Germany is losing patience with Iranian espionage and terror operations inside Germany. On May 1st Germany finally banned Hezbollah, the Iran-backed organization that, with considerable Iranian support, has created a private army in Lebanon and an international network of spies, assassins, recruiters and fund-raisers that do the bidding of Iran. This has been going on since the 1980s when Hezbollah was killing hundreds of Americans at the behest of Iran. Hezbollah is but one of many Islamic terrorist groups operating in Germany. Hezbollah has always been loud and proud about its goal of destroying Israel and other nations Iran deemed in need of elimination. The U.S., Israel and most European nations recognize Hezbollah for what it is; a terrorist organization. Many German politicians opposed such bans feeling that it made Germany more vulnerable to terrorist violence and other illegal activities. German intelligence and security agencies disagreed, and have done so for decades. As soon as the Hezbollah ban was declared, police were able to crack down on Islamic groups in Germany suspected of carrying out acts of violence and planning more of it. The Hezbollah ban was accompanied by several raids on four Hezbollah “religious organizations” long suspected of illegal activities.
German security officials pointed out that Iran had been the most active sponsor of espionage and terrorism inside Germany for over a decade. The Hezbollah ban only applies to the military wing of Hezbollah. The political wing is still legal in Germany. The fiction of Islamic terror groups having separate “political” and “militant” components has long been used to protect Islamic terror groups from being completely banned from a foreign sanctuary. It is a particularly popular fiction in Europe, which is why so many Islamic terror groups use it. European security and intelligence agencies acknowledge that this scam is just that and makes it more difficult to monitor and limit the damage these groups do in Europe.
While the September 11, 2001 attacks were shocking to Europeans, they also felt that they were immune. After all, Europe provided asylum and generous social benefits to Islamic terrorists on the run from prosecution in their home countries. This was a delusion, as Islamic radicals openly mocked the smugness of Europeans, while also calling for the establishment of Islamic rule in Europe. Many European intelligence agencies saw what was coming, but local media and politicians were setting the agenda, an agenda that was more concerned with scoring points against American efforts, than paying attention to what was going on in their midst. The net result was that, while America was at war with Islamic terrorists, Europe was still trying to negotiate.
For more than a decade German politicians have been under pressure from their constituents to reduce the flow of Moslem migrants and more carefully screen those that are let in. Most elected (and unelected) officials have taken the position that allowing large numbers of Moslem refugees (from civil wars, rebellions and religious conflicts in Moslem majority nations) is the humanitarian thing to do and will eventually benefit Germany. Their constituents point out that many of the politicians are delusional because these officials do not live near the new arrivals and experience the increasing crime and general hostility expressed by so many of the refugees towards non-Moslems, and often each other. Voters are particularly angry about how their political leaders tend to live in well-protected neighborhoods and have access to taxpayer-supplied personal security. To make matters worse there are a growing number of instances where local (or national) officials deliberately concealed the data on criminal activity by Moslem migrants.
Some data cannot be concealed and that is when there are deliberate terrorist attacks that kill or injure people in a public place. For example, in the four years after 2014 (through the end of 2017), there were 32 Islamic terror attacks in Europe. These involved 44 Moslem refugees or recent asylum seekers. These attacks caused 996 casualties (182 dead, 814 wounded). While these attacks occurred in twelve countries, most of them took place in Germany, which had accepted the most (1.4 million) Moslem refugees. In reaction to that, there were some effective counter-terrorism measures. But the flow of Moslem refugees continued.
For the average European the most annoying thing about this is that the hostility and violence found among so many of these refugees is nothing new. Opinion polls and government data have detailed the problem for years. For example, in 2006 German counter-intelligence officials were openly dismayed at how passive German Moslems were towards the threat of Islamic terrorism. A tip line for Germans to call in information about suspected terrorist activity received little use by the 3.5 million Moslems living in Germany. The tip line had German, Arabic and Turkish speaking operators available. While there had not been any major al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Germany up to then, the police and intelligence agencies knew they had an Islamic terrorism problem. Even without tips from Moslem residents, the intelligence agencies had detected a growing number of suspected Islamic terrorists and many of these eventually proved those suspicions right, often in another country. That was because Germany was seen as something of a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists; a place where local Moslems would stay silent and local police might suspect your intentions, but unless you broke one of their laws (like displaying a flag with a swastika on it), you would not get arrested.
Back then surveys showed that about three percent of German Moslems supported al Qaeda's objectives. as in Islam becoming the only religion on the planet, and using force to make it happen. These Islamic radicals did not just support violence but would give aid to al Qaeda terrorists and later ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). Al Qaeda and ISIL are Sunni Moslem while rival Iran, being Shia Moslem, has created its own terror organizations, the most prominent being Hezbollah. More worrisome, the German intelligence experts believed that about 3,000 of their Moslem residents would commit terrorist acts to further the al Qaeda cause. The Germans also noted that there were 24 active Islamist groups in the country, with a combined membership of over 31,000. Many of those young al Qaeda enthusiasts lacked the leadership and technical knowledge to pull off a major attack. While these 3,000 men were all for terrorist actions, only a few are willing to kill themselves doing it. This shows the importance of the former al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. There, al Qaeda could select and train men who could whip a bunch of local enthusiasts into a team capable of carrying out an act of mass murder. The camps also trained people to make bombs and deal with the more mundane problems of avoiding detection and capture by the police.
