Is there a pattern here? If so, what is the motive?

London suffers yet another terrorist attack with seven dead so far and dozens more injured, many critically, in two separate but connected events. We are told that three assailants were shot dead by police. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, given that this occurred less than a week before British elections on June 8 and that there was a similar attack in Manchester last week Paris a few days before the French presidential election, one has to ask if there is a deliberate pattern to launch such attacks just before elections.

If so, what would be the motive? A desire to disrupt the actual elections would suggest that the attacks be carried out on the day of the election or the day before. This timing, and the recent Manchester attack, suggests that if there is in fact a coherent policy at play, the idea is to have an effect on the voting. The usual reaction of the public, at least in the US, is to harden attitudes towards Muslims and immigrants and increase support for right wing policies and groups. Groups like ISIS have made no secret of the fact that their goal is to drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of the world and they are clearly hoping for a harsh and even violent backlash against Muslims in the west so that they can claim that accommodationist and assimilationist Muslims are fools and that nothing less than a total separation under their leadership will protect them.

Donald Trump, of course, plays right into their hands and, to no one’s surprise, has taken these attacks to advance his own xenophobic agenda, like he did after Paris when he clearly seemed to hope that it would benefit Marine Le Pen, and now after London. But in France, the hard right party of Le Pen did not fare well, winning just one-third of the vote. One might argue that it could have been even smaller if there were no attack but I believe her showing was worse than anticipated.

The recently released report of British intelligence warning then prime minister Tony Blair that the UK risked increased terror attacks if the UK entered into the war with Iraq complicates the picture.

FORMER BRITISH PRIME Minister Tony Blair has yet to say anything about Monday’s heinous, nihilistic suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. According to current reporting, the attack has been claimed by ISIS and was carried out by a 22-year-old man born in Manchester to Libyan refugees.

But when Blair does speak, we can be certain he won’t mention one key fact: Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. and U.K., he was forcefully and repeatedly warned by Britain’s intelligence services that it would lead to exactly this type of terrorist attack — and he concealed these warnings from the British people, instead claiming the war would reduce the risk of terrorism.

So it’s complicated. We shall have to see what effect these latest attacks have on the British parliamentary vote on Thursday before concluding whether this strategy by ISIS and related groups is succeeding.


  1. jrkrideau says

    I suspect you are seeing a pattern that is not there. If the attacks were coordinated and they may well have been I suspect it is to help support May and the Cons, usually seen as the tough on crime and terrorism party who can expected to go to more drastic repressive measures and thus increase radicalization, and ISIS recruitment statistics, among disaffected youth.

    And May, like a well-conditioned Pavlovian pup jis obliging. A couple of quotes from her facebox page:

    “We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning.”

    ” While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.”

    “And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.”
    “we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.”

    Did ISIS write that facebook entry for her or just suggest themes?

    As for Trump, just his normal xenophobic insane ravings. So much for the trip to Saudi. Competent US Foreign Service personnel everywhere from Bosnia to Indonesia must be crying, beating their heads against the desk.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    Also, to anyone who thinks, these attacks put the lie to the idea of “security” as a defense against terrorism. For a while, after each attack going back to 9/11, there was a flurry of “security thinking” — we need more TSA agents! More checkpoints! More cameras! And let’s do security checks on everyone who learns to fly a plane! Or use explosives! Or buy anything that could be used as an explosive! If we just have lots and lots and lots and lots of “security,” then we will be “safe”!

    And now, the weapon is — a car. And the target is — people on a sidewalk. And security thinkers might briefly imagine putting up concrete barriers between every road and every sidewalk — but even they have got to realize how dumb that is.

    This is a war of ideas. The only way to win it is with better ideas. Maybe now they’ll finally realize that.

  3. robert79 says

    I’m not seeing a pattern except one of desperation. Fifteen years ago, they were flying planes into skyscrapers, now they are driving trucks into fish and chips stands. Instead of thousands of deaths we’re seeing about half a dozen. (Which of course, don’t get me wrong, is still absolutely horrid!)

    The one pattern I’m seeing from these attacks is that a lot of our security precautions seem to be working quite well. Clearly these terrorists have to do everything possible to remain under the radar: they use knives, not guns; trucks, not airplanes; fake vests as opposed to real bombs.

    Compared to, for example, the time of IRA bombings a few decades ago, I believe the yearly number of deaths from terror in Europe is, on average, down (I’d need to find a source on this, I did read it somewhere…)

  4. Smokey says

    They don’t need thousands of deaths to succeed. 9/11 (literally) terrorized us to the point that half a dozen victims today is enough to reinforce that fear. Once we have been properly conditioned then only periodic reminders are needed to maintain it.

    I don’t want to claim false flag operations, but ethically challenged governments have regarded loss of life acceptable in order to reach whatever goal they had. I don’t think that’s what happened here, but the FBI have in the past supplied would-be terrorists with (dummy) weapons, most likely to validate their own existence and extravagant budgets. That’s a tactic that could backfire badly.

    No matter which mechanism or purpose is behind these attacks, the politicians have been indecently eager to exploit the tragedies for their own purposes. Opportunistic scavengers are found everywhere, and Theresa May is a prime example of that.

  5. says

    I don’t think there’s a pattern, which is why it’s working. If you’re planning things for a specific effect, then your opposition can attack or penetrate your planning-cycle. This seems to be more a case of targets of opportunity. That’s a virtually unstoppable tactic, which is what ISIS is interested in: “everyone do your own jihad!” It raises the costs on the defender astronomically.

  6. says

    Re: my #5
    For example, all you have to do is loudly plan to put explosives in laptops, and watch the security state face-plant itself trying to figure out what to do. Then talk about radiological dispersion and watch them spend $30mil on radiation detectors and then you derail a train.

  7. Matt G says

    Let’s see, 9/11 reportedly cost $200k. The response (Iraq War, which they said would pay for itself) will end up at around $2 trillion. That is a shrewd investment. The extremists on both sides win.

  8. EigenSprocketUK says

    DDoS = distributed denial of serenity. They’ve told individual malcontents to organise their own thing based on some simple hard-to-prevent principles. And they’ve taught us all to react and amplify as we tell each other loudly (and without evidence) that we are collectively under unprecedented attack.
    When our prime minister is leading the squawking (comment#1) then it all looks very dark indeed.
    Preview seems to be broken: all typos and brain fumbles above are mine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *