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Like the IRA, jihadists have had their fair share of “own goals” in which they blow themselves up while preparing to murder others. But the Parsons Green attack is really more ominous than earlier attacks that have killed many people and injured more.
In the first place, the weapon apparently failed to detonate completely. If it had done so, there would almost certainly have been some fatalities and more numerous casualties. Second, the attack occurred at an Underground station that is in fact above ground, indeed on an elevated platform. Passengers were not trapped but made their escape and were hindered mainly by their own panic. I know the Parsons Green station and line well, having lived in Fulham for many years. A bomb exploding further on down the same line in a tunnel would have wreaked more casualties, spread greater fear among the passengers, prevented their easy exit from the train, and placed more obstacles in the way of first responders. It would, in a word, have been much more of a nightmare.
Above all, however, the threat is more ominous because it looks as if the bomb was an IED — an improvised explosive device that can be assembled easily by unskilled zealots on someone’s kitchen table from materials available in the supermarket. Though simple and able to inflict only limited damage, such devices have killed and maimed many American and British soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. Their use today on the London subway shows that lone-wolf terrorists have now graduated to using a weapon that is capable of killing far more people with less risk to the terrorist than either knives (used in the London Bridge attack) or cars (used in the Westminster one.) They will be used again, therefore, and if jihadists are returning to Britain with greater technical skills in assembling them, they will inflict more pain and death than today’s first attempt.
This prospect means that Londoners will begin to demand stronger and more effective measures against terrorism. But the authorities seem to have nothing up their sleeve to satisfy them. While even if this incident proves to have been ommitted by people unconnected with jihadism, the jihadists will nonetheless draw new and more threatening lessons from it of what is possible. Our crisis deepens.
Original article here.