ISIS “act of war” against France

Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, and French President Francois said it amounted to an act of war against France.

Radio NZ reports Hollande: Paris attacks an act of ‘war’

President Hollande said the attacks had been organised from abroad by Islamic State “barbarians”, with internal help.

Sources close to the investigation said a Syrian passport had been found near the body of one of the suicide bombers.

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” Mr Hollande said after an emergency meeting of security chiefs. He also announced three days of national mourning.

Casualty counts have varied, with this reported by Radio NZ:

A French government source told Reuters there were 127 dead, 67 in critical condition and 116 wounded. Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot by police. There may have been an eighth attacker, but this was not confirmed.

The worst attack was carried out at the Bataclan concert hall, where officials say four gunmen systematically killed at least 87 people at a rock concert before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building.

Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where Mr Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer international.

In total eight attackers are reported to have been killed around Paris, including seven by their suicide belts.

And Islamic State have claimed responsibility:

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the attacks were a response to France’s campaign against its fighters.

It also distributed an undated video in which a militant said France would not live peacefully as long it took part in US-led bombing raids against them.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market,” said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by other fighters.

‘Islamic State’, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is a radical group that is a small but currently very brutal and dangerous in large areas of Syria and Iraq, and have been responsible for several terror attacks including the one in Paris.

In What is ‘Islamic State’? the BBC says:

What does IS want?

In June 2014, the group formally declared the establishment of a “caliphate” – a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia, by God’s deputy on Earth, or caliph.

It has demanded that Muslims across the world swear allegiance to its leader – Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – and migrate to territory under its control.

IS has also told other jihadist groups worldwide that they must accept its supreme authority. Many already have, among them several offshoots of the rival al-Qaeda network.

IS seeks to eradicate obstacles to restoring God’s rule on Earth and to defend the Muslim community, or umma, against infidels and apostates.

The group has welcomed the prospect of direct confrontation with the US-led coalition, viewing it as a harbinger of an end-of-times showdown between Muslims and their enemies described in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies.

How many fighters does it have?

In February 2015, US Director for National Intelligence James Clapper said IS could muster “somewhere in the range between 20,000 and 32,000 fighters” in Iraq and Syria.

But he noted that there had been “substantial attrition” in its ranks since US-led coalition air strikes began in August 2014. In June 2015, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more than 10,000 IS fighters had been killed.

To help mitigate the manpower losses, IS has turned to conscription in some areas. Iraqi expert Hisham al-Hashimi believes only 30% of the group’s fighters are “ideologues”, with the remainder joining out of fear or coercion.

A significant number of IS fighters are neither Iraqi nor Syrian. In October 2015, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen told Congressthat the group had attracted more than 28,000 foreign fighters. They included at least 5,000 Westerners, approximately 250 of them Americans, he said.

Studies by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) and the New York-based Soufan Group suggest that while about a quarter of the foreign fighters are from the West, the majority are from nearby Arab countries, such as Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Morocco.

Why are their tactics so brutal?

IS members are jihadists who adhere to an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and consider themselves the only true believers. They hold that the rest of the world is made up of unbelievers who seek to destroy Islam, justifying attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Beheadings, crucifixions and mass shootings have been used to terrorise their enemies. IS members have justified such atrocities by citing the Koran and Hadith, but Muslims have denounced them.

Even al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who disavowed IS in February 2014 over its actions in Syria, warned Zarqawi in 2005 that such brutality loses “Muslim hearts and minds”.

Many victims of ISIS have been Muslims in the Middle East.

In other news, the war against ISIS goes on.

Yesterday on Stuff: ‘Jihadi John’ believed killed as Islamic State’s losses mount

The US has said it is “reasonably certain” that it has killed the Islamic State extremist known as “Jihadi John” in an airstrike in Syria.

The man, a British citizen named Mohamed Emwazi and a symbol of the group’s reign of terror, was the focus of a US drone strike on a vehicle near Raqqah.

Breaking news from the BBC: Libya IS head ‘killed in US air strike’

A US air strike has killed the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in Libya, the Pentagon says.

Iraqi national Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, was a “longtime al-Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL leader in Libya”, it said, using another acronym for IS.

The air strike took place on Friday night.

The Pentagon said the strike demonstrated that it would “go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate”.

Despite what some claim there is no ‘appeasement’. Many countries have joined the fight against ISIS.

Terror attacks like the ones if Paris will no doubt increase the resolve to destroy ISIS.

Unfortunately it will also increase the blaming of all Muslims including calls to marginalise and drive out Muslims from Europe and other Western countries.

An unfortunate but in part unavoidable reaction of Islamic State to being attacked will be ongoing acts of barbarity, retaliation is a major part of how they operate.

This division and the promotion of Islam versus the rest is what ISIS want.

The world needs to support the many millions of moderate Muslims and fight resolutely against terror tactics of groups like ISIS.