Headline news in the corporate media right now is the publication of Sir John Saunder’s report into security failings at the Manchester Arena on the night of the tragic May 2017 bombing. It is ‘highly likely’, states the report, that more lives could have been saved if security measures had been scrupulously adhered to. However, what no mainstream news report will be telling you is that none of the people killed that night in the arena need have died if the real security scandal behind the attack had been exposed .The truth is the UK government not only knew there was a cabal of dangerous extremists in the heart of Manchester and did nothing – they nurtured it and colluded with it.
A mural in Tripoli paying tribute to fighters from Manchester who joined the 17 February Martyrs’ Brigade during Libya’s revolution against Gaddafi (AFP)
In an explosive Middle East Eye report from May 2017 titled, ”Sorted’ by MI5: How UK government sent British-Libyans to fight Gaddafi’ we learn that, ‘the British government operated an “open door” policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to join the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders’.
These ‘Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens’ were based in Manchester and members of the notorious LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), a proscribed terrorist group with whom MI5 and MI6 colluded in 2011 to assist in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Middle East Eye’s May ’17 report states: ‘several former rebel fighters now back in the UK told MEE that they had been able to travel to Libya with “no questions asked” as authorities continued to investigate the background of a British-Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Monday’s attack in Manchester.’
The Telegraph reported after the bombing on the fact that the bomber, Salman Abedi, 22, ‘was reportedly known to the security services’ and was ‘thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.’ but these ‘shocking’ revelations served to obscure rather than reveal the full truth of the situation. As Tony Cartalucci in his Land Destroyer Report commented:
‘While initial reports attempted to craft a narrative focused on 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.’
Abedi himself had traveled to Libya in 2011. Middle East Eye: ‘British police have said they believe the bomber, who returned to Manchester just a few days before the attack, was part of a network and have arrested six people, including Abedi’s older brother, since Monday.’ So here we had a young man immersed in Islamic extremism and embedded within a network of Libyan terrorists in the heart of Manchester which was nurtured by the UK government for its own nefarious geopolitical ends. Little did they care what risks their extremist friends posed to the British public as long as their foreign policy objectives were served. And if some innocent kids at a pop concert are killed? So what? Anyone who believes for a moment that our leaders and their intelligence agencies lose a moment’s sleep over the deaths of children, be they in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine or Britain, is naive beyond all help.
And talking of leaders, let’s ask who was the Home Secretary who oversaw, in 2011. this criminal collusion with individuals considered so dangerous they were under terrorist control orders? Why, it was Theresa May, the very person who, as Prime Minister at the time of the Manchester bombing, stood outside Number 10 and gave a press conference full of impassioned outrage at such an unforeseeable tragedy. Judy Dench could not have given a better performance. And all of this occurred in the run-up to one of the most crucial general elections in decades; the one during which, prior to the full onslaught of the antisemitism smear campaign which finally torpedoed him, Jeremy Corbyn was gaining ground in the polls and went on to do far better in the election itself than anyone had thought possible.
A significant observation was made at the time by political blogger, John Hilley, who, after the MME revelations, observed: ‘Proper reporting of this story should be enough to bring down Theresa May’. Think about that for a moment; just days away from election day the British people could have been given information which, if known, might very well have seen Corbyn as Prime Minister. Predictably, however, there was no ‘proper reporting’ of these vital facts, because journalism is not what the corporate media does. Stenography is the business they are in; the obedient parroting of their official sources, as evidenced by John Pilger in his must-view documentary, The War You Don’t See.
I, myself, contacted Jon Snow of Channel 4 News in 2017 to make him aware of the Middle East Eye story, not out of a hope that he would actually report it – I had corresponded with him previously (and since) and had already written extensively on the failings of Ch4N – but only to put him on the spot and prove that the ‘feisty and radical’ Snow is as much a slave to his corporate masters as any other national news figurehead. Indeed, you don’t get to advance that far up the ladder unless you can be trusted to remain loyal to those paying your fat salary. Here is my email exchange with Snow:
From: Alison Banville <>
Sent: 07 June 2017 10:06
To: Snow, Jon
Subject: Theresa May/Manchester
You must be aware of all the information regarding Theresa May withdrawing control orders for members of the LIFG in Manchester when Home Secretary and that these individuals were allowed to travel freely between that city and Libya at the time the UK government was intervening in that country.
