Monday, November 23, 2015

Searching For Security and Normalcy

"We raised our glasses high to Friday night's victims, the 'vile perverts' like us, who enjoyed rock concerts and drinking at cafes. We raised our glasses high to life, to laughter, to friends and to the fact that Paris will always be a party, despite the pain and the tears."
"Despite the knot of sadness in my stomach and the leftover adrenalin from work, being outside with people is what felt right..."
"Drinking a pitcher of red wine at Prune on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin was our own way of saying 'merde' to all of this, that we were breathing, that we were alive."
Paris journalist Margaux Bergey
The web of fear from the Paris attacks has spread across Europe, especially to Belgium where some of the assailants had lived before the violence (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

Jewish parochial schools have long had armed French military standing guard outside, at their entrances. French people entering all Jewish institutions have become accustomed to seeing the military on duty, guarding against attacks from Islamist jihadis. Attempting to forestall repeats of previously successful attacks. In reality, the state guarding one long-resident ethnic-religious demographic of the nation for whom liberty, equality and fraternity is a byword, against another ethnic-religious demographic.

Young French men and women by their hundreds have seen fit to become a proud part of a sinister, apocalyptic ideology based in Koranic interpretation of Islamist world domination, to prowl Paris in search of targets in the war that none dare mention lest they be accused of Islamophobia, or alternately to travel in search of their place among the Islamic State jihadis to take part in conflict and in building the caliphate in Iraq and in Syria; time enough for its extension into France.

France's RTL network published the results of a poll last week which found that 84 percent of the surveyed are fully prepared to accept a "certain limitation" of their freedoms in the larger struggle against terrorism. Three-quarters of those responding were favourable to the arrest and imprisonment of everyone suspected -- their numbers estimated to be 5,000 -- by the nation's intelligence services of being affiliated with a terrorist organization.

"Too much freedom becomes a catastrophe", said Alphonse Bangoura, a French Muslim living in Saint-Denis. "They were too tolerant with these people", he said with disgust even as the police assault on a terror cell ended near where he lives. This French Muslim  decries the French government's kid-gloves approach with Islamist radicals. Surveillance of mosques should be increased, he said: "Everything happens there".

Video footage of the "ringleader" of the Paris atrocities surfaced, showing him leaping over a ticket barrier in the Metro system, even as his colleagues were in the act of mass murder commission. Abdelhamid Abaaoud had dodged fare at the Croix de Chavaux station in Montreuil, a mere 200 yards from where one of the cars in the attacks was discovered. When the attack on the Bataclan concert hall was underway he was at the station.

French investigators had determined through fingerprint checks that two of the seven attackers who died in the coordinated gun and bomb assault killing 130 Parisians, had entered Europe through Greece on October 3. More recent news surfacing suggests that a third among the attackers might also be someone who had come through Greece. That would be perhaps three, not the previous one suspected of having immersed himself among the hordes of refugees entering Europe through Greece.

A Senate vote extended a state of emergency in France for an additional three months, giving police the power to carry out arrests and searches, and authorities the power to forbid the movement of people and vehicles at certain times and places. France and Belgium have urged their European Union counterparts to tighten their gun laws, to toughen border security and to choke off funds to extremist groups.

"Terrorists are crossing the borders of the European Union", stated French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, emphasizing the 28-nation bloc's urgent need to implement a system for collecting and exchanging airline passenger information. The data is vital, he said, "for tracing the return of foreign fighters" from Syria and Iraq. Although the EU exchanges that data with the U.S., Australia and Canada, it hasn't figured out yet how to do so with its own members.

It remains a mystery how and when Abaaoud had entered France before his death, something he had boasted about in ISIL's magazine; his ability to move at will in and out of Europe, undetected, undeterred. There are over 350 people who were wounded in the attacks, over and above the 130 killed outright. Some of those wounded remain in critical condition, leading Prime Minister Manuel Valls to suggest the death toll may yet rise.

Imminent threat of Paris-style attacks puts Belgian Govt. on high alert
The Belgian capital of Brussels is on lock down after the government warned of possible terror attacks like those in Paris last week. Police and soldiers are patrolling the city. The Belgian government describes the threat of attack as "serious and imminent." This comes as Belgian media reports that a key suspect in the Paris attacks was arrested in the Brussels region last night.

In Belgium, police have been busy detaining people; 16 in 22 raids. But the fugitive Salah Abdeslam remains on the loose. Thousands of troops are patrolling and authorities are on the hunt for suspected militants in a Brussels that is in lockdown. Schools and Universities in Brussels remain closed, the subway is shut down. "We fear an attack like in Paris, with several individuals, perhaps in several places", explained Prime Minister Charles Michel.

"Nobody is pleased with such a situation. Neither are we. But we have to take our responsibility." And French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated that ISIL must be destroyed at all costs: "We must annihilate Islamic State worldwide ... and we must destroy Islamic State on its own territory", he said. Speak to the U.S., speak to Russia, accommodation can be arranged. Seriously. That is, if they're all prepared to do so, seriously.

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