~ By Kanchan Gupta
Hundred and twenty-seven people, innocent civilians, men and women, possibly children too, were massacred in cold blood in Paris on the night of Friday, 13th of November 2015 . Suicide bombers blew themselves up, terrorists with Kalashnikovs roamed the streets killing people at cafes, soccer fans at a packed stadium were targeted and the audience at a concert sprayed with bullets.
In separate messages, some of the grotesquely congratulatory, Daesh, or the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for the multiple attacks in at least six different places in France’s capital city. Police have told media that eight terrorists died in the coordinated attacks: seven of them suicide bombers, the eighth a gunman with an assault rifle.
Many more are likely to have been involved. Some of the terrorists involved in the slaughter may have escaped, making use of the confusion and chaos. There would be others who provided logistical support. Hunting them down, smoking them out of the Muslim immigrant ghettoes that now dominate Paris’s suburbs would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Meanwhile, reports from Germany suggest Islamists in Ms Angela Merkel’s haven for Arab hoardes washing up on Europe’s shores could have been involved in Friday’s nightmare-turned-real. A 51-year-old immigrant was arrested by German police when they found his car packed with bombs and other weapons of death and destruction. Interrogation has revealed he was on his way to Paris.
If the German connection proves true, this won’t be the first time Germany is found to have nurtured, under its benign liberal gaze, Islamists on a terror mission. Many of the 9/11 mass killers came from Germany too. Clearly lessons that should have been learnt were ignored. Nobody tolerates Murderous Islamism like the liberal West, with Ms Merkel’s Germany showing the way.
Soon after he was evacuated from the stadium targeted by terrorists, where he was watching the disrupted soccer match, France’s President Francois Hollande was understandably enraged and horrified by the enormity of the crime and promised retribution. “We will lead the fight. We will be merciless,” he said, declaring a state of emergency.
On Saturday, addressing a shocked nation, he elaborated on that promise. Friday’s carnage was “an act of war.” The attacks on a stadium, concert hall and Paris cafe diners, he said, were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet. France will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group. France will act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country.”
Strong words.Very strong words, indeed. But it would be foolish to believe that the barbarians who plotted the massacre, the terrorist army, the Islamic State, are shivering in their baggy pants or looking for places to hide, cowering in fear. After being chased out of Sinjar by a determined Peshmerga force, they needed to demonstrate their might, and they have. First it was the twin suicide bombings in Beirut’s suburbs that killed 37 Lebanese, then the multiple attacks in Paris.
True, this is not the first time Europe is discovering the horrors of terrorism. In March 2004 Spain witnessed the Madrid train bombings that left 191 commuters dead. In July 2005 it was London’s turn when suicide bombers killed 52 commuters, targeting a bus and two Underground trains. In January this year Charlie Hebdo’s offices were attacked, killing 12 people.
In between we had the 9/11 attacks of 2001 that left 2,977 people dead as the Twin Towers were blown to smithereens. And there were the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, claiming 266 lives. There other attacks too. Killing a few here, another few there. In Pakistan, the incubator and cradle of jihadi terror, the safest of havens for terrorists wanted globally for crimes against humanity, 132 school children were shot dead in Peshawar, making not the least difference to its sponsorship of terror.
We can rail and rant. We can threaten to wage war. We can promise extermination. But all that adds up to a big, fat zero. The US-led War on Terror meandered into disastrous misadventurism to settle personal slight and scores. Washington’s hypocrisy did not end with unwarranted regime change in Iraq and unsettling Assad in Syria. It extended to mollycoddling Pakistan and gifting Rawalpindi’s military-ISI-jihad enterprise with arms and dollars.
Security experts (everybody is one) have been quick to point out that there are remarkable similarities between the bloodletting in Mumbai and Paris. If we look hard enough, there is remarkable similarity between all acts of terrorism: they are committed by terrorists.
The US and its European allies are welcome to believe otherwise, but there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists. Drawing such distinctions to further American and European interests cannot but rebound, and rebound with hideous consequences. There are no, you see, good kafirs and bad kafirs. Everybody, including believers who refuse to concede Islam faces a monstrous problem, is fair game for jihadis.
Mr Hollande would do well to pause and ponder as France and the civilised world grieve for those who died Friday evening. He must accept, as must Europe and America, that the West has utterly, totally, unquestionably failed to respond to the threat posed by Islamic radicalism, of which the Islamic State is a fearsome manifestation. The spurious air strikes at Islamic State targets by a bogus coalition are a telling example.
The world still awaits a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. It cannot be decided upon because the Organisation of Islamic Countries won’t let terrorism be defined. Instead, they want the UN to mandate any criticism of Islam and Islamism as Islamophobia. Resolutions of the UN Security Council, especially Resolution 1373, are violated with impunity as the West twiddles it thumbs or, worse, turns an indulgent Nelson’s eye. Such is the determination to fight terror.
The world slept as Boko Haram let loose a reign of terror. The world slept as Israel was haunted by Palestinian terror. The world slept as the Islamic State went about recreating the Caliphate. The world slept as India was hit again and again, inflicted a thousand cuts by a terrorist state fattened on American dollars. The world slept as Islamism’s blood-stained crescent waxed and human values waned.
In recent times the world has woken up twice. First, when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called America’s bluff and took the battle to the Islamic State’s doors. And now as France counts its dead. With such knowledge, what forgiveness?
Kanchan Gupta is a Senior Journalist. The views expressed are his own.
(Disclaimer : This article first appeared in the Pioneer)