Terror in Europe

As the horrible attacks in Brussels unfold, it makes me wonder what the ultimate terrorist goal is here… Is it to scare the populace to such a point that their countries withdrawal from the air strikes? It completely stupid, but then again I shouldn’t expect much from religious fanatics …

Yes it is indeed reported the DAESH have made statements that attacks are aiming to induce a stop in the air strikes. It is also to position themselves, as they are losing in their main territory so unlike before feel pressure to attract the support by engaging in hit-backs. It is a sign of their weakening, the lashing out.

It is hardly “religious” fanatics, perhaps you are too young to remember the 1970s and the purely secular hard Left terrorists bombings. Fanatics and ideologicals of all types can convince themselves of many things.

The OP didn’t say it was ONLY religious fanatics, but that it was religious fanatics this time. Which it is.

I’ve been saying all along that Da-esh is primarily a regional problem, but outside the region it’s much more of a European problem than an American one. The US, under Obama, is only half-heartedly bent on dealing with Da-esh. If the Europeans are used to us taking care of this shit, they are in for a rude awakening. And I say that as someone who is happy to see Obama take such a stance. Da-esh is not much of a threat to the US.

The same could have been said about the Taliban before 9/11. What about the situation in Syria, Iraq or Lybia today makes you think it is less of a threat than Afghanistan was back then?

Not necessarily. Islamist suicide bombers frequently aren’t particularly religious - from the 9/11 bombers who drank beer and went to strip clubs, to the Paris attacker who owned and ran a bar. Or, they only become religious after they adhere to an Islamist movement, as a way of identifying with the movement. It’s early days yet, but initial reports suggest that the Brussels bombers were violent criminals long before they took up political violence, or took any great interest in religion.

Europeans are used to the US doing most of the heavy lifting on military adventures but - with more, and more diverse, experience of terrorism - they are also much more aware than I think a lot of Americans are that military adventures are not a terribly effective way of dealing with the problem of terrorism. If the problem is terrorist bombings in European cities, it’s not a problem likely to be alleviated by a military campaign against Da’esh-held territory in Syria. And this doesn’t depend on who runs the military campaign.

Which in a way means, I realise, I’m agreeing with you. No amount of American firepower can solve this problem for Europe. But, really, there is a limit to the extent to which any American action, political or military, can address this problem, except to the extent that a co-ordinated approach from all the major Western countries is required to address the political conditions which give rise to the problem.

One of the major problems European nations are facing today is the fact that the IS has been able to attract a lot of European Muslim youths into their ranks. I believe that the main reason why they have been able to do this is the military succes they have enjoyed for quite some time. The appearance that they are actually winning has a tremendous appeal and they will carefully try to maintain that appearance. Not letting them do that will hurt them.

So while you are certainly right in saying that military action *alone *will never solve the problem of terrorism, in the case of IS it can be helpful. The question of how much America should contribute to that military action is also a question of how much influence you hope to wield in the Middle East in the long run. If America should decide to entirely withdraw (unlikely as that is) Europeans might grudgingly turn to Russia for help.

I don’t think it’s as thought out. They are under pressure in the heartland they’ve carved out for themselves, and they’re trying to say “We’re still here and we’re strong enough to hurt you where you are”. It’s, if anything, easier for them to suborn impressionable young people where they live rather than get them to the Middle East to fight there, or at least, they can get them to do more striking damage.

You could see this as acts of desperation rather than a calculated strategy with any serious expectation of a political result.

I dunno. IS is pretty unusual in fighting a conventional, territory-occupying war in Syria and a terrorist campaign in Europe. I grant that the very fact that this is unusual makes them noteworthy and this may help with recruitment. On the other hand, lots of terrorist movements have operated without this selling-point to attract recruits, and there’s no reason to think that IS couldn’t. Plus, of course, you don’t need to recruit very many people to run an effective terrorist operation. The most enduring and effective ones, in fact, tend to have very few active members at any time.

So, yeah, I wouldn’t assume that if you defeat IS in Syria, the European operation collapses, or is adversely effected. It could easily become more active, indeed, as they divert more resources and effort into it, and are fuelled by an increased sense of grievance.

The same could have been said about the Taliban after 9/11. The Taliban/Afghanistan didn’t bomb the towers, Al Qaeda did. Now the Taliban sheltered AQ, which was reason enough to hit them when they continued to do so IMHO. But in of themselves they were mostly inward-turning xenophobes, not outward-looking international jihadists.

This problem isn’t as complicated as it seems. These European Muslims go to Syria for training and come back with the ability to carry out sophisticated operations. The way to stop that is not a complex or difficult endeavour, it just takes resolve.

Or, Europeans can avoid “military adventurism” and just accept that terrorist attacks every couple of months is the new normal, with a trend towards it getting worse and worse as more and more Muslims in Europe become radicalized or recognize that they’d better join the winning side if they want to survive.

