As I am writing this, Parisians are still crawling out the doors of the Bataclan, and the stadium entrance is still smouldering. At this point, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and reporters are carefully resisting speculation.

But this tiptoeing is the first misstep. Everyone watching knows who the attackers are. Nonetheless we will feign ignorance for as long is possible, before pivoting to disorient ourselves with geopolitics.

The attacks in Paris are being carried out by muslim Jihadists. Only the religiously devout martyr themselves with suicide belts amid crowds of civilians. We all realize this on some level, but for most, this conclusion is too uncomfortable. The public is holding its breath for a verdict that can either link them to ISIS (as orchestrator, or inspiration), or peg them as lone wolves.

This distinction doesn’t matter. Soon we’ll know, but it will only send us off course.

Regardless of how closely the attackers are linked to ISIS, their actions are part of the phenomenon of global jihad. Whether or not the terrorists communicated with ISIS directly is irrelevant. This is the power of a theocracy.

From the perspective of the assailants screaming "Allahu akbar" before detonating outside a stadium, this is a religious war. In the Reformation, a Catholic did not need to declare allegiance to Catholic France before decapitating a Protestant for his actions to be considered more than an ill-timed coincidence.

The war with ISIS is the same. It’s an ideological-war, not a state-war. Militants don’t need to have heard the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to fight alongside ISIS. As a theocracy, ISIS is simply the banner for an ideology that has underscored the last century of geopolitics. Fighters are brought together by a dedication to wahhabist Islam, that’s all.

Sure, if the attackers closely communicated with ISIS there may be a specific geopolitical overlay on top of the religious motive. But please note: the opposite does not exist. While there are jihadists that are not associated with ISIS, there are no ISIS attackers who abhor the notion of Jihad.

Not only is ISIS unconcerned with whether or not (sorry to use this word) successful terrorists are on their payroll, for them it only sweetens the deal if they aren’t. The fledgling Caliphate is in no position to claim French territory, their immediate goal is only to erode liberal democracy in favor of Muslim wahabism. For this job, any motivated Muslim will do.

As the reporting rolls on, millions await any hint of who the attackers were, hoping to quell their fears with a report that this was a lone terror cell, not a global movement. But the real terror is that — at best — it's both.

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