German counter-terrorist forces knew of al Qaeda trained Moslems living in Germany. But German law prohibits preventive detention, so the best the Germans can do is try and identify the most likely al Qaeda terrorists and keep an eye on them. Britain thought they had a similar situation and had it under control. The July 7, 2005 bombing made it clear that some British Moslems were actually very eager to act, and the government surveillance program had not detected, much less caught them. After the 2005 attacks, an opinion survey found that some 18 percent of British Moslems felt little, or no, loyalty towards Britain. Worse yet, about six percent of British Moslems (largely males, and younger ones) were in favor of the attacks. That's over 100,000 people. This percentage was similar to estimates in France and Germany.
Tips from British Moslems did pick up after the 2005 attacks, but there was not much reaction in Germany or France. Meanwhile, the Europeans can only envy the American FBI, which has a very active tip line. Despite a large number of American Moslems who were not happy with the war on terror, they did report anything that appeared to be terrorist activity. This program was so successful that the number of terrorist prosecutions was declining. This was due to several factors. First, the pro-al Qaeda crowd, at least the ones not sharp enough to keep their heads down, have been caught. Second, you have to assume that there are pro-al Qaeda American Moslems still out there, and smart enough to avoid being detected, but are proceeding with extreme caution, and taking their time.
Europeans tend to leave terrorism suspects under observation for a long time, while the FBI tends to pick up suspects as soon as there seems to be enough evidence to get a conviction. The European method is necessary because the Moslem community is not providing information. So the police have to observe the terrorists, see who they work with, and generate tips that way.
In 2014 a poll in some European nations to discover support for the recently created ISIL resulted in some surprising results. In Germany, two percent of the adults supported ISIL, while in Britain it was seven percent and in France 15 percent. While many of these supporters are Moslems, only 4.6 percent of Germans, five percent of Britons and 7.5 percent of the French are Moslems. Thus there was support from non-Moslems and a closer look at the data shows that ISIL support was higher among the young and falls sharply among older people. Many of the ISIL supporters were actually angry at their own government for various reasons. Still, the ISIL support was part of the overall support (or tolerance) for Islamic radicalism in the West and the recent rapid growth of European anti-Semitism.
There is more, but not much more, support for ISIL in countries with Moslem majority populations. Most Saudi Arabians oppose ISIL but, among those that do back Islamic terrorism, there are many who are very active in their support. Saudi Arabia is the original source of nearly all current Islamic terrorism and is still the source of most recruits and financial support for these groups. Because of that, and growing foreign criticism over the issue, in early 2014 the Saudis made it illegal for Saudi citizens to join ISIL. In typical Saudi fashion, they waited a while before strictly enforcing the new law. The Saudis have a hard time punishing fellow Saudis for being Islamic radicals, in large part because Arabia was where Islamic radicalism was invented and is still highly respected and practiced despite all the Islamic terrorism.
Despite what the United States and the West wants, events in Arabia follow a different pattern. After ISIL became a major threat in mid-2014, widespread local support for ISIL in the Moslem world was just not there. But the Islamic radicalism that created centuries of Islamic terrorism outbreaks survives and will keep providing headlines for the rest of the world. Many Westerners don’t appreciate the details of Middle Eastern history that cause Islamic terrorism to return again and again, and simply see the fanatical Islamic terrorists as revolutionaries worthy of admiration or even emulation. In the two centuries, European countries have had to deal with homegrown radicalism (republicanism, anarchism, radical socialism) and despite its alien origins Islamic terrorism now appeals to young Europeans who miss the communists, Nazis, anarchists and radical republicans of the past.
By 2016 British media noted that more Moslem men of military age were joining Islamic terrorist organizations than were joining the British military. The vast majority of the three million Moslems in Britain were either hostile or unsympathetic to Islamic terrorism. But a large fraction (at times over 20 percent) had some sympathy for the motives of the terrorists (“defending Islam” and all that) while as many as six percent believed the Islamic terrorist violence was justified. More troubling was that nearly a fifth of British Moslems felt little loyalty towards Britain and instead believed “Islam” was where their main loyalty was. Islam stresses this in its scripture.
European leaders have been slow to accept the reality of what they are dealing with. But since European nations are democracies the rulers cannot continually ignore the complaints of voters who daily confront this culture clash and often live in constant fear because of it. Actually, so do many of the Moslem refugees. These outbreaks of Islamic terrorism have, for centuries, only hurt other Moslems because the righteous rage of the Islamic purists was directed at fellow Moslems perceived to be heretics. There were often ethnic, nationalistic or political elements as well but the basic motivator was religious and the efforts to impose “true Islam” on other Moslems that are nearby. In the West, it was difficult to deal with this problem even though it had been well documented in the West for centuries. But it had become fashionable in the West to ignore all that and, to the astonishment of many in the Moslem world (including allies) to deliberately and disastrously misinterpret what was actually going on.