You must be aware of the Middle East Eye article detailing MI5/6’s involvement. John Pilger has written about it and historian Mark Curtis and ex-Guardian journalist Nafeez Ahmed brought out a joint report compiling all the facts and evidence. There is also my own piece on Global Research. See links below.Why then have you chosen not to report this crucial story?
Snow, Jon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 7 Jun 2017 at 21:05
I’m sorry Alison ..its been so hard to keep up..I will try to pursue this the moment i can take breath..best Jon
Jon never did ‘pursue’ it, of course. He was just too busy to report one of the most seismic stories he was ever likely to encounter in his ‘journalistic’ career. But this, as others who have tried to engage with him on issues ignored by Ch4N have discovered, is his MO. A polite, swift reply in a tone of good-natured befuddlement, but press him further, as I have done subsequently, and this friendly facade soon dissolves into defensive, bad-tempered arrogance. See the full correspondence I had with him regarding the unreported Sweida massacre in Syria here. These emails were also highlighted in an episode of UK Column news.
Imagine if Channel 4 News had reported, just before the ’17 election, that in 2011 MI6 and MI5 colluded with members of a proscribed terrorist group based in the heart of Manchester to overthrow Gaddafi and that Theresa May, as Home Secretary, lifted their control orders to make it all possible. Imagine if Jon, with brows knitted in that concerned furrow we know so well, had told viewers how LIFG members revealed that ‘within days’ of this their passports were returned. It was never going to happen.
Theresa May, as we know, went on to win the election against a man, Corbyn, who had been consistently labelled during the run-up to it as a terrorist sympathiser. The sheer scale of the hypocrisy is hard to grasp. Reflect if you will that one LIFG source told Middle East Eye he was asked by an MI5 officer, ‘are you willing to go into battle?’ Another source explained he was, ’employed to edit videos showing Libyan rebels being trained by former SAS and Irish special forces mercenaries in Benghazi’ the Libyan city in which a ‘massacre’ provided the rationale for Western intervention.
Media Lens, in their alert ‘The Great Libya War Fraud” observed: ‘the smearing of Jeremy Corbyn fits well with the similarly uniform propaganda campaign taking the ‘threat’ of Iraq ‘WMD’ seriously…then, also, the corporate media system assailed the public with a long litany of fraudulent claims. And then there was Libya’. The piece continues under the sub-heading, ‘The Benghazi Massacre: No Real Evidence’: ‘coming so soon after the incomplete but still damning exposure of the Iraq deception – with the bloodbath still warm – the media’s deep conformity and willful gullibility on the 2011 Libyan war left even jaundiced observers aghast. It was clear that we were faced with a pathological system of propaganda on Perpetual War autopilot.’ Media Lens also tweeted: ‘The Benghazi massacre threat was a fraud. But shouldn’t heads now roll at the BBC, Guardian, Independent, Times…?’
We might also take into account how all this links to the Syrian situation: Aaron Klein, in his 2015 book Benghazi: The Real Story (What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know) claims, as Global Research reports: ‘The U.S. special mission in Benghazi and the nearby CIA annex were utilized in part to coordinate arms shipments to the jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role…’
And Tony Cartalucci writes in his piece on the Manchester bombing that, ‘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’. He then draws our attention to a 2011 report in The Telegraph:
‘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.’
Cartalucci points out that Libyan terrorist, Al-Mahdi al-Harati was rehabilitated by CNN to a ‘rebel commander’, then asserts, ‘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.’ He concludes: ‘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.’
That the corporate media propaganda ‘autopilot’ used for Libya is in full operation regarding Syria hardly needs emphasising, and those good old ‘radicals’ at Channel 4 News are right at the forefront as documented by independent British journalist in Syria, Vanessa Beeley, in her must-read piece ‘Fake News Week: Why Channel 4 “News” Owes an Apology to Syria’ . Because to understand why Theresa May allowed a network of known Jihadist terrorists to thrive in the middle of Manchester, and to comprehend why the corporate media willfully kept this from the British people, we need to understand the overarching modus operandi of the British corporate state – of which the corporate media is a vital component. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan…it is always the same MO, the same bullshit justifications for war accompanied by the same amplification – rather than the challenging – of them by the ‘mainstream’ media.
