Pointing the Finger Of Blame Won’t Help Prevent Terrorism.
I must admit it, when things go wrong for me, I do always look for someone to blame. I suppose there’s an element of human nature about it. The ‘Well – I’m – Perfect – So – This- Is – All – Your – Fault’ syndrome.
Well, I’m not perfect, so that argument won’t work although I must admit, I have tried it several times with the erstwhile boyfriend, especially when it came to leaving him drumming his fingers on the dashboard while I was still dressed in one stocking and a frantic look.
The trouble with modern day society is that there always has to be Someone To Blame. Whether it be a hapless individual or an international corporation, we need to have someone’s head on the chopping block, someone we can point a finger and yell ‘So, it was YOU!’ because obviously, if we are able to do this, we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility for whatever consequences might ensue.
So who do we blame for Terrorism, then? The terrorists themselves must surely take responsibility for their own actions – or do we point the finger of blame for letting it happen in the first place to those whose responsibility it should be to ensure that it doesn’t happen?
Let’s face it, I’ve said this before in a recent blog – catch Does A War On Terror Only Serve To Make Us Terrorists, Too – no-one is born a terrorist, and they’re usually created by the very people that we are blaming for shirking in their responsibility at preventing terrorism.
So who, or what, are we blaming for what seems to be a fundamental failure to prevent terrorism on these shores? At the moment, all three major political parties have taken up a rallying cry and each are expostulating the word ‘blame’ and pointing fingers with rapid succession at a number of reasons why a young man known to counter terrorist organisations should have been able to succeed in blowing up and killing 22 people at a pop concert and making the journey to everlasting paradise with his virgins himself.
Jeremy Corbyn recently cited British foreign policy as being to blame – in a recent speech delivered days after the Manchester bombing, the Labour party leader – who once attended a Troops Out rally in his early political career when he seemingly openly rubbed shoulders with and offered support to the IRA in Northern Ireland – condemned British military operations and intervention abroad. Careful not to name specific wars, he pledged to change foreign policy suggested that he would bring to end our involvement in air strikes against ISIS in Libya and Syria, where over 1250 British military are currently stationed.
It’s thought that there are something like 54 countries currently taking some form of military stance against Islamic State, and of those 54, there are 12 whom are involved in active action such as air strikes. Of those 12, interestingly every single one has suffered a terrorist attack claimed by Islamic State. So is Mr Corbyn correct? It’s a possibility, certainly, but does that mean that Britain should simply turn its back on atrocities carried out elsewhere to prevent atrocities being carried out here?
Home Secretary Amber Rudd was quick to deny that cutting the amount of police officers patrolling our streets was in any way linked to the Manchester attack, claiming that this is not where low level intelligence used in counter terrorism offences actually comes from, but rather from engagement in such strategies such as Prevent, which works with local community groups but not through the police. Perhaps Amber Rudd is not old enough to remember the ‘bobby on the beat’ – a commonplace sight in the sixties and seventies – a local police officer who lived and worked within a community, often at the heart of local issues and working actively on behalf of the local populous. How many people nowadays would even SEE a policeman on patrol (before the events of this last week, of course) let alone know his first name.
Is Ms Rudd right? Does counter terrorism really not suffer if you remove 20,000 police officers from full time duty? She is documented as saying that we must not imply that terrorist activity may not have taken place if there had been more policing. Yet now we have had to place troops on the streets in order to ‘free up’ the police to engage in the low level intelligence gathering that Ms Rudd denied they were involved in.
UKIP deputy Chair, Suzanne Evans blamed Theresa May, not just as Prime Minister, but also as Home Secretary, stating that she allowed known jihadists to return to this country and failed to prevent extremists spreading hatred in our mosques and through universities and schools. UKIP believes that the Prime Minister has ‘lost control of the spread of radicalism and extremism by slashing the number of police officers on the streets and also for leaving Britain’s borders ‘wide open’.
Ms Evans’ UKIP was the first party, not surprisingly, to blame immigration for the Manchester attack. Yet a study carried out by the University of Warwick in 2016 concluded that migration is overall not a source of terrorism. Although the report conceded that some terrorist attacks can be linked to migration from terror prone states, it countered this by stating that migration can actually help to decrease terror attacks rather than increase the likelihood of an attack. It concluded that establishing tougher immigration laws would not per se reduce the risk of a terror attack if counter terrorism units failed to identify the organisers of terrorism in the first place.
Did counter terrorism units miss opportunities to seize Salman Abedi? Reports are suggesting that they did so on five separate occasions and that Abedi was reported to the authorities on more than one occasion for his radicalist and extremist views. Abedi was apparently a known person of interest to counter terrorism units for a period spanning possibly five years and authorities were aware also that Abedi’s father had links to a well known Islamist group in Libya, which is proscribed to Britain. Abedi was also free to travel between Libya, Germany and the UK in the weeks leading up to the Manchester attack and yet despite his being a ‘known person of interest’ he was not flagged up on any of the airlines security alerts.
All in all, we have plenty of people to blame. However, whilst we are busy pointing collective fingers of blame and recriminating about what could have, and potentially should have been done to prevent this atrocity, we must all remember that at the end of the day 22 people lost their lives and 59 are injured because of that one man, who carried an explosive device into a crowded concert venue and detonated it with the intent to kill. Looking for someone to blame? Try the terrorist himself.
© Amy J Steinberg 2017