The Paris massacre: 5 Ws and 1 H

Like many of us, I am trying to understand so I am able to analyze. First, understand. I am not a journalist and I have never studied journalism (one of my regrets) but I will try to apply the universal rule of and”the five Ws and one Hand” to see a bit more clearly.
What happened?
Paris was attacked by a semi-professional urban commando unit. At last eight of the terrorists died — one of them was killed by the police and seven killed themselves with explosive belts. This was a simultaneous and coordinated attack in different parts of the city but the modus operandi shows that the attack had been prepared for months. Following the attack, Paris has been in shock. At least 129 people died and almost 300 injured. When I wrote this, 100 of them were in a critical state, between life and death.
Where did it take place?
First of all, it took place in Paris. It has been a common Islamist terrorist target since 1990, when the Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria started to commit attacks and bombings. (Or even before in the 1980s, Paris was the target of the Armenian radical movement the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia [ASALA], with the Orly bombing in 1983). Being a symbol of a healthy and luxurious life but also trapped in the stereotype of the capital of culture, pleasure, love and and”dolce vita,and” Paris is a target for frustrated people and movements. By attacking Paris, terrorists do not attack only Paris they attack a way of life that they imagine to be inappropriate and unfair and that they cannot reach or live. Paris is not just Paris. Moreover, if one looks at the specific places that have been attacked, it is easy to see that they are not official buildings, military targets or the symbols of capitalism or imperialism, as was the case on Sept. 11 These are restaurants, bars, stadiums and concert halls. The targets are not the places themselves the targets are the people who are in those places. They wanted to kill people who live a fine life. Too fine to be allowed, in their minds. In my opinion, yes, these attacks are related to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria but even without Syria, these kind of attacks could be committed because of the huge gap between the understanding of life of regular Parisians and radicalized Islamists. They would have found another pretext. When did it take place?
On Friday 13 — a very symbolic date for Western superstitions. And a Friday — a symbolic moment of the week for Muslims. In the evening, not the morning, as was the case for the Charlie Hebdo killings, and not during the day, as was the case in London and Madrid. An evening when Parisians were out, thanks to a nice weather, having fun in cafes and restaurant terraces or in the stadium watching the France-Germany football match (two main European imperialist powers for the radicals), in a concert hall where a pop-rock concert was about to start (satanic music for radicals). The streets that I have seen at that moment were joyful and the atmosphere was smooth. Paris was living and breathing.
It took place 10 months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, when the horror of January 2015 had been forgotten by the French public and maybe by the French authorities. The lack of surveillance was obvious in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and today it is even more so.
Who did it?
What we know today is a commando unit formed by mixed profiles. At least one Syrian passport and one Egyptian passport have been found. It is curious to see that exactly like in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the terrorists were carrying their passports and in one way or in another, they ensured that their identities were known. From a finger and DNA tests, a third person is, surprisingly, a French citizen, radicalized since 2010, who was very well-known in police records and who passed through Turkey to join ISIL before coming back to France. He is seen as a reborn Muslim but was apparently very discrete, without a connection to an established mosque and without going through prison. He is, again surprisingly, connected to a Salafist movement. Why did it happen?
This is the question. There is a long and detailed structural explanation, of course (see my previous article published by coincidence on the day of the attacks). It happened because in 2015, there is a de-territorialized unconventional war between radicalized individuals who have been convinced that violence is the only way to be heard and Western values and societies (rather than Western states). It is not a war between states it is not a war between terrorists and states, either. It is not even a war between Muslims and non-Muslims (see the Beirut attacks). It is a war of values, of ways of life, between visions. It is a war between individuals and the societies where they live. These are people born and socialized in a society who hate the very same society and they find enough ideological and logistic support in ISIL. Without ISIL, they would have found ideological and logistic support somewhere else. ISIL is not the cause — it is the consequence. How did it happen?
Letand’s conclude with this crucial question. The question of how includes naturally the five and”five Wsand” above. But my concern is to see how it could have happened before and how it could happen today. The security, cultural or social class approaches are not sufficient anymore. It happened precisely because Western societies do not understand the new forms of this war. It happened because Muslims all over the world are not strongly opposed to this violence. It happened because states defending Muslim values have supported ISIL directly or indirectly because of religious and ideological solidarities. It happened because we still react according the identity of victims.


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