Why Terrorists Attack Us… and Why They Don’t

Bob McCaffrey

The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris have world leaders calling the mass killings senseless and barbaric. The French president said the attacks are an act of war, and they immediately (again) started bombing ISIS targets in the Middle East. ISIS will say with all the drone strikes by France and the coalition partners that have killed many members of ISIS including innocent people – they already have been at war with the West.


Call it what you want, self-defense or revenge for the slaughter in Paris, let’s just not say we are surprised about the terrorist attacks in the first place. That’s because the fascinating thing about ISIS and groups like them, is they will tell you exactly why they carry out their terrorist attacks. It is widely believed that France was probably attacked because they are part of the coalition of countries that are bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Russian civilian plane recently bombed in midair over Egypt probably also had a similar motive by ISIS.


Victims in Paris said they heard the ISIS terrorists yell during the shootings that this attack is to avenge the killings of their brothers and sisters in Syria. The French and American Presidents leaders say ISIS killed innocent people in Paris. But ISIS members see it the other way. ISIS says that French and American citizens are legitimate targets because they support their governments and their military engagements in primarily Muslim countries.


Whenever there is any type of violence, even on the streets of America, we must look beyond the simple act in order to determine the underlying cause. What could make a person strap on a suicide vest and blow themselves up? What could make a person shoot into a restaurant, knowing that they would most likely be killed themselves by police? What makes terrorists so frustrated and angry that they would risk their own lives to carry out such brazen attacks?


For the answer, look no further than what these terrorists are constantly warning us. As Osama bin Laden once said, as you kill you shall be killed. As the old saying goes, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. When OBL was alive, many Muslims viewed him in the same way as Americans revere Abraham Lincoln. OBL stood up to the Americans, called us the great Satan, and punched the world’s bully right in the nose on 9/11 as if to say, let’s see how you like it when your own people die on your soil.


Terrorists don’t attack us because of our liberal lifestyles and freedoms we enjoy in Western countries where women in democracies can go to school, vote in elections, hold political office, work outside the home without permission from their husbands, and even wear bikinis on the beach or sing sexy songs on video. Terrorists may not like our way of life, but that is not why they attack us.


How do I know this? Because ISIS and al Qaeda tell us over and over again that these are the following reasons why they attack us:

  • Our continued military presence on the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Indiscriminant drone strikes that kill their women and children.
  • Supporting Middle Eastern dictators who violate their own citizen’s human and civil rights.
  • Taking their cheap OPEC oil without much money going back to help Muslim countries.
  • Our unbending support of Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian people.


We are often told to use empathy when dealing with other people. But trying to see things from another person’s perspective can be difficult when we naturally have our own self interest. But just ask yourself, how would you feel if Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran Iraq, Libya, or Syria, invaded the United States, and killed our families with drone strikes, and set up a dictatorship government that violated our democratic rights?


President John Adams once said about our foreign policy, “don’t go abroad seeking dragons to slay.” Should we get involved in a foreign country’s internal affairs with military force? What would you do if a foreign government invaded our country and started dropping bombs? Would you become so desperate to evict the invaders as to seek revenge with an assault rifle and explosives strapped to your body in order to defend your family and homeland? Ask yourself, would also you become a terrorist?

Bob McCaffrey