London attack exposes gaps in anti-terror effort

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/4 20:23:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

London was struck by terror on Saturday night yet again. A gang of knife-wielding men drove a van into pedestrians at high speed on the iconic London Bridge before stabbing pedestrians on the street and in bars in the nearby Borough Market area. Seven people have been confirmed killed and at least 20 injured.

An investigation is currently unfolding. Several explosions were also heard near London Bridge on Saturday night. A stabbing incident also took place in the Vauxhall area, however those events were not linked to terrorist attacks based on the information released by the police at this time. The explosions are believed to have been "controlled explosions" carried out by police.

The latest terror attacks, occurring less than two weeks after the Manchester Arena bombing, have sent shock waves across the UK and Europe. Although the number of fatalities on Saturday was less than the Manchester blast, the use of vehicles and knives, both of which are everyday objects, marks a new form of domestic terror. Besides, more terrorists were involved in the latest attacks. They carried out a chain of incidents in London's landmark areas, leaving an impression that terror attacks may happen at any moment and have created an environment of fear.

It's not exaggerating to say that terrorism is a cancer to the society. The UK has invested a lot on anti-terrorism and has made significant effort in helping immigrants to integrate into society and reduce their hatred toward the mainstream. The UK is perceived as being the toughest European country on immigration control, however, it has still been severely impacted by acts of terror, not only becoming a target of terror attacks, but a breeding ground for terrorists.

Apart from squarely condemning terrorism and launching more effort to fight it, there seem to be few simple solutions to eradicating it. Currently, many countries have increased anti-terror investment in security checks and mobile sentries and in setting up relevant intelligence systems.

Generally speaking, these measures have been trying every means to give the "goalkeeper" more functions instead of putting more resources into the "midfield." But even a strong "goalkeeper" is useless if the "midfield" is weak.

There are salient obstacles to the counter-terrorism endeavor. Owing to perennial rifts and uneven development among different religions and races, hatred and hostility remains a fact of international development. To ensure safety, some measures in combating terrorism offend some groups, which has further given rise to estrangement and dissatisfaction. In this way, a vicious cycle has taken shape, facilitating extremists who advocate terrorism.

The Internet has enhanced the impact of public opinion in an unprecedented way, boosting the self-confidence of terrorists and stimulating them to launch terrorist attacks. Some rioters brainwashed by extremist religion think it's worth dying in a suicide attack for their beliefs.

Humans have become accustomed to living a free, private life. Social management and control is restricted due to limited funds and the boundary of human rights, failing to fully cover all members of society. There is a raft of blind, monitor-free angles and many people are not protected within effectively.

In other words, if some terrorists are determined to commit a crime, they can easily find cars and knives even when they fail at getting more traditional instruments of terror and are easily able to cause harm using everyday objects once taken for granted.

There is no panacea for the current wave of terrorist activities. At best, current efforts are akin to relieving a fever but do not address the underlying disease. It is important that the world work together to combat terrorism and transfer part of the energy in dealing with geopolitical affairs to this endeavor. The West, as the largest target of extremists, should vigorously push forward this effort. The war on terror should become one of the top priorities of all humans. A frantic last-minute effort must be avoided.

This is an editorial of the Chinese edition of the Global Times. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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