“The whole world is a battlefield.” That’s how retired U.S. Colonel Anthony Shaffer, a former U.S. intelligence officer, describes the consequences of the Paris massacre. How does this tragedy change the global jihadist threat? How can Christians respond?
Col. Shaffer estimates that the Paris attacks cost ISIS less than $50,000 in total. They were perpetrated by a small number of militants who were already in place, used weapons they could obtain easily, and struck a confined urban area with limited security. The stadium, concert hall, and restaurants they targeted could not be defended easily. All contained many civilians with the potential of mass casualties.
This urban strategy can be employed anywhere ISIS has fighters. And ISIS has more jihadists in the West than ever.
Some are ISIS militants embedded within refugee populations; one of the Paris murderers had a Syrian passport and came to France as a refugee. Some are ISIS fighters returning from Syria and Iraq to their home countries.
And some are radicalized at home through ISIS’s very extensive social media network. The FBI director recently warned that there are already many “thousands” of ISIS sympathizers inside the U.S. The FBI has cases open in every state. Intelligence analysts are working to penetrate ISIS networks, but the jihadists use technology such as PlayStation 2 consoles to stay beneath their radar.
In short, the number of potential attackers in cities across America and Europe is likely high.
In addition, their strategy is difficult to counter. Unlike air travel security, which could be tightened through a concentrated focus on airports, this urban approach is as varied as the venues under threat.
One attempted shoe bomber caused Americans to remove their shoes whenever they board an airplane. Imagine a world with metal detectors outside every public venue, including grocery stores, schools, theaters, schools, stadiums, and arenas. Imagine the cost of employing security personnel, and the impact on consumers and the larger economy. Then note that 3-D printers make it possible to create weapons no metal detector can find.
In short, what happened in France could happen anywhere. According to analysts, the Paris attacks are the first of many to come. And we don’t yet know their implications for our way of life.
Here’s the good news: millions of people are praying for Paris. In the twenty-four hours following the terror attacks, more than seventy million people used Instagram to share their support and prayers for Paris, according to the social network. People in more than 200 countries participated.
How can we pray more effectively? Mike Evans, longtime missionary in France, makes four suggestions:
1. Mourn with those who mourn. Pray for churches in the Paris area as they minister to those in grief.
2. Pray for our leaders. President Hollande and other world leaders will be making difficult decisions in coming days. Pray for them to seek divine wisdom and promote justice and peace.
3. Be peacemakers. Pray for Christians in France as they reach out to Muslims in their area, sharing God’s love in theirs.
4. Be unashamedly convinced of God’s sovereignty. God intends to use these atrocities to lead souls to himself. Join him in praying for spiritual awakening in France and the Muslim world.
Would you pray for Paris right now?