"It might come as a surprise to many Americans," says correspondent Lowell Bergman, "But the most pressing threat to the United States is not the suspected Al Qaeda cells at home, but rather the cells operating overseas, especially in Western Europe."
Home to an estimated 18 million Muslims, Western Europe has become the new and deadly battleground in the war on terror. That's because disenfranchised Muslims‹inspired by local radical imams and jihadist Web sites‹are taking up the cause of jihad. And Al Qaeda, once just a loose organization on the continent, has morphed into a powerful ideological movement."The threat is before us, not behind us," France's top antiterror judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, tells FRONTLINE. "And we are quite concerned....I think that the terrorist threat today is more globalized, more scattered, and more powerful...than it was before September 11."
Unfortunately, the style of government that the jihadist want to impose on the Muslim world, once they've deposed the current rogues gallery of kings, emirs, dictators and thugs, is best exemplified by the ayatollahs of Iran and the former Taliban of Afghanistan. The jihadis would impose a fundamentalism even more brutal and repressive than the corrupt regimes they seek to overthrow. Ironically, allowing them to succeed might be the simplest means of defeating them. After a quarter century of Islamic Revolution, the people of Iran are sick to death of the clerics who run their country. After suffering under Taliban rule for almost a decade, the Afghani people flocked to the polls to elect a new government and no insurgent movement seems to have any real support.
The growing threat of Islamist violence in Europe does not, however, appear to have dawned on the pampered bureaucrats who run the European Union in Brussels. Under the guise of mandating multiculturalism - at a time when Europe's core cultures find themselves straining under the weight of millions of non-European immigrants - Brussels has warned the UK that it will block any attempt by Britain to lower the number of immigrants it accepts
. Tory leader Michael Howard recently unveiled a relatively bold plan to scale back the number of immigrants and asylum seekers that Britain would admit
. Mr. Howard announced the new Tory policy in a full page newspaper advertisement.
"There are literally millions of people in other countries who want to come and live here. Britain cannot take them all," Mr Howard argues.
"Britain has always offered a home to genuine refugees and to families who want to work hard. I know - my family was one. We are a more successful country as a result.
"But Britain has reached a turning point. Our communities cannot absorb newcomers at today's pace. Immigration must be brought under control. It is essential for good community relations, national security and the management of public services. Only my party has the courage to tell the truth about immigration and the courage to act."
Of course, leftwing critics immediately raised the usual cries of "racism", even as more immigrant Islamic imams hold rallies for al-Qaeda in London (see posts below). Of course, the Telegraph notes that Mr. Howard is hardly the first UK politician to warn Britons about the threat of unfettered immigration:
Months before the 2001 election, William Hague warned that Britain would turn into a "foreign land" if Tony Blair was re-elected, but his speech lacked the full force of Mr Howard's advertisement, and its main thrust was not about immigration at all. Margaret Thatcher was criticised after claiming that Britain might become "swamped by people of a different culture" before her first election victory, in 1979.
Nevertheless, Brussels' blunt intervention into a domestic British policy debate caught UK politicians off guard.
Europe's intervention in what has become a major issue in the election campaign took Westminster aback. MPs and officials were unaware of how much national sovereignty on immigration and asylum had been transferred to Brussels.
The Conservative leadership responded by saying that a Tory government would immediately opt out of the new rules. If that were blocked, it would insist on renegotiation to allow Britain to determine its own asylum and immigration policies.
But, the Telegraph reported, Brussels has no intention of permitting Britain to exercise control over so vital a domestic issue as immigration. The EU appears to feel that the UK has negotiated away its rights as a sovereign nation.
Friso Roscam Abbing, the chief spokesman for the EU justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, said that in 1997 Britain had negotiated a sweeping opt-out on questions of immigration. But in recent years, as the EU drew up a common asylum policy, the Government explicitly opted into the negotations. It had signed every directive to date.
"There is nothing in these protocols that allows a British government to opt back out again," Mr Roscam Abbing said. "So Britain is bound by them." Nor would a Conservative government be able to set quotas for the number of refugees accepted each year.
"Say they set a quota of 10,000 a year," Mr Roscam Abbing said. "Well, the 10,001st case could say to a British judge, `Your government is bound by EU rules and is not at liberty not to consider my claim,' "
A rolling wave of protocols and directives - one in force, one coming next month, a third next year and a fourth in 2007 - have overridden national laws on where governments keep asylum seekers, how they treat them, and how many appeals they are allowed.
If a future British government were to enact laws that contravened EU regulations, the commission would begin "infringement proceedings". Those would be followed, if resistance continued, by legal action in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Of course, those who control the EU - namely, France and Germany - have a vested interest in weakening the national power of the UK, which is the only EU nation capable of countering their power. Dilluting the British citizenry with more immigrants may seem a winning policy for Paris and Berlin, since the immigrants would doubtless vote for ever more liberal - and thus EU friendly - UK governments. The British people need to reconsider the terms and consequences of their participation in the EU, and whether their national interests coincide with those of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder.
But Michael Howard has at least raised the issue of immigration into the main arena of national debate. The British people should have some say as to how many immigrants are permitted to enter their country and from where those immigrant come - especially in light of the growing prevalence of Islamist terrorists in Europe. The same can be said of their American cousins, who have supinely allowed their government to surrender the US southern border, and sit passively by while their nation is invaded. George Bush may wish to increase immigration, but most Americans do not. The US still has the right to control its immigration policies - answerable to no one but its own electorate - and if the Democrats need a winning issue to propel them back into power in Washington, they need only raise the banner of stopping illegal immigration and restoring America's borders. Hillary Clinton, not surprisingly, seems to be moving in that direction, in anticipation of the 2008 presidential campaign.