Tag Archives: terrorism

A monster’s death throes

The cowardly attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils show one thing. ISIS is almost dead. I know, it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but think about it. These terror organisations used to throw big and well coordinated attacks performed by big and well organised terror cells that used to reside in target countries for months and years, and meticulously plan their actions. They used sophisticated tools and strategy to hit as many people as possible, they used to choose important locations and they used to deliberately select particular occasions, like public holidays and anniversaries, sports events, political summits…

Now they’ve resorted to lone wolves using the easiest possible means, like taking a vehicle and ramming it into crowds of people. Sure, the Cambrils group had bomb vests, and it was only thanks to their hapless inanity that their van capsized, which allowed the police to shoot them. But the general trend is clear: ISIS is now using the operatives it brought along with the refugee wave to infiltrate Western societies – lone people who’ve been radicalised on the Internet, and possibly trained in ISIS-controlled camps. They don’t have the resources they used to have before. These are the desperate last efforts of a dying network. A snake still lashing out after its head has been chopped off.

This will be ugly. No one is stupid enough to believe it won’t be. But peace will prevail in the end. Make no mistake about it.

The bigger question is, what then. How do we prevent another network like Al Qaeda and ISIS from showing up again. Because, unless we’ve changed our policies both at home and abroad, it’s going to happen. And we’ll be back to square one.

Russian ambassador in Turkey is shot

Those who organised yesterday’s shooting of Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador in Turkey, likely wanted to take a revenge at Russia for her actions in Syria and to disrupt the ongoing warming up between Turkey and Russia. It seems they have failed in this, because no signs of another freezing of these relations are seen. The Turkish foreign minister is still going to visit Moscow for a trilateral meeting with Iran and Russia on Syria. The only thing the assassination will change is probably the level of security measures before the meeting.

Of course Russia will not just forgive and forget the death of their ambassador, so there will be some tensions. Especially because the memory of the downed Russian fighter jet is still so fresh.

And of course, because it is Russia and Turkey that we are talking about here, the conspiracy theories of CIA involvement popped up almost immediately. You see, America wanted to disrupt the plans of Russia, Iran and Turkey, so they staged this event. Another, even crazier version is that Russia may have sent spec ops agents to kill its own ambassadors in order to gain the upper hand at those negotiations (compassion, and all that). Sounds too cynical to me, even for Russia.

In reality, the further development of the Russian-Turkish relations mainly depends on Turkey’s behaviour from now on: how efficiently it will react, what measures it will take. It is hard to imagine that this act was inspired by the Turkish authorities. Whether the incident was due to negligence or not, Russia is right to demand the restoration of order, but without spoiling their relations with Turkey, because they are even more important now, given the latest developments in Aleppo.

Russia would hardly want to provoke a conflict – it is obvious that the attack was on Russia, not Turkey, because it is not in Turkey’s interests to spoil their relations with Russia just after having amended them somewhat.

It is very unlikely that there would be another fallout between Russia and Turkey, although some challenges are inevitable. The two countries are among the main targets of terrorism, they are at the frontline in the struggle against terrorism, so they will have to proceed with the negotiations no matter what. And these negotiations will have to be constructive, no matter the differences. And of those there sure are many. But this monstrous act is now a chance for them to become even more sane and constructive. Because it is evident that neither side is safe.

This was an act not on the ambassador, but against Russia, and their interests. It was obviously a well-planned terror act; what remains to be specified is whether it was committed by a lone wolf or a group. It does not seem too possible that a single person did this on their own, though. It takes a lot of organisation to infiltrate a guarded event of this sort.

Ultimately, the most important question is, who gains from this act? First and foremost, it is those who do not want Russia and Turkey to negotiate a solution of the Syrian situation. Another important aspect is the economic cooperation between these two countries, particularly the gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey. There are a number of influential regional players who do not want that project to become reality. In any case, the trail leads outside of Turkey. Whether it is somewhere in the Gulf or beyond the Atlantic, I suppose we will never learn for sure. What matters now is that neither side should take hasty steps, even though the temptation to “do something, anything” and retaliate is great, and war is in the air every time a diplomat of this calibre is killed (just to remind how World War I started).

