In my two posts in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester bombing, I concluded:
If it was a home made bomb, it was a remarkably powerful one. It would be very unusual for a lone terrorist to be able to make a bomb this powerful. It is hard to think of any incident where an individual acting entirely alone has successfully done that.
This brought a response from regular right wing commenters on this blog that was astonishingly vitriolic. Coward and liar were among the things I was called, but much of the language was very much more crude than that. This all resulted in a large number of comment deletions. When a comment is deleted the replies and replies to replies are also deleted, so it can cascade quite far. That explains why a large number of innocent comments went.
But where they had an argument and not just insult, I was told that I could not know that much about bombs (I went on a course in the FCO at the Fort where we learnt about terrorist bombs and got to blow things up). I was also told that in other countries many suicide bombs had been this powerful (this is true, but they were provided by organisations, not made by individuals).
It has become plain that the reason the critical warning has been declared (which is British for State of Emergency) is that the security services believe such a powerful portable bomb almost certainly requires organisational support to build it. Which is precisely what I had realised. I suppose that is natural; I was a trained part of the state machine for a long time, so I can think like the state machine.
So let me come back to those commenters. Those who follow this blog regularly will know that there are a distinct group of right wing commenters who each appear to monitor the blog almost on a 24 hour basis. They certainly individually spend more time looking at it than I personally do, though this election period is an exception. These individuals always, whatever the subject, argue the UK government line against me. Over many years, I have never seen one of them even argue an alternative anti-government line to my own. Shortly after the bombing the official narrative was “lone-wolf”. So in this official emergency they all piled in together on the comment thread against any counter-narrative.
The other reason advanced for attacking me was the accusation I was secretly suggesting that this attack was perpetrated by the British state, in order to influence the election. It is undoubtedly true that the timing of the attack is remarkable – it came as Tory poll ratings were plummeting, Theresa May had just made the screeching U-turn or pretended U-turn on social care, and then appeared totally out of her depth in the Andrew Neil interview, destroying her “who do you trust” narrative.
In fact, nothing I wrote can in any way be construed as indicating I thought that the British state was implicated in the attack. For the record, I do not think it is remotely likely the British state was implicated in the attack. I knew a lot of senior people in the security services, and a few in special forces, and there is not a single one I suspect would do this kind of thing, or not actively seek to stop it if they came across it. I simply discount the idea.
But the election is the elephant in the room. We cannot pretend this has no impact on the election. Historians will look back at how this did or did not affect the course of the election.
I have a number of concerns. The first is that I argued that the Russian referendum in Crimea was not legitimate because you can’t have a free and fair election with troops patrolling the streets. I still hold that view about the Crimea, and I have real concerns about proceeding with the election during, in effect, a state of emergency.
The second point is that, because I rule out a British government false flag, that does not mean that I rule out the idea that the timing of the attack was an attempt to affect the course of the election. It seems very likely that it was timed to affect the election, especially when you consider that an attack from the same kind of jihadists occurred in France just before their recent election.
You would have expected an attack with such a sophisticated bomb to be part of a pattern of more or less simultaneous attacks using similar technology. That is what the security services did expect; hence the “Critical” warning. The fact there has so far been only one attack suggests to me that it was brought forward quickly to a target of opportunity due to the snap election.
There are many non-British state and non-state groups which might wish to influence the election. Remember that the very definition of terrorism is violence with a political objective. If it does not have a political objective it is not terrorism. Let me make this observation. The ideology of virtually all “Islamic” terrorism stems from Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is fundamental to the very foundation of the rule of the Saudi royal family. Every known jihadist terrorist group, including ISIS, Al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda, has received funding from Saudi Arabia. Here is a fascinating article by MI6’s Alastair Crooke on Wahhabism and the “duality” of the superficially hostile ISIS/Saudi relationship. Everything we know about Salman Abedi is consistent with this influence.
Jeremy Corbyn has continually criticised Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record and its devastating attacks on civilians in Yemen. Corbyn has vowed to stop arms supplies to Saudi Arabia. By contrast, Theresa May and her ministers have repeatedly visited Saudi Arabia and positively kowtowed to its rulers, and looked to increase arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Who do you think the Saudi ruling class, the World’s leading sponsors of terrorism, wish to win the General Election?
Furthermore a key part of the Saudi sponsored Sunni terrorist surge is support for Al-Nusra and the other jihadist rebel groups fighting to overthrow Assad in Syria. I do not support Assad, but neither have I ever thought it remotely sane to support a violent conflict to overthrow him and replace him with jihadist head-choppers. Yet the British establishment, and especially the Conservative Party, has been gung-ho to bomb Syria and help the jihadists to replace Assad.
Who has stood against the bombing of Syria and against British military support for the Saudi/jihadist agenda in Syria? Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP.
I have no doubt whatsoever the jihadists would try to influence the election, and try to influence it against Corbyn. As the great journalist John Pilger said yesterday of this possibility that ISIS are trying to influence the election against Corbyn and the SNP:
“They know how to intervene in public discourse every day and in politics every day. So that suggestion may well have a great deal of validity.”
Security issues traditionally play well for the right in an election. At time of attack there is a tendency to rally to authority figures. Rather than a very inadequate politician under fire, the Prime Minister has been able to appear in an entirely unchallenged setting as a figure of patriotism. Let me be 100% clear. It is not that May has done anything wrong; it is just that these effects are what the terrorists are probably counting on.
So in our hearts we must never forget the unfortunate victims of this bombing, so young and with so much talent. We must remember the horribly maimed as well as the dead, and ensure they receive all the support they need. We must condemn without ceasing the disgusting violence that destroys so many lives.
But we must also do something very difficult. We must press in our heads a reset button. We must remain entirely rational in considering the political choices before us, and not allow the incident to affect – in any direction – our political calculation on how to vote. Otherwise that is a major victory for the terrorists.