Paris Attack is Nothing but a Message
Alvite Singh Ningthoujam

The brutal serial attack in Paris resulting in death of 129 civilians besides injuring scores of others should not come as a surprise to anyone. The possibility of such a well-executed attack on in Europe have been doing the rounds ever since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) established its caliphate in July 2014. It is just that their warnings were often neglected, or possibly, their capabilities to stage a carnage of this magnitude have been underestimated. Whatever be the reasons for the lackadaisical approach to the warnings, the 13/11 attack should be a lesson for all the countries that are concerned about retaliation from this monster

So what is ISIS actually up to? The enhancement in the capability of the outfit to carry forward its war against infidels’, beyond its traditional regions of operation, has been astounding since the past few months. The ISIS-linked attacks on foreign tourists in Tunisia, mosques-blasts in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, an aborted attempt in Belgium, blasts in Ankara, Yemen, Afghanistan, murder of aid workers in Bangladesh, Russian civilian airliner attack and suicide attack in Beirut just a couple of days before this incident, are just a few indicators that the ISIS is deepening its presence in these countries with help from the insiders.

These well-orchestrated onslaughts speaks volumes about the unrelenting efforts of the outfit for a global presence. In the light of this, the Paris-attack should not be seen in isolation. This is true to the outfit’s assertion that ‘we have the capability to target our enemies wherever we wish to’ despite all the security arrangements or strengthening of intelligence and information sharing skills of the concerned establishments’. As a matter of fact, France had stepped up its security and intelligence gathering since the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher grocery store attacks in January this year. And yet, ISIS managed to mount the audacious and well-coordinated attacks in Paris, much to the chagrin of law enforcement agencies.

The choice of venues, the timing and that of the target-audience have clearly exhibited its gaining experience of finding such opportune moment, no matter how tight the security was at the Paris soccer stadium. Interestingly, the match was between German and French football teams, the countries which are fighting all forms of terrorism. The attack during this match, which is the national game of France, is a message that they can hit at the heart of the people. Simultaneously, by attacking the Bataclan concert hall where a US-based rock band was performing, the ISIS was sending a loud message about non-acceptance of the Western values and their intervention in the affairs of the Islamic world. T his fits well into the ambition of establishing a ‘caliphate’ wherever possible.

By pulling off the Paris attack--seen as one of the biggest terror strikes in a Western Nation in recent times-- ISIS has arrived proving that it is no more a Middle East-centric terror organisation but can now easily be termed as an ‘international terrorist group. The Paris attack also means that their constant reiteration of conducting an ‘all-out war’ no longer remains a myth or rhetoric, mostly propagated through their skilful social media propaganda campaign. The successful striking prowess will serve as a self-motivation and inspiration to wage further attacks. This might even inspire the Al Qaeda, in a way forerunner to ISIS to renew its efforts to attack western targets. Equally worrisome factor is the sense of encouragement that must have been felt by various terror and disaffected groups, particularly in Af-Pak and Southeast Asia regions, which have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

As a fallout of the Paris attack, the refugee influx into Europe from Syria will once again come under greater scrutiny since a Syrian passport was reportedly found near the body of a suicide bomber (near the stadium). This will strengthen the suspicion over linkages between the threat of refugee influx and such attacks. While this has its implications, a far more serious issue that needs to be looked into is the real-time threats posed by foreign fighters returning to their home-countries, the presence of highly-motivated lone-wolves, and that of home-grown jihadist. These elements are prevalent in the European context.

The present debates on this, however, are murky and their ability to inflict damages is usually overlooked barring a few analyses. In this case, the involvement of any of these categories should not be ruled out as the attack was staged with utter professionalism using not-so extraordinary weapons systems. Their familiarity with the terrain of their target locations with considerable people went in their favour. Furthermore, the sophisticated nature of the entire episode suggests that there are more people involved in the planning and execution of the attack than it is evident at first glance. Clearly, the attackers seemed to have received intensive training during their tenure in the ISIS camps which enabled them to sneak through high-level security arrangements.

At this juncture what is required for every concerned country is to take cognisance of the shifts in the strategy of ISIS and its evolution. The apparent successes while carrying out attacks in foreign territories in the last few weeks suggests a certain coming of age of ISIS terrorists. This success is sure to spur ISIS to plan more overseas operations by putting in resources.
This will, however, depend on how much wealth ISIS can accumulate amidst the intensifying assaults on them in Syria and Iraq.

Finally, effective countermeasures to destroy ISIS are nowhere in sight as every actor and the allies have their own vested interests. Therefore, at this point of time, it would be unrealistic to talk of solution approaches to destroy this outfit. Unless there is a consensus, everything will remain as mere rhetoric. Meanwhile, non-Western countries, including India, which are on the ISIS radar, should start re-calibrating their assessments on the evolution and changing tactics of this group, and should question themselves on the level of their preparedness to meet new challenges in the wake of the Paris attack.


Published Date: 16th November 2015, Image Source: http://www.dawn.com
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Vivekananda International Foundation)

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