The terrorist attacks in Paris were not stage-managed professionally, Andrzej Mroczek, a Polish counter-terrorism expert, believes.
Andrzej Mroczek, a representative of Warsaw-based Center for Terrorism Research at Collegium Civitas and a former police and intelligence officer, has been an invited guest at Belsat TV program ‘World and Us’. He is a co-author of the book ‘Terror in Poland. Analysis of Selected Cases’.
Belsat: What did the terrorists achieve after the attacks of November 13? Did they aim at murdering as many people as possible and sparkling a massive public outcry? Or did they have any other goal?
Andrzej Mroczek: There is no doubt that with the help of these simultaneous attacks the terrorists were trying to say the following: despite the fact that you attack us in a place where we have established a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, you cannot feel safe in any corner of the world; we will attack you, we will kill everyone who stand in the way of our ideology of creating the Islamic State.
Belsat: Were the attacks deliberately organised? Or something went wrong?
Andrzej Mroczek: When any terrorist attack occurs, and even if there are no victims, but there are wounded people or some property is destroyed, one should say that it does have effect. Speaking about Paris, one can say that it was not a professionally stage-managed simultaneous attack. It is obvious that it was a concerted series of terrorist attacks. The gang was organized. But sometimes communication let them down, as in the case of the events outside the stadium, where a number of suicide attacks happened. If everything had been well-prepared, they would not have tried to buy tickets for the match before the game, but they would have purchased the tickets in advance. They would not have tried to get to the stadium – they should have born in mind that sports events attenders are always searched. <…> When they realised they failed to enter the stadium, why didn’t they wait until the match was over and a lot of people came out? Or why didn’t they blow themselves up an hour earlier, when crowds of people were entering the stadium?
Belsat: What does such scenario of terrorist attacks indicate?
Andrzej Mroczek: First of all, the attacks were different in methods and tools. There were suicide attacks, a hostage-taking in a concert hall, the use of explosives and the use of automatic weapons. In Paris, the performers knew from the beginning what they wanted to achieve. They needed a heavy toll of human lives. Taking hostages was no option, they needed victims.
Belsat: What is your assessment of the French secret services’ actions? We know that the terrorists’ black Seat was moving from one restaurant to another, and no one was detained…
Andrzej Mroczek: In the course of simultaneous attacks, their performers calculate on the effect of total surprise. Special services focus on the place where the attack happened, and sometimes there are elements of disorganisation and chaos. And it may take much time to take control of this chaos. By the time all services start to act properly, performers move further, flee or hide.
Belsat: Why are we witnessing a series of terrorist attacks now, e.g. a Russian plane over Sinai, the tragedy in Paris, attacks in Mali and Beirut? Is it the result of the coalition’s strikes against the Islamic State?
Andrzej Mroczek: Several years of relative peace in Europe have passed, and the present-day situation is similar to that after the September 11 attacks. Then the anti-terrorist coalition conducted a massive attack against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Now the Islamic State has begun to act like Al-Qaeda. It is going underground. Using its network, it is launching a campaign of terror, primarily against the states involved in anti-terrorist operations in Syria and Iraq. In the near future, a frequency of attacks is expected to increase.
Belsat: Do you share the view that Russia may be tied with the terrorist attacks in Paris in some way?
Andrzej Mroczek: I would not go so far in assumptions, but there is good reason to mouth the hypothesis saying that special services of the Russian Federation might have long supported the Islamic State. First of all, it follows from the fact that Russia’s intelligence has been very influential in Iraq, in particular, with Ba’ath party. It is to be noted that the core of Islamic State leadership come from Iraq. And there is another thing. Earlier, Russia faced a large number of terrorist attacks, but now, over the last eighteen months, there have been no serious threats (except for the situation that took place in the run-up of the Olympics in Sochi).
The interview was part of the latest issue of Belsat TV program ‘World and Us’. Watch the full version: