Our British correspondent JP returns with some thoughts on Thursday’s beheading of an elderly woman in the back garden of her home in a northern suburb of London.
A tale of two jihadis
A good reason for piling up heads in pyramids as practised during France’s Reign of Terror is to prevent them rolling around and getting under people’s feet. Reports coming out of Iraq and Syria give no indication this is the preferred method; rather sticking heads on poles seems to be the fashion.
Be that as it may, beheading is trending worldwide, and when one pops up in a quiet north London suburb, it is no surprise to find that there is indeed an Islamic connection. And, indeed, no surprise to observe media divert attention away from the Islamic connection, however tenuous this might in fact be.
This morning’s breaking news on the BBC’s website informs us that a man, Nicholas Salvador, has been remanded over the London ‘beheading.’ Note the scare quotes: perhaps it wasn’t a real beheading after all, only a stabbing process that went tragically wrong somehow. And how would a recent convert to Islam, crazed on drugs, be sufficiently composed to recall Koranic instructions on striking off the heads of infidels, cats even. Implausible to say the least, and, more likely than not, a random act of senseless violence that inhabitants of the diverse metropolis take for granted as part of its quirky appeal.
Unfortunately, the victim did not have the benefit of a slick film crew to record the gruesome action, unlike the murders in Arabia, neatly posed with accompanying mock sententious commentary designed to capture everyone’s attention, including world statesmen and women ready to oblige with hair-trigger responses expressing outrage at Islamic State butchery yet curiously remote when confronted by persecution of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East. Poor Palmira Silva, on the other hand, has received scant attention from world leaders for what after all may only be another footnote in Britain’s inadequate care-in-the-community programme for dealing with mental health issues.
However, there is the troubling Islamic connection to consider — that the London beheading may be an even more effective call to Islam than the one promoted in the Middle East: that despite the rock-star glamour of Islamic State, admirably boosted by Vice News, no laggard when it comes to overturning any stone which might conceal an atrocity to satisfy the jaded palates of its quickened-by-horror readership (for example, see its story on plastic surgery for victims of Amazonian river boat propellers), the London beheading is a perfect example of Islamic terror — unpredictable, random, and one that strikes fear into the hearts of unbelievers precisely as intended by the Koran and its teachings.
Nicholas Salvador, or ‘Fat Nick’ as named by community members, is an example of what Europeans might recognise as a berserkr from Scandinavian sagas — a ferocious warrior consumed by battle lust. Normally, berserkir occur in pairs or groups of twelve — London witnessed its first berserkr outing when two Nigerian-heritage, Muslim converts beheaded Fusilier Lee Rigby last year. Now another Nigerian-heritage, Muslim convert beheads an old woman in a London garden. Either Nigerian heritage and Islam do not mix that well or there are as yet other, less-clearly defined reasons for this emerging pattern.
It is possible that recent statements by world statesmen to the effect that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ or that the ‘Islamic State speaks for no religion’ are beside the point. The national security concerns of USA/Europe/the Anglosphere with large populations of Muslim immigrants can only be addressed if jihad itself is recognised, and then appropriate steps taken to deal with a phenomenon that has clear outlines — ones that even ordinary citizens might be encouraged to recognise and act on.
Both “Jihadi John” and “Fat Nick” fall into the most important jihadist category of all, namely that of the mujahideen composed of outsiders, the marginal, the outcasts, the travellers — the ones that do the dirty work before this is sanctified/sanitised by the scholars and imams, rationalised and wrapped up into a tidy parcel to be used as the basis for diplomatic negotiations by the rulers and then backed up by regular armies in control of conquered territory. The roles are interchangeable, and it is not uncommon for a mujahid to career-progress to firebrand preacher, scholar or ruler, or even revert to a former role. There are numerous mujahideen at large in the West when they should not be — Anjem Choudary for example, but he is only one on a list that would include thousands in first-order rankings, and millions among fellow travellers and want-to-be mujahids.
A tale of two mujahids: one that deserves to be discussed, analysed, pontificated on to death as has been the case with the desert beheadings, but I doubt the ‘Beheading in the Garden’ will receive the attention it warrants either on its own merits or as part of the worldwide Islamic beheading peccadillo.