As TTAG reported yesterday, there were three incidents across the Atlantic that appear to have been connected to or inspired by Islamic State fanatics.
In Berlin, Germany, the death toll from yesterday’s attack by an unknown party who drove a truck full of steel beams into a crowded Christmas marketplace near the Kurfuerstendamm, western Berlin’s main shopping street, has risen to twelve, with at least forty-eight persons injured (eighteen of which are called “serious”.) A unit of the elite German SEK police force raided a camp for asylum-seekers set up at the former Tempelhof Airport (of Berlin Airlift fame,) last night and have detained a 23-year-old suspect who has been identified as “Naved B.” The BBC reports that he was apparently an asylum-seeker from Pakistan, whose application for asylum has not yet been completed. German officials are uncertain if he is the person responsible for the attack. The registered driver of the truck, a Polish national, was found dead in the truck itself, and it is believed that he was NOT the driver at the time of the attack, according to the Guardian.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had been previously criticized for lax immigration policies, has called the attack an act of “terrorism”. The Interior Minister of the German State of Saarland, Klaus Bouillon — and a member of Merkel’s own Christian Democrat party — has gone a step further, saying that Germany is “in a state of war.”
In Ankara, Turkey, police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş assassinated Andrey Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to the Turkish Republic using a Sarsilmaz K2P 9mm pistol. (GRAPHIC video here). The larger objective of the assassin (or whoever controlled him,) appears to have been to sabotage apparent Turkish-Russian cooperation in resolving the Syrian Civil War. One of the parties in the multi-sided civil war that the Russian-backed government was fighting was, of course, the Islamic State. Russia and Turkey had been backing opposite sides in Syria, although after the successful (but bloody) effort by the Russian-backed Syrian government to take the northern city of Aleppo, the two sides had been taking steps to work together in Syria. For its part, Turkey’s rather authoritarian government has been suggesting that the assassin was a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in Pennsylvania who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed for an attempted coup earlier in the year, and that he had been cashiered from the police force during one of the post-coup purges. Russia and Turkey are currently conducting a joint investigation into the attack.
A third, more minor incident, occurred in Zurich, Switzerland, where three people were reported shot outside of an Islamic Center “frequented by Somali migrants.” Details remain sparse; a corpse was found in the vicinity, and police were at one point “working on the assumption that the dead person who was found is the culprit in the shooting at the Islamic Center in Zurich.” France24 reports that the dead person is a “Swiss man with Ghanaian roots and no apparent ties to Islamic radicalism.” It also reports that the person was armed with a gun “for which he had a permit.”
Donald Trump, now confirmed as President-Elect after 304 electors cast their votes for him yesterday, issued statements via social media condemning the attacks:
Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday,” he said. “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad….
Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany – and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!
Incredibly, according to the CBC, others saw these attacks and had different concerns:
There’s been a shift to right in European politics in the past year — from the rhetoric and the results of the Brexit vote, the tone of the French presidential campaign to the criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration and refugee policies.
And former Ontario resident Christian Nathler said he’s concerned the attack on the market will only further divide the country — and give right-wing parties a soapbox. Nathler learned of the tragedy unfolding two kilometres away from him when he received a message from a friend in Toronto asking if he was safe.
“I think, unfortunately, they’re going to have a lot more fuel for their campaign running up to next September,” the former Midland, Ont., resident said. “I think, before they didn’t have that landmark event that they could say, ‘Look what happens when you have an open border or when you have a poorly thought out integration process.’ And now they have that one thing that they can lean on.”
I have to confess: when confronted by a violent terrorist attacks that may have been inspired by a radical religious ideology, my first concern is not actually “how will this impact future immigration policy.”
The CBC also spoke with Imanuel Zadig Onnasch, who also mouthed sentiments akin to Nathler that the CBC apparently wanted to push. But Onnasch also said something more enlightening:
“I never thought something like this could happen here.”
As the great firearms instructor and marine Col. Jeff Cooper was fond of observing, awareness is critical. The people who are unaware — who are, mentally, in ‘Condition White,’ as he referred to it, are the ones who will be sucker-punched one day and (if they survive) have nothing to say for it later other than “I can’t believe this happened to me.”
I’m not sure how anyone with the slightest degree of awareness and intelligence could go through life without imagining that a terrorist attack might be possible — in Europe! Apparently there are.
Those of us who choose to carry a firearm for purposes of personal self-defense, however, need to keep something else in mind. It isn’t enough to simply carry a gun. It isn’t a talisman that will ward off bad juju. Sure, carrying a gun a is an important first step. But do you know how to use it? Have you considered the conditions under which you’d clear leather and fire with intent to stop an attack, even if it means killing another human being? Because if you haven’t, you really need to — now. Carrying a gun is find, but never forget that it’s just a tool; your mind is the weapon.
As I’ve said before, we live in an era where the threat is diffuse. Attacks can come from deep-cover agents backed by quasi-state actors like the Islamic State. But we also need to be on guard for outwardly stable people who apparently wake up one day and, inspired by religious ecstasies, decide to commit mayhem and murder against those who do not share their faith.
We’re still in a fight. And condition yellow is the new condition white.