2017 Revisited: A look back through the eyes of TCW’s top writers.
First posted May 2017
‘I wanna be a suicide bomber.’ And as we now know, he meant it. Brought up in Manchester by his refugee parents, Salman Abedi went to Syria and Libya to train in the dark art of killing the kuffir. It transpires that he was a fully-fledged, flag-waving fanatic of Islamic State. The security services had him on their radar, although he was not deemed high-risk. So he was allowed to prepare his path to 72 virgins unfettered by surveillance.
In the aftermath of the massacre at a pop concert in Manchester, the message from the political establishment and mainstream media is the same as last time, and the time before that. Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham, proud mayors of multicultural cities, tell us to carry on as if nothing has happened. But our suffering society is waking from the anaesthesia. People are demanding action, exasperated and infuriated by the knowledge that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes were known jihadists.
I’m a campaigner for free speech, but not a naïve or reckless libertarian. It’s time for the public and the politicians who serve us to realise that we are perpetual targets, and that liberal policy on immigration, multiculturalism and security has failed. Fear is paralysing, but in facing a monstrous threat to our civilisation, we must accept that cultural sensitivity is no justification for avoiding illiberal interventions. For any doubters, the Islamic State tells us that no fire need be stoked:
The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you.
We hear so much about white British peddlers of ‘hate crime’, yet we are all exposed to the most hateful assault on humanity in modern history. ‘Come together’ is the mantra after each abomination, but it misses a vital (actually mortal) ingredient. While we sing Kumbaya, what are the jihadists doing? Perhaps they feel a flutter of warmth in their cold hearts, but more likely they ‘carry on as normal’, reading and sharing terror tactics online. This is not speculation: much of this activity is monitored by security services.
And so I come round, reluctantly, to the only sure way of stopping known suspects from killing us: internment. I hear the gasps from liberals, Leftists and ‘community leaders’, and plenty of doubt from conservatives too. But consider just one case: Salman Abedi. It’s not relying on hindsight here. There was a plateful of evidence of his involvement in the cause of jihad, but the authorities could not act until he had crossed a clearly prosecutable criminal threshold. His dismembered corpse had not played by the rules of our pathetic refrain of bringing perpetrators to justice. But given his obvious dangerousness, why was he allowed liberty to plan his atrocity?
The question I would ask opponents of internment is: Do you want to continue taking the risk with known jihadists? As Richard Kemp, once head of Cobra, said yesterday, ‘We can’t allow them to roam free.’ Their freedom means coffins for random victims. It really could be you next time.
Critics will refer to Northern Ireland, where internment did more harm than good. That may be true, but we are not fighting the same enemy. For all their despicable bombings (followed by tea with Livingstone and Corbyn), the IRA was not consumed in an irrational, medieval death cult.
Controls should not necessarily irk Muslim people in Britain, many of whom originate in the Maghreb, the Middle East, Pakistan or Somalia. The dictators we disastrously removed in Iraq and Libya – see the turmoil in these countries now. For a government to apply Western liberalism in such a volatile environment would be crazy. We don’t want an authoritarian state here. But the longer we linger on denial and displacement, the more drastic the eventuality.
Yes, there are other methods. But mostly what I’ve heard is weak and ineffectual. ‘Reduce immigration’. Too late for that, they’re already here. Many born here, including recent converts to Islam. The Prevent scheme has been stifled and neutered, as shown by this recent TCW exposé. MI5 has worked wonders, against the odds, stopping numerous attacks on our soil. But all this work is underappreciated or scorned by the type of people who think Prevent is rank Islamophobia.
We should not sacrifice our children’s lives to preserve the dignity of Islam. Most followers of Mohammad balk at terrorism, but let’s be honest: jihadists are definitively Muslim. They selectively follow the parts of the Koran that instruct violence; their interpretation may be questioned, but it is nonsense on stilts to deny their acts have anything to do with Islam. Nonetheless, any denial of freedom must be carefully implemented, and of course it should be emphasised that internment will apply to a minority of terrorist suspects, not to those who express anti-Western opinions. The Muslim community is not being criminalised, and false narrative must always be robustly challenged.
With the facility of internment, Abedi could have been out of circulation, unable to murder and maim those innocent girls. The government must reset its priorities, placing the safety of its citizens as the overarching priority. All options should be on the Cabinet table. The time for platitudes has long passed: bring back Churchillian resolve.