US President Donald Trump addressing the NATO summit at Brussels on May 25 stated that US would never stop fighting terrorism, calling the Manchester attacks “savage” and “barbaric”. He also accused NATO members of owing “massive amounts of money” to NATO. Interestingly, the total US national debt in May 2017 stands at $18,152,809,942,589 (in excess of $18 trillion). Besides, US owed the UN $1.82 billion in 2010 that shot up to $3 billion by September 2015, and may have ballooned further. Trump said, “We will never waiver in our determination to defeat terrorism and achieve lasting security, prosperity and peace…. Terrorism must be stopped or … the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever.”
The words “will continue forever” perhaps are prophetic because the many periodic proclamations about ending terrorism, ground actions by global powers are quite to the contrary.
Manchester remains on high alert with a bomb threat in Manchester College on May 25 after the horrendous suicide bombing of the Ariana Grand concert that killed 22 and injured more than 59. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain since 2005, when the London serial bombings left 52 dead. 22-year old Salman Abedi, who bombed the Ariana Grand concert on May 22, was of Libyan descent. The ISIS claimed responsibility but given the time-gap after the attack and no details or photograph of Abedi flaunted by ISIS, this claim could be false. Yet, Abedi was obviously part of a wider terror network; possibly inspired by ‘Dabiq’, (e-magazine of ISIS), if not linked directly.
Of late, the ISIS has also been overflowing with new volunteers and they have been returning many to home countries and remain dogo. A relative of Abedi, speaking on condition of anonymity, has revealed that Abedi made a final phone to someone before the bombing pleading forgiveness, and that he was particularly upset by the killing in 2016 of a Muslim friend whose death he believed went unnoticed by infidels in the UK.
Some US reports indicates Abedi was linked to Al Qaeda (Abedi’s father having been member of the Al-Qaeda-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), and that Abedi had been on British watch-list five times. The fact that Abedi could undertake such bombing despite being on watch list has left red faces in Britain, leaving British Prime Minister Theresa May uncomfortable with approaching general elections. May confronted Donald Trump at the NATO summit saying that partnership on defence and security was built on trust, but “part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently.” Trump assured her that he will get to the bottom of the leaks. US media had showed photos and details shared by London.
US media maintain their actions conform to basics of reporting, but TRPs is chronic malady of media world over, where discretion and security matter little. Theresa May is lucky Britain is not India, otherwise the opposition would have accused her of stage managing the Manchester bombing through MI-6 in order to delay the general elections and consequently BREXIT.
Britain raising its terror threat to the highest level of “critical” was natural fallout of the Manchester bombing considering the scale of the casualties. The army is out in the streets boosting security for key sites under Operation ‘Temperer’; plan devised in 2015 but put in use first time now. Intelligence inputs suggest that terror attacks may take place in upcoming days in Europe, Spain, Netherlands and United Kingdom. The British Government believes another terror attack may be imminent. This is only the third time that Britain has raised the terror threat to “critical” level, and the current status may last up to a week or even more with upcoming general elections.
On May 23, a man carrying an axe was arrested in Bimingham during a vigil for victims of the terrorist attack. Threat levels through Europe have also been raised. In France, the state of emergency declared post the 2015 Paris terror attacks due to expire in November 2017 after five extensions, is likely to be extended further.
On May 21, Donald Trump addressing a congregation of 50 Arab and Muslim nations at Riyadh during his visit to Saudi Arabia, called on them to “take the lead in combating radicalization” and to “take on the burden” of battling terrorism, adding, “Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.” Trump made oblique reference to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries who ‘in the past’, turned a blind eye to radical clerics and others who raised money or recruited for extremist groups.
The ‘in the past’ bit is misnomer with common knowledge about which Sunni Muslim countries are continuing to fund global jihad. Trump’s speech conspicuously singled out Iran as major perpetrator of global terror; obviously clouded under the $110 billion arms deal he signed with Saudi Arabia.
It is also interesting to note that Theresa May post the Manchester attack went on record to say “we must redouble our resolve to meet the threats to our shared security, whether from terrorism or Russia” even though Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to step up counter-terror cooperation after the Manchester tragedy.
What is the global sincerity in countering terrorism? Theresa May too called for NATO to intensify the fight against ISIS during the NATO Summit at Brussels, and work more closely jointly to combat online extremism. At Riyadh, Trump described counter-terrorism a “battle between good and evil”, but what remains unaddressed is the ‘good’ terrorist, the ‘bad’ terrorist, and the ‘ugly’ terrorist’.
What of the Al Qaeda created with US and Chinese support, ISIS trained and equipped in Turkey by US-NATO (CIA putting the blame on British mercenary officers) prior to capture of Mosul in 2014, which are but few examples? Proxy forces are being used by all major powers in own national interests, including by the US, Russia, China. Fight against terrorism is linked with adversaries / perceived adversaries – example being specific mention of Iran and Russia above. To top this, economies thriving on weapon exports crave for conflict and instability.
So what counter-terrorism are we talking about? Trump now mentions India is a victim of terror, but would not say that it is Pakistan which is the hatchery. We certainly can’t counter terrorism effectively if we continue to use proxy forces – don’t get rid of the ‘good’ terrorist and ‘bad terrorist syndrome.
US historian William Blum wrote in 2015, “Since 1945, US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in 30 countries; bombed the civilian population of 30 countries; interfered in elections in 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders. In many cases Britain has been a collaborator”. That all this involved major doses of violence and barbarity is obvious.
So the West is going to face the music more and more even as Merkel’s refugee gambit (which she appears regretting now) raised American native fervor voting Trump in, and may give Merkel another term. History is replete with deceit, violence, unprecedented barbarity and loot in the erstwhile British Empire on which the sun never set. In India, the ‘Black Hole’ of Calcutta, Jalianwala Bagh massacre, blood trail of Partition worked out by the ninny Radcliff (who didn’t know the difference between a map and a napkin), plus British deceit in massacre, fall of Skardu and its passing into Pakistani hands are well known examples. But getting to recent times, what about the video showing Kashmiri terrorist Yasin Malik admitting to Tim Sebastian of killing of Indian Air Force Officers and others during his interview, removed by all BBC servers?.
Isn’t this all the more shameful because BBC is fully funded and controlled by the British Foreign Office? No correspondent joins BBC without being interviewed by the Foreign Office, and while serving can be given the marching orders anytime he steps out of the government line. It took some pro-India and pro-military individuals almost two decades to source this video (http://readindiaright.com/bbc-removed-footage-yasin-malik-admitting-murder-indian-air-force-officers/), but do you require further proof that the British Government supporting terrorism in J&K?
From the above it can be safely assume that amongst all the chest thumping resolve about countering terrorism, the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorist syndrome is not going away in the foreseeable future. And this is so because of the ‘ugly’ terrorist – that uses proxy forces; the terrorists classified ‘good’ by him. That is how the ‘ugly’ terrorist will continue to further his own national interests in the 21st century. It is all part of hybrid warfare, which anyway is not a new concept. It has a lesson for India – provided we are prepared to graduate beyond orchestrating violence prior to election, for winning.