This Week’s Big Story: Takeaways from Paris Tragedy

By Kristie Marcinczyk, USDR  Contributor

Headlines immediately following the attack on the Paris newspaper offices of Charlie Hebdo last week delivered an unnerving snapshot of the incident: blatant acts of radical Islamic  terrorism.

That picture became clearer as days trailed —with the death toll in France rising to 17, and threats beginning to spread across the  globe.

But the White House is turning a blind eye, refusing to call it what it is. Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained to White House reporters during a press briefing that this is a question of “accuracy” in categorizing these attacks as being derived from radical Islam extremists. In the even bigger picture, and what seems to be continuously ignored, is that terrorism is no longer limited to the bounds of bombs and beheadings that we once knew. The path of destruction merged with our age of technology when the U.S. Central Command’s social networking pages were publicly compromised by ISIS on  Monday.

The threat has been widely dismissed, however, and said to be “the equivalent of using graffiti on a subway train”— but what if this internet hacking “child’s play” was taken to the next level? Exactly how dangerous could this potentially  get?

While it is not WikiLeaks-type classified material in question — it is impossible not to wonder what more serious information our armed forces could jeopardize by engaging in this World Wide Pool of hacking to begin with. Now that we know the U.S. Military’s media identity was almost effortlessly manipulated by terrorists, it seems evident this may only be the  beginning.

I raised my concerns to technology and cyber-terrorism expert, David Kennedy who explained, “While the attack seems to be self-contained within Twitter and YouTube – this is definitely something we need to be extremely cautious of. Terrorist organizations are focusing more on cyber capabilities to disrupt key pieces of our infrastructure and will continue to get more sophisticated. The ISIS attack shows that these groups are actively recruiting and seeking a newer generation that will continue to expand and acquire enhanced  capabilities.”

Mr. Kennedy went on to address the fact that we absolutely need to continue to strengthen our defenses both on the federal government side as well as the private sector. “We are years behind the ability to defend ourselves in a proper way and action needs to be taken now,” he  stated.

Adding insult to injury on Wednesday, American airports were forced to increase security measures across the country in the wake of a newly discovered publication by al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine. Counterterrorism experts called the step-by-step instructions on making a so-called “hidden bomb recipe” appears to be the most comprehensive, and potentially lethal, message ever delivered to their  readers.

This is not a new concept, though. Inspire magazine has previously published several “how-to” articles, including one on making bombs out of pressure cookers. That article ran just before the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, in which two radicalized migrants used two of the modified kitchen devices to kill three people and injured   hundreds.

The spin here is that al Qaeda has now published a “how-to” on not only making a bomb, but tips for getting it through airport security undetected. Jeff Price, an aviation security scholar responded by telling the U.S. Daily Review this move “undoubtedly demonstrates that al Qaeda is still alive and well and continues to focus on attacking  aviation.”

“They’ve also clearly studied the smaller commercial service airports and have figured out that not all of them have body imaging technology. As a result, they are recommending that their lone wolf operatives try to get through security at a small airport instead.” Price  continued.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with airline security officials to brief them about the threat and addressed reasoning behind enhanced  screening.

“We have no specific, credible intelligence of an attack of the kind in Paris last week being planned by terrorist organizations in this country,” Johnson said in a statement. “But, the reasons for these measures should be self-evident to the public: the recent attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the recent public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives, including aircraft, military personnel, and government installations and civilian  personnel.”

Whether stripping terrorists of their citizenship, or censoring websites that encourage terrorist acts, these are simply reactive tactics that do not begin to address the much deeper underlying issues. There has yet to be a definitive solution to halt the spread of violent extremist views and  practices.

Media outlets have explored all of the above (individually,) but maybe we need to look at this chain of events as a whole. It goes back to the same big picture. Look at the facts, and call it what it is: radical Islamic  terrorism.

Perhaps then, we will be able to truly identify our enemies, which will allow for more effective and specific strategies in dealing with global  violence.

Runners up for This Week’s Big  Story:

  • Mitt Romney’s Potential 2016 Presidential  Run
  • U.S. to Ease Restrictions on Travel to  Cuba
  • President Obama’s Free Community College  Plan

What do you think was the Big Story of the Week? Sound off on Twitter @USDailyReview #BigStory

Kristie Marcinczyk is a politics, media, and culture writer. She has previously worked as a producer and booker at Fox News, Fox Business Network and TheBlaze, for both television and web platforms. Follow her on Twitter @kMarcinczyk.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.