Journalists in a weekly meeting, patrons in an Australian cafe, students at a Jewish school in Toulouse, fans watching the Boston Marathon and now, this morning, shoppers at a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris, have become the latest victims of terrorism as a gunman holds a number of innocent people hostage. While these situations may not be identical, taken together they do paint a grim portrait of murderous intolerance and wanton disregard for human life, all in the service of a seriously perverted view of religion.
In the last few days the media has been full of speculation and analysis surrounding the events in France, and one thing that has struck me in following the reports is that while some experts emphasize that the best way to approach the problem of Islamist terrorism is by military means, others stress that it should be viewed largely as an issue to be addressed by law enforcement. Personally, I think that this problem requires resources that both military and law enforcement institutions can bring to bear, and we must also go beyond capturing or killing those who would carry out attacks like those which have traumatized Europe in recent years, seeking guidance from sociologists, psychologists and others with relevant expertise to undermine the ideology that fuels radicalization.
However events turn out today in France there is no question in my mind that unless we make use of every resource at our disposal, from security and intelligence services to clergy, social scientists and civic leaders, we are likely to see an increase in the damage that these nihilists are causing all over the world.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2015.