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Saturday, November 14

Connection between the Paris terror attack and a murder in New Zealand 60 years ago

One of the gunmen at Bataclan reportedly shouted: "It's for Syria" and "Allahu Akbar!"

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Paris, which as of the latest reporting has claimed 127 lives and wounded 200.  


The year was 1994. The newspaper was left on an empty seat in a subway car in Washington, D.C. It was open and folded to a review of a film, Heavenly Creatures. I took the seat and idly glanced at the review, then began reading with such absorption that I might have missed my stop if the trip had been shorter.

Neither the film, which was based on a historical incident, nor the Wikipedia article about the incident, fully explain what the author of the review did: the premeditated murder committed by two teenage girls in New Zealand in 1954, in which they took turns bludgeoning the mother of one of the girls, was not actually motivated by the girls' fear of their being forcibly separated.

It was that the looming separation, arranged by the families of the girls, threatened the girls' shared belief that the incredibly elaborate, richly detailed secret fantasy world they'd created was real, and that in the world they were all-powerful rulers. They saw the mother as an invading force destroying their kingdom and all its peoples, and so they executed her without remorse, in the way a soldier would kill an enemy combatant.

In my post about the terrorist attack in Paris I mentioned it was in the mode of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, which was a textbook case of a military swarm attack. But there the similarity between the attacks ends.

The Mumbai attack, planned and overseen by a terrorist group associated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, was based in a long-running strategy to destabilize India through terror tactics. The motives for the murder in New Zealand and the Paris attack are so close a match, the only notable difference is that the shared belief in one fantasy kingdom was secret, and in the other openly professed by many thousands of Muslims. 

Otherwise it was the same story transplanted to a purely military context. The attack in Paris was lodged in a pathological reaction to the Russian destruction in Syria of an elaborate shared fantasy of a new caliphate.  

The fantasy was supported only by the fact that the United States and other Western governments had always fought the caliphate believers with one hand tied behind their backs.

Within a month the Russians, who fight in Syria with both hands free, had destroyed so much of the terror groups' war machine that now they've had to replace bombing sorties with reconnaissance flights until they scare up more materiel to target.

Within six weeks a conflict that had dragged on more than four years is over but for the mop-up phase. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said at a press conference on November 11, “Since the beginning of Russian operations, according to UN structures, more than one million people have returned to their homes in Syria.”

All it ever took was the will by the Western powers to use their hi-tech flying machines to capacity. But this revelation is devastating to people who'd been given every reason by the powers to believe they had the military capacity to set a medieval rule atop the world.

Yet the Parker-Hulme murder case and the slaughter in the Bataclan theater warn that human nature is after all a force of nature, and that inattention to this fact when human nature is badly thwarted can be as deadly as standing under a tree in a lightning storm.    

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