Sunday, February 14, 2016

14-Feb-16: Islamist terror in Europe "here to stay" but what about the past?

Paris 2015 [Image Source]
Quote of the week:
More major attacks in Europe are a "certainty", French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told an audience at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. "We have entered -- we all feel it -- in a new era characterised by the lasting presence of 'hyper-terrorism'," said Valls, whose country was hit by two Islamist attacks last year. "We must be fully conscious of the threat, and react with a very great force and great lucidity. There will be attacks. Large-scale attacks. It's a certainty. This hyper-terrorism is here to stay," he said... [AFP, February 13, 2016]
It's a powerful statement from a political figure who heads a country deeply invested in the outcome of his prediction.

Surprisingly, it has gotten no mainstream news coverage so far other than via the French news-agency. But note the editorial insertion: "whose country was hit by two Islamist attacks last year". If there has been a public correction of that mis-statement, we have not yet seen it.

Is there any doubt that France suffered more than two Islamist terror attacks in 2015? A glance at Wikipedia's "List of Islamist terrorist attacks" shows seven attacks its editors define as "Islamist" and French (from among 118 recorded Islamist attacks worldwide during the year). Which of these, we wonder, are considered by AFP's editors as something other than terror or not done by Islamists, or perhaps not French? And for the record, there were clearly many more Islamist terror attacks on French targets than the seven listed here:
  • January 7–9, 2015 – A series of five attacks in and around Paris kill 17 people, plus three attackers, and leave 22 other people injured.
From 11:30 CET on 7 January to 18:35 CET on 9 January 2015, a series of five attacks occurred across the Île-de-France region, particularly in Paris. The attacks killed a total of 17 people, in addition to the three perpetrators and wounded 22 others. A fifth shooting attack did not result in any fatalities. The group that claims responsibility for the attacks, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed that the attack had been planned for years ahead. [Wikipedia]
The Porte de Vincennes siege occurred at a Hypercacher kosher superette in Porte de Vincennes (20th arrondissement of Paris) in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting two days earlier, and concurrently with the Dammartin-en-Goële hostage crisis in which the two Charlie Hebdo gunmen were cornered. Amedy Coulibaly had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and was a close friend of... the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo attack... Coulibaly murdered four Jewish hostages, and held fifteen other hostages during a siege... The police ended the siege by storming the store and killing Coulibaly... [Wikipedia]
  • June 26, 2015 – Saint-Quentin-Fallavier attack – Beheading in a factory near Lyon, head marked with Arabic writing and Islamist flags. Gas canisters planted provoked a fire. 1 dead, 11 injured.
[A] French Muslim of North African descent, Yassine Salhi, decapitated his employer Hervé Cornara and drove his van into gas cylinders at a gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier near Lyon, France, which caused an explosion that injured two other people... The attack occurred on the same day as several other Islamist terrorist attacks, which have subsequently been named the 2015 Ramadan attacks, though any relationship between the various incidents is disputed. French authorities believe that Salhi has links with the Islamist terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)... [Wikipedia]
  • August 21, 2015 – 2015 Thalys train attack | Shooting and stabbing in train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris injures 5. The incident is believed by French police to be an Islamist terrorist attack.
...The train had just crossed the border from Belgium into France and was traveling in Oignies (department of Pas-de-Calais) when the perpetrator opened fire in a train carriage before being subdued by passengers, one of whom he stabbed. Including the assailant, four people were injured, none fatally. The incident is believed by French police to be an Islamist terrorist attack, although the gunman claimed the motivation was robbery due to hunger. Several people who subdued the attacker were awarded France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour and other awards... [Wikipedia]
  • November 13, 2015 – A series of terrorist attacks in Paris kill 137, and wound 368. They involved a series of coordinated attacks which consisted of mass shootings and suicide bombings. This incident was the most fatal event on French soil since World War II. See our post "14-Nov-15: The Friday 13th terror assault on Paris".
  • November 18, 2015 – A Jewish history teacher was stabbed in the arm and leg by three Islamists in Marseille. [The Wikipedia editors point to this external article for background:]
A teacher at a Jewish school in the southern French city of Marseille was stabbed Wednesday evening by three people shouting anti-Semitic obscenities and expressing support for the Islamic State group... The 57-year-old victim, who was wearing a kippa, was attacked outside his home, a short distance from the school and synagogue complex, a source close to the investigation said. The attackers who were travelling by scooter demanded he look at smartphone pictures of Toulouse jihadist Mohamed Merah, who shot dead three Jewish schoolchildren, a teacher and three soldiers in southwestern France in 2012, Marseille public prosecutor Brice Robin told AFP. They also "showed him a t-shirt with the logo of Daesh (an acronym for Islamic State)" before lunging at him with a knife, injuring him in the arms, legs and stomach... [Source]
The same Wikipedia list records two Islamist terror attacks in France already this year: the January 7, 2016 attack on a Paris police station by an Islamist from Morocco armed with a pretend explosive belt and a meat cleaver (shot dead by police) ["Paris police kill man armed with meat cleaver on Charlie Hebdo anniversary", Reuters, January 7, 2016]. And the January 11, 2016 machete assault by a 15-year old Turkish child on a teacher from a Jewish school in Marseille ["Teen jihadi ‘proud’ of attack on Jewish man in Marseille", Times of Israel, January 13, 2016].

Is inaccurate and often tendentious mainstream media coverage of Islamist acts of terrorism a part of the terror problem or of the journalism problem?

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