Terror – is there any way to escape it?

Written by Callum Murison

Sadly, in recent times, terror attacks and incidents seem to have become more and more frequent. The British government, police force and indeed citizens can barely recover from the aftermath of one terrorist incident before another occurs – this is the crazy world in which we now live in.

With it being an impossibility for everybody to always be on guard – which would essentially destroy our daily routine (e.g. jobs and school) – one question still arises: how can we protect ourselves from these shocking attempts to take peoples’ lives?

Barely two months ago, the UK experienced a terrorist incident in the heart of London – at Westminster Palace. Khalid Masood drove a large SUV across Westminster Bridge, weaving as he drove, in order to knock down, cripple and kill as many pedestrians as he could. Four people lost their lives on the bridge. He then crashed into a metal wall surrounding the Houses of Parliament and proceeded to enter the grounds, where he was confronted by a noble policeman, PC Keith Palmer, who later died in his attempts to prevent others losing their lives.

The unnerving thing about this attack was the speed at which it took place: the whole incident – from Masood entering the bridge to being shot by armed police – lasted only 82 seconds. And so, once again, the question arises: how can police and secret service forces possibly deal with an incident that unravels this quickly?

That’s the thing.

They can’t.

More recently, at the Manchester Arena on May 22, a 22-year-old suicide bomber identified as Salman Abedi, killed 22 people and injured 59. One of his victims was an eight-year-old girl and, given that it was an Ariana Grande concert – a singer who has a large teenage support – a significant percentage of the audience were children and adolescents.

The Manchester Arena has a capacity of 21,000 – this means that it holds more people than both Hearts’ Tynecastle Park and Hibs’ Easter Road stadiums here in Edinburgh, and it attracts more than one million visitors a year. Additionally, it is the largest indoor arena in all of Europe, and it has hosted ‘some of the biggest names in live entertainment’ since its opening in 1995.

In the audience sat young children, many with their parents. The victims were children. And, still, so many people missing. Families are right now sitting and praying, hoping that loved ones and relatives will be found.

Have we reached a point where security should be much tighter, even if it causes  inconvenience?

It is well known that MI5 and the secret service intercepts and prevents a large quantity of terror plots every year. They have access to communications and, given that I am reading Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress (which explores the theory of an unbreakable code), I would assume that they have their own cryptography and code-breaking division too.

However, when attacks occur so spontaneously, and are as simple as using a heavy vehicle to inflict as much damage and chaos as is humanly possible, it is nearly impossible for the secret service, their informants, and the police to prevent similar attacks arising. This is because when a car (for example) is so commonplace in today’s modern, hi-tech society, and there are no sophisticated, illegal weapons involved, how on earth are the police able to discover details about the attack?

The vehicle used in the Westminster attack was stolen – that is how the attack began – and it is well known that burglaries are impossible to entirely ‘prevent’: we can only strengthen our locks and houses to try and (metaphorically) build up the height of the wall that the burglar has to scale.

Terror (alongside everything else in today’s society) is evolving at an alarming rate. The more recent rise of Islamic State (IS) seems to be resulting in a (much) greater number of attacks than there has been previously. In reality, while our police force seems to be on the end of some heavy criticism, it is an undeniable fact that they do their best in order to try and save the lives of British people. It is they – and the secret service (who prevent attacks) – that deserve to be commended for their effort in seeking out those who do us harm, in order to save lives.

So is there any way to escape terror? I don’t think myself, or indeed anybody else, really knows.

There lies the sadness at the heart of the matter.

About the author

Callum Murison


  • Do you think there will be a back lash against Muslims in the coming weeks, unfairly obviously? Do you think UKIP and Other Far-Right parties will capitalise on this horrible attack. Do you think May will come under fire for counter-terror policy?

    • There will be backlash on Muslims for as long as terrorism exists due to prejudiced people constantly reinforcing their beliefs. I think UKIP etc. will use this as not only an excuse to discriminate, but a reason to force their arguments down the throats of the grieving public.

  • Informed response, flows well . Could possibly be taken further with some kind of resolution?
    Good appeal to emotion as well as a good use of metaphors.

  • This article portrays the terrible incident in a poignant way. Countries have thought of plentiful solutions but none of them have ever helped terrorist attacks to be prevented, and often the people to introduce these precautions do not approach the topic in a sensitive manner. Our country is trying very hard – obviously- to gain peace in all countries. Do you think peace can be achieved or will our country fight to its end.

