Aisha Ahmad is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, specializing in jihadist financing.
Aisha Ahmad, Globe & Mail - In the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Paris, we have learned that the organizers were “homegrown terrorists” with Islamic State links. They were not refugees. And yet, officials across Europe and the United States have called for a moratorium on refugee flows from Syria, claiming that migrants pose a security threat.
For IS, the attack was not just about killing 130 people; it was a chess move in its global game, aimed at provoking exactly this reaction. But those of us who have studied jihadist extremists for years are not fooled. We have analyzed their internal messages in every language, tracked their financial resources, and dissected their strategies across the world. This move was predictable. We have known for several months that IS has been trying to seal European borders and incite hostilities against refugees as part of its broader strategy.
How we react to the Paris attack is therefore critical. It will not only determine the fate of the refugees, but will also tip the balance of power on the battlefield. If we take the bait, we will enrich and empower IS even further. But if we respond strategically, we have the ability to undercut the financial base of IS, disrupt its recruitment, and prove that its toxic ideology holds no weight. Saving the refugees is not just a moral issue; it is an inseparable part of the strategic plan to destroy IS.
The fact is that the refugee crisis hurts IS badly. The compassionate response of many Western nations toward refugees undercuts the so-called caliphate in three key ways: money, men and messaging.