Efforts to map the personality of the perpetrator of the horror on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice are ongoing. In the final analysis we’re obliged to take our choice from among all the theories on offer. In today’s issue of The Observer I note points which seem to me persuasive and well worth thinking about.
“Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel matches the classic profile of French violent Islamic extremist in many ways. He was a young, male petty criminal. He was also not devout, all witnesses so far agree. He did not fast during Ramadan, ate pork, drank, and was never seen at any local mosque. This lack of piety among militants may seem confusing. It is, however, the rule rather than the exception. It was true of the dozen or so French and Belgian young men involved in bombings and shootings earlier this year. Olivier Roy, a well-known French scholar, suggests those drawn into violent activism are already ‘in nihilist, generational revolt’. This is why so many are criminals, or marginal. Extremist Islam gives them a cause and frames anger and alienation in the way extremist left-wing ideologies did for some in the sixties and the seventies. The new militants are thus not victims of brainwashing by cynical and fanatical recruiters. This is the Islamisation of radicalism, Roy says, not the radicalisation of Islam.”
Were the Nice tragedy not sufficiently worrying, we were then in short order confronted with the coup in Turkey. In this instance no psychogram of the perpetrators, whether those in military uniforms or members of the judiciary… the roughly five thousand men detained in the aftermath… can be helpful. However the simple question ‘cui bono’ is must surely be posed. Turkey’s president stands to gain in ways which were hitherto almost unimaginable. After the uprising (which appears in many ways to have been an amateurish folly) there is now the perfect opportunity for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to consolidate his power and stifle any remaining dissent. Yesterday The Independent had room for an alarming interpretation of the situation.
“Conspiracy theorists are saying the attempted military coup in Turkey was faked, after President Erdoğan reportedly called it ‘a gift from Allah'. Social media users have compared the coup attempt in which more than 160 people are thought to have died to the Reichstag fire, the 1933 arson attack on the German parliament building which Hitler used as an excuse to suspend civil liberties and order mass arrests of his opponents.”
Following the failed coup, American military flights out of Turkey’s giant Incirlik Air Base… critical in the ongoing campaign against Dai’esh… came to a halt Saturday afternoon as the Turkish military closed the airspace around the base and suspended all US-led operations, mostly targeting the so-called Islamic State. It is estimated that Incirlik's vaults currently hold fifty B61 nuclear weapons.
Repeat after me… “Oh shit!”