If we talked to the IRA, why not al-Qaeda?
Five years on from 9/11, the "War on Terror" is far from won and Iraq has given Osama bin Laden a jihad he could never have dreamed of, radicalising countless young Muslims in Britain.
It seems that only Downing Street and the White House deny the connection. Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, told me that the number of Muslims in the UK "we have to be interested in" runs into the "thousands". Last month's alleged plot to blow up planes mid-Atlantic suggests that the threat to the UK is as serious as it has ever been. And still the arrests keep coming, with 14 men detained across London on Friday night, and two more in Manchester yesterday. So, faced with the prospect of indefinite conflict and bloodshed, what are the options?
There are plenty of historical precedents for the most controversial option of all: talking to the terrorists. Successive British governments said they would never talk to the IRA; Mrs Thatcher would never hear of it and John Major said it would "turn my stomach", yet in the end both Conservative and Labour governments did. The conflict is now over.
This is from the Sunday Telegraph 9/3/2006, one of the most conservative and pro-American newspapers in Britain.