In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo

Perspective is in order
Opinion • Views: 33,202

As of this posting, there are at least two separate hostage standoff situations near Paris. One is at a kosher market (I’ve heard it referred to as a supermarket, deli, or grocery) on Ave Porte de Vincennes in the 13th Arr (that’d be Southeastern Paris). The other is near Charles de Gaulle airport. There have also been reports of an incident near the Eiffel Tower in the Trocadero, but so far news about that incident is limited.

There have been casualties reported in one of the incidents, with at least two dead.

The two standoff situations appear related to each other and to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, as well as a separate attack resulting in the death of a French policewoman the other day. It’s likely all part of the same cell.

Yet, there’s something irking me about all this. We’re being told that it required training and tactics to carry off the attacks, yet the best this cell could manage was to kill a bunch of unarmed journalists and a couple of cops who were caught by surprise and off-guard before engaging in standoffs at locations like a grocery store.

Is this the best that al Qaeda in Yemen can do?

I know that sounds off or somehow callous but if you’re studying tactics, methods, and capabilities, al Qaeda has gone from being able to pull off spectacular attacks against the USS Cole (a military target no less), the African embassy bombings that killed hundreds of people, and 9/11, which killed nearly 3,000 people and injured thousands more, to now being able to attack a French satire paper.

That’s quite telling about the limits of what al Qaeda is able to do more than a decade after 9/11. It doesn’t mean let your guard down, but it should also put things in perspective.

Also putting things into perspective? That the cry and hue about Muslims overwhelming Europe are so vastly overblown that a handy dandy visual is needed to hammer it home:

Or, perhaps a few other statistics about the threats from terrorism:

And if you’re listening closely, just substitute Jew for Muslim in all those calls for banning Muslims from entering the country because the acts of a handful are indicative of the intent of all (and that’s the most limited kind of rhetoric streaming from the right, which also includes expulsion and flat out genocide). Even in France, where anti-Semitism is rampant, the fact is that most people - of all religions - just want to live in peace, and there are those who want to deny everyone that opportunity. They happen to include Islamist extremists who do not speak for all Muslims.

So, while attention is rightly focused on Paris and the search for the Charlie Hebdo killers, there’s Muslims living in fear of Islamic extremists the world over, and few places are more dangerous right now for Muslims than Nigeria where Boko Haram is operating with ruthless abandon. This terror group is rampaging across northeastern Nigeria, where reports of slaughter continue. That terror group is now threatening Cameroon as well, and Niger has now refused to assist Nigeria in retaking the area around Baga. Reports continue circulating that 2,000 or more people were killed by Boko Haram since the start of the year there, and that at least 20,000 people have been displaced. Some reportedly drowned attempting to flee across Lake Chad.

Yet, the silence and lack of media reports and access means that this horrific attack isn’t getting anywhere near the press coverage of the attacks in Paris.

UPDATE at 1/9/15 7:37:26 am by lawhawk


The police have indicated that an incident at Trocadero was a false alarm - reports that shots were fired near the Eiffel Tower were false.

UPDATE at 1/9/15 8:23:15 am by lawhawk


French security forces appear to have carried out rescue operations against both locations where the terrorists holed up. It also appears that several hostages have been freed and AFP is reporting that at least one of the terrorists was killed.

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