Thursday, June 09, 2005

Stay in your homes!

This is really just a footnote to this earlier post. In particular it's about this quotation from the front page of the P&J:
But terrorism expert David Capitanchick has warned north-east oil firms could be attacked by anti-capitalist activists. The Aberdeen University academic said multinational oil companies were prime targets for anti-globalisation demonstrations.
I like to google for information about experts when I see them quoted in the local media. In this case I'm also interested because I actually studied terrorism at Aberdeen University in 1996. There are no shocking revelations to be found here but I thought I'd share what I did find. Anyone who's interested can click the permalink for more.

Number 1: It's actually David Capitanchik. The P&J have misspelt his name.

Number 2: Mr Capitanchick is not employed by the University of Aberdeen. He has not been employed there since 1993 (which explains why I didn't recognise his name). He was most recently employed by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen but he retired in December 2004.

As I said, trivialities, but I thought they were worth correcting. The RGU profile does say "David is now a frequent commentator on current developments in his areas of expertise in both the national and international press." They aren't kidding. Here are some of Mr Capitanchik's comments.

The Times, 31/10/02
“I cannot think of a country where you are guaranteed to be safe...We are vulnerable right here in Britain. It would not take much for a suicide bomber to walk into Selfridges...”
[David points out that we are always vulnerable.]

The Scotsman, 14/04/03
"I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true a number of senior Iraqis had escaped in a convoy of Russian diplomats. Since Saddam came to power the Russians have been very close to his regime. It must be remembered that Saddam owes Russia $12 billion for arms deliveries and economic aid and the two are closely tied through this."
[David comments on the possible location of Saddam and other senior Iraqis]

The Evening Express, 16/12/03 (via google cache)
"Instead of the bloodshed of the Balkans I expect the new Iraq to be more like a devolved Britain."
[David predicts how events will unfold in Iraq. One of the few occassions I can find when David provides an optimistic prediction.]

The Scotsman, 17/09/04
"If it had been terrorists the consequences could have been horrendous. Suicide bombers would have blown themselves up or attacked someone with knives."
[David comments after journalists gain unauthorised access to the Scottish Parliament.]

The Sunday Times, 26/09/04
"It’s no excuse to say that security would have been tighter when the royal family are in residence. The palace is susceptible to a Brighton bombing-style attack, in which a terrorist was able to build a bomb into a wall (in advance)."
[David commenting on a reporter gaining access to Holyroodhouse.]

The Scotsman, 01/04/05
"I was surprised when Gordon Brown encouraged people to join the anti-poverty march which I think is an occasion to worry about."
[David warns against joining the G8 march. A particular favourite of mine, this one.]

Daily Record, 31/05/05
"Given the current terror threat, it would be unreasonable for Britain - the Americans' main coalition partner - to refuse their request."
[David agrees with Blair's decision to allow 2000 heavily armed US Marines to help guard Bush during the G8 summit.]

There are more but I think you get the idea. Doomed, doomed, I tell ye! OK, I suspect the worst that can be definiteively said about Mr Capitanchik is that he's a media rent-a-quote but I wouldn't even be as unkind as to say that. Also, I don't have to. Alan Taylor, writing in The Sunday Herald, comments on the Tartan Bollocks Awards , 2004, "when due recognition is given to stories whose relationship with reality is tenuous to say the least."
In truth, there was never any doubt about whose bollocks would win the top award. Step forward Jason Allardyce of the teuchter edition of the Funday Times. In March, Mr Allardyce reported that “government experts” believed that the Holyrood parliament could be attacked by “a lone terrorist with a lightweight mortar” standing on Salisbury Crags...
Credence was lent to this incredible tale by... rent-an-academic, David Capitanchik, “a terrorism expert” at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, who said he expected surveillance of the hills overlooking the parliament site to be stepped up in view of the danger of a mortar attack.
Apparently, “terrorists were most likely to strike during visits by foreign dignitaries and eminent people.... The parliament is exposed,” added Mr Capitanchick observantly, “and if things get really tough for terrorists in London, which they are, and if they see things are not so tight in Edinburgh, they could come here. Al-Qaeda does not know much about devolution. We are as vulnerable in Scotland as any other place in the UK.”
Stay in your homes!

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