A Commentary on the Paris Attacks by our Afghani Correspondent

By Bismellah Alizada

On Friday night, as Parisians were enjoying a night out, gunmen and suicide bombers in “three coordinated teams” carried out “the deadliest attack in Paris since World War II”, hitting a “concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously”, leaving behind 129 people killed, 352 injured and a world grieved and shocked.

The inhumane carnage and the scene of gore in the wake of the attacks in Paris shocked the world deeply and forcefully. World leaders immediately offered their heartfelt condolences, condemned the attacks in the strongest terms, and showed commitment to finding and fighting those behind the attacks. Thousands of social media users changed their profile pictures to a translucent blue, white and red to show their deep grieve over and sympathy with the Paris tragedy. World media focused their attention on the attacks to an extent that they totally forgot about other as deadly attacks that happened a day before Paris attacks in Lebanon and Kenya. The first was a double suicide attack that killed 40 and the latter was an assault on Garissa University in Kenya that left 147 people dead. Both events were met with barely a raised eyebrow by world leaders, journalists and social media users.

In the wake of the attacks, world leaders gather at the 10th G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on November 15 and 16 to make some tough decisions on how to contain (not eliminate) Daesh, a local acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS or IS (the terrorist group who claimed responsibility of the Paris attacks). It is important to take into account that world leaders have embarrassingly failed to contain ISIL since the group started military fighting in 2011 and proclaimed their intention to create an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria— one which they hope will encompass the entire Muslim world.

Critical to bear in mind is the fact that with the U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Iraq, and a flawed strategy for a post-U.S. Iraq, ISIL organized a strong military wing and started to gain more and more territory. Fearless of being pushed back, the groups’ conscription mushroomed and ISIL gradually gained enough power to orchestrate a similar attack to 9/11 in Paris. Yet that is not the end of it. Now, with that “terrible and sickening setback”, we are left to accept that ISIL can threaten any citizen in any part of the world—be it Paris, London, Washington, etc. A more disappointing fact is that, unfortunately, while the terrorist group is common threat for all, all have failed to define is so, and to take drastic and effective measure to tackle this common threat.

The world leaders, seemingly deeply shocked by the terrorist tragedy in Paris, made but little and therefore ineffective commitments in the G20 summits regarding ISIL. Only increasing “intelligence sharing, tightening national borders and attempt to cut off terrorist funding in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris” cannot produce any significant result on the ground, thus cannot weaken the group. Additionally, we all should keep in mind that as long as ISIL is concerned, with its relatively strong military, rich resources and effective recruitment strategies, any measure that fails to result in the group’s containment can logically gift them more time to expand and strengthen its military and ideological capacities.

Furthermore, only focusing on defeating ISIL militarily would be a blatant mistake. It is too naïve and simplistic to reduce ISIL to only a military organization even though much of the world’s attention has been drawn to their militaristic brutality. Along with its military, there is a growing ideology that is much stronger and wide-reaching— an ideology that cannot be defeated using bombs. The growing fundamentalism that culminates into violent attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere is being indoctrinated to millions of people in madrasas in the Middle East, Central Asia and North and East Africa—therefore, training millions of potential fighters. With that in mind, one should not expect an end to such violence in the upcoming decades.

In addition, as the Paris attacks shocked the world, similar attacks gained no significant media coverage. That speaks of banality of violence routinely taking place in the Middle East. Violence in this region has become a routine and no longer shocks anyone, which is per se extremely shocking. All the world, and of course the Middle Easterners themselves, have become insensitive towards violence and killing. Such a situation, no doubt, is in the interest of the terrorist groups who can take advantage of it to run madrasas and to conscript more fighters. Finally, over a longer course of time, terrorism can be culturally accepted in the region (or even, less possibly, can gain cultural legitimacy).

That being said, in order to tackle terrorism as a whole, it is imperative for the world leaders to define it as a common threat in clear terms and to unite efforts to fighting them wherever they are. While doing so, all should bear in mind the fact that they are not only fighting terrorism to help the Middle Easterners but they are also preventing Europe and North America from becoming another Middle East.



  1. BBC English, Paris Attacks: As they happened. Accessed 11,17,2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-34815972
  2. Cleveland.com, deadliest violence in France since World War II, accessed 11,17,2015: www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2015/11/paris_attacks_deadliest_violen.html
  3. BBC English, Paris Attacks: What happened on that night. Accessed on 11,17,2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34818994
  4. New York Times, Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten. Accessed on 11, 17, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/world/middleeast/beirut-lebanon-attacks-paris.html?_r=0 
  5. BBC English, Kenya attack: 147 dead in Garissa University assault. Accessed on 11, 17, 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32169080 
  6. VOA English, Concerns Raised by Obama’s Vow Not to Change IS Strategy. Accessed on 11,17,2015. http://www.voanews.com/content/obama-g-20-condemn-heinous-paris-attacks/3059820.html 
  7.  Ibid.

Photo Credit: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/in-pictures-attack-leaves-eleven-dead-in-paris/article22329664/


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