British Security Forces Chase Down Libyan ISIS Attack Cell in Move to Prevent Further Attacks

British troops are now being deployed to support the British police at key sites, particularly in London, including Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and the British Houses of Parliament as part of Operation Temperer. British police have now released that they are in fact looking at a terrorist cell that supported the suicide bombing in Manchester, with 22 dead, and 64 wounded, including 20 in critical condition. It was revealed that a British female police officer reportedly was killed in the attack along with the other victims. The suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, is among the dead, and believed to be linked to both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIS). The bomber, Salman Abedi, is believed to have traveled to Libya, and to Syria for training, before returning to Libya for three weeks, prior to the attack in Manchester on the 22nd of May. The dead terrorist’s brother, Ismail and three other men of Libyan extraction and an unidentified fifth man have been arrested by British security forces, and it is believed that the bomb-maker is now on the run. The fifth man arrested in Wigan was seized as he approached a bus with a package.

As well, Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester attacker, and his father Ramadan Abedi have reportedly been arrested in Tripoli on suspicion of Islamic State links. It was revealed that Ramadan Abedi was a member of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the 1990s. The father reportedly still belongs to the Salafi Jihadi movement, the most extreme sect of Salafism, and from which both Al Qaeda and ISIS belong. Abedi’s own family left Britain for Libya in advance of the attack without explanation, but his father was serving as a manager of the Central Security Force in the capital. Family members and friends reportedly called a British government hotline about extremists to report on Abedi’s extremist views as many as three years ago. But the father reached by phone in Tripoli, Libya, prior to his arrest said his son is innocent. The bomb itself has been described as so big, and so sophisticated, with some component parts not available in Britain, that there had to be outside assistance. 

Meanwhile, British security forces have warned that another attack maybe imminent, the threat level remains at critical, that some 850 British citizens fought overseas for ISIS, that 100 have been killed and as many as half have returned home. The British are saying that they have 500 people currently on their terrorism watch list. As many as a 1000 armed British troops have now been deployed to support the British police. The British election campaign has been suspended at this point, and that the British are considering restricting public events including cancelling the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. The Palace of Westminster has been closed to the public following police advice, Chelsea Football Club have cancelled their Premier League victory parade, Scottish police are reviewing security at major events, including the Scottish Cup Final.

Last night a man armed with a knife and baseball bat was detained at a vigil for the victims of the bombing in Birmingham, UK, and today another man armed with a knife was detained today outside Buckingham Palace. France has announced that it is going to continue with its state of Emergency, and Germany is reportedly looking at further security measures. The US has reportedly said that it is not taking additional measures, that they remain in a high state of readiness, but the FBI held a nation-wide call to coordinate security efforts with over a 1000 individuals on their terror watch lists. The British government has criticized the US government for the leaking of a series of details to the media relating to the bombing.

Lastly, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack which was directed at young women and children, part of a growing trend in their European attacks. They have gone after women and young girls in previous attacks as they are not valued in the ISIS mindset the way men are regarded by the terrorists. ISIS has targeted young people and children as they represent the future, by destroying them they render the existence of their parents irrelevant. This represents a more hard-edged philosophy than the ruthless blood thirsty and brutal approach taken by the terrorist group to date. Keeping in mind that ISIS has been engaged in a variety of genocides, ethnic cleansing, beheadings, burning people alive, crucifixions, throwing gay men from the top of high-rise buildings, torture, kidnapping young girls and keeping sex slaves. Whether this new approach to singling out and targeting young women and children is a product of ISIS pending military defeat in Iraq and Syria or an attempt to increase their market share’ in the Islamic terror world are open questions. Whether this represents the view of the whole terrorist group, a splinter in the organization, its foreign fighters, self-radicalized associates or their European cells in not known. But it is rational to assume that as ISIS comes under pressure in Syria and Iraq that it will morph into an even more dangerous terrorist group as it tries to maintain its relevance to its supporters around the globe. 

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