Imagine the horror felt by the people stuck in the gondolas of the London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, the supersized Ferris wheel along the Thames River near Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament as well as overlooking the entirety of the terror attack (see map below). Basically held captive while a 4X4 Enterprise rental vehicle plowed through pedestrians below on the Westminster Bridge as well as the shooting attacks which followed after the attack vehicle had slammed into the iron fence protecting the House of Commons, their ordeal had just started. After the area had been secured, authorities slowly disembarked those civilians from the gondolas one by one taking statements and debriefing each person before moving on to the next gondola. We were unable to ascertain how much time this procedure required before the final groups of people were free to leave. These poor people had paid to take a leisurely ride on the famed London Eye and instead of a fun frolic they were live, front row witnesses to a mass terror attack followed by a torturously slow and measured taking of their statements which for some the ride lasted it must have been hours of tedium. Hopefully some at least made new friends as they certainly had time for conversing while waiting to have their one on one with the police. As of this writing it has been reported that eight people arrested at six addresses, including in Birmingham and London, the death count revised to four, with at least 40 injured, seven critically, and it was released that the murdered police officer was named as PC Keith Palmer.
London Mayor Sadiq Aman Khan is a Muslim which simply shows that the terrorists are not as concerned with whether a nation or city has accepted members of the Islamic faith as equals or even elected them as the mayor of the city; their aim is high visibility attacks which immortalize those who plan and commit these atrocities. They cannot be appeased or accommodated, only hunted down and removed from being capable of inflicting harm on people, any people. It has been noted that the Islamic State in its various forms since its inception has murdered more Muslims than any other religion. One could make an argument that their first and foremost desire is to purify Islam allowing only those who accept their leadership and views on the teachings of their faith. This leads to a problem as there are other groups with similar goals but diametrically different views. It could easily be stated as truth that Hezballah has opposing views to the Islamic State as Islamic State is Sunni while Hezballah is Shiite, two incompatible views if one is being excessively strict as these two terror groups have proven. Hezballah has also murdered more members of the faith of Islam than other religions despite some intense efforts against Israel. One would not be far off than to expect that should Islamic State take control over an area where Hezballah has already purified the city to Shia Islam that when Islamic State left there would be no one left alive as they would purify the city in the name of Sunni Islam. An identical result could be expected should the order of occupation and pacification be reversed. Islamic State has also been at war with numerous other groups which also claim to believe in Sunni Islam which begs the question of where these groups are found deficient in their faith by the Islamic State and why these other Sunni groups fight against the Islamic State. Sometimes trying to wrap our heads around these realities makes our heads hurt badly.
Sometimes the problem appears to be not so much the form of Islam but the historic tribe or groups one’s origins are derived. This is made excessively evident when it comes to the Kurds. They are apparently hated by Sunni and Shiites alike and seem to have no friends with which to ally. Their manner of observing Islam is apparently different than most of the others as they took great risks in rescuing the Yazidi as best as they were able when the Islamic State stood poised to slaughter the entirety of these people. While the rest of the world stood paralyzed unable to formulate any plan for saving these people, the Kurds simply went to where the Yazidi were holed up on Mount Sinjar and rescued as many as they were able and provided them with protection. The Yazidi practice a religion which is based purely on their Oral traditions which include a blending, a syncretic religion, influenced by pre-Islamic Assyrian traditions, Sufi and Shiite Islam, Nestorian Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. This blending of religions has left the Yazidi basically with no allies as almost all look upon them as those things which make them different and not the fact that they have anything in common with their neighbors, which is why they remained together as a tight tribal groups heavily dependent on each other for protection. Against the Islamic State the Yazidi had neither the manpower nor the weapons to defend themselves. Their one link is that they are a Kurdish speaking minority which is probably the familial identity they shared with their rescuers.
This brings us back to the London terror attack which Islamic State, or ISIS, claimed responsibility and took great pride in their destruction. The attacker who they claim was one of their “soldiers” and he was, according to Prime Minister May, “What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic. He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot.” Another victim of this horror was Spanish teacher and department head Aysha Frade, 43, worked at DLD College, London and was married with two daughters. She was believed to have been crossing Westminster Bridge to pick up her children aged eight and 11 from school when she lost her life in the attack. One of the more moving of the stories of the tragic events was that of Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood who was among those who rushed to help PC Keith Palmer. Mr. Ellwood, who lost his brother in the Bali bombing, was seen pumping the officer’s chest then standing above him, his hands and face smeared with blood as was reported live from the scene by numerous reports. His bravery and efforts as well as those of all involved, police, emergency medical teams, ambulance crews and those other civilians who lent a hand in assisting the many wounded and giving comfort to those around them most in need from the shocking scenes all witnessed and the order which was kept and especially to those people who waited patiently, or not so patiently, in the gondolas and then gave full accountings to the authorities after, what for some must have been insufferable, long waits to finally disembark and end their ordeal. The fact that most remained and assisted as best they were able is a testament to British comradery and pulling together and showing their best in a difficult and horrific situation.
We can hope that this will be the final time we need to review the heroism, bravery and other stand-out performances by regular people, law enforcement and emergency crews, people from all walks and from diffuse backgrounds all assisting people they likely never met before but giving them somebody to lean on for support, working to save a life, preventing further harm, stopping an attacker or other general acts of bravery or relief in the immediate and tumultuous aftermath of a terror attack like those we have seen far too many times. Paris, London, New York, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Cairo are all amongst cities struck by these horrors while there is apparently nowhere on Earth perhaps other than Antarctica is safe from such violence. The world sometimes appears to be awakening to the threats yet all too often after attacks such as what we saw in London we all jerk ourselves and scream in our minds that this must be fought with more than words and within a few days, hours for some and moments for others, we fall back into our nominal state of dealing with those daily tasks and requirements of our jobs, families, friends and getting the car repaired, paying bills, food shopping, kids science project, you name the distraction, it takes our minds back to the everyday. That complacency needs to be shaken up and dispelled such that we take the needful steps to end these attacks by whatever means are required. We owe it to those whose lives we have already lost, their families and friends, their coworkers and people they simply may have once given a smile making their day and we owe it to those who have not yet been the tragic target and their friends, families, coworkers, people they attend religious services with or those who will not get that needed smile because we did not take the steps immediately such that they never face the horror of being caught in such a nightmare. These are the prices we have paid and we need to prevent those costs from rising any further than unavoidable and that will take remembering those we lost and taking the needful steps to demand that those who are in our governments and have the responsibility to prevent these events do so. That is what we need demand and stop with the petty day-to-day bickering between parties and unite and do what is right finally and for a change, please.
Beyond the Cusp