Manchester Bombing Is Europe's 13th Terrorist Attack Since 2015 : Parallels The post-concert bombing is the 13th terrorist attack in Western Europe in a little over two years. This coincides with the rise of the Islamic State, which has been linked to most all the attacks.

Manchester Bombing Is Europe's 13th Terrorist Attack Since 2015

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So what can we learn from the larger pattern of ISIS-claimed attacks in recent months and years? We're going to put that question to NPR's national security correspondent Greg Myre, who's in our studios. Hi, Greg.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What do you see when you study multiple attacks at once?

MYRE: Well, just the way that this is baked into the ISIS ideology - they really came to prominence in 2014. The U.S. then started its air campaign, and then the key moment was in January, 2015, the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine. Since that point, until this - 'til Monday, 13 separate deadly terrorist attacks in Western European cities...


MYRE: ...London, Paris, Berlin, Nice, Stockholm, Copenhagen - it's an absolute fundamental part of the ISIS ideology.

INSKEEP: But help me out here, Greg, because you note that number, which is startling - 13 different attacks. People are bombed. People are killed, city after city. But the survivors go on. Life goes on. It seems to me the same as it was when European cities were being bombed far more severely in World War II. People still went on. What does ISIS get out of those 13 attacks?

MYRE: Well, it shows that it's relevant, that it's powerful. It's not just a group fighting for this core territory and wanting to create its own state in the Middle East, that it has a presence in Europe. It can hit in Europe. It can recruit in Europe. It can inspire people to act on their own in Europe. So this may be self-defeating in the sense that it is getting more powerful enemies for ISIS. More Western countries are willing to participate in different ways in the battle. But it is - as I said, it's very, very central to their ideology. And I spoke with Rita Katz. She's the head of the SITE Intelligence Group, which constantly monitors ISIS on social media, and here's how she described it.

RITA KATZ: ISIS is making sure to import the war that they're facing in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan to the West.

INSKEEP: They want to be on the offensive I guess is the way that they would phrase that. They're trying to do that through their followers, who are in Europe. A lot these people are citizens of the countries involved. What is the message they're sending to their followers?

MYRE: Well, their message is we can fight back in a lot of ways, and we want to keep growing and reaching out to more people. One of their great strengths is social media, which allows them to - has allowed them to grow. But it also allows you to follow them quite closely. And Katz noted something very interesting. When ISIS carries out an attack, it releases a statement directly from the group. When there's a lone wolf attack, it won't comment usually, and it allows its 'Amaq News Agency to do it. And it's - 'Amaq is a propaganda arm of ISIS, but they make this distinction. And for her, that allows - that's this clear pattern that she's seen. And so she thinks it's very consistent in the way it releases information. That's why she thinks this attack on Monday was directly by ISIS. And here's how she describes the way that the group deals with information.

KATZ: We have not been able to find, like, a real lie from ISIS. Despite the fact that they are a terrorist organization, they want to provide their followers and supporters authentic information.

INSKEEP: Greg Myre, let me ask one other thing because the United States is trying harder to get troops into Raqqa - allied troops into Raqqa, which is the ISIS capital in northern Syria. If Raqqa's taken, if ISIS territory is taken, does it still have the ability to lash out in other countries?

MYRE: The assumption is yeah. So we're seeing these two conflicting patterns. On the battlefields of the Middle East, ISIS territory is shrinking. It has less power. It's being squeezed in many ways, but it still shows an ability to carry out attacks in Europe. And all the indications are it's going to press ahead with that attempt.

INSKEEP: OK, Greg, thanks very much as always.

MYRE: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre this morning.

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