Early hopes that the jihadist behind the Manchester bombing, 22-year-old suicide bomber Salman Abedi, was a lone actor were dashed when news reports indicated British authorities were hunting down a “network” of terrorists linked to Abedi.
Two of the jihadist’s relatives have been detained in Libya. In Britain, “at least a half-dozen arrests” have been made in a search for “a possible clandestine bomb factory,” The New York Times reports.
“It seems likely — possible — that he wasn’t doing this on his own,” Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, told BBC Radio. She also said the bomb “was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before.”
That Abedi likely had help should not be too surprising; the truth is, the whole “lone wolf” terrorist talking point is more myth than reality. Shiraz Maher, a writer for the U.K. New Statesman and a senior research fellow at King’s College London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, explains just how few terrorists are actually acting alone.
Everyone in his diagram has joined ISIS at some point, Maher says. (ISIS claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack.)
The salient point here is that Islamic terrorists are more closely tied than media love to suggest. Practitioners of violent Islamic supremacism — jihadists who wage war on the West — are in community with each other, using online and offline relationships to coordinate terror attacks.
If anything, these terrorist connections involving Manchester, which stretch all the way back to the Middle East, highlight the need for strong borders and an extremely tight immigration policy for areas of the world where Islamic supremacism reigns.