England has been shaken by the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament that was carried out last Wednesday by Khalid Masood, whose real name was Adrian Elms or Adrian Ajao. As more information has come out about the terrorist, a number of observations can be made.
1) Masood/Elms/Ajao was an unusual terrorist in some ways, and typical in others. Like nearly all Islamic terrorists, he had a middle-class upbringing and at one point lived in a million dollar house in East Sussex. Drugs apparently precipitated his descent, and he had a criminal history that landed him in prison. Masood was not religious until his incarceration–his parents are Christians–but, like many others, he converted to Islam while in prison. After his release, he persuaded one of his daughters to adopt Islam, change her name and wear a hijab. At 52, he was quite a bit older than most terrorists.
2) Masood used the current weapons of choice, an automobile and two knives. Westminster Bridge is generally crowded with pedestrians, and he simply drove his car into a crowd of them, killing five and injuring as many as 50, some critically. This type of attack is very hard to stop–for practical purposes, impossible.
Following the attack, giant yellow bollards were placed in the area around Buckingham Palace to prevent attackers from driving vehicles into the crowds that always congregate there:
I don’t blame the Brits for doing this; the area around the White House is blocked off in a similar way, if I am not mistaken. But obviously, protecting a few high-profile areas does nothing to stop an Islamic terrorist (or anyone else) from driving a vehicle into a crowd anywhere, in any city.
When mass murders occur, liberals tend to focus on the weapons used by the murderer. Terrorist attacks carried out with cars and knives illustrate the futility of this approach. The only solution–if there is one–is to identify and stop the terrorist before he acts. Also, to take any feasible steps that will reduce the number of potential terrorists in the population.
At some point he was investigated by MI5 over links to violent extremism but was considered too minor to monitor, and did not feature on a 3,000-strong list of suspects feared to be capable of mounting an attack.
Not surprisingly, it is very difficult to predict which radical Muslims will actually launch attacks.
4) Masood reportedly spent several years in Saudi Arabia, where he was immersed in Wahabbism. That is a pretty good predictor of radical belief and behavior.
5) One of those murdered by Masood was a policeman named Keith Palmer, whom Masood stabbed to death after crashing through a gate to the Parliament building. Palmer likely would have been even more of a hero if he hadn’t been unarmed. Disarming one’s own police force is insane.
6) Here in the U.S., there has been much talk of “vetting.” While checking out visitors and, especially, immigrants to the U.S. is certainly appropriate, to the limited extent it is possible, vetting is wholly inadequate as a security measure. Many terrorists are second generation immigrants, and others, like Masood, are Islamic converts.
7) The problem is Islam. Not all or even most Muslims, of course, but rather Islam as a political ideology. Andy McCarthy makes the point well at National Review. You should read the whole thing, which is a good primer on the subject. Here are some excerpts:
There is diversity in Islam, including millions of Muslims who adhere only to its spiritual elements or see themselves as more culturally than doctrinally Islamic. But when we speak of Islam, as opposed to Muslims, we are not speaking about a mere religious belief system. We are talking about a competing civilization — that is very much how Islam self-identifies. It has its own history, principles, values, mores, and legal system. Islam, thus understood, is not non-Western. It is anti-Western.
Like the conversion of Masood, the conversion of Birmingham has been a function of this defining Islamic attribute. Individual Muslims may assimilate, but Islam doesn’t do assimilation. Islam does not melt into your melting pot. Islam, as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna proclaimed, is content with nothing less than political, cultural, and civilizational dominance.
As Soeren Kern relates in a comprehensive Gatestone Institute report on Islam in Britain, the metamorphosis of Birmingham, along with several other U.K. population centers, signifies this resistance. When the Islamic presence in a Western community reaches a critical mass, Islam’s hostility to Western mores and demands for sharia governance result in non-Muslim flight. Marriages between Muslims resident in the Western community and Muslims overseas tend to result in childbirth rates and household growth that dwarfs that of the indigenous population. Arranged, intra-familial, and polygamous marriages, endorsed by Islamic mores, drastically alter the fabric of communities in short order. Birmingham, in particular, has been ground zero of “Operation Trojan Horse,” a sharia-supremacist scheme to Islamize the public schools. *** [T]he remorseless fact is that before ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Khomeini revolution and Hezbollah and the Blind Sheikh and the Brotherhood and Khalid Masood, there was the single thing that unites them all. There was Islam.
Western political and opinion elites remain willfully blind to this. They cannot help but project onto Islamic beliefs and practices their own progressive pieties — which take seriously neither religion nor the notion that there is any civilization but their own.
America is committed to the assumption that Islam, in all of its varieties and manifestations, is merely a religion. This entitles Islam not only to the full protection of the First Amendment, but also to the presumption that it is a benign if obsolete force, like other religions. Which explains why journalists puzzle over what could possibly have motivated the terrorist who shouts “Allahu akbar” to kill infidels.