Friday 20 April 2018

Tragic 'TV murder' must wake-up deluded Western liberals

US journalist James Foley speaks at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in Evanston, Illinois, after being released from imprisonment in Libya Crdit: Reuters
US journalist James Foley speaks at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in Evanston, Illinois, after being released from imprisonment in Libya Crdit: Reuters

Eilis O'Hanlon

For people with an aversion to modernity, Arab militants have always been enthusiastic early adopters of technology. It was Palestinians who briefly made the hijacking of airplanes the fashionable modus operandi for terrorists everywhere, and Al-Qaida who later changed planes from the target of bombs into explosive devices in their own right. Throughout the recent history of Islamist terror, however, the primary weapon of choice has always been television.

The real targets of any terrorist attack are never the people who die. The victims are merely collateral damage. The real target is the watching audience, firstly in the Middle East itself, where communities are starkly reminded what fate awaits them if movements such as the Islamic State hold sway, and where reporters have spoken of entire refugee camps emptying in an hour as rumours spread that Islamists are coming; but also, crucially, in the West, where viewers can watch events as they unfold, practically in real time, on their TV screens and laptops.

"Kill one, terrify a thousand," was the watchword of the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu. He was too modest. Now terrorists can kill one and terrify millions in their homes thousands of miles away.

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