Paris Terrorist Attacks: Business as Usual?

By : Dr Kishor Dere

(Supreme Court Advocate and Visiting Professor of International Law and International Relations)

As France prepares to play host to the UN Climate Change Summit at the end of this month,  just few days ahead of that,  there have been deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.  On 13 November 2015,  the night of violence unfolded soon after 21:00 (GMT 20:00) ) as people were enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.  International news media is awash with this coverage.  BBC, CNN and AFP reports,  among others,  available on their respective websites are being extensively used for writing this piece.

The latest terrorist attacks at multiple locations in French capital have resulted in the killing of at least 130 innocent lives and injuring over 180 people,  80 of whom are in a critical condition.  This is the deadliest peacetime attack in France and the worst in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

As usual,  the debate has begun over who might be the perpetrators of such heinous attacks and what might be their motive behind carrying out such ghastly attacks?

Before jumping to the conclusion,  this question may be answered by looking at the pattern of violence and targets which included bars, restaurants,  a concert and aa high-profile football match between France and Germany where President François Hollande himself was a spectator.

At least one gunman opened fire on Le Carillon bar in the rue Alibert, not far from the place de la Republique, before heading across the road to Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia), killing at least 12 people.

A few streets away, another gunman then opened fire on dinners sitting on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi, with the loss of at least five lives. At around the same time, on the southern outskirts of Paris,  80, 000 people who had gathered to watch France play Germany at the Stade de France heard three explosions outside the stadium about half an hour after kick-off.

President Hollande was among the spectators and was whisked to safety after the first explosion.

It later emerged three suicide bombers blew themselves up at fast food outlets and a brasserie near the stadium.

The attack on the 15, 00-seat Bataclan concert hall was by far the deadliest of Friday night’s attacks.  Gunmen opened fire on people watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

The gunmen took 20 hostages,  and told their captives: ” It’s the fault of Hollande,  it’s the fault of your president,  he should not have intervened in Syria. ”

Within an hour,  security forces had stormed the concert hall and all four attackers there were dead. Three had blown themselves up and a fourth was short dead by police. Police believe all of the gunmen are dead – seven killed themselves with explosive vests and one was shot dead by the security forces – but it is unclear if any accomplices are still on the run.

Thus by now the finger of suspicion is bound to be raised towards the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) group. And in fact,  the latest reports say, ISIS has already released a statement on Saturday saying “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles had carried out the attacks on “carefully chosen” targets, and were a response to France’s involvement in the air strikes on IS militants in Syria and Iraq”. That is to say,  the IS has claimed responsibility the attacks.

In fact one should indeed have a long sigh of relief for this statement by the ISIS. This would prevent and pre-ampt one from being accused of being involved – in favor of or against any particular group.

The Paris attacks and the subsequent IS statement should not even leave even an iota of doubt in any sane person’s mind that the ISIS and its affiliates are bound to pursue their killing spree anywhere and everywhere in the days, months and years to come.

Various world leaders have rightly condemned the deadliest attacks.

Indian Prime Minister,  Narendra Modi, in his address to the British Members of Parliament on 12 November had rightly called for an early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism by the United Nations.  This is indeed an emphatic reiteration of India’s several decade-long principled stand on the scourge of terrorism.

Let us wait and watch whether this ever happens or remains a mere pious wish as various members of international community jostle for power and settle scores with each other.

Lack of consensus among nations of the world on the definition of ‘terrorism’ is a major problem even today.

Any kind of dilly-dallying and wishy-wishy response of opportunistic and power-hungry nations and sponsors of terrorism may only embolden the resolve of terrorists who are committed to their ’cause’ of killing anybody and everybody whom they perceive or suspect to be an opponent.

Let us hope brute power-driven world politics does not subvert rationality-based and equity-oriented international law and the sublime cause to victims of terrorism around the world.

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