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Woolwich Attack: Hysteria, Exploitation and Blowback


Keelan BaldersonMay 25th, 2013War & Terrorism8 Comments »

Drummer Lee Rigby

This week’s tragic murder of soldier Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich has brought out the worst in British society. Politicians, news outlets, radical Muslim preachers, and anti-Islam pressure groups have all swooped down like vultures in order to justify their own warped ideologies.

Instead of taking a step back and rationally analysing the situation, we have fallen into an emotional frenzy and thrown all critical thinking skills out of the window. That’s not to say the hacking to death of a young man on London streets is not going to stir emotions, but if we’re to solve the case and prevent similar tragedies from taking place in the future, we have to honestly ask the tough question. Why did it happen?

Emotions are useless in the quest for truth. They make us reactionary and vulnerable to those that manipulate. And manipulation began as soon as the mainstream press got hold of the story.

Knife crime in London has been a long recognised problem. From the year 2010 to 2011, Greenwich the London borough that Woolwich is housed, saw 435 recorded knife offenses (excluding possession) [1], 40 which resulted in stabbings and 2 of which were murders [2]. 21 out of 32 London boroughs saw increases in knife offenses. Even 28 year old suspect Michael Adebolajo himself was on the receiving end of a knife attack when he was 16 years old, in which another victim was “literally cut to pieces” according to the judge at the trial that followed the incident, which happened on a housing estate in Erith [3].

There is a culture of knife crime and desensitisation to it. People have pondered why the immediate scene appeared rather calm, with an old lady pushing along her shopping and others milling about or standing and watching. As sad as it is – though this may be at the extreme end of the scale – violent attacks are relatively common. Regardless of motive, Wednesday’s murder cannot be taken out of the wider context of knife crime.

Immediate news coverage however focused on the supposed Muslim faith of the alleged attackers. ITN News began the narrative with an unprecedented first hand account from Adebolajo, who attempted to explain his apparent actions while still bloody and weapons in hand [4].

Michael Adebolajo

“We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your Governments they don’t care about you.”

One of those female witnesses spoke with ITV’s Daybreak and expanded on this [5]“He said ‘he’s a British soldier. He killed Muslim people in Muslim countries that have nothing to do here.’ He said that ‘all the bombs being dropped and blind killing. Women, children…”

If we take this at face value and assume Adebolajo is guilty and his motive was exactly what he said it was – in that he wasn’t out to deceive – this was a politically and possibly religious motivated murder.

This was just what all the scavengers have been waiting for, something they can sink their teeth in to justify their existence.

David Cameron COBRA

Within hours the murder became an “Islamic terrorist attack” and David Cameron bunkered up with his top security officials in the comically named COBRA, Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, where the Government plan emergency responses to threats of national or regional security. Britain will “never give in to terrorism” proclaimed our brave defacto commander in chief. “We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country, and we never buckle in the face of them.”[6]

What a load of photo-op nonsense! This wasn’t a multi-casualty bombing, there weren’t hordes of Al Qaeda butchering through the capital. There were no hijacked planes, or Afghans storming the beaches. It was a murder in London; 47 happened last year [7]. All tragedies, but let’s not launch the nukes just yet.

To say the response has been wholly disproportionate to reality would be an understatement. Unrelated Muslim groups have been forced to abhor the attack, as if they somehow shared responsibility, and Mosques have been targeted as if this was a coordinated Islamic conspiracy by everyone who just happened to be born a Muslim [8]. It’s a hysteria analogous to if we persecuted every jilted lover, because some jilted lovers turn violent. The jilted-loverisation of Britain has just gone too far!

That’s not to downplay the crimes of the killers and it goes without saying that if there is a broader extremist Islam connection, it should be investigated. However this is not the COBRA security meeting, clash of civilizations everybody seems to want it to be. There certainly wasn’t this kind of reaction earlier this month when a 75-year-old Muslim grandfather was stabbed to death by a white man on his way home from evening prayer [9].

Following the original ITN report, which in and of itself lacked any religious rhetoric (it was a political statement), unsourced eye witness quotes claimed at least one of the attackers screamed “Allahu Akbar,” God is Great. This was coupled with reports that the victim was “beheaded”. This immediately invoked images of beheadings from the Middle-East and fueled the “terrorist attack” narrative.


Several people comforted Rigby as he lay dying from the horrific attack.

Now the dust has settled it’s become apparent that the victim was not beheaded. Mainstream media reports have quietly shifted the story to “butchered”, “hacked” or even just “stabbed”. Images from the scene certainly lack the blood that would be present with a beheading and it’s doubtful women would be cradling a headless person. The suspects are also not Arabs, and Adebolajo is confirmed British born with Nigerian descent, only converting to Islam in 2003/2004 according to a friend and notorious media darling Anjem Choudary.

