Monday, January 21, 2013

21-Jan-13: Is there something to be learned from the terror attack on the Algerian gas plant?

Image Source: The Sun
The massive terror attack on an Algerian gas installation is winding to its conclusion. It raged for four days, and the death toll, not final, exceeds eighty people.

We blogged yesterday ["20-Jan-13: While some would claim the Algerian hostage-killers are terrorists, others, the BBC for instance, would see them as..."] about the oh-so-delicate way in which certain corners of the news-reporting media carefully trod around the T word without even once mentioning it. Meanwhile US president Obama, among numerous other leaders, called it what it was. And British prime minister Cameron said (as reported in the Telegraph) what many needed to hear when asked in Parliament whether he was "surprised and disappointed" that the BBC called "the perpetrators of these heinous crimes" militants:
These are terrorists and they should be described as such... This was a terrorist attack, it was to take hostages, to kill them, to kill innocent people and it should be condemned utterly.” [UK Telegraph]
Algeria's prime minister said this evening that the number of dead, not yet final, includes 37 foreigners of eight nationalities and one Algerian worker. 29 terrorists were killed; another three were captured alive. At least five hostages "are still missing". The co-ordinator of the terrorist attack, according to Reuters, was a "mystery Canadian named only as Chedad", and the terrorists who carried it out "were said to come from Egypt, Mauritania, Niger, Tunisia, Mali, Algeria", and Canada.

Think of it as the Islamists' answer to globalism.

Is there something here for us to absorb, to keep in mind as we continue to deal with terror in our communities?

The peerless British commentator Melanie Phillips has a powerful analysis in today's Daily Mail (UK) in which she expresses a degree of understanding for the violent response of the Algerian authorities. It's entitled "Unless we become as single-minded as the fanatics, we are all hostages now"; some excerpts follow.
  • Islamist fanatics play the longest game in town... What inspires them to further violence is their perception that the West is wide open for the taking - because it simply doesn’t have the will to fight for what it believes in... 
  • In the world of Islamic fundamentalism, weakness is an incentive to further violence. Only a display of uncompromising strength — including, most importantly, strength of resolve — has any chance of being a deterrent. The Algerians understand this very well. The West does not — instead assuming that everyone on the planet thinks like it does and is thus similarly governed by self-interest. But in dealing with Islamist fanatics who regard themselves as the army of God, and for whom death is the highest calling, this is a catastrophic mistake.
  • The most devastating consequence has been the West’s refusal to acknowledge that it is not fighting a series of brush fires based on local political grievances, but a war of religion being conducted against the free world in order to destroy it. This fundamental misjudgment has meant not merely that Western governments failed to grasp the threat that would be posed by the dispersed al Qaeda franchise in the Sahel region of west and north-central Africa. It has also caused them to make a series of dreadful errors which have led Islamic extremists to conclude that victory is within their grasp...
  • Blundering about with their asinine belief that elections are the antidote to holy war, they have merely produced chaos in which Islamic fanatics and terrorists have been the main beneficiaries...
  • To win this great civilisational battle of our time and protect all our citizens —including Britain’s many moderate Muslims — Britain must abandon its current incoherence. That means holding the line against Sharia law in Britain, and tearing up human rights law in order to deal properly with the human wrongs of Islamic terrorists. It means treating the Muslim Brotherhood as a deadly threat to freedom everywhere, rather than embracing them within Whitehall as helpful to the West. It means a steely resolve to act against the whole continuum of extremism that links British boys in Tower Hamlets or Sheffield to al-Qaeda in the Sahara.
  • And it means no soft-pedalling or negotiation with those threatening violence against us or our interests abroad. Only if we display such moral clarity and unwavering resolve will this menace ever be defeated, both at home and abroad. Otherwise, we are all hostages now.

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