J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Paris Terror Attack: Charlie Hebdo, on the Smithsonian Channel

At the time, it seemed as if the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t wake up the world to the profound threat of terrorism nothing would—but as usual, it didn’t. However, the cost of the Western world burying its head in the sand would become tragically clear during the coordinated Mumbai-style attacks in Paris this November. In fact, the January 2015 murders and hostage crisis are explicitly identified as forerunners of the larger atrocities to come in the special report, Paris Terror Attack: Charlie Hebdo, which air this Monday on the Smithsonian Channel.

Lest we forget, the terrorists targeted Charlie Hebdo not out of frustration with unemployment, but because their Islamist ideology could not abide a few jokes at the old prophet’s expense. You can hear them scream precisely that during their murderous assault. PTA includes most of the highly disturbing closed circuit camera footage of their crimes, but it cuts away at the fatal moment when the vicious Kouachi brothers shoot Muslim Parisian policeman Ahmed Merabet point blank in the head.

There are a lot of inconvenient truths in PTA, like the fact the Kouachis and their former prison mate Amedy Coulibaly were native born French. Also, no doubts should remain as to why Coulibaly chose to take the patrons of a kosher Hypercacher supermarket hostage. According to one survivor, he tellingly told her: “you Jews love life, but we Muslims prefer death.” Details like that have been grossly under-reported, but PTA duly includes them.

American coverage of the Hebdo and Hypercacher incidents were pretty sketchy at the time, because the media is always uncomfortable reporting Islamist terrorism. As a result, the special’s tick-tock chain of events is quite illuminating. There is also a good faith attempt to present Merabet’s grieving parents as the voice of moderate Islam. Yet, when they condemn extremists of all faiths, we cannot help thinking their beloved son was not killed by radical Unitarians.

Regardless, PTA’s underlying thesis arguing the Charlie Hebdo attack was an unheeded warning of greater terrorism to come is totally on-point and tough to argue against. By chronicling the horrific events, step-by-step, it gives us another chance to come to grips with Islamist terror, but we will probably ignore it again. Recommended for anyone who wants to better understand issues of terrorism and homeland security, Paris Terror Attack: Charlie Hebdo premieres this Monday (1/4) on the Smithsonian Channel. Happy New Year.

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