What turned up was the website of that same alleged newspaper – page after page of links to it. Which seemed apt.
The previous day that same so-called newspaper said we must not give terrorism the publicity it wants – somewhere in its 19 pages of coverage.
At least I think it did. Someone who knows someone I know said it did. And, to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to read through all 19 pages to check. Which seems like a level of journalistic thoroughness and integrity appropriate to the publication in question.
On the day of that shock-horror “exclusive” about the things you can find on the internet, the same scandalsheet’s continued coverage of the London attack ran to another 19 pages. On day three of its not giving terrorism publicity the count was down to a mere eight pages, again including the front.
Terrorists’ friend indeed. If a solitary, deranged individual with a police record and a string of pseudonyms, armed with a hire car and a knife, can truly be called a terrorist. That would seem to be affording him more dignity and importance than he warrants.
The police have called him “a lone wolf”, which doesn’t fit any definition of “terrorist” that makes much sense.
Collins English Dictionary, for example, defines terrorism as “systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal”. What happened last week was certainly violent – shockingly so – but hardly systematic. And it’s hard to see what goal Ajao / Elms / Masood can possibly have had in mind beyond the expression of his own disturbed mental state.
On the day he committed his murders, more than 300 people died in London. Assuming, that is, it was an average day. That’s just counting those likely to have been claimed by that greatest of killers, old age.
This in no way lessens the tragedy of those who lives were ended, or badly damaged, by Masood’s acts of criminal madness. It is no disrespect to those whose loved ones were so cruelly and pointlessly snatched away so long before their time should have been up. But it is to put a horrifying event in perspective.
On that same day, at least 33 innocent civilians were killed in an airstrike by US forces on a school near the Syrian city of Raqqa. Four days earlier, at least 52 had been killed in an American strike on a Syrian mosque.
It’s not just the Russians, and the Syrians themselves, who are slaughtering civilians in that sorry land.
The obscenity committed in London last week happened in a place I know well. I and millions of others. Even to those who never set foot in the capital it will be highly familiar from television. So I understand, to a degree, the obsession with what takes place there.
And it is true, as has been widely remarked on, that that one act of random violence sparked hundreds of acts of kindness. It’s been called the British way. Actually, it’s the human way.
But it wouldn’t hurt us, as humans, to look occasionally beyond our own little bubble. To contemplate, for example, what the Westminster government gets up to beyond these shores.
The UK has sold over £3billion of arms to Saudi Arabia during that anachronistic kingdom’s killing spree in Yemen, which has just entered its third year.
Another, fuller definition of terrorism comes from The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. It says terrorist groups “usually have the financial and moral backing of sympathetic governments”. In this particularly gruesome case – happening now and every day – it’s the British government that’s providing the backing. Aiding the unelected, fabulously wealthy rulers of an oil-rich state in raining death and destruction on their desperately poor neighbours.
Yemen’s children aren’t just starving to death – they are being deliberately starved. And our government is one of the biggest suppliers of arms to the perpetrators.
The Saudis are blocking aid into Yemen, which is now on the verge of a major famine, with four in five people in need of emergency assistance. Largely because of British-made bombs dropped by British-made planes.
This is terrorism on a far greater scale, with vastly greater resources of cash and technology, than anything that can be perpetrated with a car and a knife.
Yet the only reference made last week to Yemen in the aforementioned supposed newspaper was that “unsurprisingly” it was in the bottom ten in the world’s latest “happiness rankings”.
And its only reference to Raqqa was this: “A book written about the methods employed by Islamic State suggested that around ten Britons were working in the Syrian city of Raqqa to disseminate online propaganda around the world.”
Note again the obsession with the alleged evils of the internet.
It is, of course, true that the web has more than enough sites vilely promoting hatred. Prominent among them being the online presence of the paper that shall not be named.