How Manchester became a crucible of extremism
LONDON: Almost a year ago, Greater Manchester Police were forced to apologise after a fake suicide bomber shouted Allahu
Akbar in an exercise involving a simulated terrorist attack at the city’s biggest shopping mall.
Hundreds of volunteers joined the exercise at the Trafford Centre, which took police months to plan and was designed to replicate the bomb and gun atrocities that killed more than 160 people in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and last year.
The exercise was staged a few months after Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, had warned that Manchester was an Islamist breeding ground.
Together with the capital here and West Midlands, it was where many of the estimated 3,000 homegrown Islamic State militants were living and believed to be preparing to launch devastating attacks.
The truth is that dozens of terrorists have emerged from this city — many from the Moss Side area, which is less than 3.2km from Fallowfield, where Monday’s bomber lived.
Once impoverished, Moss Side has had its troubles: a white and West Indian gang culture, gun crime and race riots. Now, even as it has been gentrified by students and young families, it suffers from another infamy.
Nine men from here have either killed themselves in the name of IS, disappeared in suspicious circumstances and suspected of fighting for the terror outfit, or been jailed for terror offences.
Spread the geographical net a bit wider towards Fallowfield, and the number of men is 16.
Many have links to Manchester’s notorious “jihadi brides”, twin schoolgirls Salma and Zahra Halane, who left school and slipped out of the UK in 2015 to join IS.
Described as IS recruiters of other young UK women, the girls declared on social media: “Allah, the merciful… we came to hate the infidels in Britain to such a degree we could not even bear to look at them. Best advice is to get the whole family to travel to IS.”
The connections do not end there. Monday’s bomber, Britishborn Salman Abedi, grew up just metres from the high school once attended by the twins — both then aspiring medical students. He also lived in Moss Side before his family moved to Fallowfield.
Furthermore, a cousin of the twins, A-Level student Abdullahi Ahmed Jama Farah, 20, was jailed last year for terror offences after he created “an IS hub of communication”for like-minded young extremists from his mother’s home in Fallowfield.
The evil seeds of hatred were sown in the suburbs of this onceprosperous city years ago.
In 2000. a small white computer was discovered in the dusty corner of a shabby student flat in Manchester’s Didsbury where a Libyan-born terrorist lived.
Undercover police, tipped off by the United State’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, found it contained the official training manual of al-Qaeda terrorists.
It explained in deadly detail how to wage a “holy war” against Christian infidels on the streets of Britain.
When the 18-chapter Arabic manual was printed out, it ran to 180 closely-typed A4 pages giving specific and intricate details on how to make explosives, mix poisons, carry out urban killings and become a suicide bomber.
It was designed to “re-educate” recruits in the West and transform them into holy warriors.
“Explosives are the safest weapon for the holy warriors. They strike the enemy with sheer terror and fright.”
The computer, which contained what the FBI dubbed the “Manchester Document”, was owned by a 35-year-old bearded man named Abu Anas, who had slipped illegally into northern Britain and successfully claimed political asylum in 1995.
The terrorist fled Britain before police stormed his flat on a May morning in 2000. He made for Afghanistan with a US$25 million (RM110 million) price on his head and was, luckily, captured by US forces.
He died of liver disease in US custody at 50. But his legacy through the manual lived on.
For it was found again — among other terrifying documents promoting Islamic terror — on public computers at Manchester Central Library and other libraries across Britain.
Local youths regularly spent hours reading the manual and other terror documents at the library.
One librarian said: “We have been specifically instructed not to challenge the young men who are actively accessing the sites of these terrorist organisations.”
The librarian had been silenced by political correctness — just as the Manchester Police were when they tried to stage a realistic mock terror attack designed to save people’s lives.
Tragically, it appears the police were on the right track.
A woman looking at flowers in Albert Square in Manchester yesterday, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.
British soldiers arriving by bus and heading toward a building next to New Scotland Yard police headquarters near to the Houses of Parliament in central London yesterday.
A woman hugging a girl wearing a T-shirt from Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman concert in Albert Square yesterday.