We heard comments aplenty about Jeremy Paxman’s ‘ferocious’ grilling of Theresa May in his 2017 election interviews, but did he question her on any of these sickening ‘Libyan’ revelations in what was, after all, supposed to be a democratic exercise in determining her suitability as Prime Minister? He did not. And the same goes for that other corporate media ‘rottweiler’ Andrew Neil. Both of these six-figure earning, puffed-up egomaniacs conducted a charade of savage inquisition whilst leaving the most critical questions in their back pockets with their hefty paychecks. What a deplorable sham. The rottweilers are nothing more than obedient poodles. It is thanks to charlatans like this that the British public is left to fatally compartmenalise on geopolitcal issues rather than seeing the pattern of psychopathic ‘Perpetual War’ praxis operating without interruption through the bloody decades.
The UK government’s collusion with the LIFG is just another appalling episode in the ongoing story of British state terrorism.
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s founding members had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, returning to Libya determined to establish an Islamic state and coalescing as the LIFG in the mid-1990’s. In 1996 they carried out a failed assassination attempt against Gaddafi which was, according to MI5 whistleblower, David Shayler, funded by MI6, this being one of the reasons he left MI5. Shayler explained he was ‘physically sickened by the fact that MI6 wanted to sponsor Islamic extremists and carry out terrorism’. A sentiment he expanded upon in a book by fellow MI5 whistleblower and his partner at the time, Annie Machon, excerpts of which are available on Machon’s website:
‘I joined the service to stop terrorism and prevent the deaths of innocent people, not to get involved in these despicable and cowardly acts. I still cannot believe that the Prime Minister has refused to take my evidence or investigate this matter as this decision has sent out a clear message to the intelligence services that they can fund terrorism, conspire to murder people with impunity, and take enormous risks with our security. After all, would you give an individual you hardly know, who has admitted to connections with Al Qaeda, an enormous sum to carry out a terrorist attack, when you know the group he is leading is opposed to the values of Western society? It is difficult to imagine a greater disregard and contempt for the lives and security of the British people’.
How terribly prescient Shayler’s words resound in light of the Manchester bombing. Arena bomber Salman Abedi’s act was just one more consequence of UK state collusion with Islamic extremists and another addition to the shameful record of deep-state depravity which has continued unseen for years, serenaded by the rhetoric of ‘peace and freedom’ spewed out by the Thatchers, Blairs and Mays, leaders happy to send off successive generations of young soldiers to fight and die in their corporate wars accompanied by the drumbeat of their media’s approval while the innocent civilian dead pile up in pitiable monument.
Ten million that number stands and rising, according to historian Mark Curtis who has documented, based on declassified government files, the consequences of Britain’s inglorious foreign policy since World War II. Mark is well placed to remark that ‘the culture of lying to and misleading the electorate is deeply embedded in British policy-making’ enabled by the elite’s ‘endemic contempt for the general population.’ A contempt which meant that, ‘Labour and Conservative governments have connived with militant groups linked to Al Qaeda to control oil resources, overthrow governments and promote Britain’s financial interests. ‘ (Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion With Radical Islam
The report published today on lax security at the Manchester arena is reported with earnest moral concern by a mainstream media which refused to report the truth about the nest of UK government supported terrorists in the heart of the city which spawned the bomber. How long are we going to tolerate this level of corruption and collusion between a depraved elite who care nothing for the lives of children anywhere and their corporate media propaganda team without whom none of this carnage would be possible? I am mightily sick of this unholy alliance and its devastating consequences. It has to stop.
Back in 2011, my BSNews co-editor, Mike Raddie, reported to the Metropolitan Police that suspected British citizens were providing funding and support for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Two weeks later, after no response from The Met, Mike contacted them again to be told that his report had been logged, but that the content was redacted. This was, the officer told him, ‘unprecedented’.
Alison Banville is co-editor of BSNews, an independent journalist, singer-songwriter and performance poet.