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Boris Johnson claims criticism of Western intervention aids terrorists

18 Apr 2018 The Independent

Boris Johnson has been heavily criticised for claiming that linking Britain’s foreign interventions to rising Islamist extremism “plays into the jihadi narrative”.

In a speech entitled “The struggle against Islamist terror: How global Britain is helping to win”, the Foreign Secretary will point at countries that have been affected by attacks but not gone to war in the Middle East.

“To assert, as people often do, that the terrorism we see on the streets of Britain and America is some kind of punishment for adventurism and folly in the Middle East is to ignore that these so-called punishments are visited on peoples – Swedes, Belgians, Finns or the Japanese hostages murdered by Daesh – with no such history in the region,” he will tell diplomats and academics gathered at the Foreign Office in London later today.

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Critics pointed out that Mr Johnson himself previously claimed the Iraq war was driving extremism – a position frequently taken by Jeremy Corbyn. 

Mr Johnson will argue that repressive states breed terrorism, rather than Western foreign policy, as the world faces jihadism with the “addictive power of crack cocaine”.

The speech aims to reassure European allies and global partners that the UK stands “shoulder to shoulder” with them in the fight against Islamist terror, amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding security cooperation after Brexit.

It came as senior security officials warned that the threat of further terror attacks in Britain is continuing to increase as Isis loses territory in Syria and Iraq, with nine plots foiled so far this year.

Chris Nineham, vice chair of the Stop the War Coalition, said Mr Johnson’s speech “ignores all the available facts” and cited the former head of MI5’s assertion that the invasion of Iraq substantially increased the terror threat in Britain. 

Michael Fallon mistakenly condemns Boris Johnson statement on terror

Mr Nineham blamed British interventions for causing untold destruction and generating a series of failed states. “Each of the countries Britain has attacked is still at war,” he told The Independent. “While the Foreign Secretary has clearly failed to learn anything from the last 16 years of carnage, the majority of ordinary people in Britain want to see an end to our foreign wars.”

Baroness Manningham-Buller, a former director-general of MI5, told a public inquiry in 2010: “Our involvement in Iraq, for want of a better word, radicalised a whole generation of young people, some of them British citizens who saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam.”

Read more

Who is and who isn’t to blame for Isis being in Iraq

Critics have pointed out that Mr Johnson himself drew a link between foreign intervention in extremism in a Spectator article after the 7/7 attacks in London.

“The Iraq war did not create the problem of murderous Islamic fundamentalists, though the war has unquestionably sharpened the resentments felt by such people in this country, and given them a new pretext,” he wrote at the time.

“The Iraq war did not introduce the poison into our bloodstream but, yes, the war did help to potentiate that poison. 

“And whatever the defenders of the war may say, it has not solved the problem of Islamic terror, or even come close to providing the beginnings of a solution. 

“You can’t claim to be draining the swamp in the Middle East when the mosquitoes are breeding quite happily in Yorkshire.”

Timeline: The emergence of Isis

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Timeline: The emergence of Isis

1/40

2000

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (pictured here) forms an al-Qaeda splinter group in Iraq, al-Qa’eda in Iraq. Its brutality from the beginning alienates Iraqis and many al-Qaeda leaders.

2/40

2006

Al-Zarqawi is killed in a U.S. strike. Al-Zarqawi’s successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, announces the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).

Reuters

3/40

2009

Still al-Qaeda-linked ISI claims responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 155 in Baghdad, as well as attacks in August and October killing 240, as President Obama announces troop withdrawal from Iraq in March.

Getty Images

4/40

2010

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes head of ISI, at lowest ebb of Islamist militancy in Iraq, which sees last U.S. combat brigade depart.

5/40

2012

In Syria, protests (pictured here starting in Daree) have morphed into what president Assad labelled a “real war” with emergence of a coalition of forces opposed to Assad’s regime. Syria group Jabhat al-Nusra are among rebel groups who refuse to join, denouncing it as a “conspiracy”.

Bombings targeting Shia areas, killing more than 500 people, spark fears of new sectarian conflict. Sunni Muslims stage protests across country against what they see as increasingly marginalisation by Shia-led government.

AP

6/40

2013

Al-Baghdadi renames ISI as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or Isis, as the group absorbs Syrian al-Nusra, gaining a foothold in Syria.

In response, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden’s successor) concerned about Isis’ expansion orders that Isis be dissolved and ISI operations should be confined to Iraq. This order is rejected by al-Baghdadi.

AFP

7/40

2014 - January

Isis fighters capture the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, giving them base to launch slew of attacks further south.

AP

8/40

2014 - June

Isis declares itself the Caliphate, calling itself Islamic State (IS). The group captures Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city; Tal Afar, just 93 miles from Syrian border; and the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. These advances sent shockwaves around the world.

