1 June 2022Comment

Recent events confirm that peace activism is the real counter-terrorism, argues Milan Rai

This may be a little difficult to believe. In the latest terror trial in the UK, the defendant put forward the kind of legal argument that we often see in peace movement nonviolent direct action cases: he was trying to prevent a greater crime... with his crime.

Since the 7/7 atrocities in London on 7 July 2005, there has been a string of terror attacks in the UK inspired by al-Qa’eda and/or Islamic State.

These attacks tend to have three features in common that aren’t often…

4 December 2020News

Milan Rai surveys the UK media's coverage of the assassination of Qassem Suleimani

A week after the killing of Qassem Suleimani and his nine companions on 3 January, Simon Jenkins was the first person in the mainstream British print media to refer to a US ‘empire’ in relation to the Middle East.

After referring to ‘ceaseless wars of western aggression’ in recent decades, Jenkins wrote: ‘As empires crumble, stuff happens’. He expressed the hope that the US might be about to withdraw from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (‘Trump’s rant against Iran is the howl of a dying…

28 September 2020News

The Baghdad airport massacre is part of a pattern of US assassinations

On 3 January, a US drone strike destroyed two vehicles driving through Baghdad airport, killing 10 men, including Iranian general Qassem Suleimani and a senior Iraqi military official, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

US commentator Noam Chomsky described the Suleimani assassination to the Hindustan Times as ‘at least international terrorism, arguably worse.’

As well being aggression against the territory of Iraq, the assassination was the latest in a long line of acts of…

1 June 2017News

Prosecution part of sustained attack on human rights group

On 17 May, a British Muslim human rights campaigner was charged with a terrorism offence for refusing to give police the passwords to his laptop and his mobile phone.

Muhammad Rabbani, international director of the London-based human rights group CAGE, was detained and questioned at Heathrow airport in November under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

He refused to surrender his passwords on the grounds that his devices contained confidential testimony relating to torture.…

1 October 2016Review

Clairview Books, 2016; 224pp; £14.99

Mark Curtis’s influential and constantly-useful book Web of Deceit – Britain’s role in the real world was published 13 years ago. Though it’s not made explicit, Britain’s Secret Wars seems to be an attempt to update Curtis’s critical history of UK foreign policy, with TJ Coles exposing often covert wars ‘waged for the financial benefit of sectional interests and result[ing] in widespread crimes against humanity’.

Other similarities to Curtis include endorsements…

1 June 2016Review

Verso, 2016; 144pp; £12.99

Comprised of four long articles previously published in the London Review of Books, the latest book from legendary American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh critically examines the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

Citing senior – often unnamed – government, intelligence and military sources (there are no footnotes), Hersh’s version of events is significantly different from the official narrative pushed by Western governments and a supportive corporate media.…

1 April 2016Feature

Religious belief was not the driver for Brussels, or Paris, or London

There is a widespread, deeply-held, belief that there is something different about Islam as a religion, something fundamentally wrong. Islam is seen by many as distinctively oppressive towards women, somehow much more violent than Christianity or Judaism, to name just the two other monotheistic religions.

In the wake of the Islamic State suicide terrorist attacks in Brussels, which killed 35 people on 22 March, there is clearly going to be much more Islamophobia, much more fear and…

1 December 2015Comment

Why British foreign policy endangers us all.

Noam Chomsky once observed that the dirty little secret of ‘national security policy’ is that ‘security is at most a marginal concern of security planners’. He was speaking of the United States, but the lesson generalises, certainly to the UK.

We can see this in the reaction to the ‘Islamic State’ terror attacks in Paris in November, which killed 130 people.

Policymakers in Britain, France and elsewhere are knowingly increasing the power of IS recruiters and commanders…

1 December 2015Comment

Three French campaign groups respond to the 13 November atrocities in Paris.

Graphic: Bryn

Attac released this statement on 18 November, just five days after the attacks in Paris:

In the aftermath of the massacres of Paris, members and supporters of Attac, in unison with the French society, feel horror and revulsion at the indiscriminate and murderous hatred.

Attac expresses its solidarity with the victims and their relatives. The people murdered Friday night were merely exercising their right to conviviality, to…

1 August 2015Feature

The case against airstrikes on Syria

US F-15E Strike Eagles returning from the first US airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, on 23 September 2014. Photo: US air force

On 26 June, Seifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old student, murdered 38 people at a beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia. 30 of the dead were British nationals. Subsequent news reports have noted Rezgui received training at an Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS) base in western Libya.

Speaking to the BBC a few days later, David Cameron argued…

1 June 2015Feature

Fears for civil liberties as Tories launch new drive against 'extremism'

Within days of being elected, the new Conservative government made it clear that a new drive against ‘extremism’ will be a major part of its legislative programme. Universities were already legally obliged to monitor their students and report any suspicions of ‘people being drawn into terrorism’, under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act passed in January.

Conservative home secretary Theresa May introduced the act by declaring that, due to the rise of the terror group ISIS, the…

31 March 2015Feature

Juan Cole explains what's really behind current events in Yemen

The massive twin bombings at mosques in the capital that shook Yemen on 20 March, killing over 100 and wounding many more, were immediately claimed by Daesh (the Arab acronym for ISIS/ISIL). Since the mosques were largely attended by members of the Houthi movement who subscribe to Zaidi, Shi’ite Islam, and Daesh is ultra-Sunni, the bombings also suggest Sunni-Shi’ite conflict of the sort that has characterised Iraq’s recent sectarian violence.

But Daesh doesn’t in fact have a…

31 March 2015News in Brief

The media storm around the unmasking of ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ in February provided an opportunity for the right-wing press to exert enormous pressure on anyone connected with the Muslim human rights group Cage.

Cage had revealed the enormous harassment and pressure that British citizen Mohammed Emwazi (‘Jihadi John’) had suffered from the British security services over several years, and argued that this was a major factor in his ‘radicalisation’.

The Quaker…

1 February 2015Feature

The renowned US dissident reflects on the hypocrisy of the elite response to the Charlie Hebdo killings

The world reacted with horror to the murderous attack on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. In the New York Times, veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger graphically described the immediate aftermath, what many call France’s 9/11, as ‘a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around…

1 February 2015Feature

Why al-Qa’eda attacked satirists in Paris

The horrific murder of the editor, cartoonists and other staff of the irreverent satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, along with two policemen, by terrorists in Paris was in my view a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public.

The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qa’eda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is…