It’s been an interesting week on the international terror front, at least as far as the UK is concerned.
On Sunday via Sky and other news media we learned of a mock exercise conducted by the combined British emergency and anti-terror forces around a supposed attack on a pleasure cruise boat on the river Thames. According to the Manchester Guardian: “More than 200 armed police have practised their response to a terrorist attack on a Thames “pleasure boat” in the first drill of its kind on London’s main river.
A sightseeing ship became the scene of a fierce mock gun battle between armed officers and police posing as terrorists shortly after 11am on Sunday. The exercise, close to the HYPERLINK "https://www.theguardian.com/uk/london" London Docklands area, marks the first time the Metropolitan police have staged a live, waterborne exercise like this. Armed officers boarded the ship in a hail of gunfire just over two hours after five officers posing as armed terrorists hijacked the vessel. At least one “body”, played by a volunteer, was thrown overboard.
The Met, the Port of London Authority, London Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), London ambulance service and London fire brigade took part in the exercise aimed at testing the effectiveness of emergency rescue tactics in lifelike conditions. The drill was designed to test every phase of the emergency response – from the moment an incident is reported to the conclusion of a rescue operation.
Commander BJ Harrington, head of the Met’s public order command, said the exercise was not in response to any specific intelligence about an impending marine attack. But he noted that recent terrorist incidents in the rest of Europe showed how would-be attackers have found varied ways to inflict harm. He said: “It’s important to point out that the exercise has not been designed in response to any specific threat. There’s no information that we have that we’re preparing for.
Of course, we have seen a number of incidents abroad in the past few years: "https://www.theguardian.com/world/bastille-day-truck-attack" Nice, "https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/03/germany-outlines-plans-overhaul-security-following-berlin-attack" Berlin – we have seen different methodologies developing, and, of course, the river runs right through London, so why wouldn’t we prepare for that.”
Only 3 days later in what presumably was no more than random coincidence, a real-life terror attack was staged just outside the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British government, involving an SUV, driven over the safety bollards outside the parliament building, on the embankment of the Thames which resulted in one woman being burled into the river. Yes, that’s right – the very same river on which the mock exercise was conducted only 3 days earlier, barely a kilometre upstream of where the exercise took place.
4 people, including the perpetrator and an unarmed policeman, were killed in the attack, with many more injured in what was a repeat of similar incidents in Marseilles and Berlin last year. It would now appear that the car and truck is now the weapon of choice for would-be deadly terror attacks, being both easy to obtain and completely unobtrusive right up almost to the very moment of impact. It is also the most difficult for authorities to predict or uncover since it requires almost no forward planning or preparation and therefore stays completely off the radar.
The coincidence of the mock attack followed so closely by the real thing, albeit very different in their scenarios, almost beggars belief. By all accounts, the response of the emergency services in the genuine incident was exemplary, though whether that was because of practice and forward preparedness or just because help is most easily at hand in an area where there is always a large police presence, as well as a major hospital only metres away, is a matter of debate, speculation and sheer guesswork.
It would be easy to look at this in the context of worldwide radical Islamist extremism, particular as, somewhat predictably, ISIS has already claimed responsibility were it not for yet another coincidence which was the death on Monday of one Martin McGuiness, erstwhile Member of the Northern Ireland government.
But Mr. McGuiness was far better known for his pre-parliamentary career as one of the leaders of the notorious IRA (Irish Republican Army) which conducted a relentless campaign of terrorist attacks throughout much of the 20th century, building to a crescendo in the late 1960s and 1970s, both in Northern Ireland and on mainland Britain, attacks that included bombing soft civilian targets, random shootings, ordered executions, often on ordinary people with no apparent connection to either side of the conflict and their infamous tarring and feather deaths, reserved for their special enemy targets.
During what became known colloquially and somewhat understatedly as ‘The Troubles’, not even the British Royal Family was immune, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Louis Mountbatten, being killed when a 500 bomb, planted on his fishing vessel Shadow V by the IRA, was detonated. His assassination on August 27, 1979, was perhaps the most shocking of all horrors inflicted by the IRA against the United Kingdom. In addition to his grandson Nicholas, 15-year-old boat hand Paul Maxwell was killed in the attack; the Dowager Lady Brabourne, Nicholas’ grandmother, was also fatally injured. Mountbatten’s grandson Timothy–Nicholas’ twin–was injured; as was his daughter, Lady Brabourne; and the twins’ father, Lord Brabourne. Lord Mountbatten was 79.
Unsurprisingly, the passing of one of the IRA’s key lieutenants at age 66 has been greeted more with quiet satisfaction than sorrow in many quarters, a fitting requiem for a man who never apologised for his bloody past, nor owned up to his full involvement in and knowledge of, some of the IRA’s bloodier massacres. Indeed, one pundit referred to his apparent move from urban guerrilla to mainstream politician as proof that terrorism clearly works.
But the juxtaposition of his death and those in the most recent London terrorist attack serves to remind us that urban terrorism is nothing new, nor is it new to the United Kingdom. The enemy changes, the religion behind the fanaticism changes but there are always those who will seek to try and impose their own agenda and dictatorial ideology on a peaceful majority who would never condone or conform to such a fanatical credo by democratic means.
So this week I shall end not with a bang but a whimper and the sobering lyrics of the Cranberries song ‘Zombie’
Another head hangs lowlyâ€¨Child is slowly takenâ€¨And if violence causes the silenceâ€¨Who are we mistakingâ€¨But you see it's not meâ€¨It's not my familyâ€¨In your head in your headâ€¨They are fightingâ€¨â€¨With their tanks and their bombsâ€¨And their bombs and their gunsâ€¨In your head in your head they are crying
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.