ISIS in Europe: How Deep is the “Gray Zone”?

In the 1970s and ’80s, Europe was terrorized by Communist armed groups, such as the Germany’s Baader Meinhof (pictured in black and white), which had a “gray zone” of millions of suspected sympathizers. Today’s European jihadists, such the late Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud (right), have a much deeper “gray zone” of sympathizers in the Muslim communities of Europe.

 

  • Among young European Muslims, support for suicide bombings range from 22% in Germany to 29% in Spain, 35% in Britain and 42% in France, according to a Pew poll. In the UK, one in five Muslims have sympathy for the Caliphate. Today more British Muslims join ISIS than the British army. In the Netherlands, a survey shows that the 80% of Dutch Turks see “nothing wrong” in ISIS.
  • Even if these polls and surveys must be taken with some caution, they all indicate a deep and vibrant “gray zone,” which is feeding the Islamic jihad in Europe and the Middle East. We are talking about millions of Muslims who show sympathy, understanding and affinity with the ideology and goals of ISIS.
  • How many Muslims will this ISIS virus be able to infect in the vast European “gray zone”? The answer will determine our future.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Europe was terrorized by a war declared by Communist armed groups, such as the Germany’s Baader Meinhof or Italy’s Red Brigades. Terrorists seemed determined to undermine democracy and capitalism. They targeted dozens of journalists, public officials, professors, economists and politicians, and in Italy in 1978, even kidnapped and executed Italy’s former prime minister, Aldo Moro.

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Opinion: Paris attackers bring Mideast urban warfare to Europe

The common thread running through these incidents is that they were all haphazardly planned and executed by ‘lone-wolf’ attackers, who were markedly limited in both resources and skill. But the men implicated in Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead, were different. The two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who are said to be the main perpetrators of the assault, are believed to have “returned to France from Syria in the last year”, according to MSNBC. Undoubtedly, the two siblings saw action in the Syrian armed conflict, which is primarily fought in urban settings, and were systematically trained in urban warfare by men with considerable experience in it. Continue reading

Italy’s president fears violent insurrection in 2014 but offers no remedy

Events in Italy are turning serious. President Giorgio Napolitano has warned of “widespread social tension and unrest” in 2014 as the Long Slump drags on.

Those living on the margins are being drawn into “indiscriminate and violent protest, a sterile lurch towards total opposition”.

His latest speech is a veritable Jeremiad. Thousands of companies are on the “brink of collapse”. Great masses of the working people are on the dole or at risk of losing their jobs. Very high rates of youth unemployment (41pc) are leading to dangerous alienation. Continue reading