From lack of tourism to increased security costs as well as disputes about the proper place of religion in the workplace, jihad affects the economy.
One of the objectives of Islamic State’s “attack and polarize” strategy in France is to hit the economy, an objective that was successfully attained in the aftermath of the November 2015 and January 2016 attacks, which were immediately followed by a slump in retail sales and tourism.
Throughout 2016, hotels in Paris were offering discounts of up to 65% on room rates to attract tourists who began to shun the city in the wake of the jihadist operations.
Another economic cost is the massive increase in expenditure on intelligence, law enforcement and security.
In 2016 the DGSI, the domestic intelligence service, increased its staff by 35% from 3,500 to over 4,700. Law enforcement officers, who have accumulated millions of hours in overtime, have to be paid.
Three days after the November 13 attacks, the government announced that it would recruit an additional 5,000 police officers.
Tens of millions have been allocated to deradicalization programs, reorganization of prisons and other initiatives aimed at countering jihad at home.
The military operations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq cost $365 million in 2016 alone.
All of this is not good for a struggling economy with chronically high unemployment and massive budget deficits.
The cost to the private sector, beyond the decline in retail sales (estimated at 4 points during the 2015 Christmas shopping period), tourism and hospitality is more difficult to calculate.
One major cost is that of heightened security, both in terms of physical protection from external attack and internal security.
Essential measures in corporate security, HR and cybersecurity all require considerable investment in human capital and technology.
Screening of new hires, monitoring employees to detect radicalization, intelligence gathering, threat awareness, perception, assessment and response necessitate considerable non-productive investments that divert resources from business development.
In addition to these visible costs, there are also hidden costs.
Terrorist attacks impact employee health and productivity.
Bomb scares in the public transport network and delays at airports due to heightened security checks slow down mobility, wasting both time and money.
Anxiety and stress take their toll on employee performance.
A further cost is that of non-violent or cultural jihad.
Approximately 65 per cent of known fighters come from countries which are members of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Tunisia has the greatest number of nationals who have joined groups in Iraq and Syria with a high-end estimate of 5,000 people.
An estimated 500 Tunisians foreign fighters have
returned home, while between 5,000 and 6,000 additional individuals have reportedly had their movements restricted to prevent them from leaving the country. Saudi Arabia is the source of the second most foreign fighters with an estimated 2,500 people.
Of the countries which are not members of the OIC, Russia and France have the most foreign fighters.
Vicinity to the region and visa-free travel for Europeans into Turkey make it easy for European jihadists to reach Iraq and Syria. The risk of returning foreign fighters carrying out terrorist attacks in their home countries has prompted different responses from Western governments.
For example, Denmark has established a
reintegration program whereas Australia has criminalised travel
to certain areas. France is estimated to have 180 returnees, and
as of April 2014, 76 individuals had been arrested.
The largest category of lone wolf attacks in the West was political attacks. There were 37
political lone wolf attacks which caused 110 deaths and 135 injuries. The biggest political
lone wolf attack took place in Norway in 2011 when far-right terrorist Anders Breivik
conducted two attacks in one day. These killed 77 people including children attending a youth camp run by a political party.
The United States had the most incidents of lone wolf political terrorism with 21 different attacks, 13 of which resulted in deaths. Extremist political views were also prevalent in attacks in the United States, with lone wolf attackers motivated by a desire to bring about a political revolution, anarchism and anti-government sentiments, opposition to opponents of gay marriage and opposition to proponents of abortion.
The United States also had the most incidents of Islamic fundamentalist lone wolf attacks
with 12 attacks that killed 19 and injured 308 people. The majority of deaths in the United
States were from an attack by Major Nidal Malik Hasan who killed 13 and injured 32 of
his fellow soldiers on a military base in Texas.
This attack has been coded as jihadism due to statements made by Hasan about his
motivation in the trial.
The majority of injuries were from the Boston Marathon bombing which killed three and
injured 264 people.
There were six attacks motivated by individual issues.
Included in this category is a bombing in the Czech Republic which was considered a suicide, the activity of the Italian ‘Unabomber’ and bombings planted by an individual in the United States in 2014 which were intended to gain the attention of the FBI.
Idiosyncratic lone wolf terrorists may operate for a long time, such as the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski who operated between 1978 and 1995.
