It has been less than a week since three ISIS fighters (I am refraining from calling them soldiers because I do not wish to taint the good name of real, honorable soldiers) decided to wreak havoc on the Southwark area in London, England, killing eight people and injuring forty-eight others. The Internet has since exploded with people all around the world reminding others of Sadiq Khan’s comment from a couple of months ago. Khan, the mayor of London, who just so happens to be an adherent to Sunni Islam, had said in response to the September 2016 bombings in New York that terrorism is “part and parcel of living in a big city” and that those of us who live in large cities should remain vigilant if we want to combat the threat that jihadists and other terrorists pose to us all.
I won’t deny that, in one sense, Khan is correct about terrorism being “part and parcel of living in a big city”. Cities are, naturally and obviously, far more populated — and far more densely populated — than are suburban or rural areas. It makes sense, therefore, that cities would be more attractive targets to terrorists seeking to kill as many people as possible, and that those of us who live in cities are more likely to be the victims of a terror attack than are those who live in less populated areas. I cannot and will not deny something that I, myself, have argued before. (“Come on, Mom, let’s be real here. I’m more likely to get blown up by some jihadist in the middle of Manhattan this summer than I am in Maastricht or anywhere else I’d study abroad next spring!”)
While Khan is right in this sense, he is wrong in many others. I have two main issues with what Khan said, and the first is just that — what he said. Why does terrorism have to be “part and parcel” of living in a city? I’m aware and understanding of the fact that cities are more attractive targets to [potential] terrorists… but that doesn’t mean that we city-slickers should just accept it as a normal aspect of our lives, let alone encourage it by labeling ourselves as ‘sanctuary cities’. What has Europe’s open-borders policies gotten them? There is a terror attack every other week in France, it seems like; the poor country just cannot catch a break. While Germany has so far been the second-most-often attacked country, England seems to be working really, really hard to surpass it. Calm down, England! There isn’t a contest to see who can be victimized the most by terrorists in the shortest span of time.
There shouldn’t be, at least.
England has suffered three terror attacks in the last three months — first the one in Westminster, then the one at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, and now this one in London. It’s a little nerve-wracking… especially considering the fact that this isn’t even counting whatever smaller-scale attacks might have occurred but failed to garner international attention.
It’s true that being the intended target of a terror attack is part and parcel of living in a city… but being a victim of a terror attack is an entirely different matter. Government officials representing the residents of large cities should be doing everything within their power to detain individuals who have ties to anyone or anything even remotely sketchy… because if they are allowed to roam the streets freely, the lives of millions of people will be at risk — and this is exactly what happened with the June 3rd, 2017 incident in London. The three men who were responsible for the attack should have been apprehended long ago. Khuram Shazad Butt had been a known member of an illicit Islamic extremist group and had had ties to the man accused of training the perpetrator of the 2007 bombing that killed over fifty Londoners. In addition, Rachid Redouane had a history of lying about his identity and had a personal vendetta against the city because his request for asylum had been rejected and Youssef Zaghba had been proven to be in possession of Islamic State propaganda. Nevertheless, none of these men had been arrested preemptively. Why? Why were they allowed to remain free? Why were they allowed to walk around wearing explosive vests? Why were they allowed to kill eight people and wound forty-eight more? I don’t understand.
I also don’t understand how Sadiq Khan can sleep with that on his conscience.
I have another issue with what Khan said, though, and it is that he said that city-dwellers should expect and be prepared for incidents like these to happen. Wait. What?
I am a life-long resident of the largest city in the United States, New York, and as such, I am no stranger to terrorism. My father and his colleagues were some of the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the scene when the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11th, 2001, and for what seemed like countless hours, no one in my family knew whether or not he was alive. He survived unharmed, thank God, but I have friends who weren’t so lucky.
My question for Khan, therefore, is this: what specifically should I do in order to be prepared and ‘ready’ for a similar situation? Should I walk through dark back streets in crime-ridden areas, where there are fewer tourists and therefore a smaller chance of being a victim of a terror attack? Should I wear sterilized gloves as I ride on each of the three types of public transportation I have to take to get to and from work three days a week in order to prevent being victimized by biological warfare? I’ll get right on that; but how do I avoid being run over by a truck driven by a man determined to kill as many people as possible, or being blown up by a man with explosives strapped to his body — a man who is completely willing to end his own life, so long as he takes dozens of others down with him? How do I that, Mr. Khan? I’d love to know, and I’m sure my mother would, too; after all, she wants me to take every precaution possible so as to ensure my safety when I travel into the concrete jungle that is Manhattan.
I can point out dozens of things that are wrong with what Khan has said and done. I won’t… but I will mention some:
- He encourages refugees, even though the number of terror attacks in England has been skyrocketing in recent months.
- He has made no effort whatsoever to preemptively avoid these attacks by apprehending individuals who, based on evidence, were likely to commit acts of terror.
- He disarmed the police, the only people in gun-free London who could have stopped the attackers before they injured/killed more people.
- He prioritizes the safety of Middle Eastern refugees over that of the citizens whom he swore to protect.
- He has put the burden of maintaining safety on the residents of London, rather than taking on the responsibility himself, as he was elected and had promised to do.
The worst thing of them all, however, is that he implied that this is just “the way things are” and that we all should just “get used to it”.
I dare this man to visit the parents of one of the girls that died during the Manchester bombing last month and tell them, “well, this is just the way things are. You should get to used to it. You should be used to it already, seeing as you chose to live in a city, after all. I’m sorry for your loss, but you should have been more prepared for something like this. “It’s part and parcel of living in a big city.”
While Sadiq Khan goes around acting like this a normal, albeit unfortunate, event, the citizens he was elected to represent are dropping like flies, their skin singed from the heat of homemade explosives and their limbs disfigured after having been run over by a truck weighing God knows how much.
The mayors of big cities can rally behind Khan and preach about the importance of human rights, tolerance, and safety all they want, but the simple fact is that they don’t care that the lives of millions of people are at stake. These so-called ‘leaders’ are willing to let their own citizens die… and that is absolutely despicable.