Brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group Al- Qaeda, shot 12 people dead, including eight of the French satirical magazine’s staff on Jan. 7, 2015. Hebdo has published millions of copies of the anniversary edition, which features a bearded man rep- resenting God with a Kalashnikov rifle over his shoulder, accompanied by the text: “One year on: the assassin is still out there.”
James G. Conway, President of Houston, US-based security consultancy Global Intel strategies
Q: What is Charlie Hebdo shooting’s legacy?
– The Hebdo shooting brought our vulnerabilities to the surface in terms of the threat of radical islam against the West, and that threat continues to grow and will continue until the ideology of radical islam is addressed from within Sunni Islam. It showed the more sophisticated approach by the terrorists who had obviously acquired tradecraft and combative strategies from the battlefield. We also realize now that radical islam cannot be defeated through military, law-enforcement, intelligence and diplomatic means from the outside. It is a cancer from within that Islam must recognize and address.
Q: After the Hebdo shooting France has suffered much more. Why did it accumulate so much terrorism?
– France has a unique issue going back to it’s colonial history and colonization of Muslim countries in North Africa: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, etc. Many folks with legacy ethnicties to those countries live in France and now have French citizenship and passports. Many of them live on the margins of society and feel “left out”, socially and economically. This has created an undercurrent of discontent in the country and an environment ripe for radical islam to exploit particularly among young marginalized youth. ISIS massive media campaign plays right into this “perfect storm.”
Q: Are France and other European countries still in danger?
– Yes, intel and police services are working around the clock to stem the efforts of those with intent to commit acts of terror but the numbers are great and the fluidity with which folks can move around the European Union with French and other passports makes it very difficult. Also, encrypted communication apps have given the bad guys a significant edge.
Q: How to prevent tragic events as Charlie Hebdo attack?
– Good hard work by all segments of security services working together, internationally sharing and cooperating to combat this scourge which affects all free and innocent peoples. It is also very important to work within the islamic communities to create cooperation and a counter-communication strategy to radical Islam.