As the leading Western international players are facing difficult elections, both the US and EU are wondering what the balance of powers on the international stage will be once those are over. At the same time, as politicians are getting engaged in all kinds of political rhetorics, they have completely overlooked the undiminished danger of terrorist attacks in Europe that may be launched at any given moment by ISIS.
Instead, the sitting EU governments, just like the media sources that they control, were busy trying to fulfill Obama’s order that demands the demonization of Russia and the legitimate Syrian government due to their recent military success in Aleppo. However, it would be childish to assume that after losing its positions in the Middle East, this terrorist group will not go some place else, and so far Europe looks like the most viable option for ISIS, which is confirmed by the recent Europol report. Its authors would state that from the point of view of ISIS, the terrorist attacks carried out in Belgium and France in 2015 and 2016 were successful and effective. Given this fact and a general assumption that IS retains both the will and the capability to strike again, further attacks in the EU, both by lone actors and groups, are likely to take place in the near future.
At the same time, the report notes, all EU Member States that are part of the US-led coalition against ISIS are prone to be attacked by terrorists led or inspired by ISIS. Attacks may also be carried out to compromise Syrian refugees as a group and to provoke Member States to change their policies towards them. Moreover, if ISIS is defeated or severely weakened in Syria/Iraq by the coalition forces, there may be an increased rate in the return of foreign fighters and their families from the region to the EU or to other conflict areas, such as Libya. Those who manage to enter the EU will pose a potential security risk for the Union. Given the high numbers involved, this represents a significant and long-term security challenge. ISIS is not the only terrorist organization with the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the West, or to inspire individuals and groups residing in EU Member States to do so. Al-Qaeda and/or Al-Nusra affiliated or inspired groups and individuals continue to pose a serious threat to Member States and to Western interests in general.
Experts have been warning Western politicians for a long time now about at least 30 thousand foreigners from more than a hundred states fighting on the side of ISIS and affiliated groups. As the German Die Welt notes, experts are now convinced that Libya may become a sort of a “golden gates” for ISIS militants that are prone to launch coordinated terrorist attacks in the EU as their positions in Syria crumble.
German law enforcement agencies are noting that hundreds of former ISIS militants are now return home, thus becoming a serious security risk not only for France or Belgium, but also for Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, Poland and several other EU countries. Only one in twenty militants returns disillusioned, while one in ten militants has come for a sort of “vacation”, taking a short leave from the fighting, while replenishing his equipment and supplies. The main conclusions reached by the German law enforcement agencies is that one third of all Germany Islamists are still in the hot spots, while another third has already returned home. Only 12% of those were detained by law enforcement agencies. The remaining individuals are either abroad or their whereabouts remain unknown. As for the factors leading to the radicalization of the German population, analysis say, we can attribute this to process to environment (54%), Salafi mosques (48%), promotion of radical believes on the Internet (44%), the so-called seminars on Islam (27%), as well as the so-called free distribution of the Koran in German cities (24% ).
The desire of both migrants and refugees to reach Europe has recently become a source of unlimited profits for those who have provoked this exodus, that is ISIS and other jihadist organizations, notes El Pais. In 2015 ISIS received up to 88 million euros after imposing an improvised “fee” on the transportation of migrants to Libya. Recently, they’ve seen an increase of profits from the transport route across the Mediterranean, the only one that remains open today. Those who are now fleeing Mosul, can not get to Europe through Turkey, so they try to get to Libya, and in doing so they have to travel the lands controlled by the so-called Caliphate. Those who are fleeing Afghanistan must follow pretty the same route. According to recent studies, migrant smuggling has surpassed “any other source of income from illegal activities in the region”, these overcoming other criminal activities that are typical for post- Gaddafi: drug trafficking (13-18 million euros,), arms trade (13-27 million euros), and the smuggling of cigarettes and pharmaceutical drugs (9 million).
Under these conditions, the struggle against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups that are operating deep inside the territory of Syria, Iraq, Libya, should be a pivotal part of European and American policies, but sadly it is not.