Employing the same tactics used by Islamic terrorist groups for decades now, 47-year-old Darren Osborne deliberately drove a van into a crowd of British Muslims leaving a mosque in the early hours of Monday morning. This was not carried out by ISIS or al-Muhajiroun, but by a non-Muslim who had targeted British Muslims for their religion at their place of worship. In addition to collectively punishing a group of Muslims in retribution for attacks whose actual perpetrators have long been killed, Mr. Osborne had also just inadvertently fomented the same feelings of disenfranchisement into the British community that Islamist groups use to recruit aspiring young Western jihadists.
Thankfully, we are now beginning to hear people talk about things that actually matter: the ideology of the attacker, who he was associated with, and measures that could be taken to prevent future attacks from happening. Unfortunately, this sort of rational thinking only seems to be accessible to British politicians and much of the public when the terrorist is a white, right wing Briton and not when, as has overwhelmingly been the case in recent decades, the terrorist is a radical Islamist.
After the attack on Westminster Bridge, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made his infamous remark that terrorism is just “part and parcel of living in a big city.” After the Manchester bombing, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn wasted little time before condemning the UK’s foreign policy to the public maintaining that it was the real cause of jihadist attacks. More recently, after the al-Muhajiroun attacks on London Bridge where three men shouted “This is for Allah!” while indiscriminately slitting the throats of innocent people, British officials, the media, and the public were all left abashedly scratching their heads trying to figure out why anybody would do such a thing.
Manchester bomber Salman Abedi had been known to French and British intelligence for some time before he carried out the attack. His father had ties to al Qaeda in Libya and he himself had traveled to Syria and back to Europe in recent years. It wasn’t until after the damage had already been done that British intelligence decided to investigate his ties, arresting 20 people who were believed to be connected to the attack – all of whom have been released and had their charges dropped.
While this tragedy is being treated as though far-right anti-Muslim bigots constituted a majority of terror attacks while violent Islamist attacks are the outliers, Theresa May supporters, Brexit voters, critics of jihad, and others have all been grouped in with Mr. Osborne as public enemy #1.
Similarly, nobody is questioning the UK’s foreign policy, nobody is justifying the perpetrator’s “legitimate grievances,” and people has been asked to believe that this is not a ‘lone-wolf’ incident and that it is the product of a larger epidemic of racism, bigotry, and hatred – essentially affording the same excuses they had once complained were reserved exclusively for European and American white males to Islamists.
After news of the attack broke, it took Theresa May eight minutes to conclude that this was a terrorist attack. Comparatively, after the first initial reports from the Manchester reports, hours were spent mulling over whether the sound of the explosion was from a balloon accident or an exploding PA speaker before announcing that it was, in fact, an improvised nail bomb. The British government has announced that it will provide enhanced security to local mosques in the wake of these attacks as a safety precaution, but after the many Islamist terror attacks in Britain, why were Brits not assured that problematic mosques would be investigated as a safety precaution – especially after it has been discovered that there are an estimated 23,000 jihadists currently living in the UK?
I hope that some day the response to Islamist terrorism, which poses a much, much larger threat to Britain than any other type, will look something more like its typical response to the significantly smaller threat of far-right anti-Muslim terrorist. And I hope it happens fast for Britain’s sake.