London – President of the Quilliam Foundation Noman Benotman stated that Manchester suicide attack on May 22 is the most violent attack by extremists on Britain in 12 years.
He deemed the attack a first degree international terrorist operation according to the international law.
Benotman added that the 17 youths detained after the attack are young and have no link to ISIS.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that according to the British security service MI5, there are around 23,000 extremists in UK. Some 3,000 of those extremist are on the lists of violent extremism – people who might conduct aggressive acts due to their beliefs.
“If the situation in Manchester is not addressed then it might become ‘Manchesterstan’, a stronghold for fundamentalists due to the large number of Arabs there. Youths might be a target of extremist organizations willing to recruit them for terrorist attacks,” he warned.
He noted that the map of radicals in Britain stretches from eastern London, which has been considered a “hub of tensions” for over 30 years, to the Midland region and Manchester in the North. Briton in the South is also a cause for concern, he added.
He said that the majority of the detainees linked to the Manchester attack hold dual nationality, including the suicide bomber. They turned to extremism when they traveled to Libya after the 2011 revolution.
Benotman said that the detainees linked to the attack can be described as second generation Libyans who came to Britain in the early 1990s. Their ages range between 20 and 25 and many of them, it has been noticed, have an absent father.
They also adopted radical thought even though their behavior contradicts their ideology seeing as they drink alcohol and abuse drugs, he said.
Suspected Manchester suicide bomber Salman al-Abedi was arrested more than once in the past by British authorities for breaking the law, charges that have nothing to do with radical ideology, he noted.
Benotman explained that the authorities are facing a hard time in proving the “criminal intent” of the suspects and may be forced to release them.