Review of the Year Sep 2014: UK authorises military action against ISIS

On September 27, 2014 British warplanes were awaiting orders to launch missile attacks against Islamic State (IS) after Parliament backed military action in Iraq.

Six Tornado G4 fighters had been based in Cyprus since August but had been used only for reconnaissance. The bombers were expected to lead any British operations targeting IS.

MPs from all three main Westminster parties voted for military action by 524 votes to 43. Britain stopped short of extending its support to operations in Syria.

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella group the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) released a statement neither condoning nor condemning the air strikes.

The statement read: “While there may be multiple views about the merits of using our military once again in Iraq, Muslims are united in their revulsion of the terrorist acts carried out by ISIS…

“Muslims  abhor the way ISIS has dishonoured Islam’s teachings of peace and tolerance.  Far from fulfilling the aspirations of freedom and justice in Syria, they have only made matters worse.

“There will naturally be reticence about our country’s participation in this action and the inevitable repeated scenarios of Muslim civilian casualties from aerial bombardment.  We must be mindful that such actions will serve to bolster the message of extremists, who are looking to profit from attacks made against them and radicalising more young people.

“That is why it is important that we be conscious of the humanitarian consequences of airstrikes and the need to uphold the rules of war.  The people of Iraq and Syria have suffered enough. Let us not make it worse.”

Rushanara Ali resigns

Following the parliament vote Labour’s Rushanara Ali resigned from her post as shadow education minister.

The Bethnal Green and Bow MP, who was elected in 2010, stepped down from her position on the opposition front bench in order to abstain.

Her resignation came in a letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband. It read: “There can be no doubt that the actions of Isil are horrific and barbaric and I share the revulsion that everyone in our country feels towards them.

rushanara ali

“However, I am not confident that this military action will be effective in the short-term in just targeting the terrorists and not harming innocent civilians. Nor can I pretend to have any confidence that there is a credible long-term strategy to build up the capacity of the Iraqi army or that the potential impact on radicalisation in the UK has been properly thought through.

“Despite good intentions, too many mistakes have been made over the last decade and far too many people in conflict zones have had to pay a high price for misconceived actions by the UK and other countries.

“I appreciate the sincerity of Members of Parliament from all sides of the House who today support military action against Isil. I know that British Muslims stand united in the total condemnation of the murders that Isil have committed.

“However, there is a genuine belief in Muslim and non-Muslim communities that military action will only create further bloodshed and further pain for the people of Iraq.”

Anjem Choudary arrested

In other news Anjem Choudary and nine other men were arrested today as part of an investigation into “Islamist terrorism.”

The men, who were all seized in London, were arrested on suspicion of being members of, or supporting, a banned organisation, the Metropolitan Police said. Al-Muhajiroun was understood to be the banned organisation in question, sources told the Press Association.

Counter-terrorism police searched 18 addresses across London, and one in Stoke on Trent.

Anjem Choudary has voiced support for the ISIS state
Anjem Choudary has voiced support for the ISIS state

Scotland Yard said the men, who are aged between 22 and 51, were arrested as “part of an ongoing investigation into Islamist related terrorism and are not in response to any immediate public safety risk”.

Choudary has been a vocal supporter of jihadi groups and has expressed a desire to go and live in the newly established “Islamic State.”

He has been on the fringes of the British Muslim community for years and many have been perplexed at the amount of coverage the mainstream media gives him.

Many Muslims also feel that his incendiary rhetoric feeds into the Islamophobic narrative and have expressed surprise that he has not been arrested before.

Choudary was previously a solicitor and served as the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, and, until it was proscribed, as the spokesman for Islamist group, Islam4UK.

He is thought to be a supporter of ISIS.

ISIS beheads David Haines

On the international scene, ISIS released a video appearing to show the execution of British aid worker, David Cawthorne Haines.

The video lasting 2 minutes 30 seconds began with a footage of Prime Minister David Cameron. Here is a full transcript of the audio from the video:

A man believed to be David Haines: “My name is David Cawthorne Haines. I would like to declare that I hold you David Cameron entirely responsible for my execution.

British aid worker David Haines was killed by ISIS
British aid worker David Haines was killed by ISIS

“You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State just as your predecessor Tony Blair did following a trend amongst our British Prime Minsters who can’t find the courage to say no to the Americans’.

