It doesn’t seem like the most dangerous of terrorism attacks: Take an SUV, start running people over, then attempt to use the vehicle to bash through a fence, run inside a guarded building and use a knife to try and get a gun,
There is an old Army axiom – “If it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.” Today’s attack in London was stupid and it worked. Three innocent people are dead, 20 were hurt, and one terrorist was killed… so the news isn’t all bad today.
The ideal terrorist attack achieves several objectives at once. The attacker in London menaced London’s lucrative tourist trade, and then directly threatened the Houses of Parliament – thus insulting the Mother of Parliaments and everything it represents. This is a very economical outcome for such a simple investment.
Unfortunately for the backers of this attack, Londoners view calmness as a way of politely giving the finger in response to an attempt to terrorize them. London’s long experience with terrorism also means their police are very proficient in their reactions to an attack and in their investigations after one.
Still, a spree lasting a couple of minutes put another notch on the recent ISIS threat to attack all the major capitals of Europe: Paris, Brussels, Berlin and now London. Rome’s turn is probably next but Copenhagen, Madrid or Vienna would do nicely too.
While al Qaeda and ISIS dream of launching attacks to match or exceed what was achieved on 9/11; we at least have the consolation that it is difficult – but not impossible – for them to realize this dream. But a lone attacker with an SUV and a knife? Such an attack is almost impossible to anticipate.
In terrorism, it is the thought that counts. The attack on London has been made and who knows, maybe the next attack will finally see gunmen with grenades and Kalashnikovs fanning out across a city, or a carefully timed sequence of truck-bombs.
Who knows? Perhaps if the police focus more resources on trying to anticipate and prevent the lone man with a truck and some cutlery, they make overlook the careful preparation that need to attend a major assault.
We will keep seeing days like this, until that glorious day when we have seen the last of the Salafists, Wahhabis, Deobandis and similar irksome troublemakers. In the meantime, the citizens of London have given us one response – stay calm and carry on. The second is to remember there are limits to tolerance and diversity; and no there is no reason to embrace the proponents of Jihad, Sharia, and Islamism.