Thursday, December 29, 2005

Europe's slow response to the militant Islamist threat


The government of Germany's Bavaria state shut down the Multi-Kultur Haus Islamic center near Munich on Dec. 28, citing the center's alleged links to militants. Meanwhile, Lower Saxony Interior Minister Uwe Schuenemann told German newspaper Die Welt that the government should consider electronically tagging known "Islamic militants" in Germany in order to monitor their movements. Germany, like other European countries, appears to be waking up to the security threat posed by militant Islamists.

Militant groups are known to operate in several European countries, while networks for recruiting Muslims -- some European-born -- to fight in Iraq have been uncovered in France and Belgium. Although most continental European governments had been content to allow dissident Islamists to operate in their countries, tolerance for this kind of activity has waned since the November 2004 slaying of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh and the riots in the French Muslim community this past November. In Britain, the wake-up call to the threat came in the form of the July 7 London Underground bombings and the failed bombings two weeks later -- and in Spain, it was the March 2004 bombings at Madrid's Atocha station.

The Multi-Kultur Haus in the German city of Neu-Ulm has been at the center of controversy since recent reports surfaced that the CIA had rendered member Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Arab decent, while he was in Macedonia in 2003 and interrogated him about links to militant groups. German authorities have been investigating the center for quite some time, and in February deported several individuals associated with it, citing their links to militant groups. In September, a search by German authorities revealed recordings calling on Muslims to conduct suicide bombings, travel to Iraq to fight U.S. and coalition forces, and to kill non-Muslims. The material recovered in the search was deemed sufficient enough to warrant closing the center, according to Bavarian Interior Minister Gunther Beckstein.

Schuenemann, meanwhile, claimed that electronic tagging would enable German authorities to keep tabs on approximately 3,000 people known to have attended terrorist training camps or considered to be prone to inciting militant activity. Under his proposal, the Germans would use methods similar to those used in the United States to monitor parolees and registered sex offenders.

The system, however, not only is very resource-intensive -- requiring monitors and analysts to track the movements of numerous individuals -- but also is relatively easy to defeat. The electronic tag, housed in a bracelet or anklet, can be removed, allowing the monitored individual to move about freely. In 1990, Puerto Rican militant Filiberto Ojeda Rios cut off his bracelet and jumped bail while awaiting trial for a 1983 armored truck robbery. Ojeda Rios was able to elude capture until he died in a September 2005 shoot-out with FBI agents. In an interview earlier in 2005 with Vanity Fair magazine, Martha Stewart told an interviewer that she hated the electronic monitoring bracelet she was required to wear following her release from prison, but that she had learned how to remove it by looking on the Internet.

These cases indicate that, as a means of keeping tabs on someone considered a risk for terrorism, electronic monitoring would be largely ineffective. While such monitoring systems can pinpoint a person's location, they cannot tell what he is thinking or planning, or who he contacts. It would be quite easy for a militant on such monitoring to plan a terrorist attack and then remove the monitoring device before "going operational." It is doubtful that such a person could be apprehended before carrying out the attack. Scheuenemann's tagging proposal, then, might help put the European population at ease, but would probably not deter committed jihadists.

Although the closing of the Multi-Kultur Haus is a definite step toward increased security, it likely will take a catastrophic event on the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks before European governments institute concrete counterterrorism measures.

German official wants to tag Islamic militants

Bavaria Shuts Islamic Center, Citing Dangers

Islamic group's ties reveal Europe's challenge


At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Europes muslims are largely not competitive when it comes to the better paying professional jobs available in Europe -- when European countries talk about the need for skilled immigrants it it taken for granted they are not talking about muslims. This means economic ghettoization, similar to blacks in America. So as the size of Europe's muslim population grows, not only via immigration but also higher birth rates -- the problem of alienation and extremism will only get worse.

Stupid Europeans.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Adam Lawson said...

I think insane would be a better description of the European attitude towards Islamic immigration since they are smart enough to see the problem but they just hope that if they ignore it then it will eventually go away on its own.


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