Small scale terror attacks are so common in Europe, they don’t even make the news.
Yesterday in the Republic of Ireland a Japanese man was stabbed to death in a series of random attacks in Dundalk, Co. Louth. Two other local men were attacked, one with a knife and the other with a fence pole. It has been reported that the arrested man was an 18-year-old Egyptian, and although no definitive motive has been established by the Gardaí, terrorism is thought to be a line of inquiry. The suspect in the attacks had recently come into contact with authorities on January 1st over inquiries into his immigration status and the young man was believed to have been seeking asylum in the Republic of Ireland. This is thought to be the first potential Islamist related terror attack in the Republic of Ireland’s history.
This story of another seemingly terror-related incident in Europe comes as no surprise to many of us that have been covering this topic over the course of the last couple of years, but one thing has struck me as maybe not surprising, but depressing. Many of these smaller scale terrorist incidents that have been occurring over the course of the last couple of years receive so little press coverage now from mainstream media outlets.
Small scale attacks such as the one yesterday in Co. Louth and the reporting surrounding them have become the norm in Europe over the last year or so. Back in October, two women were stabbed to death at Marseille’s main train station by a man who was yelling out the familiar call to arms by many a Jihadi “Allahu Akbar.” The two women aged 17 and 20 were attacked with intense ferocity. One of the women had her throat slit while the other sustained wounds to her chest and stomach. Following the attack, the assailant was shot dead by a member of the military Sentinelle patrol. This attack in France, which came after two major attacks in Nice and Paris resulting in the death of more than 200, was another one of these attacks that received very little mainstream media coverage.
Another attack from 2016 which received very little media coverage is the axe attack perpetrated by a Afghan asylum seeker on a train in Wurzburg, Germany back in July of that year. The 17-year-old Afghani Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, who arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied minor attacked people on a train with an axe, injuring 4 people. Following the attack the perpetrator was shot dead by German police. A witness who was in the train carriage at the time said that the attacker shouted out “Allahu Akbar,” as is seen in many other terror attacks. It was revealed in subsequent investigations that the man had been in contact with an Islamic State operative who was based in Saudi Arabia who originally asked him to drive a car into a crowd of people. He refused this suggestion because he could not drive, and so opted to carry out the train attack.
The attack of 3 police officers in Brussels back in October of 2016 is just one more in a long list of small scale terror attacks in Europe that receive hardly any press coverage anymore. In this incident, one officer was stabbed in the neck, another in the stomach and a third officer received a broken nose. The attacker was shot in the leg and apprehended by authorities. The attacker was named as “Hicham D,” aged 43 and authorities confirmed after the attack that it was being treated as an act of terrorism. This is only one of two terror incidents in Brussels that received minimal press coverage. In August 2017, a Somali man attacked a soldier with a machete while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Following this attack, the Somali man was fatally shot during the attack which took place on Boulevard Emile Jacqmain in the centre of the city.
The failure of mainstream media to cover attacks such as these can be looked at from a couple of perspectives. It could be that because these attacks are “low casualty” incidents, the media do not pay them the interest they deserve. Because as the old adage goes in media circles “If it bleeds, it leads.” Maybe low fatality attacks do not meet that particular threshold in media circles anymore. That I don’t know. There is a more conspiratorial angle to this also. It could be that attacks of this type are so common, that to report on them with vigour and detail would expose the great danger our political establishment have exposed European citizens to. There are many people who believe this to be the case and this is not an argument I could easily dismiss. There is a third reason why these attacks are not being covered as widely as they should be, and this is arguably the scariest reason of all. That is because attacks of this type are so common now, that as Europeans we have made a kind of silent agreement with one another that this type of incident is inevitable. That from one week to another, somebody, somewhere will be attacked by a lunatic or religious zealot wielding a knife or other deadly instrument and that is just a part of our life now. As Sadiq Khan would say maybe living in a city like London, Paris or Berlin terrorism is just “part and parcel.” I don’t know the real reason why our mainstream media outlets are seemingly failing us as consumers by not telling us about the real issues affecting our community and our continent as a whole, but out of the three reasons I have stated as to why, I know what reason scares me the most.
Picture from nbcnews.com