Chaos/Savagery and the elimination of Grey Zones

I’ve been reading Scott Atran to try to figure out what is going on with these attacks in Europe, and he has some important insights. What are their goals? To eliminate the Grey Zone and polarize nations. They win when they isolate immigrant populations.

The core strategy outlined in the ISIS playbook, The Management of Chaos-Savagery (Idarat at-Tawahoush, required reading for every ISIS political, religious and military leader, or amir), is to fill the void wherever chaos already exists, as in much of the Sahel and Sahara, and create chaos that can be filled as in Europe.

In reality, today’s Brussel attacks represented just the latest, ever more effective, installment for fomenting chaos in Europe and thereby “Extinguish the Grey Zone,” along the lines of 12-page editorial published in ISIS’s online magazine Dabiq in early 2015. ‘The Grey ZOne’ describes the twilight area occupied by most Muslims between good and evil – in other words, between the Caliphate and the Infidel, which the ‘blessed operations of September 11’ brought into relief. The editorial quotes Osama bin Laden, for whom ISIS is the true heir: ‘The world today is divided. Bush spoke the truth when he said, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”’, with the actual ‘terrorist’ being the Western Crusaders. Now, ‘the time had come for another event to… bring division to the world and destroy the Grayzone.’A welcome to Syrian refugees would clearly represent a winning response to this strategy, whereas wholesale rejection of refugees just as clearly represents a losing response to ISIS. We might wish to celebrate diversity and tolerance in the grayzone, but the general trend in Europe and the majority of the US political establishment and population is to collude in erasing it.

The following are axioms drawn from The Management of Chaos-Savagery (Idarat at-Tawahoush, required reading for every ISIS political, religious and military leader, or amir), and from the February 2015 editorial in Dabiq (online ISIS publication), on “The Extinction of the Gray Zone.” ISIS’s actions have been, and likely will continue to be, consistent with these axioms:

Diversify the strikes and attack soft targets – tourist areas, eating places, places of entertainment, sports events, and so forth — that cannot possibly be defended everywhere. Disperse the infidels’ resources and drain them to the greatest extent possible, and so undermine people’s faith in the ability of their governments to provide security, most basic of all state functions.

· Motivate the masses to fly to regions that we manage, by eliminating the “Gray Zone” between the true believer and the infidel, which most people, including most Muslims, currently inhabit. Use so-called “terror attacks” to help Muslims realize that non-Muslims hate Islam and want to harm all who practice it, to show that peacefulness gains Muslims nothing but pain.

· Use social media to inspire sympathizers abroad to violence. Communicate the message: Do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, whenever possible.

I suspect that ISIS is planning a coordinated attack across multiple cities in Europe to ramp up the process of extinguishing the gray zone, and to also shift the focus of its possible adherents away form its increasingly noteworthy military containment in Syria and Iraq.

He also explains why anyone would join a violent nutbag organization like ISIS. If you’re screwed by the status quo, upheaval at least gives you a chance that your situation will improve.

Unlike Al Qaeda, whose attacks in Europe and elsewhere were largely instigated by inspiration rather than direct command and control, ISIS is able to remotely command as well as inspire with the idea of a Utopian Caliphate in here and now (something Bin Laden earnestly rejected as long as the USA was powerful enough to to contain and thereby delegitimize), and has infiltrated immigrant neighborhoods, ridden piggyback on refugee pipelines, and tapped into the ennui of a society that hasn’t know war or real struggle over values for 70 years and the anomie of a seemingly endless, genderless, culturally indistinct adolescence. The clear red lines of the Islamic State radically terminates all of this with spectacular violence that its foreign adherents experience as breaking their personal chains and those of humanity.

In the absence of a devout alternative of passion and significance, many who join IS seem to say: “Better an end to suffering the status quo, with hope for something better, whatever suffering and horror it takes.” That, of course, is the heart of the apocalyptic mindset: to save this world it may be necessary to destroy it, and postpone hope to the next life. It is an ultimate expression of the power of seemingly preposterous ideas made real: that privilege of absurdity to which no creature but man is subject, but which renders all creatures subject to His whim, including fellow men.

He wrote about the Paris attacks a while back, too, and it summarizes what they’re trying to do.

Isis is reaching out to fill the void wherever a state of “chaos” or “savagery” (at-tawahoush) exists, as in central Asia and Africa. And where there is insufficient chaos in the lands of the infidel, called “The House of War”, it seeks to create it, as in Europe.

