London attacks raise question of predictability of terrorism

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By Izzy Ullman ’17

While attempting to complete her homework on a flight to London on March 22, Lindsey Felner ’17 was left in shock when a CNN update about a terrorist attack popped up on her computer.

The update unraveled the first of many, eventually revealing the terrorist attack that killed four pedestrians and wounded at least 40 on March 22 in Westminster, London.

“I was worried and scared at first, but then to be honest I was intrigued by the action and excited to be going,” she said.
The attacker, 52-year-old British man, Khalid Masood, was armed with a knife and crashed into railings outside the Houses of Parliament. According to Prime Minister Theresa May, the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology and was once linked to violent extremism.

Amidst the chaos, Katie Hickson ’13 found herself traveling through London, just moments away from the attack. “When I found out what happened I was thinking it could have been me if my timing was a little different,” she said. “I was anxious when I found out because a lot of my friends work in central London and at the time the news was unclear whether it was going to evolve into a bigger attack.”

This attack, similar to those of Paris and Brussels, was unsurprising to some members of the Staples community. According to Contemporary World Teacher Cathy Schager, there is a common pattern within the citizens perpetrating the attacks.
“The issue is that they’re being radicalized by terrorist organizations because they are easy targets,” she said. “These colonial powers have a long history of racism and marginalizing their colonial citizens.”

Nicolas Ortega ’18 can vouch for a similar idea, as he believes all countries are still vulnerable to terrorism.

“Initially, I wasn’t particularly surprised because attacks like this one have happened a lot more often later,” he said. “I think this is just another example that shows that something needs to be done by Europe and the U.S. to try to stop terrorism.”

In terms of current safety in London, Cayne Mandell ’17 who plans on visiting London on March 25, feels confident in his travels.

“Personally it does not really affect me because I am not very scared,” he said. “My parents are pretty nervous but I feel like I got luck on my side.”

As for moving forward with terrorism, Schager emphasized the necessity of long term goals on a global scale in order to ensure security.

“We need long-term far sighted strategies that are centered around demarginalization and inclusion in our societies as well as using soft power to cultivate healthy relationships.”

Photo used under the Creative Commons License