Friday 26 May 2017 – Manchester bombing updates and analysis

SKY NEWS VIDEOS

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This post was written in stages as news developed over the day and later comments in the post may contradict or expand on earlier ones.

 

The Cobra emergency committee will meet again this morning to discuss the continuing investigation into Monday night’s bombing of the Manchester Arena, which killed 22 people.  The Government’s security minister, Ben Wallace, spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, saying that the police investigating the attack are “confident of rolling up” the suspected terrorist cell behind the attack.  He said: “I’ve spoken to the police. The police are confident that they are in a position to have a good coverage of what’s happened, and of rolling it up. I can’t say any more about that, that would threaten ongoing operations. It is still very live, it is still very hot. That’s why we have critical as our security state.” He added:

 

“We are trying to roll up a network. This is not a lone individual. We have to close down every lead we find. We have to follow it up and make sure we make the arrests and the searches that we need to do.

 

“There is a difference between the Westminster attack, which was a single individual … and this lot. That’s why we are on a heightened state of alert.”

 

Following reports yesterday that hospitals have been put on alert in case of another attack, Mr Wallace was asked if another attack was likely. He answered: “There is no specific threat against an individual event. When we go to critical we make sure everyone is on standby.”  Perhaps expressing the workload that the police and security services are facing in the wake of the Manchester bombing, he said that there are 500 active counter-terrorist investigations underway and some 3,000 individuals on the watchlist of terror suspects:

 

“All those people are in the mix and they have to be looked at. And then below the 3,000 is another 12,000 people who have in the past come to our attention and haven’t necessarily shown signs of doing anything at all, or no longer posing a risk.

 

“All of that is predominately underpinned by intelligence, which as I’m sure you will understand and the courts certainly understand. Unfortunately the hardest part is we’ve got to convert intelligence into evidence if we actually want to deprive people of their liberty or take certain steps.”

 

Some people have been calling for the introduction of internment of terror suspects. These include the Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson who tweeted:  “We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children. #Manchester.” Others calling for internment also include Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and Steve Howe, the widow of Alison Howe who was killed at Manchester. Ben Wallace told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that this would not be a good idea, saying it would be a “retrograde step” and it would turn Muslim communities against “us and our police”:

 

“We need to keep our communities on side and if we don’t produce evidence and act within the rule of law and just start rounding people up and put people in internment camps, what we found in Northern Ireland was the community felt they were under persecution and stopped engaging with the police and stopped engaging with the intelligence services and that set us back probably 20 years in counter-terrorism.

 

“If we start just scooping people up and putting them away what are their families and other people to think, if it turns out as it was in internment [in Northern Ireland] huge numbers of people had nothing to do with it? That’s the big challenge here: intelligence is not always evidence.

 

“The majority would come from the Muslim communities – that would turn communities against us and our police would not want that. A policeman or policewoman would say that’s a bad idea.”

 

The former independent reviewer of terrorism, Lord Carlile was also speaking this morning to Radio 4’s Today on the issue of how to deal with those suspected of terrorist activities, speaking of control orders:

 

“[it would be a] grave mistake for coalition government to remove control orders”. In 2011, then home secretary Theresa May announced control orders would be replaced by less restrictive terrorism prevention and investigation measures (TPims).” He added: “[TPims are] “better than nothing”, but he argues the country “would be a safer place” if control orders were reintroduced. “There was a political resistance to imposing these orders on people who were reasonably suspected of being terrorists. […] The use of TPims has increased since the 2015 election from about zero to seven today.”

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More arrests have been made in the police investigation of the bombing. A man was arrested in Moss Side in Greater Manchester overnight. This brings the total of people arrested in the UK to 10, with 8 still in custody. Their ages range from 18 to 38.  The bomber’s younger brother, Hashem, and father, Ramadan, have been detained by special forces  in Libya. A further two were arrested, a 16-year-old boy and a 34-year-old woman but both have since been released.  Police also searched a pizzeria shop in St Helens on Merseyside, and a bomb disposal unit was called out to a location in Wigan in Greater Manchester (pictured above).  A Libyan official was quoted as saying that Hashem Abedi knew that his brother was going to carry out the attack, but did not know the time or location.

