Everyone in this incident is of course innocent until determined by law to be guilty, and there’s no terrorism involved until the police say there is, and no one should draw inferences about the role that this or that or any religious doctrine played in the events of this past Friday.
A terror suspect drove at police outside Buckingham Palace and yelled ‘Allahu akbar’ while reaching for a 4ft sword before he was arrested by three unarmed officers. The 26-year-old from Luton was wrestled to the ground and incapacitated with CS gas by the officers, two of which suffered injuries, at about 8.30 pm… Metropolitan Police said the suspect had been arrested under the Terrorism Act and was currently in custody in a central London police station… As three unarmed PCs exited the van and approached the blue Toyota Prius, the suspect reached for a 4ft sword in the footwell. [Daily Mail, August 26, 2017]
A lone wolf? Of course:
Commander Dean Haydon, the head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: ‘I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of these officers who quickly brought this incident under control… Officers from the Counter Terrorism Command are now investigating and searches are being carried out in the Luton area today.
‘We believe the man was acting alone and we are not looking for other suspects at this stage. ‘While we cannot speculate on what the man was intending to do – this will be determined during the course of the investigation – it is only right that we investigate this as a terrorist incident at this time. [Daily Mail, August 26, 2017]
That was then. Today it looks different:
A second man has been arrested over a suspected terrorist attack outside Buckingham Palace, during which police were attacked by a man armed with a sword. A 30-year-old man was apprehended by officers at an address in west London on Sunday morning, Scotland Yard said. Police are carrying out a search in the area… The second man was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism and was taken into custody. The arrest was carried out by officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command… Police initially believed the 26-year-old man acted alone and said their investigation would look into the first arrested man’s mental health. Some other incidents thought to have been terror attacks have later turned out to have been driven by mental health problems.[“Second man held after sword attack at Buckingham Palace“, The Guardian, August 27, 2017]
It’s been a busy weekend:
The assault in London came just two hours after a knifeman attacked patrolling soldiers in Brussels in what authorities said was an “attempted terrorist murder”. Belgian prosecutors said the attacker yelled “Allahu akbar” when he rushed at the soldiers from behind and struck them with a knife, prompting one of them to open fire. The assailant — a Belgian national of Somali origin born in 1987 — was shot and died shortly afterwards in hospital, a prosecutors’ statement said. Granted Belgian nationality in 2015 after arriving in the country in 2004, he was not known for any terror-related activities, although he had an assault and battery charge from February on his record, authorities confirmed. Police later raided his home in Bruges, in northwest Belgium. One of the soldiers was slightly hurt in the attack which Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said had been carried out by a “lone individual”… [AFP (France), August 27, 2017]
The Independent UK on Saturday adds that the Brussels stabber
“was in the possession of a firearm replica and two Quran books… The federal prosecutor’s office has handed the investigation to a specialist anti-terrorist judge and the case has been classed as “attempted terrorist murder”.
The same article goes on to speculate on root causes:
Isis has been intensifying calls for terror attacks on the countries bombing it as part of the US-led coalition, issuing detailed advice on carrying out stabbings, vehicle rammings and making explosives.
Officials, including [British] security minister Ben Wallace, have warned that the threat is increasing as Isis loses territory in Iraq and Syria, with the group turning to attacks as a means of maintaining momentum and publicity. “I think the threat is still increasing, partly driven by the fact Isis is collapsing in Syria and people are either unable to get out there to fight for Isis and so they look to do something at home, or also because people have come back and tried to inspire people with their stories and tales of the caliphate,” Mr Wallace said last week, echoing concerns raised by analysts across Europe.
Brussels was the location of the first Isis-linked attack in Europe, where a militant killed four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in May 2014. [Independent UK]
A handful of tentative conclusions.
- Lone wolf attacks, it’s increasingly clear, often turn out to be anything but.
- And attacks of the kind which began with massive incitement among Palestinian Arabs – in their schools, in their mosques and in the chambers of their political leaders – against Jews in Israel over the past 3 years more and more appear to be replicated on the streets of Europe.
- For Israelis, it’s hard not to notice how quick-witted, fast moving security officials on those European streets are being (entirely correctly) praised while the equivalent actions done in Israel by Israeli security officials have come in for withering criticism in previous years from Europe.