On the evening on 13 November 2015, Paris was attacked simultaneously in five locations, with a series of gunfire, suicide bombers, and hostage taking. Among the locations were the; Stade de France, where there was a friendly football game between France and Germany, and the Bataclan theatre where the band Eagles of Death Metal were playing. Other attacks were made in cafés and restaurants in populated areas.
This was an attack on western democracy. Was it anticipated? Could it have been prevented, and if so were the necessary steps taken? The lesson that the world must learn is that terrorists will target the innocent and those who value liberty and freedom—ironically the very traits that allowed them to carry out the immoral acts.
A month later, seven of the attackers died, while the others escaped. The alleged ring leader was killed in a police raid, and another two suspects were killed, one by a suicide vest.Were these people on the radar, and if so how did the police lose track of them? Was it a lack of funds, or did the lack of border controls allow them to move so freely that they could not be traced?
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was Belgian and was able to travel around freely under the Schengen agreement. Apparently he was known for petty crime, and wanted 10 months ago, but authorities lost track of him. If border controls existed in all European countries would they have been able to track him down?
Samy Amimour was a French national, and had faced terrorism charges in 2012 and had an international warrant for his arrest. Somehow the authorities lost track of him, even though he was under judicial supervision. Was this due to budget cuts?
All the suspects so far have been identified as French or Belgian nationals, but the people behind it all are still at large. All of them did not expect to survive and wanted to be martyrs, yet some were already on the radar as potential threats, so were the French and Belgian authorities too liberal? Besides the issue of Schengen which allowed them all as EU passport holders to travel freely with no border checks, the French after the Charlie Hebdo should have been more prepared for another attack.
Both Belgium and France immediately imposed border restrictions, but this was to contain the suspects. The problem is that they have been planning this for a long time and these border controls do little now. The terrorists are already in the countries they wish to target, but the police need to find them. Many will keep a low profile, use fake identification papers, use the refugee and migrant crisis to their advantage, and pretend to b asylum seekers. There are a multitude of ways they can evade the authorities. The refugee crisis happening simultaneously creates a burden on the police and government resources—in terms of both manpower and also financial funds.
Each country is responsible for its own security, and when that is taken out of their hands it must be rectified. Open borders don’t work when there is a world war on democracy.It’s not only Syria or Pakistan where the terrorists are, they have supporters and sympathizers everywhere. You cannot block people who have visited those countries, as not all will have been to Syria, blocking the internet doesn’t work either, as these groups use intermediaries to communicate. The only way to stop terrorists from attacking is to defend—that means border controls to prevent the movement of weapons and suspects, intelligence from the local police to work with international agencies to identify who maybe a threat. Preventing visas does little, as many will not use any channels that involve background checks. These groups already have agents in the countries they wish to target. It’s not scaremongering, but the authorities can only reveal so much, and how many threats have they already averted?
France has learned a hard and tough lesson and 130 innocent lives have been lost. Liberty and freedom need to exist, but each country must defend itself with all the resources it can. That doesn’t mean Muslims should be segregated or discriminated against, but should work to help the authorities. Communities need to help the authorities by coming forward with the identities with those who act suspiciously, if new lodgers arrive in a building and are not seen, or family or friends who suspect someone has been radicalized. Too often we hear the after stories, where family members say there was something different, or they went on holiday but they didn’t know where. These people who knew them have a responsibility, and despite them not wishing to think the worst of those close to them, their apathy has cost the lives of the innocent and makes the world an unsafe place to live.
Countries need to work together, for this is a cultural war, not one based on land or power, but on how we, as humans choose to lead out lives. Islamic State have no right to impose their way on life on others, just as western democracy doesn’t force them to live according to their beliefs. Can there be peace or a compromise? It doesn’t appear that IS wishes to debate or negotiate, therefore countries are forced to defend themselves and attack as a preventative measure before more innocent lives are taken.