By now you’ve no doubt seen this news:
Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday with 170 guests and staff, killing at least three people and taking hostages in a city that serves as a logistics hub for French and American forces helping fight Islamist insurgents.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the identities or affiliation of the assailants were not clear. But Mali has faced repeated attacks from militants linked to al-Qaeda and other factions.
Security forces conducted room-by-room searches amid sporadic gunfire. U.S. military units and French commandos were dispatched to the scene.
At least 80 captives managed to escape or were released by the attackers hours after the standoff begun, state TV reported in Mali. Some were reportedly freed after being able to recite the Muslim profession of faith.
Mali of course has been the site of extensive French military operations against jihadists, yet even after suffering a series of devastating military defeats they’re still capable of launching a deadly raid on a luxury hotel housing western guests (including potentially French or American soldiers or other security officials). Everyone should be profoundly sobered by the challenge we face. The terror threat has metastasized to the point where — in the worst case — jihadists hold and control vast stretches of territory in the Middle East and North Africa. Even in the better case — after successful military intervention — they still retain serious striking power. There is no easy solution, and those who long for quick fixes are bound to be profoundly disappointed.