Sunday, February 24, 2019

Q & A's regarding the mutating ISIS threat in the EU

Exerpts from an interview in a Central European based security seminar 

1. Some say that the current terrorism threat to Europe is peaking and will decline as ISIS loses territory, migration slows, and the migrants become more integrated. What do you say? Will the terrorism trend in Europe increase or not and why? What is the situation likely to be in 5 years?


The number of radicalized persons in Europe is increasing as also the number of Jihadist fighters returning back into the EU-thus at first glance we should see a rise in the terrorism phenomenon in the coming years.

Furthermore the existence of multiple fronts where Jihadists are trained and fight nowadays such as :Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sahel region, Nigeria, Sudan , Yemen, Sinaia plus the involvement of Turkey regarding the aforementioned; brings us to the conclusion that we are likely witnessing an emergence of a serious threats that will engulf Europe for years to come. 

2. The migrants passing through Greece, Italy and other points traveled on to europe with either no IDs, fake IDs or otherwise deceptive information. I call this Europe's 'Generation Unknown.' How big of a risk is it for Europe that you have so many people with no identity and possibly many? How will terrorist groups use this advantage when planning attacks or logistics?


The risk is substansial. Roughly estimated that there are 300,000 people with either fake or incomplete id about them. If we add in those the immigrants with similar features that had arrived in Europe previous years, plus the ongoing radicalization process in the 2nd and 3rd generation of Muslims in the EU, then we will likely face urban destabilization and terrorism whilst security agencies would barely able to cope with such challenges. 

3. On the same note- how does the unknown generation help intelligene services to use these rare resources for their purposes, ie, agents, black ops, other? It must be a very tempting base of human resources. If there are any known examples please provide.


This is actually an old methodology but with high risks. There have been cases in France, Blegium, UK and Netherlands in the past decade when double agents used, became renegade and also dealt with criminal activities, thus reslting in a boomerang effect. Recruiting a terrorist or an extremist is an extremely sensitive operation that has to be carefully  sanctioned and monitored all the way through. Otherwise the "asset" acquires sensitive information around the modus opperandi of the state forces, plus training that could be used effectively against the state-as well as be able to perform disinformation activities and damage a wide range of operations. In simple words its a two-sided sword dealing with these people.

4. What do you think about future terrorist target selection? Why do they choose public transport and cafes instead of, say, official government buildings, leaders' houses or military and police stations?


Soft targets such as those mentioned are:


-create mayhem in everyday life-thus breaking down the morale of the population

-Have repurcussions relating to the emergence of native population extremist factions-society is bitterly divided

-Security agencies can hardly cope and protect myriads of soft targets

We should expect this trend to continue

5.What are the new rules governing intelligence and counterterrorism operations in Europe especially post Brexit? Will the different countries be able to share data and work together?


No serious agency worldwide will share its intimate secrets such as: sources, methodology, clandestine operations and above all the "secret" political guidances it has from its executive branch. Nonetheless exchange of suspect lists , co-training and collaboration in research is steadily expanding. It is unlikely though to have something more than that in the near future. 

6. Lastly, when ISIS is defeated in territory in MENA, what sort of new terrorist hybrids can be formed in Europe considering the different ethno linguistic backgrounds of migrants (old and new generations)? Is there more of a risk of them fighting amongst each other or uniting in common causes? Is jihad going to be a motivating factor when it comes, not to expanding territory, but more ideological and symbolic attacks in cities?


There are already counteless of groups and cells plus a large number of the so-called "lone wolves". In case ISIS is completely neutralized, small scale operations, albeit with litle chances of success, will emerge, again centered on soft targets. Of course each country has its own characteristics when in terms with domestic Jihadism but we could roughly group EU states in the following categories

A: UK, France, Geramny, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands-in primal danger from its domestic Jihadists networks

B: Spain, Italy, Austria, Norway second in threat assessment

C: Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Ireland, Portugal, third 

And: Romania, Slovakia, Czech, Poland with minimum danger.

Another category of special importance is Bosnia-Kosovo , Western Balkans due to the strong infrastructure of Jiahdists there since the 1990's and the use of these territories as logistics and training hub. Certainly they deserve a closer look and in terms of thret assessment they are on top of all the rest. 

A hybrid form which has already emerged is the mix of 2nd generation EU citizens with collaborators of them from the Western Balkans, For example in the recent attack in Nice-France the Tunisian-French driver was acquiring weaponry from Albanians or in the case of the Paris attacks in November 2015 we had weapons most probably imported from Bosnia.