4 Jul '16     home | more politics

A Week of Terror

The big news this past week is bombings. Yesterday a car bomb exploded on a busy street in a Shia district in Baghdad. It kills 155 and injures many more. The Islamic State claims responsibility.

On July 2, in a cafe in Dhaka in Bangladesh, 20 hostages were killed after a twelve-hour siege. It has been described as an attack on Bangladesh's establishment and foreigners. Nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and an Indian were among the dead.  According to BBC News, "Bangladesh's home minister said on Sunday [yesterday] that the attackers were not from the so-called Islamic State group, but belonged to a local militant group, which has been banned for more than a decade." That group is the Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh, an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

Six days ago (June 28), gunfire and several explosions occurred at Istanbul's main airport in Turkey, killing 41 and injuring 236. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are believed to have been responsible for the attack, but have not claimed responsibility.

The holy month of Ramadan is ending. A spokesman for the Islamic State is reported as having said in late that jihadists should “make it, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.”

These recent attacks were carried out by teams working with a thought-through attack plan and, says someone from the Bookings Institute, "They are rapidly becoming the Islamic State’s signature." These are attacks by people who believe themselves to be the purest of Muslims and offended by what they see as offense against their faith: a radical Muslim minority against other Muslims.

A congressman on the Intelligence Committee says the Islamic State is "very much losing territory, but at the same time, expanding its global presence.” So what to do about it?

Comments in response to the article include someone describing ISIS is not as an ideology but an international gang culture, suggesting remedy by police action. Someone else sees a big military solution and writes that the "inept Obama administration [should] step aside and let the military win the battle against ISIS." Another writes that gains are being made against ISIS, that we need the patience that Obama asks us to have.

The patience argument has on its side the fading of al Qaeda before October 2005. That was when al-Qaeda's number-two leader, Ayman al-Zawahirii, complained that its tactics were not working. This was during the US war in Iraq (2003-11) while a new army of Sunni killers in Iraq was just beginning to take form. Now, the patience argument holds, we have this new development called the Islamic State to police and let burn out, with help from US support for Iraq's new army and US drone strikes in Iraq and Syria, and, in the cases of Turkey and Bangladesh, help from their governments.

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