The world was stunned by the attacks on the City of Paris by terrorist butchers on Friday the 13th – November 13, 2015. Like September 11 fourteen years prior, this was not a minor act from which we can simply move on. This is a game changer. There is no question of that. What is a question is how long will the game remain changed before the West again grows weary of war and seeks to find ways to appease Islam. That is a question we cannot answer with any degree of accuracy.
There is another question, though. This question can be assesed and answered and it is vital we do so in order to understand and defeat our enemy. Why is ISIS doing what they do?
The actions of ISIS since the group came on the scene are not just run of the mill terrorism. Nor are these acts designed to force the Western world to accede to their demands. No demands have been made. Earlier forms of Islamic terrorism had always been based on the desire to achieve some goal, great or small: release PLO members, release the Blind Sheikh, abandon the Israeli settlements in so-called Palestinian lands, get America out of the Middle East, etc. This is not the case with ISIS.
ISIS began with the simple beheadings of specifically chosen American aid workers and journalists. They went on to kill other Westerners. From there, their acts escalated into more and more outrageous and vicious forms of killing. Cutting a child in half in front of his father. Burning a Jordanian pilot alive. Wrapping detonator cord around the necks of victims and using the explosions to behead them. Crucifixions. The list goes on and is increasingly inhuman.
Why? What does ISIS hope to achieve?
It seems as if the goal of ISIS is to force the world to respond, to attack them, to destroy them. In fact, one could posit that this is precisely their goal. The entire existence of ISIS is one immense suicide plot. While this may seem irrational and counterproductive from a Western point of view, it would be eminently logical to Islamic extremists, and ISIS is indeed extremist even compared to previous incarnations of Islamic terror. It is logical because from it we can derive a goal.
The members of ISIS have engaged in suicide attacks, including the suicide bombings in Paris. Therefore, it is obvious that – like so many Islamic terrorists before them – they believe that dying in the act of killing non-Muslims is key to getting to Heaven. They want their virgins. However, they do not need to engage in such amazingly vicious mass killings to achieve that. Individual acts of terror would – in their twisted philosophy – achieve that goal.
Their purpose is far broader. They want to inspire a massive anti-ISIS attack by Western countries which they hope will engender sympathy among Muslims the world over and result in an unprecedented wave of terror attacks throughout the Western world. The attacks in Paris were not merely designed to cause massive damage. They were a map, a guide to future Jihadists – especially lone wolves or small, idependent groups – of how to cause mass damage with little expense or training.
The leadership of ISIS knows that the organization never had a chance at long term life. They know that eventually they will be destroyed. Their size and capabilities are actually severely limited, compared to the resources of the countries they consider enemies (USA, Russia, the EU’s member states, Iran, Israel, all Islamic countries which are not as extreme as they are, etc.) They are setting themselves up as a collective of martyrs, as inspiration for other Jihadists around the world. They would serve as both an example and an impetus as Islamists who are looking for an excuse to blame the West for anything and everything focus on the destruction of ISIS as yet another twisted “example” of “Western aggression.” The intent of ISIS is to be killed and go to Islamic Paradise while becoming the catalyst for an avalanche of terror.
We have no choice but to fight and destroy ISIS. We cannot ignore what they do because they will continue to escalate until the world is forced to react with massive force. What we have to do is to be cognizant of the likely consequences and do our best to head them off. It is impossible to monitor all mosques and Muslims in the West. The numbers make it beyond the capabilities of the law enforcement and intelligent communities. However, observation of those mosques and Muslim organizations with proven or suspected ties to terror or led by people who incite Muslims to violence is very doable. Such mosques, organizations and individuals must be watched closely. Those who have commited criminal acts of incitement must be arrested and detained. Gitmo cannot be closed but must – rather – be expanded. Anyone – regardless of where he resides in the world – who calls for attacks on non-Muslims must become subject to covert assassination by Western military forces.
We must react intelligently, but with relentless resolve. The scourge of Islamic violence must be destroyed, regardless of what that takes. The world cannot continue to pretend that peace is possible without unquestioned victory as a prerequisite.