What motivated a 52-year-old citizen, born and bred in Britain, to attack the sacred 'Mother of Parliaments' while running over, stabbing and shooting scores of his fellow countrymen? It was yet another road mark in the 'Clash of Civilizations' that radical Islam is waging world-wide. Even Canada, with no imperial past to atone for, was targeted in October 2014. The British terrorist, Adrian Elms, was apparently converted to Islam in prison when he served a term for stabbing, and adopted his new name of Khalid Masood. Daesh has confirmed he acted in its name. What may have sent him around the bend may have been the heavy bombing now being inflicted by the US-led coalition on the Daesh force in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The Daesh 'capital city' of Raqqa in Syria is next in line. In response, Daesh Internet has adopted the old Marxist battle-cry with its version, 'Muslims of the world unite - come and join our forces in the Middle East, but if you cannot, kill the infidels wherever you can!'
In Britain, with a Muslim population of over three million and growing, MI-5 and the British Police have their hands full in monitoring potential terrorists. And similar to France, there has been a rising tide of radical Islam that is often preached openly in British mosques. Muslim leader Anjem Choudary has called for Sharia Muslim law to be made the law of the land for Muslims. In the light of former murderous Muslim attacks in Britain and the infamous Daesh executioner Jihad John, the radical Muslim threat is on the rise. But how can it be confronted and defeated?
Clearly the 'Clash of Civilizations' is now facing off with another clash - that of maintaining Civil Rights for all citizens while providing adequate defense for all citizens.
This poses a crucial question for democracies that fear infringing on their democratic freedoms by imposing restrictions directed, primarily at Muslims. In this latest case, surely the attack on Canada's sister parliament should have been a wake-up call in Westminster, but it appears the parliamentary guards were unarmed and Khalid Masood ran inside the parliamentary grounds for a considerable distance - only then did the bodyguard of Britain's Defense Minister, who happened to be there, draw his handgun and shoot dead the terrorist. Clearly the 'Clash of Civilizations' is now facing off with another clash - that of maintaining Civil Rights for all citizens while providing adequate defense for all citizens.
Question: is this a new kind of war? If the British and even Canadian parliaments have come under fire, it is just that - a war, albeit of a different nature. And as in war, different restrictions and obligations are imposed on all citizens until that war is won. For example, the internal security service, under judicial supervision, should be granted special powers to identify and investigate potential terrorists. In the case of Khalid Masood, he twice stayed in Saudi Arabia for extended periods. It is generally accepted that the first obligation of government is to protect its citizens - clearly this was not the case in London, where parliamentary guards could not even protect themselves, let alone innocent civilians.
The case is often made that Islamic terrorism in Western Europe is dissimilar to the Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. This perspective is certainly rejected by the vast majority of Israelis on the basis that 'terrorism is terrorism' whether you're an Israeli or a European. The clash between Israel and the Palestinians is a political and ideological one no less than the West's clash with radical Islam. In Israel's case, even moderate Palestinians reject the Jews' right to self-determination in their ancient homeland.
What, if anything, can Britain, France, and other European countries learn from how Israel is coping with the latest wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in September 2015. Although 47 Israelis and foreign nationals have been murdered and 686 wounded, the Shabak Security Service and Israeli Police have slowly but surely reduced the intensity of attacks. Having said that, and with Passover coming up, holidays are a favorite time for terrorists.
There is no doubt that Hamas and the other terror groups are working night and day to carry out more attacks.
Appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, Shabak chief Nadav Argaman warned of possible terror attacks during Passover. Moreover, he took issue with the public's impression that terrorism is under control, describing this as both 'misleading and intoxicating'. There is no doubt that Hamas and the other terror groups are working night and day to carry out more attacks. In 2016 alone, 400 terrorists were picked up before they could execute their attacks. This was achieved by a combination of high-tech intelligence and operational tactics.
Last year 250 Palestinian were killed, mostly during their attacks, or civilians in Gaza who died in Israeli retaliatory air-strikes for the rocketing of Israeli civilians from Gaza. However, inside the old 1967 lines, life for most Israelis has returned more or less to normal. During the Passover holiday, the border crossings between Israel and most of the West Bank will be closed.
Three days after Argaman's warning, a top Hamas leader was shot dead in Gaza City on the doorsteps of his home. He was identified as Mazen Faqha, who is believed to have controlled Hamas terrorists operating on the West Bank. Firing a revolver with a silencer, several assassins gunned down Faqha at point blank range and then made their getaway. Faqha was released from prison in 2011 in the prisoner exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas immediately accused Israel's Mossad of being behind the attack and threatened to retaliate. Israel remained mum. However, IDF soldiers along the Gaza border have been advised to keep their heads down and not show an easy target for snipers in Gaza.
Question: is there a link between the Hamas official plotting terror attacks during Passover and his sudden death?
Israel's ticking time bomb …
So how will it be possible to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum? For the first time Tamir Pardo, the former chief of the Mossad secret service has made public where he stands:
'The state of Israel faces one existential threat: it's a ticking time bomb - that is, time itself. It is extraordinary that we have decided to dig our head deep-deep in the sand, to go into flights of fantasy with alternative facts and to flee from reality by creating external and varied threats. Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean there are two peoples of two different religions - Jews and Arabs. Their numbers are nearly identical. One day we'll become one bi-national state because then it will be impossible to untie the Gordian knot between the two populations. This will happen if no decision is taken. Israel must decide what it wants and what is in its best interest. Not for today but for the years ahead - to stop burying our head in the sand, to cope with the demographic reality and with the question of what kind of state we want? The writing is on the wall. All that's required is to open our eyes and read it. The key to setting the State on the right road requires a courageous leadership that is ready to deal with a complicated reality and to embark on a new course.'
At present, US President Donald Trump is trying to bang together the heads of Bibi and West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas. American middle-man Jason Greenblatt has come and gone after politely telling Bibi to halt settlement building outside existing settlements on the West Bank, while also informing Abbas to get serious and return to the table. A subsequent Israeli delegation to Washington has not managed to get a green light on settlements. The Right wing will not like it but may have to swallow the bitter pill. Israel is coming to terms with the situation evolving to the north in light of Russia's increased involvement in neighboring Syria. Moreover, IDF Intelligence is worried about the mounting Iranian influence in both Syria and Iraq after Daesh is defeated. Obviously, the weakening of Sunni Daesh will lead to a greater Iranian Shiite presence in the north. IDF Chief of Staff has said:
'Israel will continue to defend its interests along the Syrian border and prevent a build-up of advanced weapons by those who should not be allowed to get them (Hezbollah). I think we have implemented the proper policy of non-intervention in the Syrian civil war while protecting our interests. We would like this to carry over in the coming year. Obviously, Russia's military involvement in Syria impacts IDF operations'.
In light of the bigger picture, massive new settlement building in the West Bank will not be on the cards. Right-ringers are critical of Netanyahu, but the PM can tell them, 'Are you nuts, do you want a row with Trump! He's boiling after failing to repeal and replace Obamacare'. Building in East Jerusalem over the 1967 line may be a different story, but that remains to be seen.