“The implications for France and for security forces throughout Europe are massive.There are serious questions to be asked of all governments in Western Europe, as for what has been done so far to counter this threat and what can still be done. One main dilemma will be how to intensify security and intelligence efforts without curtailing vital democratic freedoms.”
Any conclusions from the carnage in Paris are extremely premature at this point. One thing is certain, however: such a coordinated attack, involving at least seven locations in Paris and outside the national stadium to the north of the city could only have been carried out by an organization that had time to prepare, gather weapons, and plan. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attacks, although Al-Qaida and ISIS are the primary suspects. However, Al-Qaida’s last attack of this scale was the 2005 London underground train and bus bombings. They were thought to have been changed tactics, as their leader Ayman al Zawahiri warned against attacking targets where “innocent Muslims” may be hurt. ISIS, on the other hand, has never shown anything near this operational capacity outside of its Middle Eastern battlefields. Up to now, all attacks in Europe sentenced to jihadists identifying with ISIS have been the actions of “lone wolves”, the so-called jihadists who had either returned from Syria or were unable to travel there. These attacks have certainly added a new degree of urgency to debates and stalled talks across the continent. What has been done so far to counter the threat and what can still be done? These are serious questions to ask of Western governments everywhere. There are clear learnings from the Paris attacks that Western nations everywhere should utilize to better prepare for future attacks.