By not addressing the roots of homegrown terrorism, more innocent lives will be put in jeopardy.
ISIS never actually claimed responsibility for the November 2015 Paris attacks. ISIS released a statement praising the attackers.1
Terror groups, when they claim credit for attacks, will sometimes include details of the planning or execution that establish the group was indeed responsible. There are none here; the statement details nothing that was not publicly available information from news reports. It also includes no biographical information on the attackers, even a name or photo, though terror groups will often lionize its attackers as "martyrs" in such statements.2
Even if ISIS did claim responsibility for the Paris attacks, that doesn't mean they actually carried out the attacks. Eight of the nine attackers were confirmed EU citizens. A Syrian passport was found near a ninth suspect, but its legitimacy has come under question.
The second reason for caution is more specific. Investigators still need to verify the Syrian passport was carried by an attacker rather than a dead bystander (one Egyptian passport-holder initially believed to be an assailant turned out to be an injured victim). They will then need to be certain that the passport's carrier was the same as the passport's legitimate owner.3
Despite no evidence that ISIS or refugees were responsible for the Paris attacks, the English-speaking world responded with enormous anti-refugee sentiment while the French government immediately deployed fighter jets to Syria.
Despite accusing ISIS of killing 130 French citizens, the French government chose to retaliate by bombing abandoned, empty locations in Syria:
Several people in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey who have been able to make contact with relatives in Raqqa say the recent French airstrikes — a barrage of about 30 on Sunday night and seven more on Monday — did not kill any civilians. But neither did they inflict serious military damage, those people said, instead hitting empty areas or buildings, or parts of the territory of factory complexes or military bases used by the Islamic State.
Abdullah, a Syrian concierge in Beirut who reached his sister in Raqqa on Tuesday, said that in the case of the seven French airstrikes on Monday, “all these strikes are targeting abandoned empty locations.” The day before, he said, the 30 French airstrikes hit mainly the outskirts of the city. “Thank God, no civilians died,” he said.4
If I were a sociopath who wanted to hurt innocent people, I would:
1) Blame everything on refugees so victims of violence have no place to flee
2) Blame everything on ISIS so I can start bombing the Middle East
3) Make minimal effort to fight ISIS (i.e. put in just enough effort to make it look like I'm fighting ISIS but never enough to actually beat ISIS)
4) Increase violence until large masses of innocent people suffer the consequences
The November 2015 Paris attacks were a case of homegrown terrorism. Blaming ISIS and refugees and increasing violence for Middle Eastern civilians achieves nothing. By not addressing the roots of homegrown terrorism, more innocent lives will be put in jeopardy.
- 1. "A Statement on the Blessed Onslaught in Paris against the Crusader Nation of France." Islamic State, 14 Nov. 2015, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-claims-paris-attacks-warns-.... Accessed 27 May 2017.
- 2. Fisher, Max. "Here is ISIS's statement claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks." Vox, 14 Nov. 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/11/14/9734794/isis-claim-paris-statement. Accessed 27 May 2017.
- 3. Kingsley, Patrick. "Why Syrian refugee passport found at Paris attack scene must be treated with caution." The Guardian, 15 Nov. 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/15/why-syrian-refugee-passpor.... Accessed 27 May 2017.
- 4. Barnard, Anne. "Strikes on Raqqa in Syria Lead to More Questions Than Results." The New York Times. 17 Nov. 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/world/middleeast/strikes-on-raqqa-in-.... Accessed 27 May 2017.
- 5. "Monitoring and assessing civilian casualties from international airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya." Airwars. Last updated: 26 May 2017, https://airwars.org/. Accessed 27 May 2017.