I have a heavy heart again, using a black box as the image for this post. The United Kingdom, and more specifically, my chosen home city of London was witness to the third attack on this country in as many months. There is a risk that comes with living in the capital city of a country, compared to living in the countryside, of course. But that is no reason for me to abandon this place (besides all the financial commitments I have here). Barring a shift of Parliament to another location, my place is here, and always in the thick of it.
Last time I wrote about this topic the incident was down the road from where I work. This time it was around the corner from where I sang, in the midst of where friends work and meet and eat. Last time I was not in the mood to dissect what happened as I wanted to wait to learn the facts.
We still cannot demonise a group of people for the actions of flawed individuals, but much like with the existing rape culture I believe that actions must be taken to keep ourselves safe even if the responsibility to act in truth lies elsewhere. As such, what can be done?
The attack on the Manchester concert was the most deathly, utilising an explosive with shrapnel. However the resources to make this are easily available and innocuous. This attack sadly would have been preventable only by personal reporting of the perpetrator. Allegedly this was done, but police was not able to follow up. More police staffing is imperative to follow up all leads.
The two London-centered attacks follow an even simpler schematic. Using utility goods like vehicles and knives – household items – offers low detection rates. I don’t think it is known whether rental vehicles were used, but rental agencies could provide a possibility of intervention. Much like lobbied for in the US for gun purchases, automatically running the identity of a potential renter through a database could alert police to begin immediate surveillance and for potential risk awareness measures to be applied.
What if attackers started stealing cars? They would already have committed a crime and would be easier to persecute, providing they are being paid attention to. But what if they used their own vehicles? That’s the true stumbling block. Islamic State encourages attackers to work on such a basis to undermine society and achieve their goals.
So we need to intervene much more before things become violent. We need to better identify those at risk of falling for terrorist groups’ propaganda, and to neutralise propaganda. I wish there were a way to balance privacy with the need to for better knowledge in the intelligence community – total surveillance cannot be the solution. But I also can’t think of a solution quite yet.
I can’t say I understand the motivation to believe in terrorism, and it seems science isn’t much further ahead of me. What remains for me as an individual, is the ambition to live a full and good life according to our values, and to undermine terrorists thus by revealing the fruitlessness of their endeavours.