 

Meanwhile the police in Manchester have resumed sharing their intelligence on the investigation with the United States. They had stopped sharing intelligence after damaging leaks of photographs of the forensic evidence were leaked by someone in the United States intelligence community to the New York Times earlier this week.  Greater Manchester Police have now accepted assurances and have resumed the sharing, which is shared as part of the Five Eyes agreement which sees the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada share intelligence information.

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The vile excuse for a human being, Katie Hopkins (above), is to “part company” with the radio station LBC after making controversial comments about the Manchester bombing on Twitter. Just hours after the explosion on Monday night she tweeted: “22 dead – number rising. Schofield. Don’t you even dare. Do not be a part of the problem. We need a final solution £Machester (sic).”  The apparent reference to the Nazi’s final solution term used for what we now  know as the Holocaust caused anger and outrage against her. LBC tweeted this morning: : “LBC and Katie Hopkins have agreed that Katie will leave LBC effective immediately.” She later changed the word “final” to “true” claiming she mis-typed the original tweet.  She has since deleted the tweet altogether but not before it was reported to the Metropolitan Police (MET) who are now obliged to investigate it to see if it’s language is tantamount to a criminal offence.

 

Ms Hopkins first came to our attention as a contestant on The Apprentice but has since garnered a notorious reputation for her vile and insulting opinions on various subjects.  She once described migrants as “cockroaches,”  said people suffering from dementia were “bed blockers,” and believes that racial profiling  “is a good thing.” Ms Hopkins  is currently in the process of writing an article on the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for MailOnline. I very much doubt it will be a favourable piece.

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Today’s Metro newspaper featured a piece on the links between Greater Manchester and terrorist activities, calling the city a “breeding ground for terror.” In the article they list 14 people who have either carried out terrorist attacks or have links with terrorist activity, or have been suspected of such links.

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CHORLTON

1. SALMA HALENE and 2. ZAHRA HALANE – The teenage twins fled to Syria in 2014 in an apparent bid to become “jihadi brides.”

 

3. AHMED HALENE – Brother of the twins and suspected extremist who is reportedly banned from the UK. It is thought he joined Daesh [Islamic State] in Syria or al-Shabab in Somalia, before moving to Denmark around 2015.


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WHALLEY RANGE

4 ABD AL-BASET AZZOUZ – Accused by US State Department of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya.

 

5. NUR IDRIS NUR HASSAN – Suspected of fleeing the UK to join extremism in Syria with the help of friend Abdullahi Farah.


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6. ABDULLAHI AHMED JAMA FARAH – Cousin of the Halane’s, he was jailed for seven years in 2016 for involvement in terrorism by helping his friend Nur Hassan travel to Syria.


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7. JAMAL AL-HARITH (born: Ronald Fiddler) – Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who blew himself up in a suicide bomb attack on a military base in Mosul, Iraq, in February 2017.

 

8. RAPHAEL HOSTEY (Abu Qaqa al-Britani) – A Daesh  recruiter and fighter killed in Syria in 2016, three years after travelling there with two friends.

 

9. STEPHEN GRAY (Mustafa) – A former RAF gunner and Iraq war veteran who was ailed for five years in 2016 after admitting terror charges. He was caught trying to travel to Syria.

 

10. ABDAL RAOUF ABDELLAH – A friend of Gray’s who was also jailed for five years and six months on terror charges, including  helping several people reach Syria.


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FALLOWFIELD

11. SALMAN ABEDI – Suicide bomber who killed 22 at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017.


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DIDSBURY

12. ANIL KHALIL RAOUFFI – A friend of Raphael Hostey and Mohammad Azzam Javeed, Azzam is thought to have died fighting in Syria for Daesh in 2014.


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LEVENSHULME

13. JAMSHED JAVEED – A bioligy teacher who was jailed for six years in 2015 for trying to leave the UK to join Daesh in Syria.

 

14. MOHAMMAD AZZAM JAVEED – Brother of Jamshed and friend of Raphael Hostey. He is thought to have died fighting in Syria for Daesh in 2014.

