A worrying new face of the terror threat to the UK

 

Share
Related Topics

Islamists had for a while been uploading video footage on the internet of prisoners being beheaded by their captors. It was most prevalent in Iraq and has spread to other parts of the world where ferocious jihad was being waged.

The murder outside Woolwich barracks was the first time that beheading had been used as a tool of terror in the West and it has, understandably, spread shock and revulsion. The appearance of footage of one of the suspects, with bloody meat cleavers in his hands, speaking calmly about what he has apparently done in an English accent, will add to the sense of foreboding.

This was also the first time that a soldier had been targeted back home by Islamists; although off-duty soldiers had been targeted by Irish republicans in the past. The Ministry of Defence now has a major problem on how to react to this in the raising of security measures which was already under way tonight. The questions being asked were ‘is there a danger of copycat attacks?’ And, at the same time, ‘What would be effect on the morale of service personnel and their families if they were forced to live under siege conditions?’

Kidnapping and killing, beheading in particular, of military personnel had, in fact, been a recurring theme among would-be Islamist terrorists in this country. Six years ago a group of British Pakistanis based in Birmingham were convicted of plotting such an attack and their leader, Parviz Khan, received a life sentence with the recommendation that he serves a minimum of 14 years.

But there appears to have been no indication for the security agencies that such an attempt was in the horizon, according to sources, leading to possibility that this was the work of a very small group, possibly just the two suspects who were shot by the police at the scene.

There was initial speculation that the attack may have been the result of ‘road rage’ following a car crash. However, counter-terrorist officers also appear to have information that the killers had staged an accident after waiting for an opportunity to present itself and were intent on finding a victim.

The behavior of the two men after the death, the video recording of their jihadist statements, the refusal to run away and then charge at the police – which could be taken as a desire to become ‘shaheeds’, or martyrs - all point away from this being a random, spur of the moment, incident.

The fact that the two men are alive after apparently being shot will be of huge help to piecing together what led up to the attack. According to security officials the behavior of the suspects in the aftermath of the killing suggested they were proud of what they had done, and, experience shows, that they may be only too happy to talk about their actions.

One official said : “We are not talking about your veteran PIRA (Provisional IRA) guy who during interrogation will not even make eye contact but stare at a fixed point on the wall either saying nothing or saying ‘no comment’. Some of the Islamists, especially those who want to be martyrs, want to describe what they had done, their motivations, and who motivated them. That’s why you get so many martyrdom videos which are of great help to investigators.”m

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The woman featured in the Better Together campaign's latest video  

Tea and no sympathy: The 'Better Together' campaign's mistake is to assume it knows how women think

Jane Merrick
On alert: Security cordons around Cardiff Castle ahead of this week’s Nato summit  

Ukraine crisis: Nato is at a crossroads. Where does it go from here?

Richard Shirreff
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution