The latter part of September was deeply depressing: bombings in Iraq, scores dead in a Pakistani church, a new alliance of extremist Islamic brigades formed in Syria and the siege of a top-end mall in Nairobi, with at least 72 people killed by militants from the Somalia-based al-Shabab group.

Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, our tolerance for such violence is higher. But every few months, there is an incident that is sufficiently close to home, literally when a soldier is killed on the streets of London, or figuratively when weekend shoppers are targeted, to provoke the existential dread that is the aim, by definition, of terrorism.

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