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The Vienna Shooting and Middle Eastern Affairs

November 2nd was the last day before the Austrian government began to enforce new COVID-19 restrictions. Everyone in Vienna wanted to get a last night out with friends and family, as it could be the final few hours that they could spend with others for several months. Unfortunately, that evening, multiple gunmen armed with rifles opened fire on a main street in Vienna that had many shops, theaters, and restaurants. The gunmen killed four people and wounded fourteen, including six who were in critical condition. The police killed one unnamed gunman during a shootout, who was identified as an ISIS sympathizer. The following day, Tuesday, the Vienese police, with over 1,000 officers, were still searching the city for the other shooters. The Austrian Army was called in to protect official buildings in order to free up police officers for the search. Although the shooting did occur near the main Jewish synagogue in Vienna, it is unclear whether this location, closed at the time of the attack, was the intended target. It appears that this event was simply a terrorist attack aimed at the Austrian government and people. The day following the shooting, the Interior Minister of Austria said, “Yesterday’s attack was an attack on our values and a completely useless attempt to weaken our democratic society or to divide it.”

In the United States, many people like to think that terrorists, specifically the Islamic State, have been defeated and are no longer a threat to surrounding nations. This is far from the truth. Although the majority of ISIS fighting forces have been defeated, they are still a threat. Some elements go into hiding, working in the shadows to recruit and fight against Western countries. These efforts culminate in attacks like the one on November 2nd, and many others across Europe, and the world. France has experienced many of these attacks recently, although others do occur in a variety of countries. The United States and its allies must remain vigilant in their efforts to eliminate extremism in the Middle East, and to foster diplomacy and strong international connections with the West. If this cannot be achieved, then the US should do what it deems necessary to keep the country, and its citizens, safe from harm. Until stability and peace are achieved in the Middle East, then the United States should keep a military presence there.


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