Russia is already paying a steep price for getting involved in the Middle Eastern quagmire – first the downed fighter jet, then the passenger plane over Sinai, and now the killed ambassador. The cost is getting greater by the day, although they may have gained a tactical victory on the field for the time being. Getting so heavily involved means the threat of Paris- and now Berlin-style attacks on Russian soil are imminent. Perhaps the Russian people would hold their leaders accountable for it at some point, but for now, they seem to revel in their victories happening at the presumably safe distance of thousands of miles away.

Peculiarities Of The Hybrid Warfare

Scared of the little green men in green uniforms without any signs on them, are we? Don’t know where they’re coming from and what they want from us, eh? East Europe trembles with the shaking ground under their boots, and prepares to eat the dust from under their heels. The angry bear is stirring, and is preparing for a predator leap: RRRAWR! But this time it’s masked, it has no insignia, and it uses RT to convince the world that it’s actually not a bear, but a mere lamb. You gotta believe it, or else!

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“War is merely the continuation of policy by other means”, Carl von Clausewitz’s famous “bottom-line” says. For those unaware, that was one of the preeminent military theoreticians of the 19th century. Now almost 2 centuries later, when we’re seeing direct stand-offs between standing armies belonging to nation-states more seldom than ever, the Prussian general’s argument is, paradoxically, more valid than back then. Even if it’s somewhat tilted upside down. Today, the boundary between war and peace is painfully smeared. The Anschluss of Crimea and the stirring of a separatist uprising in East Ukraine for the last few months is the best example of that.

Naturally, the various smartheads in the security & defense genre already have a name for that sort of conflict: hybrid warfare. The term gained traction in my country only recently, with the infamous “2020 strategy for European defense” memorandum, where Russia was initially painted as the epitome of evil, only to then be watered down to milder definitions, lest we anger Big Bear too much.

The new hybrid warfare, combining conventional methods and means of guerrilla, cyber and information warfare with actions contradicting international law, is putting an immense political, military and economic challenge to the region“, the initial draft version of the concept said. Eventually, the part about “information warfare” was tossed out of the document, and substituted with the somewhat more PC term, “propaganda”. And the nature of hybrid warfare was narrowed down to a single sentence. How sad. It would’ve made for a great action-movie script.

But what is this hybrid menace, after all? Many people have hastened to put an equation mark between this new beast and the already familiar asymmetric warfare. In practice, though, the hybrid approach is the next stage in the evolution of armed conflict. It came into the public focus somewhere in the mid 2000s with the Second Lebanese War between Israel and Hezbollah. That sort of conflict, on the one side, combines conventional with guerrilla methods, and on the other, it uses both military and non-military means for achieving its objectives.

The partial application of hybrid tactics is not that new, though. Granted, it did start to gain popularity after the end of the Cold War, when in most cases the protracted and aggressive conventional warfare in most cases would lead to catastrophic results for the aggressor. America has been learning that lesson time and time again since then. That’s why in many cases, non-government formations like guerrilla groups, terrorist organizations, revolutionaries, separatists, would be used around the zone of operation. Using anonymous troops without national uniforms, the so-called “little green men”, plus an aggressive information blitzkrieg of unprecedented proportions in the history of information warfare, has become part of the Russian operations in Ukraine. So, if anyone is to counter such action, they should probably be adapting to dealing with that sort of paramilitary formations, while preparing themselves to adequately counter possible cyber attacks as well.

Neither asymmetric nor hybrid warfare has a clearly defined frontline. It’s being conducted with all military and non-military means available, and the battlefields are actually several: in the conflict zone itself, among the ranks of the population (which is often being used as a human shield), and among the population back home (the constant struggle for gaining public support for the military campaign through propaganda, and inciting hatred for the enemy, dehumanizing the other side, eliminating internal opposition, silencing dissent, etc). The other battlefield is the international community, where the struggle is for gaining legitimacy.