Political motivations for lone wolf terrorism accounted for 110 deaths out of 164 in the West.
The biggest cause of death was political extremism which had a total of 87 deaths.
The majority of these deaths were from the attack in Norway which killed 77 people.
If the Norway attack is removed then political motivations for terrorism was ten deaths or six per cent of total deaths.
Anti-government motivations were responsible for 13 deaths and anti-American motivations were behind eight attacks.
Another motivation for lone wolf terrorism in the West was racial and religious supremacists. White supremacists killed 12, anti-semites killed eight, while people motivated by anti-Islamic attitudes killed one.
There were at least 11 anti-Islamic attacks conducted by lone wolf terrorists, four of which happened in 2013 in the United Kingdom as part of the anti-Muslim backlash following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby on a London street by two Islamist extremists.
Islamic fundamentalism as a motivation for terrorism was responsible for 31 deaths in the West. ISIL inspired attacks was the motivation behind five attacks and resulted in 11 deaths and al-Qa’ida inspired 14 incidents and killed seven.
Overall, this accounts for 19 per cent of total deaths from lone wolf terrorism
in the West.
Since 2006 there have been at least 37 incidents of lone wolf terrorism motivated by political reasons, 27 attacks by racial and religious supremacists, 25 attacks by Islamic
fundamentalists and eight attacks by people motivated by individual issues. Over half of politically motivated attacks occurred in the United States.
Attacks motivated by Islamic fundamentalism spiked in 2010, mainly due to five attacks in
the United States by a Marine Corps reservist inspired by al-Qa’ida who shot at various military targets throughout October.
Racial and religious supremacists undertook four attacks targeting Jews in France in 2012 and four anti-Islamic attacks in 2014 in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Demands for religious accommodation such as wearing of religious garments, praying during breaks and on the job, collective praying, proselytizing, refusal to carry out tasks, refusal to work with a woman or follow instructions given by a woman, demand for leave of absence and scheduling accommodations all carry a financial cost.
In America, the Ariens Company calculated that the annual cost of wildcat prayer breaks was in excesss of $1 million.
The company is currently the object of a suit filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a group of Muslim workers, backed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Considering that the case could go all the way to the Supreme Court, the cost to the company may well run into several million dollars in legal fees, above and beyond any fines or compensation which may be ordered by the courts.
Such demands also have a secondary cost because of their impact on non-Muslim co-workers.
A manager in a well-known commercial and logistics firm has revealed that demands by Muslim employees generate resentment due to perceived inequitable treatment and lead to a deterioration of workplace atmosphere, damage to team spirit and the emergence of factions.
In France, the corporate sector is beginning to wake up to the extent of these problems.
On December 15, 2016 a conference entitled Business Faced with the Phenomenon of Radicalization was held at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development headquarters in Paris.
The event was organized by the CDSE (Corporate Security Directors Club) and was attended by around 600 representatives from the private and public sectors.
Flagship corporates such as Renault, Disneyland, Air France, Aéroports de Paris, Auchan, Michelin, AccorHotels, Schneider Electric, Total, Thales, Veolia and Vinci sent large contingents of their executives.
Renault sent 19 people, which is not surprising since the auto sector has been affected by the phenomenon since the 1980s.
There were 17 delegates from the French Central Bank.
One of the speakers was a senior HR Director from Nestlé, who related how a recurrent problem in the company was the refusal of Muslim employees to interact with female supervisors.
A central question that emerged at the conference was whether employees should be free to manifest their religious beliefs in the workplace and to what extent that freedom should be restricted.
Dr. Mustapha Benchenane, an Algerian political scientist, maintained that it was neither the role of the employer nor the state to fix such limits, but that imams should explain that prayer is not a priority during working hours and that Muslims can pray at home after work. He also expressed opposition to restrictions on dress, such as the wearing of the hijab.
His message that Muslims should adapt to French society was met with a degree of skepticism from the floor as it is far from the current reality.
One felt that there was an underlying sentiment during the session devoted to Islamic radicalism that the discussion did not go far enough, political correctness oblige.
That being said, the fact that the conference was held at all and that the thorny question of Islamic radicalism was openly discussed, albeit in a watered-down manner, is a positive development for France and Europe.
Whether such a conference could be held in the USA is another question.