23 Jul Terrorism Contagion
The immediacy of news and the speed in covering a story means that those of us who are news junkies can watch incidents unfold in real time. Last night, was one such case as the attack in Munich unfolded.
Police first received reports that shots were being fired near the Olympic Shopping centre at 5.52pm and as I switched on the TV for the 6pm news it had already broken, local members of the public were being interviewed and video footage from a witness’s phone was playing. We were eerily transported to the crime scene. A voyeur of the violence.
I watched police, guns across their chest, running down the road in a pack, only to see them turn on their heals as they learnt shots were now coming from the Metro. As viewers we were following their every move as they tracked down the killer.
Trains and buses were stopped, streets became deserted, even taxis were told not to pick up passengers. We watched a city being shut down as we all became part of the chase to track down the perpetrator.
One expert after another was interviewed for the cameras. Security experts, intelligence experts, no one certain as to what had happened. Was it ISIL, was it a far right group? Links were made to Anders Behring Breirik and the Oslo massacre which had happened 5 years ago to the very day.
As I listened to the news – the bits we knew, the bits we didn’t know – the only common theme emerging was that it was a terrorist attack following hot on the heals of Nice, Brussels, Paris and Istanbul, and that’s when I pondered the toxic effect of retaliatory terrorism. Terrorism contagion. One violent act attracting a violent reaction. An escalation in terrorism as extremes fight it out for supremacy. An alarming thought but one that can’t be overlooked. For the aftermath of these attacks linger in the conscious long after the event has occurred. Fear being inserted where freedom once was. Fear of public places, fear of one another, fear of our own communities, fear of friends, fear of family, fear of the new. Terrorism, through violence, sets out to destroy the freedoms of democracy and a free world.
So, just as we used sophisticated technology to watch these events unfold, we need to use this same technology to destroy terrorism. Starting with watching out for recruitment propaganda and communications of terrorist groups and closing them down. Watch for financial transactions and close them down. Then use this technology to enhance safety in our communities with CCTV, automatic number plate recognition and face recognition. So that by utilising, harnessing and developing this technology we can watch over the public and preserve their safety and freedoms, so that we can move on from watching these horrific events unfold, to preventing them happen. It’s a long shot but it’s one we should pursue.