A hybrid war involves one country or non-state “actor” who’s prone to using the whole palette of means and methods simultaneously, including regular armies, guerrilla actions, and tools for psychological influence on people’s perceptions on both sides. As of now, we’re at an intermediary point between the era of conventional warfare and asymmetric warfare, organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously seeking political representation without even being a state, and conducting conventional operations. These are using all sorts of means to gain political legitimacy, while trying to maintain something resembling state organization in their controlled territories (as ISIL is doing), they have formations very much resembling regular army, but they also use their typical guerrilla tactics as well. On the other hand, they’re still giving priority to covert tactics and tools, which is a feature of asymmetric warfare. What we’ve seen in the recent months, shows that even some countries like Russia are prone to using a larger specter of instruments to achieve their goals.

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But perhaps the most important characteristic of hybrid warfare is the combination of military and non-military methods. Thus the country that’s the recipient of the aggression finds it hard till the very last moment to clearly tell whether it’s being subject to a coordinated assault or not. And even if that’s somewhat clear, the covert character of the hybrid tactics wouldn’t allow it to have a sufficiently legitimate justification for retaliating with open force without becoming the evil one, or seek military help from its allies without being accused of open aggression. In the case with Ukraine, NATO has been very hesitant to activate its collective defense, because that would be interpreted as a direct act of aggression. We should also note that using non-military means of pressure like (propaganda, appeal to emotion or outright lies), and imposing one’s political will upon another country doesn’t necessarily mean that these actions are explicitly aiming to provoke some sort of armed conflict, as opposed to merely being yet another tool for conducting aggressive diplomacy and gaining a more favorable position for possible future negotiations. Again, the borderline here is uncomfortably smeared.

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This unclear line between war and peace is actually the most dangerous consequence of hybrid warfare. The tricky part here is to refrain from using the term “war” too arbitrarily. If we take the case with Russia, it does have its interests regarding both the EU and NATO. Generally speaking, the idea is to provoke dissent within both organizations. But if we’re to conclude outright that pursuing those interests constitutes war, that would mean falling into the realm of constant paranoia, and no longer being able to make a rational distinction between diplomacy and warfare. There should be a clear line between potential threat and real conflict. One tends to evolve into the other, but when we’re talking of hybrid warfare, we’re seeing the use of regular armies.

Espionage, for example, does not necessarily mean war. On the other hand, when we’re talking of cyber security, the problem is that when we see such attacks, we should clearly establish to what extent they pursue military objectives, thus constituting a form of military action. For the time being, the premise is that the final assessment depends on the end result of the attack: when there’s a destruction of physical infrastructure and/or human life, that’s an act of war. So, when we’re talking of economic, financial or political influence, or funding of political parties and political engineering, or nation-building by a foreign state, that’s hardly an act of war. It doesn’t make it any less hostile an act, though. It’s just that the state and the national security services should be doing their job accordingly.

The usual escalation of hybrid threats and their evolution into real armed conflicts logically brings the conclusion that the key element for countering them is the adequate work of the secret services, particularly counter-espionage. It’s their job to get information about the intentions of other countries, and intercept any foreign attempts to meddle into domestic matters by infiltrating their agents at key positions of political and economic life, and thus manipulate the decision-making at a state level. When shit hits the fan, though, especially when external factors prove overwhelming, then there’s nothing else to do but to either submit to the pressure, or succumb to endless conflict, and go down to the level of the aggressor, starting to use their own tools against them. Something that’ll eventually come haunting ya afterwards.

A matter of inclusion, not a clash of civilizations

Now that a almost a year has passed since the act of barbarism in Paris which was instantly branded by some smartheads (and politicians) “a clash of civilizations”, perhaps it’s time to sit back a little and assess things a bit more soberly. In my opinion there’s no such thing as a war of the civilizations, not really. Of course there can’t be a yes or no answer to such complex issues spanning generations and even centuries, but still. On one side, this isn’t a Muslims vs Christians clash per se. It’s rather a conflict of values, one side refusing to adopt the other’s values even when the former is being hosted by the latter, with all the hospitality that comes with that.

