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Tunisia attack: Co-ordinated terrorist massacres echo Belfast's Bloody Friday

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 27/06/2015

Pandemonium as emergency services treat the wounded
Pandemonium as emergency services treat the wounded

The apparently co-ordinated terrorist attacks on three continents yesterday, leaving scores of people dead and hundreds injured, are like a horrible echo of our own Bloody Friday on July 21, 1972.

On that day 26 IRA bombs exploded in Belfast, killing nine people and injuring 130 more.

It was probably the most concerted effort by the IRA to impose its will on Northern Ireland and gain global publicity for its warped campaign.

Yesterday's outrages in Tunisia, France and Kuwait bear all the same traditional hallmarks of a terror campaign.

The reach of Islamic State and its satellite groups is much wider than that of the IRA but it follows a similar blueprint.

In Tunisia the target - as in January - were foreign tourists, an important source of income for the country. A secondary aim was to further destabilise a country which has found that the promise of the Arab Spring overthrow of its dictatorship was merely a step towards chaos.

In Kuwait, a Shia mosque was targeted by a suicide bomber in an apparent attempt to stir up sectarian tensions as IS regards Shias as heretics.

The aim of the French attack is less clear. It looks like the work of an Islamic extremist in a country which has Europe's largest Muslim population, but it might have resulted from a personal grudge rather than a political motive.

The net result of the attacks is to make the world seem a more dangerous place and to constrict the number of destinations where people from the Western world can feel comfortable travelling to.

It is terror in its purest form, spreading fear and a sense of helplessness. We know terrorism is difficult to defeat in the short term. Islamic extremists seem immune to political pressure and must be confronted by a robust, concerted and agreed military response from as wide a coalition of countries as possible. Only when terrorists are convinced they cannot win, is their defeat feasible.

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