A few weeks ago, Americans were awakened to news of yet another terrorist strike in London, the British capital. Although the story will continuously develop, early indications are that the victims were Muslims targeted by a man and his associates who deliberately drove their van over the victims.
While we awaited the final conclusions of police investigators and learned more about the details of the attack, it was not too early to declare this act a vile terrorist strike that should be condemned in the strongest terms.
Recently our TV production crew was in London at the very location where blood was spilled. We visited the Finsbury Park Mosque, where at least one person was killed and a number of others were injured.
The mosque’s imam, Mohammed Kozbar, reportedly played a key role in ensuring that the van’s driver will be brought to justice. The imam is said to have bravely stepped forward to insist that the enraged citizens who pulled the man from the van hold him down until police arrived rather than beating him to death.
Just weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview the chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, who was a gracious host. I was the first member of the foreign media in years to be invited into the mosque for an interview. I found him to be a respectful and learned man, and appreciated the opportunity to ask tough questions in a place that had previously been at the epicenter of U.K.-based support for radical Islamic terrorist groups. Imam Kozbar talked extensively about al-Qaida operatives “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, who were radicalized at Finsbury mosque before he assumed leadership. He spoke painstakingly about the difficulty and challenges in finally cleansing the place of worship from terrorists. It was riveting listening to his arduous process in finally earning the trust and respect of the U.K. government, London law enforcement and the community.
Let me be as clear as I can: Regardless of the target, terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, and it is despicable. It should be condemned in all of its forms, always. Whereas we can disagree with others, it is never acceptable to use violence and murder.
As I sat watching the news stream in from England last night and today, I immediately felt myself flooded with the memories and emotions that accompanied news reports of a mass shooting at a church in my home state of South Carolina. In that attack, innocent Christian worshippers were ruthlessly shot to death, including my cousin, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
When will this madness end? As members of the human race we can and must do better. We are all God’s children and he alone should be the one to sit in judgment and to decide when the time has arrived to take us from the Earth. No man has that right.