What Paris’s night of horror means for Europe

The Economist magazine published an article titled ‘What Paris’s night of horror means for Europe’ which contained the following graph:

14 years of terror in western europe

Ever since a commando-style raid by a jihadist group in Mumbai eight years ago that killed 166 people and lasted for four days, there have been fairly regular instances of similar plots either being uncovered or turning out to be false alarms. But as the IRA once grimly warned: “You have to be lucky every time; we only have to be lucky once.”

What has clearly greatly increased Europe’s vulnerability to such attacks is the continuing civil war on its doorstep in Syria and the emergence of Islamic State (IS) as an even more potent magnet for would-be jihadists than al-Qaeda (AQ). While so-called “core” AQ in the badlands of Pakistan’s tribal areas has withered under assault from America’s drones, IS has gone from strength to strength. With its rampage through Iraq last summer, its pretensions to establish a caliphate and its slick exploitation of social media to publicise its successes and brutalities, IS has radicalised, recruited and trained many thousands of young European Muslims, not least in France.

It is too early to say what the consequences of Europe’s most lethal terrorist attack since the Madrid train bombing in 2004 will be. But it is bound to ratchet up the sense of crisis over Europe’s porous external borders and non-existent internal ones (at least for the signatories of the embattled Schengen Agreement). It is an understandable fear that among the many refugees flocking to Europe from Syria are some experienced fighters who mean to do harm when the opportunity arises. The attack will also exacerbate the anxiety about an “enemy within” that is at war with both the West’s cultural mores and foreign policies that are perceived as “anti-Islam”. Anti-radicalisation programmes that almost every country in Europe with a significant Muslim population has a version of are well-meaning, but of dubious effectiveness. Across Europe, there is no shortage of populist politicians who are only too happy to exploit the fallout from what happened last night.

Read the full article in The Economist magazine at this link.

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