Charlie Hebdo: Take a Side
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Today's attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo marks a turning point in the terror threat on European soil, which could either turn out to be a long overdue wake-up call for the Western governments or on the contrary - if ignored - set up the right conditions for very dark times ahead of us.
The nature of Paris shootout is different from previous large scale terror plots that took place in the West a decade ago, such as the 9/11 plane hijacks, the Spanish train bombing, or the London Underground kamikazes. After those major attacks and before this shooting, most attacks that had taken place in the West have been perpetrated by "Lone Wolves", with the latest trend being that of the self-declared ISIS supporters. The latest event though reveals that the danger has not only increased, but as the analysis is about to suggest, it has been sit on in the Western societies as the result of the underestimation of critical factors and insufficient prevention.
Many conclusions can be inferred from the raw footage, the testimony of the survivors, plus some rumors that are leaking sparsely, and which should be treated with caution. The images, though, show clearly that the commando was well organized, had military-grade equipment and training, specifically coordinated team movements and assault rifle tactical shooting, they did not hesitate to cold-bloodily execute defenseless people and law officers, and there is no doubt they followed a carefully conceived plan. Those elements may lead to the hypothesis that the terrorists may be returning foreign fighters, the French Ineterior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve having already confirmed recently that at least 930 French nationals are fighting for the jihad abroad.
Even more importantly, their accent and knowledge of the French language betray that they probably originate from inside France. Pointing in the direction of Islamic extremism, only presumably at the moment of this writing, there are the accounts of witnesses who heard the shooters yell “Allahu Akbar” and “We will avenge the Prophet”, and they even identified themselves as Al-Qaida members, according to one witness report. Their words were a clear reference to the irreverent drawings published by the magazine which has been critical of the Islam, and to be fair also of Christianity, politics, and on many other sensitive topics. Moreover, the offices of the journals had already been the object of a molotov attack 2 November 2011, and their website was compromised. Of course, the magazine has also received threats for a long time, and the magazine director and other eight people figured in a wanted dead-or-alive list for crimes against Islam, which had been published by jihadiste magazine Inspire in 2013. Even considering this worrisome record, there were only two policemen assigned to protect the director, all of them also died during the attack.
One of the latest satirical drawings by Charlie Hebdo's Director "Charb". Translation: "No terrorist attacks yet? Wait, we have time until the end of January to give our best wishes."
The shooters attacked during the weekly meeting of the staff - probably not a coincidence - gaining access to the building by threatening an employee at gunpoint, a woman that they were likely waiting for. Then, they proceeded to kill the doorman, the director, most of the cartoonist, a host, and neutralize the police. There is nothing erratic or random in their behavior, but just lucid and meticulous planning and execution.
Clearly, as previously anticipated, this is not a “lone wolf” scenario anymore, since the terrorist could not have received that kind of training or equipment by themselves, which suggest that there may be a larger cell involved. Even more so it is unlikely that this was the first time that they drew blood. We are talking about a highly effective military guerrilla action, not the acts of an isolated individual. But underestimating the threat, along with other symptoms of the coming storm, inevitably lead to this day of reckoning.
Homeland Security with White Gloves
Indeed, the alarming signals were all there under everybody's eyes. France itself can count two copycat car attacks on its territory, whose authors were Islamic extremists, but the authorities quickly minimized the importance of those events. Moreover, Europe has been the theater of a long list of pro-ISIS parades. Many participants were long date Europe's residents. But instead of taking a hard stance against those, the European governments rushed to stress profusely that Islam is a religion of peace. It is unclear why condemning the supporters of terrorism would have anything to do with the nature of Islam as a religion, but as it stands being politically correct is probably a major source of concern than homeland security.
In this regard, Europe - more than the U.S., Australia and New Zealand - is at risk also due to the large number of people that have been residing in the West for many years and who have openly voiced their support for terrorist organizations, especially after the success of ISIS, and for the expansion of the caliphate. Their numbers continue to rise because the pro-terror demonstrations were benignly tolerated - and thus legitimized - to the point that those who carried the ISIS flag and shouted slogans in support of the terrorism did not incurred any consequences. Even worse, those who expressed their criticism against this soft treatment are the ones who were eventually targeted by the reaction of the political estabilishment.
To compound this problem, every day thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly coming from countries at risk, gain access into Europe, especially in Italy. Genuine refugees are a small percentage, most of them are without a passport, an often they are not identified, a systematic occurrence in Italy where there are neither the means nor the procedures. Once landed, the immigrants can and often do elude the controls, and their tracks are lost very easily.
Given that in 2014 alone at least 200,000 illegal immigrants came in Europe, we can assume that some terrorist have already infiltrated.
But why nothing serious is being done for the homeland security in Europe? Is it not contradictory to state that we are saving lives in the Mediterranean, when in fact we are putting at risk the lives and the future of the Europeans? Isn't this a blatant violation of basic security principles?
This way the security of the West is at risk both because of local threats, and also thanks to the uncontrolled movements of people that opened the doors to the malicious elements. The chaos and fear levels in the population are on the rise, as are the crimes committed by foreigners, who simply have no real perspectives in an economically depressed continent such as Europe. It is just the case to remember that the word “terror” as in “terrorism” is there for good reasons, and effectively the terror is the thing coming if no serious actions are taken to stop this downward spiral.
Deeds, Not Words
French President Hollande declared in the aftermath of the Paris incident that the culprits will be apprehended and security measures are being put in place to prevent further attacks. Prevention is the keyword here, but not the short term, emergency measures that the President is talking about. Real prevention is a long term effort and prevention has not been high up on the priority list, it seems. It is about time that the Western governments understood the urgency of marking a clear line with extreme and strict measures between moderate Muslims and Islamic extremists, the latter to be treated as a terrorist. As harsh as the most politically correct, those who preach to put Sharia above the law of the land are a fine example of the extremists to be considered terrorists. We are simply past the times where we can afford to be so naïve any longer.
I am concluding with a reference to the wise speech given recently by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who met with scholars and leaders of the al-Azhar University, the largest theological center of Sunni Islam. The President urged them to work together so that the Islamic world would be no longer perceived as
"a source of anxiety, danger, death and destruction to the rest of humanity”.
“The whole world is waiting for your next move. Why the Islamic Umma is torn, is destroyed and is lost, through the work of our own hands".
Blog: The Other Side Of The Mirror