Tuesday, June 6, 2017
If the three Islamic terrorists who killed seven revelers Saturday night in the heart of London were hoping to derail Britain’s general election Thursday, they failed.
If the assailants intended to break the spirit of Londoners, in particular, and Britons, in general, they failed.
And, if they believed that shouting “This is for Allah” would somehow make them invincible, they were wrong. London police killed all three within eight minutes of their receiving the first emergency calls.
The assault unfolded over a few terrifying minutes late Saturday, starting when a rented van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on busy London Bridge, the Associated Press reported. Three men then got out of the vehicle with large knives and attacked patrons at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market.
In addition to the seven people killed by the terrorists, dozens were injured.
But while the response from law enforcement won high praise from all quarters, the reality of what occurred cannot be ignored. It was the third terrorist attack in Britain in the past three months.
On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. And in March, a vehicle and knife attack on Westminster Bridge left five dead.
Prime Minister Theresa May was appropriately defiant when she addressed the nation Sunday.
May, who is seeking re-election in two days, used the three words that accurately reflect the attitudes of people around the world opposed to extremist Islamic terrorism: “Enough is enough.”
MAY CHANNELS TRUMP
The prime minister also seemed to channel President Donald J. Trump when she said that there is “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.”
However, she did not join Trump in calling for a temporary ban on refugees and immigrants from six Muslim- majority countries.
The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that the ban discriminates against one religion and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
But while May was less bombastic in her comments, she was, nonetheless, resolute in her determination to deal with the seemingly intractable problem of global terrorism.
“Our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public,” the prime minister said. “But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values, but when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.”
May suggested that longer prison sentences could be introduced for terror offenses and she pledged to review the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
Although terrorists come in all shapes and sizes and are not necessarily tied to Islamic State, al-Qaida or any other organizations, they do have one thing in common.
As May put it, “They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamic extremism that practices hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time, but it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone.”
And it certainly cannot be defeated by a blanket condemnation of Islam or Muslims around the world. Indeed, more people living in Arab countries have been killed or injured by Islamic extremists than those in the West.
Denigrating Islam and Muslims is not a winning strategy in the fight against global terrorism. With the increase in home-grown terrorists, law enforcement agencies need allies in the communities that are the breeding grounds for those who would do us harm.
In discussing Islamic extremism, Britain’s prime minister had this to say: “It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values, pluralistic, British values, are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”
In the end, it’s a battle for the hearts and minds of individuals who can be important allies in the war against global terrorism.