Manchester Arena atrocity: an initial response

Manchester - 759

Our work creates the bulk of the world’s wealth which ends up in the hands of the capitalist class. They use the wealth we create to supply armies and to wage wars to defend their existence. We need to build an international movement which can create a society in which people’s needs not capitalist profits dominate, and in doing so end atrocities like the one in Manchester. No war but the class war.

Last night’s attack on people leaving Manchester Arena was truly horrific. Reports so far indicate 22 have died (including 12 children between 8 and 16) and another 59 are seriously injured. The attacker, a suicide bomber waited in the foyer of the Arena as people left a concert before he struck. His aim was simply to kill as many as possible, no matter who they were. These murders, like those before from Beirut to Berlin 1 are now being celebrated on pro-IS social media as a “great success”.

And IS will enjoy even greater success if their odious propaganda succeeds in unleashing another wave of attacks on Muslims in the UK. IS (who have killed many more Muslims in bombings than “Crusaders”) want it this way. They need to stoke Islamophobia to try to win over the more than 90% of Muslims who oppose their brand of “radical Islam”. It is the trick of terrorists everywhere. We saw it in Northern Ireland where IRA and UVF killed innocents from the “other community” and thus reinforced each gang’s recruitment drive.

Terrorism is a form of elitism. The chosen few indiscriminately murder the many in a cold calculating rationale to advance their cause. IS is no different here. It may look like an insane death cult but its brutality and barbarism are carefully designed to force Muslims to choose between them and the West.

IS has not arrived suddenly from nowhere. Its genesis goes back many decades and is rooted in the imperialist depredations of the great powers in the Middle East and Central Asia. The systematic exploitation, looting and humiliation of the Arab and Islamic worlds culminated in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

This was supported by the UK. Using the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction” Blair managed to get a supine Parliament to agree to join the US coalition. He arrogantly ignored warnings from Middle East experts, like George Joffe, that dismantling the Iraqi state would lead to mayhem in the Middle East 2 He blithely dismissed the opposition from the mass of the population to this adventure and ignored the biggest demonstration in UK history on 15 February 2003 for the “crusade”.

Everything went as the experts predicted. The dismantling of the Iraqi state (as we have shown elsewhere 3 eventually led to the formation of IS. Its subsequent successes in Syria and Iraq were due to the fact that leading Iraqi military specialists (sacked by the new regime) had joined it.

Facing military defeat in its “Caliphate” only makes IS more determined to bring a little of what the Middle East has suffered for decades home to the Western powers. Or rather to their innocent citizens and workers who did not support such wars. In this they have in part succeeded. They will succeed even more if Muslims are further stigmatised and attacked.

The British state and its media will do little to discourage such attacks. Faced with a global economic crisis it is very useful to have a minority to blame for the system’s woes. We will hear much of defending “British” values and “British democracy” in the weeks ahead. Beating the nationalist drum will divert attention from the fact that the economic crisis has no solution. It also allow our rulers to introduce more laws of surveillance and repression which will ultimately be used against any determined working class struggle against the capitalist system. Thus the IS terrorists and the State will both use these horrific murders for their own propaganda. Yet the main victim of these attacks is the working class everywhere.

Not only are they the majority of the dead and injured workers but the elitist propaganda of both the terrorists and our rulers aims to divide the one thing we have in common: our class solidarity. Wherever we live, whatever our cultural backgrounds, it is the work of everyone who needs a wage to live which creates the bulk of the world’s wealth. This wealth ends up in the hands of a minority: the capitalist class who are thus able to live in luxury. They also use the wealth we create to supply armies and to wage wars to defend their existence.

These will go on, as will terrorist atrocities, ad infinitum unless the working class unites and takes control of the product of its own labour and dismantles the capitalist mode of production. To achieve this we need to build an international movement which can create a society in which people’s needs not capitalist profits dominate, and in doing so end atrocities like the one in Manchester. No war but the class war.

23 May 2017

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May 24 2017 19:51


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May 26 2017 09:45

This was close to home for me as I passed through Victoria Station that evening unaware of what was to come. The response by Manchester people both in the Emergency Services and all those locally in providing support and comfort and generally in acts of solidarity has been impressive but already our politicians in the midst of this crap election are seeking to milk it for all it is worth.

May 26 2017 10:42

Always appreciate you guys with the topical analysis

May 26 2017 12:42

RAF join the game

A photo has emerged of the words "love from Manchester" written on an RAF bomb, following Monday night's suicide bomb attack.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed to The Independent that the image is genuine, after speculation online that it was a fake.

It is not clear exactly who wrote the message on the munition, thought to be a laser-guided Paveway bomb

May 26 2017 13:39

The army and RAF 'professionals' as always loyal ideological supporters of their political paymasters in government it seems here.

May 26 2017 19:21

Manchester is yet another proletarian centre whose people and children have been attacked in a devastating bombing undertaken by jihadist elements.

There's plenty to say but what I want to concentrate on an aspect of British "intelligence" and some questions about its role in the background to this horrible event. I haven't read any of them but I'm aware that there are some conspiracy theories doing the rounds on the interweb.

