Westminster Attack and VTSM: overshadowing of airstrikes in Mosul – Opinion Piece

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24/03/2017 from Qatar


Wednesday afternoon a British-born resident named Khalid Masood aged 52 drove a car mowing down pedestrians leaving several injured in Westminster. Aiming for the British Parliament as the car crashed into railings he stabbed a police officer to death, Masood was shot by armed police as Parliament was shut down for security. It was reported by British Prime Minister Theresa May that the perpetrator of the attack Masood was known to the intelligence service MI5 and the police but the charges against his crimes were not investigated further. Several hours after the incident ISIS-linked media outlet Amaq claimed that: “the attack yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State, executing the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations.” The method of the attack (crushing pedestrians by car) and the weapon used (a knife) is consistent to how previous incidents of similar procedures occurred in Nice, France, Ohio state, and Brussels, Germany. However, despite ISIS claim, there was not a strong media campaign from the organisation prior to the incident in comparison to the attack in Nice and Brussels and it can be argued that this attack was a violent transnational movement (VTSM). It is also important to note that ISIS supporters online celebrated the attack that happened outside the British parliament, asserting that this was revenge for the US-led coalition airstrikes in Mosul that left dozens of civilians dead; therefore this can be an attempt to deconstruct the mindset of the assailant, Masood, if he was linked to ISIS, because as the operation for besieged West Mosul continues it is likely that similar attacks will continue to occur. In addition, it can be argued that the lack of media coverage on civilians killed due to US-led coalition air strikes is a form of legitimacy to ISIS’ propaganda which can only mean that conventional means in defeating ISIS by might will be unsuccessful, instead it allows room for its ideas and campaign to evolve. But even more so, ultimately this attack will lead to the normalisation of Islamophobia and the legitimization of the rhetoric of far-right presidential candidates in European countries in order to be successful during election time.