Children of terror
in ‘96, the IRA detonated 500kg of high explosive near a skyscraper in London. I was eight. The blast rumbled through my neighborhood, jolting my sister and I awake, and driving us to the window. The blast shook East London. It was loud and felt like a thud in the chest. My mother panicked and rushed upstairs to check if my sister and I were ok. She found us staring at the skyscraper in the distance. It was half lit and engulfed in smoke.
i wasn’t surprised when I saw the bombs go off in Boston. From my chair in front of my computer, I’ve watched an Arab spring and an occupy movement. I’ve watched a war in Syria where tens of thousands have died, and saw the teenage riots that shook the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Greece. When the bombs went off in Boston I thought, “Well of course. It was only a matter of time something happened in America.” I combed my facebook for friends in Boston, and sighed in relief when no one I knew was hurt. The process of checking on family and friends become almost automatic.
After the explosion in London, my neighbors began to talk. Wives would gossip with other wives about victims they heard of. Rumors spread of an office worker’s son dying in the blast, though it turned out he was out drinking with his friends in Soho. No one we knew was hurt. Our neighborhood returned to normal. The news shifted to Irish cities being demolished by gunfire, and the atrocities they fought the British. War in Ireland became an afterthought, the reasons for it, forgotten.
Things were different after that. The Mayor of London banned public trash cans after a pipe bomb was found in one. Police walked with crowds and security cameras were installed everywhere.The UK is a nation under surveillance because of what happened, and after the 2005 bombings, London has become a fortress.
The origins of terrorism are always different, but the result is always the same. It means dead people, people who have been shot, blown up, or flown into buildings. It means recovering corpses from disabled oil tankers, or scraping charred blood and body parts from a suicide bomb blast. It doesn’t matter if the boston bombers were Muslim or Arab, Russian or South American. People will always find a reason to hurt others. The best thing we can do is learn to defend ourselves.