The use of Choudary by the BBC is particularly interesting. He’s carved out a relationship with them where he’s the go to extremist who will dance around condemnation of apparent terrorist attacks and then rant about British foreign policy. He’s a tabloid wet-dream, able to rile up the public whenever needed.

Mostly this is theater – he has a handful of dopey followers and his rhetoric (at least on television) is not that inflammatory. In fact most of his foreign policy critiques are not dissimilar from the left anti-war movement. Stop killing Muslims in foreign countries based on lies and imperialist undertones. In that regard he is also a valuable state propaganda tool that can drum up reactionary patriotism in support of these immoral wars.

There’s a reason why Choudary was invited on to Newsnight following the killing [10], instead of a white foreign policy commentator or anti-war activist. As long as a ranting Muslim is the one calling for the end of occupation of Muslim lands, nobody is going to agree and the war machine can continue with its occupation.

Anjem Choudary Woolwich

It’s this kind of us against them coverage that prevents people from even entertaining the idea that the killing could have been “blowback” for British foreign policy in the Middle-East and around the world; which on the face of it is precisely what it was, according to Adebolajo.

Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee was one of the first people exploited by this BBC tactic [11]. According to the fair and balanced interviewer “for a lot of viewers watching tonight, all they will see is British troops going overseas trying to make things better. What is it that is so annoying and creating so much anger within a section of Muslim society?”

This is a gross misrepresentation of the issue and essentially pigeon-holes the debate between crazy violent Muslims and good British people just trying to help.

I and many other British citizens are sickened that our troops have been exploited by successive Governments to murder countless Muslim civilians for over a decade, based on lies. We are most certainly not part of this supposed “a lot of people” who think the troops are just there to “make things better”.

iraq protest
Not many Choudarys here.

It might be worth reminding the BBC that they were part of the media machine that greased the wheels for the illegal invasion of Iraq. In case you’ve forgotten Saddam didn’t have WMD capabilities and was not working with Al Qaeda. A record million or more British people recognised this and marched on London against Tony Blair’s brewing war crime[12] and the man is now a national symbol of hatred! If Choudary is to be believed, suspect Adebolajo converted to Islam around this time and within this context.

The war in Afghanistan is also a widely criticized conflict. A 2009 survey found that 51% of the British public want the troops to pull out [13]. It’s been 12 years and Bin Laden was never even found there.

EDL Tommy RobisnonZionist funded Tommy Robinson[14] can run around all he wants spouting off about representing Britain in his English Defence League, but the fact remains neither he nor the BBC are representing the British public on this issue. Robinson is just the other end of the theatrical spectrum to Choudary.

The truly tragic thing is, if this killing was blowback for British actions overseas, all it has accomplished is increased tensions at home and more blind support for those actions. The EDL’s membership (at least online) is increasing and Muslim Terrorism is once again the buzzword of the day. This gives politicians the perceived justification to continue the same aggressive foreign policy, which could just as easily spawn more blowback. A vicious cycle that scares the public in to the state’s arms.

One interesting aspect of this case, which mirrors many other “Terrorism” incidents in Britain and in the US are claims by Adebolajo’s friend that he was scouted by MI5 and asked to be an informant [15]. Last year he went to a lawyer to complain about this, because he found the conduct of the security services akin to harassment. Prior to this Adebolajo had allegedly traveled to Kenya and was tortured by the army. It is after these events that Adebolajo’s friend claims to have seen a change in him.

MI5 Woolwich
Abu Nusaybah tells the BBC that Adebolajo was harassed by MI5.

While it is too early at this stage to be certain about what all this means, or whether it is even true, as with the alleged 7/7 bombers it looks like MI5 may have had some kind of dubious relationship to Adebolajo, one that will no doubt be brushed aside as a failure of intelligence – that they had him on file but nothing came of it, and their intentions were always pure.

A similar though far more documented “intelligence failure” excuse was given for the London Bombings. Two of the alleged perpetrators were surveilled and noted months before the attacks, and one was on file as far back as 2001. Key extremists that are said to have influenced them in the years before the bombings were all likely MI5 informants as they slipped away from investigation, and in the related Operation Crevice case were not prosecuted [16]. Junaid Babar who supposedly trained the men in Pakistan was set free because he was working as an informant for the FBI and grassed at the Crevice trial.

This puts the possible revelation of MI5 involvement with Adebolajo in a broader context than some would consider. Could they simply have been seeking information about what happened in Kenya? Of course, but they may have also had something much larger at play. MI5 have had a very odd relationship with extremists over the years, including infiltrating groups (or at times setting innocent people up), but also appeasing and even working with extremists directly when the state had mutual goals.

