Saturday, December 04, 2004

TERRORISM MONITOR: THE EUROPEAN BATTLEGROUND

By Michael Taarnby
The assassination of the controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has provoked some uncomfortable debates in Europe. The killer was not dispatched on his mission by sinister al-Qaeda masterminds scheming somewhere from their hideout in Asia. On the contrary, the assassin epitomizes the new European jihadists: a very loosely connected network with little or no organizational links to Osama bin Laden.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) noted in its 2004 annual report that support and recruitment for Islamist terrorism is increasing worldwide [1]. Any illusions that Europe would be spared a mega-terror attack were shattered with the coordinated attacks on commuter trains in Madrid in the spring of 2004. In the aftermath of that attack, European security services increased their efforts and collaboration to thwart another atrocity. While border security has been boosted significantly to deter terrorist infiltration from abroad, this measure appears to be largely irrelevant to the nature and scope of the problem. The unfortunate truth is that Europe does not need former Afghanistan veterans or skilled al-Qaeda operatives to wreak havoc. In terms of jihad, a small minority of European Muslims are more than capable of attacking their own countries.
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