Counter-Terrorism: No Place To Hide

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November 26, 2010: Police in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany recently arrested 11 Islamic terrorism suspects. At least 17 homes were searched as well, all in an effort to disrupt planned terror attacks in Belgium. Earlier this year, this same investigation resulted in arrests in Spain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Russia is also involved in this investigation, as some of those picked up were involved with Islamic terrorism in southern Russia and Chechnya.

This degree of cooperation is nothing new, but it has gotten better since the EU (European Union) established (after September 11, 2001) the JSC (Joint Situation Center), to coordinate intelligence from EU members, to better deal with terrorism, gunrunning and all manner of avoidable (because of sufficient intelligence) disasters. Things did not go well at first.

For example, two years ago, Britain refused to share intelligence with Bulgaria and Hungary, fearing that corruption in those nation's intelligence agencies might result in British data getting back to the wrong people. This has always been an issue, and when the British checked out the original JSC, they found it wanting in that respect. The British were always leery of arrangements like this, having been burned in the past. Moreover, they know that the smaller EU countries like to use this sharing arrangement to pick up free intel that they can use. The British don't mind a certain amount of this, but they do mind outright sale of their info to gangsters or terrorists. No one likes to come right out and say this, but the problem is there, and apparently bad enough so that it occasionally gets into the media.

Britain eventually worked out its problems with Bulgaria and Hungary, just as the EU developed better intelligence sharing capabilities with Russia and some Arab nations. The United States has always been a participant, along with Israel. No one shares everything, but the hundred people running the JSC act like a clearing house for requests, and assist negotiations between intelligence agencies, to determine who will, or can afford to, part with what. This has made it easier to track Islamic terror groups who often have people in several different countries. That sort of dispersion is no longer as effective (in avoiding arrest) as it once was, as the JSC is getting better at spotting trends and connections, and alerting the appropriate intelligence agencies that there's a sharing opportunity.

 


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