UK: Islamist terror: why I now fear going on the Tube

Lurking deep beneath London is a labyrinth of tunnels incorporating underground railways, secret passages, drainage systems and subterranean chambers. The long-abandoned Kingsway Tram Subway is an elusive place that offers a unique glimpse into the past.

Attacks by militant Islamists, such as those in Sydney and Peshawar, have convinced Michael Burleigh to re-think his daily routine in London

My local Tube station is a model of civility in a part of south London that some call “The Hood”. It has a second-hand book exchange, a thought-for-the-day on a whiteboard, and piped Bach and Mozart to repel delinquents. Passing through to the down escalator, one has a sense of well-being.

In recent months, however, not even the music has dispelled a sense of foreboding. Almost involuntarily, I find myself scanning fellow passengers for potential Islamist terrorists before settling into the morning papers, then go on the alert again at Elephant & Castle, where many of the likely demographic board the trains…

…All you need to spread mass terror is a machete, a rusty pistol and a mobile phone in the minutes before armed police arrive. The visceral nature of the violence is its own advertisement. If I close my eyes, I can still clearly see the blood-covered hands of Michael Adebelajo as he ranted into a phone camera…

The BBC should be encouraged to resolve its inconsistent use of the terms “militant” and “terrorist” from one programme to another. It is not the nation’s licensed student radical, but a mature public-service broadcaster.

The pious human rights racket should also take a long look at itself before leaping to the defence of people who regard killing children and quarry workers as part of the struggle to impose a religious totalitarianism that denies life, as well as liberty, to all except the armed thugs who would enforce it.

Then I, and many others, might not be so anxious when we board the Tube.

I have never been on a subway. There are none in Vancouver — the geography is not suitable. There is an underground tunnel beneath the Fraser River — built because a bridge would interfere with shipping — and it always gave me the creeps, even though I commuted via that tunnel for several years.