What might take place on a random summer Saturday night in a European capital city? It might be full of armed police rushing to a pub, barking at patrons to lie down immediately, because there’s a possibility of a bomb that might go off. There will be texting to colleagues who work in an area, to ask if they are okay. Friends will call each other advising them to avoid certain “no-go” areas. There will be a constant refreshing of one’s Twitter feed or the feeling of being glued to a news channel if you’re at home. It is BBC writing there’s a “Van incident at a bridge”, a euphemism, of course. But everyone will know what it means, what just happened, and who might be responsible. No one talks about it in civilised circles anymore, and certainly not on the BBC. It is watching a high trust society behave like a war zone. It is police tweeting and asking public to “run, hide and tell”. It is police making hundreds of late night revellers walk in a straight line with hands up palms open, in a scene that is more familiar in Kashmir or Xinjiang. The same country, which saw off the Spanish Armada, Napoleon and Hitler. It is the feeling of abject, ignominious surrender.
I was born in India. I have seen Islamist terrorism far more than any average Westerner. Let me tell you something, which your media will avoid mentioning. The I word. There’s a difference between terrorism and insurgency. Forget all the predictable responses. Forget suited apologists on TV blaming these outrages on colonialism, poverty, racism, rise of Islamophobia, Katie Hopkins, Alt Right, anything under the Sun, except the obvious. Forget Hijab wearing head bobbing Feminists blaming it on the Israel and Palestine problem. Forget scripted responses, of political leaders who talk about the goodness of human nature or the evil of “international terrorism”, or ready-made laminated placards with I Heart *current city under attack*, forget the FB profile flags, hipsters “sending love and good vibes”, tea lights, candle marches, empty platitudes.
Understand the character of an insurgency. An insurgency is a movement. Insurgency need not be coordinated or centrally planned. One of the most well-researched insurgency groups, the Naxalite movement, consisting of groups of Maoist radicals was at war with the Indian government for over a decade at its peak. It was hardly centralised or even coordinated. Most of the insurgents were localised with different operational ability, doctrine, and pace. Small groups of them, usually in ultra-left universities, poisoned by a common ideology, planned to overthrow a system which it deemed unworthy.
Budapest, Prague or Bratislava is not facing what London, Paris, Brussels and St Petersburg is facing. Or for that matter, Kashmir, Xinjiang or Manila. Lone Wolf terrorism is a myth. There are sleeper groups in every big Western city. The immediate hard-Right or hard-Left reaction would be to blame either immigration or histories of colonisation for terrorism. But tell me, how many Indians and Chinese and Koreans do you find bombing random cities across the world? How many Russians, Georgians and Ukrainians are mowing down 8 year olds? There’s conflict in every one of these places, there’s been a history of poverty and colonialism and authoritarianism in each of these societies. Those factors are mute, with regards to this specific set of circumstances concerning Islamism. Colonialism doesn’t cause Islamist terrorism, otherwise Manila wouldn’t be under siege by ISIS.
After the dust settles, there will be a further cry for interventions in Middle East from the usual voices. 37th time the charm. The last time we ravaged the North African coastline standing between an ever-burning Middle East, and an impoverished continent and that hasn’t worked out well, to put it kindly. The other side will claim that the War on Terror has been a failure from the start. But we never had a War on Terror, we had war on tyrants. Tyrants who, by sheer force were battling terrorists for much longer than us.
Most of the terrorists in the West are second generation Westerners often from completely cocooned communities who are self-radicalised, and who have travelled and pledged allegiance to a foreign entity, foreign state and ideology. They did this because they could never identify with their nation of their birth. Because a healthy civic nationalism in Western countries is shunned by the ruling (borderless) elite. Humans need the identity of a tribe. A flag to wave. When they are refused one, they don’t suddenly turn non-tribal. They just choose another identity. Millions once chose the Red flag and pledged allegiance, millions now choose a Black flag. And Britain is now broken in either flying Union Jacks or the Flag of Europa.
The future of Europe is not bright. Thomas Hegghammer in his paper in 2016, pointed out four factors that has led to Europe being a battleground. There’s one single specific second generation migrant community who are expected to economically underperform, and therefore radicalise further. That will be aided by the growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, or in simpler terms, recruiters for Islamists, and Imams in ghettos and mosques funded by our Gulf partners in Terrorism who we just sold millions of dollars worth of arms to continue funding civil wars and destabilise Middle East even further. That will lead to persistent conflict in the Muslim world, and aided by our lack of penetration online.
You of course won’t see any mention of these in the media, because that would mean accepting hard politically incorrect facts. That would mean accepting that the “winning hearts and minds” strategy has failed. That would mean, no we are not united in the West and yes, a fellow country-man might be plotting to bomb the local nightclub your daughter visits on a Friday night. Hashtags have failed. Candle light vigils have failed. Accepting that this is an insurgency would mean accepting that the only option is to have classic counter insurgency strategy, with eyes and ears within the community, deep penetration and surveillance. In short, the debate between liberty and security will need to be decided in favour of security—at least temporarily. That would mean less taxpayer money being spent on dropping KAB500s on White Toyotas in Syria, and less British troops stationed in Lithuania, and more spent on armed beat cops patrolling our neighbourhoods. It would mean more cash spent on community penetration not seen since The Troubles, more Royal Navy patrolling and disrupting people smugglers and the NGOs that collude with people smugglers.
As someone, who originates from a country, at war with Islamist terrorism since the mid ’80s, let me tell you something which I have seen and which might come to the West soon. The primary duty of a state is to protect its citizens. Nothing else. Not policing alleged hate speech, not giving moral support to drug addicts, not investigating idiotic microaggressions. But to provide security to those who pay taxes. If and when a state fails to do that, the citizens take up arms themselves. And you can take it from me, you don’t want to see that in your country.