Gwynne Dyer: The strategy of the Paris attacks

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      After Ahmed Merabet, a French policeman, was killed outside the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris last week, his brother Malek said: “My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace and love.”

      It was moving, but to say that all Muslims who commit cruel and violent acts in God’s name are “false Muslims” is like saying that the Crusaders who devastated the Middle East nine hundred years ago were “false Christians”.

      The Crusaders were real Christians. They believed that they were doing God’s will in trying to reconquer the formerly Christian lands that had been lost to Islam centuries before, and they had the support of most people back home in Europe.

      Similarly, Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly believed they were true Muslims doing God’s will, and some people in Muslim-majority countries agree with them. But there is an important difference from the Crusades: the supporters of the young French terrorists are a minority everywhere, and among Muslims living in Western countries they are only a tiny minority.

      This is not a “war of civilizations”. Seventeen innocent people killed in Paris is not the equivalent of the Crusades. For that matter, neither was 9/11. These are wicked and tragic events, but they are not a war.

      There is a war going on, but it is a civil war within the “House of Islam” that occasionally spills over into non-Muslim countries. As foot-soldiers in that war, the three killers in Paris probably did not fully understand the role they were playing, but they were serving a quite sophisticated strategy.

      Two of these Muslim civil wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were ignited by U.S.-led invasions in 2001 and 2003. Four others, in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the northern, mostly Muslim half of Nigeria, have begun since 2011. Others go back even further, like the war in Somalia, or have flared up and then become dormant again, like Mali and Algeria.

      In every one of these wars the victims are overwhelmingly Muslims killed by other Muslims. From time to time non-Muslims in other countries are killed too, as in New York in 2001, in London in 2007, in Bombay in 2008 and last week in Paris, and these killings do have a strategic purpose, but it’s not to “terrify non-Muslims into submission.” Quite the contrary.

      The great Muslim civil war is about the political, social, and cultural modernization of the Muslim world. Should it continue down much the same track that other major global cultures have followed, or should those changes be stopped and indeed reversed? The Islamists take the latter position.

      Some aspects of modernization are very attractive to many Muslims, so stopping the changes would require a lot of violence, including the overthrow of most existing governments in Muslim countries. But that is the task that the Islamists in general, and the jihadi activists in particular, have undertaken.

      As they are minorities even in their own countries, the Islamists’ hardest job is to mobilize popular support for their struggle. The best way to do this is to convince Muslims that modernization—democracy, equality, the whole cultural package—is part of a Western plot to undermine Islam.

      This will be a more credible claim if Western countries are actually attacking Muslim countries, so one of the main jihadi strategies is to carry out terrorist atrocities that will trigger Western military attacks on Muslim countries. That was the real goal of 9/11, and it was spectacularly successful: it tricked the United States into invading not one but two Muslim countries.

      But smaller terrorist attacks that lead to the mistreatment of the Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries also serve the cause. They can create a backlash that victimizes the local Muslim minorities, thus generating yet more “proof” that there is a war against Islam.

      This strategy actually has a name. Appropriately it is in French: “la politique du pire”. It’s the strategy of making things worse in order to achieve one’s ultimate goal—in this case, revolutions that will sweep away the existing governments in almost every Muslim country and put the Islamists in power instead.

      There is a sub-theme in some of the Middle Eastern wars that muddies the waters a bit: in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the general radicalization has also revived and militarized the age-old conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. But even in these countries most of the killings are of Sunni Muslims by other Sunni Muslims.

      There will be more attacks like the ones in Paris, because lost young men seeking a cause abound in every community, including the Muslim communities of the West. We can't arrest them all, so we will go on having to live with a certain amount of terrorism from both Muslim and non-Muslim extremist groups and trying not to over-react—just as we have been doing for many decades already.



      Trevor Holness

      Jan 12, 2015 at 10:52am

      Sorry, but 911 was a false flag. The assassination of JFK was the end of true western democracy. The NWO has been shaping these conflicts since 1954. To a certain extent since the fall of the Byzantine empire.


      Jan 12, 2015 at 11:05am

      I was hoping Gwynne was going to give us his take on the Charlie Hebdo mass media hysteria in this week’s commentary. So I hope you will permit me to digress on this seminal news event.
      The western” main stream media” portray it as a Muslim Terrorist attack on "western Values" such as freedom of speech and political satire. They also mean to imply it is the result of a civilizational clash between Christian [French] culture and alienated Muslim immigrants.
      The” pseudo alternative” [critical] net media portray the massacre as blowback or a backlash for violent intervention of the West in Muslim countries. [I suggested that in last week's comment for which I was soundly thumbed down.]
      The" alternative- alternative media" or conspiracy net claim it was a False Flag operation or a staged " French 9/11" allowing the French authorities to clamp down on Muslim immigrants and ramp up the French security state, curtail civil liberties and bomb "terrorists" abroad.
      The "SAKER", who was so nauseated by the hypocritical "Je suis Charlie" movement, wrote a very compelling rant in which he says the victims had it coming to them but for which he was crucified and buried in "hate mail".
      In Caspian Report, the analyst suggests that the motive for the terrorist murders is underlain by “a profound motive that is meant to shake Europe and radicalize European Muslims.” That is “Terrorists” want to drive a wedge between the French people and Muslim immigrants which will lead to Muslim persecution and radicalize the French Muslim population into joining the rebel cause.
      There is compelling evidence on U-Tube that the MSM video clips of the police shooting was a staged fake! I refer you to just one:
      Now the CBC National News cast on 7 Jan 2015 was a willing accomplice in spreading this fake, even editing out the critical video frames ,and using an “experts” analysis to sell you the propaganda narrative. See Charlie Hebdo shooting, clips 3, 4 & 5 at:
      So what does it say when media use staged video to portray a news event? How wer