Omar Barki

Radical Islamic group Al-Muhajiroun that operated through the 90s and in to the 2000s was left well alone for years despite their hate-filled rhetoric and ties to overseas terrorism. Their leader Omar Bakri who spoke of having public immunity [17] has since admitted to being an informant [18], essentially working with the Government in grooming young British Jihadis to help wage Blair’s first dirty war in the Balkans. About 200 Pakistani Muslims living in the UK went to Pakistan, trained in terrorism camps and joined the fight in Bosnia. Most significantly, this was “with the full knowledge and complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies” notes MP Michael Meacher [19].

Bakri was banished following 7/7 when the public were hot, but he reared his ugly head this week to gloat about his continued influence even though he’s outside the country [20]. Interestingly Adebolajo is said to have been involved with the group sporadically.

Today Anjem Choudary is essentially the face of a much weaker and less radical Al-Muhajiroun, which has changed names several times since Bakri’s demise.

Anjem Choudary Adebolajo
Anjem Choudary with Michael Adebolajo.

All this makes one wonder – what’s going on when the BBC’s post-Woolwich guest is the head of an organization that not only had ties to Government policy and was appeased by MI5, but has been tied to the majority of apparent terrorism incidents in Britain as well? It seems counterintuitive. That’s because in reality we’re not fighting terrorism we’re promoting it; through blowback caused by unjustified wars against Muslims, but then also by giving radical preachers a platform to compound tensions brewed by those wars. Furthermore we support Muslim extremists in other parts of the world such as Libya and Syria and previously the Balkans when it benefits corporate and geopolitical interests, regardless of the consequences. As George Galloway aptly Tweeted…“This sickening atrocity in London is exactly what we are paying the same kind of people to do in Syria.”

This is where Tommy Robinson and the EDL are defeated by their own prejudices. They have an unwavering hatred for Muslims and an unwavering support for the troops, preventing them from seeing the forest for the trees. Both the troops and the extremists are pawns in the same political game.

If we’re to solve this case and prevent similar tragedies from taking place in the future, we have to honestly ask the tough question. Why did it happen?

Why is not concerned with anger or revenge. Why does not line the streets in balaclavas or seek the persecution of people based on race or religion. Why doesn’t stage inflammatory media appearances by poor representations of the wider public. Why won’t invoke the flag or chair a COBRA meeting as if 7/7 just happened all over again. Why also doesn’t watch edited Youtube videos and jump to wild conclusions about the whole event being fake…Why just is. And that’s the hardest thing for people to swallow, because it might mean they have to reassess their own beliefs.

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Keelan BaldersonKeelan Balderson is the editor of WideShut.co.uk, and producer of documentaries 7/7 What Did They Know? and Perfect Storm: The England Riots. Keeping a critical eye on Government, Corporate Power, and the causes of Terrorism, he aims to broaden the Western world view.



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  • jajouka

    excellent article keelan, the best I’ve read on the issue. the ease in which mass hysteria can be whipped up into a frenzy and blind vengeance can overshadow restraint and common sense is truly disturbing. the bbc achieve this goal this masterfully as they do it while pretending to do the opposite.

    top job keelan, i’d like to see your articles getting more exposure in the alternative media. reasoned voices are much in need as the truth movement seems to be spiraling into a chaotic carnival of macabre voyeurism and unchecked paranoia.

  • Richard

    Great article.

  • MM

    Great write-up Keelan, Good to see Alternative News sticking to the Script and not jumping on the frenzy, rather asking serious questions and explaining possible agendas/motives!

    Hopefully it will get exposure due!

  • Dan

    Suitably restrained and objectively thought out response, Keelan, pretty much spot on with how I feel about this latest incident. The BBC’s rabid and all too predictable response is certifiably nuts. The government and media are gloating in this attack and seemingly can’t wait for this to blown up into another ‘Islamic Terror’ incident, whatever that’s actually meant to mean.

    The government have a lot of dirty washing blowing in the wind at the moment and they and the security services should be the target of this country’s anger. It has sickened me that this is being used as a justification for further civil unrest and division. Very sad times!

  • Terry Walsh

    Great write up Keelan.

    All around me have grew more hateful of Muslims. Yet when i try to explain how its being manipulated…..i am the one they turn against…….crazy !

  • Jeff

    As every Muslim in Britain (and eslewhere) knows, Anjem Choudary works for MI5. Every time he opens his trap it has negative impact on the Muslim community. Only someone with training does that.

  • Reaper

    Why aren’t the accused being tried under terrorism legislation laws?

  • Kyle O’Neill

    I am first going to state that i am in no way trying to undermine or devalue the death of Lee Rigby. The family and those left behind have my deepest sympathies. However, Keelan has a very good and justified point.

    I used to be someone who trusted in the news. Then, i took an interest in Psychology, media studies, manipulation techniques and brainwashing science.