“When seeking revenge, dig two graves — one for yourself.”
— Douglas Horton
Three days ago, Welshman Darren Osborne drove 160 miles from home in order to cause mayhem to Muslims in Finsbury Park (famous for its once radical mosque which has reopened in a milder version after being shut down in 2003). Driving in a rental truck shortly after midnight, Osborne intentionally veered into a crowd of Muslims who were on the sidewalk after evening prayers celebrating the month of Ramadan. This malicious attack wounded ten innocent people, and perhaps contributed to the death of a man who was already unwell on the ground being tended to by others. Officials have not yet released confirmation of whether or not the van attack contributed to his demise.
This appalling attack, obviously a copycat tactic modeled on the recent spate of Muslim terror attacks using trucks or other conveyances, was intentionally designed to victimize Muslims. All those with a modicum of humanity condemn this heinous act as we do all other attacks against innocent parties. Mr. Osborne is now under arrest and will receive judgment at the hands of the British justice system.
Interestingly, three parties have been quick to label this a terrorist attack, although authorities in the past have always been extra cautious to not use that label for days until overwhelming evidence has been gathered (even when terrorist groups such as ISIS have quickly claimed “credit”), instead using “possible terrorist incident” and urging the public not to jump to conclusions. In this instance, however, within a few hours politicians, the news media, and Muslim spokesmen used the “terrorism” label liberally, leaving no room for doubt. Even Prime Minister Theresa May climbed on the bandwagon, describing this attack as an instance of Islamophobic terrorism and pledging that she would do all in her power to squelch this now-burgeoning evil, as well as those pesky few “Islamist terror” incidents which seem to pop up now and then.
I happen to think they are wrong. The evil perpetrated by Darren Osborne is undoubtedly a hate crime, but not an act of terrorism. Why? His intention was not to “strike terror into the hearts” of his enemy (as Allah describes his own intentions against unbelievers in the Qur’an 8:12), but rather to exact revenge against a group he felt responsible for attacks against his fellow citizens on British soil. Though in his twisted thinking all Muslims are responsible for the acts of jihadis, and thus to target any is to get “just vengeance,” Osborne’s moral blindness must not obscure his motive: rage against those he perceived had perpetrated evil against “his nation.” As Shakespeare once penned:
If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? — Shylock in The Merchant of Venice
Investigations so far have revealed that prior to the Westminster and London Bridge jihadi truck attacks, Osborne harbored no obvious ill will toward Muslims. His Muslim neighbors indicated he had typically been friendly, even helpful, to them, but that in recent weeks his attitude had dramatically changed, coinciding with the London Bridge attack. Add to that an unbalanced mental state (he had recently sought to be committed for mental health care, and when refused by health authorities he attempted to drown himself in the River Cardiff), and the testimony of his mother and sister that he had not one political bone in his body nor any pre-existing, anti-Muslim animus, and you are left with a troubled soul stewing in vengeful anger after watching recent Muslim terror attacks in his homeland, and finally giving vent to his rage.
As far as anyone can tell, Osborne is not the devotee of some belief system which commands the destruction of certain people groups or “unbelievers.” Nor is he connected to a network seeking to sow fear in a coordinated way among Muslims. His drinking buddies described him as “a loveable [sic] mentalist” (in American terms, an endearing nutcase). His private act of revenge was a “one and done” event, even according to his purported statements in the aftermath of his atrocity: “I want to kill Muslims…you deserve it…I did my bit.” and “This is for London Bridge.” There is nothing to indicate this is part of some larger plan in his or others’ minds to rain terror down on all Muslims in Britain or around the world. Rather, it has all the earmarks of a single act of vengeful rage, sadly directed at those who had nothing to do with the cause of his anger.
If this crime does not rightly fall under the designation of terrorism, nor is it accurately described as “Islamophobia.” That term, coined by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to play the victim card successfully in Western societies, paints Islam and its adherents as objects of irrational fear, and claims that for some unknown reason, Islam is the target of bigotry, racism and xenophobia. The fact that there is no comparable Western phobia to other seemingly exotic religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, or Zoroastrianism is left unexplained. The fact is, there is very little irrational fear in the West toward Islam, but much fear that is justified by the historical record of Islam as well as its recent role in worldwide terror. Darren Osborne showed no evidence of fear concerning Islam, only anger generated by Muslim terror attacks on his homeland that he apparently took personally.
The attempt by some to play the moral equivalence game of Islamic terror on the one hand and Islamophobic evil on the other is risibly misleading. Since the 9/11 attacks, which most people use as a starting point in the study of modern terrorism, there have been over 31,000 lethal attacks by Muslims in the name of Islam/Allah. In that same time period, perhaps a hundred or so in the name of all other religions combined. In 2016, for example, jihadi Muslims accounted for 2478 attacks in 59 countries, in which 21237 people were killed and 26680 injured. As I write today, the Muslim world is in the last week of the special month of Ramadan, where Muslims are meant to show their devotion to Allah by surrendering all the desires in submission to Allah and his will. For more radical Muslims, this means not just fasting and doing good deeds, but engaging in jihad, which is the best of all deeds in Allah’s eyes. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Ramadan is often the month in which an abundance of attacks are carried out by aspiring martyrs, who believe that their divine rewards will be exponentially multiplied if accomplished during this unique month in the Muslim calendar. So far, as of day 26 of Ramadan, 2017, there have been 149 Muslim terror attacks around the world, with a death toll of 1378 (this of course does not include the myriads wounded). In this same time period, there have been no recorded terror attacks in the name of any other religion. If you count deadly attacks on Muslims (leaving out those perpetrated by other Muslims), Darren Osborne stands out as the lone non-Muslim, non-religious actor, who injured 10 Muslims and possibly killed one.
All murder is evil, no matter who the victims are, for all the victims are fellow human beings, wrongfully deprived of the gift and blessing of life. But if we are going to make some headway in the “war against terrorism,” we need some perspective on the major engine generating this carnage. It is not Islamophobia, or xenophobia, or bigotry, or racism (please remember that Islam is a religion, not a race — Muslims come in all colors and backgrounds, as do Christians) that is fomenting terror around the world. The blunt truth is that core Islamic teaching intrinsically creates jihadis who engage in violence against non-Muslims because such a mindset is engrained in the DNA of Islam. Muslim terrorism sinks its deep roots into the rich soil of Muhammad’s authoritative teachings and actions.
If those who promise to fight terrorism on our behalf would face the real problem and work to undermine the jihadi and Shari’a guardians of Islam rather than giving them free rein in the West and on the world stage, then we would begin to see a diminution in the bloodshed and intimidation affecting so many innocents. As Islamic terrorism recedes from our shores, so will a fear of Muslims and the natural, if wrongly directed, desire for revenge. If the British government had early on targeted the rising evidence of Islamic extremism in its midst rather than turning a blind eye and becoming apologists for a quixotic “multiculturalism,” perhaps they could have prevented the recent devastating attacks carried out by devoted Muslims. And if they had cleansed Britain of the jihadi mindset as well as those steeped in it, then there would be no Islamically-inspired atrocities against which to seek revenge, and Darren Osborne, though still a troubled man, would not be behind bars today, and ten innocent Muslims would be hale and hearty, going about their ordinary lives in peace.