  • But surely, now we have to move on and not show weakness because we will then appear as a bigger target if we allow ourselves to live in fear. We need to join and unite our country to be stronger and as we go on with our lives we need to appreciate and be thankful for everything right now as we never know what is going to happen and what day will be our last. By reacting in the way the press and people of Manchester have are we just putting ourselves in more danger?

  • Who is at fault for these attacks. Some would argue that it was the lack of security at the venue was to blame. Is the venue at fault or this just the risk that we take whenever we go to an event like this? What can they do to help prevent these attacks?

  • Do you think the repetition of these disgusting acts will normalise the crime? Normalise it to such an extent where attacks are inevitable and people do not become outraged as they simply expected it.

  • I think that, regardless of the frequency of said attacks, the brutal, saddening and disgraceful nature of the attacks will mean that they will never become ‘normalised’. In addition, regardless of who is to blame, I think that it is hard to decide between having so much security that it inconveniences us and hampers our enjoyment of everyday life, even if it may keep us safer. Any thoughts?

    • Do we as a western society condemn, for example airport security because it is inconvenient or do we see them as a necessary precaution to stop us being blown out of the sky? This seems an unnecessary debate, as enjoyment seems mildly irrelevant compared to the mindless slaughter of civilians by extremist groups. Would we sit outside if nuclear bombs were dropping because it was a mild inconvenience not to, or would we run for the shelters and try to stay alive? This is a simple case of survival versus comfort, something western society no longer seems to grasp.

  • Do you think that this attack will trigger more throughout the coming months? How do you think the terrorists expected us to react to their most recent attack in Manchester?

    • I doubt that this attack will trigger more because terrorist generally don’t attack the same place and with attacks of this magnitude probably carried out by a cell, they will be in hiding now, attempting to evade justice so, they won’t be carrying anytime soon, thankfully, as they will be under constant surveillance so even if they tried, they would almost certainly fail. Terrorist main aim is to divide us so, they expected us to hate muslims to create division throughout the UK but that hasn’t happened because in the face of tragedy everyone, comes together in unity.

  • Surely you would agree that having soldiers on the street is a worrying thing that threatens our democracy when we have a general election upcoming and having soldiers roaming the street is a more a feature of a military dictatorship not a liberal democracy. Although is this ramp up in security really necessary? It’s highly unlikely another attack will be directly after this horrible one. However, the intelligence must suggest otherwise hence the critical threat level. Is this maybe a little too late because what has happened has tragically happened and putting soldiers on the street won’t fix the 22 innocent lives that have gone. The only thing they will do is invade of our privacy and make us feel uneasy, having soldiers on the street is a scary thing, it is intimidating and a constant reminder that we are living in a ‘war’ like situation. Also I question the usefulness of soldiers if they had been they at the Arena. Even if they had noticed his bomb, as soon as the terrorist noticed the soldiers he would have blown up the bomb and the same tragic results would have occurred. Like you said in your article Terrorism is envitatible and if we want to continue living in a free democratic society, it is impossible to prevent. All we can do is stick together and unify against hatred and fear and remember all the victims of terrorism and we must never surrender to terrorism. Division is what ISIS want, so we can’t give them that, we must unite against hatred and fear because that is the only way to truly beat terrorism but most importantly we must never forget the victims who have lost their lives.

  • I agree, we cannot stop these sudden attacks. But it is not security that needs to be upgraded. It is the way that kids are brought up and educated that determines how they will see the world and how they act on it.

  • Interesting analogy, the way that attacks are carried out in today’s society, it is impossible to do anything that would not impact negatively on the rest of society as a whole. ‘Do we put up with it?’ is an interesting question which I feel needs to be addressed.

  • I think the whole topic of terrorism is really difficult to deal with. We have attacks that happen all over the world every day that don’t even reach the press. Id like to mention one more thing about the attack on London Bridge. One of the police officers, Wayne Marques suffered a stab wound in his head blinding his right eye and one to his leg. He fought of 2 of the attackers until other forces arrived. Without his heroic action many other people would have died that day. He survived and is getting sight back in his eye. Its incredible to see an officer put his life on the line to protect others and the I think police deserve more respect for what they do protecting us and the rest of society.

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