Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Editorial | The home-grown terrorist

Published:Saturday | July 16, 2016 | 7:00 AM

The third terrorist attack in 18 months has the French people reeling. Indeed, this dreadful event has people, the world over, nervous because several nationalities were numbered among Thursday night's victims.

Terrorists have used airplanes, murdered with well-placed suicide bombers, and used other forms of violence against unarmed civilians. The use of a truck to mow down men, women, and children at a public event seems like a relatively new weapon employed by those intent on creating mayhem and disrupting normal life.

This latest attack must be taken as fair warning by organisations hosting public gatherings and social events where crowds gather, anywhere in the world. Here at home, let us not be smug in thinking that these horrific events occurring a continent away could not also happen in our region. It seems no country is immune and nothing is sacred.

In the aftermath of these attacks, there is usually collective condemnation and anger, but these are not enough to prevent future attacks, and there is no telling when and where evil will strike next. This calls for greater surveillance and more gathering and sharing of intelligence.

The events in Nice, France, may shift the focus from our ongoing internal struggle with murder and mayhem for a few moments as we empathise with the victims, but it cannot be more than a momentary pause.

The real terror in Jamaica is home-grown. High unemployment and a general state of deprivation and depravity have driven scores of youth to a life of crime. With easy pickings from the illegal lottery scam, which bilks elderly persons of their savings, these youth can be armed and mobile and equipped to fight a fierce war to preserve their turf. These criminals are willing and able to carry out attacks and have, in fact, wiped out entire families in their reign of terror.

 

ALL LOCAL

 

The gangs who terrorise businesses by extorting them are all local criminals. Moreover, these criminals reportedly operate in well-defined areas - taxi and bus parks, business districts, and markets - yet they continue to plunder and kill, and the police cannot apprehend them.

Harsh criticism has been levelled at the police for not doing enough to cripple this intense criminal enterprise. The lottery scam has been ongoing for nearly a decade, and though there have been arrests, the activities appear to have expanded all over the country from its original base in St James. The ability of scammers to stalk victims via telephone, collect and spend their ill-gotten riches has not been diminished.

The commissioner of police could see this Nice attack as an opportunity to conduct a thorough security review and to come up with an effective strategy for dealing with the threat to the peaceful existence of communities across Jamaica reeling from the effects of criminality.

Commissioner Carl Williams and his team must proactively create strong partnerships with volatile communities to help citizens understand the inherent danger of embracing criminals and work with them to deter at-risk youth from joining gangs and getting into illicit activity.

The time has long gone for the police to get serious about partnership by making the community their first line of defence against criminals.