Article from John Pilger……
** TERROR IN BRITAIN:
WHAT DID THE PRIME MINISTER KNOW?
31st May 2017 – John Pilger writes:
The unsayable in Britain’s general election campaign is this. The causes of the
Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist,
are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy.
Critical questions – such as why the security service MI5 maintained terrorist
“assets” in Manchester and why the government did not warn the public of the threat
in their midst – remain unanswered, deflected by the promise of an internal
The alleged suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was part of an extremist group, the Libyan
Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by
MI5 for more than 20 years.
The LIFG is proscribed by Britain as a terrorist organisation which seeks a
“hardline Islamic state” in Libya and “is part of the wider global Islamist
extremist movement, as inspired by al-Qaida”.
The “smoking gun” is that when Theresa May was Home Secretary, LIFG jihadists were
allowed to travel unhindered across Europe and encouraged to engage in “battle”:
first to remove Mu’ammar Gadaffi in Libya, then to join al-Qaida affiliated groups
Last year, the FBI reportedly placed Abedi on a “terrorist watch list” and warned
MI5 that his group was looking for a “political target” in Britain. Why wasn’t he
apprehended and the network around him prevented from planning and executing the
atrocity on 22 May?
These questions arise because of an FBI leak that demolished the “lone wolf” spin in
the wake of the 22 May attack – thus, the panicky, uncharacteristic outrage directed
at Washington from London and Donald Trump’s apology.
The Manchester atrocity lifts the rock of British foreign policy to reveal its
Faustian alliance with extreme Islam, especially the sect known as Wahhabism or
Salafism, whose principal custodian and banker is the oil kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
Britain’s biggest weapons customer.
This imperial marriage reaches back to the Second World War and the early days of
the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The aim of British policy was to stop pan-Arabism:
Arab states developing a modern secularism, asserting their independence from the
imperial west and controlling their resources. The creation of a rapacious Israel
was meant to expedite this. Pan-Arabism has since been crushed; the goal now is
division and conquest.
In 2011, according to Middle East Eye, the LIFG in Manchester were known as the
“Manchester boys”. Implacably opposed to Mu’ammar Gadaffi, they were considered high
risk and a number were under Home Office control orders – house arrest – when
anti-Gadaffi demonstrations broke out in Libya, a country forged from myriad tribal
Suddenly the control orders were lifted. “I was allowed to go, no questions asked,”
said one LIFG member. MI5 returned their passports and counter-terrorism police at
Heathrow airport were told to let them board their flights.
The overthrow of Gaddafi, who controlled Africa’s largest oil reserves, had been
long been planned in Washington and London. According to French intelligence, the
LIFG made several assassination attempts on Gadaffi in the 1990s – bank-rolled by
British intelligence. In March 2011, France, Britain and the US seized the
opportunity of a “humanitarian intervention” and attacked Libya. They were joined by
Nato under cover of a UN resolution to “protect civilians”.
Last September, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry
concluded that then Prime Minister David Cameron had taken the country to war
against Gaddafi on a series of “erroneous assumptions” and that the attack “had led
to the rise of Islamic State in North Africa”. The Commons committee quoted what it
called Barack Obama’s “pithy” description of Cameron’s role in Libya as a “shit
In fact, Obama was a leading actor in the “shit show”, urged on by his warmongering
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and a media accusing Gaddafi of planning
“genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day,” said
Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would
have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
The massacre story was fabricated by Salafist militias facing defeat by Libyan
government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre
like we saw in Rwanda”. The Commons committee reported, “The proposition that
Mu’ammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not
supported by the available evidence”.
Britain, France and the United States effectively destroyed Libya as a modern state.
According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties”, of which more
than a third hit civilian targets. They included fragmentation bombs and missiles
with uranium warheads. The cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. Unicef,
the UN children’s organisation, reported a high proportion of the children killed
“were under the age of ten”.
More than “giving rise” to Islamic State – ISIS had already taken root in the ruins
of Iraq following the Blair and Bush invasion in 2003 – these ultimate medievalists
now had all of north Africa as a base. The attack also triggered a stampede of
refugees fleeing to Europe.
Cameron was celebrated in Tripoli as a “liberator”, or imagined he was. The crowds
cheering him included those secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS and
inspired by Islamic State, such as the “Manchester boys”.
To the Americans and British, Gadaffi’s true crime was his iconoclastic independence
and his plan to abandon the petrodollar, a pillar of American imperial power. He had
audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold,
establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with
prized resources. Whether or not this would have happened, the very notion was
intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments
with military “partnerships”.
The fallen dictator fled for his life. A Royal Air Force plane spotted his convoy,
and in the rubble of Sirte, he was sodomised with a knife by a fanatic described in
the news as “a rebel”.
Having plundered Libya’s $30 billion arsenal, the “rebels” advanced south,
terrorising towns and villages. Crossing into sub-Saharan Mali, they destroyed that
country’s fragile stability. The ever-eager French sent planes and troops to their
former colony “to fight al-Qaida”, or the menace they had helped create.
On 14 October, 2011, President Obama announced he was sending special forces troops
to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops were
sent to South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic. With Libya secured, an
American invasion of the African continent was under way, largely unreported.
In London, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs was staged by the British
government. The buzz in the stands was the “demonstration effect in Libya”. The
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a preview entitled “Middle East: A vast
market for UK defence and security companies”. The host was the Royal Bank of
Scotland, a major investor in cluster bombs, which were used extensively against
civilian targets in Libya. The blurb for the bank’s arms party lauded the
“unprecedented opportunities for UK defence and security companies.”
Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May was in Saudi Arabia, selling more of the £3
billion worth of British arms which the Saudis have used against Yemen. Based in
control rooms in Riyadh, British military advisers assist the Saudi bombing raids,
which have killed more than 10,000 civilians. There are now clear signs of famine. A
Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from preventable disease, says Unicef.
The Manchester atrocity on 22 May was the product of such unrelenting state violence
in faraway places, much of it British sponsored. The lives and names of the victims
are almost never known to us.
This truth struggles to be heard, just as it struggled to be heard when the London
Underground was bombed on July 7, 2005. Occasionally, a member of the public would
break the silence, such as the east Londoner who walked in front of a CNN camera
crew and reporter in mid-platitude. “Iraq!” he said. “We invaded Iraq. What did we
expect? Go on, say it.”
At a large media gathering I attended, many of the important guests uttered “Iraq”
and “Blair” as a kind of catharsis for that which they dared not say professionally
Yet, before he invaded Iraq, Blair was warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee
that “the threat from al-Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action
against Iraq… The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and
individuals will increase significantly”.
Just as Blair brought home to Britain the violence of his and George W Bush’s
blood-soaked “shit show”, so David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, compounded his
crime in Libya and its horrific aftermath, including those killed and maimed in
Manchester Arena on 22 May.
The spin is back, not surprisingly. Salman Abedi acted alone. He was a petty
criminal, no more. The extensive network revealed last week by the American leak has
vanished. But the questions have not.
Why was Abedi able to travel freely through Europe to Libya and back to Manchester
only days before he committed his terrible crime? Was Theresa May told by MI5 that
the FBI had tracked him as part of an Islamic cell planning to attack a “political
target” in Britain?
In the current election campaign, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made a guarded
reference to a “war on terror that has failed”. As he knows, it was never a war on
terror but a war of conquest and subjugation. Palestine. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya.
Syria. Iran is said to be next. Before there is another Manchester, who will have
the courage to say that?