November 12, 2013

When Syria Ends, Europe is Going to Get Bloody (bumped)

Yesterday I highlighted the arrest of a man in North Carolina who tried to join an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. The same day the Washington Post ran a lengthy piece highlighting a German family who's 16 year old son went to Syria and who tried to kidnap him to get him back. It's an interesting piece and it immediately brought to mind cult deprogramming.

But I think the important take away here isn't even the focus of the story. It's the sheer magnitude of the number of Europeans who have gone to fight with violent Islamists in Syria:

In ultraconservative mosques in cities across Europe, Syria has become the focus of a widening fury. Imams sermonize about atrocities committed by Syrian government forces and urge their young faithful to join the struggle there to topple President Bashar al-Assad and create an Islamic state. Bargain flights to Turkey abound, and the citizens of some countries, including Germany, need to show only a government identity card, not a passport, to enter, frustrating authorities’ attempts to restrict movement by confiscating travel documents. From Turkey, organized rings of smugglers sneak people over the border into Syria, where they are funneled into training camps.

Most of the 23 young aspiring fighters in Pero’s group were born in Germany, but their parents were immigrants, the top security official of the German state that includes Frankfurt said Friday. Half of these youths had criminal records and none had full-time jobs, said Boris Rhein, the interior minister of the state of Hesse.

Precisely how many Europeans have traveled to Syria is difficult to track, but counterterrorism officials in the European Union estimate the number at 800 to 900, principally from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. A small number of Americans also have fought in Syria.

Given that the young man, Pero's, group had about 25 people in it when they went to Syria I have to believe that the 800 - 900 number is a lowball estimate that is way off.

How way off? In most EU countries it is not illegal to go to Syria and fight. Even in countries that do make it illegal, enforcement is spotty, at best. For instance, this recent story we highlighted from Norway where one young man involved in the Kenyan mall massacre was known to authorities, known that he wanted to go join a terrorist group in Somalia, and what did the authorities do to stop him? They tried to talk him into not to going.

And that's from a country where it is illegal to fight for terrorist groups abroad!

Other countries that also make it illegal to fight for terrorist groups abroad, like Germany, are slow to actually name the terror groups proscribed. I don't know this for sure (any help?), but I'm pretty sure that Germany has yet to proscribe the al Nusrah Front as "terrorists". Most European news sites I read use phrases, when describing the al Qaeda linked al Nusrah Front, with something like "who the Americans have deemed terrorists".

To further muddy the waters, many of the groups fighting in Syria are not terrorist groups at all. They are secularists of one stripe or another, so in many countries its still not illegal to go fight with them. But as we learned from the Basit Javed Sheikh indictment yesterday sometimes a person goes to Syria to fight for the Free Syrian Army but decides the group isn't religious enough so they skip on to al Qaeda groups like ISIS and al Nusrah or maybe other Islamist groups.

So, if I had to merit a guess, I'd say the 800 to 900 number is off by at least an order of magnitude of 2x, but probably more in the range of 5x.

A lot of these dumb kids are going to die in Syria. Others will meet a local gal, marry her (or them), and settle down for the long haul.

But many more will come home. And when they do, some of those won't be content just sitting by and letting the kuffar "oppress the Muslims".

When the bloodshed ends in Syria, it will begin in Europe.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:45 AM | Comments |