Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Violence at Notre Dame as an attacker armed with a hammer gets shot by police.

French Police stand by the Notre Dame cathedral. Reuters. 

An attacker armed with a hammer wounded a police officer before getting shot and arrested at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Reuters. The attacker yelled out "This is for Syria!" and held the ID of an Algerian student. French officials have opened an anti-terror investigation and believe the attack worked alone. Nearly 1000 tourists and worshipers were in the Cathedral as the attack happened. The attack is the first under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron and just days before Sunday's parliamentary elections and comes during a streak of attacks in Europe in the past weeks. In response to these attack Macron is likely to extend the state of emergency that France has been under since the Paris attacks. 

My Comment:
Ramadan is once again proving to be incredibly violent. The fact that the last three posts on this blogs are all detailing terrorist attacks means that they are coming almost daily now. Sure, this one and the one in Australia were fairly minor, but it does show that people are taking ISIS's call to attack during the holy month seriously. Things will hopefully calm down again after Ramadan is over but we still have a few weeks to go... 

It's pretty clear that this attack was a failure. Once gain, this attack strikes me as a lone wolf attacker instead of something that was actually planned by ISIS or another terror group. It was at the very lower limit of sophistication and the attacker was so incompetent that he couldn't even obtain a knife. Though the attacker used tactics described in ISIS propaganda, it should have been clear to anyone that it wasn't going to work. 

I shouldn't have to point this out, but attacking an armed police officer or soldier at a tourist site where there are dozens of other armed officers/soldiers while only armed with a melee weapon is not going to be successful. He might have increased his chances by using a blade instead of a hammer (unless it was a war-hammer or something), but even than his chances of actually killing a large number of people was always going to be close to zero.  Indeed, I can think of few worse ways to try and attempt a terror attack. 

I understand the basic plan. Kill or disable the first officer, take his or her gun and then turn that gun on other officers and civilians. It's a terrible plan, especially when it happens at a major tourist site. It might work if these terrorists would target lone cops walking a beat but the reaction time at a tourist site is going to be almost immediate. And even if you manage to take a weapon, unless you are familiar with it, you aren't going to accomplish much. People think that guns are something you can just pick up and use, but at the bare minimum you need to know how to release the safety, reload and clear jams. You aren't going to have time to familiarize yourself with a new weapon while locked in mortal combat with heavily armed and well trained cops and soldiers. 

Despite the obvious flaws in the plan, this kind of attack keeps on happening. I can think of a couple of attacks just in France alone besides the Notre Dame attack where they used this method and failed pretty miserably. In comparison to the London Bridge attack, which had about the same level of sophistication, it's a stupid way to pull off a terror attack. I am fairly happy when one of these attacks is pulled off since it means that the terrorist didn't last long enough to come up with a plan that could actually hurt or kill a large number of people. It's still not good when people are hurt either way, but things could always be worse. 

Still, even though the attack failed miserably and only resulted in two injuries including the suspect, it still succeeded in the goal of terrorizing people. The people inside the Notre Dame Cathedral were probably frightened and worried about surviving and the international press is covering it. More importantly it shows that the pace of attacks isn't going to let up, even if some of them are going to be incompetent. 

As for France, this is the first test of new president Emmanuel Macron. I personally see him as being fairly weak on terrorism, which is not something I would necessarily say about his predecessor, Francois Hollande.  Though Hollande didn't do anything to stop the massive stream of immigrants into his country, at least he had a very strong military response to the Paris attacks and other than the Nice attack, his country's military and police have been fairly effective in responding quickly to these attacks. 

Macron is more of a question mark. He didn't run as being strong on terrorism and he is very far into the "open borders" camp. With this attacker likely being a foreigner, it kind of disproves his ideas on immigration. Though this attack is minor enough for there to be no real response required, I do wonder if he will have the guts to actually do something after a major attack. Still, leftist politicians have occasionally shown backbone when threatened and I don't think we can draw any conclusions until Macron has actually been tested. 

I doubt this attack will have much of an effect on the French parliamentary elections. Unlike the UK, which has had much more severe attacks, one targeting children, and had UK Prime Minster respond to the attack by saying they should further censor the internet, this attack was very minor and the response to it was fine. I also don't really know if terror attacks actually seem to effect the elections. I would have thought that the Paris and Nice attacks alone, not to mention the dozens of other attacks in Europe, would have completely prevented someone with Macron's political stances from being elected. If those attacks didn't change things, than I am not sure anything will... 

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