The Daily Mail reaches peak hysteria in identifying a new terrorist threat [OPINION]

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Emily Apple

The Daily Mail has discovered a brand new terrorist threat. And it’s one we should all be aware of because it’s very scary. It’s called Google. And The Daily Mail has discovered it took just “two minutes” to learn how to mount a terrorist attack using a vehicle.

Seriously?

Okay, there is a lot of nasty stuff on the internet should you want to find it. But The Daily Mail has reached a new level of ridiculous fearmongering with this piece.

The article claimed that:

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Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night.

And then, helpfully for any would-be terrorists, it quoted from the “vile” manual:

Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire. But unlike knives, which if found in one’s possession can be a cause for suspicion, vehicles arouse absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world. It has been shown that smaller vehicles are incapable of granting the level of carnage that is sought. One of the main reasons for this is smaller vehicles lack the weight and wheel span required for crushing many victims. The type of vehicle most appropriate for such an operation is a large load-bearing truck.

Now, this is undoubtedly vile and disgusting content. But the fact remains that these type of attacks take place because they are easier. They don’t require explosives or acquiring weapons. Nor any particular skill.

And, as Twitter users pointed out, most people can work out how a car can be used as a weapon without the need to google a terrorism training manual:

https://twitter.com/RupertMyers/status/845191303516237824

And others pointed out how ridiculous it is:

Scaremongering

And while this is the type of hysterical scaremongering we have come to expect from The Daily Mail, it is extremely unhelpful and feeds into a climate of fear that shouldn’t really exist.

Cars do kill a lot of people. In 2015, 1,732 people died in road traffic accidents in the UK. Following the attack in Nice on 14 July 2016, risk analyst Tom Pollock wrote:

In France, in the last two years, there have been eight attacks, killing a total of 247 people. There are 66 million people in France. At the current level of activity, their odds of being killed in a terrorist attack in a given year are less than two ten-thousandths of one per cent. That’s 27 times lower than their odds of dying in a car accident.

And this perspective is important. As Pollock explained:

They rely on us feeling bombarded by the news. They want us to feel besieged. They want us to feel at risk. They want us to be afraid. It’s called terrorism after all. Understanding the limitations of their ability to hurt us helps, in some small way, to frustrate their aim.

Profiting from fear

But The Daily Mail feeds into this fear to sell papers, hate and division. And this latest example of scaremongering is a prime example. It is essential that we don’t buy into this fear. Yes, we can feel shock. And of course, there are many mourning loved ones or people traumatised by what they’ve experienced who have our deepest sympathy.

But this doesn’t mean we need to be afraid. And it certainly doesn’t mean believing hysterical articles aimed at generating a climate of fear at the very time when we need to be calm and rational.

Get Involved!

 – Read more from The Canary on developments related to the 22 March attack here.

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Featured image via Kerry-Anne Mendoza

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