Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Through the Lens of Hindsight: Some Thoughts on the November Attacks in France

Two months ago today, some horrible attacks were made in Paris. That week, I drafted this post, but I didn’t post it. Now at the two-month mark, with the new year and people looking forward and no longer thinking about the attacks, I’d like to share some thoughts and open a discussion.

First, the basics as I understand it:

November 13, 2015: ISIS lost their most visible member to an assassination. A few hours later, bombs and shootings killed dozens of people in France.

That night, the media and others were saying that the attacks weren’t ISIS, because it was too organized to be consistent with ISIS.


Even if you set aside the fact that ISIS later claimed credit for the attacks in Paris, that “inconsistent” claim doesn't hold water. ISIS erupted on the scene too stable and entrenched in order to be easily destroyed or sabotaged. That in itself indicates one or more leaders who are cognizant of both planning and politics.

Previous attacks citing ISIS have come from youth, who might have been overeager to get what they’ve been promised will be theirs if they sacrifice themselves for the cause…or they might have been encouraged or outright ordered to make spontaneous attacks to encourage the world to associate ISIS with that poor planning, to distract people and make ISIS seem less competent.

Letting or encouraging an enemy to underestimate you is a classic maneuver. And it’s far more consistent with how ISIS appeared “out of nowhere” than the belief that they’re disorganized is.

I find it notable that ISIS had one particular torturer be its most visible face, especially with how there’s precedent of assassination of such people. So ISIS had to be aware that the man would be targeted. The man himself probably knew he was targeted—and, considering his faith, would’ve seen death as a blessing and quite likely martyrdom.

Now that torturer has been assassinated. I hope someone else in the hierarchy was identified first, for further research/watching/investigation, but considering the man killed was a torturer, he was enough of a threat that the loss of potential information might’ve been deemed an acceptable loss.

But that man was someone that ISIS had to knew was a target.

Why is that significant?

The France attack seems to me to have been organized and pre-planned…to be carried out whenever that target was killed.

Okay, the plan might’ve been set specifically for two particular days, but the timing suggests otherwise. Right when the world was celebrating a victory over ISIS, that victory was soured by the news about France.

Whoever runs ISIS is organized and cunning. Whoever is handling the military intelligence and determining how various governments respond to ISIS needs wisdom and intelligence to evaluate it properly rather than jumping to assumptions. Lord willing, the media reports minimizing the intelligence behind ISIS are reflecting the public story and not assumptions being made by the pertinent intelligence agencies and investigators.

I expect ISIS will get worse, but something is always getting worse.

My prayers still go out to France, for the lives lost and injured. My prayers still go out to those trapped and victimized in ISIS territory or households.

But I also know that things like this are always happening, have always been happening, and it took it happening in the right country by the right enemy before it made the news like this particular event did.

So I don’t only pray for what I know. I also pray for what I don’t.

What about you? Now that you’ve had some time to think about it awhile, what are your thoughts on the Paris attack?


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