The Attack: Terror in the UK, which broadcast last Thursday on BBC 2, is a harrowing reminder of something we’ve been fearing ages: an Islamic terror plot carried in a London mall to catastrophic effect. Richard Walton, the Met’s former Head of Counter Terrorism Command, has warned that such an attack is highly likely, and the very thought of it keeps him awake at night.
In this race-against-the-clock dramatisation, Arnold Oceng (who you may recognise from Brotherhood and A United Kingdom), plays a hopeless young father, locked up for selling drugs. While inside he meets tough Islamist, Ahmed (Waj Ali), who brainwashes him into believing that Allah is the answer to his problems. Father, Joseph, is a soft target – without a purpose and angry at world, he’s ripe for grooming. Ahmed exploits Joseph’s gun links to get his hands on some extra clips for his next hit: Westfield Stratford City.
In the shadows, counter terrorism officers are working hard to close in on the radicals. On their radar are some recent returnees from Syria and local gangland contacts, of which Ahmed is connected.
Joseph is only serving a short sentence, and upon returning home learns that his girlfriend wants nothing to do with him. Even though they have a child together. This ignites the fire for his radicalisation, which his girlfriend catches wind of too late. Under the new name of Yusuf, he sets off to Westfield, ready to wreak carnage, unware of the fact that Ahmed and co have been caught. Question is, will the police get there in time before he starts firing?
The Attack is decidedly subdued in tone, despite its gritty plot. Rather than focus on the violence and brutality driving Islamic fundamentalism, it instead directs its attention towards the emotional vulnerability of those partial to its influence. It’s supported by moody lighting, hazy camerawork and a pulsating soundtrack, which, starting with a few minor keys on the piano, develops into a rumbling beat as the story reaches its climax.
Catch the drama documentary on iPlayer now.