Not a Terrorist, Possibly a Pawn

Guest Author Devon Simons;
Martial Artist, Terrorism and Communications Scholar, Wine Drinker

Oh, Salih Khater, I don’t buy it. You either need learner plates, or that was a test run for future terror attacks; either way, your heart was just not in it! It was too easy to find out all about your British citizenship, Sudanese background, and Midlands addresses. You are nothing more than a vehicle-based terrorist fan-boy. It was such a lackluster attempt (no, not even an attack) that the only possible reason behind it is that you are a small cog in the testing phases of something bigger. So, what do we know now that we didn’t before your automotive kerfuffle?

We saw exactly how much amateur and professional, still and video images can come from a surprise attempt, how fast, and through what media outlets. We saw how fast (damn fast!) and from where any police response originates around Parliament these days. We saw the media machine kick in with BBC Breakfast covering the incident less than half an hour. We saw exactly how the quarantine procedure kicks in and radiates outwards, and how the Tube Station closure works during morning rush-hour. However, we knew most of those things following the Westminster Bridge attack, only a few hundred yards away from your drivers-ed class. And then there was the ridiculously easy background check – its almost like you gave it away. So, what were you actually after? Mind you, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming your actions were not actually the end-game; because if they were, that was just laughable.

Here is what I think you are up to: we hadn’t seen a reenactment of the Bridge attacks from the Whitehall approach. We had not seen exactly how to time the traffic lights and weasel around the new barricades since 2017. Your hesitation was adorable. We had not seen what type of media response could be gained when the action was strictly on the north side of Parliament, and not sweeping past the key tourist photo-up with Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower – it is under a load of scaffolding, is that why you didn’t use the Bridge during your attempt? We saw that the camera shots and mounted traffic cameras east from Abingdon and west from Whitehall were acceptable for broadcasting purposes, or reconnaissance by people watching you. However, the barricades meant that you were a sitting duck once stopped (and not visible for your action shot); unless you had far more athleticism in store than the impressive policeman who used the whole incident as a gym warm-up. You essentially trapped yourself, and from there, you could see exactly where the response came from. More likely, someone watching your attempt could see the response and what opportunities would open up if a single entrance was obstructed.

So now to the things that matter: aftermath and prevention. Westminster runs a denial by force strategy of counter-terrorism. Its not just denying potential attackers a target through defensive measures, there are pro-active security measures in play around the clock. It is foolish to see a barricade and think ‘defense’ now that we know they can effectively trap a hostile vehicle – which is clever. So, before I say, ‘congratulations, you played yourself’, I want to consider the very real possibility that this was an intentional test. I firmly believe you intentionally trapped yourself in an area with ample video and still imagery so that others can assess the response execution by security forces. What you did was crude, but this does not feel like a well-planned terror attempt in its entirety. So, I would encourage others to treat you with caution. Not for your capacity as a statement-maker, you aren’t; but, but you might be a harbinger of something far more intricate.

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