The Link Between War and Terrorism Is Undeniable and the British Public Know It
Despite Theresa May's repeated denials 75% of the public believe there is a link between terrorism and military intervention
The threat of terrorism is a major one in Britain today – too major to be used to make political points in the dying hours of an election campaign. Especially when the person doing so has served as Home Secretary and Prime Minister for the past seven years, and therefore has some responsibility for things that might or might not have happened.
Theresa May has tried to avoid difficult questions on a range of issues, including police funding and how much the authorities knew about the activities of the perpetrators of the attacks in London and Manchester. Now revealed in an article in the Daily Telegraph, however, is an even more damning set of revelations. They show that one of the attackers, Rachid Redouane, went to fight in Libya against Gadhafi in 2011, and then went on to fight in Syria.
According to the Telegraph, ‘he is believed to have fought with the Tripoli-based Liwa al Ummah unit. After the revolution, the unit went on to send foreign fighters to join the jihad against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Many of the Libyans who travelled went on to fight alongside Al-Qaeda extremists in Syria.’
This follows on from allegations last week by Libyan security that the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, had links to the al-Battar battalion which had links to Islamic State.
It is quite strange that we are still being told that Redouane was unknown to the authorities here. Whether that is true or not, there are certainly many questions to be asked about the links of the terrorists with groups who have been backed by British and other western powers in order to support their own interventions. According to writer Mark Curtis, Liwa al Ummah became part of the Free Syrian Army, which at various times received intelligence and support from Britain.
It is even more appalling that Theresa May repeatedly denies any connection between the 'War on Terror' in which Britain has been a central instigator and domestic terrorism. In denying the connection, May is at odds with the vast majority of the British population. A recent poll found that '75 per cent of people believe interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have made atrocities on UK soil more likely'.
The attackers were trained to fight in the Middle East or North Africa with, at some point, support or tacit agreement from the British authorities. That they have brought their methods back here with such tragic consequences tells us what a catastrophe these wars have been.
There is much evidence that the other two London attackers were known to the British and Italian authorities – with Youssef Zaghba boasting ‘I want to be a terrorist’. Khuram Butt featured in a Channel 4 documentary flying a black ISIS flag. Salman Abedi flew an ISIS flag on his house. These instances and a number of others raise questions about what was being done to protect people.
Theresa May's response is to say that she will tear up human rights laws which would supposedly prevent her from dealing with terrorism. But this appears more as diversion to prevent her having to answer difficult questions rather than something which would actually achieve anything. There is little evidence that more changes in the law are needed. As many of us have argued in the past, anti-terror legislation (which May herself has often voted against under Labour governments) has repeatedly failed in its aim.
Indeed, all her proposals would achieve is further criminalisation of sections of the community without actually stopping any such attacks. We have said for years that the wars have become the background to the growth of terrorism. With the London and Manchester attacks, we are seeing this in the most horrible way.