Map of France by NuclearVacuum (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Map of France by NuclearVacuum (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The recent shootings and bombings in France have left over a hundred dead. This was immediately labeled as a terrorist attack by ever major news feed. Within less than a day, blame was attributed to ISIS and such evidence emerged as suicide bombers being found with passports on them1. France declared a state of emergency2 and the world suddenly declared solidarity in a story that feels downright unbelievable, and may very well be.

A country with strict gun control, in a world with a massive spy network, somehow has a massively coordinated terrorist attack take place. The perpetrators supposedly scream taunts clearly identifying them as Muslim radicals. A passport shows clear evidence of an attacker. Why would an attacker carry his passport with him? Maybe to avoid questioning on his way to his destination? Maybe to clearly identify himself for his act (after all, his intension is suicide apparently).

Can a passport survive a suicide bombing? Potentially. Passports do typically have leather covers and larger pieces of body have survived from suicide vests. However the narrative is a repeated one. After all, a 9/11 hijacker was apparently identified via passport that survived the plane impact and tower collapse, making its way to the ground below. Somehow this one passport became associated with an attacker (instead of something logical like, you know, some random person on the street dropping it).

On September 11th, 2001, then Vice President Dick Cheney had scheduled, at least, the following four different military war game exercises: Vigilant Guardian, Northern Vigilance, Vigilant Warrior, Tripod II3. Patrick Pelloux, EMT and chronicler at Charlie Hebdo, explains to France Info radio that Paris EMTs were prepared because, “as luck would have it”, they’d planned an exercise to train for multi-site attacks on the morning of Nov 13,20154.

What is further confusing about attacks such as the current Paris shootings, the 2005 subway bombings in London and the September 2001 attacks in the New York City is that these were all single isolated attacks. If a group were seeking to destabilize a government or society by means of attacks on civilian populations, one would think those attacks would continue, one after the other. One could argue that government vigilance and increased security following an attack would prevent this, but this feels counter-intuitive for attacks as sophisticated as the ones just listed.

The other thing that somewhat concerns me is the total outpouring of support from civilians internationally. The context in which the attacks were presented in have built a form of solidarity, not necessarily with France or against terrorism, but with a story and a news narrative. Buildings from Sydney to San Fransisco to Toronto were blanketed in flood lights of colors from the French flag5. People on Facebook have joined the ranks of clicktivism, adjusting their profile pictures with colors of the French flag as well.

Facebook profile photos overlayed with French flag
Facebook profile photos overlayed with French flag

Of course, there are people calling for new security measures. The Minister of Home Affairs in Belgium claims terrorists used the PlayStation 4 gaming network to plan their terrorist attacks6. Give the pure scale of government surveillance we know exists throughout the Internet, this claim should be absurd. In 2015 at a security conference in New Zealand, security expert Ben Nagy talked about how Taliban commanders were often tracked and targeted via their mobile phone use.

We stopped using mobile phones. When we use them, we die.” -Taliban Commander7

What is also confusing is that for the past several years, the United States and its allies have been supporting ISIL/ISIS financially in Syria while calling for the resignation of Assad. The United States currently claims to fight ISIS, even though ISIS is against the Assad government. So what does America want? Do they want ISIS removed or Assad? The answer is intentionally not made clear in the way it’s currently being portrayed in the media, because the primary focus has been on the refugee crisis.

Just days earlier, Bloomberg reported several abnormalities in the business markets including negative swap spends, fractured repo rates and synthetic credit trading tighter than cash credit8. Ongoing news debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Kogalymavia Flight 9268 are also totally overshadowed by the attack.

Major media outlets are reporting this story verbatim from government releases without any independent investigative analysis. The story is so specific and reveals evidence so quickly that it seems more likely a controlled narrative than a spontaneously enacted event. Instead of jumping on the wagon of blind nationalism, the critical thinker should step back from the situation and consider whether the information being presented to us is from a reliable narrator.

  1. Syrian passport ‘found on body of attacker’. 12:15 15 November 2015. The Guardian.

  2. Lunchtime summary - what we know so far 12:01 15 November 2015. The Guardian

  3. Michael C. Ruppert - Crossing the Rubicon - Part I . 22 Feb 2008. Lecture at the University of Washington, Seattle. (Video, 15:40)

  4. Paris Attacks: Multi-site Exercise planned for morning of Nov 13,2015. 14 November 2015. (Video)

  5. GALLERY: Buildings around world light up in colors of French flag after attacks. 14 November, 2015. Jerusalem Post.

  6. Belgium’s home affairs minister says ISIL communicates using Playstation 4. 14 November 2015. Brown. Quartz.

  7. COMSEC: Beyond Encryption. Nagy. Grugq. Retrieved 15 November 2015.

  8. Six Strange Things That Have Been Happening in Financial Markets. Alloway. Bloomberg.