Up until 2020 there had been a sharp decline in Islamic terrorist attacks in the West, especially Europe. Back in 2015 there were 211 but by 2019 when there only twenty. Suddenly these attacks are back on the increase, mainly in France. The immediate cause was Moslem anger at a school teacher showing students 2015 Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. In 2015 the French magazine offices were attacked along with a lot of other assaults as local Moslems sought to “defend Islam.” The recent case saw the teacher in question murdered by a Moslem after one the Moslem students in the same school pointed out the teacher. This led to pictures of the teacher circulating making it possible for Islamic radical Moslems to track down and murder this “enemy of Islam.” The murder, and several less lethal attacks led to a public uproar in France against such violence. This escalated to support for migrants learning French customs and a new law that mandates secularism.
In the past it was understood that migrants to France would accept and adopt French customs and not try to impose foreign ones on France. The death of this teacher served as a tipping point. French leaders then called for all to support secularism and condemned those who express their agreement with murder and, in effect, call for Islamist separatism. This in turn led to a revealing reaction from leaders of Moslem majority nations, who accused France of Islamophobia and dangerous hostility to Moslems and Moslem customs. Some Moslem leaders declared that Moslems had the right to kill millions of French for not respecting Islam.
French leaders admitted that it was only a minority of French Moslems who were willing to kill to “defend Islam” but it was a minority that would not be tolerated. Those few French Islamic radicals were trying to terrorize France into tolerating their murderous intolerance. French leaders responded to the foreign criticism by pointing out that secularism was the law in France and had been for centuries. That was not going to be changed for anyone. In response to that there were anti-France demonstrations in Moslem majority nations.
The last outbreak of Islamic violence in Europe was the result of many Moslems backing ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) when that group appeared in 2014 and quickly took control of eastern Syria, and a third of Iraq, while declaring the founding of a new caliphate (Islamic state), and also called on Moslems worldwide, and especially in the West, to make war on infidels (non-Moslems). That led to many terrorist killings in Europe as well as a lot of ISIL violence in Moslem majority nations.
This was followed by worldwide alarm and action against ISIL, the most violent and determined form of Islamic terrorism so far. All nations, especially Moslem ones, cooperated to defeat ISIL. This brought about unusually high levels of cooperation in identifying ISIL members or potential members as well as going after ISIL media efforts, recruiters and fundraisers. That spirit of cooperation faded along with ISIL, which lost control of all its territory by 2017. Now ISIL is back in spirit if not name. The violence ISIL called on all Moslems to take part in is still popular with a minority of Moslems, even in the West where nations are usually explicitly secular.
In the West, these outbreaks of Islamic violence exposed a pro-Islamic terrorist underground that was larger and more popular than anyone realized. Actually, there were police and military intelligence specialists who were not surprised. Until ISIL came along, few Western politicians believed so much support for Islamic terrorism existed inside their countries. Some of those politicians are still skeptical but their number is shrinking as the local defenders of Islam keep murdering non-Moslem voters. The problem is real and it’s been growing for several decades, along with support for Islamic terrorists in Moslem majority nations.
The problem in Europe was that radical Moslems sought, often with success, to establish religious schools (madrassas) where elementary and high-school age children could be indoctrinated in the conservative forms of Islam, as mandated in Saudi Arabia and many other Moslem nations, that insisted Islam was under constant attack or threat of attack by infidels (non-Moslems). These madrassas call on young Moslems to actively defend Islam using violence against infidels and Moslems who do not share these extremist beliefs. The madrassas teach that economic failure is not the fault of unemployed Moslems but a deliberate policy of the infidel societies they now live in.
Cultivating this culture of resentment and justifying blaming personal problems on others rather than yourself also works in Moslem nations, where madrasa students often turn against their own government rather than infidel nations, who tend to be better off than Moslem majority countries. Most Moslems believe this sort of thing is nonsense but Islamic radicals can find a lot of support for these extremist attitudes in Islamic scripture. This is a unique aspect of Islam, for no other major religion gives this much encouragement for and religious justification of violence against infidels or Moslems who don’t agree with you.
