Hong Kong (10/12). If it walks like an extremist, it dresses like an extremist, it talks like an extremist and acts like an extremist, it is an extremist.
The apologists for supporting the Black Bloc or the Real System as the extremists are called should be held accountable for the consequences of any act of terror. This includes the new young elites and old supporters alike. Terrorism is what it is. It is to harm, to maim, and to terrorize us.
The Black bloc in Hong Kong are oddly enough dressing like the Imperial Stormtroopers or Islamic State, crossed the Rubicon towards political terrorism.
Dressing up like one of the most brutal, oppressive and violent terror groups of our contemporary history are raising concerns in national security circles. It is rather bizarre in Hong Konger believing to dress up like, and act like a violent terror movement is hip or liberating. It is not.
The Black bloc published recently the Summer in Smoke: Report from the World’s Biggest Black Bloc declaring Hong Kong the Mecca of the Black Bloc.
The riots given the oxygen to the extremist forces. Terror groups latch on to a populist agenda and argue that “they” have no choice other than to take the fight to “them” (the police, the SAR administration, the immigrants). That argument of us versus them is as old as terrorism itself. But below the surface lurks that monster of extremism disguised by the vanguards as liberation.
The Hong Kong Police needs some soul searching. The Business As Usual approach to the public and its deep rooted cultural flaws of how to treat its citizens is not without criticism. Maybe a change in command to shake up the leadership is needed to take off the blinders.
Like many police forces in the region facing terrorism is one of the biggest challenges for the authorities. Gone are the days wagging with the stick and yelling is enough to have the local population kowtowing to the power. The police must change. Keeping the word is the only tool of respect for the police. Break your word is the recipe for disaster and will give rise to extremism and terrorism.
The use of terror tactics in Hong Kong, attacks against people of different races, speaking different dialects are deeply disturbing incidents. This has nothing to do with being a mainland Chinese or purebred from Hong Kong. It is racism. Media who portray these thugs as “liberators” or “patriots” are also wrongly tagging the extremists as leaderless. This is a myth.
The foreign media is complicit in providing the oxygen the extremists need. Calling extremists wrongly liberators is factual and politically inaccurate. The Black bloc is a nativist, left wing extremist movement. The Black bloc are exclusivists. Apologists and the emerging narratives attempt to explain away the extremists as some form of social illness is the wrong conclusions.
The Real System, as the rioters calling themselves, are highly organized and structured. The groups display counterintelligence behaviour. It collects, digest and analyses intelligence collected. The Real System is leftist and a sharp departure from just merely G-20 rioters going in a toss with the police. The Hong Kong 2.0 version is politically geared towards change of regime. If anyone has any doubt about the motives and links, should read Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and others.
Any group adopting a neo-socialist ideology delivered by the Molotov-cocktail, bricks and now IEDs are not democrats.
The Black Elephant begins to dance
Reports emerged since 2018 that indicated an influx of weapons and ammunition, both real and fake, to Hong Kong. A raid by the police suggested 3D printers were used to weaponize gun replicas. The comprehension of the anarchist scene and the militant eco-direct-action groups is absent from the public discourse.
However, some report raised questions if this was the beginning of a new wave of extremism in Hong Kong. In 2019 the discovery of weapons and Black Bloc tactics increased. Initially these discoveries were associated with organized crime rather than a political movement.
The demonstrations in summer of 2019 were marked by unrests however the extremist groups and cell structure were plotting and communicating in the open. In the middle of November of 2019, the tactics of the Black bloc changed.
Telegram messages between members discussed to “grab important weapon and communications equipment”. The message went out to about 11 individuals. At the same time extremists called for setting up a “strategic robbing team”, extremist parlour for organizing, logistic and supplying materials to support the movement. 136 members of the “real system” responded.
Setting up strategic robbery teams to supply the cells is very common within terror groups. Attacks against ATM machines, gold pawn shops and crimes like arson and extortion are common tactics. Crime is a substitute in the world of terrorism.
Reports suggest some of the cell members escaped. It is suggested more cells are operating in Hong Kong. Instruction how to capture weapons from the “canal”, code for police officers are circulated in the online forums. It illustrates in information is out there and needs to be acted upon.
The radicalization developing since 2014 with the extremist Autonomous Cell for Revolutionary Class Struggle/Informal Anarchist Federation/International Revolutionary Front, a European terror cell opening shop in Hong Kong. Very little is known about the cell, its size or structure. Easily overlooked the extremist left wing cells are known to operate with a strategic outlook. Hong Kong would be a departure from the norm but not unexpected.
Hong Kong has attracted it share of vanguard direct action groups. For years Hong Kong has served as a beachhead for all kind of activists ranging from the moderate to extremists. Unchallenged by an unexpected political system the Hong Kong Police Force linear structure and the Beijing kowtowing intelligence structures are simply not equipped to understand the complexities facing Hong Kong.
But it should be consolidating to the command of the Hong Kong police leadership, neither do other police forces in Asia understand the violent nature of the Black bloc. The leftist militant vanguard activism is viewed with a pink lens of apologists and the neo-populist political world view.
Left-wing extremism has been on the steady rise since 2010 and following the old paradigm of reactive law enforcement, the police and domestic intelligence services are now in the battle of catching up of only now slowly understanding the exact nature of the extremist threat.
