Scottish Daily Mail


- by John R. Bradley

More than 100 peo­ple ex­e­cuted by black-clad sui­cide bombers. A plane full of hol­i­day­mak­ers blown to bits out of the sky. Sun­bathing tourists killed by ma­chine gun-wield­ing ji­hadis on a beach.

If we didn’t now know bet­ter, this sounds like a synop­sis for an apoc­a­lyp­tic Hol­ly­wood movie that even the most sen­sa­tion­al­ist scriptwrit­er might think was too far­fetched to be taken se­ri­ously.

But th­ese atroc­i­ties were all car­ried out by the foot sol­diers of Is­lamic State, a self­de­clared Mus­lim prov­ince strad­dling the north­ern parts of war-torn Syria and Iraq.

The area it con­trols is the size of Bri­tain, has a pop­u­la­tion of six mil­lion and a fully func­tion­ing econ­omy with a large in­come from oil fields, ex­tor­tion and do­na­tions by fab­u­lously wealthy but ex­trem­ist in­di­vid­u­als in the Per­sian Gulf states.

Gov­erned by Sharia law based on a lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ko­ran, it is de­fended by a fa­nat­i­cal army that may be 200,000strong. They are fired up by a fan­tasy of re­turn­ing the world to how they imag­ine it was dur­ing the life­time of their Prophet more than 1,400 years ago.

Their mo­ti­va­tion for un­bri­dled violence is as sim­ple as it is por­ten­tous: to erad­i­cate, or en­slave, all of the world’s pop­u­la­tion that does not sub­scribe to their ex­trem­ist in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lam.

And that in­cludes Mus­lims of other sects, who un­til now have borne the brunt of their no­to­ri­ously sav­age acts of slaugh­ter — recorded and broad­cast by a slick me­dia net­work for all the world to wit­ness.

By at­tack­ing west­ern­ers on a Tu­nisian beach and in Paris, th­ese Is­lamic State as­sas­sins have launched the open­ing salvo in a new and ter­ri­fy­ing kind of war that is aimed at ev­ery­thing we value.

Most chill­ingly, it will likely last for years, if not decades.

For while Al-Qaeda had spe­cific de­mands that called for the West to with­draw from the Mid­dle east, even if ev­ery Western sol­dier and civil­ian left the re­gion tomorrow, it would merely gal­vanise Is­lamic State ji­hadis into more hideous acts of bar­bar­ity.

More­over, un­like spec­tac­u­lar at­tacks by Al-Qaeda on Western sym­bols of power (such as on 9/11 in the U.S.), their strat­egy of killing in­no­cent cit­i­zens in beach re­sorts, at con­cert halls, restau­rants and foot­ball matches costs very lit­tle money and re­quires only the most ba­sic weapons.

But they re­alise that such strikes cause un­told panic and im­mense loss of hu­man life.

What’s more, such at­tacks can be made more fre­quently be­cause they need less de­tailed plan­ning. They can also be achieved us­ing far less ef­fort to avoid western in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.

And so the lessons for us in the West are clear. Above all, just be­cause a drone man­aged to ‘va­por­ise’ Ji­hadi John, doesn’t mean we have the up­per hand. Count­less thou­sands more are ready to re­place him.

Shame­fully, our politi­cians have been pro­foundly naive not to have taken this terror state se­ri­ously when it first emerged last year.

equally, they have been hope­lessly un­pre­pared to rise to the chal­lenge it now poses.

Its threat to wreak havoc around the world is now be­ing car­ried out with a vengeance.

For those of us who have stud­ied Is­lamic State, we know that there is a ruth­less method to the un­fold­ing mad­ness. No other terror or­gan­i­sa­tion in history has man­aged to nur­ture such blood lust on this epic scale.

Small won­der that Is­lamic State ji­hadis are gloat­ing, call­ing the Paris at­tacks a ‘mir­a­cle’ and threat­en­ing many more. We would be very fool­ish not to take them at their word. To­day, the Is­lamists’ dream of rid­ding the Arab world of ‘in­fi­dels’ is start­ing to be­come a re­al­ity as ter­ri­fied West­ern­ers de­cide to avoid large parts of the Mid­dle east.

Worse, they have made peo­ple ter­ri­fied on their own doorstep. Many Britons are jus­ti­fi­ably fret­ting about whether tak­ing a week­end break to one of europe’s tourist­friendly cities is worth the risk of get­ting caught up in the in­evitable next round of this metic­u­lously planned blood-let­ting.

