Rescue service personnel working outside a restaurant following shooting incidents in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The recent terrorist attack in Paris, which was made up by a series of perfectly coordinated and timed bombings planned and carried out by Islamic State, took the French by surprise since they were still under the illusion that they were doing a good job of preventing terrorist activity.
Just last January, though, two serious terrorist attacks took place in France – the first at the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the second at the Hyper Cacher supermarket. French and European Union leaders should have internalized by now that things have changed on the continent.
The government needs to carry out dramatic emergency legislative amendments and the intelligence and law enforcement communities need to adapt their modus operandi immediately.
According to European research institutes, the number of Muslims currently living in Europe is 44 million. Just four years ago, the number of Muslims residing legally in Europe was estimated at 20 million. It was predicted that by 2019 the number of Muslims residing in Europe would reach 50 million, 20 million of whom would be illegal immigrants. These figures, however, were calculated before the current wave of immigration from Syria began.
European countries, and especially France, are for the most part ruled by liberals who encourage multiculturalism, and as a result they have been blind to the potential volatility inherent in the rise of radical Islam throughout Europe. The Americans and Europeans also underestimate the threat Islamic State poses on the world. All they’ve done is carry out air strikes on areas under Islamic State control; they refuse to involve their troops in any fighting on the ground, even though they know this is the only way to defeat Islamic State. They base their policies on the misconception that, “what happens in the Middle East stays in the Middle East.”
The Europeans still believe that Muslim émigrés in Europe will quickly become acculturated to the Western way of life. But the reality is the exact opposite. Instead, Muslims have established their own neighborhoods, built hundreds of mosques and sent their children learn in independent Muslim schools. A new reality is forming in Europe: Entire neighborhoods have become overrun with Muslims and local citizens and police officers no longer feel safe entering these areas.
The majority of the women in these neighborhoods walk around fully covered from head to toe, the shop signs are in Arabic only, and Muslim religious fanatics police the streets, ready to pounce on anyone not following their dress code.
In a poll that was carried out last year in France, a full one-third of Muslims living in France said they do not think carrying out a suicide attack is wrong.
The British Center for Social Cohesion reported that one-third of Muslim students in Britain support the idea of living under a Muslim caliphate.
Muslim fanatics are not moving to Europe in order to integrate into Western society. They do not want to become a part of this culture. On the contrary, they’re coming in order to swallow up the West inside Islamic culture, which is essentially a totalitarian political ideology in which every facet of life is dictated by Shari’a law, which leaves no place for personal freedom or democracy. As a result, tolerant liberal European culture cannot exist concomitantly with Islamic culture. Europeans’ hope that they will be able to live side by side in a healthy and happy heterogeneous society with radical Muslims is an illusion. Fortunately, they are starting to understand that their countries are heading toward a clash of civilizations and religions.
What the French did not realize, despite their having suffered a wave of terrorist attacks these past few years, is that they need to carry out legislative amendments that will allow law enforcement officials to properly deal with the dire situation in France.
Extremist terrorist cells are forming in Muslim population centers in outlying neighborhoods in all of France’s major cities. In order to carry out real change, and to ready themselves to face and prevent future waves of terrorism in Europe, the French and European authorities must carry out the following steps.
The first step is to understand that the enemy lives and operates inside our own communities, usually in neighborhoods with a high concentration of Muslims who live in harsh conditions, because it’s easier to recruit poor people with little hope of financial improvement. Specialists need to map out these population centers and identify the dangerous extremist leaders.
The second step is to carry out legislative change that will enable law enforcement officials and the courts to carry out preventive measures and destroy terrorist cells before they can carry out any activity. As of today, the French legal system is not set up to counteract terrorism, and as a result a large number of terrorists are freely roaming the streets of Paris.
The third step is to build up a quality intelligence network that combines basic intelligence gathering in problematic areas and in high risk population centers, including undercover agents who are trained to use technological means to uncover suspicious activity and help the authorities in real time to prevent attacks from taking place.
The fourth step is to build a professional and systematic intelligence network, including technological capabilities.
These information technology systems must be interconnected with all European intelligence organizations and be able to convey information in real time.
The fifth step is to build a model for intelligence cooperation so that France can coordinate with other intelligence agencies in the EU, which will enable the French to carry out necessary assassinations in real time.
The sixth step is to be able to distinguish between terrorist acts carried out by individuals, which arise from personal motives, frustration or a desire for revenge and that are carried out with no infrastructure or training, and organized terrorist cells run by Islamic State or other jihadist organizations.
The latter can be more easily located though the use of human or computerized intelligence surveillance operations.
The speed with which the French authorities managed to tie the loose ends together and locate the terrorists following last week’s bombing in Paris indicates that French intelligence officials had a certain amount of intelligence information available even before the attack, but no one had done anything with this information. If the French are interested in thwarting the next terrorist attack on French soil, they must change their mindset, make the necessary changes and get serious.
The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.