Sunday, February 26, 2006

Omagh bombing

Back in 1998, before Americans gave a whit about terrorism, a splinter group from the IRA (called "The Real IRA") put a bomb in car and murdered 29 people, including a pregnant mother carrying twins. Recently, a movie of the Omagh bombing was made and shown in the UK and Northern Ireland. This month it is on the Sundance Channel.

It was horrific, even as bombings go. Police were manipulated into evacuating citizens into a safe area (at the end of the street) while they searched a suspect area, whereupon a car bomb blew up in the crowded evacuee area.

For the families of the victims, however, the horror was only beginning. Despite assurances from the police that an investigation was proceeding apace, it became clear that catching the bombers would get in the way of the "peace process." In the movie, Gerry Adams (Sein Fein; IRA) tells the families as much in private. Eventually the "investigation" is shut down.

The interesting thing is that the victims sought justice through private means, which seems very strange in a country governed by the UK. They launched their own investigation, getting names of possible suspects in a very short time; they put pressure on both the police and The Real IRA; and they ran down a police informer, who, it turns out, told the police about the Omagh bombing before it happened. They even decided to file suit against The Real IRA in an attempt to bankrupt the organization. The movie seems to suggest that these private efforts were a complete failure; no doubt the victim's families felt that way. But in fact they accomplished a good deal in a short period of time.

What stood out for me was something I have shouted from the cyber rooftops: peace kills. Peace processes almost never work; they usually get innocent people killed; and they end up making "peace partners" out of murderers. This was certainly the case in the Omagh bombing. It has been true over and over in Israel.

The most surreal thing in the movie was watching the victim's families demonstrate outside the offices of The Real IRA. This is the group the police and Gerry Adams singled out as being responsible for the bombers. This is the organization that the police informant said was responsible for the bombing. This is the paramilitary group that claimed responsibility for the bombing.


Why does this organization have offices in Omagh after claiming credit for slaughtering 29 innocent men, women, and children? I'm on the libertarian end of conservatism, but shouldn't this group have gotten its doors kicked in and its files rifled through by armed officers of the state? This would be like Al-Quada having offices in Manhattan. Too, too sick-making.

This intense and well-crafted movie will leave you in a bit of a downer. But there's an update beyond the movie, available at the first link in this post: a father of four and member of The Real IRA named Colm Murphy was convicted for the Omagh bombing. Murphy was singled out early on as a suspect by TV news investigators. Of course, believing that Murphy acted alone would be almost as idiotic as believing the Palestinians want a peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Lucky thing we're all smarter than that.


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