Saturday night’s indiscriminate terrorist attack in the area of one of London’s most famous bridges has rightly shocked us all. The realisation that any of us could be mowed down by a passing van or be stabbed while enjoying a drink or a meal with friends or loved ones, is truly terrifying.
But, of course, that was exactly the aim of the three men who were shot and killed by the authorities whilst rampaging through Borough Market attacking anyone within arm’s reach.
This latest incident may not have generated the same emotional impact as the attack two weeks earlier where children were the target of a bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, but it still managed to make its point. We cannot afford to be complacent.
This is the third unpredictable terrorist attack in the UK within three months – none of which appears to be connected.
Predictably, following a short period of reflection, the hunt for someone to blame commences, political points are made, and radical new solutions are presented for consideration.
Following the latest incident, prime minister Theresa May stated ‘enough is enough’ and suggested strict new measures are needed to fight back against radicalised Muslims. These range from forcing internet companies to take responsibility for monitoring extreme propaganda on their sites, to increasing prison sentences for less severe terror-related offences.
Other politicians have suggested increasing police numbers, introducing internment for suspected Muslim extremists and providing extra funding for the security services.
All of these suggestions make for good reading in an election week but sadly most have been tried before and didn’t work.
A recent example was during the height of the Irish troubles. We had both internment and the ridiculous situation where members of Sinn Fein were interviewed on TV but their words were substituted by those of actors. Ultimately, we had to engage in face-to-face talks and agree on a settlement where the ideology of both sides, in their campaigns of terror, reached a compromise.
Of course, the present situation is very different. The word ‘radicalised’ is really a substitute for ‘brainwashed’. It has nothing to do with religion but religion is used as the excuse for the killing.
The glory to be gained by dying while carrying out what they believe to be an act of a god – of whatever religion – is merely a delusion. However, it is used as the fuel for many terrorists seeking martyrdom status.
It can, therefore, be argued that a shoot-to-kill policy by our own authorities is giving the extremists what they seek. It must surely be a better long-term solution to deprive them of achieving that ‘glory’ by apprehending them and making them face British justice and punishment.
The bottom line, though, is that none of the measures proposed in recent weeks will stop these incidents from being carried out randomly. You can’t just throw money at a problem and expect it to disappear.
Ultimately, it can only be solved by dialogue, education and by dissolving the propaganda of those who wish to instigate a holy war against non-Muslims.
To achieve that end, we as a nation have to be squeaky clean and to lead by example.
In the meantime, we have to live normally and resist attempts to restrict our right to freedom.