During a devastating week in Europe two terrorist attacks in Spain involving lorries careening into unsuspecting public and frenzied knife attacks in Finland
- a country previously overlooked by Islamists - have taken 14 lives and injured over a hundred more.
On Thursday 17th August 2017 a van ploughed into pedestrians in a place called La Rambla, Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring an estimated 100
people. The driver named as Younas Abouyaqoub, a 22 year old Moroccan fled the scene and an international manhunt is in place as it is believed he
has escaped to France (click here).
Only hours later on Friday morning a car was driven into a crowd of people along the seafront road in Cambrils, approximately 60 miles away from
the attack in Barcelona. Counter terrorism forces shot dead five terrorist suspects, four of them were killed by the same police officer.
later died of her injuries, and several other people were injured (click here).
A cell of between 8 - 12 people were being investigated after the attack in Barcelona for whom the ring leader is believed to be Younas Abouyaqoub. Apparently
they were planning a more sophisticated attack with their lorry, which would have involved gas canisters, but for an explosion at the flat where they were
storing them in Alcanar on Wednesday which caused a large fire. If the perpetrators had not lost their primary incendiary resource the scale of the
attack would have been significantly larger.
On Friday an attack also occurred in Turku, Finland when a Moroccan asylum seeker killed two women and attacked a further six individuals with a knife.
Six of the 8 victims of this attack were women who seemed to be the primary target (click here).
The attacker was shot in the leg by security forces in what has been described as Finland first Islamist terrorist attack. Since then the country has heightened
its security threat and reciprocally increased security measures across the country.
British Pakistani Christian Association will be laying a wreath of flowers before both the Spanish and Finnish Embassies in London on Monday, to remember
the lives lost needlessly to religious zealots with an extremely disregard for the value of human life.
Ironically despite the Quran condemning the use of any form of intoxicating substance (click here)every
one of the terrorists involved in the Cambrils attack have been described as being on drugs. It is believed that the drugs used had an amphetamine-like
effect that bosted energy levels and boldness.
For some time Spanish authorities have been concerned about the growing number of asylum seekers travelling from Morocco and Algeria by boat. Reports of
a 6 year old girl who had been raped by numerous men on one journey exhibited the warped nature of some of the migrants and intensified prolonged fears
that such passage would make Spain prone to IS extremists (click here).
Security experts including those from the BPCA have continuously warned that terrorist attacks on western nations would increase as IS loses ground in
Iraq and Syria. It was predicted that IS terrorists from the Middle-East would move to other fronts with major European cities becoming the major targets
as large numbers of indocrinated militants seek revenge for the losses they have incurred in their perceived 'holy war'. Failure in retaining their 'caliphate'
will leave these zealots believing they have failed Islam and to 'some' this will be a strong draw to martyrdom.
When IS militants were winning territory they hailed each success as proof that God was on their side and would lead them to victory. As IS watched
their territory lessen on a daily basis, many fled to western nations and either joined terrorist cells or as some individuals have claimed in a recent
BBC documentary they have learned the error of their ways. Most concerningly, the Daily Mail reported in 2016 that up to 1750 jihadists have returned
to Europe with orders to carry out attacks (click here). Of
these some have already been involved in attacks in Paris and Brussels.
British Security forces have been arresting those for whom crimes can be proven and have allowed other suspects to integrate back into our society under
some form of monitoring, for which the government has not been particularly explicit. We would assume that other European and wider western nations have
followed a similar pattern.
None of those who have been convicted for crimes linked to jihadist participation in Syria, Lybia or Iraq have been sentenced under the law of 'Treason'
despite their crime contravening two prescribed sections of the law i.e. 'levying war against the sovereign in the realm' and 'adhering to the sovereign's
enemies, giving them aid and comfort, in the realm or elsewhere'. This would have given the perpetrators a lifetime sentence and availed a significant
level of protection to many frightened UK citizens. Instead British people live in fear of the jihadist next door for which parallels can be drawn
across Europe and the West(click here) .
There is a growing number of people that concur that rehabilitation should take place for returning jihadists but there is a strong case that should be
in the confines of a cell not out in the community. Surely a school trip to meet a jihadist in prison who has a reformed character and is truly repentant
of the rape and murder of innocents that he willing participted in, would deter more future jihadists then a similar scenario with one living free without
any perceived punitive measure. Perceived Impunity is the biggest trigger for further attacks on the public, just a day in Pakistan would prove this,
however an incarcerated prisoner accepting time served as a fair payment for their crime is a much stronger inhibitor to bad behaviour.
In the case of Imran Khawaja who was convicted of 'preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms', his
sentence was set at 12 years for which he will only have to serve 8 years and experience a further five years on license (click here). Imran
Khawaja is known to have been of low IQ which his defence proposed made him more susceptible to indoctrination. He claims to be a reformed character but
was seen posing with armed vehicles, weapons and with the severed heads of 'IS enemies'. His actions are far worse than many serial killers serving
life sentences in the UK yet he will be released into the community in the not to distant future.
Sentences like these only serve to undermine the judicial process. One of the key elements of restorative justice is confession but in the case of jihadi
killers a confession would naturally lead to extended sentences. It is therefore arguable that with the lack of a true confession the restorative process
would in the main be ineffective. This oversight is important because it means the perpetrator would be more likely to repeat an offence because
they would hold a belief that they had bettered the legal process.
Potentially thousands of jihadists live in our community not just those who travelled to fight for their 'caliphate' but many who have been indoctrinated
on European shores. Hate preachers like Anjem Choudhary are connected to numerous convicted terrorists and our laws provide ineffective protection
against their hate ideology. In fact in the town of Rippoli an Imam named Abdelbaki Es Satty is being investigated for a connection to the terrorists
involved in the attacks on the two Spanish cities (click here)
European nations simply must find a more effective way to work with communities to trace the potential jihadists.In the UK a raft of reports have illustrated
how police forces failed to respond to evidence of jihadist groups that could have led to an arrest - this ignoring of intelligence has to stop (click here).
Moreover when jihadis are uncovered any action taken against them has to be harsh enough to act as a deterrent or failing that strong enough to protect
others from being endangered by them.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"It is heartbreaking to hear of the lives lost to further Islamist terrorists in utterly condemnable acts of violence.
"Thousands of lives are lost every year to Muslims following a hardline theology. The ignorance of these extremists illustrated by their belief that God desires their murderous actions is a deep concern that must be tackled head on.
"The only way to combat doctrinal faux-pas is through people of all faiths being real about the problem and the underlining ideological issues within certain strains of Islam. Moderate Muslims have to unite with non-Muslims to condemn the action of hatemongers and decry their attempts to alienate and cause conflict.
"The people of Spain and Finland are in my prayers which will focus on restoring peace to a wounded nation."