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Opinion
Thérèse Margolis
Thérèse Margolis The Ides of March Extremist violence is no longer confined by geographic parameters or ethnic divisions
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Armed terrorists stormed three hotels on the Ivory Coast beach resort city of Grand-Bassam Sunday, killing at least 18 people, including five European tourists.

The Islamic Maghreb branch of al-Qaida wasted no time in taking responsibility for the heinous act.

Meanwhile in Turkey, a car bomb explosion in a busy downtown neighborhood in Ankara that same day led to the death of at least 34 civilians and left more than 125 people wounded.

That blast came less than a month after a similar suicide car bomber killed dozens of military personnel and civilians just a few blocks away.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blamed Iraqi Kurdish extremists for both attacks, although the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ party (HDP) has officially denounced the bombings.

Whoever is to blame for the recent uptick in terrorist acts across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even Europe, one thing is certain: The senseless slaughter of innocent lives and the unspeakable depravity of institutionalized ruthlessness which has become the hallmark of jihadist groups like the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), al-Qaida and Boko Haram are now spiraling into an increasingly perverse helix of bloodshed, and what we have witnessed so far is only a harbinger of more violence to come.

These groups are feverously competing among themselves to win the dubious title of the most reviled organization on Earth, parading their acts of inhumanity as a badge of honor for all to see, taunting the civilized world with their ever-more repugnant cruelty.

And there is no denying that brutality has strategic psychological and ideological effects.

So far, their repulsive campaign to shock and intimidate the world has been effective in accomplishing their objectives.

By flooding social media with the grisly images of their bombings, rapes, decapitations, immolations and crucifixions, these groups send a powerful message that they will stop at nothing to impose their political will without even a nod to democratic processes.

The duly recorded photographs and videotapes posted on internet websites not only instill terror in the hearts of those they seek to repress, but also serve as a recruitment tool for more volunteers to join in the slaughter.

Cruelty communicates fearlessness, and fearlessness, coupled with battlefield successes, are enticing a mounting army of dismayed and demoralized souls from around the globe who are only too eager to join in the barbarity as terrorist foot soldiers.

A mother of one of the victims of Sunday's suicide bomb attack mourns next to her daughter's coffin during a funeral ceremony in Ankara, Turkey March 15, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas

A mother of one of the victims of Sunday’s suicide bomb attack mourns next to her daughter’s coffin during a funeral ceremony in Ankara, Turkey March 15, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas

These jihadist organizations have set a new benchmark for absolute butchery and evil as they show no compunction about killing and torturing innocent civilians, women and children.

Their publicized media and internet massacres accomplish their grisly goal in that they get viewed, trigger a response, instill fear, and, ultimately, up the terrorist groups’ despicability ratings.

Extremist violence is no longer confined by geographic parameters or ethnic divisions.

Regional terrorist groups are expanding their collaboration and extending their reach by stitching together their odious ambitions to sow their deadly mayhem, shift-shaping once-local jihadists into pan-national menaces.

The terrorist attacks in Grand-Bassam and Ankara, like those in Mogadishu, Islamabad, Timbuktu, Jerusalem, Paris and so many other locations around the world, are a threat to all humanity.

The civilized world may well be divided on many fronts – political, social and economic – but on the pure, unadulterated depravity of extremism, it must take a united stance.

Thérèse Margolis can be contacted at therese.margolis@gmail.com.

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