Dilly Hussain questions whether the increased “terror threat” to the UK posed by ISIS will result in military intervention in Iraq.
Last Friday, the Home Secretary, Theresa May announced the level of threat from international terrorism to Britain was raised from “substantial” to “severe”. May explained that a terrorist attack was highly likely, but there was no intelligence to suggest that an attack was imminent. Her choice of words was alarming, not because of the seriousness of the claim, but the unsubstantiated likelihood of a terrorist attack based on zero intelligence – it reminded me of the rhetoric before the invasion of Iraq, except in that case the government justified an illegal war on false intelligence.
The Joint Terrorism Action Centre’s (JTAC) decision to raise the threat level was related to developments in Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) were allegedly planning attacks against the West. May stated that some of the plots were likely to involve Britons who had travelled to the Middle East to take part in the war against Bashar al-Assad and the Shia-led government of Iraq. Ironically, the threat level was raised when the number of British Jihadists jumped from 500 to potentially 2000, after the beheading of American journalist, James Foley by an ISIS fighter with an English accent.
The figure 2000 was initially mentioned by Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood, who is also on the advisory council for the right-wing neocon think tank, the Henry Jackson Society. Mahmood is a staunch advocate of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy PREVENT, so it made sense when the mainstream media repeated his unfounded estimation of Britons fighting with ISIS based on the UK’s lack of border control.
David Cameron’s response
In response to the threats posed by ISIS, Prime Minister David Cameron announced new anti-terror powers that would be introduced to tackle Islamic extremism. Cross-party based legislation will be drawn up to give the police statutory powers to confiscate the passports of suspected terrorists at UK borders, and any attempt by the courts to water down these powers would be challenged.
However, PM Cameron was forced to back down yesterday when he faced legal and political opposition to these measures, which would in effect render British citizens ‘stateless’. In addition, terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) will be extended to include the power to relocate suspects. Returning jihadists are required to undergo the de-radicalisation ‘Channel’ programme, and airlines will be forced to disclose information about passengers travelling to and from conflict zones.
In reality, the cause and solution to terrorist attacks against the UK has always been that broken record called foreign policy. The reason why it’s a song on repeat is because the British government continues to place its imperialistic hegemony before the safety of its citizens. Britain’s track record of supporting brutal dictators, arming despotic regimes, and engaging in military operations in the Muslim world will be the sole reason for terrorist blowbacks at home.
It’s as if the government has not taken heed from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the advice of senior security officials who told Tony Blair in 2003 that military intervention in the Muslim world will have a direct consequence to the UK. The video message of 7/7 bomber, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and Michael Adebolajo’s speech after murdering British soldier Lee Rigby, is a testimony that foreign policy is the main catalyst of terrorism in the UK.
James Foley and Steven Sotloff were executed because the US continues to carry out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, to protect its economic interests in the oil rich Kurdish city of Erbil (not to rescue the Yazidis). The reasons stated by Britons for joining ISIS were to work for the re-establishment of the Caliphate (according to ISIS has been accomplished), and to seek martyrdom (dying outside of the UK in battle).
Syria is entering its fourth year of civil war and according to British security officials, around 200 jihadists have already returned to the UK. Yet, the police and the MI5 have not uncovered a single terror plot on British soil involving battle-hardened fighters that have come back from Syria.
PM Cameron has not ruled out the possibility of joining the US in joint airstrikes against ISIS, though an Independent poll showed that only a third of Britons supported this strategy. Ministers on both sides of the coalition strongly believe there is now a “legal” and “moral” case for military intervention in Iraq – this was discussed yesterday night at the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales.
Keep your eyes peeled and your gullible hats off – terror threats usually increase when governments are planning to kick the hornets’ nest. Knee jerk reactions to self-prophesised terror threats, which lead to the curtailment of civil liberties, are the hallmarks of a paranoid warmongering Orwellian state.
This article was first published in the Huffington Post.