Trump, Manchester and the Counterterrorism Road Ahead

President Trump kicked off his international diplomacy efforts over the weekend with a trip to Saudi Arabia that began the first global reset of American diplomatic efforts we’ve had this century.

In Saudi, President Trump and King Salman inked deals worth over $380 billion with $20 billion committed by the Saudis through Blackrock for investment in U.S. infrastructure. Arms transactions totaling $110 billion were supplanted by deals with Boeing and Lockheed for advanced aircraft and the development of Saudi technological infrastructure. Oil also played a part with Saudi ARAMCO closing $22 billion in new contracts.

While the trade and diplomatic focus was on building, infrastructure, and industry development, the trip also yielded a number of major steps towards combatting terrorism.

The Riyadh declaration was signed by 55 Majority Muslim countries who committed to information sharing and collectively fighting terrorism. This is a major move, as it builds beyond regional counterterror powerhouses, like Indonesia’s DENSUS88 – the primary Asian organization combating Jamaat Islamiyyah (JI) and ISIS in East Asia.

President Trump also attended the launch of the Saudi Counterterrorism Center with King Salman. The center is focused on coordinating counterterrorism efforts across GCC (Arab Gulf States) and provides a center for collaboration with America and European counterparts. The U.S. and Saudi also announced a separate focus on stemming terrorist financing with the inauguration of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC). Iran was highlighted as the key issue in MEA and as a financier of both Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, and within regional conflicts across Iraq and the region.

President Trump moved on to Israel and Palestinian territories — setting the stage for renewed Israeli-Palestinian discussions and the potential for further regional cooperation.

ISIS’s First Summer Attack – Manchester

Previously, we detailed ISIS’s recent articles in their English language magazine directing recruits to target Americans through Craigslist and attack soft targets including theatres, arenas, and concert halls.

At 10:33 PM GMT, at the close the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, a primary and secondary explosion went off causing pandemonium.

The explosion was heard around the world. This was the first large scale attack on a Western civilian target by ISIS and the first that targeted teenagers — killing at least 19 and wounding hundreds. Twitter also jumped to immediate conclusions based on tweets by a quickly banned account claiming local ISIS responsibility.

The account that has the Arabic name Oways has a time stamp that appears prior to the attack – but could potentially have been posted through a VPN, which would make the timestamp 11:32 PM GMT. While this account hasn’t been validated – ISIS celebrations online and a video claiming to be from ISIS were posted online with the hashtag #Manchester.

The attack opens a horrible new door – as we now need to consider Forensic Counterterrorism as something we need to concern ourselves with. This attack and the horror it waged must galvanize our resolve to work collaboratively with Muslim allies to echo the words of President Trump to work to eradicate ISIS from our lands.

It’s the only way forward and its time is at hand.


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