Last week’s horrific massacre in Paris was the latest example of an emerging foreign policy of terror from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. Coming soon after the downing of a Russian plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and multiple suicide bombings in Beirut, the murder of hundreds of innocent people outside its main area of operations in Iraq and Syria is not new. But the attacks in Paris represent the first time ISIS has successfully spread its terror beyond the Middle East and done so under direction of leaders operating within ISIS-held territory in Syria. The group has moved beyond motivated sympathizers and lone-wolf self-starters to centralized control and is now acting to sow terror worldwide. ISIS has spread virally across Muslim-majority societies from North Africa to South Asia. It has gone from establishing a sanctuary in Iraq and Syria to posing a direct and urgent threat to international peace and security.
The United States must lead in the global response to reassess strategies and redouble international efforts to defeat ISIS. Countries far beyond Iraq and Syria again face a fundamental question: Can governments keep their people safe from terror attacks while not abandoning the values that set them apart from those who commit these brutal acts?