3 Months of Terror in the United Kingdom
In the past three months, the United Kingdom has been hit by terrorism three times. What is behind this wave of terrorism? Is there anything that will prevent it?
England is reeling from its third terror attack in three months. On March 22, five people were killed by a car and knife attack just outside of the Palace of Westminster. Then, on May 22, 22 people died and 119 were injured in a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester. On June 3, eight died and 48 were injured when a van plowed through pedestrians and three men jumped out and started stabbing people.
In addition to these attacks, five other terror plots were uncovered and foiled in the same three months.
One of the things these attacks have in common is that they were carried out by radical Islamic extremists.
A new kind of terrorism
What used to happen “over there” in places like the Middle East and Africa is now happening much closer to home for many people in Western countries. What used to happen “over there” in places like the Middle East and Africa is now happening much closer to home for many people in Western countries. These recent attacks have involved terrorists operating as lone wolves or in small cells, committing terror with common, low-tech items. To foil such a plot, intelligence agencies need to intercept communications or be alerted by an informer. British intelligence officers have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in Britain as potential terrorist attackers, and many of them were born in the U.K.
The roots of this new kind of terrorism lie in slick marketing promotions by ISIS and al-Qaeda. A 2010 article by al-Qaeda encouraged its followers to use vehicles as the “the ultimate mowing machine.”
However, the real roots of terrorism can actually be found in the pages of the Bible.
Ancient roots of terrorism
The Bible doesn’t include modern names like ISIS, al-Qaeda or Britain. But modern peoples can be found in the Bible by their ancient names.
The patriarch Abraham had two sons, Ishmael (through his wife’s handmaid Hagar) and Isaac (through his wife Sarah). Sarah was worried and felt threatened by Hagar and advised her husband to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was grieved at such a request, but God confirmed that they had to go, since He would establish His covenant with Isaac (Genesis 21:10-12). Ishmael eventually married and had children. His offspring would become a great people—many of the Arab peoples today (Genesis 17:20).
One of Ishmael’s descendants, Muhammad, lived in the area that is now Saudi Arabia and proclaimed himself a prophet of Allah (God) in the seventh century. His followers formed the religion of Islam, meaning “submission.” Islam teaches its followers to surrender to Allah’s will and follow the Koran as the literal word of Allah. Muslims believe the Koran is the correction of the Bible (which they see as corrupted). According to the Koran, on God’s command Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaabah in Mecca as a permanent sanctuary and place of worship. In contrast, the Bible shows God established His everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not Ishmael.
Abraham’s son Isaac had two sons, named Esau and Jacob. Esau, who was firstborn, would normally have received the covenant promises, but through a series of events, he lost them to Jacob. God established His covenant with Jacob—whose name was changed to Israel (Genesis 25:33-34; 32:28). Israel’s 12 sons become the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:28, Acts 7:7).
The rivalry and tension that began between Isaac and Ishmael and then Jacob and Esau continues today through the nations descended from them. When Israel was near death, he bestowed a special blessing on Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. This was the birthright blessing from Abraham. The younger son, Ephraim, would become “a multitude of nations,” and the older son, Manasseh, would become a “great” people (Genesis 48:19). These blessings were fulfilled in the modern nations of the United Kingdom and many of the Commonwealth nations (Ephraim) and United States of America (Manasseh).
Esau went on to marry a daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 28:9). Portions of the Muslim world are descended from Esau.
The rivalry and tension that began between Isaac and Ishmael and then Jacob and Esau continues today through the nations descended from them. The 12 tribes of Israel form many of the Western democracies. Ishmael and Esau’s descendants form much of the Islamic world, particularly among the Arabs and Turks. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Muslims are antagonistic toward Jacob’s descendants. Millions of Muslims live and work in peace beside Jacob’s descendants.
Cause and effect
As a result of these attacks, Britain plans to radically change its strategy to stop future attacks because, according to the U.K.’s top counterterrorism officer, the threat is now at a completely different level of danger.
What strategy can combat this new form of terror advocated by radical Muslims? Certainly, security and investigation can be improved, but this new kind of terror is practically impossible to fully prevent. The key is going to the root of the real problem.
We must understand that the battle is not physical, but spiritual. God warns the nations descended from Israel that if they forsake Him, He will remove His protection and allow “many evils and troubles” to befall us until we acknowledge “these evils come upon us because our God is not among us” (Deuteronomy 31:16-17). This is the core of the issue.
As the Western nations move farther away from God and basic morality, the blessings they have enjoyed will be taken away, and their troubles will increase. God warns, “If you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,” then He will “appoint terror over you” (Leviticus 26:15-16).
God does not enjoy the suffering of any people, but deeply desires that we repent of our ways and turn to Him for spiritual guidance and protection. Even if the United Kingdom or the Western nations won’t do that, you can.
To learn how to truly turn to God, read “What Is Repentance?”