Another casualty in the war against jihadism

Robert Spencer

An 84-year-old Catholic priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, was beheaded Tuesday morning while celebrating Mass at his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du Rouvray in Normandy.

Reports indicated that his attackers were wearing Islamic clothing while shouting “Daesh” — i.e., “Islamic State” — and “Allahu akbar.” The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the murder, and it was further revealed that the church where the attack took place was on a jihadi hit-list of Catholic churches.

In reporting on all this, the UK’s Telegraph declared: “The attackers’ motives are unknown.”

Can you imagine a reporter in Warsaw on September 1, 1939, writing that German soldiers were coming across the border in large numbers and killing Polish soldiers, and authorities were insisting that there was no necessary relationship between these men and the German government, and that they would be opening criminal investigations of each soldier in order to try to determine his motive?

As long as Western authorities continue their refusal to acknowledge the motivating ideology of the enemy, they will remain completely unable to deal with it adequately.

French President Francois Hollande reiterated after the beheading of Hamel that France was at war with ISIS, but he continues to behave as if it isn’t: What nation at war allows the enemy ideology to proliferate within its borders, and invites in thousands more people among whom are certain to be an unknown number of enemy combatants?

Hollande persists in the same myopia that afflicts leaders in all Western countries: They refuse to acknowledge in any meaningful way that the West is really at war. Each jihad terror attack is carried out by people who hope to weaken and ultimately bring down the free world, so that they can impose Islamic governments and convert the West. Yet each jihad terror attack is treated as if it were a separate, discrete event, for which the motive must be established, and an investigation carried out, as if it were a criminal act pure and simple.

That’s no way to win a war.

And it gets worse. One of the jihadis who beheaded Hamel had tried to go to Syria to join ISIS, but had been stopped by French police. In light of the well-founded suspicion that Muslims who want to wage jihad in Syria but are prevented from doing so may decide to wage jihad at home, he wore an ankle bracelet to track his movements. It wasn’t enough — as it turned out, it was turned off for several hours every day, a humanitarian gesture that cost the life of Hamel and demonstrated the abject failure of contemporary approaches to the jihad terror threat.

That failure begun with the general refusal to acknowledge and confront the enemy’s motivating ideology, and including the fact that there are (thanks to Europe’s immigration and refugee policies) so many jihadis in Europe now that are known ISIS sympathizers wearing ankle bracelets who cannot be prevented from beheading priests in broad daylight during morning Mass.

The Rev. Jacques Hamel is a casualty in wartime. Yet the aftermath of his death only demonstrates anew that while this is a war, only one side is fighting it as such. Until that changes, the only guarantee is that there will be many more casualties like Hamel.

Robert Spencer, author of “The Complete Infidel’s Guide to ISIS,” is director of Jihad Watch.