Who’s to blame for the savagery seen in Manchester and London?






Today, 16 years since 9/11 and with attacks now occurring across Europe and multiple wars in the Middle East and north Africa region, it is time for the west to reflect far more deeply on these matters. To date shortsighted policy responses like Prevent have not been evidence-based. Responses to the immediate problem of terrorist acts need to be much more intelligent and informed.

At the same time, simplistic representations of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism versus the west are highly inaccurate. It is now clear that the initial US response to 9/11 sought to exploit this event in order to initiate operations against countries unconnected to al-Qaida. The Chilcot report cited a British embassy telegramsaying that “regime-change hawks” in Washington were arguing that a coalition against international terrorism “could be used to clear up other problems in the region”. The most notable outcome of this exploitation was the catastrophic Iraq invasion.

Recently, highly destructive conflicts in Syria and Libya demonstrate powerful inconsistencies regarding official claims to be fighting terrorism. In Syria, the priority of toppling Assad has involved support, intentional or unintentional, for extremist groups and allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are implicated in supporting Islamic State and other extremist groups. Indeed, the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and support in that country for “Islamist jihadists” has become a UK election issue. Regarding Libya, the Manchester attack triggered debate over the relationship between the alleged attacker, British security services, and the movement of extremists between the UK and Libya.

Responding to the dreadful events in London and Manchester requires rational responses and critical reflection upon the way in which western governments are embroiled in exploiting and facilitating terrorism. If we are to end the cycle of violence, it is time to end western involvement in terrorism.


John Pilger Journalist and documentary film-maker,
Prof Vian Bakir University of Bangor,
Prof Ruth Blakeley University of Kent,
Prof Daniel Broudy Okinawa Christian University,
Prof Emanuela C Del Re Niccolò Cusano University,
Prof John L Esposito Georgetown University,
Prof Des Freedman Goldsmiths, University of London,
Prof Natalie Fenton Goldsmiths, University of London, Prof Jenny Hocking Monash University, Prof Eric Herring University of Bristol, Prof Tim Hayward University of Edinburgh, Prof Tareq Y Ismael University of Calgary, Prof Richard Jackson University of Otago, Prof Jeremy Keenan Queen Mary University London, Prof Timo Kivimäki University of Bath, Prof David Miller University of Bath, Prof Mark Crispin Miller New York University, Prof Fredrick Ogenga Rongo University, Prof Julian Petley Brunel University, Prof David H Price Saint Martin’s University, Prof Piers Robinson University of Sheffield, Prof Salman Sayyid University of Leeds, Prof Tamara Sonn Georgetown University, Prof David Whyte University of Liverpool, Amir Amirani Producer and director, Dr Nafeez Ahmed Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Matthew Alford University of Bath, Max Blumenthal Author and journalist, Dr Emma Briant University of Sheffield, Remi Brulin New York University & John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Dr TJ Coles University of Plymouth, Sarah Earnshaw Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Dr Philip Edwards Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Lucy Morgan Edwards Researcher, Muhammad Feyyaz University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Dr Ciaran Gillespie University of Surrey, Stefanie Haueis Fachseminarleiterin, JGHerder-Gymnasium, Berlin, Dr Mark Hayes Southampton Solent University, Dr Emma Heywood Coventry University, Dr Nisha Kapoor University of York, Dr Paul Lashmar University of Sussex, Dr Sarah Marusek University of Johannesburg, Dr Narzanin Massoumi University of Bath, Dr Anisa Mustafa University of Nottingham, Ismail Patel Friends of Al-Aqsa, Peace in Palestine, Dr Piro Rexhepi Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Dr Rizwaan Sabir Liverpool John Moores University, Cathrin Ruppe University of Applied Sciences, Münster, Dr Joshua Shurley Clovis Community College, California, Dr Katy Sian University of York, Dr Greg Simons Uppsala University, Dr Giuliana Tiripelli University of Sheffield, Dr Fahid Qurashi Canterbury Christ Church University, Dr Milly Williamson Brunel University, Stephanie Weber Curator of Contemporary Art, Lenbachhaus Munich, Dr Kalina Yordanova Assistance Centre for Torture Survivors, Dr Florian Zollmann University of Newcastle


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