Terrorism: February 4, 2005


Europe remains the most dangerous battleground in the war on terror. European laws and customs provide the most hospitable recruiting grounds and sanctuaries for Islamic terrorists. American counter-terrorism officials have publicly told Europeans that most future terrorist operations against non-Moslems are likely to take place in Europe. Most Islamic violence, however, continues to be directed at the same targets they have been going after for generations. Iraq has become a battlefield in the ancient war of majority Sunni Moslems, against the minority Shias. American troops are backing the Shias, as are the Sunni Moslem Kurds (who find the Sunni Arabs more deadly in the ethnic Kurd-Arab wars, than the Shias.) 

Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait have become uneasy sanctuaries for Islamic radicals. But Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Gulf Arab states, have also become very hostile for the terrorists. In the last month, there have been four gun battles in Kuwait, as police got tipped off about Islamic radical hideouts, and killed or arrested the Islamic gunmen they found. In Oman, a group of Islamic terrorists, with aid from neighboring Yemen, were caught planning a series of bomb attacks. While many Moslems in the area support Islamic terrorism, more people oppose it, and are willing to risk death by fighting the terrorists or, more commonly, telling the police what the radicals are up to. 

Syria has been hosting Islamic radicals not for religious reasons, but for political ones. The Baath Party dictatorship in Syria fears democracy and revolution, and finds the Islamic radicals (who also want to destroy the Baath Party) willing storm troopers in the battle with the Shia majority in Iraq. But Syria is also the long time ally of Iran, which is run by its Shia majority. There are also nearly a million Iraqis who have fled the violence in Iraq, for temporary exile in Syria. These people are not happy with the Syrian support they see for terrorism. Nationalists in Lebanon are also becoming more openly hostile towards Syrian troops occupying Lebanon (as "peacekeepers," but actually protectors of Syrian criminal operations in Lebanon.) Syria has, for decades, been run by what amounts to a bunch of gangsters who survive selling whatever they can. Now they can sell sanctuary, but the United States is demanding that they sell some cooperation in the war on terror, or risk losing everything.

Another ancient battle between Moslems and Hindus continues to rage in Kashmir, and other parts of  South Asia. Islamic radicals continue to call for the destruction of Israel, but are negotiating for a ceasefire so the terrorists can recover from the losses the Israelis have inflicted in the past two years. In Chechnya, an ancient battle between Chechens and Russians has become more vicious since it was turned into a Moslem-Christian battle. The Chechens are still losing, but they get more media attention because of the religion angle. The fighting in Southeast Asia, while it looks like more of ancient Moslem-Christian battles, are, at bottom, even more ancient tribal and ethnic struggles. 

There is growing fear that the growing Moslem-Christian violence in Africa will lead to new sanctuaries for Islamic terrorists. This has not happened, and is not likely to. The chaos in Africa, while useful to hide terrorist operations, is even more likely to make it difficult for international terrorists to operate. Communications facilities are primitive, and too many people are willing to help  (for the money) counter-intelligence forces. 

Europe has over twenty million Moslems, and a culture that does not encourage assimilation. This leads to large numbers of young Moslem men who can't get jobs, and who are attracted to Islamic preachers who offer an attractive alternative in Islamic terrorism. The numbers of young Moslems recruited are not great, but these kids speak local languages, know European customs, and have more education and skills than your average Islamic terrorist. This makes the Euro-Islamic terrorists potentially the most deadly. So far, the European police and intelligence services have kept the lid on attacks. But as more arrests are made, the extent of the terrorist organizations in Europe becomes more clear. Europe has so many spectacular targets, and large densities of potential victims. Besides, slaughtering a few dozen Christian or Hindu villagers in Asia or Africa doesn't attract much media. But kill a few hundred Christians or Jews in Europe, and you own the headlines for months. Moreover, the rabid anti-Americanism of many Europeans has created a pool of Christian Europeans willing to support Islamic terrorists, often unwittingly, or at least offer less resistance to terrorist operations. 

Naturally, many Europeans blame the United States for all of this. But the Moslem terrorists are largely upset at European transgressions.  The hostility between Moslem and Christian began centuries before Europeans even knew the Americas existed. Islamic terrorists invoke ancient defeats at the hands of Europeans to justify their attacks. The blame game becomes less relevant as the threat of terrorist attacks increases in Europe. But that exposes one of the major differences between Europeans and Americans. In Europe, personal responsibility is not considered as important as it is in the United States. It's easier for Europeans to look for someone to blame, while the Americans go look for a cause of the problem, and a solution that can be applied. In the face of terrorist violence, Europeans are now paying more attention to solutions. Words won't stop the terrorist bombs, although not all Europeans agree with that. The arrests of terrorist suspects in Europe will continue to grow, but so will the chances of another deadly attack.


Article Archive

Terrorism: Current 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close