The Real MI5 Battles Jihadists. The Fictional MI5 Has OTHER Targets

Read Nick Cohen:

For connoisseurs of the issue-avoiding thriller, however, nothing beats Spooks. The real MI5 deals with radical Islam almost to the exclusion of all other threats. The BBC’s fictional MI5 deals with every threat except radical Islam. I appreciate there are better ways to spend my time, but every week I am transfixed by the effort the corporation puts into steering clear of al-Qaeda. In 2005, when real Islamists were bombing London, Spooks seemed to be a truly contemporary drama. Alas, the terrorists it had plotting to destroy London weren’t the followers of Sayyid Qutb but anti-technology Greens, who, say what you will about them, are on the whole a peaceful lot. In 2006, an Islamist cell was once again threatening to commit a crime against humanity. Inevitably, the writers could not confront the existence of actual terrorists and the Islamists turned out to be Mossad agents in disguise. For the BBC, as for the European and Arab far-Right, all Islamist atrocities were the work of the international Jewish conspiracy, that manipulates its dupes like a puppet-master jerking his strings. In the opening episode of the current series, the Sacred Army of Righteous Vengeance staged a mock execution of Harry Pearce, the head of MI5’s Counter-Terrorism Department. But, initiates wondered, why would they want to kill him when the BBC has already made it clear that there are no Islamist terrorists for MI5 to counter? True to form, the Sacred Army of Righteous Vengeance turned out to be yet another front organisation attempting to besmirch the good name of al-Qaeda, this time run by Hindu extremists.

First the Greens, then the Jews, then the Hindus-baffled viewers will be expecting the English Quakers and Burmese Buddhists next. Maybe the BBC will get round to them, but as the eighth series of Spooks draws to its conclusion, we know that for the time being at least, the scriptwriters have identified the real enemy. Episode by episode, Harry and his team have learned about a conspiracy of awesome power. As with Bourne and Bond, it is a cabal that has established itself at the highest levels of Western intelligence services. Once again, the good guys must fight the real menace that comes from the enemy within.