Bren­dan Cox

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - BREN­DAN COX Bren­dan Cox is the wid­ower of mur­dered MP Jo Cox READ MORE at tele­graph.co.uk/opin­ion

Con­demn­ing those who com­mit ter­ror­ist out­rages and mur­der chil­dren is the easy part. How we re­spond is the greater chal­lenge. It de­ter­mines whether we will beat them.

Ter­ror­ists are the low­est form of hu­man­ity. If you blow up lit­tle girls at a pop con­cert, you de­serve to be called evil. There is no ex­cuse, no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. There are no caveats. And faced with such ter­ror­ism, we must re­solve to smash it. The ques­tion is: how?

If you look at so­cial me­dia you might be for­given for think­ing that there are only two op­tions. At one ex­treme are those who ad­vo­cate that we turn the other cheek, or, worse still, try to ex­plain ter­ror away. At the other are those who would set up in­tern­ment camps and hold the bil­lion Mus­lims on the planet re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of a few. They see Mo Farah and Nadiya Hus­sain as in some way con­nected to Abu Bakr al-bagh­dadi, leader of the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil).

Both re­sponses are as in­tel­lec­tu­ally lazy as they are self-de­feat­ing.

What we know is that the ter­ror­ists can­not de­feat us mil­i­tar­ily. Our armed forces, po­lice and se­cu­rity forces are far more pow­er­ful than they will ever be. They know that. In fact, they have re­sorted to ter­ror­ism pre­cisely be­cause they re­alise they are so weak.

The ter­ror­ists’ strat­egy is that we will do their work for them. Their acts of ex­treme provo­ca­tion will, they hope, lead us to cur­tail our free­doms or en­cour­age our com­mu­ni­ties to turn against each other.

In this the ter­ror­ists are aided and abet­ted by those who say they op­pose them most: ex­trem­ists in our own coun­try who seize on mo­ments like this to drive ha­tred against the “other” – in this case Mus­lims – and claim that they are all to blame for the ac­tions of an in­di­vid­ual.

Far-right fa­nat­ics and Is­lamist fa­nat­ics pre­tend to be against each other, but they not only re­cruit off the back of each other but are driven by the same thing: ha­tred for any­one who isn’t like them. It is a bizarre sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship.

To de­feat ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, we must first go af­ter them with all the force and in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­ity we have. We should tar­get both the cells which plan vi­o­lence and the voices who en­cour­age it. As part of this we need to know that our anti-ter­ror po­lice have all the re­sources, man­power and money they re­quire.

We also can­not ig­nore coun­tries that, for what­ever rea­son, have be­come bas­ket cases from which ter­ror­ism can spread. Shut­ting our eyes to the plight of Afghanista­n un­der the Tal­iban, So­ma­lia un­der Al-shabaab and the dis­in­te­gra­tion of Syria is not cost free. This doesn’t mean we al­ways have to en­gage mil­i­tar­ily, but it does mean we should use ev­ery tool avail­able to sta­bilise frag­ile states. Our diplo­mats, aid work­ers and armed forces are the best in the world and all have a cru­cial role to play.

Fi­nally, we must build more in­te­grated com­mu­ni­ties at home and show that at­tempts to di­vide us will fail. Ter­ror­ists look for alien­ated com­mu­ni­ties to breed in. If we can come closer to­gether, we will win.

In all cases, we should ask our­selves what the ter­ror­ists want – and then do the op­po­site. They want the Manch­ester atroc­ity, and oth­ers like it, to di­vide our coun­try. They would like noth­ing bet­ter than to spark at­tacks against mi­nori­ties in the street, to poi­son our politi­cal de­bate and to cre­ate more iso­lated Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. It is down to all of us not to let them achieve any of this.

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