Austria has joined most other European countries in cracking down on Islamic radicals who are recruiting young Moslem men to fight for Islamic terrorist groups in Syria. About six percent of Austrians are Moslem, most of them recent migrants (usually as refugees) from largely Moslem nations suffering from Islamic terrorism. Austrian security officials, warned by other European intelligence and police officials about the danger took a closer look and found that Austria also had a lot of Islamic radical activity. Police now estimate that about 20 per 100,000 Austrian Moslems have already been recruited by radical clerics or Islamic teachers to go fight in Syria. Most of these men return, many of them determined and trained to use Islamic terrorism to force Austria to accept Islamic law and eventually Islamic rule. This sort of thing has special resonance with Austrians because for centuries (until the 1800s) Austria was the front line in a perpetual war against Islamic aggression (mainly from the Turkish Ottoman Empire). Now the threat has returned.
Many European nations have seen their Islamic populations grow enormously in the last few decades. Most of the new arrivals are from Pakistan, Somalia and Iraq, all countries with widespread acceptance of Islamic radicalism and hostility towards non-Moslems. While there have not been many Islamic terror attacks in Europe lately there is a lot of talk about it among young Moslem men. This is seen as an indicator of potential and other European nations with larger Moslem populations and a history of Islamic terrorist attacks know that actual attacks start out as chatter. But most of this terror talk is just that. If there is enough of it and some experienced Islamic terrorists get into an area to provide training and direction, then there is a serious potential for violence.
European nations are also facing a growing problem with young Moslem men being recruited by Islamic clergy to go fight alongside (and often against) the Syrian rebels. European intelligence officials believe that some 10-15 per 100,000 of their Moslems have gone to Syria. That’s over 2,000 European Moslems fighting in Syria so far and about ten percent have been killed. More than half have returned so far and these jihad veterans often seek out new recruits. These jihadis are very effective at attracting new volunteers. As small as the number of actual Islamic radicals there now are in Europe, a far larger number (over ten percent) of European Moslems will admit to admiring the goals and methods of Islamic terrorists. Most of those who did go to Syria are now more radicalized than when they left and police fear they may contribute to more Islamic terrorism in Europe. You can’t do much to these men unless they actually commit a crime in Europe, although in some countries it is possible to prosecute them for fighting for an Islamic terrorist organization anywhere. But you have to prove it in court and that is difficult. Nevertheless such prosecutions are underway and most countries monitor returning jihadis, ready to make arrests if any local laws are broken.
Efforts are being made to prevent more men from volunteering, but that is difficult because Moslems have not adapted well in Europe and have a lot more problems doing so than other immigrants. In part this is because European nations have a much harder time accepting and integrating migrants than the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In part that’s because these four nations are largely composed of migrants or descendants of migrants. There are still problems but as the saying goes in the U.S., “we’re all minorities here.” European nations are less accepting of outsiders and citizenship is not automatically conferred on anyone born there. Ancestry counts for much more and it is difficult for immigrants, even those who speak the language like natives and have absorbed the local culture to become citizens. Despite that, most migrants still want to be accepted.
Moslem migrants have an additional problem because their religion does not really accept being a religious minority anywhere. Many Moslem clerics agree that non-Moslems must convert eventually and radical clergy sanction the use of force to make that happen sooner rather than later. To help this along radical clergy depict the non-Moslem majority as inherently hostile to Islam and constantly trying to get Moslems to abandon their religion. In Islamic theology conversion to another religion is not allowed and in some Moslem countries such conversions are banned by secular law, often under pain of death.
This rebellious and militant attitude is particularly popular with many young Moslem men. This sense of victimhood makes it easier for young Moslem men to become criminals. Thus in France, where ten percent of the population is Moslem, over 60 percent of the prison population is Moslem. Thus efforts by parents to keep their children from joining Islamic radial or terrorist organizations tend to fail. The wayward child can justify his criminal ways by referring to Islamic scripture and Islamic clerics who preach acceptance of radical Islam. This has been a problem with Islam, even in Moslem majority nations, for centuries.
What does change the attitudes of some radicalized Moslem men is the reality of Islamic terrorism. Thus the popularity of Islamic radicalism everywhere took a big drop in 2007 when the majority of Sunni Moslems in Iraq turned against it because Islamic terrorism there was killing far more Moslems than non-Moslems. Even al Qaeda leadership noted this development and had tried to get the Islamic terrorists in Iraq to sharply reduce the number of innocent civilians they were killing. Unwilling to do so, al Qaeda was defeated in Iraq and has been rebuilding mainly because Iraqi nationalists insisted that all American troops, including the intelligence and special operations units that so effectively identified and destroyed al Qaeda leaders and specialists, leave the country in 2011. Iraq now wants some of those specialists back, but the U.S. is not eager to return.
For centuries the non-Moslem world ignored Islamic terrorism, at least as long as it remained a dispute just among Moslems. But in the 1970s a new idea arose among radical clergy who began blaming the West for all the backwardness, bad government and general misery in Moslem nations. That’s when al Qaeda decided to take the war to the infidels (non-Moslems). This produced growing violence against Western targets in the 1990s and culminated in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The carnage of those attacks was immensely popular among Moslems, although most Moslem governments condemned it. That was in part because these attacks against infidels were an indirect effort to overthrow Moslem governments that radicals did not believe were Moslem enough. That struggle continues and while many Saudi citizens still send cash and sons to al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia is very much opposed to al Qaeda.