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PETER HITCHENS: Terror is stalking our streets but it has NOTHING to do with ISIS 

A crazy man kills innocent people and within minutes everyone, from Scotland Yard to the BBC, is saying it is Islamist terror. But is this true? 

Please explain to me, if you can, how the actions of Usman Khan could possibly have advanced any cause. 

His victims were gentle academic people of the sort who tend to play down warnings that Islam is dangerous to our society.

I looked for the usual explanation, and found it. I found it in a throwaway line that the writer of the article had not thought especially important. After dropping out of school, Khan ‘started hanging around with drug gangs’

By killing them he did not make Islamic rule more likely. On the contrary, by evoking the disgust and pity of millions, he made life harder for his fellow Muslims, not least the peaceful ones who do not share his anger.

I prefer to think about things rather than rush into judgment about them. I read very carefully all the accounts of Khan’s miserable life and death. 

His original terror conviction was, in fact, based on some very stupid and nasty things he had said or discussed. He had not killed anyone or built a bomb.

It seems very clear he was deliberately seeking to be shot by police. 

By killing them he did not make Islamic rule more likely. On the contrary, by evoking the disgust and pity of millions, he made life harder for his fellow Muslims, not least the peaceful ones who do not share his anger

Just before he went crazy with knives, he is alleged to have shouted he had a bomb, when he did not. 

Two separate witnesses of his last moments, who watched the awful scene from buses on London Bridge, recounted that he pulled his coat back to reveal what looked like a suicide belt, so leaving police with no real choice but to kill him in case it was real.

But what had turned him from a fairly normal schoolboy into the bloodthirsty braggart who was sent to prison? 

And then into an unhinged person who murdered benevolent strangers and contrived to get the police to shoot him dead? 

I looked for the usual explanation, and found it. I found it in a throwaway line that the writer of the article had not thought especially important. 

After dropping out of school, Khan ‘started hanging around with drug gangs’.

Somehow, I suspect this involved consuming the product. And I would be amazed if the product was not marijuana – whose use is increasingly associated with severe mental illness and violent crime.

As in so many of these stories, if you read a long way down, this was when his personality changed.

The previous wimp and bully’s victim was now a death-and-glory preacher. A former classmate ‘could not believe the change in Khan when he saw him preaching on the streets’.

I have looked into the background of almost every mass killer in the USA, Japan, France and Britain in recent years. It is astonishing how many of them turn out to be abusers of marijuana.

Quite a lot of crazy people – the Leytonstone knifeman, Muhaydin Mire, is an example of this – latch on to religious or political causes to make themselves feel more important and less lonely.

Mire was an undoubted marijuana user. He was so off his head that he genuinely believed that Anthony Blair was his guardian angel. His family had repeatedly begged the authorities to take him into some sort of care.

But those authorities did nothing, as they often do nothing about the severely mentally ill. 

Quite a lot of crazy people – the Leytonstone knifeman, Muhaydin Mire, is an example of this – latch on to religious or political causes to make themselves feel more important and less lonely

He had to stab someone, and shout some meaningless political slogan, before they acted. And then they ridiculously pretended he was a terrorist.

Alas, there are alarming numbers of people on the streets of this country now, out of their minds thanks to supposedly ‘soft’ marijuana, who will not be locked up until it is too late. 

Most of these cases barely rate a mention, outside local papers. 

But when they can be categorised as ‘Islamist terror’, they barge their way on to front pages and news bulletins. And we then totally miss the point of them. 

The real terror in this country today is marijuana, an illegal drug the police have stopped even trying to control, with terrible effects on increasing numbers of its users. 

This will become appallingly clear in the years to come.

The question is, will it become clear in time to prevent the legalisation of this drug, now sought by one of the greediest, richest and most cynical lobbies in human history?

BBC's laughable tale of a bear in a bike helmet

Latest characters include a polar bear with a permanently sore head, wearing what looks like a bicycle helmet

I wonder how many people are still watching the leaden BBC dramatisation of Philip Pullman’s heavy-handed atheist books for teens, His Dark Materials. 

As with the recent turkey World On Fire, I’m watching mainly for unintended laughs.

Latest characters include a polar bear with a permanently sore head, wearing what looks like a bicycle helmet (right), and a very self-important seagull, which appears from time to time to deliver useless, portentous sentiments.

Then there’s a device, a sort of Edwardian alarm clock, which always tells the truth but apparently can’t warn the heroine that she is about to be scrobbled by kidnappers and carried off to her doom. The books weren’t that good either.

It was always Pullman’s angry atheism that made the critics so keen on them, but they have had to leave most of that out for the US market.

Pointless Nato is making us LESS safe

People think you’re a Kremlin agent if you believe renewing our Cold War superpower Trident submarines is a silly waste of money. 

Yet the late Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a decorated fighting soldier, undoubted military expert and undoubted patriot, said before he died that Trident was ‘completely useless’ in modern warfare, and a waste of £20 billion. 

His Tory friends coped by pretending they had not heard him.

Well, let me point out that our membership of the Nato alliance is equally silly, and that Nato itself should have been shut down 30 years ago.

Relying on these Cold War relics stops us from thinking about the very real problems of maintaining good, strong, well-equipped armed forces with reliable recruitment – all in a terrible mess just now. A military helicopter is pictured above during last week's NATO conference

I know people will respond like Victorian maiden aunts glimpsing an untrousered piano leg. But just because Jeremy Corbyn agrees with you, it does not necessarily mean that you are wrong.

Nato was formed to deter the threat from the Soviet Union, an expansionist communist world empire whose huge tank armies sat in the heart of Germany. But the Soviet Union no longer exists. Its mirror-image of Nato, the Warsaw Pact, has likewise disappeared.

It makes as much sense to have an alliance against the USSR as it would to have one against Austria-Hungary, another once-mighty power now vanished from the map.

All Nato’s survival and idiotic eastward expansion did was create conflicts where none had previously existed. Which it continues to do. 

In any case, Nato is a colossal bluff. Its vaunted Article 5, which supposedly binds all members to come to each other’s aid under attack, is empty. The USA, which never goes to war unless it wants to, made sure of that.

It says only that each nation must take ‘such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force’. That’s less binding than string. 

Relying on these Cold War relics stops us from thinking about the very real problems of maintaining good, strong, well-equipped armed forces with reliable recruitment – all in a terrible mess just now.

No, I won’t weep for the apostrophe, now obviously doomed. I can usually cope with it, but it’s clear that most people can’t, and hateful predictive text often shoves it in where it’s not wanted. 

It’s hard to make a stand for this squiggle, mainly because there’s no firm rule about it. 

In my childhood, Alice In Wonderland said ‘sha’n’t’ with two apostrophes. Now she says ‘shan’t’ with one apostrophe. Why? Either it’s vital, or it isn’t.  

I’ll take on Andrew Neil

Since interviewer Andrew Neil has some free time (thanks to the PM’s refusal to meet him), may I invite him instead to have a rematch with me? 

In April 2018, Andrew tried and failed to savage me, when I urged caution over claims that Syria had used poison gas in the town of Douma.

Now, astonishing leaks from inside the poison gas watchdog OPCW – reported here but scandalously ignored by others – show my caution was right. 

The facts I shall shortly publish about this suppression of truth are so strong that I’d happily submit to the toughest questioning he can come up with. 

If you want to comment on Peter Hitchens click here 

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