During a raid this week in Dagenham, UK
During a raid this week in Dagenham, UK
Hugues Moutouh*


PARIS — Just two weeks after the tragedy in Manchester, the United Kingdom has once again been hit by a terror attack. And it was carried out with a modus operandi we've become familiar with: A van rams into pedestrians in a busy area before the terrorists go on a killing spree, weapons in hand, and are eventually shot dead by police. The attack suggests it was more the doing of "rookies' than of experienced jihadists returning from the front lines in Iraq or Syria. Little material, little know-how. But a ferocious will to kill.

It's a self-evident fact, but nonetheless worth remembering: ISIS has revolutionized terrorism, in the same way that Uber and its ilk have shaken the economy. When you think about it, the process is very similar, all else being equal.

The old system was based on an oligopolistic, hyper-centralized and specialized market. Historically, terror organizations built themselves by mirroring traditional military structures. There was a clear hierarchy and their professional organization was strictly regulated. One organization would detect individuals, try and convince them that they're fighting for the right side, invest heavily to train them, equip them, and dispatch them abroad. They needed to organize networks, establish a supply chain. Terrorism was a serious business requiring time and money. Spectacular operations were complex. Thus they were rare.

ISIS has broken with the conventions of terrorism by liberalizing it entirely.

That was the 20th century. Things have changed since then. With ISIS came "Uber-terrorism." An online platform connects silent partners and service providers, all over the world. Like the founders of Uber, who created a service of private drivers-on-demand, allowing simple individuals to transport customers, ISIS has broken with the conventions of terrorism by liberalizing it entirely. Its stroke of genius was understanding that the workforce wasn't scarce but in fact overabundant, that all they needed to do to revolutionize terrorism was to bring down the barriers, ban the selection process and the cut out the middlemen.

ISIS understood that anybody with a score to settle against society was a terrorist in the making. All that's needed is to channel their hatred. For this 2.0 organization, terrorists in the making are a true "workforce," available like water from a faucet, one that can be opened and closed at will. Almost anybody can become a terrorist as long as they, at some point, want to or are made to want to. The economic model of Uberized terrorism is so perfect that wannabe terrorists are considered as individual contracting parties who are even responsible for the financing of the operation. ISIS gives a purpose to its "freelance entrepreneurs' and promises them fame. In exchange, they must bear responsibility for all the costs, including obtaining a vehicle, or weapons.

Against the revolution that this new form of terrorism represents, the targeted countries and their security forces are out of their depth. Never before did they face a danger so permanent, diffuse and generalized. In less than 10 years, the threat didn't just reach a new level. Its very nature changed. Our intelligence services, police and legal system need to constantly adapt to be able to fight against the two forms, or rather the two generations, of terrorists it faces today.

When it comes to jihadists returning from Iraq, Syria or Libya, our services have some useful experience. We are able, much of the time, to identify them, track them closely, and neutralize them. The bigger challenge are these new "freelance entrepreneurs' of terror who started appearing two or three years ago. If we're not careful, and if we keep on using the same tried and true methods against this unprecedented phenomenon, we risk sharing the same fate as the old heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1964 against the young, inexperienced but ambitious Muhammad Ali.

Time for a new security strategy

Never have the foundations of our liberal societies been put to such a severe test, at least not in peace time. Yes, we are currently at peace, despite the martial statements we're given. In war times, real war that is — like between 1914 and 1918 for instance — our ancestors had to accept the sacrifice of their individual rights and freedoms to save the country.

When a country is at war, the government establishes censorship, bans freedom of assembly and of movement, locks up dangerous opponents or dissidents, and doesn't hesitate to shoot those who collaborate with the enemy. All regimes, even democracies, give in to military discipline for the sake of the final victory. The state of emergency, like the one declared after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, though necessary and useful, is a joke compared to that.

The only anti-terrorist strategy that will give us the security we aspire to is one that will accept changing the rules of the game

We are obviously at peace. And in peace time, nothing is more sacred than individual freedoms and equality before the law. A few exceptions aside, the ruling principle is that a suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty. And that even after he's been proven guilty, he's more someone who must be reintegrated into society as quickly as possible rather than a culprit who must be isolated to protect the rest of the population. In short, in peace time, we refuse to "make an omelet by breaking eggs."

That being said, we aren't necessarily condemned to powerlessness. It's all about moderation, but more importantly about trust. The new French government currently has that trust from the public. No one suspects of it secret authoritarian leanings. And because it's liberal, we assume its commitment to the founding principles inherited from our Republican history. That's why it can, better than any other could, show boldness and resolution to defend our citizens and protect our country.

The only anti-terrorist strategy that will give us the security we aspire to is one that will accept changing the rules of the game. It will have to be based on an ambitious intelligence and anticipation policy, focusing on the early detection of potential terrorists. More means must also be allocated on the ground. Let's stop accumulating non-operational structures and put security personnel where the danger actually is. Against the Uberization of terrorism, we need to think differently. We need flexibility, innovation, and pragmatism.

*The author is a former special advisor on anti-terrorism to the French Interior Ministry.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here


• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.


South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.



In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.


Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!