|Nice, France, last night [Image Source]|
- Were these latest heavily-armed, evidently trained, and very well-equipped killers also lone wolves like the long and growing list of heavily-armed, evidently trained, and very well-equipped killers who murdered before them in Frankfurt, Ottawa, Toulouse, Sydney, Fort Hood, Dijons, Joue-les-Tours, Woolwich, Brussels, Seattle (among many other places)? If yes, then quite soon those lone wolf operators are going to start looking like a coherent terrorist force, despite the best efforts of agenda-driven reporters and politicians. Needless to say, we think it's delusional to view them as one-offs, or freelance undertakings, or independent initiatives. There's a background to all of these. Ignoring that is not going to help anyone deal with the real existential dangers.
- The New York Times says "police had identified the suspects after one left his identification papers in the abandoned Citroën vehicle used to escape after the attack on Charlie Hebdo." This is interesting: on video, the shooters seem not only in control and competent with their Kalashnikovs and other killing implements, but also careful not to leave anything behind. One of them even stoops to deliberately pick up an object that evidently fell to the ground, before getting back into the passenger seat of car to flee. It's on this brief video clip. Yet these same people turn out to be stupid enough to leave their ID behind in the vehicle? So then let's stop the nonsense of them being "lone wolf" "militants". Without backing and planning, the lethal jihadism-spewing thugs would have been incompetent at anything beyond the pumping of bullets into defenceless civilians and (a Muslim) Parisian policeman lying prone on the ground with hands raised in surrender. Let's better hear about what's being done to find who sent, indoctrinated, equipped and financed them.
|Trafalgar Square, London, last night [Image Source]|
- Most people don't understand the meaning of "lone wolf". Many are sucked into the notion that the idea of attacking is solely the attackers'. Whatever the fine details, the overarching reality is that, whether individuals or clusters or armies, those who kill to the sound of Allahu Akhbar do it with the encouragement and glorification of a globe-hugging Islamist symphony orchestra of preachers, charlatans and political figures who inculcate, incite and inspire. They may not know each other but they are comrades in arms with all that entails.
- Greta Berlin (the "media communications consultant") is a founder of the scurrilous, terrorism-friendly, sadly-misnamed "Free Gaza Movement" organization and an odious spokesperson for the violent Turks on board the Mavi Marmara. When this opportunistic and stunningly foolish woman states publicly (which she did yesterday), and with a straight face, that the Charlie Hebdo killings were in reality a "false flag" operation executed by Israel's security apparatus and that "a four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack", her backers ought to ask forgiveness of 4 year-olds. She, and some of her apologists (this person, for instance, and this one) are walking proof that terrorism can turn a person into an idiot. The mainstream media (like the NYTimes, Telegraph UK, and The Guardian) who gave the malicious propagandist an warranted publicity boost in the past are politely ignoring the hate-filled "scoops" of Berlin and her fellow conspiracists; that's a shame.
|AFP journalists in their newsroom, last night [Image Source]|
- For many people, the shock and horror of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter is a prelude to something no less horrific (in their eyes): the danger - as one major newspaper puts it - that "with each terrorist attack... the acceptability of anti-immigrant policies seems to reach deeper into the mainstream... Nowhere in Europe are the tensions greater than in constitutionally secular France, with as many as six million Muslims, a painful colonial history in Algeria, Syria and North Africa, and a militarily bold foreign policy. That history has been aggravated by a period of governmental and economic weakness, when France seems incapable of serious structural, social and economic reform" [‘Dangerous Moment’ for Europe, as Fear and Resentment Grow", New York Times, yesterday]. Leaves us wondering whether the French will ever be able to forgive the satirists of Charlie for the ethical turbulence their barbaric deaths have caused their neighbours.
- For others, the Charlie Hebdo liquidation stands for an assault on democratic freedoms: "Charlie Hebdo Attack: Pen Becomes Defiant Symbol of Freedom" (NBC News); "Britain will 'never give up' freedom of speech, David Cameron says after Charlie Hebdo attack" (Telegraph UK); "The murder of Charlie Hebdo staff is an assault on freedom of expression" (Independent UK); "Charlie Hebdo Massacre Prompts Defense of Freedom of Speech" (US News). And to a certain extent, that is what it is. Hence the widespread appearance of individuals - especially those connected to the media - bearing signs that read "Je suis Charlie". But we think the perpetrators of yesterday's savagery, invoking the name of their deity and screaming "We have avenged the prophet", probably had less interest in freedoms and more in honour, pride and triumph. For them, this was a battle in a war they mean to wage on Europe's streets. Not grasping that is going to mean they get a tremendous head start. We would feel much better about French resilience if those signs were, for instance, to read "Je suis francais" or "Je suis européen".
|Paris, last night [Image Source]|
- There are enough bogus statements of the problem ["Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?", for instance] all over the media that make you wonder whether framing this extremely threatening issue of Islamist terror in plain terms would be an offense in itself. To be clear: No, Islam is not to blame. But there are very large numbers of its practitioners whose views (or silence) on the terror done in the name of their faith provide a solid basis for the widespread disquiet in evidence in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere.
- The armed attackers fled the Charlie Hebdo offices off the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, exchanging fire with the gendarmes as they fled. They then abandoned their car in Paris' 19th arrondissement, near the Porte de Pantin metro station and disappeared. Only someone unfamiliar with Paris and its no-go suburban enclaves will fail to appreciate the strategic value to Islamist gunmen of those neighbourhoods. Here's some background: "The French Intifada: how the Arab banlieues are fighting the French state" [The Guardian, February 23, 2014]
- France's national terror alert level has been raised to the highest value. Underscoring this, some 800 additional soldiers have now been assigned to guard duty at media offices, houses of worship, transport facilities and similar strategic locations. This, it has to be pointed out, is not how you protect freedom of expression. It's about saving threatened lives.
|Toulouse, France, last night [Image Source]|
- In the past hour, the French held a minute of collective silence. By government request, the tricolore is due to fly at half mast for three days.
- It's not too soon to say that France's problems are far from over. Here is what is in the headlines as we sit here now: "There's two huge police operations under way in France today. One in the south of Paris, at Porte de Chatillon, Montrouge after a gunman opened fire on police this morning at 8.20am, killing a female officer. Armed police are on the scene at Avenue Pierre Brossolette. The gunman is still on the run and may still be in the area, hence the huge police presence... [And] various reports that the two suspects behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre yesterday have been tracked down to the town of Vauciennes, to the east of Paris. These are unconfirmed." [source] Seems they robbed a gas station just before noon today near Villers-Cotterets in the Aisne region [source] as they headed north from Paris in a stolen car. In the past half hour, Le Figaro reports they appear to have abandoned the car and are on foot.
- And we read that "Seven others have been arrested [so far] as part of the ongoing police operation to track down the terrorist killers. Questions are already being asked as to how Cherif Kouachi , who was jailed for three years in 2008 for helping recruit French Muslims to fight for Al Qaeda in Iraq, could have been able to plan and carry such a brazen attack in broad daylight under the noses of intelligence services." [source]