The horrific bombing of the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on 22 May, which claimed the lives of 22 people, a number of them children and teenagers, and which wounded dozens more, many of them critically, is a heinous crime committed against innocent people and in the service of a vile reactionary ideology that has devastated previously thriving states such as Libya and Syria and also plunged Afghanistan, which had once been on the road to a socialist future, into a living hell.
The CPGB-ML strongly condemns this terrorist atrocity and we express our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives as well as to those maimed and injured.
The horror that has now been experienced by working people in Manchester is no different in nature from that experienced by millions of people as a result of the wars waged by imperialism, either directly or through their proxies, in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries. The main difference is that it has been experienced in Manchester in one awful incident. In these oppressed nations it is experienced on a daily basis. But in all these instances, the real culprit and biggest criminal is the imperialist system itself, directly and indirectly.
The terrorist who carried out the Manchester atrocity, and who was himself killed in the course of perpetrating his crime, was one Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old son of counter-revolutionary anti-Gaddafi Libyan exiles. Members of Abedi’s family have subsequently been arrested, both in Britain and Libya.
Abedi’s father was reportedly a leading member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist outfit originally spawned, like many others, from among the fundamentalist mercenaries who had gone to Afghanistan to wage their perverse ‘holy war’ against the socialist government in Kabul and its Soviet allies and which were then cosseted and cultivated by the CIA and other western intelligence services.
In the case of the LIFG, it was taken up by Britain’s MI6, to provide shock troops against the progressive government of Libya, including in a number of well-known attempts to assassinate its leader Colonel Gaddafi. British imperialism cherished a particular hatred of Colonel Gaddafi, and the Libyan revolution he led, not only because Libya under his leadership was a forward-looking, modernising state, with free education and healthcare and the highest standard of living in Africa; not only because it poured billions of its immense oil wealth (which it had taken out of imperialist clutches) into the development of Africa as a whole; not only because it supported national-liberation movements around the world; but especially because it had kicked out British military forces and bases, kicked out British oil monopolies and above all because it had given more support than any other nation to the just struggle of the Irish people for national reunification and independence.
That is why families like the Abedis, and many others, rightly called rats by Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan revolutionaries, were made welcome in Manchester, and in other British towns and cities, and why they were not only allowed to go about their murderous activities directed against their homeland but were actually facilitated and directed in this disgusting work.
No wonder Abedi, in common it seems with every other perpetrator of a terrorist crime in Britain, was ‘known’ to the security services. His family were among many who the intelligence services helped to come and go so that they might take part as Nato’s foot soldiers in the 2011 war that brought down the Gaddafi government and which has hurled this once proud country back centuries.
And this despite the fact that, presumably under pressure from the Libyan government, which had itself made many concessions in an attempt to relieve the pressure of an extremely harsh sanctions regime and to create better conditions for national development, the British government had supposedly banned LIFG as a terrorist organisation in 2005, with membership punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Had imperialism’s intervention been confined to this ‘rat-line’ infiltration of exiled terrorists and mercenaries, the massively supported Libyan government could have easily contained and dealt with the problem. However, by abusing a UN security council resolution, passed under the pretext of protecting civilians, the US, Britain and France, joined by other Nato powers, unleashed a massive and sustained aerial and missile bombardment against military and civilian targets alike.
Having been previously tricked into giving up its sophisticated weapons programmes, Gaddafi’s government was powerless to resist. Despite this, Libya did heroically resist for months and at times even seemed capable of winning the war. But finally it fell under the merciless imperialist onslaught. Today Libya is in ruins, with opposing governments based in different cities and large parts of the country under the control of various militias and jihadist groups, including Daesh, the so-called Islamic State, with whom Abedi had apparently teamed up.
Refugees and migrants, along with black Libyans and other communities that were known to be particularly supportive of Gaddafi and his revolution, are today openly abused and sold in open-air slave markets, if they are not simply killed by their kidnappers – facts that have been attested to by even usually supine western charities and NGOs.
Those seeking to reach Europe in desperation have again and again been left to die in the Mediterranean if their overcrowded or broken vessels cannot complete the journey, while $32bn of Libya’s money in US banks and $63.5bn in those of the EU banks remains ‘frozen’ (i.e. stolen) since the start of the war. Libya’s oil industry, the overwhelming source of the country’s wealth, lies in ruins.
Clearly there are many more questions that need to be asked about the relationship between the Abedi family and others of their ilk on the one hand and the security services and the British state on the other, particularly with the bombing occurring in the midst of a general election, whose campaign seems to have drifted somewhat from the pre-scripted coronation of an all-conquering Theresa May.
The government’s initial response to the bombing was to deploy around 1,000 soldiers to British streets as part of Operation Temperer, playing to Ms May’s increasingly tiresome ‘strong and stable’ mantra. Entirely predictably, the media and the government are trying to milk the tragedy for every last drop of racism, xenophobia, warmongering and assault on democratic rights that they can squeeze.
This is the height of hypocrisy. Active support for terrorist organisations like the LIFG is, after all, a central part of British foreign policy. Without such backing from Britain and other imperialist states, this kind of fundamentalist extremism could not survive for long.
The people of Manchester are to be commended for their dignified response and for not rising to the bait. But much more needs to be done. We must demand the truth about what the security services knew and when they knew it as well as about all their shady dealings with Abedi and all such terrorist individuals and groups; we must demand an end to imperialist wars in the middle east and elsewhere; and we must fight to unite working people in a conscious struggle against imperialism and for socialism.
Without this we shall undoubtedly see more such tragic days as 22 May.