Not since the out­break of World War II have or­di­nary peo­ple in Bri­tain and europe har­boured such a deep sense of fore­bod­ing about the fu­ture — a dread ex­ac­er­bated by the chaotic and seem­ingly un­stop­pable flow of mil­lions of refugees and eco­nomic mi­grants, most of them Arab Mus­lims, into our Con­ti­nent.

Though the French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande’s first in­stinct af­ter Fri­day night’s at­tacks was to close all of his coun­try’s bor­ders, he only sprang into ac­tion af­ter the horse had bolted.

This cri­sis also brings back mem­o­ries of a fright­ful age that ev­ery­one hoped would never re­turn; one when ex­treme Far right po­lit­i­cal par­ties sud­denly gain pop­u­lar­ity as trust in main­stream par­ties evap­o­rates.

In the wake of the Paris at­tack, the Far right Na­tional Front could eas­ily win the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tion next year.

Is­lamic State’s other mas­ter­stroke has been to in­fil­trate Western na­tions.

It means those who wish to do us and our loved ones harm, and who are de­ter­mined to erad­i­cate the cul­ture of tol­er­ance and plu­ral­ism we have lived and breathed and died de­fend­ing for cen­turies, are al­ready liv­ing among us.

The fact that some of the Paris sui­cide bombers were car­ry­ing for­eign pass­ports con­firms Is­lamic State’s boast that the group had al­ready flooded europe with at least 4,000 ter­ror­ists, cyn­i­cally ex­ploit­ing the refugee cri­sis. This is a form of psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare against us, as the knowl­edge of their pres­ence in our midst will con­tinue to tor­ment even as the mem­o­ries of the most re­cent at­tacks fade.

Mean­while, it is ridicu­lous to sug­gest, as those on the Far Left are do­ing, that euro­pean gov­ern­ments’ role in Syria and other Arab coun­tries is ex­clu­sively re­spon­si­ble for this new terror phe­nom­e­non.

The more com­plex truth is that this strand of fa­nat­i­cal Is­lam has ex­isted for as long as the re­li­gion it­self.

At the same time, it would be naive to deny our ill-thought-out mil­i­tary ad­ven­tur­ism in the Mid­dle east and con­tin­u­ing bum­bling ef­fort at bring­ing about change there has helped nur­ture the chaotic en­vi­ron­ment in which ex­trem­ism is flour­ish­ing.

In Iraq and Libya, we over­threw the coun­tries’ ruth­less but sec­u­lar lead­ers — and now those ar­eas have turned into the most lawless ji­hadist hot­beds.

AND OUR lead­ers con­tinue to in­sist, against all rea­son and logic, on the re­moval of Syr­ian dic­ta­tor Bashar alAs­sad, de­spite the fact that he is the last sec­u­lar Arab leader left who, whether we like it or not, en­joys huge pop­u­lar­ity in the onethird of the coun­try still un­der regime con­trol.

And then con­sider the breath­tak­ing hypocrisy of our con­tin­ued sup­port for that atro­cious hu­man rights abuser Saudi Ara­bia, which con­tin­ues to fun­nel money and arms to pre­pos­ter­ously called ‘mod­er­ate rebels’ in Syria in the name of bring­ing about democ­racy.

Sadly, back in Bri­tain and europe, there are no quick fixes for erad­i­cat­ing the ji­hadist plague. our in­tel­li­gence ser­vices will have their work cut out for the fore­see­able fu­ture as our politi­cians scram­ble to find ways to deal with the con­nected mi­grant night­mare.

In the mean­time, we should form an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion to fight Is­lamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria — a sug­ges­tion pro­posed by rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin. A re­fusal to do this would sug­gest a be­lief among Western gov­ern­ments that Putin poses a greater threat to europe’s sta­bil­ity than Is­lamic State.

That would be an ut­terly ir­re­spon­si­ble and wrong-headed as­sess­ment that could risk count­less more in­no­cent peo­ple’s lives.

JOHN R. BRADLEY’S lat­est book is Af­ter The Arab Spring: How Is­lamists Hi­jacked The Mid­dle East Re­volts.

 ?? Pic­ture: REUTERS ?? Mas­sacre: Bod­ies are cov­ered in white sheets as res­cue work­ers help sur­vivors at Le Car­il­lon restau­rant in Paris on Fri­day
Pic­ture: REUTERS Mas­sacre: Bod­ies are cov­ered in white sheets as res­cue work­ers help sur­vivors at Le Car­il­lon restau­rant in Paris on Fri­day

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