Middle Eastern Terrorists Targeted the United States Because

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Markus Schreiber/Associated Press


PARIS — When terrorists attacked the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo final Jan, the prevailing view in Europe was that their target was freedom of speech, “a cardinal component of our gratuitous autonomous civilisation,” as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Frg said then.

On Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush-league had a similar explanation for why the United States had been singled out. “America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world,” he said in a speech to the nation.

Democracies accept come up nether repeated terrorist attacks over the final 14 years. There were the Madrid train bombings in 2004, the London subway attack in 2005, and in more contempo years, sporadic cases across Europe. These included an assail on a Jewish school in the French urban center of Toulouse in 2012, killings at a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014, a thwarted assault on a Catholic church building outside Paris and near recently, an aborted shooting spree on a Paris-bound loftier-speed train.

These attacks have been attributed to Islamist extremists, merely other attackers have targeted their own societies in more solitary wars: Anders Behring Breivik, obsessed with a hatred for multiculturalism, went on a murderous rampage in Kingdom of norway in July 2011.

Democracies are not the only target of terrorist groups. Suicide bombings occur with mortiferous regularity in the Middle E and elsewhere, oft in societies that lag far behind the democratic ideal, challenge the overwhelming majority of terrorism’s recent victims.

And yet the repeated attacks in Western countries keep to raise questions nigh the terrorists’ goals. Are democracies targeted because their social and political freedoms are antithetical to the jihadists’ vision of a rigid theocracy? If killers targeted Charlie Hebdo for its caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, why did a fellow terrorist, two days subsequently, target a Jewish grocery shop?

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Islamist leaders take never hidden their disdain for democracy. Osama bin Laden, in a bulletin to Iraqis in 2003, chosen information technology “this deviant and misleading practice.” The late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, considered the founder of the so-called Islamic Country, also known as ISIS, challenged the 2005 Iraqi elections on theocratic grounds. “The legislator who must be obeyed in a democracy is a man, and not God,” he said. “That is the very essence of heresy and polytheism and mistake as it contradicts the basis of faith and monotheism.”

Yet most experts today would argue that Bin Laden attacked the The states in 2001 because of its military presence in the Eye East, not considering of its freedoms. “If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell usa why nosotros didn’t attack Sweden, for case,” the Al Qaeda chief said in a video circulate on Al Jazeera in 2004.

As Islamist terrorism has evolved since the Sept. eleven attacks in 2001, the thinking about the terrorists’ motives has too shifted. The recent arrival on the scene of ISIS or Daesh, its Arabic name, has redefined the debate once once again, as about 20,000 foreign fighters — including hundreds from Europe — join the war to constitute an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East.

The fearfulness in France and elsewhere in Europe is that Western recruits will render to wage a campaign of terror in the countries where they grew upwardly, raising again the question of why Western democracies continue to be targeted, and if they — precisely because of the freedoms built into their systems — are more vulnerable to set on.

Gilles Kepel, a professor at France’s Institute of Political Studies, has argued that ISIS, in contrast to Al Qaeda, is playing a deeper and wider game by deliberately stoking tensions “at the heart of Europe in society to destroy it by unleashing a civil state of war between its Muslim and non-Muslim citizens and residents.”

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Mr. Kepel, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde last Jan, cited a strategy elaborated in 2004 by Abu Musab al-Suri, a Syrian ideologue, who called for individual acts of terror in Western societies designed to incite Islamophobia. He argued that this, in turn, would alienate more local Muslims, making them potential recruits for jihad.

The appearance of social media, and a full-out war waged by ISIS in Iraq and Syrian arab republic, has allowed this strategy to be put into activeness, co-ordinate to Mr. Kepel. “The entire globe became a battlefield for Daesh,” he said in the interview.

“‘Blasphemous’ cartoonists, Muslim ‘apostates,’ the law, Jews are all choice targets,” he said. “Daesh has identified precisely cultural, religious and political divisions, and has set up their objective to plow them into fault lines.”

Other Islamist strategists accept elaborated the theory of a “leaderless jihad,” which does not try to organize terrorist actions, but rather inspires them from distant, avoiding huge bills and risky command structures.

Jessica Stern, co-writer with J.G. Berger of “ISIS: The State of Terror,” said the motion’due south message was strikingly simple. “Everyone must come join the jihad, only if y’all tin can’t come up, and then stay home and carry out attacks in that location,” she said. The eventual goal is polarization and chaos — an “apocalyptic narrative” favored past Mr. Zarqawi.

“Social media has certainly made information technology much easier to encourage individual cells,” said Ms. Stern, a lecturer on terrorism at Harvard. “It is very constructive because it makes it hard for constabulary enforcement to know what is going on.”

Republic, in that sense, may be more the setting than the target — opening a debate about whether democracies are more than vulnerable because they let more than room for costless speech and greater protection of human rights. Experts note, for instance, that autocratic societies like People’s republic of china have experienced fewer terrorist attacks than, say, India.

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Others argue that repression merely fosters terrorism. “The more you lot fight whatsoever expression of dissent under the banner of ‘counterterrorism,’ the more than you foster the very aforementioned terrorist threat,” Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor at the Constitute for Political Studies, wrote recently. He cited the case of Algeria, where an Islamic party’s victory at the polls in 1992 was suppressed by a armed forces coup, leading to a decade-long war with marginalized jihadists that cost the lives of some 150,000 Algerians, more often than not civilians.

As they set out to recreate a caliphate, ISIS leaders accept reportedly instituted elements of a performance land in places like Raqqa in Syria.

But ISIS rule is enforced by fearfulness, rather than costless consent. “If y’all believe the right fashion to regulate guild should be adamant by the word handed downwards by a seventh century prophet, that rules out having a vote on it,” said Patrick Cockburn, an Irish journalist and author of “The Ascent of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.”

ISIS’southward military victories confronting the Iraqi Army and aggressive U.S.-led airstrikes have fabricated it into something that Al Qaeda never was: a winning cause. An anonymous writer, identified as a former official in a NATO country with wide experience in the Eye East, wrote recently in The New York Review of Books that the movement’southward achievement has been to create a monopoly on jihad, luring fighters from all over the world.

“The but change is that there was suddenly a territory bachelor to attract and firm them,” the author wrote. “If the movement had not seized Raqqa and Mosul, many of these might well have simply continued to live out their lives with varying degrees of strain — as Normandy dairy farmers or quango employees in Cardiff.”

“We are left over again with tautology: ISIS exists because it tin exist,” the author wrote. “They are there because they’re in that location.”

Middle Eastern Terrorists Targeted the United States Because

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/world/why-do-terrorists-target-democracies.html