Counter-Terrorism: Blondes Are No Fun At All

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April 11, 2014: European nations are increasingly quick to take away passports from young Moslem men suspected of terrorist activity. In a growing number of cases citizenship is revoked, usually as a prelude to the suspect dying in a combat zone. Even before September 11, 2001, there was evidence that al Qaeda was actively recruiting "Western" looking men and women for the purpose of circumventing any sort to profiling to detect terrorist operations.  Terrorists have had some initial success, but soon it became more difficult to actually use the Western terrorism recruits.  The Western counter-terrorism efforts found other ways to detect Islamic terrorists in their midst.

The presence of small numbers of "white" – even blond haired-and blue eyed – trainees in al Qaeda training camps in Waziristan was confirmed several years after al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001.  Some of these trainees were from existing Moslem communities in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, while others were recent converts from Europe, the U.S., and other Western nations. Meanwhile the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies were also doing a little "profile proof" recruiting of their own, with agents able to "pass" as Moslems actually infiltrating al Qaeda's infrastructure.

Terrorist attacks in Britain and Spain in 2004 and 2005 motivated a change in European attitudes towards the Islamic terrorism in general issue. Sensing that, by 2006 the U.S. was putting pressure on Great Britain to identify Britons of Pakistani origin who might be terrorists. This was all because, under then current rules, any British citizen, without a criminal record, could visit the United States without a visa. All they need do was carry their passport. What had the United States upset was that so many of the 2,000 terrorist suspects the British were keeping an eye on had no criminal record. In addition, there were some 400,000 Britons (mostly those of Pakistani origin) who visited Pakistan each year. Most of these were simply business or family visits. But some, the police eventually discovered, were terrorism related. The U.S. threatened to make all Britons get visas unless Britain could insure that no Pakistani based terrorists just jump on a plane and come for a visit. The Brits pointed out that forcing all British visitors to have visas would be a tremendous administrative burden on the United States and would hurt tourism. The Americans were less concerned with this than the prospects of some of those British terrorism suspects grabbing the next plane. The U.S. did eventually impose some restrictions.

Meanwhile in 2009 Pakistani police arrested a 35 year old "European looking man" with a New Zealand passport as he tried to enter the tribal territories. The man, identified as Mark Taylor, had a beard and was dressed in tribal garb. He said he was on his way to South Waziristan to get married. Police suspected the man may have had connections with Islamic militants. Taylor denied any terrorist links and eventually returned to New Zealand where the police let it be known that they were keeping an eye on him. The United States put him on their no fly list.

Since 2012 European counter-terrorism officials have been very concerned about the thousands of European Moslems who went to Syria to help the rebels there. Not just the ones going to fight, but the ones volunteering to help deliver supplies. These men often come in contact with the Islamic terrorists fighting for the rebels and these fellows are always keen on convincing more Moslems, especially those with Western passports, to join Islamic radical groups. That is a problem because over 20,000 of the rebel gunmen are Islamic radicals who are out to conquer the world (for Islam) not just overthrow the Assad dictatorship in Syria. European police have learned, from bitter experience, to keep an eye on these travelers because many of them return radicalized and ready to do some violence at home.

There have been some recent examples of how all this can work. In 2013 Bulgarian investigators issued their report on the 2012 terrorist bombing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians agreed with an earlier Israeli investigation that the attack was carried out by the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization. Hezbollah is a Shia radical group that is obsessed with destroying Israel and turning Lebanon into a Shia religious dictatorship. The two main suspects involved (Lebanese living in the West) were later traced to hideouts in Lebanon, where Hezbollah controls the southern part of the country. Authentic Australian and Canadian passports were used by the attack planners to get in and out of Bulgaria. This brought to light decades of Hezbollah efforts to establish members overseas, especially in Canada and Australia, where legitimate passports could be obtained and then used to help carry out international terror attacks. Canada has discovered that there are thousands of their passports held by people who spend most of their time outside of Canada. Israel and Bulgaria also want the EU (European Union) to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The U.S. and Israel have already done this, but local politics and anti-Israeli attitudes have prevented such a move in Europe.

 

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