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Editor's Viewpoint

Terrorism still clear and present danger

Editor's Viewpoint


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The aftermath of the attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading

The aftermath of the attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading

PA

The aftermath of the attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading

Since the lockdown began the attention of Government ministers and health and other agencies has been centred on how to deal with the deadly coronavirus, but the fatal stabbing of three people in Reading at the weekend is a grim reminder that terrorism remains a scourge in our society.

The man held by police on suspicion of the stabbings is Khairi Saadallah, a 25-year-old Libyan who's seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, and it has emerged that he came to the attention of MI5 in 2019.

It has been suggested that Saadallah was a loner, without any connection to known terrorist organisations that are constantly under the surveillance of security services.

However, it is disturbing to be told by security experts that the period of lockdown saw a marked increase in terrorist propaganda, and that the activists had even more time to prepare for attacks once the lockdown began to ease.

It would be easy to accuse the security authorities of not doing enough to track would-be terrorists.

The harsh reality, however, is that it is impossible to stop everyone who wants to murder and maim other people, for whatever reason.

Previously the scene of a terror attack some 30 years ago, Reading has since escaped this scourge until Saturday evening's bloody violence destroyed the calm of a quiet summer evening in a park frequented by local people anxious to enjoy some exercise and fresh air after so many weeks of being confined to their homes due to the coronavirus lockdown.

No doubt the police and other security experts will be questioning Saadallah intensely as part of their investigation into the atrocity.

The police have already named one of the victims.

James Furlong was a highly-respected teacher, and our thoughts are with his and all the families of those who were killed and injured.

As we know only too well from our own tragic experience throughout the course of the Troubles, the families of the victims of terrorism continue to suffer the pain of their loss, in many cases for the rest of their lives.

Over recent weeks it has been impressed upon us that we must not drop our guard in the ongoing battle against Covid-19 - and we are now reminded that the same applies to the ever-present threat of terrorism.

Sadly, in that respect, we are still all in this together.

Belfast Telegraph