Spotlight: Europe easy prey for attacks as IS diverts failure in Mideast

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-25 17:07:36|Editor: Lu Hui
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by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The recent wave of terrorist attacks in Europe is correlated in one way or another with the chaotic situation in the Middle East and the defeats of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Arab security experts told Xinhua in recent interviews.

Dozens of people have been killed since March in a spate of terror attacks that spread through the United Kingdom, France and Belgium, in which the terror suspects, most of whom being of Arab or Muslim origins, used vehicles, knives and explosives to mow down pedestrians, attack police and blow up innocent people.

The political and security disorder over the past few years in several Arab states and the IS decline in Raqqa and Mosul, its de facto capitals in Syria and Iraq, led European-born militants to return home for shelter.

"When they reach Europe, whether they are arrested, deported or frustrated, they become an easy target to be recruited by those who call for extremism and discrimination," said Mohamed Kashkoush, professor of national security at Cairo-based Nasser Supreme Military Academy.

The Iraqi media said the security forces killed on Saturday 115 IS members and 12 snipers in its last stronghold in Mosul.

According to the professor, the war on IS in Syria and Iraq does not wipe out terrorism but only kills a group of them and arrests another.

"The survivors do one of two things. They either go back home, engage in society and get rid of extremist thoughts or they maintain their extremist ideology against their own society," Kashkoush noted.

"The second category is more dangerous. They try to temporarily find a safe shelter to prepare for resuming terrorist activities in other places. Those temporarily inactive elements could be a nucleus for a future terror cell in their own," he added.

Eradicating the IS in Syria and Iraq does not mark its undoing, but starts its geographical shift to other places.

Turmoil-stricken Libya is a suitable environment for the terrorists, as the country is a center for illegal migration to Europe and coordination with the Western-born IS members back home.

"When things get worse in Libya, this will not only reflect on neighboring Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria but also on Europe indirectly," the Egyptian expert said.

It is obvious that there is a direct link between terror attacks in Europe and what is going on in the Middle East.

"This is not necessarily related to the regional political situation but it has to do with a broad combination of factors including political, economic and social ones. Pressures of globalization represent one of them," said Saud Shorufat, head of Amman-based Shorufat Center for Globalization and Terrorism Studies.

With the fast development of technology, social media networks and means of communication and human interaction, their expression of feelings of injustice, rage or discrimination and their direct response to happenings around the globe have become greater and faster.

"If we talk geographically, globalization quickened the pace of confrontation between the Arab, Muslim party and the Western one. This explains why Islamophobia rose greatly over the past years," the Jordanian expert told Xinhua.

Islamophobia started to rise with the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991 and grew wildly in 2001 after the September 11 attack on New York. However, it has not been as overwhelming as in recent years, especially in Britain, France and some Scandinavian states which used to be more tolerant toward Muslims.

On June 19, a man was killed and several others injured after a vehicle ran over pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque in London.

Earlier in March, two Americans were stabbed to death when defending a Muslim teenager racially abused in a Portland train.

"Although many experts believe in a direct relation between attacks in Europe and IS defeat in Mosul and Raqqa, I believe they are only partly interrelated because the IS already carried out big terrorist attacks in Europe even before their decline in Syria and Iraq," Shorufat explained.

Since early 2015, terrorist attacks in Europe have killed at least 300 and wounded more than 1,000 others.

The year 2015 started and ended with two major deadly attacks in Paris. One was in January on an office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 were killed, while the other occurred in November, which was a series of coordinated assaults, killing 130 and injuring hundreds of others.

In 2016, terror attacks in Brussels, Nice, Normandy and Berlin killed about 130 and wounded 500 others, while in 2017 similar attacks in London, Manchester, Stockholm and Paris left about 40 dead and about 100 injured.

"The lone-wolf terror trend is what has increased in Europe after the IS defeats in Syria and Iraq," said Shorufat, pointing out that the trend appeared a decade ago but has now become a sub-phenomenon of the broader one called terrorism.

The recent attacks in Paris, London and Stockholm were carried out by "lone wolves." The terror style is not only adopted by the IS but has also been used by al-Qaida that claimed responsibility for the latest terrorist attack on a tourist resort in Mali.

"Accordingly, the recent IS decline is not the only reason for the rising wave of terrorist attacks in Europe, as the IS is mainly concerned with hitting Western interests in general, whether in Europe or in the United States," said the Jordanian expert.