On the face of it it's perfectly reasonable that the "security forces" can't follow every suspected terrorist or fellow traveller. But there had been warnings about Salman Abedi over years from family, friends, Imams and others in the community that were quite specific about his political motivations as a "dangerous extremist" and his wish to become a suicide bomber. Some of this was reported directly to the police and some through the sinister "Prevent" system. These weren't ambiguous warnings; they were clear, persistent and ongoing and from various areas. Yes, Salman Abedi was "known" but "not regarded as a threat" according to Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Even more astonishing is that young Salman was allowed to travel to and fro to Libya, but also went to Turkey, Syria, Dusseldorf in Germany and, according to his father, Saudi Arabia (everything here is taken from the British mainstream press, Telegraph, Independent, etc). My sister-in-law lives with her extended family in Libya (they had to flee Tripoli from Isis and her youngest granddaughter has recently died of cholera). I know something of the difficulties of travelling between Britain and Libya but it seems it was it was no problem for Salman the jihadist and the rest of his family. NBC news, quoting a US intelligence official, said that Salman had "travelled to Libya in the last 12 months, one of the multiple countries he had visited" and that "he had clear links to al-Qaida and could have connections to other groups". The French minister, Gerard Collumb, said that Abedi had "proven links with IS". No wonder that British intelligence is annoyed about these "leaks".
How could Salman Abedi and his family, known supporters of jihad, been given so much leeway in travelling around these terrorist hot-spots?

Salman's father, Ramadan Abedi (aka, Abu Ismail) has something of a past. According to some reports he worked in Gaddafi's security apparatus in the late 90's, so he won't exactly be a shrinking violet. He fled Libya to Britain some time after and returned just before Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. Back in Britain Ramandan has a job as a "security guard" with one report saying it's at an airport. He often leads the prayers at Didsbury mosque where he follows the Saudi, Salafist line on Islam. He was (and remains as far as we know) a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighter's Group (LIFG), an al-Qaida affiliated group that has been used and abused by British intelligence depending on Britain's relationship with Gaddifi. There are a number of ex(?) LIFG members living in the Fallowfields district of Manchester and some, at least, have been involved in al-Qaida linked terrorist networks in Libya. Salman's father and brothers have returned frequently to Libya and they were in Tripoli at the time of the bombing apparently talking to other terrorist elements involved in the increasingly entangled infighting in the city.

After the British and French "victory" in the Libyan war of 2011/12, there were very credible reports that the CIA and MI6 were transporting Libyan al-Qaida affiliates and their weaponry in C-17 transporters from Libya to the Turkish border with Syria so that they could fight Assad's forces (Times, September 14, 2012). This was the "rat line" according to Seymour Hersh in his very well researched 2014 extended article "The Red Line and the Rat Line".

The possibility has to be raised that Ramandan Abedi, his clique and possibly his family was and remained (up until a couple of days ago anyway - now they are a busted flush) a very useful asset for British intelligence in the politics of a Libya virtually destroyed by the western "coalition". It would also explain what appears to be a certain "protection" and ability to travel freely given to him and his family. As in many cases before it happens that the terrorist turns and bite the hands that feed them. And behind all their lies, we have to continue to put up with the sickening hypocrisy of the ruling class.

May 27 2017 11:41

Baboon thanks for those comments. The Seymour Hersh article in the LRB can be found here but it is controversial and based on sources which cannot be verified as the discussion on it shows. It will be a long time before we get the truth on that one.

You are on more solid ground on the Abedi family's ability to move around and their possible links to UK intelligence services. Its either that or an unbelievable cock-up. We now hear that Salman Abedi was reported to the authorities 5 times as a serious jihadist (once by a relative). Under Operation Prevent he should have been hauled in and questioned by the police (they have even hauled in nursery school kids [and their families] who drew bombs and planes incessantly instead of giving them help for their trauma). Predictably of course the defence is now that there are so many jihadists in the UK that the intelligence services cannot cope. A useful alibi especially when it increases the atmosphere of fear and tension not to mention the prospects of a nationalist backlash.

May 27 2017 13:45

Both your comment posts reminds me of this I read:

Jun 1 2017 21:45

Thanks for that wojtek. Had forgotten all about that one but only adds grist to the mill that Baboon initiated. Its dirty stuff. And now MI5 is to hold an internal enquiry about their operation in Libya. Must be a great conciliation for the friends and families of the victims.

Jul 19 2017 20:15

The Seymour Hersh thing above on the "rat run" from Libya to Syria via Turkey, overseen by the CIA and MI6, wasn't just reported in the Times but other mainstream foreign affairs reporter repeated accounts of Hercules transporters disgorging Libyan and other jihadists, and weaponry, around the Turkish border town of Reyhanli.The were already growing protests against Turkish involvement in the Syrian war in towns in southern Turkey involving young, old, men, women and across ethnic and religious divides, which took place from the end of 2013. They culminated, prior to Gezi Park, in protests in Reyhanli which had the same positive characteristics, but mixed with a certain democratism, of a genuine front-line anti-war movement (whatever its weaknesses). The population could see what was happening, what wasn't being openly reported in the west - they could see the jihadists landing and swagger about, totally protected and armed to the teeth for their masters' war against Assad. The protests were such that they were bombed, probably by the Turkish security services, and, from memory over 50 were killed. Their names were commemorated on the sycamore trees in Gezi Park during the protests.

It's another example, like Manchester, where we get a glimpse of the real nature of the War on Terror.

Apr 6 2018 18:52

The British government has had to admit to its involvement with the AQ affiliated Libyan jihadi group LIFG. It won't admit to the full extent of that involvement of course and the consequences that it had for the bombing in Manchester.

May 22 2018 17:05

And all this comes up again today with an 'official' day of remembrance in Manchester promoted as an act of communal solidarity with those who survived the slaughter but lost so many friends and relatives, probably welcomed by most even if we have to put up with the cant and hypocrisy of our local political and religious establishment.

Aug 16 2018 16:43

Manchester mosque sermon 'called for armed jihad', say scholars
Mosque trustees bsing at the end there.
Is there no regulation of where the funding for places comes from, who gets to 'preach', the practices inside?