Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2013

The terrorists win, thanks to the EDL

If you were a terrorist, where would you strike?

Would you go for a 9/11 style explosive attack, bringing down some iconic structure of racking up a massive body count in the process? Would you try for a 7/7, crippling the transport network of a major population centre? Or perhaps you’d opt for something nastier, like a biological strike at a water treatment plant, or something else designed to maximise casualties. Whatever you did, you’d probably set out to drop some serious bodies. But how many would be enough? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

The Woolwich attackers settled for one. They didn’t use explosive vests, they didn’t use IEDs or dirty bombs of any kind. They used a machete. Their attack is technically classed as an assault, not a massacre. They picked a single victim, and when they had finished with him, they stopped to preach to the cameras. They could easily have gone on a rampage, claiming several more victims before being brought down, but they did not. How come?

We can’t actually know for certain – even if they tell us, I don’t exactly have them earmarked as trustworthy types – but I believe the Woolwich attackers understood the nature of terrorism better than most. I also believe that the subsequent outpouring of rage and violence from hate groups such as the EDL proves that they have accomplished exactly what they set out to do – inspire terror.

It didn’t take long after the attack for the EDL to respond, turning out in balaclavas and paramilitary attire to ‘protest’ the attacks. Projectiles were thrown, and violent clashes with the police were reported. A mosque in Essex was attacked by a knife-wielding man on Wednesday evening, who reportedly shouted “where is your Allah now?” Hardly a return to peaceful life for the community.

This is exactly what the terrorists wanted. They were just two men armed with a machete, yet by nightfall, the streets were awash with over 100 rioting EDL activists. By disrupting the day-to-day of life in the area, by spreading fear and violence, by causing trouble for the police and the community, the EDL were effectively acting as foot soldiers for the terrorists.

For all we know, the two perpetrators of the attack had been lurking on the Daily Mail’s comment section, watching the exchange of British bigotry and figuring out exactly how the far right would respond to a graphic and shocking attack on a British serviceman. Hell, one of them came from Romford – a place where I spent many a childhood summer visiting my grandparents – and probably learned all he needed to know about the reactionary right from a very early age.

Theirs was a calculated precision strike, as much a PR exercise as it was an assault, and it succeeded in sparking a riot. They didn’t need bombs, planes or chemicals – no, their WMD of choice is anger, and the EDL are supplying it to them in bulk.