But even then, these are not “Christian” values by definition, but rather values of humanism. Free expression included. Unfortunately, many among the Muslim community do not necessarily identify with these values, or at least do not place them anywhere near the top of their list of priorities – but instead they fear they could lose their identity and damage their own culture and faith if they do. This couldn’t be any further from reality, though. Adopting the principles of secularism, humanism and the Age of Enlightenment that have become so fundamental for the West would not only not undermine the Muslim world – it would most likely enrich it and allow it to develop – a process that Europe has been taking for granted for quite a while now. It’s no surprise that the main factor for that was the separation of church and state, of religion and politics.

Some might remember the time when Europe was discussing its new constitution, how Romano Prodi and Valerie Jiscard Distain asked the now much revered Pope John Paul II for his opinion on the project. He wrote to them that it was very good and all, but there was a flaw with it, namely that there wasn’t a word about the role of the church in state matters. They both responded to him that the function of religion on this continent has become a personal rather than state matter for a long time. Indeed, Europe had paid a steep price in its effort to separate church from state. And today religion serves to sort out the individual’s relation with God, which is why it has no place in political matters.

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Fast-forward to the beginning of the 21st century, and have a look at the Muslim world. What does the separation of church and state mean for that part of the world? Well, there are at least two major aspects of this issue that need to be looked into. The first one indeed concerns the relations of the Muslim world to the West. Like I said, it’s not so much a brutal clash of entire civilizations – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a clash of some sorts, and tensions. I’d venture to argue that this mostly stems from the general alienation of the Arab and Islamic societies from the new realities of the modern world. That in turn is a result of the deepening globalization.

The development of such a process worldwide creates deep psychological problems for the societies that find themselves at the receiving end. They see that everything that’s happening nowadays, development-wise, is mostly a product of the Western world, which they (erroneously or not) tend to associate with Christianity. In practice though, it’s not merely a Christian world, it’s the *secular* world of modernity. It’s this world that has worked hard to separate church from state – and Muslims are largely feeling marginalized and very offended by that, because they feel they’ve had little to no contribution to what’s happening in the world today.

They feel they’ve turned themselves into mere end consumers of the products that are being created and promoted elsewhere on a daily basis – a consumer who has no say in the shaping of the product. Which is why they tend to turn back to the past with nostalgia, and try to compare themselves to a society that used to exist about 1200 years ago. Back then, Europe was in the Dark Ages, while the Muslim world was enjoying its early Renaissance. So they now say, “We used to rule half the world back then, but today we are downtrodden, subordinate, and marred by warfare”. So they live with deep contradictions: they simultaneously strive to emulate the Western values and achievements to an extent, but out of some sort of twisted cultural pride, they also refuse to allow it to access their communities and societies. They long for the splendor of the Islamic Caliphate of old, although they know very well that such a form of government is completely contradictory to anything existing today – because we’re no longer in the 9th century, but in the 21st.

And here’s the whole absurdity in their confusion: because they have little clarity as to what exactly they want for themselves, and are so shockingly and numbingly confused about their own place in the world, they end up both supporting and opposing the likes of the Islamic State – even in the regions it controls with a bloody iron fist, where the bulk of the victims to its terror are exactly Muslim.

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That said, it’s deceivingly easy to conclude that the Quran is to blame for all this. That’s the easiest excuse. But when we look a bit under the surface, we’d encounter the first complication. The question arises, which Quran exactly? The US have tried aiding the so called “moderate Islamists”, although frankly, a “moderate Islamist” sounds like an oxymoron to me. There can be only one fundamental Islam, the one written in the Quran. Problem is, it tends to be interpreted in all sorts of ways by the various Islamic denominations. There’s Salafi Islam, Wahhabi Islam, Turkish Islam, also Malaysian and Indonesian Islam, and many many more. Now tell me, which of them is to be chosen as the universal one? You guessed right: none can.

