The series of apparent Islamic State attacks in Paris can be compared to the 2001 destruction of the WTC towers in the US, says Jack Rice, a former CIA officer. The French capital is an iconic European city, and terrorists target icons.
France has suffered one of the worst tragedies in its modern history with more than 150 people reported killed in seven separate gun and bomb attacks throughout the capital. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
“Part of the strength that a terrorist group has is to take down an icon,” Rice told RT. “If we go back to 9/11 in the United States, they took down the World Trade Center and parts of New York. And we’ve seen efforts around the world to do similar things.
“That’s what terrorism is about. You are not going to be able to destroy the Western Hemisphere. You are not going to be able to take down parts of Western Europe. What you can do is establish that what you are doing is dramatic and that people have to notice you,” he added.
France should not respond in a draconian manner to the terrorist threat as the US did after 9/11, the former US intelligence officer said.
“There needs to be a calculated reasonable response. What there can’t be is a draconian effort to reach out to the world and shake it to the core, because what you potentially do is create more danger, more justification in those who support ISIS. We don’t want that,” Rice said.
“What we want is to go after the culprits who actually did this and make our people safe rather than to make them appear safe. That happened after 9/11 in the United States, and, frankly, it was a disaster in many ways. I think the French have learned from that,” he added.
The Paris attacks are reminiscent to the terrorist gun spree in Mumbai in 2008, when separate groups of gunmen went on a shooting spree at different locations across the city. This tactic is a brutally efficient form of terrorism, Rice said.
“What you have is a city where people don’t know where to go, where is that safe place to be. Where is it that I can go, where my loved ones can go. And what you have is almost a paralysis,” he said. “You bring everybody from the intelligence community, from the army, from the police, and try to deal with the situation and lock the country down. And people are trying to get out of the way and don’t know where to go.”
IS, if it’s proven to be behind the attacks, is clearly trying to enlarge its footprint, demonstrating that it can stage terrorist acts globally, Rice said.
“They have been showing the strength that they possess, with the recent potential downing of an aircraft in Egypt. Looking at their potential to reach out into Europe, into North Africa, into the Horn of Africa, beyond the Middle East really shows their capability,” he said.
“What ISIS is trying to establish is that they can operate anywhere and that everybody is potentially vulnerable. Their ability to reach out and do this all the way down to the common man and woman on the street is something that creates the havoc,” Rice added.