The Democrats declined to mention ISIS (or even terrorism) one time during the 61 speeches delivered on opening day of their convention, but the “jayvee” remains active nonetheless. Armed men (believed to be two in number) shouting “Allah Akbar” stormed a church in France during morning mass today. ISIS promptly declared that its “soldiers” carried out the attack.
The church is in Normandy, near the gorgeous city Rouen — “the city of 100 steeples.” As I understand it, Normandy remains one of the few deeply religious regions of France.
According to this report, police eventually shot and killed the terrorists. But not before they slit the throat of an 84 year-old priest and took several hostages including at least two nuns. A third nun managed to escape and call for help.
The death toll may rise. At least one hostage is said to be “fighting for life.”
The circumstances of the attack raise yet more questions about the French government’s response to the threat of terrorism. One of the attackers reportedly was a convicted terrorist being monitored with an electronic tag while living with his parents. He was allowed out unsupervised between 8.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. The mass he attacked began at 9 a.m.
In addition, the church was one of a number of Catholic places of worship on a hit list discovered on an ISIS suspect in April 2015. Maybe the French government didn’t take the list seriously (but when I visited the fabulous Reims Cathedral in July 2015 at least three heavily armed soldiers were on the premises). Maybe it assumed, somehow, the list had an expiration date — just as it apparently assumed before the Nice attack earlier this month that the threat of terrorism had diminished because a soccer tournament had ended.
As I wrote after the Nice attack, is the U.S. government playing better defense than its French counterpart? Are we any less naive? There’s room for doubt.