Woolwich: the unacceptable cost of the western governments' terrorist policies

28 May 2013

The Woolwich attack came as a shock. Why should a young man like drummer Lee Rigby have to die, right in the centre of London, and in such a brutal way? This was a senseless, blind murder. But above all, it was completely useless.

The two murderers explained their action by declaring to witnesses that "Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers". And yes, in Afghanistan, local people - Muslims or not - have been killed by British soldiers and their Afghan auxiliaries for over twelve years, and are still being killed despite the "end of combat operations" declared by Cameron in March.

But those responsible for these killings are not soldiers like Lee Rigby who, whether here, in Afghanistan or in the many bases that the British state maintains abroad under the pretext of "defending Britain's interests", are just pawns in the hands of the real criminals. And who are these criminals, if not the politicians, like Blair, Brown and Cameron, who presided over the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the generals who conducted the war against the Afghan population, and British capital whose interests they all serve?

The making of a terrorist scare

But this unpalatable truth had to be concealed at all costs. So, Cameron jumped on the opportunity to wave the threat of a terrorist conspiracy linked to "al-Qaeda" and convened Cobra, a special ommittee originally designed to co-ordinate a response to major crises, such as a threat of war for example.

The BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, has now revealed how a "senior Whitehall" official informed him that the attackers "were of Muslim appearance, and shouting 'Allahu Akbar'". But eye witnesses and videos made of the attack exposed this as a lie, which had been fed to the media by government officials in pursuit of their own political objectives - which had nothing to do with the attack itself.

While the BBC's official description of the event was finally amended, it was undoubtedly a factor behind the wave of incidents in which individual Muslims and mosques have been targeted since - mostly inspired by far-right thugs who used this presentation of events to raise the profile of their gutter politics. Eventually, the BBC issued a belated apology, which didn't repair the damage done.

As to the government, it makes no apology for sticking to its conspiracy theory and ordering arrests across the country. Instead, from the sunny comfort of Ibiza, Cameron announced the setting up of yet another anti-terrorist unit - on top of the existing dozens, whose job seems primarily to be to substantiate the existence of a well-organised terrorist threat. As to Theresa May, she is jumping on the opportunity to reintroduce her "snooper's charter", in - when we are already the most watched population in the world.

The "enemy within" is called imperialism

But if the action of the two Woolwich attackers shows anything, it is something quite different from a well-organised conspiracy.

As a means of action against a state as powerful as the British state, individual terrorist attacks would be ineffective, even if they targeted leading figures of the state: the state machinery can replace instantly any of its cogs, from the lowest to the highest level, without having to alter its policies.

Resorting to individual terrorism cannot therefore be the expression of a well-organised conspiracy, but rather an expression of weakness - and an attempt to attract attention - by people who do not have the considerable resources of a state machinery to defend their rights and interests.

The two attackers, who were both of Nigerian descent and educated in Britain, recently converted to Islam. Why, we don't know. But that they felt outraged by the murder of tens of thousands of ordinary people by the British army, in Iraq and Afghanistan, isn't hard to understand. Just as they could have been understandably outraged by the fate inflicted on millions of Nigerians to satisfy the greed of Shell's shareholders.

Those who, among the politicians and the media, are claiming the moral high ground by blaming the attackers - and only them - for the Woolwich murder, are hypocrites for whom human blood doesn't have the same value, depending on whether it is shed in Britain or in Afghanistan. But a terrorist is a terrorist, even when his name is Cameron and his authority is dressed up in the rags of the British state. It is the state terrorism exercised by the British and western capitalist classes on the populations of the poor countries, to promote their own domination and world order, which produces the despair on which individual terrorism feeds. It is, above all, this enemy within - British capital - that needs to be eradicated.