The original Quran was written 15 centuries ago. So who wrote all those subsequent addendums? Who edited it over and over, and for what purpose? Ultimately, whose is the ultimate Islamic “truth”? All these complications are causing additional pressure and chaos both in the Muslim’s mind and in the real world. And naturally, there comes the statement of the Egyptian general/junta-boss/president Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, which went largely unnoticed by the Western media by the way. A few days ago, he gathered many major religious leaders and essentially told them: “You are all responsible for what’s happening, and you should initiate a religious revolution. Otherwise the whole world will start perceiving us all as aggressors, because we only tend to attract people’s hatred and distrust. You shouldn’t keep raising the young generations in this manner, otherwise we’re all doomed!” Or something to that effect.

I think he does have a point. But the conflicts will continue, until civic societies arise in all (or at least, most) Muslim countries. If the dictatorships go away, that’d strengthen the economy, and that’ll have to be coupled with the painful process of separating religion from state, empowering women and minorities, etc – otherwise these societies are truly lost.

It’s a long and painful process, yes. It can’t happen overnight. That sort of transformation takes many generations. It looks like the Muslim societies are now going through a process that Europe had passed a long time ago, a process that turned the European societies into what they are today. The most immediate goal of the Muslim societies now has to be to interrupt the vicious cycle of militant Islamic fundamentalism. They need a new interpretation of the Quran, they need to perceive religion in a more humble and realistic way. But, as the European experience shows, this requires a lot of time, and probably going through tons of wars and blood – so things will have to get much worse before they start to get better, I’m afraid. And the recent signs that things are even going in an opposite direction, are not helping make us optimistic about it at all.

See, I’ve met with pals who are former Iraqi students here, and Syrian students, and Libyan students. Most of them are well-educated, smart, ordinary people. They remember the times when you couldn’t see a single burqa on the streets of Baghdad or Tripoli or Damascus. All women used to dress as they pleased. But now they’re all in black, covered from head to feet. Why is that? Did they suddenly discover their faith or something? No, of course not! It was always there, it’s just that this is a display of the loss of cultural identity that I talked above. So now many of them are deliberately walking the European streets covered in black from top to bottom, as if they want to yell to the world: “Look at me, I’m Muslim and I’m not ashamed of it!”

This is why I suspect this will be a century of ethnicity and religious identity. I think the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam will be largely defining those societies for a long time to come. And no one is able to predict for sure where it’ll all end up.

No doubt, one of the most crucial problems is the subordinate position of women in these societies. And by extension, it also relates to the total disregard of the rights of any minorities. We could also add the lack of free media, and then of course there’s the merging of the mosque with the state. That’s where all problems emerge from. That’s why right now, the Muslims are most vulnerable and sensitive about their religion. It’s the last thing they’ve got that they could cling to, and draw some pride from. That’s why they constantly turn back to history, and dream of great holy Caliphates even when they know full well that these are impossible in the modern world.

But here’s the paradox: there *are* Gulf countries with extremely modern infrastructure, perfect roads, and everything the most developed countries could envy them for. But still, much of their population suffers from a malfunction in what I could call the “infrastructure of spirit”. And that’s the most important part: how you raise and educate your own people, and in what direction you’re leading the future generations.

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Still, there’s some of room for optimism, because it’s not like there aren’t any good examples of the opposite. Tunisia is one. It has always been a secular state, and its new constitution only comes to confirm this. The Islamists did win the elections some time ago, they got 38%. But what happened next? They lost the latest election, only being able to garner 15%. And who voted for them? Mostly the elderly people, the Tunisian equivalent of what we here in Bulgaria call “red grandpas” (who always vote Socialist, because they’ve known nothing else). Those people vote out of delusion, because they’re being told “We’re the only true representatives of Allah”, so they cast their ballot exactly the way they’re supposed to. At the end of the day though, the Islamists lost all the recent elections they ran in, including the presidential one.

