A suicide bombing in Manchester, England on Monday left UK citizens reeling, grasping for some sense they could make of the tragedy, and trying to heal the wound of yet another terrorist attack in the Western World. For the men, women, and children that live within Great Britain and its allied nations, the week that followed was full of remorse and uncertainty, but for the men and women engaged in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Monday’s tragic events offered all the more motivation to bring the fight to anyone willing to wave the black and white flag of terror above their disparate and divided forces.
In keeping with a tradition that dates back as long as explosives have been dropped from aircraft, a picture soon emerged of a Hellfire missile mounted on a combat drone that said simply, “love from Manchester,” accompanied by a hand-drawn heart. Soon, speculation that the image was fake began circulating around the web, that is, until a spokesman for England’s Royal Air Force confirmed its authenticity to reporters from The Sun.
“The RAF can confirm the photo was genuine,” the spokesman reportedly stated before explaining that the sentiment was understandable under the circumstances. Per the unnamed spokesman, it is “unlikely” that any investigation will be launched into the matter, nor will the culprit face any disciplinary action.
This isn’t the first time terrorists have been met with similar messages adorning airborne firepower. Pictures emerged in 2015 of American GBU-31 guided missiles with the words, “From Paris with love” written on them after a series of terror attacks ripped through France in November of that year. Many of those pictures were not formally confirmed to be authentic by defense officials, but the history of such messages lends to their credibility.
After the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001, many images began floating around the internet of hand written messages adorning explosive ordnance, often citing Osama Bin Laden by name or making statements in support of the New York City fire and police departments. In 2013, a bomb with the popular meme “Grumpy Cat” drawn on it was photographed before being airdropped on terrorists in the Middle East. Below the stenciled image, the word “die” was prominently displayed.