We are in Paris, France, producing TV/print content and interviewing family members in a country that remains scarred by the devastation. Europe finds itself under duress after the terrorist attack in Brussels, Tuesday, March 22, where at more than 30 have died and hundreds have been injured. Paris, like the rest of Europe, is on high alert, with first responders armed with automatic rifles patrolling the streets. In the wake of the attacks, France had decided to boost security, tightening border controls and deploying 1,600 additional police officers in an effort to protect and deny access to train stations and airports to anyone without the appropriate identification and tickets. These senseless murders are another indication of the seriousness of terrorism.
Terrorism is a complex idea to grasp for many of us living in the West. It is difficult to conceptualize and understandably so. There is a significant gap in intelligence and understanding of the threat and who radical islamists are. These gaps don’t just end there, but also corresponds to a gap in the tools, tactics and techniques that law enforcement agencies (local, state and federal) have at their disposal to deal with Sunni islamic violence today. The San Bernardino, Calif. attack brought these systemic weaknesses and gaps to the forefront for many in law enforcement, forcing us to confront a harsh reality and ask a very serious question: Are we prepared to confront radical islam within our borders?
Let’s begin by defining terrorism so that we have a frame of reference from which to work. Sunni islamic terrorism is a symptom of defeat, anger and fear of annihilation. The beliefs of the terrorists is that the world as it currently is, is not beneficial to their way of life, values or beliefs, so to change that, radical action is the only option. The unfortunate reality of this belief is that radicalism comes in many extremes, typically resulting in the death of innocent people, such as in Paris, France, Nov. 13, 2015, in San Bernadino, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015 and on Sept. 11, 2001.
“For every Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahari, 50 people are joining the Islamic State, driven by anger, not ideology,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. And although the ambassador is speaking about orthodox Muslims, specifically Sunnis, it could be applied to any religious group believing that it faces extinction or degradation of its values and beliefs. Let us simply recall the Vietnam War, when Buddist monks set themselves on fire—in essence, the two are one in the same.
Sunnis see their recent history as one of uninterrupted humiliation and defeat. One only has to look at what has occurred and what is currently in process: Palestine, two Russian wars in Chechnya, the 2001 rout of the Taliban, the 2003 Iraq War that impoverished and disenfranchised Iraq’s Sunni minority, the drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, the bombings of Syria and Iraq and the complete destruction of the Iraqi Sunni towns of Tikrit and Ramadi.
For Sunni Muslims, their entire universe has been centered around defeats and catastrophe. Beirut, Baghdad, Sanaa and Damascus—four historical Sunni capitals—have all fallen to their enemy, the Shia. Coupled with deep corruption, harsh demographic realities of overpopulation, crippling unemployment, specifically for the youth and poor, along with a lack of quality education, have all led to an environment of anger and hostility.
Today’s attacks showcase the the vitriol, hate and anger in the hearts and minds of these groups. They are organized and methodical in their approach, and Europe and the rest of the West must do everything they can to find and annihilate these groups before we allow them to destroy our way of life.
Belief is the last refuge of despair.
Belief is not a matter of believing something, but believing somehow things can be different.
Blind optimism. The Golden Age of Islam, the Caliphate, can be restored at the stroke of a pen.
Iconoclasm, made-up history, utopia
When you erase the past, you control the future.
All utopias are built on made-up pasts.
A selective reading of the Quran. The Prophet ordered the beheadings of prisoners after a revolt by Jewish merchants in the city of Badr. Zarqawi was fascinated by Nur-al-Din Zingi, who beheaded the French-born prince of Antioch and sent his head to the Caliph in Baghdad.
Erase an inconvenient past, and you get to replace it with a past that is better than the present. That’s why ISIS destroyed the Roman city of Palmyra.
The root of fanaticism is bad history.
Many Sunnis are convinced that they’re under a coordinated, all-out attack by the United States, Russia and Iran, and unless they fight back, they face certain annihilation.
They accept things such as “The Protocols of Zion” as fact and that the Bush administration was behind 9/11.
They’re all the more paranoid because their mortal enemy, Shia Iran, is on the ascent. Its client Hizballah is thriving in Lebanon. Its Syrian ally Bashar al-Asad is retaking ground. The nuclear deal with the West, along with the resumption of oil exports, is for many Sunnis starting to look like an Iranian-American conspiracy to destroy them.
Salafis never had any faith in modern civilization, post-modernism or any of our other fetishes. The way they see it, they got nothing from capitalism, science and democracy. Talk about things such as the “Enlightenment” and Western progress are a con solely meant to rob and dispossess them.
Read Armstrong Williams, author of the brand new book “Reawakening Virtues,” content on RightSideWire.com, and come join the discussion live at 6-8 p.m. and 4-6 a.m. EST. on Sirius/XM UrbanView 126. Become a fan on FaceBook and follow him on Twitter.