The devastating terror attacks in Paris on Friday that has claimed at least 132 lives and wounded hundreds sent shockwaves in capitols throughout the world. As governments from west to east — cognizant of the very genuine fear that they may be the next targets — scrambled to boost their own homeland security, a jolted civilized world tried to make sense of a new reality.
We extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the people of France, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.
Long before the word terrorism was coined, Jews were the victims of brutal, unprovoked attacks that resulted in mass murder of innocent men, women and children. We who are so painfully acquainted with the agony of being the target of heinous madmen, whose only goal is to shed blood and cause mayhem, can certainly relate to the anguish, fear and panic currently being experienced on the streets of France.
It is a tragic irony that the term terrorism is thought to stem from the French terrorisme, which originated as an official state policy during the Reign of Terror in France under the Jacobin regime at the end of the eighteenth century. The controversial Jacobin leader Maximilien de Robespierre went so far at the time to declare that the basis of a popular government in a time of revolution “is virtue and terror,” and that “terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice…”
After the fall of the Jacobins, the term began to be used in regard to groups and individuals, rather than a government. Over the past two centuries, a long list of infamous names became associated with this most nefarious term, and in the past half-century, many of them were affiliated with Islamic extremism.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the defeat of the al-Qaida terror organization became the number-one goal for the United States and some of its closest allies. It was widely believed that al-Qaida and its affiliates represented the ultimate threat to international safety and once they would be beaten — or at least contained — the United States and Europe would be able to breathe a little easier.
Few would have imagined a decade ago that in this time and age, the day would come when a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate would one day rule over much of Iraq and Syria, and its poisonous fangs would be behind the massive, well-organized, deadly terror attack that was witnessed on Friday.
The Islamic State didn’t merely take credit for and gloat over the bloodbath it caused in Paris. In its statement, it called Friday’s attacks “the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.”
This latest attack, coming on the heels of the downing of the Russian plane in Egypt — for which it took responsibility — and the deadly suicide bombings in Lebanon and Turkey — indicates that ISIS is determined to position itself as an international jihadist movement that battles the West and massacres the innocent on their own turf.
There is every reason to take ISIS at its word, and what is particularly alarming is the fact that this latest terror attack is likely to prove to be a powerful recruiting tactic. This infamous terrorist entity has demonstrated itself to be extremely adept at using social media to further its nefarious goals and use this medium to expand its growing army of diehard jihadi fighters.
As a mourning France and shell-shocked Europe tries to put together the pieces, the question on the minds of many is what will happen next?
Will this monstrous attack galvanize the West into taking concrete action and a full- force effort to try to destroy ISIS? Or will they merely choose to limit their response to a series of bombing raids — the same tactics that have proven to be singularly ineffective until now?
A related question is whether France now has the choice to invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which provides that if a member of the NATO alliance is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the member that was attacked.
Only once in the history of NATO was this clause invoked — following the attacks of September 11, 2001. France has every right, and perhaps even an obligation to do so. But whether Paris and her allies on both sides of the Ocean are truly ready for the long haul, and is prepared to commit the massive amount of manpower and resources needed for this undertaking, is far from certain.
We can only daven that the King of Kings should grant those in leadership positions the wisdom to make the right decisions, and that ISIS, and all other forces of terror and evil, should speedily be eradicated from the face of the earth.