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The General Election campaign restarted today after being suspended temporarily after the bombing on Monday.  The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, on his 68th birthday, gave a speech in Westminster on foreign policy, focusing on the so-called War on Terror – which he said was “simply not working.”  He argued that the fact that the Army our on the streets is a clear sign that the Government’s approach to foreign policy and terrorism is not working.  He said there needs to be more money for law enforcement, making a clear link with Conservative cuts in policing – which is t partly he reason we now have soldiers on the streets because there are not enough police to do the job.  Most significantly, that Britain’s interventions around the world were fuelling the risk of terrorism here in the UK:

 

“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.”

 

Unsurprisingly, his comments came under attack from the Conservatives. The Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon accused Mr Corbyn of “very muddled and dangerous thinking,”  suggesting that the Labour leader was implying that Britain itself was to blame for the MEN Arena bombing.  Mr Corbyn made it quite clear that no-one was to blame for the bombing except the terrorists who were behind it, but he said that the UK Government must also look at their policies and decide whether they are effective in reducing and combating the risk of terrorism at home:

 

“No rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre.

 

“But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”

 

Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his comments were “absolutely monstrous”  He made this comment when next to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who is in London for a meeting with Johnson – partly to shore up the special relationship that was damaged this week by the US intelligence community’s  leaks of forensic photos to the New York Times.  Mr Johnson continued that it was” absolutely extraordinary and inexplicable in this week of all weeks that there should be any attempt to justify or to legitimate the actions of terrorists in this way”.

 

Mr Corbyn said that Labour, if it wins the 8 June General Election, would ensure that “our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country” and that seeing the Army on “our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed”.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with Jeremy Corbyn on these points. I have said several times elsewhere in my blog that I feel that British interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere do nothing to reduce the risk of terrorism in those countries or here in the UK.  If anything, they simply promote radicalisation, extremists and terrorists.  Before Mr Corbyn’s brave admittance of this fact today it always amazed me that politicians of all hues continue to buy into the myth of the so-called War on Terror that was the consequence of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and George W Bush’s response to them. The West has killed hundreds of thousands in its interventions since the first Gulf War in 1991. Are any of the peoples  of those countries better off today than they were before 1991 or  2001 or 2003  when the West marched into Kuwait, Afghanistan and  Iraq?  Are the people of Libya better off after the British-led intervention there? The West intervened in Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban.  The Taliban faded in its threat but it is still there, or elsewhere in the region, or has simply been succeeded by even more radical groups – such as the Islamic State.  Our interventions played a huge role in the fostering of hatred towards the West which in turn lead to the ability of Islamic State to spread across the region –  and now we are paying the price.

 

That price is more terrorists attacks across the Middle East, Europe, the United States and elsewhere. That price is the alienation of far too many young Muslims in non-Muslim countries around the world – including here in the UK. That price is radical Imams preaching the message of hate against the West and calling for Allah’s revenge against the West for its actions in the Middle East.  That  price is the growth of groups like al-Qaeda, Islamic State and al-Shabaab. That price is the terrible loss of life that has resulted from our interventions, hundreds of thousands of civilians among them.  And that  price is the terrible belief that some young Muslims now have that blowing themselves up in an arena full of children will somehow make them “martyrs.” A truly terrible price indeed.  Jeremy Corbyn is right that no-one should condone terrorism and that terrorist are responsible for their actions,  but he is also right that the UK and the West has helped to bring about the atmosphere and conditions in which terrorism can thrive.  Terrorism cannot be defeated by force alone. More subtle and nuanced means are necessary to combat the reasons that people become radicalised enough that they think terror is the answer.

 

Mr Corybn spoke today of his willingness to intervene militarily where necessary. Despite what people think, Mr Corbyn is not a pacifist. He is willing to fight when fighting is the only way to win.  Mr Corbyn, however, rightly believes that when intervention is necessary you also need, what the American’s might call, a roadmap for what follows – a plan for the peace if you like.  Such plans for what to do after intervention was glaringly absent from the West’s interventions in the last quarter-of-a-century.  The West goes in guns blazing with noble ideas of freeing the people and destroying terror, but ends up leaving without a clear resolution of why they went in the country in the first place and with no clear ideas – or money to back them up – on how to rebuild the shattered countries they leave behind.