9/40

2014 - June

Around the same time Isis releases a video calling for western Muslims to join the Caliphate and fight, prompting new evaluations of extremists groups social media understanding.

10/40

2014 - June

Isis take Baiji oil fields in Iraq - giving them access to huge amounts of possible revenue.

EPA

11/40

2014 - August

James Foley is executed by the group as concerns grow for second American prisoner, fellow reporter Steven Sotloff.

AP

12/40

2014 - August

Obama authorises U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, helping to stall Isis’ along with action by Kurdish forces following the deaths of hundreds of Yazidi people on Mount Sinjar.

13/40

2014 - September

Isis release video showing Steven Sotloff’s murder prompting Western speculation his executioner is same man who killed Mr Foley.

EPA

14/40

2014 - September

Obama tells us that America “will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country”

EPA

15/40

2014 - September

Isis release a video appearing to show David Haines, who was captured by militants in Syria in 2013, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the desert while he reads a pre-prepared script. It later shows what appears to be the aid worker's body.

Rex

16/40

2014 - September

Peshmerga fighters scrabble to hold positions in the Diyala province (a gateway to Baghdad) as Isis fighters continue to advance on Iraqi capital.

AFP

17/40

2014 - October

Aid worker Alan Henning is killed. Self-imposed media blackout refuses to show images of him in final moments, instead focuses upon humanitarian care.

AP

18/40

2014 - October

Isis raise their flag in Kobani, which had been strongly defended by Kurdish troops. The victory goes against hopeful western analysis Isis had overextended itself, while alienating much of the Muslim population through the murder of Henning.

Victory causes fresh waves of Kurdish refugees arriving in Turkey.

19/40

2014 - November

American hostage, who embarced values of Islam, Peter Kassig and 14 Syrian soldiers are shown meeting the same fate as other captives. But intelligence agencies will be poring over the apparently significant discrepancies between this and previous films.

Seramedig.org.uk

20/40

2015 - February

Isis has released a video revealing the murder by burning to death of a Jordanian pilot held by the group since the end of December 2014.

Reuters

21/40

2015 - February

Isis militants have released videos which appear to show the beheading of Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

22/40

2015 - February

American aid worker, Kayla Mueller was the last American hostage known to be held by Isis. She died, according to her captors, in an airstrike by the Jordanian air force on the city of Raqqa in Syria, though US authorities disputed this.

AP

23/40

2015 - February

Isis militants have posted a gruesome video online in which they force 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages to kneel on a beach in Libya before beheading them. Egypt vowed to avenge the beheading and launched air strikes on Isis positions.

AP

24/40

2015 - February

The British Isis militant suspected of appearing in videos showing the beheading of Western hostages has been named in reports as Mohammed Emwazi from London.

Rex Features

25/40

2015 - March

Isis triple suicide attack has killed more than 100 worshippers and hundreds of others were injured after the group members targeted two mosques in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

AP

26/40

2015 - April

Iraqi forces have claimed victory over Isis in battle for Tikrit and raised the flag in the city.

EPA/STR

27/40

2015 - April

Isis has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed at least 35 people queuing to collect their wages and injured 100 more.

EPA

28/40

2015 - April

Isis’ media arm released a 29-minute video purporting to show militants executing Ethiopian Christians captives. The footage bore the extremist group’s al-Furqan media logo and showed the destruction of churches and desecration of religious symbols. A masked fighter made a statement threatening Christians who did not convert to Islam or pay a special tax.

29/40

2015 - May

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis has been "incapacitated" by a spinal injuries sustained in a US air strike in Iraq. He is being treated in a hideout by two doctors from Isis’ stronghold of Mosul who are said to be "strong ideological supporters of the group".

30/40

2015 - May

Isis has also claimed responsibility for killing 300 of Yazidi captives, including women, children and elderly people in Iraq

AP

31/40

2015 - May

Isis attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas was its first action on US soil. Two gunmen were shot and killed after launching the attack at the exhibition. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi have been named as the attackers at the Curtis Culwell Centre arena in Garland.

32/40

2015 - May

Isis’s deputy leader, Abu Alaa Afri, a former physics teacher who was thought to have taken charge of the deadly terrorist group, has been killed in a US-led coalition airstrike.

33/40

2015 - May

US special forces have killed a senior Isis leader named as Abu Sayyaf in an operation aiming to capture him and his wife in Syria.

Getty Images

34/40

2015 - May

Iran-backed militias are sent to Ramadi by the Iraqi government to fight Isis militants who completed their capture of the city. Government soldiers and civilians were reportedly massacred by extremists as they took control and the army fled. Charred bodies were left littering the city streets as troops clung on to trucks speeding away from the city.