Although John Mace and I have our differences on how to deal with ISIS, I think he makes a great point that this is more Europe’s problem than ours. We should only take it as seriously as they are. If they decide to go in and take ISIS’s territory away, I’m sure the US will back them 100%, even contribute half the forces or more. But we’re not going to sacrifice thousands of our people again just to have Europeans sneer at us.

Except the “going to Syria” bit is an entirely incidental detail. In fact, for the latest atrocity, it appears the offenders (or at least one of them) tried to go to Syria, but was turned back. So he didn’t get training in Syria. But he still had the ability to carry out an operation which was not, if we’re honest, very sophisticated, but was deadly. And, as yet, we have no reason to think that the other offenders even tried to go to Syria.

In brief, nothing is achieved by stopping people going to Syria. People can be, and are, perfectly adequately trained to the not very high degree needed to conduct a terrorist bombing in places other than Syria.

Bit of a false dichotomy there. We haven’t established that military adventurism is an effective way to end terrorism - I’m extremely sceptical of that notion myself - and we certainly haven’t established that it’s the only way to end it. Other terrorist campaigns have been successfully ended in the past by a combination of police work, intelligence work and political action. On the whole, that’s a much more promising avenue that military operations.

QUOTE=adaher;19205059]Although John Mace and I have our differences on how to deal with ISIS, I think he makes a great point that this is more Europe’s problem than ours. We should only take it as seriously as they are. If they decide to go in and take ISIS’s territory away, I’m sure the US will back them 100%, even contribute half the forces or more. But we’re not going to sacrifice thousands of our people again just to have Europeans sneer at us.

I agree to this extent; this is a European problem which Americans cannot solve for Europe. But I don’t agree that going in and taking away Isis’s territory in Syria/Iraq is likely to solve the problem, regardless of whether that’s done by the US or Europe. Their might be other good reasons for denying Isis territory in Syria, but it’s not either a necessary or sufficient step to combatting terrorism in Europe.

No it is just like the american action movies. or the predicting of the american elections. Simple.

In Europe, the older have lived through the 1970s, 1980s with terror bombing already.

the difference now is simply the alienated ethnic minority component different from the alienated youth Leftist political factions.

the actual sociological profiles do not look that different. The intelligence and oversight controles will be strengthened and the weak link of the dysfunction of the Belgian governance is now highlighted, it is now perhaps something that will overcome Belgian divisions.

I agree. My point was that if providing shelter and a training ground for terrorists, who then strike abroad, was enough reason to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan, why would the same not apply to the IS?

Yes, there is a history indeed actually in Europe.

In any case the DAESH are losing territory and resources. Lashing out at Europe is not their act of strength.

Sending European troops to fight DAESH would be an act of enormous stupidity, and indeed play into their hands, it is what they need. They slowly now lose to the Iraq state, the Iraqi Kurds, the Syrian Kurds, etc. with air strike support, and no visible ‘crusaders’ for their propaganda.

So do they want more European military action, or less?

That is incorrect. One of the offenders has been identified as Najim Laachraoui. He is known to have been in Syria in 2013 and he is believed to be the person who built the explosive devices for both the Paris and Brussels attacks - something he likely learned to do during his stay in Syria.
Now I am not saying the attacks would not have happened, if Najim Laachraoui had never gone to Syria - we cannot know that. But as it is he did.

Happy to be corrected there; Naachraoui may have learned his trade in Syria. But my point stands; it was never necessary for Laachraoui to go to Syria to learn his trade, and there are abundant examples of terrorist compaigns that don’t depend on delivering training in territory controlled by the movement. The “going to Syria” bit is entirely incidental, and the notion that you can defeat ISIS terrorism in the EU by shutting down ISIS territory in Syria makes about as much sense as the notion that you can end US democracy by burning down the Capitol.

It is not an OR question.

The DAESH want to change the dynamic, which now for them is negative. End the air support to their enemies or for you to engage in the Americna Action Movie thinking and send in the “Crusader” troops, which they will find to be a great rallying point and propaganda win.

yes, and the tight group of the families in this have also been tied to the existing criminal underground / mafias. The overlapping of the actual family groups - not widely diffused membership - and the mafia (also the traditionally family basis) is a factor.

It is also the deep problems in the divided Belgian state and the long dysfunction of the Belgian police (not a new thing or something only related to the terrorism) and the Belgian security services. Even the French who have been involved in this tie back through Belgium.

FWIW, I don’t think the Da’esh campaign is particularly well-thought out.

But they could be aiming for either or both of two outcomes. (1) Reduce public support for/tolerance of western governments policies with respect to Syria/the Middle East more widely. (2) Increase hostility towards/suspicion of/discrimination against Muslim communities in Western countries.