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A Discussion On The Motivations Behind The Paris Terror Attacks

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France announced Monday that it is mobilizing 10,000 troops to protect so-called sensitive sites, including the country's 700 Jewish schools, after last week's attacks that left 20 people dead.

Twelve staffers at Charlie Hebdo died Wednesday in an attack at the satirical magazine's Paris offices. Two days later, eight more people died, including brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who are linked to the shootings at the magazine.

The Kouachis claimed they were supported by al-Qaida in Yemen. A third man, Amedy Coulibaly, who took and killed hostages Friday at a kosher grocery store, expressed his devotion to the Islamic State. Investigators are attempting to determine how the attackers were radicalized and if the attacks are linked to any extremist groups.

Eli Berman, a UCSD economics professor and author of "Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism," said the Kouachis looked "like a well-trained pair of assassins."

"I think the experts are surprised — not so much by the fact that there were attacks by these somewhat unaffiliated terrorists," Berman told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "What is new is the level of professionalism. The attackers managed to hit a hard target in the middle of Paris."

Dipak Gupta, a political science professor at San Diego State University, said the objective of the suspects isn't clear.

"Terrorism has been defined as a combination of violence and theater," Gupta said. "Therefore, within that context, it does make sense that they are trying to create the maximum of visibility. In terms of their political goals, it's very difficult to understand what that might be other than tell all the like-minded Islamists to simply stand up and follow what they are doing."

But Berman said it's important not to link the attacks to religion.

"The first thing we have to say here is that it is very important not to confound Islam, the religion, with what these people are doing," Berman said. "This is a radical fringe, a cancer that is growing within Islam that mainstream Islam and Muslim leaders are trying to get rid of."


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