National Security & Defense

What We Should Take from Today’s Jihadist Rampage

French special police search for the killer near Lyon. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty)

The world doesn’t begin and end with gay marriage.

Some other events occurred today. In France, having attempted and failed to blow up an American-owned gas factory near Lyon, a terrorist decapitated a civilian at the site and draped an Arabic-inscribed flag (probably bearing the Islamic creed) near his body.

In Kuwait, a suicide bomber with links to the Islamic State walked into a Shia mosque in Kuwait City. As the worshippers knelt in prayer, he blew himself up. At least 25 were murdered.

In Tunisia, one gunman — perhaps more — attacked Tunisians and foreign tourists at a beachfront hotel in the Mediterranean resort city of Sousse. At least 28 lives were taken.

Welcome to the world of 2015. Just another day in the jihadist onslaught against freedom, innocence, and peace.

Although no specific operational links between these attacks are so far apparent, they are nonetheless bound together by ideology. In each case, the targets were innocent people attacked for their identities: a man beheaded apparently for the crime of working for an American company; beachgoers gunned down for the crime of being or consorting with Westerners; worshippers blown up for the crime of practicing their faith.

It’s Salafi Jihadism 101: Murder as many of the impure as you can, and spread fear into the hearts of all the others.

It’s Salafi Jihadism 101: Murder as many of the impure as you can, and spread fear into the hearts of all the others.

While it will take days to unearth the actual facts in these cases, there are specific analytical conclusions we can make at this early stage.

First, the attacks all reek of the Islamic State ideology — aligning perfectly with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s global strategic vision.

Regarding France, this attack is yet further proof of the abiding terrorist threat faced by the Fifth Republic. As I’ve written before, like many other European nations, France faces a dual threat: from domestic extremists inspired by a mythology of fanatical Islamic separatism (read Andrew Hussey) and from those who trained abroad and have now returned to spread mayhem. The rapid response of top-tier SWAT units to the scene of this incident demonstrates the immediate-action readiness now defining French society.

Similarly, as I noted after the Islamic State’s attack on the Bardo Museum in March, Tunisia was always at risk of new atrocities. As the country moves forward with its hopeful story of Islam blended with democracy, groups like the Islamic State want to smash any opportunity for it to develop a more stable and prosperous future. As in the Bardo attack, Western tourists were the key target. The terrorists know that if the tourists disappear, so will Tunisia’s potential for a better future. After all, economic dysfunction is the breeding swamp of Salafi Jihadism, and despair its ideological kinsman. We must take clear lessons from attacks like today’s at Sousse. Because whatever the terrorists claim, they are not murdering innocent beachgoers because of any small grudge. Instead, they are slaughtering vacationers because their jihadist mission has no moral boundary.

#related#And what happened in Kuwait today provides a critical extension of this lesson. In the latest of an increasing number of attacks on Shia mosques, the terrorists are manifesting their extreme hatred for Shia Muslims, whom the Islamic State describes as “Rafidah.” In telling fashion, regarding their fellow Muslims as apostates to the faith, IS adherents do not attempt to persuade them with debate, they simply choose to purge them out of existence.

Think on these three events. We must not bury our heads in the sand. The Islamic State and other Islamist terrorists are not engaged in a war of limited means, but in an absolute war without territorial or philosophical qualification. This is a truth we cannot ignore. For as tempting as it is to believe that we can insulate ourselves from this world of horrors, or that the horrors will incite a positive awakening, the opposite is true. America’s role here is crucial.

President Obama desperately needs a new counterterrorism policy. While the American Left celebrates, the world is on fire.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at


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