Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris attacks: Advice that lots of people won't follow

The Aftermath of the Paris Attacks Is a Time to Grieve, Not Fear Monger is the title The Huffington Post gives to an 11/14/2015 opinion piece by Sam Corey, in which he quotes Bruce Hoffman:

Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, who has nearly four decades of terrorism research experience, stated in his report, Terrorism and the Media, that this type of media coverage is actually harmful to our national security.

He writes, "Only by spreading the terror and outrage to a much larger audience can the terrorists gain the maximum potential leverage that they need to effect fundamental political change."

A key factor of their objective is to create fear among the target population. Hoffman argues, "it is an essential factor in any terrorist's agenda that the whole tactic of terrorism is based upon, and that is visible in all parts of terrorist activity."

This strategy to gain attention is intentional. To an important extent, terrorists also want to intimidate the audience and the target government so that "even the threat of possibly becoming victim of terrorist violence is enough to create fear."

The whole point of terrorism is to create terror, and FOX News is playing right into their twisted game. But this doesn't stop some Republican presidential hopefuls from joining in on the fray.
The fact that so many people, including political leaders, charged right into fear- and warmongering doesn't make the caution any less relevant.

I was unable to find the quoted report under the name Terrorism and the Media in a brief online search.

Juan Cole gives us his initial framework for thinking about the Paris attacks in Paris at Midnight: Attempt to push France out of anti ISIL coalition in Syria? Informed Comment 11/14/2015:

A radio and television professional who was at the Bataclan and survived reported “I clearly heard them say to the hostages, ‘It is [President Francois] Hollande’s fault, it is the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.’ They also spoke of Iraq.”

If this report is accurate, then the attackers were likely members of, or sympathizers with Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), which holds territory in Syria and Iraq, and against which France began flying missions in September. Another possible culprit is core al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates, such as the Support Front (al-Jabha al-Nusra) in Syria. The Support Front does not, however, have territory in Iraq, and France has not specifically targeted it in the west of Syria, as opposed to hitting ISIL in the east.

When I was in France in mid-October, I was told by a former diplomat that President Hollande had decided to begin flying missions against ISIL in Raqqa, Syria, last September because French intelligence had learned that ISIL was planning to hit France. It is estimated that there are some 3,000 radical French Muslims fighting in ISIL (though remember that this number is proportionally tiny, since there are on the order of 3 million French Muslims, some 5% of the population– and the majority of them is not religious).

This operation may, then, have been planned even before France was militarily involved in the campaign against ISIL in Syria, and the terrorists’ assertion that it was revenge for that intervention of the past two months has things backward.

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