LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Kingdom’s terrorism threat level has been lowered to “severe” from “critical” after arrests related to the May 22 attack in Manchester.
May led a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Saturday, during which she received an update from police and security services on the investigation into the suicide bombing at a pop concert that killed 22 people. In response, the threat level had been raised to the highest category a day later.
“The public should be clear about what this means,” May said in a televised statement. “A threat level of severe means an attack is highly likely. Members of the public should remain vigilant.”
The Manchester attack – the worst on British soil in more than a decade – prompted the government to raise the terrorism threat for the first time in 10 years. With less than two weeks before the June 8 general election, political campaigning was put on hold until Friday. The U.K.’s deployment of as many as 5,000 troops to guard key sites will remain in place through Monday.
Manchester police have 11 people in custody in the bombing, prompting intelligence analysts to change the threat level to indicate an attack now is highly likely, rather than imminent, May said.
The police have gathered “significant information” in the past five days about the suspected suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, and 14 locations are still being searched in connection with the attack, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in an emailed statement Saturday.
LOSER IS STRANGE WORD.
Literally and most plainly, it is simply someone who doesn t win some specific contest or challenge: the loser of a race, boxing match, business deal, etc.
Economists routinely talk about how this or that policy on trade, taxes, whatever creates winners and losers.
A big part of Donald Trump s winning appeal in the 2016 election was that Americans were on the losing end of trade policy. Trump took it further, arguing that we don t win wars or anything else anymore. Elect me, he promised, and you ll grow tired of all the winning.
But here s the thing: The logical and semantic inference of this rhetoric is that Americans, Trump voters, or the American military are losers.
Now, hold on. That rage building in some of you at the suggestion that Americans, Trump voters, or the American military are losers perfectly illuminates the problem with the word loser. The moment you use it to describe a person or a group, the meaning changes profoundly from an objective descriptor to a subjective epithet.
Tom Brady is widely seen as the greatest quarterback in the history of football. But even Brady loses games from time to time. Try watching the Patriots play in a Boston bar sometime. If the Patriots lose the game, announce, Brady is a loser, or, The Patriots are losers. In a technical sense, you d be right, which would amount to cold comfort in your hospital room.
I bring all of this up because in his statement on the Manchester terror attack, Trump said that terrorists are evil losers.
I won t call them monsters because they d like that term, Trump said. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that s what they are. They re losers. And we ll have more of them, but they re losers.
The response from many Trump critics has been a mixture of outrage and eye rolling.
Part of the problem is that loser is one of Trump s favorite insults. As USA Today cataloged, he s used it against everyone from Rosie O Donnell to George Will and Standard & Poor s. Not only has he called me a loser, but a total loser.
But I don t think he was calling me a terrorist.
Moreover, I don t think he s wrong to call terrorists losers. In the West, a lot of the people attracted to Islamic extremism are losers in all the meanings of the word. Omar Mateen, the avowed disciple of ISIS who killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, was a screw-up and school bully who dreamed of becoming a police officer but ended up a very disgruntled security guard instead. The Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, a college dropout, appears to have been a misfit.
Islamic terrorist organizations are hardly the only groups to recruit from the ranks of loserdom. Street gangs, neo-Nazis and countless communist fronts have been seducing resentful oddballs, outcasts and misanthropes. It simply makes sense that such people would be attracted to such groups. Radical causes provide a sense of meaning, belonging and importance to people who lack such things in their daily lives. Throughout Europe, the reserve army of jihadists is full of people who feel alienated or deracinated in Western society. In other words, they feel lost, which is a kind of losing. The extremists tell the disgruntled that their resentments are righteous and give these losers the opportunity to settle scores.
On the other hand, in some non-Western societies, terrorists aren t losers in the pejorative, schoolyard-epithet sense, but they are losers nonetheless. Osama bin Laden was the scion of a wealthy and prominent family. Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden s successor as the head of al-Qaida, was from a successful Egyptian family of doctors and was himself a surgeon. They chose to become terrorists for ideological reasons. Subscribing to a doctrine first explicated by Sayyid Qutb, an Islamist intellectual, they believed that the true faith was losing the battle with the forces of modernity and the West.
President Trump may not have all these distinctions in mind when he calls terrorists losers, but that doesn t mean he s wrong.
Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. You can write to him in care of this newspaper or by e-mail at [email protected], or via Twitter @JonahNRO.
MANCHESTER, England Police scrambled to close down a network around the Manchester suicide bomber with arrests in Britain and Tripoli on Wednesday, as details about the investigation were leaked to U.S. media, infuriating authorities who fear a second attack is imminent.
