Quilliam’s thoughts are with friends and families of the 22 fatalities and over 59 injured, and the city of Manchester, yesterday victim of a barbaric terrorist attack.

Details are continuing to emerge from the scene of the biggest terrorist attack in the UK in the last decade, but it is clear that this suicide bombing with a suspected nail bomb deliberately targeted children and young people who had just been enjoying a pop concert at the Manchester Arena.

Quilliam remembers the victims and pays tribute to the emergency services who are dealing with the immediate aftermath of this act of terrorism, and commends the stoic response from the people of Manchester who are providing free hotel rooms, taxis and food to those affected by the attack.

This is a suspected jihadist terrorist attack. It fits an unfortunate pattern over the last decade. Soft targets such as concert halls and nightclubs have been targeted before in Paris, Istanbul, Orlando, and Bali, with the focus not just on inflicting mass casualty, but on attacking a way of life. Moreover, on the anniversary of Lee Rigby’s murder by terrorists 4 years ago, and ahead of Ramadan, we remember that jihadists have often called for anniversary violence and terrorism in the holy month.

We expect the UK terror threat level to be raised to critical, the highest level, following the COBRA meeting this morning. We urge officials and the public to remain resilient and united in the face of this threat.

We also cast doubt on aspersions that this was a ‘lone wolf’ incident. Analysis shows that while attackers may act alone in the last moment, planning within a cell is often likely for bomb attacks, and jihadist groups often play an inspiring, enabling, or coordinating role. We must be vigilant against future violence, and tackle the root causes of such terrorism.

Quilliam Founder Maajid Nawaz, says:

“We must question deeply how we arrived at a situation in which brutal suspected jihadist terrorist attacks on our continent appear frequent. We ask those who have till this day not participated in the national struggle to root out all extremism from our communities to stand up and be counted. Now is not a time only for short term gestures and platitudes, though solidarity is necessary. We are all responsible for fighting extremism, and we can all play a long term role.”

Quilliam Chief Executive Haras Rafiq, himself a resident of Greater Manchester, says:

“Calls for unity and calm are needed, but we must also call at this time for things not to return to normal. If normal means regular unpredictable attacks by suspected jihadist terrorists against our children and youth at the dawn of their lives, then ‘normal’ must not be allowed to continue. New thinking needs to emerge in the halls of Whitehall and for our communities.”