Counter-Terrorism: January 28, 2005


One reason Europeans are so upset with American operations in Iraq, is because the United States has been too successful in shutting down terrorist operations within the United States. As a result, Islamic terrorists are concentrating more on carrying out terrorist attacks in Europe. As far as Islamic radicals are concerned, an infidel is an infidel. Besides, three years of efforts to carry out any kind of attack in the United States has met with many costly failures. American counter-terrorism forces have not captured a lot of Islamic terrorists in the United States, but the terrorist planning efforts meant that there were a lot of messages, and people, who could be intercepted. Many arrests were made overseas, or searches begun for newly identified terrorists. Going after Europe is simply a much less costly target for al Qaeda to take on.

The United States has always been a difficult target for Islamic terrorists. Its not just the longer distances that must be traveled, but the nature of the Islamic and Arab-American population there. In Europe, Islamic, and especially Arab, immigrants are more likely to maintain their old country culture, to the exclusion of loyalty to the place they have moved to. The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. Anyone arriving is met with an attitude that, you can be one of us. The higher proportion of loyal-American immigrants makes it more difficult for Islamic radicals to hide, recruit and plan their attacks inside the U.S.. 

In Europe, there is a much larger number of Islamic radical clergy, many of whom openly preach the need to fight the infidels. European countries try to crack down on these radical clergymen, but the damage is already done. Moreover, there are ten times as many Moslems in Europe than there are in the United States. The combination of all these factors makes the Europeans very nervous. It was thought that European opposition to American operations in Iraq would provide a measure of protection. But this proved to be an illusion. The bombings in Spain last March made that very clear. The arrest of hundreds of Islamic radicals by European police, and discovery of dozens of terrorism plots, and growing radicalization of young European Moslems, has increased the danger. Islamic terrorist leaders now openly call for attacks in Europe, and some Islamic clergy in Europe call for the forcible conversion of Europe to Islam. 

The only good thing to come out of all this is enthusiastic cooperation by European police and intelligence organizations in American efforts to find and stop Islamic terrorism. But that may not be enough to prevent more bombs from going off in Europe. 


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