Link between ISIS hostage and Scottish independence is pure fantasy, says SACC

SACC Press Release
8 September 2014

The Scotsman is today reporting a bizarre claim by Professor Anthony Glees of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham that the Islamic State (ISIS) threat against hostage David Haines is intended to "drive Scots to embrace independence."

The claim is irresponsible, implausible and unsubstantiated speculation. It is damaging to the referendum debate in Scotland, damaging to efforts to resolve the catastrophe that has engulfed Syria, damaging to efforts to prevent the escalation of violence in Iraq, and damaging to efforts to prevent events in the Middle East catalysing destructive violence elsewhere. It is potentially also damaging to any efforts being made to secure the safety of David Haines.

David Haines was brought up in Perth. His parents currently live in Ayr. His wife Dragana Prodanovic Haines lives at the couple's family home in Croatia, with their four year-old daughter. David Haines' family have so far avoided making any comment on the situation because they believe that doing so could put him at greater risk.

SACC Chair Richard Haley said:

"Islamic State presented their murder of James Foley and Steven Sotloff as an attempt to deter US military action against them. I think these murders may more plausibly have been an attempt to provoke an escalation of US action, in the hope that this will strengthen support for the Islamic State amongst Sunnis in Iraq. That would be consistent with the Islamic State's previous actions in Iraq, which have given it control over territory through a policy of ethnic cleansing linked to an ability to obtain the support or acquiescence of people outside the Islamic State's own ranks.

There is no evidence of any kind to suggest that ISIS believes that the road to Baghdad lies through an independent Scotland, or that Scottish independence would help them in the slightest degree. Professor Glees' remarks are pure fantasy.

I do not think that speculation over the Islamic State's specific aims in relation to David Haines is at all helpful to David Haines, and I think it should be avoided."

Anthony Glees has a reputation for promoting overblown visions of the terrorist threat that happen to be helpful to attempts by Britain's security apparatus to manipulate civil society.

A sensationalist report called "When Students Turn to Terror", co-authored by Anthony Glees and Chris Pope, was cited by Tayside Police in 2006 in justification of controversial surveillance of Dundee University students by the Special Branch Community Contact Unit.

In a briefing published in 2006, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said:

"The manner in which the report ["When Students Turn to Terror"] has been compiled is deeply worrying. Using a plethora of media sources, cut and pasted into numerous case studies, the report not only lacks substantive empirical research but is also submerged in blatant racism and Islamophobia."

Professor Anthony Glees' latest speculations do not deserve to be taken seriously. But they may possibly be an indication that Britain's security and intelligence agencies are trying to muscle in on Scotland's referendum debate.

Notes

  1. The claim by Professor Anthony Glees appears in the Scotsman, 8 September 2014

    Anthony Glees is reported to have said:

    "ISIS are masters of propaganda and realise the impact of selecting a Scot.

    "They will hope by showing the UK is weak and unable to defend its citizens it will drive Scots to embrace independence.

    "If they can no longer strike hostile forces who attack their citizens, the UK is clearly in danger of being a spent force heading towards division. And a weakened UK is exactly what the ISIS wants."

  2. Details of the use made by Tayside Police of "When Students Turn to Terror" can be found in the SACC press release "Dundee anti-terror unit is based on a dodgy dossier", 6 December 2006

  3. IHRC's assessment of "When Students Turn to Terror" can be found in the IHRC report "You ONLY have the Right to Silence - A Briefing on the Concerns regarding Muslims on Campus in Britain ", by Fahad Ansari