven, so too I will be a martyr here on earth. Also, I will be a hero, a king, a caliph in prison, most of which are now run by Muslims. Salaam. Our kill rate numbered 37, including dead police officers.

Now, I won’t go on. If I can come up with this scenario on a rainy afternoon, I am sure the jihadi masterminds the police and government in the UK assure us exist can too. But, first, a commercial break.

I am almost certain, for a particular reason, that there is a police officer reading this. If so, a caveat. Look it up. I am not advocating terrorism, nor am I threatening it. What I am doing is suggesting is that, instead of reading this, and poring over Tweets by Tommy Robinson, Paul Joseph Watson and Katie Hopkins, you might want to tell Sarge to organise a detail to contact every recruitment agency in every big city which deals in property management, and security audit their level of background checking. That way, before unchecked people have access to the keys to strangers’ apartments, you might be able to find out who those unchecked people are.

Grenfell Tower was appalling. If the story about the blogger who was warned off by council officials for writing about the risks at the building is true, people ought to be going to jail. If you can imprison someone – who then mysteriously dies in jail – for putting bacon on a mosque door-handle, you can imprison someone for threatening accurate whistleblowers.

But none of this will be done. It’s too much like hard work, not something the public sector is esteemed for. Grenfell Tower was likely not terrorism, but ISIS will be watching with interest. A Parisian restaurant was recently attacked by a man with a Molotov cocktail. The Parisian police claim it was a robbery gone wrong. What, you turn a restaurant into a blazing inferno, then you go in and nick the till, is that right? Fuck off.

Terrorism – and that may soon include non-Muslim terrorism – is evolving, mutating. How soon before there are security guards outside restaurants in London, particularly the ones where the elites eat, the politicos and their journo courtiers, the celebrities? Molotov cocktails are cheap and easy to produce, with maximal effect. Drive up, light a few of them, smash the windows, lob ‘em in. The perfect business model.

Terrorists just need the right ideas. Grenfell Tower may be one of them.

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