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Jihadi John: The Man Behind the Mask

Jihadi John: The Man Behind the Mask

  • February 27, 2015
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So now we know the identity of  the smug executioner with the black balaclava and the knife who murdered James Foley, and the British media and politicians are struggling to understand how a boy who once liked S-Club 7 and wanted to be a footballer became a ‘monster’.

I don’t pretend to have an explanation for this, but I don’t believe in monsters, only in human beings who either lost their moral compass and their humanity, or perhaps never had either in the first place.

According to the advocacy group Cage, Mohammed Emwazi’s metamorphosis into ‘Jihadi...

Terrorism and the State: a Marriage made in Hell

Terrorism and the State: a Marriage made in Hell

  • February 05, 2015
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It’s long been something of a truism in the world of terrorism studies that non-state terrorists carry out extreme acts of violence in order to provoke an extreme reaction from the army or the government they’re fighting.

In some cases this strategy is intended to compensate for the military weakness of the organisations that carry out...

Jimmy Mubenga: A Shameful Verdict

  • December 17, 2014
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Yesterday a jury delivered one of the most astounding verdicts that the British justice system has produced in many years, when it found three former G4S guards not guilty of the manslaughter by gross negligence of   Jimmy Mubenga, the Angolan deportee who was asphyxiated while being forcibly held down in his seat during a...

A Week in Galapagos

  • December 03, 2014
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Last month I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Galapagos Islands while leading a walking group in Ecuador.   In fact we didn’t do much walking on Galapagos itself, but spent most of the time on board ship, landing on dinghies at different islands to look at the wildlife.

It was simply one...

Liars’ Ball

  • November 24, 2014
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Even within the dizzying race to the bottom that British politics has become, last week’s ‘white van tweet’ marked a new low point in political dishonesty, stupidity and crass opportunism.   The central role in this farce was played by Ed Miliband, whose decision to sack MP Emily Thornberry constituted a political own goal that...

Saint Tony Ascends to Heaven

Saint Tony Ascends to Heaven

  • November 21, 2014
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It’s been a good year for that jetsetting businessman, philanthropist and peace envoy Tony Blair.   In September GQ Magazine voted him ‘philanthropist of the year.’     Now Save the Children have given him its ‘Global Legacy Award’ at a ‘gala dinner’ in New York attended by various A-List film stars, celebrities, and the...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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