The UK has a significant terrorist problem. Wednesday’s terrorist attack was not an isolated incident (a ‘one-off’ as the Brits like to say). Nor was it an attack perpetuated by a “lone wolf,” as some originally thought. Nor was it an attack perpetrated by foreign terrorists. It was considerably worse.
It was a terrorist attack perpetrated by a small cadre of radical Islamic terrorists who actually live in the UK. The actual murderer was a native-born British citizen (Kent). One of his neighbors characterized him as a “nice guy” with a wife and young child who “enjoyed tend[ing to] his garden. He had a long criminal record, including convictions for various violent offenses ranging from weapons possession to assault, but not for any terrorist activities. London police authorities have stated that he had not been under investigation, and there were no indications that he was planning a terrorist attack. It should be noted, however, that ISIS has claimed he was a “soldier” who had been directed to target countries that have been fighting jihadists.
This attack in the shadow of hallowed landmarks such as Westminster and the Parliament building while the Parliament was in session exposed the gross inadequacies of British counterterrorism policies and capabilities. It is obvious they are in need of a major upgrade. Moreover, I also believe it illustrates the difficulty of ferretting out such homegrown terrorists and their planned attacks beforehand.
As I write this, nine accomplices have been identified and arrested. Their identities and backgrounds have not been revealed, and there may be more out there. We have been told that they lived in Birmingham, a nearby city, which has long been suspected of being a hotbed of radical Islamic terrorist activities. I suspect these accomplices will also prove to be either homegrown or individuals who entered the country after having emigrated to other EU countries. Either way, it highlights the danger of open borders.
As I said, this was not an isolated incident. Rather, it is the latest of a series of attacks in the last dozen years. Since 2005 there have been six major terrorist attacks in London alone, which have resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries.
A brief summary of these attacks:
- July 7, 2005 – Four British Islamic terrorists detonated a series of bombs destroying one double-decker bus and a few underground trains. Fifty-two people were killed and hundreds injured.
- July 21, 2005 – Four more bombs were set, but they failed to detonate.
- June 29, 2007 – Two unexploded car bombs were discovered.
- May 22, 2013 – A British soldier was killed near the Royal Artillery Barracks.
- December 5, 2015 – An assailant stabbed several people at a tube station shouting “this is for Syria.”
- October 20, 2016 – An unattended bag was discovered on a train containing explosives , wires and an alarm clock. Police detonated it, and there were no injuries.
This does not include various terrorist attacks in other European cities, such as Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin.
I believe that the root of this problem can be traced back to decades of permissive immigration policies and lax border security. Britain, France, Germany and other Western European countries, seeking cheap labor, have long encouraged widespread emigration from Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. Now, the jobs have largely dried up, leaving millions of idle and disgruntled people who are susceptible to being radicalized.
Furthermore, as we know, people can travel freely between EU countries without any documentation. Therefore, all a terrorist has to do is find his way into, say, Turkey or Greece, which is not difficult, and from there he can easily emigrate to Britain, France or Germany. I think that the major reason why the UK voted to withdraw from the EU last year was because of open borders and all its attendant problems, not for economic reasons as many think. In my opinion, the US should learn from the mistakes of these countries in determining its own immigration policy.