Today was also a good day for the bad guys

While I am obviously very happy about today’s Supreme Court decision, and the news that cops appear to be closing in on on those two escaped murderers in New York is also welcome, this wouldn’t a very good “what’s happening in the rest of the world?” blog if I didn’t note that today was unfortunately a pretty good day for terrorists as well. Three attacks took place around the world in pretty rapid succession this morning (well, this morning EDT):

  • Least deadly was the bombing of a factory near Lyon, France (in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, to be exact). Two people were hurt in the blast, but another person, the owner of the company where the suspect worked, was found dead at the scene, apparently killed before the attack.
  • In Kuwait City, a Shiʿa mosque was blown up in an attack that killed at least 27 people and injured another 227. A group that is “affiliated” with ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • In Tunisia, a gunman killed at least 39 people, many of them European tourists, in an attack on a beachfront hotel in the city of Sousse.

In addition to these attacks, which have been treated collectively by most Western media today, ISIS fighters managed to infiltrate Kobani, the Kurdish-held town in northern Syria, and killed at least 145 people in gun and bomb attacks.

There’s a disturbing image of the Kuwait bomber watching his victims in prayer before murdering them:

There’s not much you can say to add to that photo.

There’s been no indication of responsibility in the France and Tunisia attacks, but it should be noted that Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, ISIS’s “official spokesman,” issued an audio message earlier this week that called on supporters to cause “calamity for the infidels” during Ramadan. So the guy in France and the guy or guys (authorities killed one gunman but as far as I know still can’t rule out that there were more) in Tunisia may well have been inspired by ISIS as well. The problem with attributing those attacks (or the one in Kuwait, frankly, without a better idea of what “affiliated” means) to ISIS is that it suggests a level of control or coordination that most likely doesn’t exist. These attacks may have been inspired by ISIS and carried out by people who pledged themselves to ISIS, but they probably weren’t planned or coordinated by ISIS. On the other hand, ISIS’s ability to inspire these sorts of “lone wolf” attacks is an obvious and growing cause for concern.

As far as divining a deeper meaning behind these attacks, obviously the Kobani attack takes place in the midst of a war zone, as Kurds and ISIS are fighting for control over the north-northeast Syria-Turkey border area. The intent of the Kuwait attack also seems pretty clear; murdering Shiʿites is always on ISIS’s list of priorities, and the real hope is that attacks like this might motivate some real sectarian conflict in Kuwait, which has a substantial Shiʿa minority (35% of the population or more). The Tunisia attack seems pretty carefully targeted at the tourist industry, which is a big chunk of Tunisia’s economy, just like the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March.

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