Egypt plane crash, Paris attacks: What is ISIS capable of?

Comparisons between the two attacks have brought to the fore questions about the impact they have had on the countries involved

Sonia Farid
Sonia Farid - Special to Al Arabiya News
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and the Russian plane that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Comparisons between the two attacks have brought to the fore questions about the impact they have had on the countries involved, as well as the reactions of the international community.

Journalist Islam Abul Ezz said ISIS carried out the attacks to make up for its losses in Syria and Iraq as a result of Russian and U.S. strikes. “The group started looking for other places for their operations to refute claims that the damages it sustained in Syria and Iraq constitute the beginning of the end, and therefore resorted to successive attacks in unexpected places like Egypt and France in addition to Beirut,” he wrote. Abul Ezz added that ISIS is also getting back at countries that have been fighting it, such as Egypt, Russia and France.

Journalist Amer al-Sabaila said both the Sinai crash and the Paris attacks indicate that ISIS is initiating a new stage in its operations. “This expands the range of the group’s activities in a scary manner since this means that it can strike in any city where it is thought to have no presence at all,” he wrote. “No one is safe now.”

Journalist Mohamed Abdel Salam accused the international community of double standards when dealing with the two incidents. “The world did not treat Egypt like it treated France despite the fact that they are both victims of terrorism,” he wrote, adding that while world powers totally supported France, Egypt was presented as the culprit rather than the victim. “No airlines were stopped from flying to France and no country evacuated its citizens from Paris as was the case in Egypt.”

Political analyst Saeid al-Lawendi said the Paris attacks highlighted the injustice done to Egypt when focusing on the shortcomings of its security system. “Now, Egypt doesn’t need to defend itself and convince the world that terrorism can target any place and that nowhere in the world is safe no matter how secure it might seem,” he said. “ISIS is capable of gunning down a plane in Sinai in the same way it can target a stadium in Paris. The same applies to airports and all vital and public facilities.”

Ambassador and former Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Haridi disagrees that Egypt’s position will be better after the Paris attacks: “The West didn’t change its view on the Russian plane crash following the Paris attacks, since its discourse on Egypt remained focused on the possible mistakes committed by Egyptian security, while showing full support for France in fighting terrorism.”

Analyst Mohamed Abdel Rahman said the fact that ISIS carried out the two attacks did not really make them similar: “Airports are supposed to be the world’s most secured places and security measures in airports are always at their highest, so a bomb planted on a plane via an airport is a serious security drawback,” he wrote. “The places targeted in Paris were not government facilities, and as for the stadium, terrorists could not reach it because of security precautions.”

That is why, Abdel Rahman adds, it seemed normal for travel restrictions to be applied to Egypt and not France. “It is also important to keep into consideration that Russians died on Egyptian soil, so this involves a third party, while this is not the case with France, where French civilians died in the French capital. It was, therefore, normal that the world sympathized with Russia and France, while Egypt took the blame.”

While saying the two attacks prove that terrorism is expanding, journalist Sawsan al-Abtah adds that the problem extends further: “Are those terrorist attacks carried out for a single entity or several ones? Is ISIS working for itself only? Or are its cluster networks and lone-wolves being used by different, possibly conflicting, entities?”

Abtah said the magnitude of both incidents necessitated a thorough investigation into the movements of ISIS members: “It’s important to know, for example, how they got the weapons they used, how they planned, and how come they weren’t intercepted.”

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