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After Monday’s bombing, Take That (above left) cancelled a concert planned for Liverpool this week. They were also scheduled to play the Manchester Arena – the scene of the bombing – on three nights from Thursday to Saturday this week. Those three concerts were postponed as well. The group have now announced they will now play a single date at the home of Manchester City Football Club at the Etihad Stadium on 18 June. They were unable to find three consecutive nights in order to reschedule all three original planned gigs. Fans who had tickets for the postponed concerts can get a refund or replace them for the 18 June concert.

 

The BBC reported today of other with other Manchester-related music news:

 

  • Rock band Kiss have cancelled their date at the Manchester Arena on 30 May, saying they are “heartbroken by the atrocity committed against the innocent victims of Manchester”

 

  • The subsequent event in the arena’s calendar, WWE Presents NXT Live! on 6 June, has also been cancelled “out of respect for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy”

 

  • Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher (above centre) will start his solo tour at Manchester’s O2 Ritz on 30 May, giving all proceeds to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund

 

  • The city’s main orchestras – the Halle, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata – will unite for a special concert at the Bridgewater Hall on 1 June, joined by performers including Guy Garvey and Clare Teal

 

Meanwhile Ariana Grande (above right) has made the decision to play a benefit gig in Manchester on Monday, just a week after her concert in the Manchester Arena ended with the suicide bombing. She said of her decision: “[my] heart, prayers and deepest condolences” were with the victims of the Manchester attack. “I don’t want to go the rest of the year without being able to see and hold and uplift my fans.”  She continued:

 

“There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better.

 

“However I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need help in any way.

 

“I’ll be returning to the incredibly brave city of Manchester to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honour and raise money for the victims and their families.

 

“Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.

 

“We will continue in honour of the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy.

 

“They will be on my mind and in my heart everyday and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life.”

 

The MEN Arena is due to host Kings of Leon on 9 June but no information has yet been released as to whether the arena will have re-opened by then. Below are some more tributes from the music industry that I did not feature in earlier posts:

 

  • Irish singer IMELDA MAY, who played the Manchester Arena a week before the bombing, said on Facebook: “I ❤️ Manchester… I had a great time with all my Manchester friends dancing in the aisles completely unaware what some twisted evil person was planning nearby. I’m so sorry for all affected. My heart is heavy today. We cannot let this threaten our wonderful free way of life! I will sing every song tonight in Edinburgh with those affected by the attack in my mind but also with more passion and life than ever!!!”

 

  • One Direction’s NIALL HORAN posted on Twitter: “Can’t fathom last nights attack.Innocent young fans and families going to watch their favourite artist in concert and this happens.” and “Absolutely Horrendous what happened in Manchester tonight. My thoughts are with the great people of Manchester and also Ari and her team xx.”

 

  • Irish band THE SCRIPT, also on Twitter, said: “Absolutely shocked at the horrific tragedy unfolding in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone there tonight

 

  • Rock band IRON MAIDEN, who played in Cardiff on Wednesday and will play at the O2 in London on Saturday and Sunday, tweeted: “We are shocked by last night’s terrible events at the Manchester Arena. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected.” and “We can advise fans that our last three UK shows in Cardiff and at London’s O2 will proceed as planned.” and “Of course any extra means to ensure fan safety are being examined with the relevant authorities.”

 

  • Band ROYAL BLOOD posted on Twitter: “Due to the tragic events in Manchester, we have postponed the on sale date for our European & UK tour dates.” and “We will advise on the new date for presale & general onsale in due course.” and “We wish to send our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by last night’s tragedy. Royal Blood x”

 

  • Singer MILEY CYRUS, wrote on Instagram of her friend Ariana Grande: “Love love love you, so sorry you had to be a part of such a tragic event! My most sincere condolences to anyone and everyone affected by this horrific attack. All I can do is send as much HOPE & PEACE your way! This MUST end! No more war …. no more innocent lives taken …. L-O-V-E”.”

 

  • OLLY MURS, on Twitter, wrote: “No one should go to a concert and never come home

 

  • Singer PINK took to Twitter to say: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, any one affected, @ArianaGrande and the entire crew. Heartbreaking.”

