Was the Woolwich murder a terror attack?

They hacked a soldier to death. What was as bad as the spectacle of TV anchors giving tantalising sound bites about the possible images of the beheading was the surprise over Prime Minister David Cameron cutting short his visit in France and calling for a special meeting. Is this not what a leader would do, especially since he has preempted it as a terror attack?

I watched a bit of the news, and it is inhuman that anyone would want to kill in this manner. Machetes and knives were used, although the two assailants had guns.

What is surprising and unfortunate is that not only did the men kill the soldier who was returning to the barracks in Woolwich, they had an audience. They asked them to film them. They gave statements about their motives.

What did the people do? They shot the video. Some called the police. The cops took 20 minutes to reach. Whatever the problems, could they not have alerted the barracks that were just round the corner and would not the colleagues of the victim arrive to help?

CNN kept showing one of the murdererers. Worse, it said, "They're black." We could see that. Do they ever specify white?

Surprisingly, they stayed around and so did the people. What did that one guy say?

•“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

•"I apologize that woman had to witness this today but in our lands woman see this every day." [Apparently, a reference to an eyewitness.]

•"Remove your government - they don't care about you."

The obvious assumption would be that he is a jihadi, a religious fanatic. He is also talking about other lands where this happens — it is not clear whether he was referring to western interference or killings by militants within the countries by rebels or fundamentalists against their own people.

When he said "remove your government", who was he addressing? This was in London. There are many different ethnic groups. Muslims cannot remove the government, so it would seem he was appealing to all the citizens.

From the little that one could gather, it looked like the murderers did not choose the specific target. Was the soldier in army fatigues? If so, then they wanted to hit out at the institution they believe is causing trouble in their land of origin.

Has anyone given them the right to speak on behalf of their people? No. They are disgruntled. Perhaps their families or friends or neighbours back home have been killed. This is no excuse, but a possible reason. If they beheaded him, I wonder why they used this form of vengeance against what they believe is bad government.

One innocent man was killed. Besides the killers, others are already making a killing of it. It has started with a warning that this is a terrorist attack, and Al Qaeda is mentioned. Someone suggested that lone operators could not be ignored. Most certainly. But they are called murderers. 'Terrorism' changes the dynamics. The government has already issued warnings of more attacks.

Instead of making the public feel secure, it frightens them.

As expected, Muslims organisations have condemned the attack. This is all very good as a humanitarian gesture, but could they not wait? Why this rush to prove that the community is not to be blamed? It is not. No one blamed Koreans when a student went on a rampage at a university in the US. The apology plays into the media shrillness, and reaches the people. The message gets distorted along the way.

One family is grieving today. They do not even know why this happened. Think about them too, and not only about the killers. That is the job of the police and the investigating agencies. One hopes they are not influenced by the media's bloody-mindedness.

Updated May 23, 10.50 am IST:

I cannot understand how what takes place miles away lands up at our doorstep. The ridiculous assertions include:

Arabisation of Muslims: What is that? One has to keep repeating that there is no uniform Muslim ethos. The fact that a country is prefixed before Islam while discussing Arabisation makes it clear that there will be ethnic aspects. Even within the Arab world there are different streams.

 People from poor countries go to the First World and then behave like country bumpkins: Besides the obvious ignorance, it reveals a superiority complex. This makes no sense considering their own people are on dole, are homeless, are fighting regressive laws.

They “bite the hand that feeds”: What about the majority that are taxpayers, who contribute to these societies? By this logic, the high profile financial scams would also qualify as “biting the hand” because they loot the country’s economy.

MJ Rosenberg, Washington Spectator’s special correspondent on Middle East affairs explained it succinctly: “Most Muslims, like most everyone else, are horrified by London horror. But 100% of Islamohaters are ecstatic.”

So where does this come from? Why do they not outrage when there are killing by the Taliban or Al Qaida in Muslim countries where the victims are Muslim? Who are the real haters? What do screaming headlines mean except to wallow in violence as porn? And, yes, the man did use the name of Allah. What does Pastor Terry Jones say? Or those who muffle voices in basements wshile they torture their victims? Is this not terrorism?

© Farzana Versey


  1. FV

    Answer to the titular question is just one word. Yes.

    As I have said before in my comments elsewhere, this is war and blood will flow. The earlier we acknowledge it the better. Why this farce of some unknown mosque vaguely condemning it and being feted for its patriotism?

    Another view: As said by some wise person, one cannot keep snakes in one's backyard and expect them not to bite the host who feeds them.

    The world has no option but to fight this virulent menace.

  2. I agree with the last two paragraphs , But the onus and burden of proof lies with the Muslims community of Britain, and there lies the apology . A friend of mine is scared to wear burqa after this event

  3. FV,

    QUOTE: "..One has to keep repeating that there is no uniform Muslim ethos.... Even within the Arab world there are different streams.."

    This is obfuscation at its best. The machete-wielders did not kill the soldier because he attended a different madarasa. For all this talk of streams of Islam et al, there is convenient silence on which stream accords equal status to non-Muslims and their religions. The answer is none. In an Islamic state (of any stream), non-Muslims are condemned to a hellish life of eternal subjugation, persecution and ultimately forced conversion to Islam if lucky (the unlucky ones face the machete).

