“If you really want to be cynical right up to the end,” Daoudi went on, warming to his subject, “this could actually, on the contrary, be an approach that’s intelligent, insofar as it will create a clash. A genuine clash of civilizations.” Within this framework, the backlash against Muslims would in fact be the intent of the killings; this backlash would, in turn, provoke alienation and, eventually, an uprising of the Muslim masses.

This view of the attack fits well with Beghal’s “mystical vision” of a “thousand-year Islam,” Daoudi said. And though Beghal has been critical of the Islamic State, his worldview is also compatible with the group’s call to eliminate the “gray zone”—the world inhabited by Muslims living peacefully in the West: “Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves driven to abandon their homes . . . as the crusaders increase persecution.” In November, the French government decreed a three-month state of emergency; some officials spoke of creating internment camps for the thousands of people whom the intelligence services have deemed potential dangers.

Scott Sayare, “The Ultimate Terrorist Factory”