Have we become desensitised to terror? Do our short memories weaken us?
Which of the atrocities committed by Islamic extremists since the Twin Towers collapsed in front of our eyes live on television on the 11th September 2001, as if we were watching a Hollywood disaster movie like Independence Day or Mars Attack, do we remember?
Not many, I venture. Most are already lost to history. I have had to look back hard to remind myself.
Here, listing just the attacks on the West, its allies or Russia, or directed at westerners, is what I have found. There may be more I have missed. It is long I warn you:
- October 2002, Bali bombings – 202 people killed, 240 injured. Members of violent Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah convicted
- October 2002, Moscow theatre hostage crisis – 170 dead and 700 injured. Armed Chechens allied to the Islamist separatist movement in Chechnya responsible
- May 2003, Chechnya suicide bombing – 59 dead and 200 injured. Carried out by the Islamist group Caucasus Emirate
- November 2003, Istanbul four truck bombs – 57 dead and 700 injured. Perpetrators linked to al-Qaeda
- February 2004, Moscow Metro bomb – 41 dead and 100 injured. Carried out by an Islamist-linked Chechen group
- March 2004, Istanbul gun and bomb attack – one killed, several injured. Carried out by a group affiliated to al-Qaeda.
- March 2004, Madrid train bombings – 191 killed and 1,800 wounded. Carried out by a terrorist cell affiliated to al-Qaeda.
- August 2004, Moscow Metro bombing – 10 killed and 50 injured. Perpetrators from an Islamic militant group
- September 2004, Russia, Beslan School hostage crisis – 385 killed, including 186 children. Carried out by Islamic terrorists
- September 2004, Jakarta, Australian Embassy car bombing – 9 killed and 150 injured. Carried out by Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah.
- July 2005, London, multiple bombings on the London transport network – 53 people killed and 700 injured. Perpetrators linked to al-Qaeda
January 2007 marked the start of the American military ‘surge’ in Iraq
- April 2007, Turkey, Zirve Publishing House massacre – 3 people killed by Islamic assailants
- June 2007, Glasgow International Airport car bomb – 5 injured. Carried out by Islamic extremists
- June 2009, Little Rock, Arkansas shooting – obe killed and one injured. Perpetrator linked to al-Qaeda
- November 2009, Fort Hood, Texas shooting – 13 killed and 33 injured. Carried out by a US Army Major motivated by jihadism
- March 2010, Moscow Metro bombings – 40 killed and 100 injured. Islamic separatists claimed responsibility
- December 2010, Stockholm bombing – 2 injured. Perpetrator held fundamentalist Islamic views
January 2011, President Obama declared that the US military would depart Iraq.
- January 2011, Russia Domodedovo International Airport bombing – 37 killed, 173 injured. Carried out by Islamic separatists
- March 2011, Frankfurt Airport shooting – 2 killed and 2 injured. Perpetrator held fundamentalist Islamic views.
