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After Nice – the focus of our vigilance must change

The atrocity in Nice follows a now familiar pattern where so-called “lone-wolf” attackers inspired by terrorist pronouncements kill the softest targets they can find. In this case it was families and friends packed closely together on a warm summer evening watching a fireworks display.

With a horrific irony, the truck that brought such devastation began its journey near a children’s hospital. One of the first to die in its path was a Muslim woman. The faith or beliefs of the victims was clearly of no concern to the terrorist at the wheel. All that mattered was the deed. For these violent extremists, the names and life stories of those they kill is entirely immaterial.

My organisation, FAST, has been dealing with the threat of Daesh and Al Qa’ida radicalisation in recent years with the risk of British Muslims fleeing to Syria and Iraq. That is still a huge issue of course. But now we have to turn our attention increasingly to individuals who want to carry out carnage domestically.

These people are more than likely to have come across terrorist exhortations online to kill indiscriminately with any weapons at their disposal. This murderer used a truck at first then emerged to fire shots into the crowd. They obviously devastate their own families with their actions but also destroy the families of those whose lives they claim. Children are orphaned and parents lose those they brought into this world.

All human lives are equal

It is hard to get your head round such cruelty. I have seen the faces of families who are ravaged by the effects of terrorist radicalisation. The emptiness and never ending sense of loss is unbearable. But unfortunately, we can only expect more of this in the short term. So those of us who reject extremist messaging must become increasingly vigilant in our communities and neighbourhoods.

This is not about spying or snooping. It is about protecting and saving lives. Neither is it about valuing western lives above those of people in the Middle East or Indian sub-continent. All human lives are equal. And how dare the terrorist apologists suggest that we think otherwise. Their so-called “heroes” have recently slaughtered men, women and children from Bangladesh to Baghdad. Most of those killed have been Muslim.

Image source.