Paris Terror: ‘What We Saw Today Is War’
by GREG COROMBOS
Masked Islamic terrorists killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday in a brazen attack that terrorist expert Walid Phares believes amounts to war, and he said those trying to distance the killers from any connection to Islam are doing the world a great disservice.
On Wednesday, heavily armed and masked gunmen stormed into the offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hedbo, asked for victims by name and murdered 10 of them while wounding many others. The terrorists also killed two police officers on the street outside the magazine’s offices.
Phares, who is also an adviser to Congress on the Middle East and terrorism, said the details of this attack chill him even more than the hostage crisis that played out in Australia last month.
“The more worrisome kind of act that we saw today, which is the crossing of a benchmark or a red line, is a military-style attack. This is a team of four. They acted two-by-two, according to reports, and they executed a military mission, using for the first time not just machine guns but also [rocket-propelled grenades]. This is Paris. This is not Baghdad or Mosul, and things have changed,” said Phares, who urges the West to understand how the radicals view this fight.
“What we saw today is war,” Phares said. “This is not people who are offended by an issue anymore. This is a cold-blooded operation that killed many top French artists. This is an intimidation. This is a unilateral action taken not in reaction, because those cartoons were published a long time ago. The majority of those who protested, protested on the street. So people need to make a distinction between what is terrorism and what is a protest.”
The Paris terrorist attacks come less than a month after the Sydney hostage standoff and the terrorist massacre of scores of students at a school in Pakistan. Phares said the world will likely see many more of these targeted attacks that are harder for intelligence efforts to detect.
“We have been seeing, and will unfortunately be seeing, more widespread jihadi attacks of various kinds,” he said.
Phares is also denouncing the response by some media outlets to suggest the staff of Charlie Hebdo should have expected such a response following the publication of Muhammad cartoons years ago, and he is also critical of outlets scrubbing their archives of images that may be offensive to Muslims or adherents of any other religion. He said history proves that self-censorship in the hopes of appeasing enemies does not work.
“These are the absolute wrong moves,” Phares said. “We’ve seen in the late ’20s and ’30s how concession after concession, the National Socialists, the Fascists – and the Bolsheviks in the ’50s – would demand concession after concession, that this would be hurtful to German nationalism or Italian nationalism. This is how they built their totalitarian web.”
Political and media figures also fueled controversy on Wednesday by refusing to attach a motive to the attacks, even as they reported that the terrorists were shouting “Allahu Akbar” and that they had avenged Muhammad. Again, Phares said denying obvious connections only pushes the world further away from addressing the root cause of these sorts of attacks.
“I fully understand that we need to make a distinction between a religion, members of that religion and this ideological group, but this immediate rush toward making that distinction and saying Islam has to do or nothing to do with it, this is a theological debate. It has nothing to do with the debate about this movement,” he said. “I feel that by rushing to the other direction, we forget to identify and condemn and isolate an ideology.”