Written by Alexandros Niklan
Sr. Security Consultant
While UN and other institution try to make clear that immigration is not directly connected to terrorism, data present today that this is not the case. It is true that not all immigrants are potential terrorists, however it is also true that recent rise of terrorist attack in Western part of the world, were committed by immigrants or second generation descendants of immigrants.
According to recent survey for example in USA, foreign-born terrorists who entered the country, either as immigrants or tourists, were responsible for 88 percent (or 3,024) of the 3,432 murders caused by terrorists on U.S. soil from 1975 through the end of 2015. This latest paper presents the first terrorism risk analysis of the visa categories those foreign-born terrorists used to enter the United States.
As for Europe data show that from July 2015 to May 2016, more than 1 million people applied for asylum in Europe. The immigrant share of the population increased most during this time in Sweden, Hungary, Austria and Norway, which each saw an increase of at least 1 percentage point. While that rise might seem small, even a 1-point increase in a single year is rare, especially in Western countries. This "spike" in Muslim population numbers, by default expand and enlarge the recruiting "pool" for possible potential terrorists. It is also a fact that in 2016, numbers show that victims from terrorist attacks at Europe has reached about 3100 victims compared to 2300 in 2015. A number that is only matching the rise of immigration flows in numbers going to West.
In Western Europe, specifically, the two trends of mass immigration and global terrorism intersect visibly and dangerously. For more than a decade the region has formed a haven for Middle Eastern "dissidents," often a.k.a. mujahedeen, and for graduate students like Mohammed Atta. But these visitors or first generation immigrants are by no means the only source of concern. The murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan descent served notice for a new generation of mujahedeen born and bred in Europe and the object of focused al Qaeda post-9-11 and post-Iraq recruitment. Because these children of guest workers are European born, they are citizens entitled to passports.
The new mujahedeen are European born and bred and products of a little noticed convergence of migratory networks and terrorist cells. In addition, European Muslim recruits can form the al Qaeda cells most apt to plot a course in the United States. The second-generation terrorists speak European languages, handle computers, surf the internet, exchange e-mail, and are familiar with post-industrial infrastructures and customs.
In addition to previous mentioned characteristics someone should also notice that:
1) They are people coming from war-affected areas of M. East and other regions who might be trying to escape from a war, but they are also being used by terrorists as a concealment veil to mix and hide among crowd, while they are trying to make entry into the west.
2) Most targets were hit by second or third generation immigrants acted on behalf of Islamic radicalism. This means two things. One is that they were not able to adjust and adapt the ways of the life in their new area of residence as a family. Two is that within west there are people who are playing the role of recruiting and radicalization.
3)Many people claim that these are the aftermath of an imperialistic operation by the West in order to control regions for oil and power. Would not doubt this, but I will set two questions for some thoughts. In those regions, there are Kurdish people who fight for their land (women, children, elders, men). Why don’t they also run away?... second question is based upon FRONTEX data which gives only a 20-25% of those flows, to be of true Syrian and Iraqi origin. Rest of them are coming from countries who are in a state of peace (officially at least). Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Nigeria and others.... so, they are not refugees of war but rather economic immigrants. How are they affected by these "imperialistic operations”?
4) Clash of civilizations. This is a very serious issue. Any person who has travelled to the M. East and countries of the Gulf, is fully aware that if he does not comply with customs there, the least he will get is a brief jail time in their prisons. Won’t even mention what will happen in a case of great offense of their customs. In comparison, some countries of the West World, support that culture of immigrants should have a first say over the ones that legal residents and natives have, by showing some tolerance in order for them to integrate better within existing communities. A very simplistic and very naive thinking.
Radicalization of immigrants, is also another phenomenon that needs to be studied closely to be able to distinguish those basic reasons that lead Muslims to terrorism. Grievances, poverty maybe some of them, however there are many more to take under consideration which are mostly guided by religious doctrines of Islam. What is also needed, is to understand that internet has decentralized terrorist training camps. Any radicalized Muslim can acquire the skills and equipment he needs to kill a few or a dozen or even a hundred if he chooses to follow radical preaching and doctrines of certain imams. This lead to a most unpredictable form of terrorist, known as lone wolf.
Lone wolf terrorism operates entirely off the existing Muslim population in a particular country. The bigger the Muslim population, the bigger the risk. Any Muslim or Muslims who have settled in a particular non-Muslim country can answer the call of Jihad at any given time without warning. As the Muslim settler population in the country increases, the number of cases will grow. No matter how much law enforcement expands the scope of its operations, it will not be able to keep up with the high natural birth rates of the Muslim settler population whose terrorists don’t need a fraction of the training or skills that trained law enforcement figures do. The more the Muslim population grows, the more terror attacks like Orlando, Boston and Nice will get past law enforcement.
Not every Muslim will shoot up a nightclub or bomb a marathon, but we have no foolproof way of telling them apart. And even many Muslims who would not shoot up an office party in San Bernardino will still sympathize with the perpetrators. And even those Muslims who don’t will often continue supporting the Muslim lobby of organizations like CAIR that stymie law enforcement investigations of Islamic terrorism.
So, what can be done?
We need, first of all, to overcome the view that narrows down things to the sole way of thinking in how to deal with terrorism and immigration and ignore the obvious ties of immigration. States have to enforce compliance as a mandatory term for immigrants, that if they are to live within countries of the west, law of state is superseding all other personal beliefs and opinions. No religious or ideological dogma is to doubt local laws and constitutions. If that comes in play, as a doctrine and gets enforced upon all residents and immigrants, most of the problems will be solved in an automated way, to my opinion. Because, laws define who has a right to stay, leave, how to comply, how to live and respect society without amplifying any sense of discrimination.
Unfortunately, today, there are governments and politicians that alter these laws in order to serve best their interests (it is no lie that immigration flows are "profitable business" for some).
While present situation stands, immigrants by default will always be identified by the crowd as potential terrorists no matter their origin. Racial profiling is on the rise because these ties between these two phenomena (Islamic terrorism and immigration) are not dealt with state law as they should be, but rather as a way to make profit by certain political groups, NGOs and others. This causes some serious ripples within populations in the West which will react (and they already do). UK, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary and others already are states that feel these ripples. So, unless we want an ending of an armed conflict spread from West to East, finding a solution needs a new approach that will focus more on security, law applying and preservation of order, in order to leave enough room for humanitarian efforts.