    I assume Dubai will not be held up as an example. Let us talk Pakistan, Saudi, Iran, Egypt, Sudan (now split into south and north) if at all.


    The Muslim-Qafir binary is an Islamic creation. It was not non Muslims who arrived at the idea by themselves. The root of this worldview is plain and simple hate. I need not point out that the idea comes with Quranic sanction and so does the hate. I hope there is no disagreement upon that. No Muslim worth his kaffeyeh will speak a word against it. If one does, he will immediately be isolated by his community. If he is lucky, that is!

    Like the great secular-thinker from India who left us for Allah's abode last week.

    Such absolutist positions, which have widespread social (and religious) sanction are not open to negotiations. Not to Qafirs, for sure!

    QUOTE: "...the man did use the name of Allah. What does Pastor Terry Jones say?.."

    Terry Jones, for all his extreme views, did not go and hack Muslims to death and said 'Jesus Christ the most benevolent and merciful..'. Those who tortured children in basements did not say they were doing it to avenge the honour of the believers worldwide. I hold no brief for either. But then odious analogies need a response.

    QUOTE : "What do screaming headlines mean except to wallow in violence as porn?.."

    Can you say the same thing about the Mullahs screaming murder against non believers? Do you think it would be wise to tell them, "Chill, buddy. It is just a page from Quran / a novel nobody reads / a stupid garage-made movie.." or perhaps "Relax, mate. Just a coincidence that the family that went belly-up looking at the drone was Muslim. It could have happened anywhere else. Dump that Jihad now.."?

    Has anyone alive today, done that ever? Would love to hear about it!


    The fury that is bottled up inside a Muslim against a non - Muslim is far far more likely to be because of faith issues than unemployment, movie plots, racism or drone missions.

    Yes, I have not interacted with each and every Muslim in the world. But then I never met Savarkar, Hedgewar, Narendra Modi, Bal Thakre or Sadhvi Ritambara. Should I go ahead and assume that they have all been unfairly maligned by motivated, Wahabi-funded media (and bloggers)?

  4. According to The Telegraph, "Both suspects were known to MI5 and the police, Whitehall sources have confirmed."

    The Nigerian converted to Islam in 2003. I suppose some Muslims used a cleaver to drag him to the faith.

  5. The manner in which the Hindutva proponents rant reveals how shaky they are.

    They are obsessed with Wahhabis when most Indian Muslims do not follow any such ideology. It is probably to justify their own feeble attempts to justify the dream of a nation based on mythology/religion.

    As regards those who do not fall in line with them being "paid", perhaps they are aware of the humongous amount that the Hindutva horror factory pumps in from overseas. I'd like to believe that commenters are, of course, blissfully pure.

    And next time anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, implies any such thing about this blog, none of their comments will be published.

    It has taken bloody fucking many years to earn a place, and then to be effectively 'banned' slyly by the same mainstream media where PR works rather than what you say. I've got my archives to speak for me. What do you have?

    Keep your bullshit where it belongs - in your saffron tabela.

    There are Muslims who speak up and speak out against ills within their communities and faith and will continue to do so on their terms and not those dictated to by others.

    You want a Hindu Rashtra, then go about it Constitutionally. These sneaky rat-like methods won't work.

  6. FV

    Sorry about the careless general utterance about bloggers. Didn't mean to offend.

    No further comments on this post. I rest my case, in a manner of speaking. Serves as atonement?

  7. Here's some people's letters with a variety of takes on this incident that are better articulated than I could ever do. They all seem to be native English speakers.
    I guess most people in India can only look at incidents like this through the narrow lens of Hindu/Muslim relations in India/Pakistan and just extrapolate that thinking to other stuff happening in the world. Its very hard to explain to these guys that there's more to this than meets the eye.


    This is tragic but there are people who live this nightmare every day in parts of the world. All at the hands of US/Britain..

    Only we do it at the push of a button and drones.... Not as gruesome but way more effective then a couple men w/ clever.'

    We are lucky this doesn't happen more often Today 1:15pm


    Claiming allegiance? Is that guilt by association? Did any Muslim countries phone in their approval of the attack? Today 12:49pm


    What homeland was the attacker in the video talking about? He’s got a pretty thick London accent

    The western world mourns for this light-skinned angel, but somewhere is a brave soul writing a dissertation on hypocrisy. Today 2:38pm


    People won't like what I'm about to say, but so be it....

    People have been killed by machetes in Central America, South America and even the US. The killers have been MS-13, various drug cartels and various other gangs. The victims have been other gang-members, innocent people and law enforcement.

    Why has nobody ever gave a fuck about them?

    But all of a sudden, some poor fella' in the UK gets killed by 2 (or 3, I forgot the number) Black Muslims with machetes and all of a sudden we're supposed to be fucking outraged?

    To me, this murder is no different than other murder I've heard about, so I don't know why I'm supposed to be extra angry over it.

    If these killers are terrorists and monsters and animals and the worst of humanity — what the hell does that make the gang members who've done the same act for money and/or street-cred?

    Nobody batted an eyelash for those victims, so I'm not going to care about this guy either. Today 1:17pm

  8. Sai:

    Thanks for sharing this. But, I wonder why we need Westerners to sanctify our stand on any issue, especially during such events. It is something we need to address, although these quotes do have universal resonance.


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