At least 12 were killed and six wounded today during an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Witnesses said the shooters yelled “Allahu Akbar” and “we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” as they fired Kalashnikov rifles and pump-action shotguns at journalists and police. The shooters are still at large.
There can be no doubt this was the latest terrorist attack by radical Islamists prepared to go to any length to promote their radical ideology of Shariah.
Charlie Hebdo was targeted because it has satirized Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published a cartoon of Muhammad on its cover promising “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!” It published cartoons of Muhammad in 2012, forcing France to temporarily close embassies and schools in more than 20 countries due to fears of reprisals.
Today’s attack may have been sparked by a Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Since Charlie Hebdo is a known target of radical Islamists, it has been guarded 24/7 by a French policeman. This policeman reportedly was killed by the gunmen today.
There have been a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in France over the last few weeks that have received little coverage in the American press. Eleven were injured on Dec. 21 in Dijon after a driver screaming “Allahu Akbar” deliberately mowed them down with his car. Dozens were injured the next day in Nantes when a man plowed his van into a Christmas market crowd. He also was screaming “Allahu Akbar.” On Jan. 3, a man tried to strangle a police officer in the city of Metz while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” There have been several other successful and attempted Islamist terrorist attacks in France over the last few weeks..
Charlie Hebdo is notorious for lampooning politicians, religion, and culture. It has also mocked Catholicism and Judaism. But many Muslim leaders — not just extremists — think their religion should be exempt from satire and ridicule and have unsuccessfully tried at the United Nations to ban defamation of religion as a human rights violation.
I believe the Charlie Hebdo attack was probably staged by the Islamic State in retaliation to France’s participation in U.S.-led airstrikes against it in Iraq and Syria. This particular attack was unusual since it appeared to have been conducted by well-trained assailants using military-grade weapons. This was not a so-called lone wolf attack — it probably was an attack organized by the Islamic State, mostly likely by gunmen trained in Syria or Iraq.
But the attack on Charlie Hebdo was also the latest assault on Western culture in the name of Shariah, a death cult that is determined to force others through jihad to submit to Islamist totalitarianism.
Expect to see many Muslim leaders publicly condemn the Charlie Hebdo attack today. However, very few Muslim leaders will condemn this attack as an assault on religious tolerance and freedom of the press because they believe in the same deadly, anti-Western Shariah ideology of the shooters.
Until Muslim leaders call for tolerance of other religions and freedom of the press — even when Islam is ridiculed — they are complicit in promoting the Shariah extremism that led to today’s killings in Paris.
Fred Fleitz followed the Iranian nuclear program for the CIA, State Department, and House Intelligence Committee. He is now a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy. Read more report from Fred Fleitz
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