They lost to the young generations of Tunisia. They lost to the women of Tunisia, who’ve been a very significant factor. They’ve had equal rights for 30 years now. And they were the ones who neutralized the Islamist agenda where it even remotely existed. It was thanks to Tunisia’s women and the preservation of their rights that the modern civic society in Tunisia has been sustained.

I can’t say for sure if that’ll happen in the rest of the Muslim world any time soon, but something tells me that’s inevitable in the long run. If for anything, at least because there’s been a Western type of mentality in Tunisia for a long time, in the most general meaning of the word. So the Tunisian people cannot be tricked by populist religious propaganda – not at this point. And when a model works, others would sooner or later want to emulate it. Good example, just like the bad one, tends to spread like a contagion.

It was for similar reasons that Egypt ended up deposing of its Islamist government (no matter how “moderate” it claimed to be), less than a year after it was sworn in. 22 million Egyptians signed an impeachment petition against now former president Morsi. The military instantly seized the opportunity to present itself as the protector of the interests of the people, not the state itself – with which it practically asserted its claim to dominion on Egyptian politics (just like the Turkish military used to be pre-Erdogan). Where the Islamists tried to kick the secular military out through the door, it came back through the back window, seized the moment, and destroyed the Islamist agenda by force. Different method, same result as in Tunisia.

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All the trouble of course started from Syria. And not because the West intervened or anything like that – just on the contrary. Because it did not. Until very recently, there were few to no Islamists in Syria, it was a modern society with normal people who just wanted some dignity and freedom to go about their life. They were fed up with the conditions of dictatorship they had lived in for more than half a century. But Assad didn’t want to go without a fight, he unleashed his repressive machine upon them, so the conflict soon escalated and started expanding, and the terrorists didn’t come late. Many of these were imported from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East, the end goal being to remove Assad. But these calculations turned out wrong, because the Russian factor had been neglected. Big mistake.

Right now, Russia is playing the Syrian, Iranian, and now the Ukrainian card, in order to essentially show the US and the West that they’ll do their best to prevent things from happening by the Western scenario, and that Russia is a factor to be reckoned with. That’s why Russia took the side of Syrian despotism. And I won’t be surprised if the US is eventually compelled to get involved in yet another armed conflict.

The West is understandably reluctant to enter conflicts of any sort, granted, and it should’ve probably pressed Assad to reform his government and allow Syria to follow the Tunisian scenario. But now that Russia has been involved as a destabilizing factor, things have become rather complicated. As for Russia itself, it has two problems: one is with the West, the other with its own Muslims, who are not few at all. And they’re Suni, just like those fighting against Assad in Syria. But that’s another type of clash, which is a whole other story. By the way, there’s been a huge protest in Grozny against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as we speak. And this says a lot.

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So what’s Europe’s responsibility for what has happened in Paris? Well, for more than 15 years Europe has been witnessing its Muslim communities further encapsulating themselves, alienating themselves from the host societies. In the meantime though, anyone who thinks this is a social problem, is being misled. After all, what social problems could exist in a country like Denmark? I have friends who’ve emigrated there, and they’re given a place to live and a job almost as soon as they arrive, and even from now they know in advance that they’ll be granted a 1400 euro pension when they retire. Education and health care is free for their kids, and they have a number of other privileges. And most importantly: a sense of stability.

What about Sweden? Are there social problems of a magnitude that would render entire segments of society disillusioned to a point where they’d join an extremist cause? Or what about France, the most-pronounced welfare state? Or Germany? What social problems are we talking about? Whoever truly wants to work hard, is given the opportunity to work – what’s more, unlike here in BG, they know exactly how much their work costs, and exactly what they’re working for. This is not a matter of social problems – it’s rather a matter of alienation and cultural marginalization. It’s a matter of neglect, and failure to care and to understand. And it’s becoming ever more serious, and is deepening with every next generation of Muslims, who’ve been born and raised in Europe. So we end up with a number of these youngsters looking for adventure, or just having psychological problems caused by wrong or brutal upbringing and/or education, and ending up on the side of Jihad eventually.

