Counter-Terrorism: European Police Seek To �Do Something�

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November 6, 2014:   European police and intelligence agencies are having a difficult time agreeing on how many of their Moslem citizens have been radicalized by Islamic terrorist groups, particularly ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). Police of the EU (European Union) believe about 3,000 of their citizens have been radicalized. That’s about .6 Islamic terrorists per 100,000 people in the EU. If you take just Moslems, that’s 15 per 100,000 EU Moslems. The problem is that intel agencies that monitor Syria and Iraq believe that are over 2,000 European Moslems in the area with ISIL or other Islamic terrorist groups. The problem is that while the EU police are counting people they know exist and who have demonstrated clear evidence of interest or participation in Islamic terrorism, the intel estimates of the number of European Moslems actually operating in Syria and Iraq are estimates based on fragmentary information.

The police back home have to identify individuals to arrest or monitor and the most dangerous European Islamic terrorists in Syria and Iraq will try to hide their activities when they return home. The intel agencies, including those not from the EU (like the CIA) share information with the EU police and try to identify as many Islamic terrorists, dead or alive, as possible. Still, it appears that there are fewer European Moslems actually going off to fight and risk getting killed than is popularly thought. This is not a big comfort to the police who know even one major (causing dozens of casualties) attack in the EU would cause a political and media firestorm and lots of pressure on the police to “do something.”

There is no denying the fact that there is  cause for all this angst as European nations face a growing problem with young Moslem men being recruited by radical Islamic clergy to go fight alongside (and often against) the Syrian rebels. European intelligence officials believe that whatever the actual number is it is growing and that so far and about ten percent of those who have gone to Syria or Iraq have been killed. More than ten percent have returned and these jihad veterans often seek out new recruits. These jihadis are very effective at attracting new volunteers, although so far only about 15 per 100,000 Moslems have been radicalized and only a minority of those have been persuaded to go. As small as that portion is, a far larger percentage (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 in Europe unless they actually commit a crime in Europe although in a growing number of countries it is possible to prosecute them for belonging to for an Islamic terrorist organization. But you have to prove it in court and that is often difficult. Nevertheless such prosecutions are underway and most countries monitor returning jihadis, ready to make arrests if any local laws are broken. Europeans are now changing their laws to make it illegal to have any contact or sympathies for groups like ISIL.

The United States (and Canada) have far fewer problems with radicalized young Moslem men living among them. This is not much help for the Europeans as it has long been accepted that the North American nations have always been more hospitable to migrants and that goes a long way towards diminishing (but never completely eliminating) interest in terrorists for some cause back in the old country.

 

 


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