There is nothing to be surprised about the attack on Paris by one of the world’s most organised terror outfits, the Islamic State. This linkage and the subsequent assessment, however, are based on the claim of responsibility by the outfit soon after the massacre traumatised the world. Whatever the reality, the event did expose several aspects of the group which were hardly given due consideration earlier. For various reasons, their warnings were often neglected and their capabilities to stage a carnage of this magnitude were underestimated.
On this occasion, Paris became the ill-fated platform from where they sent out a loud-and-clear message: we can hit with precision regardless of the security measures or intelligence gathering tactics deployed by a highly security-efficient country like France. It would be unwise to put the blame entirely on the law enforcement bodies and security apparatuses as the country had stepped up its security following the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher grocery store attacks. Therefore, the attacks should be a warning bell not only for Europe and other Western countries but also wherever there is a penetration of its influence.
The resoluteness and capability of the outfit to continue targeting the ‘infidels’, beyond its traditional regions of operation, have become astounding. The evidences of the Islamic State link have become clearer during the last few months — the Tunisia tourists massacre mosque blasts in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, an aborted attempt in Belgium, blasts in Ankara, Yemen, Afghanistan, the killing of aid workers in Bangladesh, the Russian civilian airliner attack and the suicide attack in Beirut just a couple of days before this incident. These are clear manifestations of their gaining confidence to strike in distant lands; thus, signalling deepening penetration into these countries with help from the insiders. This also showcases its unrelenting appetite for a global reach-out. As a result, the Paris attack should not be seen in isolation.
By now, it appears that the Islamic State and its armed supporters and sympathisers in any part of the globe just need the ‘right opportunity’ to strike after months of careful planning. The level of their proficiency was marked by the choice of venues, the timing and the target audience.
The attack during the football match, which is the national game of France, is a message that they can hit at the heart of the people. Simultaneously, the attack on Bataclan concert hall, where a US-based rock band was performing, could be construed as a loud message about the Islamic State’s non-acceptance of Western values and the West’s intervention in the affairs of the Islamic world beyond Syria or Iraq. This fits well into the ambition of establishing a ‘caliphate’ wherever possible, and to this end, it is showing the willingness to do everything to defend Islamic interests (according to their interpretation).
With its ever expanding influence, the Islamic State is no longer a West Asia-centric terror organisation but has gained the tag of ‘international terror’. Their constant reiteration of conducting an ‘all-out war’, mostly propagated through their skilful online propaganda campaign, no longer remains a myth or rhetoric. The successful striking prowess is a self-motivation and inspiration to wage further attacks.