By Clarion Project Staff and Richard Winton
July 15, 2016
A flag flies at half mast over France's presidential palace. (Video screenshot)
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that terror struck France on the very day the French celebrate the values of freedom and democracy.
With at least 80 dead, many more wounded and a nation in mourning, it seems as though ISIS could well have been behind the Nice truck attack. Certainly Islamic State is very active on social media praising the attack and explaining how the French people "brought this to themselves."
A doll is seen on the ground next to one of the victims
When Paris was struck by terror in November 2015, we wrote piece simply entitled Why France. We have reproduced it here with slight edits, because it says it all:
People are asking why France in particular was targeted by the Islamic State. The Islamic State detests the entire Western world and seeks to destroy it and replace it with a global Islamist caliphate. Yet it prioritizes which countries to attack and when.
The reasons listed here are by way of explanation from the Islamic State’s point of view, to help our readers understand. They are not to be taken as a justification of the Islamic State’s actions, which ultimately are caused by their hateful extremist ideology.
Here are the top five reasons why the Islamic State attacked France.
France has been fighting the Islamic State and other Islamists.
French President Francois Hollande led his country into airstrikes against the Islamic State, bombing targets in Syria for the past two months. It was the first country in Europe to join America in bombing ISIS targets in Iraq and has so far been the only European country to join airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.
France also led the fight against Islamists in North Africa, it was French soldiers that liberated Timbuktu from Islamist insurgents belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali.
The Islamic State is therefore fighting those who fight it the most, in an effort to persuade the civilian population of France that the war is about French foreign policy and not about a global Islamist Caliphate and to cow them into submission through terror.
France has specifically named the Islamist ideology as the problem.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after the Charlie Hebdo attacks France is at war with radical Islam. The French Ambassador to America clarified afterwards, saying, “We are at war with radical Islam. It means that right now… Islam is breeding radicalism which is quite dangerous for everybody.” Not only has France named the problem but they are taking active steps against the Islamist ideology within France, not just against groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, but also against groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which promote the ideology of Islamism that leads to violent extremism.
France Is Standing Up For Its Values and Seeking To Integrate Muslims
Prime Minister Manuel Valls explicitly stated, “We seek to establish a model of Islam that is fully integrated, fully compatible with the values of the Republic.” This is anathema to ISIS as they cannot countenance an integrated Islam which operates peacefully within a broader society. France is proactively attempting to integrate Muslims, which, if successful, would destroy the “Islam vs the world” narrative peddled by the Islamic State.
France Represents The Enlightenment Values Of Western Civilization.
France is where much of the enlightenment took place and where modern ideas about citizenship, human rights and the separation between religion and state were first articulated and formed.
For an Islamic State obsessed with symbolism, an attack on France is an attack on European/Western enlightenment values.
The Islamic State Is Obsessed With History And Honour.
France is an old country with a long history. The Islamic State has a laundry list of grievances against France going back a thousand years. ISIS also hates Europe in general for its colonial past.
It blames France, in particular, for the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Caliphate following the First World War. France was one of the leading countries involved in the crusades in the 11th century, and it is where the early Islamic Caliphate’s advance into Europe was halted by French ruler Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732.
The Islamic State is obsessed with seeing itself as the revived Muslim Caliphate. It is therefore essential to its worldview that Europe’s old colonial powers are defeated. For similar reasons, ISIS has long threatened to conquer Rome, which would represent a symbolic victory over the long defunct Roman Empire.
Without that, the Islamic State cannot claim to avenge the centuries old grievances with which it is obsessed and thus cannot fulfil its claims to restore the ‘lost honour’ of the Ummah.
Terrorism by Truck Has Long Been Feared By Law Enforcement
By Richard Winton
14 July 2016
A terrorist attack involving a large truck — similar to the assault that killed at least 77 in Nice, France, Thursday — has been a scenario law enforcement officials in California and beyond have long analyzed.
Police have focused mostly on the possibility of terrorists packing a truck with explosives and detonating it in a crowded area.
Brian Jenkins, a counter-terrorism expert and senior advisor to the president of Rand Corp., said the danger of truck bombs has existed since the 1980s with attacks in Lebanon but have evolved over time.
“The use of trucks as a weapon [in of themselves] is a more recent scenario. Al Qaeda and ISIS have both exhorted their followers to use any means to bring death. With limited access to explosives, large vehicles into large crowds are an obvious event,” he said.
In March 2006, former University of North Carolina student Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar was accused of plowing a sports utility vehicle into nine pedestrians on the busy campus square to "avenge the deaths of Muslims" around the world, according to Times reports at the time. Several people were hurt but no one was killed.
In 2013, a man deliberately drove his car into pedestrians on the Venice boardwalk, killing an Italian newlywed and injuring 17 others.
Nathan Louis Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Alice Gruppioni, an Italian tourist visiting California with her husband on their honeymoon. Campbell also was found guilty on several counts of assault with a deadly weapon and hit-and-run charges.
Upset after a botched effort to buy drugs, Campbell got into his Dodge Avenger and decided to jump a curb, manoeuvre past barriers meant to block vehicle access and plow through the packed boardwalk, authorities alleged.
Since Timothy McVeigh used a Ryder rental truck packed with ammonia nitrate to attack a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, counter-terrorism officials have run a terror scenario with trucks at downtown L.A., Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Los Angeles.
“Trucks have been on the radar screen since Oklahoma City and even before with first World Trade Center attack in 1993,” said Brian Levin, a counter-terrorism expert at Cal State San Bernardino. “Authorities were mostly concerned that a truck would be a bed for explosives and not so much running over people.”
Levin, however, added that Israel has seen cases of terrorists using trucks to run over people.
A decade ago, the LAPD discussed a terrorism scenario in which a fuel truck would be used in an attack.
Jenkins said a typical fuel tanker carries at least 9,000 gallons of gasoline, and they make up 90% of hazardous materials on our roads. He said during a study for Manetta Transportation Institute, he found these to be most deadly threat among dangerous cargoes.
"Large vehicles and trucks have always been a concern especially from the stand point of vehicle bombs," said Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Horace Frank, a veteran counter-terrorism specialist.
Frank noted the case in 2003 in which an elderly man accidentally plowed his car into a crowd at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, killing 10 people. That case showed how “vehicle can be deadly in a crowd,” he said.