Has politics become the smokescreen that shields the truth from the people? There’s no gain saying that majority of people in any society will only be privy, in any situation, to official narratives. But that must be worrying, given that political leaders will only act in their parochial interest.
Two weeks ago, the U.K. suffered a terror attack that took the lives of mostly innocent young people who were out to soothe themselves with the music and ignite their sentimental appreciation for live performances of Arine Grande in Manchester’s Arena. Twenty-two people lost their lives with over 60 others suffering varied degrees of injury. It was horrifying and given the times the West and particularly UK finds itself in, one would have thought that a lot more would be known by the public.
It took the US media to reveal details that infuriated British officials and tipped off the local media that No. 10 was keeping much needed details of the deadly strike from the British public but passing off relevant information to the US that filtered to its public through media leaks.
Soon, the Cobra meetings and briefings found it necessary to raise the terror threat levels of the U.K. to ‘critical’, meaning an attack was imminent. Days later, and most probably due to its implications for Thursday’s elections, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, lowered the terror threat level to severe. It was announced that upon a careful analysis of all the details available to the British Intelligence Agencies, no threat was imminent.
Barely a week after that declaration, another attack on London Bridge and its adjoining Borough Market claimed seven lives, leaving tens of people injured. How do Londoners analyse the current attack within the earlier assurances given by the Prime Minister upon the advice and briefings of the Intelligence Agencies?
Is it a case where in order not to look weak in the eyes of the electorate the government defied professionals’ advise of Intelligence Agencies? I found the PM’s haste to indicate that the terror attack on the London Bridge was in no way related to the Manchester attack quite intriguing. But whatever it was, lives were lost and once more. The British Intelligence Agencies failed its people, who depend on their professional counseling to the Prime Minister and the government to keep them safe.
However, given that one is not briefed of the facts that led to the lowering of the terror threat levels, one can only ask how this attack, two weeks after the previous one, escaped the eagle eyes of the Mi5 and all other intelligence agencies?
What would the Intelligence operations have been if the threat level remained critical? Could those have highlighted and or averted the incident that has claimed seven more lives? Should the West, especially, UK and Europe, generally have a new approach to the fight against terrorism? What should this approach be?
It is important that the Prime Minister wants the world to name and shame the Islamist ideology and strive to make it unattractive, clearly delinking it from Islamic religion and making as unattractive as possible, the Islamist ideology.
Again, Prevent must be seen to be living to its tenets of bringing to an end the threat of terrorism. “Enough is enough”, the Prime Minister said. “When it comes to fighting extremism and terrorism things must change,” she added. This was a day after last Saturday night’s attack. One assumes that means ensuring prevention of further terror attack by Islamist extremists.
Suggestions of clamping down on free expression on the internet will feed into their disregard for free speech and their silly characterization of western values as the perverted sense of being and their citizens as infidels. I’m not sure terrorists plan their attacks in the cyber space, if they did, the world will know way before they executed. UK and the West need to take on extremism in ways that surprise the terrorists the same way they’ve surprised not just the U.K. but a number of Western governments in recent months.
Heads of Islamic States and communities also need to do more. They are hardly seen condemning these sick lads who hide behind their religion to inflict atrocities on the western world. It’s not enough for Imams to report members of their mosques showing signs of radicalism and go to sleep. Their efforts would be lauded if some of them sign up as undercover intelligence officers and track activities of their kith and kin who have made the otherwise free world unsafe. That could be their widows’ might in the fight against Islamist Jihadists on the loose.
I agree that people of Britain will go about their activities even as they solidarise with those affected and sympathize with those who lost family and loved ones but there needs to be certainty that when people set out in a free world, they know their lives won’t be curtailed but lunatics who want to turn the world into an asylum they supervise.
We must be tired of hearing politician provide answers to these attacks, as their responses have often been tinged with higher degrees of political correctness. If you doubt it, go back to Andy Burnham’s narratives against those of the Manchester police chief. Is political correctness and attempts to gain political advantage standing in the way of the much needed war against terror? Should that be allowed any breath of life? How do Western leaders ensure that the single most important threat to their people and visitors is neutralized?
Not until the war on terror is won, it makes no sense for Western governments to assume that this insane bunch will take a breather.
I rest my case
By Kobby Gomez Mensah