The war on terrorism has taken many twists and turns over the years. Yet the May 22 terrorist attack in England may have forever changed the rules of the game.
Drummer Lee Rigby, a British Army soldier, was murdered and beheaded in broad daylight in Woolwich, a district in southeast London. The two suspects, Michael Olumide Adebolajo and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowalewere, are both of Nigerian descent and are Christian converts to Islam. After this brutal murder, the accused assailants stayed at the scene of the crime — swinging their knives and meat cleaver and speaking to people.
What was their motive for this brutal attack? According to a video of Mr. Adebolajo's rant taken by a bystander, "The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers, and this British soldier is one, is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone."
Some British Muslim leaders spoke out against this savage act. Regardless, many observers are now fearful this type of unprovoked attack will become more commonplace in society. Unfortunately, there could be some merit in this observation.
The Woolwich terrorist attack didn't take place in a rogue state or a totalitarian nation. It happened in the United Kingdom, one of the great democracies in the world. If a beheading can occur in a civilized society, it can occur anywhere.
It has also become clear that some of radical Islam's supporters aren't concerned about what they need to do to achieve their objectives. Whether they fly a plane into a building or kill a soldier out in the open, they will use jihadi-like tactics to achieve their goals.
Moreover, the tactics in the war on terrorism have become increasingly difficult to peg down. There are virtually no advanced warnings, few historical trends to follow, and the justification for a terrorist attack has become exceedingly muddled. Therefore, it shouldn't have surprised us that two radical Muslims killed a person on a major street in southeast London. In retrospect, we should count our lucky stars that nothing like this had ever happened before.
So, what can we do about this new twist and turn in the war on terrorism?
The increase of Third World emigration to Europe has created some unsafe communities — and an unsafe environment overall. This includes riots in France caused by Islamic radicals, assassination attempts in the Netherlands, and now a terrorist attack in Britain to go along with the London Underground bombings on July 7, 2005. Some people would like nothing more than to see cuts in annual immigration levels.
That's not going to help matters, however. The vast majority of conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals wouldn't support a moratorium on immigration due to the important role it plays in a country's economy. Targeting Islamic immigration when there are many Muslims who want to live in a free and democratic society isn't the answer, either.
Rather, it's up to our governments to enforce strong policies to help prevent further terrorist attacks and keep our communities safe and secure. Here are a few ways to do it:
First, get tough on crime. As a general rule of thumb, the removal of violent gangs, illegal weapons and illicit drugs would keep our streets from turning into war zones. While terrorist groups obviously play by their own rules, cracking down on crime would at least show that a society isn't going to live in a state of perpetual fear.
Second, hand out stricter jail sentences. All democratic nations, including the United States, have to ensure that the punishment fits a particular crime. Lighter sentences tend to embolden hardened criminals and encourage them to commit more crimes, not less. While a terrorist probably isn't scared of being behind bars, a stronger judicial system would emphasize that an act of terrorism isn't going to be treated with kid gloves.
Third, don't tiptoe through the minefield of Third World immigrants to maintain law and order. The roots of terrorism exist in many of these growing communities, and a soft and cuddly relationship isn't the right approach. Yes, it's important to work with Third World immigrants who respect democracy, liberty and freedom, but it's also important to either arrest or deport those individuals whose only desire is to destroy our way of life.
That's a start in the right direction. More importantly, it's a possible game-changer.
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a contributor to The Washington Times.