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UK Gets Tough On Terror

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There was another jihad massacre last week, this time in Barcelona, where a drove a van into a crowd at Barcelona’s popular Costa Dorada area, killing fourteen people and injuring 100. In the wake of this latest jihad atrocity, the government of Britain, realizing that a vehicular jihad attack could happen on its soil as easily as it did in Spain, moved swiftly to neutralize the threat: it banned vans.

Yes, I exaggerate. But not much. The Evening Standard reported Sunday that “British drivers will face extra checks when renting cars and vans to ensure they are not extremists in the wake of string of a deadly terror attacks using vehicles.”

Toby Poston, director of external relations at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), explained: “The industry is looking at ways to share data with the authorities in as real time as possible so it can be cross-referenced with counter-terrorism watch lists.”

That’s a commonsensical idea, but it should have been implemented years ago; it isn’t as if the Barcelona jihadi invented vehicular jihad attacks, which the Islamic State called for back in 2014, and which happened before that as well. Nonetheless, the British government tried to give the impression that this was a cutting-edge move: “The threat from terrorism is changing and so must our response,” said a government spokeswoman.

“The Department for Transport is also working with the police and the vehicle rental industry to explore what more can be done to prevent the malicious use of hire vehicles. This includes looking at what more rental companies could do before an individual can hire a vehicle.”

“The threat from terrorism is changing and so must our response”? That’s funny. The British government, like the TSA in the U.S., is always one step behind the jihadis, never ahead of them. A jihadi put a bomb in his shoes, so we all have to take off our shoes in airport security. The jihadis tried to assemble a bomb from separate liquid parts in different bottles, so we can’t take liquids through security anymore. Air travel gets progressively more annoying and uncomfortable, and these measures are largely useless anyway: the jihadis have moved on to new techniques.

But above all, the problem with Britain responding to the Barcelona vehicular jihad massacre by making it hard to rent a van is the same as the problem with Britain recently outlawing the home delivery of knives bought online: the vans and the knives aren’t doing all this killing of their own volition. Muslims are wielding them in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings on jihad, but the British government doesn’t dare acknowledge that. Nor, of course, is the American government.

Authorities can take away our vans and our knives and our water bottles and our shoes, and the jihadis will keep killing people. They can shut down every counter-jihad site on the Internet and make sure that no one utters the supposed “hate” that makes Muslims feel “alienated” and drives them to become “radicalized,” and they’re certainly working hard at doing this these days, but the jihadis will keep killing people. They can shut down the freedom of speech altogether, and impose Sharia blasphemy laws prohibiting the criticism of Islam under the guise of restrictions on “hate speech,” and they’re working hard on doing that as well, but this, too, will not make jihadis stop killing people.

The jihadis will keep killing people because they hold to an ideology that tells them they will receive rewards in this world and the next for doing so. Unless and until Western law enforcement and intelligence officials acknowledge the existence of this ideology, and study hard to understand it, they will never be able to develop strategies for confronting and defeating it. But right now, those officials seem determined instead to go to any lengths to avoid confronting that ideology or offending its adherents.

So instead, we get ridiculous measures like new restrictions on renting vans. And next week, after the next jihad massacre, the surviving targets of jihad will find themselves dealing with yet more abridgements of their freedom and intrusion into their privacy, so that our elected officials can continue to preserve their comforting illusions. Reality will only dawn on the political elites when it is absolutely impossible to avoid by turning off the TV and retreating to their summer houses. By then it will likely be too late.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies). Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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