Thursday, April 20, 2017

ISIS takes credit for terror attack in Paris, France, that killed one police officer.

Police and medical response at Champs Elysees boulevard in Paris, France. Reuters. 

ISIS has taken credit for a terrorist attack at Chams Elyees boulevard in Paris, France, that killed one police officer. Reuters. The attacker pulled up next to a police car, got out, and then shot the officer. Two other police officers were shot in the attack and the attacker was shot and killed. Police cleared the sight of the attack which is usually filled with locals and tourists. ISIS almost immediately took credit for the attack, naming the attacker, which suggests a strong link to ISIS. The attack happened right after another terror attack plot was broken up. France is in the middle of a presidential campaign and the attack occurred just two days before the first round of voting. 

My Comment:
Another terror attack in France. Not a very successful one though. It is, of course, tragic that a police officer died in this attack, but it could have been so much worse. The attacker had powerful weapons and if the police had not been on the ball, a lot of people could have died. French security forces have been fairly excellent lately and the response to this attack continues that trend. If the police hadn't put this terrorist down right away, dozens of people could have died. 

The choice of target might have been a major reason why this attack wasn't worse. Chams Elyees boulevard is one of the most famous parts of Paris. It's home to the Arc de Triomphe and is one of the most famous tourist areas in the world. Security is understandably tight and it would have been shocking if police and/or military didn't react quickly to an attack there. If the attacker had chosen a less famous and less well defended place he might have succeeded in killing more people. Soft targets are always better ones than well defended ones when it comes to number of victims. If that's all you care about than this attack was very stupid.

On the other hand any semi-successful attack on Chams Elyees will have huge propaganda value. Chams Elyees and the Arc de Triomphe are symbols of France itself. An attack there is an attack on the very idea of France. It's the equivalent of ISIS attacking Times Square in terms of propaganda value. This attack wasn't very successful, but despite that, it will have an impact larger than the low number of deaths would indicate.

I think this attack will have a larger impact than it would normally. France is in the middle of a tight four way race for president. The first round of voting starts on Sunday and it's a race between four candidates. Julian Assange, of all people, had a good translation of who these candidates are compared to US figures. 

The attack would seem to support National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, the French equivalent of Donald Trump. Like Trump she is anti-immigration and has been extremely critical of Islam and terrorism. An attack on a very symbol of France just days before the election has to help her. It validates and supports her arguments. She has support from young people, but the older generations consider her to be a Nazi due to her father. With this attack validating her argument, there is a good chance that she moves up in the polls and wins the first round.

Given that there has been a major terrorist attack and another attack broken up, I fear that the candidates themselves could become victims. There are rumors that I haven't been able to confirm that Marine Le Pen herself was the target of the 2nd broken up attack. ISIS has tried to go after french leadership before. Remember, the Paris attacks involved a bombing at a soccer stadium where the president of France, Francois Hollande was attending. He was a primary target for that attack so there is a precedent for such things.

If a candidate were to be attacked or killed due to an ISIS terror attack, expect utter chaos to erupt. It would be the biggest coup that ISIS had ever pulled off. It would cause panic and would completely throw the French election into chaos. Let us hope that it doesn't happen...

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