Sunday 4 December 2016

Islamic State call for 'month of calamities'

Tim Moynihan

Published 26/06/2015 | 21:09

Tunisian police officers stay in the lobby of an hotel where a terrorist attack took place in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)
Tunisian police officers stay in the lobby of an hotel where a terrorist attack took place in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)
Pools of blood are seen on the ground near the area where an attack took place in Sousse coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)

The terror attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait today are unlikely to have been co-ordinated, an expert said.

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"I wouldn't rule it out, but it would be quite a significant thing if it was," said Dr Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, a lecturer in the war studies department at King's College London.

"For co-ordinated attacks to take place in the Middle East and Europe, that would be a pretty big development, difficult though not impossible to do."

At this stage Islamic State (IS) had claimed only the attack in Kuwait and Dr Hitchens asked: "If they have carried out all the attacks, why are they not claiming responsibility for them all?"

Police officers try to control the crowd after a gunman opened fire at a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, June 26, 2015. A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel on Friday with a weapon he had hidden in an umbrella, killing tourists, including those from Britain, Germany and Belgium, as they lounged at the beach and pool in the popular resort town. The death toll from the shooting attack has risen to 37, the health ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency TAP. REUTERS/Amine Ben Aziza
Police officers try to control the crowd after a gunman opened fire at a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, June 26, 2015. A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel on Friday with a weapon he had hidden in an umbrella, killing tourists, including those from Britain, Germany and Belgium, as they lounged at the beach and pool in the popular resort town. The death toll from the shooting attack has risen to 37, the health ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency TAP. REUTERS/Amine Ben Aziza
A car window is shattered by a gun shot near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)

He pointed out that jihadis tend to become more active during Ramadan. Just days ago IS militants urged their followers "to make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers".

He said: "Attacks like this have been been happening all the time. If this had happened over the space of a week, there would be less attention paid to it than there has been now when it has happened on the same day.

"Tunisia had the museum attack in March, there have been bomb attacks on Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia - these are normal patterns, normal targets, it's just striking it's happened same day, same time, but the fact the attacks are happening is not a big surprise."

Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, said he did not think the attacks were co-ordinated - but they were motivated by the same way of thinking.

A police officer walks past a body covered near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
A police officer walks past a body covered near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
A pool of blood is seen on the ground near the area where a terrorist attack took place in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)

He said: "What we are talking about is a travelling ideology, a spreading ideology, and though there are no causal links between the attacks, the ideology is one and the same. You could call it salafi-jihadism - ultra-conservative, and trans-national.

"In France there was inspiration and motivation, where you get lone wolves motivated by this ideology. In Tunisia there are organised networks that have a strategic plan, to paralyse the economy, to bleed it dry - tourism is so important to it. And in Kuwait there was an attack on a Shiite mosque, this is vintage IS, which has a genocidal ideology against the Shia."

Prof Gerges added: "Recently we have seen the call for intensification of attacks in Ramadan, and also IS has been focusing more and more on Muslims carrying out individual jihad, as opposed to collective jihad - this is now as important as the networks."

Afzal Ashraf, a consultant fellow at defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said the attacks may be linked to next Monday's anniversary of the declaration of an IS caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Armed forces patrol the area near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
Armed forces patrol the area near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)

"If you look at these attacks, and what has been happening over the last 48 hours, attacks by IS in various parts of Syria and Iraq, they want to make a bit of a splash, to get the message out, 'we're still here - it's a year since we declared this thing, and you haven't got rid of us'. They see it as a great victory, because the world has combined against them."

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