Stratfor’s analysis of the Paris massacre

Stratfor has, IMHO, put its finger on the reality behind the terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday.  Their report is republished here with permission.

Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise

Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.

Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims.

While Western states go to great lengths to demonstrate that no such clash of civilizations is occurring, right-wing forces engage in rhetoric that reinforces these fears among many common Muslims across the world. More important, there is a longstanding conflict of values — particularly freedom of expression, which is cherished in the West but seen by many Muslims as a license for sacrilege. Though the vast majority of Muslims will not engage in violence in response to speech deemed as blasphemous, there are many who will. In Pakistan, the blasphemy law has been a subject of huge controversy. Many Pakistani citizens have been murdered by their fellow countrymen for speech or behavior deemed objectionable. At the root of this problem is the extreme discomfort many Muslims have with free expression, although this attitude is not universal. The person of the Prophet Mohammed is all the more sensitive because the traditional view is that he cannot be depicted pictorially, let alone in a satirical manner.

Ultimately, this is an intra-Muslim struggle for power and control wrapped in a debate over what it means to be a Muslim in today’s world and what the boundaries of justifiable action are. Defining those factors is one tool that can be used to gain power; attacks against the West and its interests, meant to force Westerners to pull out of Muslim lands or to attack Muslims and enforce the jihadist narrative, are another. This issue undermines efforts by moderate and progressive Muslims to advance the notion of freedoms based on an Islamic ethos.

The ongoing intra-Muslim debate gives extremists ample ideological and, by extension, geopolitical space to exploit. The jihadist enterprise deliberately targets non-Muslims, in particular the West, in part as a means to gain ground within the Muslim milieu. This strategy also sucks the Western world into what is essentially a Muslim civil war in order to tackle the security threats posed by Islamist militant actors.

In this way, the internal debate within the Muslim world does not lead to the defeat of the extremists or the easing of relations between Muslims and the West. But that is exactly where the jihadists are vulnerable, and where the real battle to defeat jihadism needs to be fought. As long as the ideology survives, it will produce new fighters.

It’s worth checking out Stratfor’s Web site for its free content, and signing up for their e-mail alerts while you’re there.  You get a lot more as a paid member, but the free stuff is high quality and worth having.



  1. " Though the vast majority of Muslims will not engage in violence in response to speech deemed as blasphemous, there are many who will."

    True, but they will support the ones that do. Just like all Germans weren't Nazis, but the supported them.

  2. "…high powered assault rifles…" That phrase really peeves me off. I mean, what other type is there?! Anyone ever hear of a low powered assault rifle? It's unnecessary sensationalism. Sheesh.

  3. Stratfor would be hard pressed to explain any better just how far the west has its head buried in the sand.

    There will be war, and it will be big. Anyone thinking otherwise is just whistling past the graveyard.

    It is within mans nature to destroy himself, and we are about to prove it all over again.

    But this time, we have some civilization-destroying weapons to play with.

    And play we will.

  4. As I have asked elsewhere, if it's smart to take a knife to a knife fight, and you'd best take a gun to a gun fight, why do we only take lawyers and political correctness to a religious war? Seems rather too small a caliber of weapon to pack.

    Perhaps something more like an Islamic-themed version of Martin Luther's 95 theses would be more appropriated.

  5. Sometimes a terrorist attack is just that. I don't think that they are deliberaly carrying out these attacks to force retalliation and so generate more discontent and so garner more muslim support. I think they are doing it to avenge what they see as blasphemous and to encourager les autres not to defame their prophet.
    That is not to say that the second order effects won't pan out as per Strafor's report, however I don't buy that as their ultimate objective. The only effective solution is a homogeneous society.

  6. Differ claims that the only effective solution is a homogeneous society. A very low-key way of saying that all our attempts at racial integration have failed, and failed utterly.

    I completely agree.

    History shows that the races were kept separate and unique by natural barriers, but when we started globe trotting and the different races started meeting, conflict always followed.

    It's no different today except that one race, the white race, is attempting to accept the others into their society by the twin processes of appeasement and submission, and by doing so is rushing headlong into obliteration.

    Hell of a thing to watch.

    Particularity if you are white.

    As for myself, I am an American of European descent, and am alarmed that our centers of civilization are being assaulted and overrun by those whose morals and ethics conflict with our own, by those whose religion will not tolerate any differing view, and by those who would take our very land away from us.

    If history is a guide, conflict is going to occur. But this time it will involve millions, all armed to the teeth with devastating weapons.

    No more whacking away at each other with swords. This time we have weapons that will incinerate countless numbers in an instant. Those rabid fools running around with AK-47's shooting innocents and screaming Allah this or that have no clue clue about the fuses they are lighting, or about the millions upon millions of those still silent… but about to erupt into action.

    Think that the Middle East conflict is our biggest problem? Our troubles may have started there what with its religious and racial roots, but it's small potatoes compared to what we are all facing.

    And that pot-stirring idiot in the White House isn't helping.

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