From The Daily Beast, by Maajid Nawaz, Paris Proves We’ll Never Kill Enough Jihadists to Stop Terror . . . .
So why does this keep happening, and on this scale?
The answer is not a comfortable one.
Jihadist terrorism is alive and kicking. And though we must continue to put terrorists on the back foot by targeting their leadership, we will never kill our way out of this phenomenon. In January 2013, after Bin Laden’s death but long before ISIS’s emergence, my counter-extremism organisation Quilliam declared (to choruses of raised eyebrows at the time), “It’s a full blown jihadist-insurgency, stupid.” And no insurgency is sustainable, or even possible, without a level of residual support for its core ideological aims among the core communities from which it draws its fighters.
Jihadism has well and truly taken root among an entire generation of angry young Muslims. This is particularly the case in Europe, where thousands have left to join ISIS. This insurgency is incredibly hard to tackle, because its recruits remain invisible in our very own societies, born and raised among us, fluent in our languages and culture, but full of venom for everything they have been raised into.
Though London is by now well overdue a similar attack, a question that could legitimately be asked is why does France seem to be bearing the brunt of such coordinated jihadist terror, up until now most potently symbolised by the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately for France, though not unique to it, between 5 and 10 percent of its population is Muslim. Real, serious problems with economic and social integration prevail in this group, fuelling resentment on a scale that baffles most expert policy makers. Even if hundreds, out of millions, take this resentment to its deadly conclusion, France has a huge problem on its hands, as we saw on Friday. But so do we all.
Recognizing this is not to stigmatize every European or Western Muslim—the vast majority of whom are not, of course, jihadists—but it means being realistic about exactly where the challenge is coming from, and what the challenge is called: Islamism.
Up until now the bitter truth that our Muslim populations have been subjected to decades of sustained Islamist propaganda by those who live among them has gone almost totally ignored. The long term solution cannot continue to ignore this truth, and cannot continue to neglect those few Muslims, and others, attempting to take on this threat within their own communities.
For now, my guess will be that these attacks will only aid the anti-immigrant rhetoric of France’s far right, sweeping xenophobes to prominence, further polarising communities, which for good or for bad, will only sustain the process of radicalisation even further. This is so despite the fact that France has taken hardly any Syrian refugees, and Germany, which has taken tens of thousands, has yet to be hit as hard as France has. European born and raised jihadists have so far posed the biggest problem, not immigrants.