Britain rethinks security after London attack
The British government promised to strengthen its anti-terrorism policies this week after jihadists killed eight people and wounded dozens more in central London—the country’s third terrorist attack in under three months. ISIS claimed responsibility for the atrocity. The three extremists began their killing spree by smashing a van into Saturday-evening crowds on London Bridge. Wearing fake suicide bomb vests, the men then ran into nearby restaurants and bars, stabbing patrons with hunting knives while shouting, “This is for Allah!” All three were shot dead by police marksmen. (See Best Columns: Europe.) Two of the attackers had previously been identified as potential jihadists by authorities. Intelligence services had investigated Khuram Butt, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born Briton, who had appeared in a TV documentary titled The Jihadis Next Door, in which he prayed before an ISIS flag. Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba, 22, was placed on a watchlist by Italian authorities after trying to fly to Syria. Declaring “enough is enough,” Prime Minister Theresa May said she’d change human rights laws to make it easier to “restrict the freedom and movement” of suspected extremists.
President Trump tweeted that the attacks validated his travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries—a measure now headed for the Supreme Court—and chided his Justice Department for crafting a “watered down, politically correct version” of his original executive order. The president also accused London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, of downplaying the threat by counseling constituents not to be alarmed by an enlarged police presence on their streets. Khan’s spokesman said the mayor had more important things to do than respond to “Trump’s ill-informed tweet.”
What the editorials said
Trump’s pointless feuding is undermining his presidency, said The Wall Street Journal. “World leaders who stoop to attack municipal politicians in foreign cities look small.” More consequential were Trump’s ill-advised tweets on his immigration order. Two appellate courts have already cited Trump’s “legally irrelevant campaign statements” to rule that the ban deliberately discriminates against Muslims. Now “Trump has given liberal judges Twitter evidence to conclude that his motives may be suspect.”
If Trump really wants to help defeat terrorism, he should get off Twitter and get to work, said the New York Daily News. The president has yet to nominate people to fill the dozens of empty positions at the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments that are supposed to keep Americans safe from jihadists. But rather than engage in the slog of governing, the supposed leader of the free world would rather “broadcast petty grievances that widen fissures” with our allies.
What the columnists said
Our president seems to have gone “off the rails,” said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. His suggestion that Londoners would be better off panicking made him sound “like a ridiculous Chicken Little,” and his travel ban tweets will surely be used against him at the Supreme Court. Together, these outbursts reveal “a man dangerously overwhelmed” by his job. We always knew he was petty and vindictive, but “now we must wonder about his emotional stability, his grasp of reality, or both.”
Look at Britain and you’ll see why we need Trump’s travel ban, said Heather McDonald in City-Journal.org. The uncontrolled flow of immigrants to the U.K. from “terror-breeding countries” has overwhelmed the process of assimilation. Muslim immigrants and their U.K.-born children can spend their lives inside the same ethnic communities, where they hear extremist messages again and again. If we don’t toughen our immigration policies, we’ll become “the next Europe, unable to detect or deter the Islamic terrorists in our midst.”
Attacks like London represent “the new face of the global terrorist threat,” said Zack Beauchamp in Vox.com, and they will be “very hard to stop.” Unlike a major 9/11-type plot—which can take years of planning—this sort of small-scale, low-tech terrorism is “easy for deranged individuals to carry out on their own” with no direction from experienced militants. “All it takes is a car, a knife and a willingness to kill, and potentially die, for your beliefs.”