Yesterday’s horrific daylight terror attack in London, which left one British soldier dead, is another reminder that Islamic fundamentalists will stop at nothing to terrorize free societies.
The two terrorists, covered in blood and carrying meat cleavers, were filmed after the attack calmly waiting for London police to arrive. They asked bystanders to take photos of their atrocity. They even took time to speak to a camera trying to justify their macabre acts:
We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—by Allah.
Thankfully, although it took up to 20 minutes for armed police to respond, both terrorists were shot by police—preventing further bloodshed.
Although information about the two terrorists involved in yesterday’s attack has not been forthcoming in great detail, a picture is already developing. It has been reported that both suspects were known by the British security services. At least one has been named as Michael Adebolajo. Reportedly, he is British–Nigerian, born in London, and a Muslim convert who became radicalized at the age of 15.
Other U.K. media reports claim the men have ties to al-Shabaab—an al-Qaeda-linked terror group fighting in Somalia. It has been reported that the attackers were previously prevented from travelling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.
The threat to the U.K. emitting from al-Shababb is clear. A Heritage Foundation report last summer warned about the threat al-Shabaab poses to Britain’s security:
Even more worrying in the British context is al-Qaeda’s franchise in Somalia, al-Shabaab. [Jonathan] Evans [former Director General of the Security Service, better known as MI-5] is “concerned that it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by…al-Shabaab.” When a senior al-Qaeda figure based in Somalia was killed last June, his laptop contained proposals to attack London hotels and a British department store. Additionally, dozens of British subjects are currently fighting alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia, and dozens are feared to have returned already to the United Kingdom. The large Somali population in the U.K. (estimates start at 250,000 individuals) allows al-Shabaab to recruit British Muslims, train them, and send them back into the West without causing excessive suspicion.
The British have had a long history of confronting terrorism. In fact, the U.K.’s 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review stated terrorism as the U.K.’s number one threat.
The Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) campaign of murder and terror, at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s, has not completely disappeared either. For example, U.K. bomb disposal responded on 318 occasions to incidents in Northern Ireland in 2012 alone. Two British soldiers were killed and two more wounded in 2009 when IRA fanatics shot them while they were ordering pizza in Northern Ireland.
However, homegrown Islamic fundamentalism is probably the single biggest threat to the U.K. On July 7, 2005, four British Muslims committed suicide attacks on the London public transport system, killing 52. Last month, three members of a Birmingham terror cell were jailed for planning a terrorist attack that would have “rivaled” the July 2005 attacks. British intelligence sources believe that a minimum of 200 potential terrorists are actively planning suicide attacks in the U.K.
As the recent terror attacks in Boston and London demonstrate, the threat from political and religiously motivated terrorism is far from over. The U.S. and the U.K. must stay vigilant and resolute. Intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation should remain the heart of the Anglo–American Special Relationship.
After Lady Thatcher survived an IRA assassination attempt in 1984 she proclaimed that “all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”
Once again, the Iron Lady is right.