“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Cote d'Ivoire in the Grand Bassam,” U.S. Department of State Spokesman John Kirby said of the attack which killed 16 people in the beach town of Grand Bassam. “We send our thoughts and prayers to all affected by this senseless violence.”
The six gunmen were killed by security forces.
Firstly, violent loss of life anywhere in the world is tragic and matters on a human level. But terrorist attacks like this one have more direct political and security consequences for Americans as well as the human tragedy.
So what does this latest terrorist atrocity mean for you?
The group which carried out the attacks, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), previously attacked hotels in Mali and Burkina Faso.
It is trying to position itself to show its ability to hit targets internationally, in an attempt to strengthen itself against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. An ability to carry out high-profile international terrorist attacks is one of the metrics by which jihadis judge the potency of a group, which helps it in further recruitment. Four of those killed in the terrorist attack were Westerners, including a French and German national, according to the BBC. This will be useful to AQIM in showing it can hit the West.
Problems of violent Islamist movements creating unrest and seizing territory in parts of Africa and the Middle East are extremely detrimental to short-term and long-term American interests.
In the short term, countries like Ivory Coast are developing countries which are seeking to trade more with the West. Attacks like this one are a setback to their economy and therefore detrimental to international trade as a whole.
In the long term, the growth of Islamist and jihadist groups like AQIM must be checked at some point, because they ultimately seek to take over the world. Every victory they gain anywhere in the world is a loss to America because it strengthens their movement.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter which specific group carried out the attack. Attacks will continue across the world until the Islamist ideology is defeated.
The defeat of any given terrorist group militarily will not be enough to halt the violence until the ideology that fuels the growth of these movements is defeated.