"It's so shocking. When Charlie Hebdo happened, it was a specific, targeted attack. But this time it's terrifying because it is just random, innocent people going about their lives. I know a lot of people in Paris - there is panic and disorder here, no one can understand what's going on. We are all in a state of complete shock."So said Quentin, 27, who works for an online company in Paris, and whose oldest friend was shot multiple times at the Bataclan concert hall.
Terrorist attacks like these are never "random", at least not in the sense that they have no point. If they appear random, then that is undoubtedly part of the strategy that drives them. Governments and groups use terrorism to achieve a specific goal, so there is always a point. To understand what the point is, you just have to know who is really responsible.
We've already been told that "ISIS" has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, a claim partly backed up by the convenient discovery of a Syrian passport on the body of one of the "suicide bombers" (why do these terrorists always carry ID on their suicide missions?). But given that most ISIS terrorists in Syria are foreign mercenaries, this isn't really evidence of anything, except perhaps that some ISIS terrorists were hidden among the Syrian refugees that transited through Greece this summer.
We're told that ISIS aims to establish a caliphate over as much of the Levant as possible. But achieving that aim necessarily involves the removal of the Assad government, which Western powers have been lobbying for for several years. Over the past 4 years of the "Syrian revolution", and until about 6 weeks ago, the group had gone a long way toward attaining that goal, with the Syrian Arab Army seriously pressed and the Assad government's areas of control limited to small areas in and around Damascus. After 6 weeks of Russian airstrikes however, ISIS is now losing ground faster than a 3-legged donkey in a horse race, and their paymasters in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Washington DC can't seem to funnel enough money and weapons to them to make a difference.