 

  • DAVID GUETTA posted to Twitter: “Can’t believe what happened in #Manchester. So sad! My thoughts are with all the victims and their families

 

  • Again on Twitter, CAMILA CABELLO said: “oh god…….my heart is breaking hearing about this tragedy that happened at Manchester arena tonight…”

 

  • PARAMORE wrote on Twitter: “the community we all create together thru music should be completely devoid of fear. our hearts go out to Ariana Grande & crew & the fans.” Their lead singer HAYLEY WILLIAMS wrote a personal tweet to Ariana Grande: “To Ariana who just wanted to share her music and Manchester who just wanted to let go and listen, I’m sorry the world is like this.”

 

  • Via a statement, BBC RADIO 1 said: “Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those affected by the tragic events in Manchester. The health and safety of everyone involved in Big Weekend is now our primary focus and we are carrying out a full assessment, with the police and our partners, of every aspect of the festival.”

 

  • LITTLE MIX (below left) tweeted: “We are so saddened by the tragedy in Manchester last night. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the beautiful Ariana fans and their families ❤️and “Devastated for this world we’re living in.. sending all the ❤️in the world to the beautiful Arianators their families & @arianagrande ❤️Lx”

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  • The band KASABIAN (above right) sent their condolences on Twitter: “Our hearts are with everyone in Manchester this morning, had some incredible times playing that arena. Unbelievably sad xx”

 

  • While band  BIFFY CLYRO on his Twitter account simply said: “All our love to you, Manchester.x”

 

  • On Twitter BASTILLE said: “Unbelievable news about Manchester tonight. Absolutely horrific. Sending so much love.”

 

  • And finally, on Twitter, ZARA LARSSON sent the message: “Manchester all my love and thoughts are with you. I’m so sorry this happened.”

 

Following the bombing, some of the country’s leading music festivals agreed to a “social media blackout”  to mark the deaths of the 22 victims of the bombing. They would be “silent in sympathy” for 48 Hours. The festivals included Reading and Leeds, Latitude, Download, Liverpool Sound City and Creamfields. Each festival’s social media accounts posted the following, or similar, message:

 

“For the next 48 hours our social media activity will be silent in sympathy with all those that lost their lives or were injured, physically and/or mentally, by the devastating attack in Manchester last night. Our thoughts are with those affected as well as the emergency services working tirelessly to keep us safe in all that we do.

 

“We will update on Thursday morning with our updated plans for all of our shows following a lead from the relevant police forces but we are certain we will not be defeated by such cowardice and are therefore confirming that Reading and Leads will be going ahead as planned.”

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Finally for today’s post on the Manchester Arena bombing,  an 11th man has been arrested taking the total now in custody in the UK to 9 and 2 more being held in Libya.  The man was arrested by armed police on board a bus in Rusholme in Manchester. He is 44 and is being held in connection with the attack. The Guardian’s live feed for today reported the words of Daryl Lawson, a local shopkeeper who described the arrest – he was speaking to the Press Association:

 

“up to six people rushed into his shop as armed police stormed the bus they were on. He then saw a police van pull up at the back of the bus, and believes a male passenger was taken away in it.  Basically some other people from the bus came running in the shop absolutely terrified, they said a number of armed police were on the bus. So I just got them in the back of the shop. I stood and `guarded the front. [ The passenger’s]  were too scared and panicked to get a good look at the man, but told Lawson he had been sitting at the back of the number 41 bus.”


Sources & Further Reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • “Breeding Ground For Terror” – Metro – 26 May 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


STILL HERE?  Well just for you here is a bonus piece of news for today.

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Around 500 adults and children from the north Manchester Muslim community took part in a peaceful march to the Manchester Arena where they held a vigil.  They walked the three miles carrying flowers and balloons and were joined by non-Muslim members of the community.  Moin Azmi, a spokesman for the Woodlands Road mosque said:

 

“It was really good to see people driving past supporting us.

 

“That’s the image we want to show – that we are a part of society campaigning against the terrorist.

 

“The children were more upset this time because other children had been killed.

 

“Children were killed when they should have been having fun.

 

“They wanted to show solidarity and be part of society.”

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To read more about the march, see the article in the Manchester Evening News, which includes a gallery of photographs and a video.

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