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Lesson From Nice: To Fight ISIS, Focus on Motive Over Means

By Bridget Johnson, Originally published in the New York Observer

ISIS called jihadists to arms in spring 2015 with a message directed to the “small firewood” of the Sinai who were expected to ignite “huge flames” with their lone attacks.

A terrorist, they explained, doesn’t need “strength or muscle” or “huge experience in jihad work,” and “each wolf chooses what suits him and what fits his goal and location of the implementation of the action.”

Embrace one’s personal expertise and connections, ISIS advised, and “diversify the weapon used.”

The brutal attack in Nice, while stunning to many in its simplicity coupled with a devastating death toll, is a sober reminder that counter-terrorism policy must focus on the motive—taking down the jihadists, the organizations, the ideology—over the means.

Terror groups have long encouraged would-be jihadists to use what works for their skill set and the target, and to pick a weapon whose acquisition will arouse the least suspicion so as not to spoil the plot.

In a video released by ISIS in Afghanistan after the Orlando attack, an English-speaking jihadist directed Western Muslims who believe in the caliphate to “try your level-best to destroy kuffar,” or disbelievers.

“By any means, slaughter them—hit them by your car, give them poison, stab them with a knife, punch them, or at least spit on them,” the jihadist said.

That’s far from new advice, even if the non-lethal saliva is a new spin.

Continue reading in the New York Observer…

 

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