Paris terror attacks: US, world must adapt to new face of terror, get serious about security

The Paris massacre is just another example of the new normal in the West. It’s radical Muslim extremists attacking civilians — either randomly or in revenge for alleged insults to Islam — all in the name of religion.

A lone gunman opened fire in the Canadian Parliament. A fanatic self-styled radical imam gunned downed people in an Australian coffee shop. A recent Muslim convert gunned down and beheaded co-workers in Oklahoma.

Now initial reports indicate that two or three black-hooded terrorists stormed a Paris satirical publication in an organized attack and massacred over a dozen journalists. The magazine had published a cartoon making fun of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The terrorists shouted, “The Prophet has been avenged.”

Our leaders and law enforcement officials need to adapt and protect us from the new wave of radical Islamist jihadists who want to wage war against all of Western society.

This is the new face of terrorism. It has evolved from a decade ago, when Al Qaeda carefully recruited, trained and organized dozens of terrorists to carry out large-scale blockbuster attacks on the scale of September 11, the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the 2005 London bus bombings.

We’ve gotten good at preventing those attacks by shutting down international terrorist financing, tracking large operations, decapitating senior Al Qaeda leadership and, of course, killing Usama bin Laden.

So terrorists have adapted. Al Qaeda and ISIS and other Islamist radical brethren have taken to social media to recruit and inflame individuals to take things into their own hands and attack where they can. They’ve also recruited Westerners to travel to Iraq and Syria and fight for Islamic jihad, and then return home to carry on the fight as experienced soldiers.

They’ve adapted. We need to as well. We need to take a different approach to fighting terrorism than the one-size-fits-all, politically correct policy we have had in place for over a decade.

First, we should call this what it is. It is not “workplace violence.” It is not the one-off crazy person. It is Islamist extremists who have been radicalized to kill in the name of religion.

Our leaders are worried about offending people’s feelings, so they refuse to link these escalating series of attacks to a religion. But some in the Muslim world are now stepping forward to condemn the violence. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made a groundbreaking speech on New Year’s Day in which he called out his country’s religious leaders. He said they were trapped in a mindset of their own creation. Their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law has led to violent jihad. If they are willing to acknowledge there is a problem, we should too.

Second, stop trying to look at 100 percent of our population and giving everyone equal scrutiny. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it takes our finite resources and spreads them too thinly. Stop treating granny from Grand Rapids on her way to Disney World with the grandkids the same as a young man who spends his time on jihadist websites and posts pictures of himself wearing a black ski mask in front of an ISIS flag. Let’s shake off our political correctness and come to our senses. This isn’t racial profiling; it’s terrorist profiling.

Finally, take advantage of the technologies that didn’t exist a few years ago, and use them to separate out the very small percentage of people who present the threat. After all of these attacks — in Canada, in Australia, in Oklahoma — we piece together the clues and realize the terrorists showed a lot of warning signs. We should put our new technologies to work to identify these people before they kill, and give them extra attention.

Data mining companies like Palantir have developed software that can track terrorists in Afghanistan and help Marines identify roadside bombs. That technology can be adapted to track potential terrorists here in the West. It works by combing through multiple databases, identifying anomalies and pulling together seemingly disparate pieces of suspicious behavior to identify someone whom law enforcement should take a second look at. There are other companies, like Guidewave, and Wynyard Group which can comb through social media and flag people who merit a closer psychological profile.

Watching attacks like the one on Wednesday in Paris has many of us feeling helpless in the face of this new wave of terrorism. Attacks like a hatchet-wielding man on the New York subway and the Fort Hood shooter seem to come out of nowhere and, without warning, threaten us all.

We are trained to take precautions in dark alleyways and to lock our doors at night. We know how to take care in the normal course of our lives. What we can’t take precautions against is the random attack, or violent extremists who take offense at seemingly innocuous incidents and use them to justify murder.

That’s why our leaders and law enforcement officials need to adapt and protect us from the new wave of radical Islamist jihadists who want to wage war against all of Western society. Stop pussyfooting around with the security of Americans.

Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of’s “DefCon 3.” She served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.