Anti-Fascism, Jihadism and The FLA

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) march in London last Saturday, saw large crowds (estimated between 5,000 to 20,000) gathered to protest Islamic extremism. The stated aim, at least from the organisers, was to demand the arrest, internment and or deportation of 23,000 ‘extremists’ without trial.


The FLA preparing to march.


As anti fascists we are utterly against the fundamentalist Wahabist version of Islam and its warped offspring, the global jihadist movement. Anti-fascist leftists, from the U.K., U.S and across Europe are at this moment fighting and dying with the Syrian Defence Forces, the anti-ISIS coalition led by the predominantly Kurdish Militia YPG. Following the Westminster attacks in March they wrote this open letter.


Antifascists from Manchester in Kurdistan.

On the other hand, street movements against ‘Islamic extremism’ have recently been used as the vehicle for old fashioned racism, as groups like the English Defence League, Britain First and the National Front march on mosques and in towns with large Asian and Muslim populations with the aim of spreading fear and intimidation. These marches and mosque invasions serve only to divide communities and actually act as a direct recruiting sergeant for the jihadists. Anti-fascists have routinely opposed them, knowing that the majority of the Muslims in those communities under siege don’t support jihadism. and that bringing about any real change is going to need working class unity, not division.

There are sizeable numbers of jihadists in the U.K, many hundreds have travelled to join ISIS, but getting rid of them might not be as easy as the FLA thinks. Reading the tabloids you might think that there are ‘bad guys’ out there and that all we need to do is let our security services do their job. Apart from the obvious dangers of giving the state blanket powers to arrest, detain and deport (without the need to produce evidence), the picture is a lot more complicated than that.


The British Military interned suspected Republicans in Northern Ireland without trial in 1971. It certainly did not have the desired effect of preventing an armed uprising, in fact, it led to 20 years of violence.

The British state doesn’t have its hands tied by ‘political correctness’ or ‘human rights’ when it comes to dealing with jihadism. It’s hopelessly compromised by the fact that it often works hand in glove with the very people who are blowing themselves up on our streets. From the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan to the Salafi jihadists in Libya, the secret state views jihadism as a tool or a proxy force. A report into Saudi funding of domestic terrorism was suppressed before the election. Jihadists are allowed to live, work and organise here because they are useful to the British state in its aims of securing energy resources and maintaining global influence. Blowback is inevitable and viewed as a cost of doing business. Our children become collateral damage in a game of foreign policy.

The primary sponsor of global terrorism is a major ally: Saudi Arabia. An autocratic monarchy that maintains power through a brutal regime of whippings, amputations and beheadings. Funding for jihadists from Al Qaeda through the Free Syrian Army to ISIS comes straight from the Saudi oil coffers. Money also flows freely to those who wish to spread their austere, fundamentalist version of Islam, Wahabism. They’re a major client for the U.K. arms industry and an oil supplier so while ISIS are bombed a blind eye is turned to their paymasters.


Teresa May meeting Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef

The case of Salman Abedi, the suicide attacker at the Manchester arena, who killed 23 and injured 250, is instructive. This bombing was a far more sophisticated affair than the random ISIS inspired car and knife attacks by other jihadists. He had travelled to Syria and Libya and associated with jihadist groups that were working in tandem with U.K. efforts to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad. His family had life long associations with the LIFG , an Al Qaeda associate that was initially sponsored by the West to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. The LIFG were involved in a U.K. plot to assassinate Gaddafi in 1996. His passage to and from these countries and his radicalisation will have been assisted by U.K. security for their own ends.

salman abedi_0

Salman Abedi, the Machester Arena bomber.

Calls to end or control jihadism without a serious change in the way U.K.. foreign policy is conducted cannot work. The far-right’s answer is to ignore this and, motivated by racism, use their energies to attack ordinary Muslims and steer the bandwagon to their own extremist white supremacist ideas. As well as unjust, this is also totally counter-productive.

Anti-fascists say we need to look at the bigger picture and see where the danger really lies. The next FLA march should be on the Foreign Office.

About Brighton Antifascists

Opposing fascism in Brighton and further afield.

Posted on October 15, 2017, in Analysis, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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