Declarations, big business and the empty hunt for jihadists

Donald Trump and other White House officials participated in a ceremonial Saudi sword dance in the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia on Saturday outside the Murabba Palace, Riyadh.

By Alberto Negri

There are many things that don’t make sense in the hunt for jihadists and foreign fighters, and that should make us stop and think. It’s not by chance that people are dying in the Middleastern conflicts that made their entry into Europe some years ago. Brittish Prime Minister Theresa May is certainly more of a realist than Bush Junior, Obama as well as Trump.

After 11 September 2001, in order to protect the ties with the Saudis and the Bin Laden family, Bush declared that terrorism had nothing to do with Islam, and Obama asserted in Cairo in 2009 that they were dealing with a “deviation.” Trump was clearly saying in the interviews during his electoral campaign that “Islam hates us” until generals Mattis and MacMaster took him aside to make him understand that he was jeopardising business with Riyadh. The Saudis through monarch Ibn Saud brokered a deal with Roosevelt in 1945 that has never come to an end.

Not only that. An always more vulnerable Trump went further that way and after that he declared that fighting IS is a must, he began focusing on Iran which has nothing to do with the attacks. It’s the Saudi Wahhabi ideology that inspired al-Qaeda and IS. The real goal of the US is to put together an Arab coalition that with the Americans, the English, the Jordanians and in agreement with Israel, can penetrate into Syria in order to cut off the Iranian supply lines to Damascus and the Lebanese Hezbollah. This is the real war they are preparing for and that will be disguised as the conflict with IS.

After the attack on the British Parliament that killed four people before the terrorist was taken down, carried out by the lone wolf Khalid Masood, English intelligence services revealed that more than 400 British citizens had returned to their homeland after having fought for IS in Syria and Iraq.

This caused fears that a Great Britain had reached a critical mass of “Islamist” terrorists – just as Prime Minister Theresa May underlined while not using the Islamic adjective – ready to strike in a similar way to the attacks of 30 November 2015 in Paris and 22 March 2016 in Brussels.

The security service was thus expecting coordinated attacks of jihadist cells and not lone wolf actions. Days after the London attack, another intelligence report confirmed that 320 registered foreign fighters out of 700 already had returned to the UK.

It was quite logical that there would be returns after the failure of the territorial project of the Caliphate although not a given that the foreign fighters would pour back into Europe. Many jihadists could decide to go to other parts of the Middle East, such as Yemen or Libya, to fight. The Saudis are in difficulty in Yemen against the Houthi rebels backed by Teheran so Riyadh could find it comfortable to use these fighters in the same way they employ the men of al-Qaeda. Moreover, the Americans, the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias are since weeks 300 meters from the Mosul mosque where al-Baghdadi proclaimed his Caliphate in 2014. Why does the offensive delay? The reason behind could be that the Syrian theatre has turned into a chess board and that the jihadists have a destiny different from what we expect.

The claim of responsibility leaves little to doubt regarding the jihadist involvement. But the fact that it didn’t come immediately could mean that we are dealing with an organised attack and that the cell that carried it out wanted to protect its logistic network. The arrests and searches in Manchester seem to confirm the hypothesis of a kamikaze that made use of the same improvised explosive device (IED) as we have seen exploding hundreds of times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The attack also shows the emptiness of the anti-terrorist declaration of Trump and the Saudi leadership who, together with the Israelis, more than anything share the goal of containing Shi’ite Iran rather than eliminating the Sunni jihadism nourished by the radical and backward Islamic ideology supported by Riyadh. A situation the United States, the English and the French know perfectly well but choose to ignore in the name of Realpolitik and big business.

This article was first published in Italian on Il Sole 24 ore, on 24 May 2017.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kom News.