Saturday, January 10, 2015


The two hostage crises in the Paris area have been stopped, though not without casualties at the kosher supermarket. An analyst for i24news says the wakeup was too late, and should've come after the murders in Toulouse:
France's counter-terrorism units on Friday acted competently and with sophistication. In both of Friday's raids – at the print shop where the two Charlie Hebdo gunmen were holed up and the siege at the kosher supermarket in Paris - they systematically and diligently gathered intelligence, using closed circuit surveillance cameras and even a man hiding in the print shop. They also placed door-breaching explosives in both locations, which helped them enter quickly when they did decide to do so.

Another wise decision was to storm both places simultaneously, to prevent both sets of hostage-takers from knowing via the media or by phone hacking that a raid had been carried out in the other location. The French Interior Ministry had issued a misleading message beforehand that it intended to negotiate with the terrorists at both sites, and French television agreed not to broadcast images of the troops preparing for the raids. Yes, there is such thing as responsible media.

Ingenuity, skill and practice paid off. Unfortunately, instances of terrorists barricaded with hostages usually end in casualties. This time most of the victims were killed by the terrorist at the supermarket in Paris and not during the storming of the site. The French Interior Ministry can be proud of both operations, but that's not what really matters. The French authorities were incompetent, if not unforgivably complacent, in failing to prevent the attacks.

There have been numerous murderous terrorist attacks in recent years on French citizens by Muslim fanatics who have returned from the Middle East. It was also apparent that jihadists would continue to flow at an increasing rate from France and other European countries to the Middle East - and back.

Mohammed Merah - who in 2012 murdered four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse and killed three French soldiers - was the writing on the wall. France is also involved, along with the United States, in action against radical Islam in the Middle East and Africa, and this makes it a target for revenge. Given all of the above, France should have followed in the footsteps of the United States, making legislative changes to allow monitoring of all types, including wiretapping and electronic surveillance of its citizens, even if it violates privacy rights to a certain degree.

Balancing protection of human rights and security is difficult, but it is becoming increasingly clear in France and Germany that the value of human life is supreme and laws should be amended to turn even these European democracies into defensive democracies. If the French had done so beforehand, they would certainly have tracked down the Kouachi brothers who perpetrated the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Said Kouachi had been in Yemen, training with al-Qaida. His older brother Cherif was jailed for recruiting Muslims to fight with al-Qaida in Syria, and had tried to go there himself. But both were removed from the French security services' watch list in the last two years. Why? The French security services have limited resources even though there is enormous potential for Muslim terrorism.

But such an explanation is an admission of culpability. Not only was the writing on the wall and resources should have been allocated, but the threat was made even clearer to the Europeans in 2013 with the emergence of the Islamic State recruitment efforts.

A shortage of resources, manpower, electronic equipment and legislation does not justify the unnecessary risk to civilian lives. French media commentators are now asking one question: Do we know where the other terrorists are hiding? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
I have no doubt that, after this week's horror, much of the public is feeling outraged at how their leadership has failed them on so many levels, and will be demanding the appropriate modifications to the local laws that should've been taken long, long ago. But they'll have to really come out in a show of force to make this clear that they can no longer stand for such weakness that's destroying a once fine country.

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