“Unfortunately it is we the British public who will pay the price for our parliament’s selfish decisions.”

ISIS militant or “Jihadi John”: “This British man has to the pay the price for your promise Cameron to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State ironically he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

“Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the haditha dam will only accelerate your destruction and playing the role of the obedient lapdog Cameron will only drag you and your people into another bloody and un-winable war.

The footage then shows what is believed to be the dead body of Mr Haines, and another British hostage is also shown.

The ISIS fighter says: “If you, Cameron, persist in fighting the Islamic State then you like your master Obama, will have the blood of your people on your hands.”

Abu Qatada released

In Jordan Abu Qatada was cleared of plotting terror attacks but Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May immediately vowed that he wouldn’t be returning to the UK.

The decision was handed down in the case presided over by civilian judges in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The court ruled there was insufficient evidence against Abu Qatada, letting him walk free. He was kissed and hugged by his father after leaving court.

But within two hours of his freedom, Theresa May, who headed Government efforts to remove Qatada from the UK, said there was no way he could return to the country.

Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada

‘The due process of law has taken place in Jordan. That is absolutely as it should be,’ she said. ‘The UK courts here were very clear that Abu Qatada poses a threat to our national security. That’s why we were pleased as a Government to remove him from the UK.

“He is subject to a deportation order, he is also subject to a UN travel ban. That means he will not be returning to the UK.”

Abu Qatada was charged with involvement in plans to target Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats in Jordan in 2000 – the so-called “millennium plot.”

Separately, the 53-year-old preacher was acquitted in June in another case, a foiled 1999 plan to attack an American school in Amman. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Qatada, real name Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, was extradited from Britain after a lengthy legal process and after years of detention without trial.

He has been previously been described in courts as a senior al-Qaeda figure in Europe who had close ties to Osama bin Laden. Britain has accused him of links with Zacarias Moussaoui – the only person charged in the United States over the September 11 attacks – and with shoe bomber Richard Reid.

But he was never charged with any offence.

Opinion and analysis

On Britain’s decision to authorize military action against ISIS 5Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih warned that MPs are making the UK a target for renewed terror attacks.

On the eve of the vote Roshan wrote: “Make no mistake, if Parliament votes to take this action it will: a) not defeat ISIS in Iraq or Syria. b) will make ISIS heroes across the Muslim world and c) will make the UK once again the target of terrorism.

isis

“The fact is that the ‘terror threat’ to Britain has receded these past few years because the UK has pulled most of its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Foreign policy grievances have always been the main factor behind terror plots and attacks, and this is something that the government knows all too well even though they’ve desperately tried to deflect attention away from it.

“But since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 the focus of international jihad has not been the West. Rather, it has been places like Libya, Somalia and, of course, Syria.

So why the British government would go out of its way to make itself a target is a perplexing question. I can only assume that this crazy decision to bomb ISIS is being driven by powerful forces within the security establishment who want to carve out a new role for themselves and attract more funding in the process.”

Houthi victory in Yemen

And finally, reporting from Sana’a, journalist Yousef Mawry said that the recent tumultuous events in Yemen were a victory for the Shia Zaidi Houthis and a defeat for the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. But if the Houthis don’t form an inclusive national government the country could become the next Iraq or Syria, with Al Qaeda waiting in the wings.

He wrote: “There is no doubt that the Houthis, who adhere to a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism and who make up one-third of the population, are the new power in Yemen politically and militarily. In recent months they have also managed to gain mass public support with their slogans of ending government corruption and restoring the dignity of the Yemeni people…

Yemen's Houthis
Yemen’s Houthis

“It is clear that the Islah party has suffered a severe blow politically and militarily, and most of the tribes loyal to Islah were defeated by the Houthis in the north of the country. In addition, their armed forces have been completely dismantled after a four day battle in Sana’a with the Houthis….

Ali Muhsun has flown out of the country and the Islah party have lost all political momentum. They had no other choice but to agree to the Houthis’ demands and accept the fact that the Houthis have beaten them across the board.

“That said, it’s a real possibility that the situation in Yemen could take a turn for the worse and become a similar situation to that of Syria and Iraq. Nothing will motivate Al-Qaeda more then to fight a Houthi-backed government.”So Yemen could soon witness foreign militants making their way to Yemen to fight the new government. And perhaps this is what Western powers are yearning for.”

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