Europe Is in No Shape to Stop Islamist Terror

The 28 members of the European Union will not change their open-borders policy – even after Islamist State terrorists struck Brussels at the heart of the continent on Tuesday, March 22 with two deadly attacks which claimed 34 lives and injured another 200 victims.
The jihadists targeting Europe are therefore still free to skip across borders at will, reaching their victims and eluding capture without hindrance. Just as Belgium’s security and intelligence services lacked the ability, will and legal resources to keep Brussels international airport and the Metro safe from attack, so too are EU members prohibited by their charter from restricting passage across their borders, whether by terrorists or the migrants pouring in from every corner of the Muslim world.
This is more than a legal matter; after all laws can be changed. It derives from Europe’s insistence on sticking to its own values in the conduct of a losing war on a brutal, fundamentalist terrorist organization.
Underlying this insistence are dysfunctional and often corrupt bureaucracies.
Even when specific information on terrorist movements does reach a European intelligence service, it may never reach the right hands in time to put it to use. The data is more likely to be referred first – if at all – to a government official and languish in his in-tray until all chances fade of thwarting a terrorist attack like the outrages in Paris and Brussels.
Brussels in particular is fragmented by townlets, with their own mayors and police forces, which are semiautonomous and reluctant to cooperate with the national security agencies – or even one another.
While political leaders call sonorously for a united front against terror, the American FBI, Russia’s FSB, the Mossad and the Shin Bet, Israel’s external and internal security service, are wary of passing sensitive data to a European counterpart, lest it be intercepted by Muslims with ties to ISIS networks.
The Brussels attacks have sharpened the awareness of every European intelligence agency that it is on its own when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, an almost impossible task with wide-open national borders, say DEBKA Weekly’s counterterrorism sources.
The rawest rookie in an intelligence or anti-terror agency anywhere in Europe quickly understands that catching a terrorist is more a matter of luck than timely, credible intelligence or tradecraft.
US President Barack Obama, his European colleagues and their counterterrorism experts have latched onto a serviceable theory: ISIS is focusing on Europe because it is losing ground in Syria and Iraq.
That is no more than a convenient pretext for their failure to wage effective war on terror.
The truth is that from early 2015, the Islamic State has progressively drawn down its forces in Iraq and Syria and begun relocating its strategic assets in North Africa, particularly Libya, and Afghanistan. ISIS leaders resolved to avoid being bogged down, like the US and its allies, in the endless fighting in Syria and Iraq, and preferred to switch to arenas more easily overrun and presenting less danger.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi established the new ISIS strongholds in North Africa because it is a short hop to Europe and has enabled him to virtually hold a whole continent hostage.
Preparations for this plan were launched by the first ISIS attack in June 2015 on the Tunisian resort town of Sousse, in which 39 people were killed, most of them British tourists.
In November, ISIS downed a Russian airliner over Sinai, shortly after takeoff from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik. All 230 people aboard perished.
In the same month, the jihadists shocked Paris with a triple attack that claimed 130 lives and left more than 1,000 people injured.
Those attacks were conducted in sequence for three goals:
1. To prove ISIS was capable of targeting European nationals as groups. The Sousse attack murdered 30 British tourists; the airliner blown out of the sky over Sinai carried Russian holidaymakers and crew.
2. To find out whether the governments of countries under terror assault possessed the iron resolve for fighting back against ISIS. The British and French governments failed the test. Their bombers went into action briefly against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, breaking off before they caused real damage. Not even Russia retaliated.
3. To demonstrate the Islamic State’s ability to strike into the very heart of Europe. After passing the first two tests, ISIS strategists decided to go for Brussels, the seat of the European Union and NATO and symbol of Western supremacy. Follow-up terror strikes are to be expected in more major European cities.

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