It’s no secret that most terrorist attacks perpetrated by those we call “Islamic terrorists” occurred not in Europe or the USA- but in Iraq, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and other non-Western countries. The murders of Lee Rigby or the 52 people killed in London in 2005 are, of course, heinous crimes. But compared to hundreds that die in Iraq daily, a hundred or so European victims of Islamic terrorist attacks in the last 10 years look very moderate. European political leaders, modestly lowering their eyes, hint that this is the result of their wise policy and of the highest efficiency of the police- that is directed and guided by them. The true reason, however, is different. Islamic terrorist leaders simply spare Europe. It is not dangerous for them. Moreover, Europe today is a true paradise for Islamic terrorist leaders, who in total comfort and safety are able to plan, organize and finance terrorist attacks all over the world from the European capital cities.
Before the 70s there was not any “Islamic terrorism.” In all those countries we today call “Islamic,” the governments, understanding perfectly well the danger, were mercilessly crushing all these “Muslim brotherhoods” and any other similar tactics. Muslim groups were illegal, and the ruling governments in Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Saudi Arabia sent their members to jail without a second thought. Incidentally, the jails in these countries are not like in Norway, Sweden or Great Britain where they more closely resemble 4-star hotels than prisons.
Furthermore, Europe, due to the restrictive immigration policies and moderately strict laws, was closed to them. Islamic terrorism had no future and no perspectives. All that changed in the 70s when Europe became catastrophically humanistic and liberal- and opened its doors to a mass immigration from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The leaders of the Islamic terrorist organizations very soon discovered that to organize terrorist attacks and to launder money from drug and human trafficking is much safer from Amsterdam, London and Paris than from Cairo, Damascus and Riyadh: lawyers, human rights activists, lax laws…
And the efficiency is much higher.
The main rehaznos for the growth of Islamic terrorism in the world and the increase in its efficiency are:
• lax immigration policies that have allowed known Islamic radicals to settle and remain in Europe,
• the radicalization of significant segments of the continent’s burgeoning Muslim population, and
• the European law enforcement agencies’ inability to effectively dismantle terrorist networks, due to poor attention to the problem and/or the lack of proper legal tools.
Given these premises, it should come as no surprise that almost every single attack carried out or attempted by different Islamic groups throughout the world has some link to Europe, even prior to 9/11. A Dublin-based charity provided material support to some of the terrorists who attacked the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Part of the planning for the thwarted Millennium Bombing that was supposed to target the Los Angeles International Airport was conceived in London. False documents provided by a cell operating between Belgium and France allowed two Al Qaeda operatives to portray themselves as journalists and assassinate Ahmed Shah Massoud, the commander of the Afghan Northern Alliance, just two days before 9/11. And, as we well know, the attacks of 9/11 were partially planned in Hamburg, Germany, where three of the four pilots of the hijacked planes had lived and met, and from where they received extensive financial and logistical support until the day of the attacks.
After 9/11, as the Al Qaeda network became less dependent on its leadership in Afghanistan and more decentralized, the cells operating in Europe gained even additional importance. Most of the planning for the April 2002 bombing of a synagogue in the Tunisian resort town of Djerba that killed 21 mostly European tourists was done in Germany and France. According to Moroccan authorities, the funds for the May 2003 Casablanca Bombings came from Moroccan cells operating between Spain, France, Italy and Belgium. And cells operating in Europe have also directly targeted the Old Continent. Only after 9/11, attacks have been either planned or executed in Madrid, Paris, London (in at least 4 different circumstances), Milan, Berlin, Porto and Amsterdam.
However, while investigations in all these cases revealed that different cells operating throughout Europe were involved in the planning of the operation, the role of these cells extends beyond the simple planning or execution of attacks. European-based Islamists raise or launder money, supply false documents and weapons and recruit new operatives for a global network that spans from the United States to the Far East. Within the last decade, their role has become essential to the mechanics of the network. It is, therefore, not far-fetched to speak of Europe as “a new Afghanistan,” a place that Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups have chosen as its headquarters to direct operations- with one serious difference: Europe is much safer.
In this situation, large-scale Islamic terrorist attacks against Europe would be counter-productive. This, and not some fantastic efficiency of the Western anti-terrorist groups or even more fantastic wisdom of Western politicians, is the reason for the small number of the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamic groups against Europeans on European soil.
Of course, some occasional terrorist strike here and there is good as a reminder: we are here, we can kill you any moment, fear us! But –no more than that, because a large-scale attack would result in a large-scale police response, a harsher immigration policy, more expulsions… And occasional terrorist strikes let the terrorists achieve their goal of keeping the Western population in fear- but without any major reprisals. Moreover: this small number of attacks let the Western politicians go on brainwashing the population, telling it fairy tales about some mysterious “true Islam” that has nothing in common with the “radical Islam” of the terrorists and is absolutely peaceful.
By Y.K. Cherson