It conscientiously exploits the disheartening dynamic between the rise of radical Islamism and the revival of the xenophobic ethno-nationalist movements that are beginning to seriously undermine the middle class – the mainstay of stability and democracy – in Europe in ways reminiscent of the hatchet job that the communists and fascists did on European democracy in the 1920s and 30s. The fact that Europe’s reproductive rate is 1.4 children per couple, and so there needs to be considerable immigration to maintain a productive workforce that can sustain the middle class standard of living, is a godsend for Isis, because at the same time there has never been less tolerance for immigration. Therein lies the sort of chaos that Isis is well positioned to exploit.

Create chaos, make Western governments turn in hostility against immigrant populations, thereby eliminating the “Grey Zone”, where those immigrants might aspire to be members in full of their new homeland, and let those nations drive their own people into conflict. It’s a brilliant strategy. It’s clearly working. Look at our own Republican presidential candidates, who are responding to pain and bloodshed abroad by threatening to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in America or promising to do a lot more than waterboarding, basically amplifying the effect of the terrorist act to alienate further disadvantaged populations here.

Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.

So what are we to do? I think Arun has it exactly right: do the opposite of what ISIS wants. Rather than polarizing the nation to obliterate the gray zone, embrace our immigrants as full partners in our society. Give them a stake in our country. Rather than chaos and savagery, offer stability and support. And keep in mind that when we send in drones or A-10s or cruise missiles into a foreign country, we are making ISIS very happy by creating the chaos and savagery in which they thrive.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.

    Well there no convincing evidence either man has ever had a rational thought so the unthinkingly certainly is true.

    But this is continuing a glorious US Republican tradition. I often thought that George W. Bush was an Al Qaeda agent. I cringed when, in one of his first speechs after 9/11 he spoke of a crusade. Did his speech-writers not know any history?

    The latest idiocies by Trump and Cruz probably is worth a few thousand recruits for ISIS and Obama’s latest drone attack in Yemen is not going to help.

    BTW, Atran does not mention one important reason for some recruits to join ISIS. ISIS pays reasonably well although Salon reports that there have been recent pay cuts.

  2. mrbabyelephant says

    And we’re in a MUCH better position here in the US to make those kinds of alliances and support systems. Circumstances of Muslim immigration to American are considerably different than those in Europe, mainly because Muslims don’t exist as a ‘ghettoized’ demographic here like they do there…Our ‘problem’ potentially is far less intractable than theirs i because ours isn’t compounded with the problem of poverty..Also, and .I could be wrong, but it seems that many Muslims coming to the US (of the ME variety) are here for a better life, where many in Europe are fleeing war and untenable circumstances in their home countries

  3. wzrd1 says

    ISIL has been losing ground in Iraq and Syria because of those A-10’s and missiles. That continues to degrade their own home front, while acceptance and the hand of friendship can neutralize their recruiting in the US and Europe.

    That said, when we strike, we must be precise. Saturation bombing, i.e.; “carpet bombing” is counterproductive in the extreme, as that wanton destruction serves as a recruiting tool for ISIL and other extremists, wheras precise strikes upon logistical centers and the leadership show by example what happens to that leadership.
    In short, fight smart, not hard. Use the mind as the primary weapon, ordinance as a last resort decapitation and logistical blocker. Air drop halal military rations for the populace in the afflicted areas, it disarmed discontent and it shows that we have massive amounts of halal foods for our Muslim service members. Any rations confiscated by ISIL undermines their standing with a hungry populace and hence, their recruiting efforts.
    The ultimate weapon has a caliber and yield, but no explosive or ballistic trajectory, for the weapon is the mind.

  4. numerobis says

    mrbabyelephant@2: the US is very stingy indeed about bringing in refugees, preferring to let them die waiting for their applications to go through. But refugee versus immigrant through the lottery or various visa programs doesn’t have much effect on their capacity to integrate in the host population — it’s not like people who are jumping through all the hoops to flee certain death are lazy welfare bums.

  5. numerobis says

    wzrd1: another reason for ISIS to be losing ground is that it’s a petrostate, and oil prices have crashed. That robs them of their biggest source of revenue. The US recently claimed to have reduced their oil revenue by 64% or whatever number they pulled out — coincidentally, very similar to the amount that oil prices had dropped.

    In Iraq and Syria, ISIS can’t hold land that isn’t populated by a largely Sunni population; it can invade but the locals will help boot them out (or die trying). But the US and its allies can’t seem to hold Sunni land.

