Dubai-Europe witnessed thirteen terrorist attacks during 2015-2016, ten of which took place in France. They started with Charlie Hebdo attack that killed 17 people on 7-9 January 2015 and went on until the Nice attack on 14 July when a man deliberately drove a lorry into a crowd celebrating the country’s main national holiday, killing 84 people and wounding many others.
On 3 February 2015, a man called Moussa Coulibaly stabbed three French soldiers on anti-terror patrol outside the offices of a Jewish radio station in Nice.
The Nice attacks are considered the most dangerous after Paris bombings on 13 November 2014 that killed 140 people and wounded 350. The Paris attacks are Europe’s second most dangerous over the past 40 years following the Madrid attacks on 11 March 2004.
The latest Nice attack came after French authorities had succeeded in maintaining security during the finals of the Euro Cup, which kicked off on 10 June and concluded on 10 July amidst expectations on the possibility of terrorist attacks.
The Nice attack that took place days afterwards carried a clear ISIS’ footprint, particularly concerning the choice of the time and place. Although the terrorist ramming attack was the first of its kind in Europe, similar ones have taken place in Syrian areas controlled by ISIS.
ISIS corps in Paris
Among its factions and troops, ISIS includes around 900 national French and French-speaking members, which are the biggest share of foreign militants in the organization, said Manuel Valls, French prime minister in May. European reports showed that due to the belated military and security alert against the extremist organization in 2016, the number of European militants with ISIS has dropped, 14% of them died and 50% others have returned to their countries, which was linked to the rise in operations’ rate in Europe and particularly in Brussels and Paris attacks implemented by returnees.
Apparently, while recruiting its Western and French members, ISIS targets two main categories:
1-New joiners of Islam (according to many observers, ISIS is the only organization of which 25% of its members are new joiners).
2- Residences of suburbs subjected to discrimination and crises: most of them are immigrants and known as “Muslims of suburbs” who suffer from many economic, social, and cultural crises that result from the problem of integration.
Thus, joining ISIS becomes a factor that turns those suffering from psychological and social problems related to immigration into time bombs that can explode at any time. The “lone wolf” concept of suicide bomber encourages people on “dying to kill other people”, aiming to take revenge from a community that refused to take them in.
Paris attacks have occupied experts and researchers in extremism and terrorism. Some of them linked the attacks to extremist ideologies or immigration crises, and others linked them to a deeper psychological understanding.
Olivier Roy doesn’t consider the new terrorists as an indication of Muslims’ rage toward the Western attacks and adds that extremists do not emerge from within the Islamic and Arabic communities. He also sees that the French government is not responsible for pushing those bombers to execute their terrorist attacks, unlike other researchers like Francois Borga.
The academic Western confusion will likely continue, as the terrorism is an integrated phenomenon with many dimensions and incentives.
According to the criminal record of the Paris suicide bomber, he seems a recent recruit who bombed himself randomly; an incident of which was taken advantage.
Yet, this doesn’t refute that France’s participation in the international coalition to combat terrorism and its partnership with the U.S. in Iraq made it the main target of terrorist operations in Europe.