‘Face the facts: ji­hadis are here and they want to wipe out in­fi­dels...’

New ID cards and more se­cu­rity checks are a tiny price to pay to beat the ter­ror­ists, writes Ruth Dud­ley Ed­wards

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - World Wide -

WHILE there were no fa­tal­i­ties from the crude bomb in a tube train at West London’s Par­sons Green un­der­ground sta­tion, 30 peo­ple were in­jured, the threat level in the UK has been raised from se­vere to crit­i­cal and there are armed po­lice vis­i­ble on London streets. Let’s start with the in­juries. If you haven’t been caught in an ex­plo­sion or you don’t know any­one who has, it’s easy to ig­nore what many suf­fer from phys­i­cal and men­tal wounds. Peo­ple hor­ri­fied by the 1998 Omagh bomb­ing, for in­stance, may re­mem­ber that 29 peo­ple died (one a mother of un­born twins), but few will have taken in that around 300 peo­ple had in­juries and count­less num­bers were af­fected by post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

Peo­ple lost limbs, were blinded, were mu­ti­lated, dis­fig­ured, and many more were con­demned to long pe­ri­ods of flash­backs, night­mares and up­set­ting rec­ol­lec­tions of ter­ri­ble scenes. The be­reaved suf­fered ap­palling psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age that in­cluded rage, al­co­holism, panic at­tacks, ob­ses­sional be­hav­iour and sui­ci­dal urges.

The vic­tims of Par­sons Green were mostly blood­ied, scorched or suf­fered crush in­juries from the ter­ri­fied scrum of pas­sen­gers flee­ing a train that they feared might blow up. They will know from me­dia re­ports that they got off lightly. The bomb — which was made from an ex­plo­sive known as Mother of Satan and had been filled with nails — had been in­com­pe­tently as­sem­bled and only par­tially ex­ploded.

London is used to bomb­ings. Rec­ol­lec­tions of the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, when more than 30,000 peo­ple were killed and count­less num­bers in­jured by the Luft­waffe, abound. Be­fore and af­ter that, un­til com­par­a­tively re­cently, it was Ir­ish repub­li­cans who dom­i­nated do­mes­tic se­cu­rity con­cerns. The bombs that Fe­ni­ans set off in 1867 and the early 1880s in­cluded one in the cham­ber of the House of Com­mons. London had dozens of bombs dur­ing the IRA cam­paign of 1939 and 1940.

The Pro­vi­sional IRA’s many at­tacks on London between 1973 and 1996 caused 47 deaths and a vast num­ber of in­juries. Par­tic­u­larly le- thal and no­to­ri­ous were the Bal­combe Street gang, who between 1974 and 1975 roamed around London shoot­ing and blow­ing up peo­ple in shops, ho­tels, pubs and restau­rants, the 1984 bomb at­tacks in two royal parks, the 1991 mor­tar at­tack on Down­ing Street and the mas­sive bombs in the City in 1992 and 1993 and in Dock­lands in 1996 be­fore the IRA mostly gave up mur­der.

Lon­don­ers didn’t have long to savour a city with­out bomb scares, since those who had acted on the evil ide­ol­ogy of phys­i­cal-force Ir­ish na­tion­al­ism were soon re­placed by ad­her­ents of Is­lamism. While the Pro­vi­sional IRA were happy to kill for Ire­land they weren’t too keen on dy­ing for it, un­like the Mus­lim sui­cide bombers who killed 52 peo­ple and in­jured hun­dreds on a bus and on tube trains in 2005.

Since then, among later atroc­i­ties we’ve had five in­no­cents mur­dered on West­min­ster Bridge and eight on London Bridge. So, wearily, Lon­don­ers have once again be­come ac­cus­tomed to threats and scares and the in­con­ve­nience that ter­ror­ism al­ways brings with it.

Flights have ceased to be some­thing to look for­ward to, and air­port se­cu­rity is fre­quently pre­pos­ter­ous box-tick­ing. But bu­reau­crats have to be seen to be do­ing some­thing. They get into fright­ful trou­ble if they are seen to in­dulge in racial or re­li­gious pro­fil­ing and so they make an ex­am­ple of peo­ple who pose no threat in or­der to give them cover for scru­ti­n­is­ing those they be­lieve do. I’ve lost track of the num­ber of times in Amer­i­can air­ports that I’ve been sin­gled out for spe­cial at­ten­tion along with a dusky young man with a big beard and a ner­vous de­meanour.

As some­one who has al­ways been sus­pi­cious of any moves to erode civil lib­er­ties, I’m de­pressed to find my­self in­creas­ingly re­laxed about the preva­lence of CCTV in the UK and I am now ac­tively in favour of iden­tity cards, which I used to ar­gue against ve­he­mently. When you’ve got an en­emy that thinks you de­serve to be mur­dered if you don’t wor­ship Al­lah or are in the wrong Is­lamic sect, se­cu­rity takes prece­dence.

What­ever the Taoiseach de­cides to do about tight­en­ing up na­tional se­cu­rity, it’s time Ir­ish peo­ple faced the fact that there are ji­hadis in their midst. Is­lamists don’t care about niceties like Ir­ish neu­tral­ity: they want to sub­due or wipe out in­fi­dels. The Ir­ish Coun­cil for Civil Lib­er­ties is un­der­stand­ably steamed up about the pos­si­bil­ity of manda­tory na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards, but there are worse threats than that, and be­ing slaugh­tered on public trans­port is one of them.

‘IRA were happy to kill for Ire­land but not too keen on dy­ing for it’

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