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This article originally appeared in The Spectator
The hashtag ‘PrayForLondon’ is trending on social media. But so is ‘Antwerp’. Because no sooner were we invited to pray for London than a man of ‘North African descent’ was narrowly prevented from doing something similar in the Belgian city. This is life as usual in Europe now, of course. But among the endless replays to date – and the endless replays yet to come – there are several things worth noting about Wednesday’s attack in London.
The first is that the perpetrator – now identified as one Khalid Masood – was in one sense unusual. A recent comprehensive analysis published by my colleague Hannah Stuart found that among Islamist-related offences in the UK the most common age of the offender was 22. So at 52 years old Khalid Masood was some decades older than the average attacker. Although this is wholly speculative, that is a possible reason why he avoided being regarded as an imminent threat by MI5. There has only been one other individual in the UK who has sought to participate in remotely similar acts at Masood’s age.
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