The Libyan uprising opposing Colonel Gaddafi in March 2011 was generously backed by western governments and Gulf allies. The projection of NATO air power and the infusion of weaponry to rebel brigades brought about the collapse of the sitting government, resulting in a prolonged civil war, weak state institutions, and porous borders. The transfer of military aid from Libya into Syria has been well-documented by international media sources. In addition to the weapons, a number of Libyan rebels carrying the weapons made there way to Syria, to fight the Al-Assad government. They were joined by fighters of many national backgrounds, but focus has shifted from the general makeup of foreign fighters to specific individuals of British nationality since the execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIS.
British Muslims have been documented as being some of the most vicious terrorists in Syria, playing a significant part in executions, suicide bombings, and the enforcement of a harsh interpretation of Sharia law aimed at extending the order of the Islamic State’s caliphate to all of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait. 1 in 4 Europeans fighting in Syria are British nationals. What hasn’t been appropriately covered is the failure of the British government to recognize the radicalization of their citizens, and prevent their activism in the internal conflicts of foreign nations.
In fact, rather than aiming to deescalate Islamic jihad and counter this growing terrorist-adventurer trend, the British government has serviced the radicalization of its Muslim citizens by supporting the promotion of radical organizations, giving sanctuary to Islamist exiles, and turning a blind eye to Mideast governments that allow British citizens to cross their borders openly. The Turkish government is now paying a heavy price for allowing rebels to operate in their territory and adjacent space.
Ease of access explains how British Muslims got to Syria, but not why they went there. In conjunction with the U.S. State Department, millions of dollars have been funneled to the Muslim Brotherhood’s London-based network of Imams and organizers to fan the flames of genuine disagreements between Syrians into a violent conflict, even before the 2011 protests in the Arab world. The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009, beaming revolutionary rhetoric into Syria with the aid of the Anglo and American government. Financially supporting and tolerating the growth of terrorist networks in the UK is now having dangerous effects at home. Those same exile organizations, who were years ago only concerned with radicalizing Syrian citizens, are now successfully brainwashing a small but potent group of British nationals to commit heinous crimes against the citizens of another nation.
The US-UK governments should recognize that some of its policy’s (aid to Islamist orgs and individuals and unfettered access of terrorists to war-zones) are ineffective or worse, counterproductive to our current objective: de-radicalizing our populations, and preventing radical citizens access to war-zones where they can learn techniques to come back and attack the homeland.
It is not American attacks on ISIS that create ISIS supporters in the western world, its US-UK support for so-called “moderate” Islamist organizations at home and abroad that have created space for violent dialogue to flourish, as well as continued military intervention against sovereign governments, creating the impression that if government intervention is acceptable, individual intervention into foreign conflicts can be as well. From the British officers of WWI to the American coups of the 1950s, and now British foreign fighters. A savior-complex has been a fixture of our Mideast foreign policy’s, and individuals outside the intelligence, diplomatic, and military community’s are now getting in on the action.