A new threat to Europe
By : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
The phenomenon of terrorism is not new to Europe. However, tackling the menace was relatively easy in the past, as the authorities knew what they were fighting.
During the 1960s till 1980s, various dangerous terrorist outfits were active in Europe. West Germany had the Red Army Faction, commonly known as Baader-Meinhof Group. The United Kingdom was facing the Irish Republican Army. Spain, France, Italy and others faced similar threats from different armed groups. Most of those groups were leftists and had one thing in common: They all feared being nabbed or getting killed.
Since most of these groups were active during the peak of the Cold War, they failed to gain popularity among masses and were easily identifiable. Another trait they shared was they targeted individuals and did not believe in wholesale killing of people. These groups failed to find a following among Muslims living in those countries. This was mainly due to their Communist ideology, which Muslims worldwide abhorred and opposed tooth and nail.
In other words, it was much easy for Europe then to deal with its own boys. This is not to say that lives were not lost in the due process. In the past few years, terrorism has once again emerged in Europe but it looks different, more lethal and difficult to deal with.
This new threat comes in the form of young and fearless militants, or commonly known as “jihadists,” who don’t even care for their lives. They remain unfazed in the face of threats and no warning or threat stops them from harming others or themselves.
This new phenomenon has left European experts astounded. Most of these radical elements are the descendants of immigrants who had come to Europe in search for a promising life. Many of these immigrants came from North African countries to seek safer place for their children. European countries don’t know how many militants fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. What is more is that there are some European militants who are native French or British and this kind of militants are more dangerous because they are invisible and not easily identifiable. These are converts and have a much radical worldview.
Ironically, many in the Arab and Muslim worlds had warned Europe against hosting dissidents and fugitives who were wanted in their native countries. Some of those extremists stoked feelings of hatred among the young and unassuming and spread dangerous ideology but the European authorities did not take any action due to the concept of freedom of speech.
It is important to differentiate between freedom of speech and common sense or should one say “non-sense.” And what is more, some European countries like the UK even gave political asylums and citizenships to extremists and simply watched them brainwash the youths. Now, Europe is faced with the danger of these extremists and it is simply difficult to identify them or knowing who is behind them.
Some European countries like the UK are still hosting extremists and promoters of violence for no apparent reasons. And it is true that some countries in Europe announced their intentions to strip the citizenship or deny entry to anyone who travels to troubled areas such as Syria and participate in the fighting if the person is not born in the European country. Europe has very difficult times ahead in regard to dealing with former militants especially when their number is unknown and their future motives against their own countries are difficult to predict.
As a matter of fact, the European militants have reportedly formed their own Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) brigade. No matter how small the brigade is, few young and fearless ideologically brainwashed, could do harm to the secured, powerful and stable continent such as Europe.