UK’s colonial past a possible factor in brutal Woolwich killing

The Woolwich attack in the UK has already been branded as the latest manifestation of global Islamist terrorism. However, it has also been suggested the attack was backlash for the UK’s history of colonialism and intervention in the Middle East.

The UK government has branded the brutal attack on a soldier in
Woolwich, East London, as a “sickening and barbaric” act of
terrorism, although the terror allegation has not been officially
confirmed. In video footage of the incident, the two assailants
yell “God is greatest” in Arabic as they attempt to
decapitate their victim.

When police arrived on the scene they reportedly opened fire and
injured the two suspects, who subsequently spent the night under
arrest in hospital. Speculation over the motivation behind the
unprecedented attack is rife in UK media, with the press drawing
parallels to a foiled 2007 plot to kidnap and decapitate a soldier
in Birmingham.

Citing police sources, Reuters reported on Thursday morning that
officers were examining possible links to Nigeria in the attack.
Nigeria was a British colony for over a century before gaining
independence in 1960. The UK now has a large Nigerian immigrant
population numbering 174,000, according to the Office for National
Statistics.

The colonial factor

Brian Becker from anti-war coalition ANSWER told RT that the
UK’s neo-colonial approach to the Middle East, along with its NATO
and US alliance, was leading to an “escalating cycle of
violence.”

“The British colonial past and its current legacy of
intervention and war is undoubtedly a factor,”
Becker said.

“The British government joined George W. Bush in the invasion
of Iraq and supported the war in Afghanistan.”
UK politician
George Galloway also intimated that the attack could have been a
consequence of British actions abroad, drawing a parallel with
Syria:

“This sickening atrocity in London is exactly what we are
paying the same kind of people to do in Syria.”
But Defense
Consultant Moeen Raoof told RT that the nature of the attack was
“bizarre,” and did not bear the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda.

“If this were an Al-Qaeda act they would have attacked many
more targets,”
Raoof said, describing the attack as more
“opportunistic” than premeditated. Raoof added that UK
soldiers were guilty of similar “appalling acts of murder,”
and are “returning to the UK without any
consequences.”

The UK government has stepped up security around the capital in
the aftermath of the attack, and Prime Minister David Cameron has
called an emergency meeting with top politicians and security
officials to discuss the atrocity.

Terror stereotypes

In 2008, the Guardian obtained a copy of an MI5 internal
research document on terror suspects that, based on numerous
studies, concluded it was difficult to identify those who might be
involved in terrorism in the UK.

The study’s results “challenge many of the stereotypes that
are held about who becomes a terrorist and why,”
the Guardian
said.

According to the assessment, terror suspects are “a diverse
collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile,
nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism.”

These include individuals from Pakistani, Middle Eastern and
Caucasian backgrounds.

The research revealed that roughly half of terror suspects were
born in the UK, and a majority of the other half is in the country
legally. Most of those involved in terrorism were males, with the
majority becoming radicalized in their early- to mid-20s. A large
number of those involved in terrorism did not practice Islam on
regular basis. Cases have also revealed supects being involved in
drug and alcohol consumption, and soliciting prostitutes.

MI5 added that there is evidence that a well-established
religious identity makes individuals less inclined towards violent
extremism.

Hundreds of UK men continue to travel abroad to places like
Syria and Somalia to join anti-government and terrorist-linked
organizations. Britons are allegedly involved with the Al-Nusra
Front in Syria, as well as Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab in
Somalia.

Police officers man a cordoned off area in Woolwich, east London, on May 22, 2013, following an incident in which a man was killed and two others seriously injured (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

This article originally appeared on : RT