Wednesday 18 January 2017

The challenge to Europe's leaders

Published 17/07/2016 | 02:30

'By now the words of world leaders in condemnation of and resilient against terrorist atrocities such as occurred in Nice have become customary. Those words remain necessary and important, but words need to be backed up with greater actions to protect the citizens of Europe.' Photo: Getty
'By now the words of world leaders in condemnation of and resilient against terrorist atrocities such as occurred in Nice have become customary. Those words remain necessary and important, but words need to be backed up with greater actions to protect the citizens of Europe.' Photo: Getty

The Isil claim of responsibility for the atrocity that took the lives of 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day seems to confirm worst fears that the terrorist group's poisonous ideology has evolved into a potentially widespread and random threat to European society and the way of life in general.

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An Isil-run media outlet has said the man who drove a truck into a crowd in the French coastal city is a "soldier" of that group. The attacker was quoted as having "carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of coalition countries fighting the Islamic State".

The nature and scope of attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's relationship with Isil has yet to be established. Clearly, he also had psychological problems, and as such was perhaps more susceptible than otherwise might be the case to Isil's evil propaganda. The extent to which Isil directly or indirectly influenced him remains to be seen. There is still no evidence that he had pledged allegiance to Isil, but that is not the point. The point is that his actions, which bear a striking resemblance to a recent twisted call to action by Isil, have been claimed by that terrorist organisation. As such, the threat to Europe and wider Western society has increased exponentially. Another deranged attack could take place at any time and in any place. There is no avoiding that grim conclusion or, indeed, the conclusion that life in Europe will carry on regardless. There is no choice.

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