Paris attacks: Counter-terrorism experts warn of copycat attacks following atrocities
Counter-terrorism experts are warning that the multiple, simultaneous attacks in Paris on Friday night could inspire copycat acts around the Western world including Australia.
Commentators have said authorities need to be on alert after the attackers went for numerous, soft targets with military style weapons – even though they don’t believe Australia faces the same level of threat as other countries.
International terrorism expert Professor Rohan Gunaratna, the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said “every successful terrorist attack is an intelligence failure”.
He believes that the co-ordinated simultaneous, multiple attacks against French civilians are inspired and instigated by Islamic State (IS).
“The brutality of executions mirrors the IS mindset and methodology, and the diffusion of ideology and practice,” said Professor Gunaratna.
Professor Gunaratna said the scale and magnitude of the attacks in France demonstrates the continuing threat of terrorism stemming from radicalised and militarised segments of the French diaspora and migrant communities driven by the developments in North Africa and the Middle East.
“The attacks are a consequence of the failure of the international system to craft and implement a global strategy to stabilise conflict zones and fight its vicious by-product, global terrorism.”
Associate Professor Nick O’Brien, the head of the Graduate School of Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University, said the Paris attacks are similar in style to the Mumbai attacks in 2008, in which the terrorists used multiple and co-ordinated attacks with different weapons.
“Every time there is an attack like this, we need to study it and make sure we have an effective response,” said Professor O’Brien.
“We ought to be ready for multiple attacks on our cities especially suicide attacks and seige/hostage situations” he said.
He also said that the authorities need to do exercises that simulate the multiple attacks and test their reactions.
Terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton from Deakin University said despite the French police and intelligence stepping up security in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, together with their already sophisticated use of electronic and digital surveillance, it was still “not sufficient in this case to stop an attack.”
Professor Barton said that these attacks were carried out in places that were all within walking distance of each other and although it was very early days into the investigation into what happened, early indications were that the perpetrators had stayed off the radar, hadn’t used social media and had probably undertaken face-to-face meetings.
“What it does show, is that we can’t rely on digital surveillance and we need people in the communities to speak up when they see someone slipping away.
“We can’t afford to ignore this.”
Former CIA officer turned author and commentator, Bob Baer said that the events in Paris coming in the wake of numerous attacks around the world in the last few months, should put authorities on alert.
“With Beirut (Friday), now Baghdad and the Russian plane … These people believe the apocalypse is nigh and they’re willing to die – it’s the worst of all possible combinations.”