Dartmouth’s Daniel Benjamin on fallout of Paris terror attacks


January 9, 2015
Daniel Benjamin, director of Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding and the State Department’s former counterterrorism chief, is available to comment on the implications of the Paris terrorism attacks, including whether the attacks open a new phase in the fight against global terrorism.
“French authorities have killed the perpetrators of the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket, but key questions raised by the attacks will take time to answer,” he says. “Who directed the attack on Charlie Hebdo — was it al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or was this a case of extremists acquiring their skills abroad but acting on their own initiative? If it was AQAP, does this signify a new departure for a group that was heavily focused on striking the US? Does it suggest a new desire for tactical innovation since armed assault was not in the jihadist repertoire for the most part in attacks in the West? Is this a sign of a new and more lethal stage of competition between AQAP and ISIS for preeminence in the jihadist movement?
“Whether that’s the case or even if this was really more of a homegrown attack by individuals radicalized in France, there is also an array of key questions regarding growing radicalization among Europe’s Muslim communities and how that might have been stoked by the ‘achievements’ of ISIS in terms of capturing and holding territory. Those developments have clearly caught the imagination of some young extremists in Europe, and that in turn could increase the threat level significantly, posing a real challenge for law enforcement and intelligence on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Benjamin is available to comment at Daniel.Benjamin@dartmouth.edu