In the last two days, 25 jihadi suspects were rounded up in secret cells uncovered in Belgium, France and Germany. But these counter-terror operations lifted just one corner of the Islamist terrorist network of active cells spread across Europe, made up of dedicated killers, armed to the teeth and expertly trained in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan in the skills of mass murder.
debkafile’s counterterrorism and intelligence sources note that genuine operational cooperation among Europe’s intelligence and security services at state level is far too rare, even among otherwise friendly governments with common interests.
The Belgian counter-terror operation, which forestalled a Charlie Hebdo-scale attack, was the rare product of an ad hoc partnership with French counter-terror agencies, rather than part of organized intelligence-sharing and regular updates for forestalling assaults.
And so, notwithstanding relaxed interstate diplomatic relations, systemic collaboration is lacking among West Europe’s intelligence agencies, except on rare opportunities when they are pushed into synchronizing their efforts and data by an outside power or ally, or when common diplomatic or economic interests are at stake.
Europol is Europe’s sole central mechanism for fighting crime at continental level – and even its operational effectiveness is in doubt.
The continent has no centralized strategy or a common security mechanism for concerted action to locate or counter a peril that jumps out of the shadows from inside and outside Europe.
The sheer numbers are overwhelming: Belgium has roughly 750,000 Muslims, France – some 5 million; Germany – 4.2 m, Italy – 1.5 m, Netherlands – around 1 m, Spain – 1.2 m and Britain – app. 3 m.
The tasks of hunting needles in these haystacks before the peril jumps out of the shadows from inside or outside – or both – are daunting.
The insular approach by individual European member-nations puts them at a serious disadvantage because the Islamic terrorist organizations share a strong, unified mission and operational and intelligence resources. These groups uniformly condemn all parts of Europe alike as infidels, without distinctions of nationality, language or geographical borders. Each separate country is therefore easy prey for the dedicated, single-minded jihadists, especially when it declares – as Belgium did incredibly – that no links with any other cells were discovered.
Overnight Thursday, German security police raided 11 Muslim residential apartments in Berlin and other places. Two or more suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were detained.
In Paris, French police rounded up 10 people suspected of connections with last week’s terrorist violence. One is a woman who gave the Kouachi brothers her Citroen as their getaway car after their massacre at Charlie Hebdo.
In the Belgian counter-terror raid on 10 apartments Thursday, two suspects were killed in a firefight with the police in the eastern town of Verviers. Searches were also carried out in the Brussels area. Thirteen suspects were arrested in Belgium and two more in France. Weapons, munitions and explosives were found, as well police uniforms and large sums of money. These raids thwarted a plan to kill policemen on the street and at police stations, Belgian prosecutors said Friday. The attacks were imminent.
Jittery French security officials evacuated the big Gare de l’Este railway station Friday over a bomb threat.
In Belgium, Jewish schools, institutions – and even synagogues, for the first time since WWII – closed their doors Friday morning. In France, Jewish schools are also closed for now.
But bombs and submachine guns are clearly not the only weapons the ISIS is wielding against the West.
For some days now, French Internet sites have been under assault. By Friday, 19,000 sites had been hacked.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism and cyber experts report that the Islamist hackers are working out of different locations world wide, many of them in the Middle East, from Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt and the Gaza Strip – but some also out of Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The hackers mostly replace the targeted French site’s home page with ISIS flags and slogans and passages from the Koran. Some websites have crashed under DDOS (Distributing Denial of Service) assault.
The attacks cover a wide range of targets in the Paris region – from banks, public health clinics and hospitals, and government and local authority offices, up to academic research institutions and even a gardening landscape firm and pizza chain.
Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, director of cyber warfare in the French army, has been placed in charge of measures to combat the ISIS cyber war which holds the threat of infrastructure mayhem in France.
Our sources identify one group of Islamist hackers as the Tunisian FallaGa, whose Facebok page carried a list of its targets along with the messages and images it is planting on their sites.
Joint operations against cyber-attacks top the agenda of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s talks with President Barack Obama in Washington Friday.