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    jrkrideau @ 1

    External threat and fear-mongering is a gift that keeps giving to right-wingers. Seemingly hitting the enemies while creating more of them gets defense contractors rich on other people’s money.

  7. says

    A (counter)terrorism expert on the radio this morning, observed that most of the terrorists were already known to the police — as ordinary criminals. At some point, they “saw the light”, converted to Islam (often in prison), and kept their violent ways.

    Prevent boys becoming criminals, prevent radicalisation in prison, and you’re preventing terrorism much more effectively then “cracking down” on terrorists, which often amounts to cracking down on anyone who might be a terrorist, which in turn comes down to racism against people with a North African background.

  8. says


    Prevent boys becoming criminals, prevent radicalisation in prison, and you’re preventing terrorism much more effectively then “cracking down” on terrorists

    Like most fringe organisations they recruit from people who have indeed legitimate grievances. Then they turn those around, offer equally simplistic and wrong solutions and create fanatics. Many of those young men come from broken homes, experienced lots of overt and convert discrimination and the Islamists get them by providing love, support and community.
    This is, btw, the same with a less deadly but equally wrong group: MRAs often use legitimate men’s issues like suicide and workplace accidents and then run with it.

  9. Kilian Hekhuis says

    We shouldn’t give ISIS to much credit. Those attacks may have been carried out by ISIS supporters, I severely doubt they were actually directly ordered by anyone in command within ISIS.

  10. Darjien says

    PZ, you say that “Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.”

    I don’t really agree – it’s more accurate to say that they have the same rough end goal, which is a more hardened and closed society. The existence of each of them strengthens the others in this goal. Winning the war would be nice and all, but having an ongoing war is definitely better than peace, to them. Saves you having to find a new enemy.

  11. says

    Ted Cruz compared his proposal to have law enforcement patrol Muslim neighborhoods to the way that neighborhoods beset with gang violence are patrolled. This did not sit well with anyone but Donald Trump, who agreed with Cruz.

    For one thing, let’s not compare Muslims to gangs. For another, the police themselves disagree with Cruz:

    Sen. Ted Cruz’s controversial proposal that “patrols” should monitor “Muslim neighborhoods” in the United States the aftermath of terror attacks in Belgium has been condemned on both sides of the political aisle, and on Tuesday, New York Police Department commissioner William Bratton added his voice to the chorus.

    Bratton, flanked by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had previously called Cruz’s remarks “reprehensible” and example of “demagoguery,” told reporters that “the statements he made today is why he’s not going to become president of this country.”

    “We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country,” Bratton added. “As the mayor mentioned, I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty, and they serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen,” referring to the fact that Cruz has no military experience.

    “So before he starts denigrating any population, he should take a close look at who he’s denigrating,” Bratton said. […]

    MSNBC link.

    Cruz was told by some interviewers about the misconceptions his proposal included, but Cruz just doubled down:

    The NYPD has attempted to procure intelligence by secretly monitoring Muslim enclaves in the past, a practice defended by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But doing so yielded little success, according to the Associated Press. They report that in six years of broad surveillance, the so-called Demographics Unit “never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.” Meanwhile, when reports of the program surfaced, first revealed as part of a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation by the AP, it was met with strong rebuke from the Muslim community and led to a discrimination lawsuit against the city which was ultimately dismissed in 2014. Bratton, who was appointed by de Blasio, oversaw the decision to abandon the program.

    Later on Tuesday, Cruz doubled down on his earlier statements, arguing that it’s “standard” police procedure to infiltrate communities overrun with gang activity, and that the same tactics should be applied to areas where radicalization may be taking hold. “Political correctness costs lives,” he added. […]

    His 2016 rival Donald Trump, who spent much of Tuesday advocating for torture techniques to reinstated to combat threat of ISIS, called Cruz’s patrol plan a “good idea” which he “100 percent” supports. […]

    It certainly sounds to me like Cruz and Trump are doing their part to eliminate the “grey zone.” Having these guys running for president is a nightmare.

  12. photoreceptor says

    You don’t have to think very hard to see that the ISIS leaders must be rubbing their hands in glee with the political mood swing to the (extreme) right in many countries, it is exactly what they want and is playing perfectly into their long term schemes. I still get the impression, from reading this blog site, that some people have the wrong idea about arab Muslims in France. Except for the recent influx of desperate immigrants, most first generation Muslims here just came looking for a better quality of life for themselves and their families, coming mainly from the north african mediterannean border. Some have been treated very badly, especially the harkis, but the overwhelming majority live in okay conditions. The radicalisation of a tiny few is due to what has been discussed in the posts – poverty, discrimination, bleak prospects. One has to continue to hope the tide will swing, that people will realise it is more important than ever to show a unified front to terrorism.