Experts warned for some time the rise of leftist extremism in Asia. Regardless of the political setting the left has a different agenda in Asia. Similar beachheads of the vanguard movements were drawn to the liberal society in Hong Kong to conceal the neo-leftist agenda. In the Summer in Smoke the extremists wrote,
“…. We stand at your side against all police and all governments, whether capitalist or socialist, fascist or democratic. From Chile to West Papua, from Sudan to Hong Kong, from Puerto Rico to Okinawa, in Kurdistan and Chiapas: the people have chosen. Hong Kongers, your fight is not over yet, this will not be your last battle……
As the sea rises in the Pearl River Delta, your struggles, like all others, will become ecological struggles, fighting for access to food, shelter, medicine and water. We will not struggle to win negotiations with governments but rather to fashion collective forms of living that are not catastrophic, and which offer us a vision of the good life: We must fight and we must win.
The warnings are clear. This battle only has begun.
Rise in Extremism
The disarming of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) by the Hong Kong Police was a successful feat of police intelligence work. However, reports that the two radical cells called the “Dragon Butchers” and the “V Squad”, named of the cult movie V for Vendetta, were planning to give Hong Kong a “gory Christmas Day” should trigger cold shivers running down our collective spine.
The protest leaders should be held culpable if the politics led to the rise of what is now an active terror threat. It is time that the SAR administration, the Hong Kong Police Force and the rioter leadership are calling terrorism what it is. A dead cult which believes change can be delivered by the button of an IED.
The arrested eleven (11) is not the entire network. Police expects some more bombs to be stored and ready to use. It is not yet clear how large is the network of extremists and how many cells, groups and networks are operating in Hong Kong. Experience has shown when extremists are under pressure the cells activate some of the bombs prematurely to avoid discovery.
The tell-tale signs of volume of stabilization of the bombs, technical sophistication of triggers and duplication of processes should give grave concern the operational cells are ready to strike.
Media named the defendants, unemployed Wong Chun-keung, 21, engineering assistant Ng Chi-hung, 23, Open University student Cheung Chun-fu, 22, transport worker Cheung Ming-yu, 20, and vocational college student Yim Man-him, 21.
Inexplicitly the court granted cash bail to Cheung Ming-yu and Yim at HK$8,000 and HK$10,000 (US$1,000 and US$1,300) respectively, but ordered the other three be remanded in custody.
Reports of stashes of chemicals repeatedly surfaced in daily reports since the Polytechnical University siege. The Chinese University (CUHK), Polytechnic University (PolyU) and City University (CityU) have reported to police that chemicals were stolen from their laboratories.
The Chinese University is said to have lost about 80 litres of concentrated nitric acid, 17.5 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid, and 2.5 litres of hexane. About 20 types of chemicals went missing from PolyU in Hung Hom, including 2.5 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid; 1kg of sodium metal; a small amount of zinc cyanide; sodium arsenite; hydrochloric acid; and DDT, an insecticide known for harmful environmental impacts.
However, the plans of the extremists to shot police officers and protesters to create chaos is straight out of the textbook of jihadist and other terror groups.
Another cult in the making?
The Black cult of war, violence, and dehumanizing the victim even if they are protesters illustrates the extremist ideologies have gotten hold in Hong Kong. It is to the credits of the Hong Kong police and its officers to detect and prevent the use of sophisticated IED bombs.
The Affinity Groups adopted nom de guerre reflects the gaming culture like Dragon Squad, Dragon Slayers or Speed Dragons, but the actions of building bombs aim to kill makes the affairs no child’s play.
Acts of sabotage, like throwing items on the MTR lines are articulated acts of resistance thought in many guerrilla handbooks. The tactics including grabbing of police officers’ weapons and theft of chemicals surfaced in the radical chatrooms on line on November 13th. A few days after Beijing rang the alarm bells Hong Kong is moving closer to terrorism.
The signs for radicalization of the landscape has been visible since July/August of this year but events as early as 2018 should be revisited. Experts warned of an increase in radicalization and recruitment tactics among protesters attracted to the cause of the rioters are not unlike jihadist mechanism.
The Acceleration of the Threat: ‘Satan’s Mother’
The use of TATP in Hong Kong is another deeply concerning development. On 27 November 2019 two school students claim to have found TATP wrapped on school grounds at the Caritas Ma On Shan Secondary School. In July working of a tip off a raid of an industrial unit in Tsuen Wan police arrested three men and seized 2kg of TATP, the largest seizure of its kind since the return of the city to Chinese rule in 1997.
Terrorism studies suggests three components need to merge. Intelligence, Resources and Intent. The combination of weaponize the chemical components to a workable TATP bomb, timers and firing mechanisms, the attempts to shoot police officers and protesters and the political and ideological narratives are strong indicators of a terror cell is operating.
TATP is well developed process in the terrorist scene in Asia. TATP bombs are regularly appearing in Indonesia and the Philippines. The explosive nicknamed “mother of Satan”, is a well-known unstable explosive hence a clear threat to public safety.
….when it goes Bang
The battle is a race between the extremists and the police. It is a race against time. Although one can hope the extremists are under control experience shows the current leadership of the political movement do not condone violence.
Once a terror act is executed finger pointing will go on. Blame will be handed out in bucket loads but often the decision and the responsibility are solely with the terror groups and their ideological masters.
Policy officials aim to keep the information out of the media. This is the wrong path. The public must be kept informed. Not informing the public will contribute to the rumours and fake news industry.
As seen in past cases the impacts on the economy were significant. The tourism industry was destroyed for some time, society divided, and fear gripped communities. Life will be disrupted, and families destroyed.
Not to mention the victims and the injured. The risk insurance ratings will significantly change for the business communities and security expenditure will increase. The burn and blast injuries are horrific and if detonated in large crowds a triage is chaotic.
A backlash will be experienced. Instead of less security more security will come. A bomb in Hong Kong will change the social fabric for a long time if not forever.
It is a race against time and common sense must prevails over hate and extremism.