      Jan 12, 2015 at 11:30am

      continued: So what does it say when media use staged video to portray a news event? How were the suspects identified so quickly? [They left their passports in the getaway car!] As they were known, troublesome terrorists, it’s possible the Kouachi brothers were framed and the real perpetrators got away free just to make the police look effective. As usual there is more to this event than we are being told.
      Another consideration is that France has been punished by [ ? ] for recently making conciliatory overtures to Russia and Palestine.
      Finally, James Corbett, of the Corbett Report, gives us some good advice on how to view these differing narratives. See link below and start video at 8 minutes in: 987-new-world-next-week-with-james-evan-pilato/


      Jan 12, 2015 at 11:47am

      Peto, if you want to be taken seriously, you shouldn't cite Stormcloudsgathering.

      I Chandler

      Jan 12, 2015 at 12:01pm

      Dyer: "The great Muslim civil war is about the political modernization of the Muslim world...stopping the changes requires a lot of violence, including the overthrow of Muslim countries. But that is the task that the jihadi activists, have undertaken."

      The great Muslim civil war is about modernization? The Algerian civil war of the 1980s commenced only after the Algerian army cancelled an election, which Islamists were sure to win:

      Dyer: "Two of these Muslim civil wars,in Afghanistan & Iraq, were ignited by US invasions."

      A civil war in Afghanistan? The six-year Algerian war for independence, almost started a French civil war. Premonitions should include some historical context:

      Eric Margolis puts things in context, describing a new era of Mideast colonialism:
      "Until recently, Islam meant little to young French of Muslim origin. Islam was the antique faith of their grandparents. But the destruction of Iraq, Syria and Libya by the western powers released fanaticism and anarchism from out of the burning Mideast, and fury against the western powers, notably the United States and France.

      France has emerged as one of the most active interveners in the Muslim world, conducting military operations in Libya, Mali, Chad, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria."

      Dyer:"We can't arrest them all...we must not over-react—just as we have been doing for many decades already."

      Already? Muslims, said former paratrooper and National Front founder Le Pen, had to be expelled before taking over France. The National Front may win the next elections in 2017.

      Just more Operation Gladio 2.0 ? ISIS was born in the ‘refugee camps’ on the Syrian/Turkish and Jordanian borders, and which was financed by NATO to fight the Syrian (secular) government of Bashar al-Assad. Through its defense of the House of Saud, NATO supports Wahhabism and isis:


      Jan 12, 2015 at 12:16pm


      I think "Peto" is iChandler, and is paid by the post. Probably in rubles, which really has to suck now.


      Jan 12, 2015 at 12:33pm


      I think I'll take Dyer's version because it seems fairly straight forward and is basically along the same lines as other commenters have presented over the years, including those in the Muslim community and others who have lived in Muslim countries and/or paid attention.

      But unfortunately some people have a hard time accepting ideas that they didn't come up with themselves, so that's why we have conspiracy theories. It lets average people pretend they know more than the rest of society.


      Jan 12, 2015 at 12:54pm

      @ McRetso and Bruce et al
      Hi Guys. McRetso, I find the "stormcloudsgathering" messages rather congenial, so if you have a credibility problem please tell us what your problem is. I managed to find some other opinions about them in this link:
      Bruce, I rather enjoyed your remark it's very funny. Of course I am not I. Chandler; I find his regular comments most appropriate and enlightening in regards to Dyer's comments. Guys you shouldn't make light of him.
      JC, not sure what to make of your remark. Perhaps, Dyer is original and I am not or Dyer is a "mainstream" apologist and I am a radical, rebellious, untrusting conspiracy theorist who ought not to sully the views of our esteemed
      commentator. If it's any consolation I buy his books!

      I Chandler

      Jan 12, 2015 at 1:21pm

      The 50 cent party are paid by the word - in Yuan:

      Where was team NSA? A report by British intelligence (GCHQ and MI5 ) how , despite being among the most aggressive and unrestrained electronic surveillance forces on the planet – had no possible way to have prevented the attack:

      Dyer: "The best way to do this is to convince Muslims that modernization—democracy, equality, the whole cultural package—is part of a Western plot to undermine Islam."

      Were the Shooters Part of Global Muslim Conspiracy?


      Jan 12, 2015 at 4:03pm

      Dyer: "The great Muslim civil war is about the political modernization of the Muslim world...

      Dyer is writing on the assumption that these so-called “moderate Moslems” exist. I don’t believe they exist, and if they do they are hated by their own co-religionists and are not actually even Moslems.

      Anyway, this is from a “Moderate Moslem” conference in Norway:

      The speaker explains that all Moslems believe in stoning for adultery and everything else that’s in the Koran, then asks people to raise their hands if they agree. THEY ALL AGREE.

      As such Moslems have no place in Western civilization. They have been trying to conquer us for the past 1400 years, and this is merely the latest stage in a very long war.