In global war against terrorists, citizens are on the front lines: Our view

Witnesses to Monday night’s horrific attack in Manchester, England, described the confusion, the smoke, the blood splattered all over the floor. After a suicide bomber detonated his device following a concert, people mentioned the empty shoes: Blasts tend to blow victims right out of their footwear.

Most of all, survivors remembered the children killed or maimed. The bomber coldly calculated that pop star Ariana Grande would draw young teenage girls, and the venue was indeed packed. An 8-year-old girl named Saffie Rose Roussos was the youngest to die.

The more than 20 deaths and dozens of hospitalizations made the Manchester attack, for which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility, England’s worst since 2005 and the fourth deadliest in Western Europe since 2015. “We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children … as an opportunity for carnage,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

Suicide bombings are among terrorists’ most insidious tactics and one for which Western nations have mostly and fortunately been spared since 9/11. They are, by contrast, a cruel fact of life in the Middle East and South Asia.

Just this year, dozens died when two suicide bombers detonated explosives near the Afghanistan parliament; at least 36 were killed when a driver exploded a bomb-laden truck in Iraq; and a suicide bomber at a Pakistan religious shrine killed 75 people.

After Manchester, there will be calls to harden “soft targets.” Bags were searched at the Manchester Arena on Monday, though witnesses say without much diligence. Even so, heightened security is an imperfect response to suicide bombers. An evil, suicidal zealot willing to sacrifice himself — or herself — in a crowded place is almost impossible to stop in real time. If denied…