When ISIS attacked the Bataclan Theater in Paris in November 2015, it did so because, in its own words, it was "where hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice." A year earlier, ISIS had forbidden all music as haram (forbidden). Many Islamic scholars support the idea that Islam forbids the 'sinful' music of the West.
It should, therefore, not be a surprise to anybody that Islamic terrorists might target a concert by the American pop singer Ariana Grande in Manchester on May 22. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned last September that terrorists are focused on concerts, sporting events and outdoor gatherings because such venues "often pursue simple, achievable attacks with an emphasis on economic impact and mass casualties".
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Manchester suicide bombing, in which a device laced with screws and bolts was detonated. Twenty-two people, children and adults, were murdered in the explosion that ripped through the Manchester concert area; more than 50 people were wounded. While the media is describing the use of nail bombs at the concert hall as a new and surprising tactic, it is in fact an extremely old one, practiced by Arab terrorists on Israelis for decades.
A police officer stands guard near the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017, following a suicide bombing by an Islamic terrorist who murdered 22 concert-goers. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Nevertheless, after hearing of the Manchester terrorist attack, politicians once more communicated their by now old-routine of "shock" and "grief" at the predictable outcome of their own policies. The usual platitudes of "thoughts and hearts" being with the victims of the attack, accompanied professed shock.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk, tweeted: "My heart is in Manchester this night. Our thoughts are with the victims." Leader of the British Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, condemned the "shocking and horrific" attack. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was a "tragic incident", while Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a "terrible incident". Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his citizens were "shocked by the news of the horrific attack in Manchester tonight". Most dumbfounding of all, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was watching the developments in Manchester "with grief and horror" and that she found the attack "incomprehensible".
After 9/11 in the United States; the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed nearly 200 and wounded 2000; the 2005 attacks on London's transit system where 56 people were killed and 700 wounded; the 2015 attacks in Paris, where ISIS killed 130 people and wounded nearly 400; the March 2016 attacks on the Brussels airport and metro station, where 31 people were killed and 300 wounded; the July 2016 attack in Nice, where 86 people, including ten children, were killed and more than 200 people wounded; the December 2016 attack in Berlin, where 12 people were killed and almost 50 wounded; the March 2017 attack on Westminster that killed three people and wounded more than 20; the April 2017 attack in Stockholm, where 5 people were killed, including one 11-year-old girl; let alone countless attacks in Israel, Western leaders have run out of all conceivable excuses to be shocked and surprised at Islamic terrorism occurring in their cities at ever-increasing frequency.
All the above-mentioned attacks are just the spectacular ones. There have been innumerable others, sometimes at the rate of several attacks per month, which barely made the headlines, such as the Muslim man who, a little over a month ago, tortured and stabbed a 66-year-old Jewish woman in Paris and then, while shouting "Allahu Akbar", threw her out of the window; or the Paris airport attacker in March, who came "to die for Allah" and accomplished his goal without, miraculously, taking any innocent bystanders with him,
After the last spectacular terrorist atrocity in the UK, which aimed at the very heart of European democratic civilization by targeting the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, British PM Theresa May said: "It is wrong to describe this as Islamic terrorism. It is Islamist terrorism and the perversion of a great faith".
It is impossible to fight back against that which you refuse to understand or acknowledge, but then again, European leaders seem to have no intention of fighting back, as they have evidently chosen an entirely different tactic, namely that of appeasement.
Every time a European leader publicly endorses Islam as a great faith, a "religion of peace", or claims that violence in Islam is a "perversion of a great faith", despite massive evidence to the contrary -- the actual violent contents of the Quran and the hadiths, which include repeated exhortations to fight the "infidels" -- they signal in the strongest way possible to organizations such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and Hamas, that with every devastating attack, the West is ripe for the taking. The terror organizations and their supporters see European leaders' immense fear of causing even the slightest offense, despite protestations to the contrary from leaders such as Theresa May.
The fear is accompanied by a persistent resolve to pretend, at whatever cost -- even that of the lives of their citizens -- that Europe is not at war, even though it is blindingly clear that others are at war with it.
These terrorist organizations perceive that when ministers in countries such as Sweden, where according to news reports, 150 ISIS fighters have returned and are apparently walking around freely, propose the integration of Islamic State jihadists back into Swedish society -- as a solution to terrorism! -- it will not take much more effort to make these leaders submit completely, as Sweden almost certainly has. This "solution" can only work on terrorists as encouragement to carry out even more terrorism -- as is overwhelmingly evident from the increasing frequency of terrorist attacks on European soil.
While European politicians, incredibly, believe that their tactics are preventing terrorism, they are in fact empowering it as much as possible: Terrorists do not react to heartfelt sympathy, teddy bears and candlelit vigils. If anything, it arguably makes them even more disgusted with Western society, which they want to transform into a caliphate under Islamic sharia law.
Politicians seem to lose sight all the time of the Islamist goal of the caliphate. Islamic terrorism is not "mindless violence" but clearly calculated terror to force the eventual submission of the targeted society. So far, with the West inert and in denial, the terrorists seem to be winning.
John Richardson is a researcher based in the United States.