On February 27, 2013 WikiLeaks began publishing a series called “The Global Intelligence Files”. These files are about 5 million emails from a global intelligence company, called Startfor based in Texas, from July 2004 to December 2011. As part of these files, WikiLeaks leaked an email from February 4, 2009, addressed to the company’s analysts and it’s titled “Dissecting the Manchester plot”.
On April 8, 2009, the British authorities carried out raids in Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire where 12 men were arrested. The next morning the prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the arrests were made because these men were involved in a ‘plot’ to carry out attacks during the Easter weekend. Also, the prime Minister said that these individuals were involved in a great terrorist plan. The authorities revealed that the attacks were planned to occur in vulnerable targets such as shopping malls, train stations and even a nightclub.
During the raids, the authorities found no explosive material or any other indication that these men were making bombs. Of the 12 men arrested 11 were Pakistani citizens who entered the country with student visas. Among the Pakistanis arrested a minor was found who was immediately referred to the immigration authorities for deportation.
In this email lies a section called “Targets”. Section that Scott Stewart, author of the email, details why these terrorists chose vulnerable targets. According to him, the terrorists have opted to attack soft targets because of the high alerts that exist in high-value targets. Since the war on terrorism that was declared in 9/11, government buildings, as well as the Public Ministry and high-volume transport have been reinforced with surveillance specifically in the Capitals. Therefore and as a result of the poor operational and intelligence capacity of these terrorist cells within these countries, they have been forced to move and attack places where alert levels are low. These radical groups have decided to attack places where they feel comfortable and with high civilian population because of their inability to attack major government centers. These vulnerable or soft places, like Stewart call them, are malls, squares, train stations and any other high-traffic place in cities like Manchester that are far from the Capitals or are not obvious targets of these radical groups.
How does this relate to the bombing in Manchester last May 22, 2017?
In this same email Stewart opens the possibility to a theory that could shed light on a major terrorist conspiracy in this country. It is known that these Pakistanis entered the United Kingdom using student visas but it is not known whether these individuals were militants who used these permits to carry out attacks in the country or if they entered without malicious intent. Although it is known of radical militants who entered the United States with visas such as Mohanned Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Youssef Samir Megahed and Mohammed Aatique, the latest associated with the jihadi network of Virginia. Steward says that, analytically speaking and considering the working methods of organizations such as al-Qaeda or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), these Pakistani individuals may be house operatives. Although it is known that by that time al-Qaeda had lowered its standards, he recognizes the possibility that this group is part of a scheme within the British Muslim community that creates or attracts people to radical Islam called ‘Londonistan’. Therefore, it is not ruled out that it was, precisely, an internal work, the attack on the concert of the singer of pop Ariana Grande, was to create panic at a time when terrorist attacks have been in constant increase since the war on terrorism was declared.