- March 2012, France, Toulouse and Montauban shootings – 7 killed and 5 injured. Perpetrator held extreme Islamist views
- May 2012, Russia, Dagestan attack – 14 killed and 130 injured. Carried out by Islamic group Caucasus Emirate
- September 2012, Libya, US Embassy in Benghazi – US Ambassador and three others killed, 11 injured. Carried out by al-Qaeda
- April 2013, USA, Boston marathon bombing – 3 killed and 183 injured. Brothers responsible held extreme Islamist views
- May 2013, Turkey, Reyhanlı bombings – 52 killed and 140 injured. Perpetrators linked to Islamic extremism
- May 2013, Woolwich, London British soldier Lee Rigby murdered. Attackers, Islamist sympathisers
- May 2013, Paris, a French soldier attacked and wounded by an Islamic extremist
- September 2013, Afghanistan, US consulate in Herat attacked – 2 killed, 20 injured. Carried out by the Taliban
- May 2014, Belgium, Jewish Museum shooting – 4 killed. Perpetrator had extreme Islamic beliefs
- September 2014, Melbourne, Australia – two police officers stabbed by an Afghan Australian linked to Isil
- October 2014, Russia, Grozny bombing – 5 killed and 12 injured. Carried out by the Islamic group Caucasus Emirate
- October 2014, Canada attack – one Canadian soldier killed and one injured by an Isil-inspired attacker
- October 2014, Canada, Shooting at Ottawa parliament. One killed and 3 injured
- October 2014, New York hatchet attack – four police officers attacked and injured. Lone attacker, Zale H. Thomson, also known as Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik
- December 2014, Russia, Grozny attack – 26 killed, including 11 jihadists from the Caucasus Emirate
- December 2014, Australia, Sydney café siege – 3 killed and 4 injured. Lone gunman displayed an Isil flag during the siege
- December 2014, France, Joué-lès-Tours stabbing – 3 injured. Lone attacker shouted Allahu Akbar and was inspired by Isil
- December 2014, France, Dijon car ramming -11 injured. The perpetrator had extreme Islamist views
- January 2015, Paris, France (Charlie Hebdo) – 17 killed and 22 injured. Three attackers linked to al-Qaeda
- February 2015, Denmark, Copenhagen café and synagogue shooting – 2 killed and 5 injured. The perpetrator was inspired by Isil
- March 2015, Tunisia, Bardo Museum shooting – 21 killed (mainly Western tourists) and 50 injured. Attack carried out by militants linked to al-Qaeda
- May 2015, USA, Texas Muhammed cartoon shooting – one injured. Isil claimed responsibility
- June 2015, Turkey, Diyarbakir, twin bombing at a People’s Democratic Party (HDP) rally – 4 killed and 100 injured. Perpetrators linked to Isil
- June 2015, France, Lyons beheading – one killed and 11 injured. Perpetrator linked to Isil
- June 2015, Tunisia, Sousse gun attack – 38 killed (30 British). Perpetrator linked to an Islamic extremist group
- July 2015, Turkey, Suruc bombing – 33 killed and 104 injured. Perpetrators linked to Isil
- August 2015, France, Thalys, TGV train attack – 5 injured. Perpetrator had extreme Islamist views
- September 2015, Germany, Berlin, knife attack – one injured. Perpetrator an Islamist of Iraqi descent
- October 2015, Turkey, Ankara bombings – 95 killed and 245 injured. Perpetrators linked to Isil
- October 2015, Egypt, Russian passenger jet bombing – 224 killed. Isil claimed responsibility
- November 2015, France, Paris – seven gun attacks, 129 killed, hundreds injured. Perpetrators linked to Isil
What struck me, as I compiled this, is how as each horror succeeded the last, the last was forgotten. I thought how very quickly the images of the rampaging lone gunman on the Tunisian beach at Sousse killing those poor British holidaymakers have receded from our minds. Yet it was only in June this year.
Have we become a victim cult, that blindly follows through the ‘necessary’ stages of post-tragedy gesture politics and emoting, which, like an addiction, speeds up with each new fix?
Nor is it likely that the final ‘high’ of the now predictable, if not compulsory, public displays of emoting will have much effect on ISIL one way or another as former professional footballer, Ian Wright observed to Mishal Husain’s chagrin yesterday morning on the Today programme. It’s hardly terrifying. Can you imagine Churchill or Mrs Thatcher linking arms with any one to say Je suis Britain, in response to an attack on their country?
This may sound unfair now President Hollande is finally saying (though still not doing) the right things. But post-atrocity ritualising will not stop the tragedy in Paris of this last weekend from being eclipsed by another. Worse, it encourages us to walk blindly towards our slaughter.
This is the danger of ‘getting off’ on an atrocity that politicians and people alike need to be alert to. It will not stop Paris from becoming just another item on the long list above – this annal of the history of the surrender of the West to terrorism.