Double standards when it comes to what constitutes a terrorist group have become rife as nation states attempt to make sense of the new threats to society, writes UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom
• Nation States seem to have a fascinating ability to apply outrageous double standards to the concept of terrorism. It manifests itself almost daily. As a young officer serving with the British Army of the Rhine, more than 30 years ago, I was the target of a 'terrorist' attack just outside Minden. I was tootling along in my Land Rover with my driver when a motorcycle zoomed past us, swivelled around and the rider drilled a rifle shot neatly between our two unsuspecting heads.
They were some sort of offshoot of the Red Brigade, we were told later, who wanted the British Army out of Germany. Corporal Connors and I just thought they were bloody rude, we thought we were there to defend them from the 'red menace'. Incidentally I got into big trouble later because although we reported the incident to the German Field Police, I forgot to report it via regimental headquarters to Corps HQ.
Corporal Connors and I had been on duty for 48 hours with no sleep, so when I was 'on the mat' in front of my commanding officer my excuse for not adhering to standard operating procedures was because "I forgot". "Forgot," he spluttered, "how can you forget being shot at"? "Well Colonel, I had not slept for 48 hours and frankly if he had killed me I would have thanked the bastard," I said. The British press got the story a bit muddled. Corporal Connors turned into Colonel Connors much to his family's delight in Doncaster, his home town.
Sorry, I completely digress; the point being the chap on the motorcycle would not have seen himself as a terrorist but some sort of freedom fighter. When I was in Ireland at the time of the hunger strikes, a coach of mourners went through the check point and they all saw themselves as freedom fighters. Incidentally, when I stared into their faces they looked like psychopaths to me. The point is the old cliché, 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter'.
For nearly a decade, the United States government saw the Irish Republican Army as freedom fighters. Drinks on the lawn at the White House, tacit presidential support, and significant sums of money from Boston and Chicago thanks to Irish immigrant descendants. The fundraising Irish Northern Aid Committee - remember that? Innocent women and children were getting their legs blown off by indiscriminate bombing but the US State department was immune.
What changed? Of course, another bunch of psychos – or what some might misguidedly call freedom fighters - blew up the Twin Towers and for the first time Americans became the victims. Pretty steep learning curve for the urbane sharp-suited morons at the State Department and the Brookings Institute. Suddenly we had a 'war on terror', which appears to have manifested itself in the curtailment of basic freedoms in the Anglosphere - built carefully and gradually for the last 400 years. But what state apparatus can resist a crisis to take more control over its citizens?
The BBC I suspect has a whole department devoted to nomenclature. Freedom fighters, terrorist, militants, sometime just fighters, obviously the department is waiting to see which way the cat will jump. Even less care now is being taken by governments to spin their case. It is the international 'arrogance of office'. We are now looking at, perhaps, the most appalling application of double standards since the war. Let me do something that politicians rarely do, look at the facts in Syria.
At the start of the invasion of Syria, the Sunni Grand Mufti of Damascus went on state television and said the following: "The rebels are not Syrian." His elder son was found slaughtered, which accounts for the Mufti's silence since then. Syria is the only truly secular state in the Middle East. Some 18 religions have lived together there undisturbed. Ancient cathedrals as well as mosques, for example, are regularly packed with worshippers in main cities - unlike in Saudi, Qatar and so on. The government was assisting with the repair of one of the Jewish community's synagogues at the outset of the invasion. Maybe this was the last straw for Islamist fanatics led by Saudi and Qatar.
'Defection' of government ministers has been widely announced. If British Prime Minister David Cameron received a telephone call from a terrorist, explaining that in the back of his van were Cameron's wife and children and if he wished to see them alive he would defect and go to a certain address in another country with immediate effect - what would he do? If his wife and children then came on the phone to confirm the situation Cameron would scuttlebutt off to wherever, and therefore 'defect'.
The Central Intelligence Agency, in America, has to be one of the worst information gathering set-ups in the world. It unashamedly has its 'man' in a comfy Beirut hotel, swallowing whole whatever the invading force tells him - so the United States has not got a clue about the real state of affairs in Syria. George W. Bush said Syria is "evil" so that is it.
Look at photographs of anti-Assad demonstrations and try to spot a woman in the crowd. Look at photographs of pro-government demonstrations and women form at least half of those present. At the moment, they are as free as women in the west to go to work of all sorts - from directors to cleaners, to owning property and so on. That will end if the invasion of Islamist fanatics is allowed to succeed. But then do not let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Godfrey Bloom is UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom