Only by backing our allies will we be safe

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 24 March 2024. © Richard Kemp

The terrorist attack in Moscow is a devastating reminder that the threat from global Islamic jihadism never went away. US intelligence believes the Crocus City Hall massacre was the work of Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP. Only a few days before they had warned of terrorist attacks in Moscow, intelligence perhaps from the same source as the warning to Iran before the ISKP suicide bomb attack at Kerman in January that killed nearly 100.

Don’t think IS have forgotten about Europe either. Only last summer it emerged that Iraqi security services had passed intelligence to MI6 that IS was planning a major assault in the UK, also against a large public gathering. And just a few days ago, German police arrested two ISKP terrorists plotting a gun attack on the Swedish parliament.

The West is unwilling to confront this growing threat head-on, just as it has wavered so badly in dealing with aggression from Russia in Ukraine and from Iran both in the Middle East and here in Europe where Tehran also continues to plot violent terrorist attacks and is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. Thankfully, recent IS attack plans in Britain and Sweden, as with hundreds of other jihadist plots against us, have so far been frustrated by intelligence penetration. But Moscow shows that intelligence alone cannot stop attacks, a hard lesson we have learned many times before.

ISKP has been based in Afghanistan since 2014. It was badly degraded by Coalition forces until their withdrawal in 2021, since when the number of attacks and attack plans worldwide has predictably increased as a result of greatly reduced US capabilities to collect intelligence and take direct military action. That withdrawal endangered our citizens and emboldened jihadists as well as our other enemies such as Putin who no doubt saw Western weakness as a green light to devour Ukraine.

We have seen the results of our failure to stand up properly to that invasion, frightened by Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling into denying Ukraine adequate means to win. Now we are doing the same in the Middle East where Israel is battling jihadists in Gaza. Hamas is not IS, but they share the same jihadist ideology and have trained and fought together against Israel and Egypt.

Yet as the war in Gaza heads towards its final stages, as with Ukraine, we seem determined to prevent our ally from winning. Last week, the US tried to pass a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire. Our own Foreign Secretary is threatening to slap an arms embargo on Jerusalem on the outrageous grounds that Israel is not doing enough to deliver aid to Gaza and because it is not granting access for the Red Cross to Hamas terrorist captives. I have seen first-hand the immense efforts Israel is making to get aid into Gaza, and the legal grounds for Lord Cameron’s demand over prisoners is highly debatable and certainly not justification for the betrayal of an ally that is fighting for its life.

Lord Cameron is bowing to pressure from an internationally co-ordinated propaganda campaign that has infested the UN and raises its voice on the streets of London each week with mobs including supporters of Hamas that call publicly for ‘jihad’ and the end of the Jewish state. As with Ukraine, Lord Cameron may be motivated by fear, but this time fear of the enemy within. It is the same with last week’s abortive US resolution which Moscow denounced – contemptuously, but correctly – as the White House showing a domestic audience that it was being even-handed over Gaza.

Even-handedness is exactly the wrong approach when confronting dangerous enemies. Allowing Hamas a victory over Israel, the reality of preventing it from destroying the terrorist group, has the same effect as allowing Russia a victory over Ukraine. Hamas would be left to strike Israel again. Fellow jihadists would be energised globally. And for Russia, it would encourage further aggression in Europe and embolden its fellow despots in China, Iran and North Korea.

As Churchill said: ‘If you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.’ That is the prospect facing us today when the best means of deterring our enemies is to stand staunchly and unequivocally behind our allies, both in Israel and in Ukraine.

Image: Wikimedia Commons