You would think that, as the reverberations from last week’s Manchester terror attack continue to be felt, the UK media would be scouring through the literal and figurative rubble trying to find leads. After all, is that not what a profit-driven media in a free society is supposed to do?
But in the case of this attack, the corporate media have demonstrated extreme passivity. They have mostly waited for press releases from the government, police and intelligence services. The only things they seem to be chasing are the families of the deceased. (The one exception has been the admirable Peter Oborne, an old-school, maverick journalist who has long written for the right-wing press, including the Daily Mail.)
It is not even as though these pampered journalists need to do much of the leg-work themselves. More and more information has come to light online, from “alternative” news sites like Middle East Eye and Al Jazeera, of the close ties between the British spy agency MI6 and UK-based Libyans, most of them from Manchester.
Back in the late 1990s, MI6 effectively sponsored their trips overseas to become fighters against Muammar Gaddafi. They came to be known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG.
After 9/11, the LIFG became a proscribed organisation for its extreme jihadist agenda. But it was back in business with MI6 after 2011 and the Arab Spring. The fighters were encouraged to travel abroad again to help remove Gaddafi, as Libya became the target of yet more western-sponsored “humanitarian intervention”. Salman Abedi, the young man responsible for the Manchester attack, and his father are believed to have been among them. Abedi would have been only 16 at the time.
So where is the coverage of any of this in the corporate media? Why are journalists not reporting or pursuing these leads? Can we really trust the British security services to investigate their own behaviour? Does this episode not raise issues of vital national security?
And who gave the approval for such a policy, one that was bound to radicalise at least some of Britain’s Libyan community and provide them with military training and experience they were certain to bring back to the UK?
And here’s the rub. Because when MI6 began funnelling British-Libyan fighters to Libya in 2011, Theresa May was Home Secretary. May must have known of the MI6 policy and doubtless approved it. And now she is in the midst of a general election campaign. If she loses, Jeremy Corbyn is placed to become prime minister in her stead. That is not a prospect any of the corporate media appear willing to accept, even the supposedly left-liberal elements of it, like the Guardian.
And so the story of MI6 and May, their sponsorship of Islamic jihadism, and the likely “blowback” the UK just experienced in Manchester is a sleeping dog no one seems willing to disturb.
Meanwhile, Corbyn is under assault from May and the corporate media for trying to raise the connection between UK foreign policy and the terrorism it has spawned.
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