  13. says

    Cross posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.

    Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives…that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that’s why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them…It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.

    That’s terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, the head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project and a veteran of Navy intelligence, speaking. Nance was reacting to what Trump had to say about the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

  14. says

    We shouldn’t give ISIS to much credit. Those attacks may have been carried out by ISIS supporters, I severely doubt they were actually directly ordered by anyone in command within ISIS.

    I imagine they operate about the same way as the ALF does/did. If your actions align with their goals, they’ll be happy to claim it.

    Another thing the same terrorism expert mentioned was the importance of friendship bonds. Most terrorist cells were, according to her, groups of friends before that. That seems to have been the case here as well.

  15. Rich Woods says

    @Lynna #15:

    It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.

    But… but… how else is Trump going to get elected?

  16. laurentweppe says

    Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.

    You’re assuming that rich white dudes who do and say exactly what Daesh wants are manipulated fools, useful idiots.

    Well, To paraphrase Marco R-Bot Rubio, I daresay that Trump & Cruz know exactly what they are doing: that they are not manipulated fools but accomplices deliberately following a somewhat similar strategy than the Assad regime.

    In the early phase of the Syrian civil war, when Daesh was still embryonic, Damas helped the fundies, releasing jailed extremists and sending its own security forces to assist the fundies against the secular rebels: the goal was to eliminate the idealists, those who would have made better, more competent rulers than Assad and his cronies, because they were the biggest threat to the regime’s ongoing parasitic existence.

    Likewise, Trump and Cruz are acting as Daesh’s propagandists for the very same reason: the more terrorist attacks occur, the harder it will be for democrats to hold the White House: just like in Syria, the oligarchs’ are targeting first and foremost those who make better rulers than them.
    There is a de facto alliance between the islamophobic right and violent islamic fundies.

  17. ModZero says


    Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.

    Well there no convincing evidence either man has ever had a rational thought so the unthinkingly certainly is true.

    I think that’s wishful thinking, on both counts, similar to the idea that ISIS leaders don’t know what they’re doing — while their success (in dividing Europe) shows they clearly do. Right wing knows that attacks are a boon to them. Even in the lower rungs — where I live, experiencing a right-winger telling you they wish a terrorist attack happened because “that would teach me” is quite common. They want the chaos and the war, and they tell you it’s for your own good. And yes, you can totally see the (growing) fringes actually praise ISIS.

  18. moarscienceplz says

    laurentweppe @#18:

    In the early phase of the Syrian civil war, when Daesh was still embryonic, Damas helped the fundies

    My Google-fu fails to tell me: who or what is Damas?

  19. says

    What President Obama had to say about Cruz’s proposal to surveil Muslim neighborhoods:

    As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance. Which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America.

  20. says

    Cross posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.

    In an interview with ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” Donald Trump said some more stupid stuff about Muslim communities:

    When they see trouble, they have to report it. They are not reporting it; they are absolutely not reporting it, and that’s a big problem. […]

    It’s like they’re protecting each other, but they’re really doing very bad damage, and they have to open up to society. They have to report the bad ones.

    British officials were quick to condemn Trump’s comments as false and potentially dangerous.

    “He said that Muslims were not coming forward in the United Kingdom to report matters of concern,” Interior Minister Theresa May told Parliament, according to a Reuters report. “This is absolutely not the case—he is just plain wrong,” she said.

    Neil Basu, Deputy Assistant Commissioner to the UK Counter Terrorism Policing Network, said Trump’s remarks could spark hate crimes.

    “If we demonize one section of the community, that is the worst thing we can do,” Basu said, as quoted by the Associated Press . “We are absolutely playing into the terrorists’ hands of making people feel hate.” […]


  21. mnb0 says

    “They win when they isolate immigrant populations.”
    They’re well on their way in The Netherlands.

    “Cruz and Trump are unthinkingly acting as agents of ISIS.”
    Tell this Dutchman something new. Wilders has been for almost 15 years now – though I doubt the “unthinking”.

  22. says

    Hillary Clinton gave a counterterrorism address at Stanford University. She did not sound like Trump or Cruz.

