On Monday, March 19th, a gunman killed four people outside of Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in France. The four victims were a rabbi, his two children, and the daughter of the school’s director. The killings have left the entire country in a state of fear that more terrorism is to come.
The gunman is alleged to have been filming the shooting of his victims with a video camera that was attached to his chest. Officials were led to this conclusion by reviewing the school’s security cameras that had caught the entire attack on film. The school security cameras also helped officials link this killing spree to two earlier shootings of French paratroopers based on the method used by the attacker. In all three cases a gunman was spotted wearing a motorcycle helmet, killing with a .45-caliber automatic pistol, and then escaping on a motorbike. Unfortunately, this is not a lot to go on when you are trying to figure out the identity of a murderer.
Authorities have raised the nation’s terrorism alert level to “scarlet”, which is the highest level. News reports explain that this alert level “gives security forces wide powers that include the authority to close some public places like railroad stations and deploy mixed patrols of police officers and soldiers.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation and believes that the killer specifically targets his victims based on “what they represent.” Assuming that the killer is the same for all three attacks, he has attacked Jewish, black, and Arab members of the community.
What should the next step be for the prosecutor’s office to narrow down the potential suspects? Is the “scarlet” terrorism alert level enforcement enough to protect the country, or should they be doing even more? Should other neighboring countries step in to help, considering they may be next on the attackers hit list?
SOURCE: The New York Times
I applaud Al Jazeera’s decision not to show the video made by the Toulouse gunman. Editors of the news agency said that their decision was based on the overarching principle of journalism that if a piece of material lacks news value, it will not be published. As the Times article points out, Al Jazeera’s decision reflects a stark change in journalistic/editorial policy, possibly due to its recent shake-up in the management level. Al Jazeera has been viewed as simply a propaganda arm of Al Qaeda, and not a news agency of journalistic integrity, but perhaps this will no longer be the case.
More importantly however, Al Jazeera’s decision not to air the video is the right/moral decision given the hideousness of the acts themselves and the video’s potential inflammatory impact. The deplorable acts of the Toulouse gunman do not deserve any sort of sympathetic recognition, which may have occurred if the video were published. Again, I applaud Al Jazeera for resisting the pressure to publish the video.
It’s interesting that the gunman has attacked Jewish, black and Arab members of the community. It seems that he may be some sort of neo-Nazi. I think that it’s entirely appropriate for France to raise the terror threat level so that everyone is aware that this person is at large. It seems to me that French authorities should begin to narrow down their search to people connected to neo-Nazi-type groups, or other groups that have displayed disdain for minorities and non-Christian religious groups. I’m not sure it makes sense at this point to ask neighboring countries to step in, besides asking them to be aware that this person is on the loose and to extradite him/her to France should he/she be found in a neighboring country.