from 9-11 to the Islamic State (O Globo, Brazil)
"Aware that publicity is the oxygen of terrorism, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has used the resource with terrifying mastery. ... It is impossible to erase the memory of these almost didactic decapitations - cold, calm, 'clean,' of the two American journalists. ... Terrorism as a spectacle appeared to have hit its peak on Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Towers were destroyed by al-Qaeda suicide bombers. The devastating attack by a group operating from caves gave them an unexpected victory: George W. Bush accepted the clash. ... In declaring war on a generic enemy, attacking the wrong country and using faulty logic, it's too bad Bush never flipped through the pages of 'What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat.' The most controversial part of the book is confirmed today: 'It was not the attack of 9-11 that changed the world. It was the reaction of the U.S. after 9-11 that changed the world' - and not for the better."
Some images stick in our memories like toxic goo. This,
despite the visual saturation within which humanity has decided to live. A
recent survey cited by The New Yorker
indicates that 700 million photos and videos are shared via Snapchat every day,
and 100 hours of new video are added every minute to the gargantuan visual
collection of YouTube - to say nothing of the 30,000 new images fed to Instagram every sixty seconds.
For the Islamic terrorist strain of the Islamic State (IS), the
methods and intentions of which have become the lead specter for most Western intelligence
services, universal capitulation to this brand of tenticular
communication is a blessing. Aware that publicity is the oxygen of terrorism,
the self-proclaimed IS has used the resource with terrifying mastery.
It is impossible to erase the memory of these almost didactic
decapitations - cold, calm, "clean," of the two American journalists
executed days ago. The ritual posted on the Internet by ISIL
generated the desired impact: horror, disbelief, dread.
And the spectacle was executed with the utmost rigor. The
figure of the terrorist/protagonist was imposing, garbed in a black robe and mask,
as well as the pale leather holster and shiny knife in his left hand. The almost
lunar desert landscape seemed incapable of supporting life. And the victim on
his knees before his executioner, with his hands tied behind his back and
covered only by a humiliating orange smock, is deprived of any physical contour.
After a solemn verbal tirade against the United States which is directly
addressed to Obama, the IS ninja calmly holds the neck of James Foley with one
hand and cuts his throat with the other. In the subsequent image, the head of
the journalist appears already placed on his corpse laid out on the ground. The
ritual in the case of Steven Sotloff, decapitated
last week, was identical. More than a million Web surfers accessed the Google
search engine looking for the scene of decapitation.
In vain. Contrary to the barbarity
shown last year at
the Pedrinhas prison in Maranhão,
which has already claimed 15 victims this year, IS seems to prefer not
polluting the controlled scene with the chaotic physical separation of the head
from the torso.
"Whatever these murderers think they will achieve by
murdering innocents," said a stunned Barack Obama last week, "they
have already failed." In broad terms: it had been over two months since
the organized terrorist group led the list of Western concerns. Unlike the
crisis in Ukraine, the estrangement of NATO and Russia, and the impasse
surrounding Iran's nuclear program, the characteristics of IS exclude any
possibility of negotiation or diplomatic recourse.
The scholarly debate over whether terrorism should be
considered a means to an end or an end in itself didn't begin today.
The act feeds on the attention gleaned by spreading fear,
and is successful in proportion to the capacity to communicate. The bomb that
exploded on Christmas Eve 1800 on a Parisian alley where Napoleon Bonaparte was
passing (the attempt on his life failed) is not that different from a bomb
attack on a Jerusalem street, except for today's instantaneous dissemination of
Posted By Worldmeets.US
It has been a long road - and then some. In 19th century
Europe, there were numerous attacks and assassination attempts, always
anonymous, against landowners and kings. At the time, people also mourned the
innocent victims, and the records of such acts were confined to engravings. In
the years that followed, spanning from the start of WWI in 1914, it was
anarchist discourse and the birth of international organizations that characterized
acts of terror, with their authors beginning to gain notoriety. In this cycle, terrorist
speeches took on a clearly nationalist tone, which was inaugurated by the Irish
Liberation Army and adopted by the militants of decolonization in the 1960s. This
period was marked by the deliberate intention of striking large quantities of anonymous
victims to boost the repercussions of the act.
After seeing the first mass TV coverage of an act of terror
- the attack by masked
Palestinians from Black September against Israeli athletes participating in
the 1972 Munich Olympics, it fell to Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan to
make one of his predictions: "Satellites will spread terrorist paranoia
around the world and hone these acts of violence," stated McLuhan, getting
it right [translated quote].
In fact, terrorism as a spectacle appeared to have hit its
peak on September 11, 2001, when the twin towers of the World Trade Center in
Manhattan were destroyed by the suicide bombers of al-Qaeda. The devastating
attack on the world's greatest power by a group operating from caves gave them
an unexpected victory: the government of George W. Bush accepted the clash. In
declaring war on a generic enemy, attacking the wrong country and using faulty
military logic in the equation, it's too bad Bush never flipped through the pages
Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat, by Louise
Richardson, director of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Pity. The last of the seven points with which the author
defines terrorism would have served him well: "Terrorists are weaker than
their enemies. That is why, after all, they embrace terrorism" [translated
The most controversial part of the book is confirmed today: "It
was not the attack of September 11 that changed the world. It was the reaction
of the United States after September 11 that changed the world" - and not
for the better.
If one looks at a map of Syria and Iraq - in tatters, the
eruption of IS onto this scene of apocalyptic violence, and the answer of
hundreds of young people from Western Europe and the United States to the call
of the decapitators of ostentation, it is clear that there is no single reply
to combat this outbreak of barbarity. First of all, we need to understand it.