    You can view the entire speech on YouTube. It is about 27 minutes long. After a personal introduction, Clinton’s speech about the attacks in Brussels, and about how foreign policy should be used to diminish the threat of terrorism, begins at 1:38. This is a speech that is quite good. It is an intelligent approach and it shreds Trump and Cruz without using any shouting or personal insults.

    The actual steps needed to face the threat are laid out in the speech. Clinton gets specific.

  23. klatu says

    Better an end to suffering the status quo, with hope for something better, whatever suffering and horror it takes.

    Except ISIS don’t want to end the status quo. They want a change in management.
    Exhibit A:

    And keep in mind that when we send in drones or A-10s or cruise missiles into a foreign country, we are making ISIS very happy by creating the chaos and savagery in which they thrive.

    Right. All that accomplishes is to legitimize their entire garbage ideology.

    I just hope they’ll soon go the way of every conquest-driven empire in history: Collapse under their own weight, once their expansion grinds to a halt.

  24. laurentweppe says

    My Google-fu fails to tell me: who or what is Damas?

    Whoops: Damas is the french name of Damascus, Syria’s capital

  25. says

    Someone should introduce Trump to the story of the Toronto 18. Crucial to stopping their planned terrorist attacks on various Canadian targets was the undercover work of Canadian born Muslim Mubin Shaikh.

  26. wzrd1 says

    We’ve had a few plots broken up that Trump hasn’t heard of. It’s a case of not going on, as he’s too busy spewing bullshit to listen to any facts whatsoever.
    Facts don’t sell these days, bullshit sells.

  27. TGAP Dad says

    Just curious if you (PZ) are familiar with Juan Coles blog “Informed Comment.” Cole is a University of Michigan professor of history, specializing in the Middle East. You can find him at

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’d be careful of trusting anything Scott Atran says. He was once quoted by Sam Harris (yes yes, I know, bad person) in the following context:

    Sam Harris: Has there ever been a (Muslim) suicide bomber who killed themself with the expectation that their act would get them into (Muslim) heaven?

    Scott Atran: No.

    If that reported conversation is accurate, and I still have no good reason to doubt that it is, plus other things Sam Harris has said about Scott Atran, then I conclude that Scott Atran is a religious apologist with ridiculously wrong-headed views on suicide bombers, and I don’t trust a damn thing he says on this and related topics.

    PS: I am not endorsing Sam Harris, who also has many wrong-headed views, factual and moral.

  29. jrkrideau says

    I understand and agree with your point. Unfortunately the idiots cannot see beyond a short-term political victory.

    Given a long term struggle—and I suspect ISIS and others are thinking in terms of decades or even centuries—the US right-wing nuts who think in four year election cycle are too naive to be true.

  30. unclefrogy says

    thinking does not enter in to it but only peripherally as short term strategy .
    There is nothing rational about either side in this terrorism, anti-terrorism struggle. The argument from ISIS is bad religion and resentment for past and present offenses nothing rational there. The argument as we have long heard from the western right-wing is racist and bad religion filled with resentment and fear/hate of the other, nothing rational about that either. As we have all experienced for ourselves the religious cherry pick their data and only see what they want to with it. No one is really taking the long view without doing that they all think that they can win this They can not see the other as being essentially the same as themselves
    This particular struggle has been going on with variations for 1000 years with periods of truce in between.
    I see little hope of it changing substantially any time soon
    at least not until we have some more global climate catastrophes.
    uncle frogy

  31. dianne says

    where I live, experiencing a right-winger telling you they wish a terrorist attack happened because “that would teach me” is quite common.

    If it helps any, I was in NYC on 11 Sept 2001. At the time, I was in fellowship so was a sort of second tier medical responder and saw a certain number of the direct victims of the attacks, though I wasn’t on the WTC grounds myself. Here’s what it taught me: bombings are a shitty way to make your point or get anything else productive done. They just hurt people and don’t convince them of anything at all. In short, it made me all the more certain that bombing Iraq/Afghanistan/Wherever else is a bad idea. Why do I think that this was not the lesson that I was supposed to take from it, per the right wingers?

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh. I should have expected… Sorry.

    Still, I really, really dislike Scott Atran. That article only reinforces my position that he’s an intellectually dishonest apologist for religion.

    Is Scott Atran arguing that Christianity has helped the development of democracy as much as it’s hurt it? Seemingly yes, and the position is bullshit. Atran’s Benjamin Franklin quote in context to further his point is particularly egregious.

