The many factors behind the London tragedy

New recruits just get dragged into the bloodiest forms of radicalism overnight.

Difficult road ahead. Flowers placed on the south side of London Bridge near Borough Market in London, on June 5. (Reuters)


2017/06/11 Issue: 110 Page: 7


The Arab Weekly
Claude Salhani



The terrorist attacks in Manchester and London have brought to light many points in the war to defeat a sick and cowardly ideology led by maniacal men who feel no remorse in attacking defenceless girls. Where is the honour or valour in committing such barbarous acts?

Truth will always prevail over falsehoods and good will always triumph over evil. Look at history as a guideline. Every nefarious philosophy that adopted evil as its road map, be it from the far right, the far left or from a ruthless dic­tatorship, has ultimately been de­feated. At times, it may have taken a few more years but, in the end, good, truth and justice emerge vic­torious over oppressive regimes, be they religious or secular.

Communism, fascism, jihadism — to name but a few — were predi­cated on lies, hatred and evil. Just how two-faced these groups are is apparent in their interpretation of Islam and the way they cherry-pick what suits them, passing over the rest. They supposedly reject modernity and its tools, yet turn to the most modern of Western advances — the internet to commu­nicate, recruit and communicate between themselves and their agents in the West.

Their propaganda is pure fiction. It preys on the vulnerability of marginalised youth with a shallow understanding of the faith and instils dangerously distorted and bellicose versions of Islam. The programme put forward by the Is­lamic State (ISIS) is based on a plat­form of hate, lies and unadulter­ated evil. It convinces brainwashed youth of Muslim backgrounds that their neighbours and fellow citizens are their enemies.

Those who ordered or sanc­tioned the June 3 attacks in Lon­don committed a horrible, horrible sin, not only against innocent bystanders whom they considered to be their enemy but also against their own coreligionists.

The ISIS narrative promises jihadist operatives that their heav­enly reward for their ultimate “martyrdom” would be multiplied tenfold because they are perform­ing those acts during the holy month of Ramadan.

God — no matter what you call him — does not condone the killing of innocents and there is nothing in the teachings of the Prophet Mo­hammad — not in the Quran, nor in the Hadith — to suggest that the faithful need to go on a rampage during the very month they are meant to cleanse themselves and rise to a higher level of spirituality.

In their sick minds the terror­ists may consider this latest attack a victory. Indeed, they may have scored points with their followers but ultimately this is a war they cannot win.

This is the last stop in a treach­erous road of ideological perver­sion spanning various gradations. Misguided followers can graduate from the supposedly traditional­ist Islamist doctrine to the most extreme forms of aggressive Salafism. Sometimes there is no evolution. New recruits just get dragged into the bloodiest forms of radicalism overnight.

The latest London incident raised many security and intel­ligence questions. There is clearly a long and difficult road ahead for Britain’s security forces as made evident by their apparent inability to identify the dangerous elements among Islamists or to heed warn­ings about them. British security had received several warnings about the individuals involved in the London Bridge attack but had not considered those individuals dangerous.

This is likely to be a mixture of faulty intelligence and a propen­sity to underestimate the danger as such individuals are examined through the distorting prism of communitarianism: They are pre­sumed to just be different.

Still, the challenge can be daunt­ing.

British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that no fewer than five terror attempts had been thwarted in recent days. Security services are refining their strate­gies. The response time between the moment the alarm was first raised and security forces arrived on the scene was eight minutes. Eight minutes in a city as large and as congested as London is simply outstanding.

As security forces continue to penetrate and pre-empt terror attacks on the home front while confronting the groups on their own home turf, defeating them militarily, there remain two areas security services need to address aggressively: The internet and social media.

In the meantime, we may find that some of our civil liberties may be constrained as the war to oust the jihadists from Britain intensi­fies.

“Enough is enough,” said the British prime minister. That is a phrase the resident of No 10 Down­ing Street should have uttered well before June 5, 2017.


Claude Salhani is the Opinion section editor of The Arab Weekly.


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