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Five years after the Brussels attacks: what will future terrorism be called?

A carte blanche from Sébastien Boussois, Doctor in political science, Middle East researcher on Euro-Arab relations / terrorism and radicalization, teacher in international relations, scientific collaborator of CECID (ULB), OMAN (UQAM Montreal) and SAVE BELGIUM (Society Against Violent Extremism).

The pandemic that we have suffered head-on for a year would almost make us forget the previous tragic events that we have encountered on our way over the past ten years in Europe in general, in France and in Belgium in particular. Without underestimating the tragedies experienced in the Arab world after the “Arab Spring”, the hopes, the disillusions, the birth of the Daesh enterprise of death has marked more than ever our collective memory with a hot iron because it has hit home. we. And she remembers our bad memories on a regular basis in our societies already hard hit for several years.

The end of a dream?

Until then, the threat was rather remote and we were content to watch it and keep it at bay, refusing to conceive that the instability of this region would at one time or another have tragic consequences for Europe. In November 2015 in Paris, then in Brussels in March 2016, a band of individuals, born on European soil, were recruited, used, transformed into weapons of war and destruction to turn against our city and against ourselves. . In one day, they sowed terror at Zaventem airport and in the Brussels metro, in the eyes and in the beard of the authorities. On March 22, 2016, the capital of Europe emerged from its lethargy and invincibility at a heavy price: 32 dead, 340 wounded, hundreds of traumatized Brussels residents, millions of bereaved Belgians. Did the end of the European dream of peace come to an end?

Horror can resurface at any time

For five years, other attacks have taken place all over the old continent. But the attacks of “channels”, with well-defined collective targets (an auditorium, terraces, an airport, a station), a paramilitary organization have fortunately dried up to give way to another terrorism, that of “drones” ideologized, more isolated individuals, who are no less dangerous, continue, despite the official end of the sanctuary Islamic State, to carry its values, its ideas, its frustrations, and its struggle. Psychosis is never very far away. Draped in conspiracy, victimization, hatred, opportunism, this terrorism is more and more difficult to apprehend by the services which do not hide it. The radicalization is there, the passage to the act often sudden. Horror can reappear at any time, as in France last October without having proof at this stage of a collective organization of the drama. Who also of the jailed jihadists who will come out for a part, in particular the recruiters, in 2022 and then? The ideological disengagement programs are more than weak in the prison world, and we know the overall rates of recidivism, since the prison does not cure anything.

A new era of threat

The attack which took place on October 15 last and which saw the tragic death of the history and geography professor at the Bois des Aulnes college in Conflans Sainte-Honorine in France, Samuel Paty, is proof that far from ‘having disappeared after the territorial end of Daesh, Islamist terrorism is redeploying at high speed in the heads of thousands of individuals. Ditto for the Tunisian terrorist who sowed death in Nice in the Notre-Dame basilica. Ditto for the one who attacked the former local Charlie Hebdo and originally from Pakistan. Geographic and mental confinement are accelerating with the pandemic. We have indeed moved into a new era of the threat but which was already germinating before the Covid-19. This terrorism is easy, expensive fear, more personalized, less blind, and now targets symbolic figures of our society or our culture, and appears out of nowhere.

Jihadism is no longer the only real threat. It has never been, but now the pressure cooker is boiling. All worsened by the pandemic and the terrible social consequences that will follow with the proliferation of uncontrollable individuals, taken out of the radar of psychological services, those of mental health, or quite simply education. Tensions are mounting in society on all sides and stigmatized Islam is causing turmoil in all strata of society. It now serves as a starting point for triggering vocations from all sides to fight it. Using a few terrorists to attack Islam and give birth to phenomena of micro civil wars, that was exactly the goal of Daesh. Identitarians and ultra-right movements awaited this at the turn. But their demands are now broader.

Our own countries today serve as training ground and achievement

Violent extremism no longer germinates only in a land of violence only to be realized as in Syria or Iraq, but it arises from almost nowhere, at the heart of a European society which has for too long repressed the valuation of its religious diversity. , cultural, ethnic, spiritual, social, and this in a flagrant demonstration of the failure of this concept-drawer of “living together” and “political correctness” which has allowed us to often shirk our real responsibilities for years . The attacks in the sector as we knew them at the time of the attacks in Paris, Brussels and Barcelona, ​​particularly between 2015 and 2016, could operate in a context where a materialized, sanctuary, sacralized, purified territory could serve as a training ground. and rear base for launching coordinated operations. ISIS was that catalyst for frustrations, testosterone and aspirations for a better world. Today, it is our own countries that serve as training ground and achievement because no one can leave Europe, a puddle of tensions and dissensions.

In this particular context, it is easy for small, more or less coordinated activist groups, even for “ideological drones” of all kinds (namely these “self-radicalized” individuals, soaked in segments of DNA of violent ideologies with which they give a semblance of meaning to their action), to take violent action to transform society and seek a kind of justice, or more simply a form of revenge. The jihadist psychosis will end up uninhibiting, in reaction or by simple determination, the right-wing extremists, including the thugs of Generation Identity, Betar, Qanon, Christian extremists like Civitas, survivalists, white supremacists, left-wing extremists, including the Black Blocks, the involuntary celibs, radical climate activists, animal rights activists, including some vegan groups, small Freemasons, or what we sensed, the rise of radically violent individuals anti-Asian like the one who recently took action in Atlanta. And that the US has just described as their first anti-Asian racist attack.

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