Analysis: The Paris attack is directly tied to events in Syria and Iraq; this was not an intelligence failure but rather the failure of the West to see itself as in a total war vs. radical Islam.
By Ron Ben-Yishai for Ynet (Nov 16) — It is time that we came to the realization: we are in the midst of World War III. A war that will differ from the others but will take place all over the globe, on land, air and sea. This is a war between jihadist Islam and Western civilization; a war between radical Islam and all those who refuse to surrender to its values and political demands.
… Therefore ISIS is attacking its enemies’ rear and Europe, as usual, is the first to get hit. ISIS and al-Qaeda prefer striking in Europe because it is considered the cradle of Christianity and Islamic fundamentalist organizations still see it as the homeland of the Crusaders, who just as in the past, are at present waging a religious and cultural war on Islam. France and Paris were chosen as a target as France stood at the forefront of the cultural and religious struggle against radical Islam. It is also the easiest target to attack.
France was the target of a combined assault of radical Islam not just because it has a tradition of human rights and freedom of movement, but because France and French culture symbolize everything that radical Islam is afraid of and is in an all-out war against. France enacted a ban on women to wear the hijab in public places, the Supreme Court allowed the magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and President Francois Hollande recently refused Iranian President Rouhani’s request to not have alcohol served at a dinner in his honor. All these are challenges to the jihadists that no one else in the West have yet dared emulate. So that is the primary reason that France mourns the murder of at least 129 people.
The second reason is that France has the biggest and most established Muslim population in Europe that lives in large urban concentrations, mostly poor neighborhoods. These are ideal soil for the preaching of radical Islam in neighborhood mosques. The terrorists yesterday spoke French fluently and one can assume that at least some were French citizens of North African descent and other Muslim countries in Africa and Asia. They could thus assimilate into the population to choose destinations, collect information about them and flee from them after their attack.
… The third reason is the fact that France is in the heart of Western Europe and it is surrounded by states with large Muslim immigrant communities. The freedom of movement between European countries as per the Schengen Agreement allows the jihadists to utilize these communities to both find terrorist fighters who have been through the baptism of fire in the Middle East and to smuggle weapons required to perform attacks.
… Another reason for choosing France is that it is considered the center of and the pinnacle of European culture and it is to a great extent a world city of the first order. Therefore the attack there has the greatest effect on people’s consciousness. Horror is effectively spread. It appears that the attackers were equipped with the pages of messages that declared so that those victims who survive would be able to cite to a media thirsty for every detail. “You bomb us in Syria and we bomb you in Paris,” was heard.
A change of perception needed
To carry out terrorist attacks in seven different locations requires lots of time and elaborate organization. One has to plan, to stockpile weapons and explosives, choose targets, collect information about the targets ahead of the attack, recruit attackers some of whom are willing to die in suicide attacks and tour the scene of the attack and prepare nearby before the actual attack. Therefore, it is reasonable to estimate that the attack was planned and prepared months ago and was kept on hold for a strategically opportune moment.
We need to prepare for further attacks not only in France, but throughout Europe…
The way Israel manages to gather intelligence and act on it quickly with the Border Police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet’s operational unit must serve as a model. It is clear that European bureaucrats, EU officials, will at first oppose the adoption of this model – but reality will probably force it upon them. They also will have to enact legislation to enable the mechanisms set up for intelligence gathering and rapid reaction to decisively prevent attacks before they occur and handle them quickly if they have already started to take place.
The world war between murderous fundamentalist Islam and Western civilization – and basically anyone and anything not Muslim – will have to be waged without compromise and without half-steps on land, air and sea. Brussels may not like it – but we’re all in the same boat. And no, the current wave of terrorism has nothing to do with the “occupation of Palestine.”