In Germany last week, the vice president of Bavaria’s intelligence-gathering agency, Manfred Hauser, announced ISIS “hit squads” had entered Europe with the flood of migrants that came across the borders over the last year and a half. According to Hauser, there are hundreds of reports that these kinds of terrorist cells have infiltrated European countries, and “irrefutable evidence that there is an IS command structure in place” that will “likely” launch a coordinated attack on Germany.
It appears ISIS took advantage of Europe’s generosity by concealing its fighters in the mass of people desperately seeking a new home. If this comes as a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention.
When the migrant crisis began in 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to inform all would-be refugees that Europe would take in anyone who crossed its borders. She famously said that anyone who could reach Germany would be welcome to stay. Merkel’s proclamation and the ensuing million-and-a-half migrants who came knocking on Europe’s door raised concerns that terrorists based in Syria and Iraq, or elsewhere, would blend in with the crush of refugees and wreak havoc in countries that ISIS considers apostate.
The Politically Correct Insisted This Wouldn’t Happen
National Review’s Ian Tuttle wrote in September 2015, “Given the sheer magnitude of the migration, it is a virtual certainty that terrorist organizations are taking advantage of the crisis to insinuate themselves into Europe.” Months later, after the Bataclan nightclub massacre in November, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who had erected a razor-wire fence on Hungary’s Serbian border, said migrants “present a security threat because we don’t know who they are. If you allow thousands or millions of unidentified persons into your house, the risk of…terrorism will significantly increase.” Frontex, which manages European Union borders, warned of this possibility in early 2015.
But these concerns met censure from European and American politicians and media elites for being xenophobic and bigoted against refugees. The Huffington Post listed terrorists embedded with refugees among their top five myths about the migrant crisis in September 2015. Another myth-buster at the Washington Post came to a similar conclusion in response to Tuttle: “Yes, in theory, terrorists could exploit the same porous borders exposed by human smugglers. But in practice, they are unlikely to use migration routes to infiltrate Europe — and checks are in place to catch them if they try.”
The Southern Poverty Law center reacted to the Paris attack with shock and horror that anyone would connect refugees to fears of Islamic terrorism, calling the mere mention of it Islamaphobic. Of course, no one was accusing refugees themselves of being terrorists. They were simply pointing out that it would be difficult to vet every migrant coming in, and therefore bad actors could easily slip in under the guise of being a refugee.
The deputy chairman of a parliamentary committee on immigration and security in Italy, Giorgio Brandolin, said last year, “Terror groups spend money on training militants; it makes no sense for them to send them over on death boats, risking them drowning on the way.” But Brandolin made the mistake of thinking that ISIS, which sends its men and women on suicide bombings, cares about putting its soldiers in harm’s way.
He further assumed he understood ISIS’ strategy. But the reality is that he, like many others, lacked the imagination to see what ISIS was capable of. They thought that because there was then no proof that terrorists were posing as refugees, it couldn’t have been happening and would never occur in the future. Of course, this is exactly what ISIS was doing.
Political Correctness Contributes to Mass Murder
Now, in the face of the recent attacks in Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has proposed a number of new security measures, including expedited deportations for migrants who are denied asylum or pose a threat to public safety, and increased scrutiny for asylum applicants specifically targeted at detecting Islamist radicals. But will these measures be sufficient, or has Europe learned the lessons of its own folly too late?
What has happened with Europe’s migrant crisis is evidence of an ongoing pathology in the West, especially with regard to Islam. Anything perceived as offensive or xenophobic is off-limits for discussion, even if it affects national security. Looking clearly at issues of public safety, immigration, integration, and the threat of terrorist organizations takes second chair to keeping up the pretense of inclusivity that multiculturalism mandates. Political leaders and the media get to feel smugly compassionate and morally superior while accusing everyone of bigotry who express concern about mass immigration.
This pathology manifests itself when authorities and media insist an attacker doesn’t have any affiliation with Islamism or ISIS before much is known about the individual, often in face of contrary declarations from the attacker himself. This happened with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan, the San Bernardino killers, the University of California-Merced student, the Orlando shooter, the so-called lone wolf attackers in France and Germany, and countless others.
Many world leaders and members of the media would rather swallow their own tongue than state the obvious. They’d much prefer to acknowledge a risk in retrospect than warn of an impending threat. But as I’ve argued before, Europe’s leaders, and our own, don’t have the luxury of being politically correct about national security. Their sworn duty is to look clearly at the world and spot the risks even if it makes them look cold, not to hold our hand and make us feel good about ourselves.
Yet Merkel remains defiant, repeating “We can still do this” in a speech delivered in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Germany, two of which were confirmed to be ISIS-related. She won’t back down. But Germany is quietly beginning to acknowledge the threats. So far this year, the country has let in far fewer refugees than in the same period last year, and increased deportations. Merkel’s rhetoric notwithstanding, her government sees the threat and acknowledges this new population is overwhelming their country. Merkel just won’t say so out loud because she wants to retain the role of compassionate leader.
So here we are. Exactly where so many said we’d be, facing unpredictable attacks by men who traveled to Europe pretending to be the most vulnerable people in the world. Instead they’re the most threatening, attacking indiscriminately and infusing fear into the continent.