Thursday, April 09, 2015

09-Apr-15: Reminders from France of the price of living in the cross-hairs of the terrorists

The TV5monde website at this hour, Thursday morning
France is experiencing a face-to-face encounter this morning with a relatively benign form of Islamist terrorist that is sure to be having a significant impact, one way or another, on the thinking of ordinary French people. The report comes from Associated Press:

French network's channels hacked by group claiming IS ties
AP | Apr. 9, 2015
A French television network has been hacked by people claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, the channel's director said Thursday. The hackers briefly cut transmission of 11 channels belonging to TV5 Monde and took over its websites and social media accounts. The channel's director, Yves Bigot, said the attack was continuing Thursday morning. He told RTL radio that the network has restored its signal but can only broadcast recorded programs. He said he was shaken when he saw 11 channels with a black screen "and when we discovered the sense of the message appearing on our social media and our websites, it both allowed us to understand what was happening and obviously worried us."
The message on the TV5 Monde website read in part "I am IS" with a banner by a group that called itself Cybercaliphate. That was replaced later Thursday by a simple message saying that it was undergoing maintenance.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, on his Twitter account, called the attack "an unacceptable insult to freedom of information and expression" and expressed his support for the editorial staff. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted that he and the ministers of culture and foreign affairs were visiting the channel's offices.
The Islamic extremist group has claimed complex hackings before, but the seizure of the French network appeared to be a new step in its information warfare tactics.
As of this writing, TV5monde's television channels, website and a number of its Twitter and Facebook pages are all down [source]:
Commenting on the ability to broadcast, Yves Bigot, the director of TV5 Monde, said that “we have begun to be able to retransmit a programme on a number of areas,” but “our systems have been extremely damaged” by the attack “with incredible power,” and the return to normal “will take hours or even days.” Paris-based TV5 Monde broadcasts in over 200 countries around the world... [Broadband TV News, today]
What's going on in the background is in some ways as worrying and perhaps even more so. This comes from France24 and AFP:

French realities, 2015 [Image Source]
Three months after Paris attacks, police working round the clock say they’re exhausted | Updated 2015-04-08
Police officers and troops deployed to work round the clock since Islamist terror attacks killed 17 people in Paris in January, say they are overworked and 'exhausted'. Since January’s terror attacks, about 10,500 troops have been deployed in France, including 5,800 in the Ile-de-France region that covers Paris, in addition to reinforcing conventional units of law enforcement. But after three months of guarding locations deemed sensitive round the clock, and long stretches of work without a day off, the police say they are “exhausted” and worried about the possibility of having to maintain this pace long term, according to Nicolas Comte, head of the police union... Nearly a thousand CRS officers have been tasked daily in Paris with monitoring public buildings, synagogues and media companies since the terror attacks that targeted satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. Unlike other French government agencies, the CRS are not entitled to the right to strike... A third of the Toulouse brigade workforce, which was scheduled to go to Paris on a mission, called in sick. Several of them are suffering from "psychological fatigue", Barcouda Christian, a union leader of CRS Toulouse, told reporters. "Many of our colleagues are just no longer doing well," she said.
Police sources said that this unprecedented mobilisation, which has also added to government budgetry costs, threatens to place officers under undue strain and could potentially lead to higher attrition rates. 
Imagine living with the threat of terrorism round the clock, 365 days a year, and the knowledge that sometimes the Islamists, not satisfied with seizing control of the mass media, engage in the actual murder of people. Incomprehensibly, it's a reality that is growing and not shrinking. As difficult as it sounds, we are all going to have to (a) get used to it, and (b) ponder about how high a price our societies are going to have to be prepared to pay in order to live with the dangers and overcome them.

"Living with the dangers and overcoming them" means, of course, defeating them. No other option exists.

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