The Nice attack heralds a new kind of terror — one we can’t define

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Peter Beaumont writes: After attacks such as Nice, we demand answers. A requirement to understand is necessary both to protect ourselves in the future and to deal with the consequences of horror. What was the motivation? Are there links to other individuals? How did the killer arrive at the decision to kill?

That desire to understand is hardly a new phenomenon, although modern media have made it more pervasive. Joseph Conrad, in the complex character of Verloc – the anarchist bomber, double agent and provocateur of the The Secret Agent – was an early explorer of this territory.

White people who buy guns to shoot up cinemas and schools are put into one category: “lone wolves”. And inevitably the focus is on psychological and social problems. Individuals from a Muslim background are instantly placed in another category: “terrorists”. But when it comes to attacks such as those in Nice and Orlando, the distinction is increasingly unclear.

If those two attacks – as seems very possible – were as much about the inadequacies of the attackers as about Islamic State; if Isis, or simply the fact of the attention given to such mass killings claimed by Isis, is no more than a nudge that legitimises, in the perpetrator’s mind, mass killing – then perhaps there is no meaningful distinction. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “The Nice attack heralds a new kind of terror — one we can’t define

  1. Óscar Palacios

    One name which I haven’t seen brought up around these issues is Andreas Lubitz’s, the suicidal pilot who locked himself in the cabin and crashed into the Alps along with over a hundred people on board. Although it was not considered an act of “terrorism”, as there seemed to be no political conection about it, I think it is intimately related to Orlando, Nice, etc. For the people about to be killed by any of these crazies, I don’t think there would be any solace in the political distinctions between the cases.

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