Nick Cohen in the Evening Standard has made some interesting points about why the police may sometimes have to undertake “muddy and unsatisfying” operations in an effort to combat terrorism.
The nature of the terrorist threat has altered compared with, say, the IRA attacks in the 1980s. Modern international terrorism has as its objective mass casualties, there is no “political” objective that may be set back by abhorrence of the deeds committed in its name, and those perpetrating terrorist acts expect or may even wish to die as a result of what they are doing. This means that the police must intervene earlier to disrupt possible terrorist plots. If they wait to get more evidence, the consequences of delaying too long and an atrocity being committed are far worse. To disrupt a terrorist cell by means of deporting individuals who are in this country illegally or by charging individuals with offences other than terrorism where the evidence may be clearer, may well have had the effect of preventing an appalling attack but this is not likely to be apparent to those outside the operation.