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The terrorist atrocity at Westminster last month (© Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images)


It should not surprise us that Khalid Masood, a Birmingham-based Islamist convert and terrorist, chose Westminster to stage his atrocity. The British Parliament is wmore than a symbol of parliamentary democracy: it is the nearest thing we have to a physical embodiment of Western civilisation. For 800 years it has combined political, spiritual and legal functions and provided the pattern of liberty for the whole world. That is why it was nearly obliterated by Hitler. That is why it has been a terrorist target for four centuries. Parliament represents everything that Islamism most hates: representative government, freedom of speech, the rule of law. The ancient stones of Westminster, home to the mother of parliaments, have been a backdrop to much of our history; but never before to the scenes of gratuitous barbarism that we have just witnessed.

That jihadists would, sooner or later, return to attack London was predictable and predicted — not least by Standpoint. Exactly a year before Islamist terror came to the capital on March 22, Brussels was bombed, soon after the Paris attacks. Standpoint’s next cover, in May 2016 (right), showed the scimitar of Islamic State hanging like the sword of Damocles over the London skyline, with the headline: “London under threat”. Since then Nice and Berlin have suffered massacres. But London has always been in the firing line, despite Britain’s world-class counter-terrorism force. Not even a national state of emergency (such as France has endured since 2015) could have prevented the global tide of jihadism washing up on our shores, killing four innocent people and injuring 40 more at Westminster.

What can be done? Across Europe, there is a deep sense of foreboding. Jihadi attacks have now penetrated the elaborate security measures that the capitals of Western Europe have put in place. The Prime Minister wasted no time in reassuring the nation that London would carry on as normal. She was in no mood for excuses on behalf of “the voices of hate and evil”. Her statement to the Commons next day was even more robust. Theresa May has risen magnificently to the challenge, finding exactly the right calm tone and grave demeanour. Her authority will have been enhanced by this ordeal and she must seize the opportunity for a root and branch reform of the government’s strategy and tactics in the war against Islamist terror.

In the coming weeks and months, Mrs May needs to take new measures to stop radical Islamist preachers and IS propagandists spreading their poison. Google and other technology companies, who have failed to police their own online output, are now being shunned by brands who object to their advertisements appearing with extremist YouTube videos. Mealy-mouthed apologies to advertisers (not to the public, or even the victims of terror) by Google’s executives are quite inadequate. Google’s customers are dismayed that the firm makes so little effort to find and remove such extremist material. In the absence of state sanctions, the market will bring companies to book that behave as if they were above the law. The point is not just to cut off the sources of radicalisation, but to force global elites to play their part in the defence of the civilisation on which they too depend.

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