European politicians, in particular, initially preferred to downplay the severity of this situation. For example, German politicians are under growing pressure from their constituents to reduce the flow of Moslem migrants and more carefully screen those that are let in. Most elected (and unelected) officials have taken the position that allowing large numbers of Moslem refugees (from civil wars, rebellions and religious conflicts in Moslem majority nations) is the humanitarian thing to do. Their constituents point out that many of the politicians are delusional because these officials do not live near the new arrivals or experience the increasing crime and general hostility expressed by so many of the refugees towards non-Moslems and often each other. Voters point out that their political leaders tend to live in well-protected neighborhoods and have access to taxpayer-supplied personal security. To make matters worse, there are a growing number of instances where local (or national) officials deliberately conceal data on criminal activity by Moslem migrants.
Some data cannot be concealed and that is when there are deliberate terrorist attacks that kill or injure people in a public place. For example, in the four years after 2014 (through the end of 2017), there were 32 Islamic terror attacks in Europe. These involved 44 Moslem refugees or recent asylum seekers. These attacks caused 996 casualties (182 dead, 814 wounded). While these attacks occurred in twelve countries most of them took place in Germany, which had accepted the most (1.4 million) Moslem refugees.
Many Germans saw this as old news. In 2006 German counter-intelligence officials were dismayed at how passive German Moslems were towards the threat of Islamic terrorism. A tip line for Germans to call in information about suspected terrorist activity received little use by the 3.5 million Moslems living in Germany. The tip line had German, Arabic and Turkish speaking operators available. While there had not been any major al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Germany up to then, the police and intelligence agencies knew they had an Islamic terrorism problem. Even without tips from Moslem residents, the intelligence agencies had detected a growing number of suspected Islamic terrorists and many of these eventually proved those suspicions right, often in another country. That was because Germany was seen as something of a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists; a place where local Moslems would stay silent and local police might suspect your intentions, but unless you broke one of their laws, like displaying a flag with a swastika on it, you would not get arrested.
German counter-terrorist personnel knew of al Qaeda-trained Moslems living in Germany. But German law prohibited preventive detention, so the best the Germans can do is try and identify the most likely al Qaeda terrorists and keep an eye on them. Britain thought they had a similar situation and had it under control. The July 7, 2005 transit bombing made it clear that some British Moslems were actually very eager to act, and the government surveillance program had not detected, much less caught, them. Several hundred thousand French Moslems are considered secessionist and openly back establishing areas where Islamic law applies and French secularism does not.
Despite what the United States and the West want, events in Arabia follow a different pattern. After ISIL became a major threat in mid-2014 widespread local support for ISIL in the Moslem world was just not there. But the Islamic radicalism that created centuries of Islamic terrorism outbreaks survives and kept providing headlines for the rest of the world. Many Westerners don’t appreciate the details of Middle Eastern history that cause Islamic terrorism to return again and again and simply see the fanatical Islamic terrorists as revolutionaries worthy of admiration or even emulation. In the two centuries European countries have had to deal with homegrown radicalism (republicanism, anarchism, radical socialism) and now, despite its alien origins, Islamic terrorism appeals to young Europeans who miss the communists, Nazis, anarchists and radical republicans of the past.
Since European nations are democracies, the rulers cannot continually ignore the complaints of voters who daily confront this culture clash and often live in constant fear of it. Actually, so do many of the Moslem refugees. These outbreaks of Islamic terrorism have, for centuries, only hurt other Moslems because the righteous rage of the Islamic purists was directed as fellow Moslems perceived to be heretics. There were often ethnic, nationalistic or political elements as well but the basic motivator was religious and the efforts to impose “true Islam” on other Moslems. In the West, it was difficult to deal with this problem even though it had been well documented in the West for centuries. But it had become fashionable in the West to ignore all that. Worse and to the astonishment of many in the Moslem world, Westerners often deliberately and disastrously misinterpret what was actually going on.