Friday, June 03, 2005

Virulent Islamism Grows in Europe

Europeans officials find themselves grappling with ever more fanatical Islamists, the natural consequence of decades of open-door immigration from the Middle East.
European counter-terrorism officials say they are facing a new, more dangerous generation of Islamic extremists, younger and more radical than their forebears, and in some cases trained and battle-hardened by their participation in the insurgency against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Balthazar Garzon, the Spanish investigating magistrate who heads that country's effort to prosecute Islamic terrorists, told a conference in Florence, Italy, that this 'second generation' of extremists, some of them as young as 16, have in many cases no history of affiliation with al-Qaida or other established terror groups.

Speaking through an interpreter, he described the group that carried out the Madrid railway bombings in March 2004 as 'a whole network based on personal contact, where a single person was a kind of catalyst.'
Most worrying to European officials, most of the new wave of Muslim radicals are European-born, the children of immigrants from extremist countries who have grown up in Europe, fully exposed to European culture. Despite the promises, rhetoric and expectations of the proponents of multiculturalist, this generation of European Muslim youth embraces neither European culture or even the notion of tolerance. Worse, they are very easily recruited by radical Islamists.
Garzon's comments echoed later off-the-record contributions from officials in other European countries who discussed their concerns about what he dubbed 'spontaneously generated' terror cells among the grownup children of Muslim immigrants recruited to the extremist cause in jails or over the Internet.

Rather than being organized in discrete cells, Garzon said, these second-generation jihadis tended to form loose constellations defined by 'the system of personal relationships among the members.'

Rather than a hierarchy, they were 'individuals who make up a sort of galaxy.'

For these new, looser networks, Garzon said, 'Al-Qaida is an ideological reference point, not a real articulated structure with a command chain.'

Because these youngsters often have no history of connection to extremist groups, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies can remain unaware of their existence, the conference heard.

'They are unknown people,' said one senior European law-enforcement official who asked for anonymity because of his involvement in prosecuting such groups.
European Islamists are using Iraq as a training ground for their recruits, who will eventually return to Europe well-educated in the finer points of urban warfare and weapons and explosives use.
Officials from several European countries reported recent investigations that discovered networks of Islamic extremists recruiting and making travel arrangements for young radicals who want to go to fight the U.S. military in Iraq.

Those who join the Islamic insurgency and survive will be used to 'being hunted in a much more aggressive fashion than by law enforcement,' Roger Cressey, who was the White House deputy counter-terrorism coordinator during President Bush's first term, told United Press International.

They will have acquired skills 'in terms of operational security, counter-surveillance, communication and overall tradecraft that are going to make it very difficult to track them and take them down.'

He said the creation of a new cadre of hardened Islamic terrorists was 'one of the biggest unintended consequences of the war in Iraq.'

'The administration gave no appreciation of the danger of creating a new cadre of jihadis,' Cressey said.
Indeed, the Bush administration and its neocon advisors were so entranced by their vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East, they overlooked almost all of the potential consequences, including the eagerness of Muslim voters to elect radical Islamists when given the chance. The possibility that Iraq would be used to train new jihadists - just as a previous wave of Islamists used Soviet-occupired Afghanistan to train the jihadis of the 1990s - complete escaped Messrs. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Perle and Bush. But Europe isn't the Islamist primary objective - co-opting the Saudi government and steering it away from cooperating (quasi-cooperation, at best) with the West remains the Islamists' central goal.
Analyst and author Peter Bergen called these battle-hardened veterans 'the shock troops of the new Islamic International.' He said the threat they posed was likely to be even more severe on the Arabian Peninsula.

Citing one study showing that more than 60 percent of the foreign fighters killed in Iraq were from Saudi Arabia, Bergen concluded, 'The Saudis are going to have a much bigger problem' than either Europe or the United States with returning fighters.

Only a handful of the foreign insurgents killed or captured so far by the U.S.-led forces in Iraq have been Europeans.
The best means for Europe to contain this threat would be to prevent European Muslims who venture to the Middle East from returning to Europe. However, since these Muslims are citizens of various European countries, any such effort would be instantly mired in legal challenges and would be denounced by the European left as "racist." Islamists have learned how to exploit Western guilt (political correctness) and self-hatred (multiculturalism) to conceal and defend their activities. The European visas held by these freshly-trained Islamists pose another grave threat:
But, as citizens of European nations, these second-generation radicals can easily travel to the United States without a visa.

Concern about this threat, about what al-Qaida and its affiliates might have -- in Cressey's words -- 'metastasized' into, is also said to be one of the factors behind a high level interagency review of counter-terrorism policy in Washington.

'We are looking at ways to strengthen our global counter-terrorism strategy,' one White House official confirmed to UPI.

The review -- first reported by The Washington Post last week -- was initiated by the White House sometime in the spring 'to improve on the progress we've already made ... (and make) sure we are doing everything we can to protect the American people,' the official said.
Such rhetoric remains utterly empty so long as the Bush administration adamantly refuses to secure the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders. There can be no claim to increasing security for the US homeland when more than a million people - their provenance and intentions unknown - violate its borders every year. Any claim to protecting the American people by President Bush and his minions is an outright lie so long as this problem continues.
Cofer Black, who until recently was the State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator, the most senior U.S. diplomat on that beat, told the conference that despite U.S. successes in killing or capturing foreign insurgents, the capabilities the survivors are acquiring are changing the odds.

'Not many have to get past you when they are trained so well in explosives,' he said -- a reference to the skills needed to make suicide-bomb belts and large truck bombs.

Indeed, Black prophesied that protection against such a serious threat might entail significant changes to the U.S. way of life.

'I predict that the quality of all our lives will change to a certain extent, as measures previously considered needed (only) in forward areas will increasingly be ... adopted in our home countries,' Black told the conference.


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