With the dust mostly settled on the Manchester Arena, a much clearer picture of who the bomber was and why this event even took place emerges. Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen by birth, detonated a bomb on May 22nd, killing 22 people1. Bizarre coincidence of 2s aside, this bombing was not the work of a “lone wolf”, as legacy media would have people believe2, 3. As of the date of this writing, in fact, 17 people4 have been arrested in connection with the bombing.
So why did this bombing even happen? According to legacy media, Abedi was “radicalized” during a recent 3-week visit to Lybia5. However, what most media outlets neglect to mention is that Abedi had been to Libya several times. He was taken there by his father, a member of an Al-Queda affiliate terror group fighting against the government soldiers of Muammar Gaddafi, in 2004 amidst the country’s bitter civil war6 (as of the date of this article, Abedi’s father remains under arrest in Libya for terror activities). To suggest or imply that this young man was indoctrinated recently or from a single excursion to an Islamic terror heartland is misleading, as it ignores the fact that Abedi spent his entire life being indoctrinated into terror by his father and peer groups.
The stage was set, however, to commit this heinous deed during Abedi’s most recent trip to Libya, where it’s surmised he received the training necessary to build the bomb6. When Abedi had finished his work, he specifically chose the Ariana Grande concert, as it was the most accessible “soft target” to him, with lax security and scores of the most vulnerable victims. A soft target is “a person or thing that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable, especially to military or terrorist attack.”7
In America, school shootings are the most obvious example of soft target attacks, and, ironically, share some of the characteristics of target choice to modern terrorist attacks. One would assume, naturally, that attacking an undefended target would be an effort for the attacker to escape, however, in most school shootings and practically all terrorist attacks, the perpetrator has no intention of getting away; they seek to die amid the chaos they have wrought. Instead, the lack of security offers the attacker an opportunity to inflict maximum damage before being stopped by arriving reinforcements8. This is another reason modern terrorism targets places where firearms are specifically banned, such as the Manchester Arena. Going in, they expect to meet very little resistance.
If soft targets are the ideal terror target, why did Abedi specifically target the Manchester Arena on that night? The answer to this question is sinister and goes to the heart of why Islamic terror is the biggest problem facing the world today.
Abedi chose to attack the Manchester Arena on that night because it was full of children.
Islamic terror seeks to convert the world to their ideology through whatever means necessary, including (and almost exclusively using) the murder of children to scare up converts. From the Taliban attacking schools and killing over 100 children in December, 20149 to Boko Haram burning children to death in Nigeria in late 201610, Islamic terror has made it a common practice to specifically target the innocent. Their goal is maximum fear from maximum suffering, and there is nothing more soul-crushing than losing a child. In this regard, Abedi was following the guidebook on target choice: kill as many children as possible.
If we understand the goal, it still doesn’t address how a human being like Abedi could knowingly target children for slaughter. Biologically, humans seem hardwired to want to protect children and it’s a rare individual who can willingly hurt a child without remorse. Was this attack merely a case of “the ends justifying the means” to Abedi, or was there something more complex at work?
To answer that, one must first examine how someone could come to view children specifically as combatants or, at the very least, not a taboo target. It may be hard to understand, but Abedi didn’t look at the kids at Manchester and see children. What he saw were the spawn of infidels, the next generation of enemies seeking to destroy Islam. These children were not human to his eye.
To these extremists, anything but adherence to Islam is, by default, an attack against Islam’s divine destiny to rule the world, and therefore those they view as threatening are no longer “innocent”. The Quran, specifically verse 5:32, is often used in an attempt to defend Islam as a “religion of peace”. Proponents argue verse 5:32 directs believers to not kill, however, the text provides a pretty distinct caveat. It states, (University of Michigan translation) “For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men;”11.
The key caveat here is that the idea of committing “mischief in the land” is open to interpretation. To radical Islamic terror groups, to blaspheme Islam in any way (including simply not believing as they do) is seditious (“mischief in the land”) and deserving of the death penalty. In the eyes of Abedi, the children defying Allah’s divine word by listening to Ariana Grande’s music were guilty of “mischief in the land,” and their parents, who allowed them to attend the concert, were equally guilty, perhaps even more so. This was an individual surrounded by and bathed in these beliefs from his very birth. The lines between merely believing and a call to action begin to blur when it is one’s every day existence.
This is not to say, however, that belief in the justification of violence automatically makes a person violent, by default. In a 2009 poll, a third of British Muslims believe someone who leaves Islam deserves death12, however, a third of British Muslims do not act on this belief, or there would be a lot more attacks like Manchester. There is a further step one must go from belief to action, and, unfortunately, the Quran offers a great incentive to take that step in a “get out of jail free card.”
In all Abrahamic religions, there are rules by which one must follow to ensure a place in the happy afterlife and avoid the unhappy place. If one were to stray, however, there is a loophole, through which one can clean the slate and get back in the good graces of the Lord. In basic Christianity, “accepting Jesus” generally gets the job done. In Catholicism, it is confession and attrition, and in Islam, it’s martyrdom. To die defending Islam is the greatest honor proscribed by the Quran and Islamic extremists take this quite literally.
Knowing they were slated for martyrdom, the 9/11 hijackers were known to have drank alcohol, visited strip clubs, and even hired prostitutes prior to killing themselves and 2,993 others13. Where there is a core belief in justified violence, when an incentive to commit violence is added, the question ceases to be “if” someone will be violent but instead becomes “when” and “how often.” Islam provides the perfect recipe, and this is just the religious side of the coin. Most attacks in the Middle East need only these ingredients, however attacks in the West provide a third rail: politics.
When it comes to the religio-political ideology of Islamic terrorists, attacks on non-believers take on a special significance when the targets are Westerners, since intervention in Middle Eastern countries by Western nations is seen as a direct invasion on Islam. This is the crux of why the Manchester Arena bombing ever took place. To Abedi, it wasn’t just about dying in defense of Islam, it was also a political statement. He sought revenge for what he felt were slights against “his people” and his religious faith provided him the perfect recipe by which to exact it14.
It is this concoction of religious fervor and political activism that brews Islamic terrorism. This is also why Manchester will not be the last, vicious attack on children and unprotected people in the West. Islam teaches dying to defend the cause is not only just, it’s laudable, and Abedi is revered as a hero to the people he considered peers15; as a martyr who dealt a blow to the enemies of Islam in a glorious sacrifice. There is no shame in his actions; no outrage; no condemnation from the people he associated with. Because of this public support, the next Abedi is, right now, being bolstered and empowered. He’s being fueled by political ideology and ignited by religious zeal. Thanks to the West’s incredible technological advancements, he will be able to inflict massive casualties just like his predecessor hero Abedi did. It is a self-replicating cycle.
Islamic terror has taken the natural human trait of “Tribalism” and weaponized it to a degree not seen since Genghis Khan. Fortunately, those willing to die for the cause remain a minority, but let’s not forget a majority of Muslims worldwide believe Sharia law should be implemented16 and the Muslim population is over 1.6 billion people17. If the “moderates” are unwilling even to condemn such violence, how long until the Islamic terrorists number in the hundreds of thousands? The millions? How can the West prevent millions of martyrs bent on killing men, women, or, especially, children?