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.