As suspected and as was the case in virtually all recent terror attacks carried out in Europe – including both in France and Belgium – the suspect involved in the recent Manchester blast which killed 22 and injured scores more was previously known to British security and intelligence agencies.
The Telegraph in its article, “Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber – what we know about him,” would report:
Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.
While initial reports attempted to craft a narrative focused on a a “lone wolf” attacker who organized and executed the blast himself, the nature of the improvised explosive device used and the details of the attack revealed what was certainly an operation carried out by someone who either acquired militant experience through direct contact with a terrorist organization, or was directed by a terrorist organization with extensive experience.
A Thriving Terrorist Community in the Midst of Manchester
The same Telegraph article would also admit (emphasis added):
A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.
Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda.
Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.
Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi.
Thus, the required experience for the recent Manchester attack exists in abundance within the community’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) members.
LIFG is in fact a proscribed terrorist group listed as such by the United Kingdom’s government in 2005, and still appears upon its list of “Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations,” found on the government’s own website.
The accompanying government list (PDF) states explicitly regarding LIFG that:
The LIFG seeks to replace the current Libyan regime with a hard-line Islamic state. The group is also part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by Al Qa’ida. The group has mounted several operations inside Libya, including a 1996 attempt to assassinate Mu’ammar Qadhafi.
Thus, astoundingly, according to the Telegraph, a thriving community of listed terrorists exists knowingly in the midst of the British public, without any intervention by the UK government, security, or intelligence agencies – with members regularly travelling abroad and participating in armed conflict and terrorist activities before apparently returning home – not only without being incarcerated, but apparently also without even being closely monitored.
LIFG also appears on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Astoundingly, it appears under a section titled, “Delisted Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” and indicates that it was removed as recently as 2015.
Elsewhere on the US State Department’s website, is a 2012 report where LIFG is described:
On November 3, 2007, [Al Qaeda (AQ)] leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced a formal merger between AQ and LIFG. However, on July 3, 2009, LIFG members in the United Kingdom released a statement formally disavowing any association with AQ.
The report also makes mention of LIFG’s role in US-led NATO regime change operations in Libya in 2011 (emphasis added):
In early 2011, in the wake of the Libyan revolution and the fall of Qadhafi, LIFG members created the LIFG successor group, the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change (LIMC), and became one of many rebel groups united under the umbrella of the opposition leadership known as the Transitional National Council. Former LIFG emir and LIMC leader Abdel Hakim Bil-Hajj was appointed the Libyan Transitional Council’s Tripoli military commander during the Libyan uprisings and has denied any link between his group and AQ.
Indeed, a literal senior Al Qaeda-affiliate leader would head the regime put into power by US-led military operations – which included British forces.
Not only this, but prominent US politicians would even travel to Libya to personally offer support to Bil-Hajj (also spelled Belhaj). In one notorious image, US Senator John McCain is seen shaking hands with and offering a gift to the terrorist leader in the wake of the Libyan government’s collapse.
The US State Department’s report regarding LIFG ends with information about its “area of operation,” claiming (emphasis added):
Since the late 1990s, many members have fled to southwest Asia, and European countries, particularly the UK.
For the residents of Manchester, the British government appears to have categorically failed to inform them of the threat living openly in their midst. While the British population is divided and distracted with a more general strategy of tension focused on Islam, Muslims, and Islamophobia, the very specific threat of US-UK sanctioned terrorists living and operating within British communities is overlooked by the public.
However – for British security and intelligence agencies – it is unlikely that such an obvious security threat was merely “overlooked.” That extremists thrive within British communities without government intervention indicates complicity, not incompetence.
LIFG Terrorists Are Anglo-America’s Helping Hands
The Guardian in a 2011 article titled, “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – from al-Qaida to the Arab spring,” would claim:
British intelligence and security service interest in Libya has focused for 20 years on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whether it was opposing Muammar Gaddafi and working with al-Qaida, later renouncing its old jihadi worldview – or taking part in the armed uprising that has now overthrown the regime.
The article in reality is nothing more than an attempt to portray a listed terrorist organization as “reformed” ahead of increased public awareness regarding the true nature of Libya’s US and British-backed “rebels.”
LIFG members would not only assist the US and British governments in the 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government, they would also move on – with Western arms and cash – to NATO-member Turkey where they staged an invasion of northern Syria.
The Telegraph in a November 2011 article titled, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”
The article would continue by reporting:
The meetings came as a sign of a growing ties between Libya’s fledgling government and the Syrian opposition. The Daily Telegraph on Saturday revealed that the new Libyan authorities had offered money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad.
Mr Belhaj also discussed sending Libyan fighters to train troops, the source said. Having ousted one dictator, triumphant young men, still filled with revolutionary fervour, are keen to topple the next. The commanders of armed gangs still roaming Tripoli’s streets said yesterday that “hundreds” of fighters wanted to wage war against the Assad regime.
Revealed once again is a convenient intersection of terrorist and US-British interests – this time in pursuit of regime change in Syria in the wake of successful US-UK backed regime change in Libya.
Confirming that these plans to send Libyan extremists to fight in Syria were eventually executed is CNN’s 2012 article, “Libya rebels move onto Syrian battlefield,” which reported:
Under the command of one of Libya’s most well known rebel commanders, Al-Mahdi al-Harati, more than 30 Libyan fighters have made their way into Syria to support the Free Syrian Army rebels in their war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Al Harati’s army of Libyan terrorists would expand to hundreds, possibly thousands of fighters and later merge with other Syrian militant groups including Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise – Jabhat Al Nusra. In Libya, LIFG fighters have divided themselves among various warring factions, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates.
As these terrorists filter out of Syria and back home, those hailing from LIFG are mainly returning to the UK where they have been known by US and British security and intelligence agencies for years to exist. With them they will be bringing back the technical knowledge and experience needed to carry out devastating attacks like the recent blast that targeted Manchester.
It is terrorism that follows as a direct result of British foreign and domestic policy – supporting terrorists abroad and deliberately refusing to dismantle their networks at home – all as they feed fighters and resources into the US-UK proxy war still raging in Syria.
The British government is directly responsible for the recent Manchester blast. It had foreknowledge of LIFG’s existence and likely its activities within British territory and not only failed to act, but appears to have actively harbored this community of extremists for its own geopolitical and domestic agenda.
The recent blast will only reinforce the unsophisticated “tolerance versus bigotry” narrative that has gripped British society, entirely sidestepping the reality of government sanctioned terrorism wielded both abroad and against its own people – not for ideological or religious purposes – but purely in pursuit of geopolitical hegemony.
That the US and UK are using terrorists to expedite their respective geopolitical objectives should come as no surprise – particularly in regards to LIFG – since the organization itself branched out of Washington’s mercenary fighters used against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
What is surprising is that the Western public continues to react emotionally to each terrorist attack individually rather than rationally, seeing the much larger picture and pattern. And until the Western public sees that bigger picture and pattern, fear, injustice, murder, and mayhem will continue to dominate their lives and futures.
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Contributed by Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer.