Friday, 24 March 2017
London Attacks: The Usual Suspects
Back in 2013 when Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered by a pair of callous and deranged wannabe murderers it very quickly became obvious that they were typical of their type. They were zealots and converts, they had both been low level criminals and they were both angry young men. We don't yet know much about Khalid Masood, the man the police have identified as the perpetrator of the London attack this week, but we do know that this was not the name he was born with. This suggests a convert. They usually are.
Like many people I lose patience with many of the platitudes that our politicians are obliged to repeat on occasions like this, but where Masood is concerned they are right. His actions were senseless, barbaric and pointless. They will not change the way we lead our lives one iota. His attack, though it will certainly garner headlines, will be a failure. Life went on as normal yesterday. Where normality had not quite returned it was only because the police are still gathering evidence.
The Islamic State of course claimed that Masood was one of their soldiers. This is unlikely to be true. Even if we accept that a man who drives a car at children can be termed a soldier, his contact with ISIL will have been no greater than most of us get by watching the news on TV.
Of course he likely also watched videos on the internet and longed to be one of the fighters for Allah and probably idolised Jihadi John before he was evaporated by a missile. That sums up the likes of Masood. They have achieved nothing with their lives and this makes them angry. It is what psychologists call deflection. Their failings are the fault of others and so they become angry and murderous. It is a form of narcissism, a form of solipsism. That this was a man in his 50s, the same age as me, only makes him so much more pathetic.
Masood was apparently known to police but not for any terrorism type offences. He will have served time in prison, likely for violence and will have led a life constantly dodging and diving, committing petty frauds and crimes. He will have been radicalised by a combination of the internet and quite likely whilst serving time in prison. Suggestible stupid people of low intelligence and little education are the usual prey of the sort of preachers of hatred who will have encouraged Masood to commit his murderous rampage, even if they did not specifically direct him to do what he did on Wednesday.
That is what the security services and police are up against as they try to keep us all safe. The issue we all face is that anyone could do what he chose this week to do and though security will be tightened at places like parliament there is little we can do to prevent this kind of thing happening and indeed the more it happens the more likely that imitators will come along. Fortunately most of us are not as bovine as Khalid Masood. Fortunately most of us have things to live for, things we cherish or are simply possessed of civilised principles and decency. That ultimately is what protects us from these maniacs, these jihadist cretins as Christopher Hitchens memorably described them. We certainly need to be on our guard against them, but we have nothing to really fear since they are a pathetic rag bag army of dimwits and fantasists whose reek of failure is the real cause of their fury.