    Related: On average over history, Christianity has been somewhere between hostile and neutral, not helpful, regarding the development of science.
    As far as I can tell, this position of mine is another position that Scott Atran would disagree with, and I say bollocks to that.

    Is Scott Atran arguing that Christianity is entirely content free in an absolute sense, and “believers” simply impose their modern values according to their circumstances on it? Seemingly yes, and the position is bullshit. Sam Harris is still right on this academic and vague point: certain religious traditions do have certain beliefs that the majority has held since its inception, and these beliefs are not content free, and these beliefs do shape their values and behaviors in predictable ways, and these influences have remained constant over the whole history of several religions.

    Christianity is, and always has been, an exercise that requires belief without evidence, faith. Christianity is, and always has been, blind obedience to an evil and malicious god, submission. No decent person should be able to read the Bible and come away thinking that the god figure and Jesus are anything but petty, moral thugs. However, to be a Christian, one has to rejoice in this moral thuggery, and that has consequences. It exerts an influence towards obedience, authoritarianism, etc.

    Preemptively: If someone claims to be a Christian, but they don’t believe that Jesus died for their sins and allowed them to have everlasting life, then they’re misusing the word “Christian”. That is a factual claim held on faith. That is also a morally repugnant claim which no morally decent person should celebrate – vicarious redemption is a moral abomination. Further, belief in this fact is often celebrated as a morally good thing (if not an actual requirement for everlasting life). That is submitting oneself as a slave. It’s training people to be serfs, and to morally celebrate authoritarianism. These things are the core Christian teachings, and they have been for the entirety of Christianity, for basically every Christian sect across the world. To say that Christianity is entirely content-free, as Scott Atran seemingly does, is incredibly foolish and wrong, IMAO.

  33. Nick Gotts says

    Those attacks may have been carried out by ISIS supporters, I severely doubt they were actually directly ordered by anyone in command within ISIS. – Kilian Hekhuis@9

    Not so, at least according to last night’s “Panorama Special” on the BBC, which can be watched here. The terrorists who attacked both Paris and Brussels were indeed under the direct control of Daesh, and most had been trained in Syria. The programme also indicated that there are very serious weaknesses in the police/security service response, particularly in Belgium – fragmented police force, rivalry and poor communications between police and security services, police having an execrable relationship with immigrant communities, particularly in Molenbeek, where the ringleader of the Paris attacks was able to hide for four months.

  34. Nick Gotts says

    Given a long term struggle—and I suspect ISIS and others are thinking in terms of decades or even centuries – jrkrideau@32

    Not according to what I’ve read (I don’t have a link handy). Rather, they are an apocalytic cult, who are trying to provoke an invasion by “Rome”, which they expect to nearly extinguish their “Caliphate” before Jesus (yes, that Jesus) descends from heaven and obliterates the “Crusader” forces.

    Daesh and similar groups could only win – in the sense of establishing their global rule – if their apocalyptic beliefs are in fact true – the disparity in military, political and economic power between them and the west is far, far greater than that between Japan and the USA at the time of Pearl Harbor. What they might achieve is the triumph of fascism in the USA and Europe, followed by a war of extermination against Muslims.

  35. Nick Gotts says

    Enlightenment Liberal@36,

    Scott Atran disagrees with you? Well, I guess that’s conclusive evidence he knows nothing about Islamist terrorism.

  36. wzrd1 says

    @unclefroggy, there never has been much inherently rational in humanity overall, ever. That’s especially true during an emergency and when things have gotten really lousy.
    People are irrational beings, guided as much by emotion as reason colored by emotion. Any world view that ignores that is as defective in recognizing reality as Ayn Rand’s world view of imaginary rational humans.
    One can try to be rational, but one still has to wonder if one is actually being rational and not having emotion color that view, while still being irrational. Trump thinks that he’s being rational when he suggests all manner of regressive, barbaric behavior.

    Your argument that “it’s been going on for 1000 years” is overly generous, such has been going on as long as there have been people, something archaeology has repeatedly excavated and proved.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Well, I guess that’s conclusive evidence he knows nothing about Islamist terrorism.

    To be fair, I never said that. Further, I even stated large and broad agreement with the points of the OP, so it’s not literally true that he knows nothing about Islamic terrorism. I merely stated my extreme dislike and distrust of him, and I expressed my position that he should be considered an unreliable authority on these matters.