Mark Dolan: The so-called war on terror will be with us for a long time to come - but we will prevail
Society can fix this – this is where this war will be fought and won.
After the appalling cold-blooded murder that saw Tory MP David Amess stabbed 17 times in a frenzied attack, there was understandable speculation about who it was that did this, and what motivated them. We now know that this individual is 25 years of age, British, and of Somali origin. It has also emerged, courtesy of my brilliant colleague Mark White our Home and Security Editor that he had previously been referred to the Prevent counter extremism programme.
BREAKING - The terror suspect arrested on suspicion of murdering Conservative MP Sir David Amess had previously been referred to the Prevent counter extremism programme.— Mark White (@markwhiteTV) October 16, 2021
Didn't work did it? Whilst extreme Islamic terrorism is a global problem, and notoriously hard to police, given that it is often carried out by small localised groups and individuals rather than nation states, whether it's the London Bridge terror attacks or the attacks at Manchester arena, many who commit these atrocities are our own.
There is hatred on these shores. The government, counterterrorism and law-enforcement need to level with the British people. Hatred of this country and its democratic values of tolerance, equality and liberalism is now baked into the fabric of our society. It may be small, a minority cause, but it’s endemic and extraordinarily dangerous.
We are not alone of course, this is a problem across the Western world. Citizens who hate the freedom-loving, democratic country in which they reside. Whilst we understandably focus on global terror threats, to a huge degree the enemy lies within. One that detests everything this country stands for, and everything this country is.
Why do you think that this evil monster – perhaps we could call him scum, feels more appropriate - chose an elected member of the British parliament to attack? The mother of all parliaments, the birthplace of representative democracy. Whether it's Jo Cox, the Brighton bombings and on the greatest scale of all 9/11, all of this is terrorism. And the clue’s in the name. It's about creating terror, for the achievement of twisted, mad, illogical and evil ends.
It's no different to the hateful fascism of Adolf Hitler. The Taliban, Al Qaeda, Isis K, the Nazis - they are all cut from the same cloth. History has taught us that when it comes to the battle between good and evil, whilst evil will achieve short term carnage and win some battles, it will always lose the war.
But only if we unite, if we stand up and if we say no.
The best way to do that is to continue our lives as normal – to not be cowed by these vicious bullies, because that’s’ what they want – and it’s essential that our MPs remain just as accessible as they always have been. There must be no dilution of our democracy. These two MPs speak for many when they tweeted the following today:
As MPs we have a duty to lead. The greatest tribute to our fallen colleague is to continue to do our jobs. The risks we face are minuscule compared to those who police our streets, respond to 999 calls or serve at the front line in A&E. Accessibility is vital to our democracy.— Conor Burns (@ConorBurnsUK) October 16, 2021
I am an MP— Guy Opperman (@GuyOpperman) October 15, 2021
I had surgeries today in Hexham with constituents,
Knocked doors in Allendale, and went to my local pub
I will do all this next week +hold the @TyneJobsFair on Friday
I mourn #SirDavidAmess ... but for all my @HouseofCommons colleagues, we keep going 👍 #Democracy
And we need a concerted effort from counterterrorism agencies to weed out these brainwashing cells, where often previously normal teenagers and young people get groomed and radicalised.
This task is the greatest national security priority of our time. But we must all play our part. Society can fix this. Schools, universities, places of worship, social venues, households, families, communities – this is where this war will be fought and won. No more turning a blind eye if it's clear that hatred in any setting is being fostered, grown and developed. There's no getting away from it, this evil ideology is coming from specific places in our society – it’s Islamic extremism - we have to acknowledge the truth about that and address the problem.
The peace-loving religion of Islam - celebrated by billions globally - has been appropriated by a small, hardcore rump of extremist monsters. And as always, the good must stand up and defeat the bad. This has good historic precedent. Thousands have died in wars of the past to make Britain what it is today: a wealthy economic superpower, a haven of diversity, tolerance, integration, talent, aspiration, commerce and culture. But all of this under attack, from a handful of British citizens, who want to poison the well, who seek to do us harm and who seek to change this country.
Yesterday was just a warning. A shot across the bows. What happened yesterday is not a problem that's going to go away.
We are at war, and we have to win. We have no choice, in the same way that we had no choice in 1938.
The so-called war on terror will be with us for a long time to come. But we will prevail.