My heart is breaking. Again.
Last Friday, ISIS-affiliated terrorists systematically murdered innocent people going about the business of enjoying a beautiful autumn Friday night in the City of Lights. The six orchestrated Paris attacks were carried out at a sporting event, a concert, and several dining establishments. By a twist of fate, the would-be carnage intended for the stadium football event was botched.
Apparently, the terrorists’ action on Friday the 13th was one more cog in their effort to superimpose a twisted Caliphate philosophy throughout the free world. Fear is their weapon. World rule is their goal.
The Paris tragedy comes on the heels of two other apparently related attacks – 43 dead in Lebanon, and 224 dead in the bombing of a Russian passenger jetliner departing Egypt.
November 13 in Paris marks the 51st known ISIS-related terrorist event since early 2014.
Moreover, since 2014, groups claiming affiliation with ISIL have carried out systematic destruction of 41 cultural sites and monuments in Libya, Syria and Iraq.
Included: The ancient Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, almost 2,000 years old; the ancient sites of Nineva, Hatra and Nimrud; Jonah’s Tomb (think whale); and antiquities at museums throughout the region, including the Mosul Museum. Their intent: cultural cleansing and removal of entire populations’ understanding of their cultural heritage and regional diversity. Their targets: sites dedicated to religion, education, art or history of a culture. Side benefit to the cause: funding the terrorist network through sales of looted artifacts to Westerners.
Yes, we citizens of the free world are afraid. These monsters are everywhere. But we dare not withdraw into ourselves or turn on each other out of fear. They want that from us.
Having just left Paris, my husband and I are considered fortunate. All our friends and family who called, texted and emailed said so. We know it, too. But if given an option, I would return today to Paris. I would join other determined freedom-lovers in visiting tourist sites, concerts and sporting events. I would dine al fresco outside quaint restaurants and bars. I would reach my destinations via Metro and RER trains.
Our best weapon as a culture is to continue to enjoy our American freedoms and to support global efforts to eradicate these threats. Freedom and love must prevail. Fear and evil be damned.
RECAP OF ISIL-RELATED ATTACKS SINCE 2014
According to data collected by several news organizations, there have been 51 attacks directly linked to ISIS since Sept. 2014. At least 40 of those attacks took place in the Middle East, and included attacks on mosques with worshipers inside. Six of the implemented attacks and would-be attacks occurred in the West.
Algeria (one tourist killed)
Belgium (12 raids, two men killed, attacks thwarted)
Copenhagen, Denmark (two dead)
Dallas, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York (terror cells thwarted)
Egypt (more than 68 dead in at least two attacks)
Lebanon (43 dead)
Libya (33 people dead in three attacks)
Ottawa, Canada (two dead)
Paris, France (12 dead and 11 wounded in Charlie Hebdo attack, 129 dead and more than 300 wounded in November 13 attacks)
Russian aircraft carrier over Egypt (all 224 passengers and crew dead)
Saudi Arabia (36 dead, more than 100 injured in two attacks)
Sydney Australia (17 hostages, ultimately freed)
Tunisia (66 dead in two attacks, mostly tourists)
Turkey (32 people dead)
Yemen (220 dead in five attacks)