The Paris Attacks: Not a Strategic Change, But a Natural Development

(Institute for National Security Studies) Yoram Schweitzer - The terrorist attacks in Paris were planned in Syria long in advance, with final preparations made in Belgium. The terrorist network involved in the multi-pronged strike consisted of at least nine members, seven of whom were suicide attackers. Another attack seems to have been planned for a financial district in the city. Since the start of this year, Muslim citizens of Western countries who fought in the ranks of the Islamic State are known to have planned to attack targets in France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, and elsewhere, but these attacks were foiled. The terrorists' intentions indicate that the Paris attacks and the others that were planned do not represent a radical departure from the Islamic State's strategy against Western nations. The thousands of foreign volunteers that have been absorbed into the ranks of the Islamic State over the last three years were trained as fighters and suicide attackers. Clearly, the governing idea was that when the time was right, it would be possible to have these operatives launch an international terrorism campaign. The notion that the Islamic State would avoid international terrorism was clearly unfounded. Video clips disseminated by Islamic State members and sympathizers included declarations by foreign volunteers of their intention to undertake acts of terrorism in Western nations. These messages must be viewed as a strategic warning. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State and its self-appointed caliph, has directly challenged the leaders of Russia, Europe, and NATO by means of mass casualty terrorist attacks carried out recently by his proxies. The Islamic State's declared worldview is one of Armageddon, which promises that the war of Judgment Day will restore Islam to its proper supremacy. The writer is head of the research program on Terror and Low-Intensity Conflict at the INSS, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community.

2015-12-01 00:00:00

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