Ten tourists dead in Istanbul, with 15 others wounded: another dirt-cheap win for the Islamic State. The body count may be low by the standards of neighboring Syria, but the end result of this suicide bombing in the world’s most intriguing city will be months, if not years, of damage.
Despite President Obama’s self-congratulatory rhetoric on terror, Islamist fanatics have proven to be inspired, innovative, resilient and committed to their purpose unto death. And in at least one sphere, we’re losing big.
Islamist terrorists have made our world smaller and narrower, crippling travel and destroying tourism in countries that depend on it for revenue. Their campaign to break the economies of Muslim states by discouraging “infidel” visitors already has crippled Tunisia and Egypt for resisting the thrall of fanaticism. Jordan’s hurting, too.
Tuesday, it was Turkey’s turn. Why? Because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had, at last, cracked down on foreign recruits for ISIS transiting Turkish territory.
He also had, reluctantly, shut down most of the illicit cross-border trade with the Islamic State caliphate — 21st-century caravan routes that had allowed Islamist fanatics to thrive. Already in a spat with Vladimir Putin that halted Russian package tours, Erdogan now faces the loss of income from better-heeled Western travelers.
“Tourist-cleansing” is becoming one of Islamist terror’s most effective techniques of state subversion.
And it’s not only hurting Muslim populations. Last autumn’s horrific Paris attacks made potential visitors think twice. Whether plodding about Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district with selfie sticks or lounging on a Tunisian beach, tourists are the softest of soft targets.