An interesting commentary from our British Cousins:
After hero tourists prevented a massacre on a French train, Allison Pearson says: are we really going to sit on our hands and wait for some Islamist maniac to get lucky and commit another massacre in our country?Photo: Nick Razzell
There is something thrilling about that unhesitating call to action, and the way in which the three young Americans, aided by British IT consultant Chris Norman, did what had to be done without, as the citation would say, any regard for their personal safety. In so doing, they undoubtedly saved the lives of many of the 550 helpless people on that train. Stone, who had his thumb almost severed by a box cutter, even found time to staunch the profusely bleeding throat wound of another passenger, earning himself the nickname “Captain America”.
The stirring simplicity of “Let’s go, go!” recalls the final words of Todd Beamer. A software salesman who was on United Flight 93 on 9/11 when the plane was hijacked, Beamer realised that the terrorists planned to fly the aircraft into a target. With several fellow passengers, he decided to storm the cockpit. After reciting the 23rd Psalm, Beamer can be heard on a recording quite clearly addressing his impromptu band of brothers: “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.”
Not everyone who finds themselves in the valley of the shadow of death can summon such can-do courage. French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who was with his girlfriend and two children on the Paris train, reports that Thalys train staff barricaded themselves inside a work car after fleeing from the gunman. “As screaming passengers pounded on the locked doors, nobody replied,” Anglade said, adding that “it was terrible and unbearable. For us it was inhuman.”
Until quite recently, if you typed “French military victories” into Google, up would come the question: “Do you mean French military defeats?”
Like most good jokes, it contains a grain of truth. As if to draw a veil over the train staff’s cowardice and over the embarrassing fact that French police had been warned that the gunman, Ayoub El-Khazzani, was a possible threat, President Hollande was quick to award the Legion d’Honneur to the four foreign heroes. The whole thing felt hurried through, as though the heroism of their actions should be kept to the fore, allowing more troubling aspects of the story – what the hell was a suspected jihadist doing wandering around? – to be pushed conveniently to one side
“You have shown us,” said Hollande, “that, faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You have given us a lesson in courage, in will, and therefore in hope.”
Fine words – but how evasive and hollow they sounded. The brutal fact remains that an appalling massacre on European soil was only averted last Friday thanks to the intervention of three random American tourists – the trio very nearly didn’t take that train – and one British grandfather who thought he was going to be killed and would rather die “doing something”.
Europe has no answer to the metastasising cancer of Islamist terror, and we can hardly rely on Captain America to show up every time a fanatic decides to turn his weapons on us. Just imagine how many health and safety forms in triplicate a British railway employee would need to fill in before apprehending a bare-chested Moroccan gentleman with an AK47. Indeed, any desperate lunge to disarm the guy might well have been viewed as Islamophobic.
This is deadly serious. Counterterrorism officers in Spain warned on Monday that about 800 Islamist extremists, who have returned from Syria or Iraq after being recruited by Islamic State, are preparing to launch attacks on the Continent. At least 350 Britons have returned from fighting in the region, and our own security services acknowledge that some are plotting attacks in the UK.
Are we really going to sit on our hands and wait for some Islamist maniac to get lucky and commit another massacre like 7/7 in our country? Or are our leaders going to finally grow a pair and start internment of suspected jihadists returning from Syria and Iraq?
Listen to the words of Emanuel Skarlatos, the father of National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos. Reflecting on his son’s bravery, Skarlatos told MSNBC: “It’s better to die like a lion than be slaughtered like sheep. And this terrorist coward deserved what he got, and the PC crowd needs to recognise terrorism for what it is.”
I reckon the British people are with Skarlatos senior and junior on this. There would be huge popular support for internment of individuals who have declared war on our way of life or for their passports to be cancelled, preventing their return to these islands. Their numbers are simply too great for the security services to monitor them properly. The threat to civil liberties is outweighed by the threat to innocent people.