Was The Manchester Terror Attack Designed To Impact The British Election?

Terrorists typically seek to disrupt Western elections.
06/01/2017 04:11 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2017
London Bus, Heathrow Airport.
John A. Tures
London Bus, Heathrow Airport.

As the hunt for the Manchester suicide bomber’s possible co-conspirators and network intensifies and the threat level rises to critical, everyone is wondering if another attack is likely, and where. Most media speculation is focusing on concerts and sporting events as the likely sites to be attacked. But most people have missed the most obvious target of the ISIS attack: The British Election of 2017.

Television, radio and print journalism focused on the tragedy but seemed pretty vague about what to do, who was to be attacked, or where the next target would be. Music concerts, the NATO alliance, sports arenas, and others were mentioned as a possible rationale for the attack. But most, if not all, missed the most obvious motive for the attack:

The real target was the upcoming 2017 British Election.

Terrorists typically seek to disrupt Western elections, timing their bombs or guns or propaganda messages to go off just as voters begin to decide who to pick. There’s the Hamas wave of terror just before Israel’s elections in the wake of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, Spain’s 3/11 Madrid train bombing, Bin-Laden’s videotaped message to America before the 2004 election, and more recently the killing of a policeman before France’s first round election in 2017.

Why would terrorists attack during the upcoming U.K. election season?

  1. Britain is America’s top ally in the Middle East, supporting missions in Afghanistan, Iraq in the past and Syria today, as well as throughout the world. It makes them a tempting target for ISIS.
  2. British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election earlier this year, even though the next one wasn’t due until 2020. The country already has a short campaign season (too short, according to some) and the suspension in campaigning this terror attack caused will only make it shorter. Election Day is June 8, 2017 in the United Kingdom.
  3. Terrorists have a real chance of disrupting terror attacks with their bombs and other types of guns. Prime Minister May called elections because she wanted to increase the number of seats the party holds in parliament (they have 330 seats in the House of Commons, but Conservative Prime Minister Cameron only won 36.9 percent of the vote in the last contest). She’s also hoping to capitalize on Brexit momentum, and the unpopularity of current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps ISIS hopes that a win for Corbyn might get the U.K. to pull out of the Middle East.

So why would terrorists, seeking to disrupt an election, go after an Ariana Grande concert? Because the bodies of dead and wounded children from Britain and possibly America play pretty well for the ISIS crowd.

The bad news is that we’ve seen plenty of historical attacks on countries with a leader who is female. Pakistan attacked India when Indira Gandhi was in charge, just as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir found herself attacked by Arab neighbors and PLO terrorists while in office. And the last female prime minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, saw the Argentine military junta take the Falklands Islands.

But the good news is, though attacked, female chief executives have held their own. Indira Gandhi won the East Pakistan War, just as Golda Meir’s Israel eventually prevailed in the Yom Kippur War after initial setbacks, and killed many of the Black September Palestinian terrorists. And everyone knows Thatcher and the British Navy humbled the Argentines in the Falklands War. Let’s hope that Prime Minister May and Britain wins this one too.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

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