In the last month alone Britain has endured numerous terrorist attacks by Islamic Extremists. On May 22nd, British Muslim Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a homemade bomb at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, claiming the lives of 23 individuals, and injuring hundreds more, most of which were young teenage girls. Ten days later, three men arrived at London Bridge. After purposefully running down a few pedestrians, the men exited the van and began rampaging through the area, knifing anyone in sight. Eight lives were taken and forty-eight were injured before the police were able to stop the trio from continuing their violent onslaught.
Since all four perpetrators were killed during their respective attacks, it is uncertain whether they were aligned with the terrorist group ISIS. However, it has not stopped the infamous terrorist organisation from claiming responsibility for these attacks, as one of their aims is to instil a sense of fear into individuals, communities and nations that oppose their extremist ways. Ultimately ISIS want to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East, however, given their size and military capacity they do not have the ability to force larger, more powerful states to surrender to their demands. Therefore, by associating themselves with these violent attacks it makes them appear more powerful than they really are, causing global actors to actually view them as a potential threat.
Following the London Bridge attack, British Prime Minister, Theresa May called for the introduction of internet regulation to “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online.” ISIS thrive off division and angst within western countries, especially between Muslims and non-Muslims. The reason ISIS relies on internal conflict within western states is because of their radical beliefs. Their unpopular views and violent tactics do not initially resonate with a large majority of people, thus forcing them to use other methods to gain support. While the internet has many benefits it can be dangerous in that ISIS can use it to reach young and impressionable individuals.
May is correct that internet companies and social media websites need to increase efforts to silence ISIS. In light of these recent terrorist attacks, necessary action has been taken by these institutions to prevent ISIS from infiltrating young people’s homes through the internet. However, given the nature of the World Wide Web, it is unrealistic to expect these companies and websites to completely silence the terrorist organisation. For every website they shut down, another one is activated. Therefore, while Facebook and Microsoft are increasing their efforts to block ISIS, May and other world leaders should focus on creating societies where people have no reason to abandon and join the Islamic extremist group.
For instance, ISIS can use events such as the Finsbury Park Mosque attack, which occurred earlier this week, to convince young Muslims that the West hates them. Darren Osborne, the man responsible for killing ten Muslims at Finsbury Park was on the record saying “I want to kill more Muslims.” This quote alone gives ISIS enough ammunition to persuade young worshipers to join their side. When young Muslims are being killed by fellow citizens, or blocked from entering countries by politicians, purely based on their faith they may start thinking that there is some logic behind ISIS’ argument.
The recent events in England are indisputably tragic and action definitely needs to be taken to prevent them from occurring in the future. However, methods involving rejecting or, in the Finsbury Park case, murdering Muslims is by far the worst way to handle the problem. The most effective way to overcome ISIS is to remain united and not to engage in their violent and twisted games. Creating societies that ensure everyone feels safe, secure and included reduces ISIS’ ability to gain more troops as the source of ISIS’ power comes from the division within our own communities. For every person we reject, ISIS tries to reach out too, enabling them to grow and become more dangerous.