In the midst of its recent joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out that Europe faces both a terrorist threat and the challenges posed by migration.
As if to confirm these words, just on the eve of the press conference in the Saxon city of Bautzen, just on the border with the Czech Republic, clashes between local residents and refugees erupted, culminating in a major brawl that quickly led to a number of civilian unrest cases. This was not the first time local residents engaged migrants in a fist fight, since such incidents have become quite common not only in Germany but also in France, Italy, and other European countries in recent years. The usualy quiet Sweden where many Europeans tend to spend their vacations had to witness a group of migrants engaged in acts of civil disobedience in the Kronogorden area of the city of Trollhättan. According to the local newspaper TTELA, this group was setting parked cars on fire and launching firecrackers in cars that drove by them. Back in August, according to the newspaper Sydsvenskan, twelve cars were burned down in just one night in the small town of Malmö in southern Sweden, and since the beginning of last summer Malmo witnessed over a hundred vehicles being burned.
After the drastic aggravation of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa that occurred in the second half of 2015, Europe saw a major influx of refugees. Their main goal was the richest countries of Europe that had large Muslim communities. Yet, Greece and Italy have found themselves in the most difficult situation, since those are the states illegal migrants arrive to in the first place. This has naturally affected the policies of the European powers, that were forced to take the decision of tightening immigration laws.
However, clashes between local residents and the ever-increasing flow of illegal migrants are hardly the major concern of European authorities, since the possible terrorist threat is still being regarded as the major one.
The Spanish Hosteltur magazine has recently took the effort of analyzing the reports of various Foreign Ministries, intelligence agencies and the US official tourist recommendations to asses the level of terrorist threat in different European countries. The minimal level of threat has been awarded to just five states on the continent. As it turned out, the minimum level of terrorist threat has been registered in Switzerland, Poland and the Baltic countries. One can assume that the likelihood of terrorist attacks in those states is at the minimal level when compared to other European countries. The slightly above average level of threat has been registered in 17 countries, including the states of Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula (except Serbia), as well as Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Portugal, Cyprus, Norway and Finland. The high level of terrorist threat, where the attacks are fairly imminent, oddly enough, was registered in Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Serbia and Italy. The magazine underlines there’s a real possibility of terrorist attacks in the Spanish and Italian resorts. Spain itself, according to Hosteltur, is among the states that are facing the highest level of terrorist threat, along with France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Turkey and Russia, where the risk of terorrist attacks is largely on par with the North African and Middle Eastern states.
The increasing number of jihadists who left Europe to fight wars across the Middle East and that are now returning home was registered by the Welt am Sonntag. According to this media source, a total of 6000 Eropean citizens left home to become mercenaries, and now a third of them are plannng to return to their home states. This happens because of the massive losses that were inflicted upon ISIS in Syria by both Russian and Syrian warplanes. The head of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, Holger Münch points out that the jihadists that return to Europe pose a major threat to the European security. He would point out that those former militants are often radicalized, properly trained and have an extensive amount of combat experince. The head of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany pointed out that militants are establishing ties with different terrorist groups while they’re fighting in Syria and Iraq, and they tend to rely on them when they return home.
The extensive scope of these networks has been confirmed by the investigations of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already announced that the terrorists infiltrated Europe while being disguised as refugees, coming from all sorts of “hot spots”, especially from Syria.
The German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said in an interview for Bild that Germany is housing at least 520 “potential jihadist fighters”, in addition to 360 people that German authorities detain in connection with the potential terrorists threat.
De Maiziere said that, in addition, there are terrorists who secretly infiltrate the European territory and “prepare their attack so that they could not be detected, as we have recently witnessed in Paris and in Brussels.” “But the fanatical lone wolves are always the hardest to trace” – he added. In an interview, that was published as a tribute to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Thomas de Maiziere announced that the world would never be the same after the 9/11 attacks.
That is why, all states must be work together to find a solution to the problems of illegal immigration and terrorism, that were created by Washington’s provocative actions in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and in many other countries affected by Western interventions. To achieve this goal, it seems, politicians must forget about their own ambitions and contradictions, which have been reducing all the efforts in the fight against terrorism to naught.
Grete Mautner is an indepenent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”