We have all heard the term soft target. It is a term which has forced itself into the vocabulary of the 21st Century world. A soft target, in the context of contemporary times is a location that is vulnerable to terrorist attack. Islamic fundamentalists prey on soft targets as the world has seen over and over. Bustling airports, cafes and public gatherings cannot be properly defended from the threat of terror attacks, Especially in a free society.
It is somewhat judgmental to label an entire nation as a soft target. However, with tonight’s attack in Nice fresh in our minds, it would not be unfair to say that France is a soft target. For that matter one can make the argument that Europe as a whole is a ripe soft target. Right now, the death toll in Nice stands at 77, with numerous other civilians wounded to one degree or another. French authorities have confirmed that this was a terrorist attack although the identity of the truck’s driver has yet to be revealed. Sky News has reported that the driver is a 31-year old Nice resident of Tunisian nationality, though that information has not been officially confirmed. Sources that monitor Jihadist social media have been reporting that accounts linked to ISIS were ‘celebratory’ following the attack.
I realize that this is neither the time or place to get into it, but enough is enough. I do not know how many terror attacks it will to take for Europe to recognize and admit that Jihadists have embedded themselves deep into the societies of multiple nations on the continent. Further, I have no idea how much longer it will take the EU to build an effective response to these attacks. EU leadership appears paralyzed when it comes to building an effective response against terrorism. Countering the threat begins with acknowledging the connection between the recent spike in terrorism and the ongoing immigration crisis. Not surprisingly, voters in many countries have recognized the connection and the EU’s reluctance to contend with the problems before they blossom. Britain’s impending exit from the Union has much to do with terrorism and immigration. The urgency of the situation following tonight’s tragic attack will galvanize right wing political groups in Europe into action.
All of those variables can be analyzed and discussed later. For now, the right thing to do is to pray for the victims in Nice.
Yesterday, as the weekend came to a close in Baghdad, the sounds of explosions were heard around the capital city. Five bombings on Sunday left thirty people dead along with a larger number injured. The largest attack came at a natural gas plant outside of Baghdad. Three car bombs were exploded at the gates of the plant. Militants and suicide bombers then charged the plant, engaging security forces and destroying gas tanks. Iraqi security forces managed to repel the attack, but not before a significant amount of damage was done.
Another attack was a car bombing in a southern Baghdad suburb that left seven people dead. The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.
Yesterday’s attacks were part of an increased wave of ISIS strikes and bombings across Iraq this past week. It began last Monday a suicide bomber exploded a minibus in Baqubah killing thirteen. The activity climaxed on Wednesday when three separate car bombings in Baghdad killed 93 people and wounded over 170.
Iraqi government officials, as well as their counterparts in the West, believe the ISIS attacks are in response to setbacks in Iraq and Syria. The caliphate has been facing increased military pressure lately and has lost large swaths of territory on the ground. In spite of this ISIS is still capable of launching high profile attacks in Iraq and the attacks are coming at a time when the nation is quite vulnerable to terror attacks. The government there is beset by political deadlock and a number of security, economic, and humanitarian challenges.
Bottom Line: As ISIS faces setbacks and defeats on many fronts, it still has teeth and is capable of lashing out.
In the last hour or so reports have been coming out of Paris indicating that a number of possible terrorist attacks are underway. It may be too early to call these attacks the result of terrorists, however, the level of coordination and destructive nature of these attacks strongly suggest that they are the work of Islamic fundamentalists. As of 1712 hrs Eastern Time here is the latest news from France:
A hostage crisis is ongoing at the Bataclan Theater in Paris. 60 hostages are reportedly being held. 15 theatergoers were killed according to unconfirmed reports.
At the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district a gunman opened fire killing 11.
Three explosions are also reported outside a bar near the Stade de France, where France were hosting Germany.
Police officials are now telling the Associated Press that there are 26 dead at the current time.
The explosions could be heard inside of the Stad de France