Ted Rall: On ISIS And The Paris Shootings

why paris isis paris shootings
Written by Ted Rall

Now that ISIS has taken responsibility for the Paris shootings, officials in France are asking why. Here’s why that’s a stupid question — and a wrong one. [commentary]

aNewDomainted rall isis paris “It’s for Syria!” shouted one of the masked gunmen at his victims in Paris’ Le Bataclan theater.

“What are you doing in Syria? You’re going to pay now,” another attacker explained.

ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has claimed responsibility in a communiqué called yesterday’s attacks in the French capital “the first of the storm” and calling France a decadent “capital of prostitution and obscenity.” (Scroll below the fold to read ISIS’ statement in English.)

“Ambulances screamed down the boulevards, as a stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?” reported The New York Times.

Amid the chaos and horror of this latest spasm of urban terrorism, here are two key points to keep in mind:

  1. Asking “Why us?”, as Americans did after 9/11, is stupid. We know why. Anyone who doesn’t know why, and why “us” — Paris, New York, the West — is willfully obtuse.
  2. This is nothing new. This is not some new “war.” After each dramatic terrorist attack, including 9/11, overcaffeinated editorialists claim that Everything Has Changed and so We Had Better Step Up and Kick Terrorist Ass. This is even stupider than asking “Why us?” Terrorism has always been with us and, unless the configuration of power dynamics defined by economic relationships internationally as well as within nations changes radically, it always will be. Paris is the latest manifestation of a cycle of violence.

First, why us.

There is no mystery about why radical Islamists carry out high-profile attacks, often involving suicide bombers, against Western targets.

There’s a whole book of Osama bin Laden explaining why over and over and over.

Groups like ISIS are not “evil terrorist death cults,” as the British prime minister claimed yesterday. Terrorists are engaged in asymmetric warfare — the best strategy available to those engaged in armed conflict against an opponent with more powerful weapons, bigger armies and other structural advantages.

ISIS leaders know they can’t prevail in the battlefields of Syria and Iraq against the United States and its European allies. The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition has too many advantages, especially related to air power: There’s an endless supply of fighter jets, drones, and missiles and bombs to drop from them. ISIS has no air force whatsoever.

The Paris attacks are an attempt to sap political support — a better word might be tolerance, because the anti-ISIS war was never ratified by the people of France — for the French government’s participation in the air war against ISIS.

The attacks also serve secondary purposes as propaganda for recruitment — look, emasculated Muslims everywhere, we are fighting back against the infidel crusaders who have tortured and massacred and humiliated us, in their center of power! — as well as to make Westerners ask this very question: why us? ISIS wants France to draw the conclusion that what they are doing in Syria and Iraq is immoral and/or too costly to continue.

Why us? Or, in this case, why France?

It’s because President Francois Hollande ordered the French air force to help the United States bomb ISIS. ISIS says so.

So let’s not have any more of that “why us?” crap.

Second, this is not new.

President Hollande says that the attacks were “an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France.”

He’s wrong.

Hollande’s statement is classic colonialist bullshit. When powerful nations like France drop bombs on Syria, they want us to think, that’s not war.

I don’t know what your dictionary says. According to my understanding, when you drop bombs, especially when you do it over and over and over, that is war.

For elites like Hollande, it’s only war when the other side strikes back.

Lke everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled at ISIS’ slaughter of more than 100 innocent people in Paris yesterday. I am a dual French-U.S. citizen. I love France. These people did not have this coming.

But the French and the rest of the world need to realize that the Paris attacks do not mark the beginning of anything. They are a continuation in a cycle of violence that goes back a long time. If France were not bombing Syria, ISIS would almost certainly not be shooting Frenchmen.

France has a long history of military and colonial intervention in Syria, most notable the League of Nations mandate beginning with the Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I and nominal independence in 1943.

Paris is the latest iteration of this circus of death. France bombs ISIS. ISIS shoots Parisians. Now, right on cue, right-wingers are calling for an escalation of the air war against ISIS.

Which will lead to more attacks by ISIS against the West.

History teaches us that the only way to break a cycle of violence is for at least one side in a conflict — usually the stronger side — to stop striking “back,” accept its losses, and lick its wounds.

Unilateral ceasefire isn’t a magic recipe for peace. But it’s a necessary ingredient.

For aNewDomain, I’m Ted Rall.

Here is the full text of the ISIS statement released over Telegram, which takes responsibility for the shooting.

Islamic State

Urgent: Statement about the Blessed Paris Invasion on the French Crusaders

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

The Almighty said: “And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allah! But Allah’s (Torment) reached them from a place whereof they expected it not, and He cast terror into their hearts so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. Then take admonition, O you with eyes (to see).” [Al-Hashr: 2]

In a blessed attack for which Allah facilitated the causes for success, a faithful group of the soldiers of the Caliphate, may Allah dignify it and make it victorious, launched out, targeting the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe, Paris… Youths who divorced the world and went to their enemy seeking to be killed in the cause of Allah, in support of His religion and His Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and his charges, and to put the nose of His enemies in the ground. So they were honest with Allah, we consider them thusly, and Allah conquered through their hands and cast in the hearts of the Crusaders horror in the middle of their land, where eight brothers wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles, targeted sites that were accurately chosen in the heart of the capital of France, including the Stade de France during the match between the Crusader German and French teams, where the fool of France, Francois Hollande, was present.

[They also targeted] the Bataclan Conference Center, where hundreds of apostates had gathered in a profligate prostitution party, and other areas in the 10th and 11th and 18th [arrondissements] and in a coordinated fashion. So Paris shook under their feet, and its streets were tight upon them, and the result of the attacks was the death of no less than 100 Crusaders and the wounding of more than those, and unto Allah is all praise and gratitude.

Allah had granted our brothers their wish and gave them what they loved, for they detonated their belts in the gatherings of the disbelievers after running out of ammunition, we ask Allah to accept them among the martyrs and make us follow them.

Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign, and dare to curse our Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys. This attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.

Allah is Great

“But honor, power and glory belong to Allah, and to His Messenger (Muhammad), and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not.” [From Al-Munafiqun: 8]