Yesterday, when the suicide bomber’s identity hadn’t yet been confirmed, I got it in one. Yet I can’t feel smug about my prescience: everybody knew it.
Salman Abedi was indeed a Muslim, British, a fanatic ManU supporter. Unfortunately, the football club wasn’t the only thing he was a fanatic supporter of.
The question is how this evil man found himself in a position to perpetrate his evil deed. This started with his father, a Libyan refugee who, having found Col. Gaddafi insufficiently Muslim, emigrated to Manchester where he sired two sons.
Then in 2011 he went back to fight Gaddafi on the side of those he considered adequately devout. Later these men got to be known as the Islamic State. Meanwhile his offspring were growing up in the part of Manchester known to the police as the IS recruiting grounds.
Salman Abedi demonstrably and his brother probably were indeed recruited, a mission whose success is testified to by the bomb that sprayed nails, nuts and bolts at a crowd of youngsters.
What has already acquired a slang name ‘dockyard confetti’ was sprayed over a crowd attending a concert by some pop singer called Ariana Grande, which The Mail finds significant: “The grim answer may lie in the fact that with her revealing stage outfits, her stockings, pink bunny ears and unabashed sexual confidence, 23-year-old Miss Grande is a symbol of everything Islamists hate.”
By the sound of her, Miss Grande is a symbol of everything I hate too. Yet I don’t strap explosives to my body to affirm my aesthetic preferences.
The paper makes the carnage sound almost like a form of musical criticism, whereas in fact it’s obvious that Abedi simply chose the biggest crowd he could find on that day. If a string quartet could attract a similar turnout, he would have struck at the Bridgewater Hall.
The papers are also filled with expressions of outrage, sorrow and condolences, all perfectly appropriate. Much less so are laments that a free society can do nothing to prevent such crimes.
These are accompanied by calculations supposed to prove the point. There are 3,500 known jihadists in Britain. At least 400 of them are battle-hardened veterans of Middle Eastern wars. These are known jihadists, not all of them.
By how much should we multiply this number to arrive at the real one? Every survey shows that at least 20 per cent of British Muslims sympathise with Islamic terrorism. That’s a million possible jihadists.
Do you know how many of them are under constant surveillance? Just seven. And you know why? Because it takes at least 20 officers to keep an eye on just one suspect round the clock. Multiply 20 by 3,500 or even 400 (never mind a million), and the sheer impossibility of this task becomes evident.
And surely we can’t act against those people preventively? That would be a violation of their civil liberties. Can’t have that.
Yes we can, and I can explain why in just four words: WE. ARE. AT. WAR.
No country in history has ever applied the same civil-liberties standards at wartime as at peacetime. Britain certainly hasn’t, as all those thousands of German refugees interred on the Isle of Man for the duration of the Second World War could testify.
Some of them were Jews already tortured in Nazi camps, yet Churchill’s order was unequivocal: “Collar the lot.” The country was at war.
As we are now – with one salient difference. When bombs were delivered by Luftwaffe pilots, everyone knew there was a war on. When bombs are delivered by ManU fans, this is presented as some sort of unavoidable force majeure, like a hurricane.
Islam has been at war with the West for 1,400 years. Even as the Hundred Years’ War didn’t feature a hundred years of continuous fighting, Islam’s war on us has had periods of flaring up and quieting down. But it has never stopped.
Islam is at one of its impassioned peaks now, which is partly something for which we have Messrs Bush and Blair to thank. But this mea culpa doesn’t change the fact that Islam is waging war on the West generally and Britain specifically.
Britain is ruled by laws, but none of them supersedes the law of self-preservation. Islam is at war with us, which means we’re at war with Islam. Not with terrorists, extremists or – as Peter Hitchens believes – alienated loners on marijuana. We’re at war with Islam, just like 77 years ago we were at war not with German pilots but with Germany.
Once we’ve acknowledged this fact, made even more factual by Abedi, legal objections to curtailing the jihadists’ civil liberties somehow begin to vanish, while specific measures begin to suggest themselves.
The 3,000 known jihadists (of whom Abedi was one) mustn’t be allowed to roam our streets. How they’re removed is a technical matter best left to experts. It could be internment, deportation, imprisonment, electronic tagging as a minimum. Personally, I wouldn’t even object to tactics perfected by the SAS. Whatever works.
The jihadist recruiters shouldn’t be allowed to poison young minds in Britain. Since they mostly operate through mosques, action must be taken against those.
Any of the 1,750 (!) mosques in which a single jihadist word has ever been uttered must be summarily shut down and ideally razed. Any imam or mullah who has ever uttered such a word must be treated as a traitor (if British) or as an enemy alien (if not).
The practice of Sharia law in Britain must be banned, along with such visible manifestations of Islam as the hijab. All Muslim immigration must be summarily stopped. Anyone who has taken part in Middle Eastern fighting must be barred from entry into Britain, regardless of the passport he carries.
If a terrorist act is committed, all members of the terrorist’s family must be regarded as culpable and dealt with appropriately. If a terrorist can be traced back to a foreign country, it must be punished: economically, diplomatically and, if needed, militarily.
In short, all Muslims must be treated as potential enemies.
Such blanket measures would have collateral damage but, as the French say, à la guerre comme à la guerre. The Germans suffered indiscriminately because their ruling ideology was at war with Britain. Muslims must suffer indiscriminately too, because their ruling ideology is at war with Britain.
So which of these or similar measures will be taken to ensure the safety of HM’s subjects? In broad strokes, none. Instead our leaders will compete with one another in delivering stern speeches with references to the spirit of the Blitz.
But during the Blitz the British didn’t just display indomitable spirit. They also bombed Berlin.