Ramadi is the latest government stronghold to fall to the so-called Islamic State, despite air strikes by a US-led international coalition aiming to stop its advance in Iraq and Syria.

AFP

35/40

2015 - May

Isis rounded up civilians trapped in Palmyra and forced them to watch 20 people being executed in the historic city’s ancient amphitheatre. The Unesco World Heritage site was overrun by militants, threatening the future of 2,000 year-old monuments and ruins. Thousands of Palmyra’s residents fled but many are still living within the city walls, while the UN human rights office in Geneva said it had received reports of Syrian government forces preventing people from leaving until they retreated from the city.

Getty

36/40

2015 - May

A group of Isis-affiliated fighters have captured a key airport in central Libya. The militants took control of the al-Qardabiya airbase in Sirte after a local militia tasked with defending the facility withdrew from their positions. Affiliates of Isis, already control large parts of Sirte, the birthplace of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a former stronghold of his supporters.

37/40

2015 - June

The US Air Force has destroyed an Isis stronghold after an extremist let slip their location on social media. According the Air Force Times, General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said that Airmen at Hulburt Field, Florida, used images shared by jihadists to track the location of their headquarters before destroying it in an airstrike.

Reuters

38/40

2015 - June

Kurdish forces captured a key military base in a significant victory in Raqqa as well as town of Tell Abyad. YPG fighters, backed by US-led airstrikes and other rebels, consolidated their gains, when they seized the key town on the Syria-Turkey border. They are now just 30 miles to the north of Raqqa and have cut off a major supply route deep inside Isis-held territory.

Ahmet Silk/Getty

39/40

2015 - June

Isis has released gruesome footage claiming to show the murder of more than a dozen men by drowning, decapitation and using a rocket-propelled grenade as it seeks to boost morale among its fanatical supporters.

40/40

2015 - June

Isis has begun carrying out its threat to destroy structures in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, blowing up at least two monuments at the Unesco-protected site as Syrian government troops made advances on the Islamist’s positions.

AFP

Analysts, campaigners and politicians have all drawn a link between British interventions – including Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – and the strengthening of jihadi groups.

The UK has been accused of allowing violence and extremism to flourish by destabilising nations – with Isis itself formed during the Iraq war and spreading in subsequent conflicts – as well as fuelling hostile ideologies that exploit civilian casualties.

Terrorist groups frequently use images of alleged massacres by the US-led coalition in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in propaganda aiming to incite anger and support their narrative of “defensive jihad”.

Read more

UK’s intervention in Libya fuelling war and terror around the world

Isis has frequently called for “retaliation” against the West and claims for several terror attacks – including those in the UK - have claimed they were a response to calls to “target citizens of Coalition countries”.

But the group has also claimed that stopping foreign intervention would not prevent its atrocities, with a propaganda article from 2016 claiming it was only a “secondary” motive.

“The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you,” Isis said in its official English magazine. 

A former Isis fighter interviewed by The Independent is among those claiming that the perceived need to “protect the Sunni Muslims” was one of the factors drawing him to the group.

Harry Sarfo, who has been jailed, claimed the US-led bombing campaign would aid Isis recruitment, adding: “For every bomb, there will be someone to bring terror to the West.”

The debate over potential links between British foreign policy and terrorism reignited after the Manchester attack (AFP/Getty)

The debate re-ignited in the wake of the Manchester attack in May, when Mr Corbyn said the War on Terror was “simply not working”.

The Labour leader said the “responsibility of government is to minimise” the chance of attacks by giving police the resources they need and to ensure “foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country”.

An exclusive ORB survey for The Independent found 75 per cent of British people believe interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have made atrocities on UK soil more likely.

Read more

Terror attacks likely to rise in the UK despite Isis defeat in Raqqa

But Mr Johnson will insist that British foreign policy “is not part of the problem” but “part of the solution” to terrorism.

“Above all we will win when we understand that ‘we’ means not just us in the West but the hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who share the same hopes and dreams, who have the same anxieties and goals for their families, who are equally engaged with the world and all its excitements and possibilities, who are equally determined to beat this plague,” he will say.

The Foreign Secretary is to stress the need for more engagement with Muslim-majority countries, to foster a stronger sense of national identity over sectarianism, women’s empowerment and reform.

He will praise British forces active in current conflict zones for “putting their lives at risk to roll up terrorist networks” and help bring them to justice, adding: “They are making good on what the Prime Minister has rightly called the Unconditional Commitment of the British people to the security of our European friends – not just in this continent but beyond.”

More about:

Isis

Terrorism

terror attacks

Boris Johnson

Iraq War

Iraq

Syria

Afghanistan

Libya

military intervention

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Original Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-terror-western-intervention-iraq-blaming-jihadi-narrative-winning-criticised-corbyn-a8095921.html

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