The antecedents of Usman Khan who stabbed two people to death and injured three others at the iconic London Bridge casts a harsh and unforgiving spotlight on the global Islamist radicalisation project of which Pakistan is an epicentre. His plans to bomb local pubs and set up a terror camp in Pakistan occupied Kashmir to stage attacks, with like-minded individuals, on prominent locations back in the UK – including Mumbai-style attacks on UK Parliament – should worry the West. The British Labour Party which barked up the wrong tree by calling for self-determination in Kashmir – currently racked by an Islamist insurgency – and then wisened up with elections in sight may want to pay heed.
Western left-liberal portrayals of Indian actions in Kashmir as primarily responsible for the insurgency and terror attacks in India, fail to square up with the immigrant backgrounds that Usman Khan and fellow convict Nazam Hussain hail from. The incident is a wake-up call on the need to counter online radicalisation with its global reach and local networks that feeds off a cocktail of perceived injustices and highly selective interpretations of Islam. The democratic world needs to stand together to end armed conflicts, reassert the rule of law and peaceably integrate minority populations. Such strategies also demand vociferously isolating China on its Xinjiang model of deracinating Uighurs.
The London Bridge attack will bring India’s difficulties in Kashmir closer home to the West. Pakistan has allowed its territory to become a staging point for terrorist activities and Western nations are living in a fool’s paradise if they believe that India remains the sole focus of Pakistan’s considerable terror infrastructure. A common thread among radical Islamist groups is their deep antipathy towards secular societies espousing liberal values. Complacency on this score – as in the decision to release Usman early without serving out his jail sentence – will backfire.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.