January 2015: 12 dead in Paris, France
November 2015: 130 dead in Paris, France
December 2015: 14 dead in San Bernadino, California
January 2016: 13 dead in Istanbul, Turkey
March 2016: 5 dead in Istanbul, Turkey
March 2016: 31 dead in Brussels, Belgium
And those are just attacks in the West. The list goes on indefinitely if it includes terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Africa, and beyond. Bombings in Lebanon receive little coverage, slaughters in Iraq are attributed to sectarian violence, and strife between Israel and Palestine is reported as an election issue, not a humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, rampant killings by Boko Haram are overlooked because the world chooses to ignore Africa.
In Belgium, there is a community of young, disenfranchised Arab men who have not assimilated into European society. They live in low-income communities and are angry and resentful of the status quo. These weak-minded individuals are easy prey for radical clerics who promise salvation if they will go to the Middle East and fight for the caliphate. Some of these men who were petty criminals in Belgium return from Syria as jihadi fighters, even more convinced than ever that they are carrying out a higher calling. By then it is too late. There is no amount of intelligence or international coordination that can thwart their plots. It no longer becomes a matter of if but a matter of when and where there will be devastation. Meanwhile, the world watches in horror as more innocent people are killed.
At some point, there has to be an honest evaluation for how to end such bloodshed not only in the West but also throughout the world. At some point, the civilized world has to understand the basis of radicalization instead of simply believing it to be a war of good versus evil. Affiliating killers as members of a particular group does not explain the motivations of the actual actors involved. Designating killings as a terrorist attack does not make the tragedy more understandable or future ones more preventable. At some point the world must ask why there are men on the battlefield. Only after that question is answered can extreme ideology be defeated.