Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Germany arrests three Syrian ISIS members.

German police arrest one of the ISIS suspects. AFP. 

Germany has arrested three Syrian men with connections with ISIS. New York Times. The three men had fraudulent travel documents that had been created by the same people that created the documents for the Paris attackers. The men also used the same smugglers to enter Europe that the Paris attackers used. The men came to Germany in November and were either planning attacks or were awaiting further orders from ISIS. The group has been described as a sleeper cell. Germany has been on high alert since terrorist attacks in July.

My Comment:
Europe has done a pretty good job lately with breaking up these ISIS cells. This one is just the latest in a series of ISIS cells broken up before they could conduct an attack. It's impossible to know how many of these attacks have been averted. Many of them were presumably broken up without ever making the news. The last major one I remember was the "dry run" attack on Nortre Dame in France. 

The pace of attacks has fallen off in Europe lately. For a while there, it was looking like almost daily attacks. But recently there hasn't been anything. I think the heavy operations against ISIS and other homegrown extremists is the major reason for this. It's not that they aren't trying to plan attacks, it's just that they haven't had any luck. 

The problem is that European security forces have to be right every time and ISIS only needs to be correct once. A major attack like Paris only really needs the attackers to remain silent and off the radar to succeed. Had this cell been activated all they really needed was weapons, a plan and a bit of luck and a lot of people could be killed. 

Germany has been fairly lucky so far in terms of terror attacks. They had a few minor ones this summer, but nothing on the scale that France and Belgium has suffered. Part of that is their security forces. Part of it is that they didn't have the large 2nd and 3rd generation Muslim population to draw recruits and support from. Their population of Muslims is mostly first generation migrants. Though the first generation is capable of pulling off terror attacks, they do not have the connections and aren't established enough to really help terror plots. 

Still, it's only a matter of time before another massive terror attack happens in Europe. ISIS has gotten quite a few operatives into Europe and I am betting most of them are plotting attacks. On top of that there is also the threat of home grown lone wolf attackers. Though those attacks tend to be less spectacular, they still can be a massive threat. Just look at what Omar Mateen accomplished in Florida without any help. 49 dead in the worst terror attack in America since 9/11. 

Such an attack would be a major "October Surprise" if it happened before election day. It would also play to the advantage of Donald Trump since it plays into his narrative against immigration. Of course the massive amounts of terrorist attacks committed by refugees and 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims in Europe and America is already proof that he is essentially correct. All another attack would do would make his argument even stronger. 

The only good news is that ISIS will have a much harder time getting attackers into Europe now that Turkey has closed the border with Syria. Though ISIS has already infiltrated Europe, closing the border will make sure that they won't be able to reinforce the number of fighters already there. It also won't do anything about lone wolf attackers, but at the very least the threat is a little bit less in the future because of ISIS's misfortunes. 

There is also the fact that ISIS has largely been pushed out of Libya as well. The Libyan refugee conduit was a major infiltration route for ISIS but that route has been largely closed. ISIS still has fighters left in Libya but they are on the defensive and are hardly capable of attacking Europe.   

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