Today, over ten years on from when we marched against the Iraq War, we must face the tens of thousands of murders and millions of deaths that have been caused at the hands of the British Army and those which it supports. The atrocities, the chemical warfare, the mass killings, the destruction of livihoods, the thefts of resources, the sexual violence and murders that they perpetrate. Only a small proportion of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq can be considered combatants. The rest mere “collateral damage”, children bombed in their beds justified as a worth sacrifice for “our” freedom. What “our freedom” really means is our impunity to perform mass killings. When the drone operators safe in their bunkers watch on their high tech cameras and release the bombs.
The rhetoric that has fuelled the “War on Terror” – where muslims are protrayed as the Brown Other, backward savages that must be bombed into modernity, had led to a rise in Islamophobia within Europe, where European Muslims are seen as the enemy within. The EDL wasted no time in using this killing to promote its message of hate, while earlier this month, the Golden Dawn sent a letter to the Muslim association of Greece, informing them that if muslims did not leave the country by 1st July, the would be “slaughtered like chickens“.
On Wednesday, a British soldier was killed. He was not active in combat at the time, but a statement made at the scene makes it clear that he was killed because he was identified as a soldier. He had recently returned from active service in Afghanistan, and was stationed at military barracks near where he died. No drones were involved. This was no computer sanitised killing, but a violent killing complete with bloodied hands. The scene of a beheaded British soldier on the streets of London raised gasps of horror, far louder than the gasps of horror that are ever raised at headless babies murdered safely from a distance by our brave boys who would never dirty their hands with something so crude as a meat cleaver. Our technology keeps our hands clean, our media keeps our murders sanitised and our hypocrasy washes away our guilt.
The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. So what if we want to live by the Shari’a in Muslim lands? Why does that mean you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us? Rather you lot are extreme. You are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family? This is the reality. By Allah if I saw your mother today with a buggy I would help her up the stairs. This is my nature. But we are forced by the Qur’an, in Sura At-Tawba, through many ayah in the Qu’ran, we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? You think politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so can all live in peace. So leave our lands and we can all live in peace. That’s all I have to say.
I feel for his family, he was a victim of our imperialist wars just like the dead children that haunt the collective memory of Fallujah. Only a young man, he would have grown up with the jingoistic war drum that has beaten outside Job Centres for the last decade. Where men old enough to know better, entice youths with promises of activities, wages and a hero’s return. Just sign here, sign up to the British Army, sign away your soul and you can leave the poverty and emptiness of your community behind. Go hither and do our bidding, and we will reward you with money and the possibility of trinkets, dispensed at lavish parties when you come home missing a couple of limbs. Only when you do come home, the biggest enemy you face is your own government, who are cutting off the vital lifelines that disabled people need to survive.
For what is this freedom that we are fighting for? All across the UK people are finding themselves pushed into penury and despair at the ongoing attacks on standards of living. More and more people are reliant on foodbanks for nourishment, while hundreds of thousands live in precarious housing conditions – made worse by the bedroom tax and housing benefit changes. It is not just brown people in far off lands that are being killed by the policies of the UK government, but people in your towns, in your streets.
And with the news earlier this month that the military is to purchase another 500 drones. Elizabeth Quintana, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, justified their use through a poll of the Great British Public, which appeared to show little concern at drone use stating…
I think [in the UK], if people are presented with a choice between killing a known terrorist, or letting him get away, people think you should go ahead.
Lee Rigby is dead because he was identified as a member of the British Army. War is ugly, but usually we don’t see it on the suburban streets of London. The UK is at war, and in war, soldiers get killed, such is the nature of war. The UK state is also involved in terrorism, which – unlike Micheal Adeboloja, who clearly spared non-combatants, to the extent of politely stepping out of the way so that a woman with a shopping trolley could get past, – makes no distinction between civilians and enemy combatants, killing indiscriminately and without mercy.
Maybe that was the reasoning behind Adeboloja’s actions, that one less terrorist in the world can only be a good thing. But the military has upped its game, the people we kill in far off lands aren’t killed by our hands, but by our technology and our wealth – the wealth that has been accumulated over 400 years of empire – which allows bombs to be dropped by the flick of a switch. It distances us from the evil we do. For the money that we pay in taxes, rather than going to help those in need of assistance, through social security and health services, is redirected fund our imperialistic adventures instead. Those who come home injured and maimed rely on charities – such as “Help for Heroes” to make up for the gap in provision.
During the Vietnam War, one of the popular slogans – primarily associated with the Weather Underground, was “Bring the War home”. A play on the more traditional call to “Bring the boys (sic) home”, it demanded that the imperialist war being fought in South East Asia be brought back to the home turf of the USA. A pamphlet produced by SDS made the links between imperialism, white supremacy, male supremacy and fascism, and called on people to resist them all. For the war wasn’t just being played out in the countryside of Vietnam, but in the ghettos of urban USA, where the racism and theft of resources that spurred on Vietnam was played out domestically.
Micheal Adeboloja just brought the war home right onto the streets of suburban London. Our response should be to end it, to end the deaths both here and over there. Not just the violent beheadings and bombings, but those caused through the structural violence of poverty, and misallocation of resources.