We shouldn’t also underestimate the role of the social networks in recruiting such people. A new term has been floating around the blogosphere as of late, “electronic Jihad“. That’s a problem, granted. But we shouldn’t allow the main issue to get out of our sight: it’s that Europe has welcomed these communities to its society, but it has failed to prevent them from drifting apart from society, and feeling alien. Instead of recognizing and tackling this problem, Europe prefers to sit back and either rant about it, or mock its Muslims, and poke them into the most sensitive part of their wound. And when they react, it acts surprised, offended, and all in all, defiant. This betrays a profound disconnect that has existed under the surface, which few have raised a voice about. It displays a deliberate unwillingness to understand the core of the problem.

The problem is not Muhammad. The problem is that Muhammad has become the last resort for many Muslims in Europe – and for a reason. And, instead of punishing its Muslims, Europe should ask itself the hard question how it has come to this, and what can be done to amend it.

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In the meantime though, it’s also true that many of these Muslim communities have been allowed to encroach dangerously into the most fundamental tenets of democracy that the Western societies hold sacrosanct – for the sake of coming across as tolerant and inclusive. They’ve now entered Britain’s state education institutions; in Belgium and Germany there’s even “Sharia police“, which is supposed to “protect the Muslims from having their rights violated”. What sort of violation are we talking about here, given the fact that the very fundaments and rules of a secular system are being undermined, its laws disregarded, the principles of the host societies disprespected? Is it just now that Europe has decided to notice that its own citizens are flocking into the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq? Did it take a tragedy like Paris to turn our attention to that?

Europe shouldn’t forget that today there are no borders, everyone has access to everything, and with this, the threats are becoming greater and more complex. But isn’t that what Europe wanted for itself? A borderless, open all-European society? There are risks that come with this. Risks to Europe’s very cultural model. And instead of acting defiantly, it better look into that matter. The current situation presents us with a chance to do just that. It shouldn’t be wasted.

We may’ve already become aware of how the profile of the regular Jihadist generally looks like. Well, first of all, here’s a disclaimer: there’s no such thing as one single profile of the Jihadist. Because there aren’t only Muslims among them, but also Christians, even Jews – as absurd as that may sound! The lower age bar is constantly dropping, now it’s between 16 and 24. These are young boys and girls, most of whom know almost nothing about Islam, nor about religion as a whole. They’re driven by internal, psychological problems, or by neglect, or lack of understanding in their environment. Some want to prove themselves as men. But all of them lack something in their culture and upbringing, and a realistic view of the world’s processes.

In other cases, these are just rejects. For example there are people who’ve tried to enlist in the French military, but despite their ambition to become fighters and learn to kill, or defend, all they’ve seen is locked doors. So they’ve turned to the Jihadists as plan B, and the Islamic State has been happy to provide them the opportunity to do what they consider to be “something meaningful” with their life, and contribute to some cause – any cause. And these cases are thousands, and they come from all sorts of surprising places, many of which are “very European”, if you know what I mean. So why are we even talking of Islam, Islamism and Jihad here at all? Aren’t the various neo-Nazi groups much the same? Extremism is not restricted to any one group of people, least of all ethnic group – it tends to rear its ugly mug whenever culture, upbringing, family, and the sense of belonging to community is destroyed.

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Is there a threat to my country? Sure there is, as is the case with any other country. This threat exists in the Islamic countries themselves, but it’s also become a total problem. Without necessarily succumbing to paranoia, it’s something we should learn to live with. And here the state certainly cannot deal with the problem on its own, because these terrorist organizations are not centralized. These groups are fragmented, they act on their own, they could consist of just a couple of individuals, and their actions are unpredictable, undetectable – but they do know how to communicate between themselves, and how to win hearts and minds through the means of modern communication. So, modern society needs to adopt new approaches about tackling it – and indeed, such proposals abound. Bottom-line is, though, that we should do better in addressing the core issue, and this time we better be smart about it.