British-born Salman Abedi, 22, who was known to security services, killed 22 people at a concert venue packed with children on Monday. Authorities believe he had help in building the bomb, which photographs published by the New York Times showed was sophisticated and powerful, and that his accomplices could be ready to strike again. Manchester police arrested five men and one woman on Wednesday, bringing the total held for questioning to seven, and searched multiple addresses in northern and central England.
Explosives were found at one site, the Independent reported, citing security service sources. A source said British investigators were hunting for anyone who may have helped build the suicide bomb.
I think it s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating, police chief Ian Hopkins said outside Manchester police headquarters.
And as I ve said, it continues at a pace. There s extensive investigations going on and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak. Abedi, who was born in Manchester in 1994 to Libyan parents, blew himself up on Monday night at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of a concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande attended by thousands of children and teenagers.
Police in Tripoli on Wednesday arrested Abedi s younger brother and his father, who said he did not expect the attack.
I spoke to [Salman Abedi] about five days ago … there was nothing wrong, everything was normal, Ramadan Abedi told Reuters, moments before he was arrested. A spokesman for the local counter-terrorism force said his brother Hashem Abedi was arrested on suspicion of links with Islamic State and was suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the Libyan capital. The first arrest made in Britain on Tuesday was reported by British and U.S. media to be Abedi s older brother.
Earlier, interior minister Amber Rudd said the bomber had recently returned from Libya. Her French counterpart Gerard Collomb said he had links with Islamic State and had probably visited Syria as well.
Authorities in Britain have become increasingly angered by U.S. leaks from the investigation, including the bomber s name on Tuesday and the photos of blood-stained fragments from the bomb on Wednesday. British police chiefs said the breaches of trust between security service partners were undermining their efforts. Rudd had earlier scolded U.S. officials for leaking details.
The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again, she said.
But, hours after the warning, the New York Times published the detailed photographs. A government source told the Guardian newspaper, Protests have been lodged at every relevant level between the British authorities and our U.S. counterparts. British Prime Minster Theresa May will meet U.S. President Donald Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, but officials said she would cut short the second leg of her trip to the G7 summit in Italy.
The Manchester bombing has raised concern across Europe. Cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St. Petersburg, Berlin and London have suffered militant attacks in the last two years.
Soldiers on the streets
The 22 victims in Manchester included an eight-year-old girl, several teenage girls, a 28-year-old man and a Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters. Britain s official terror threat level was raised to critical, the highest level, late on Tuesday, meaning an attack was expected imminently. But with just over two weeks to go until a national election, May s Conservatives and political parties said they would resume campaigning in the coming days.
The Manchester bombing was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London s transport network. Rudd said up to 3,800 soldiers could be deployed on Britain s streets, taking on guard duties to free up police to focus on patrols and investigation. An initial deployment of 984 had been ordered, first in London and then elsewhere. Soldiers were seen at the Houses of Parliament, May s Downing Street residence and at the London police headquarters at New Scotland Yard.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, a draw for tourists, was canceled because it requires support from police officers, which authorities decided was not a good use of resources given the threat level. A source close to the bombing investigation told Reuters that the focus was on whether Abedi had received help in putting together the bomb and on where it had been done. The bomb used in the attack appeared to contain carefully packed shrapnel and have a powerful, high velocity charge, according to leaked photographs from the investigation published by the New York Times.
The BBC reported that security services thought the bomb was too sophisticated for Abedi to have built by himself. Police arrested three people in South Manchester, one woman in North Manchester, a man in the nearby town of Wigan, and another man in the central English town of Nuneaton.
Ariana Grande s representative said on Wednesday she was suspending her tour to assess the situation and to pay our proper respects to those lost. The U.S. singer had been scheduled to perform two shows at London s O2 arena this week. Chelsea soccer club said it had canceled a victory parade that had been set to take place on Sunday to celebrate its Premier League title.
Several high-profile sporting events are coming up in Britain, including the soccer FA Cup final at London s Wembley Stadium and the English rugby club competition final at Twickenham on Saturday and the UEFA Champions League final at Cardiff s Millennium Stadium on June 3. Britain also has a national election scheduled for June 8. All campaigning was suspended after the attack, although major parties said they would resume some activities on Thursday and national-level campaigning on Friday. The government said a minute s silence would be held at all official buildings at 1000 GMT on Thursday.
Greater Manchester Police said they were now confident they knew the identity of all the people who lost their lives and had made contact with all the families. They said they would formally name the victims after forensic post-mortems, which would take four or five days.
The bombing also left 64 people wounded, of whom 20 were receiving critical care for highly traumatic injuries to major organs and to limbs, a health official said.
France, which has repeatedly been hit by devastating militant attacks since 2015, extended emergency powers.