Federal Bureau of Investigation officials warned this week that despite predictions of military defeat for the Islamic State extremist group’s “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, terrorist attacks inspired by the organization can be expected to continue.
While the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) will inevitably be “crushed,” FBI Director James Comey said on Tuesday, “there will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before.”
Michael Steinbach, executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch, made similar comments Wednesday at a security conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I’m fairly convinced that 2017 and 2018 in the homeland will be more dangerous than we’ve seen before, because as we shrink ISIS, they’ll lash out,” Steinbach reportedly said.
In Europe, too, officials have expressed concerns that the recent spate of terror attacks will not necessarily end with a military defeat of Daesh in Syria. “I think it will be a generation-long struggle that we face to absorb the return of thousands of foreign fighters, particularly to Western Europe,” Rob Wainwright, director of the E.U. police agency Europol, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that ex-ISIS militants’ exposure to violence in the region “on top of their radicalized state makes them highly dangerous individuals.”
European Union countries have increased efforts at border security to prevent re-entry of European nationals who have gone to join Daesh, and to stop them from leaving for Syria in the first place, or from getting there. The once comparatively steady stream of Islamists traveling between Europe and Syria has now reportedly slowed to a trickle. Beyond these actions and public statements like Wainwright’s, however, it’s been revealed that the E.U. has made some other moves behind the scenes aimed not just at its own citizens abroad, but apparently at slowing immigration in general from Africa and the Middle East.
Over the past few months it has been reported that E.U. officials have secretly drafted plans for deals involving European aid and technical assistance to a wide range of African and Middle Eastern governments, including those of Jordan, Lebanon, Uganda, Djibouti, Libya, Ethiopia, Niger — and most controversially, Sudan and Eritrea — in exchange for those countries doing more to enforce immigration laws and border security. Sudan’s president was the first sitting head of state to ever be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, while Eritrea’s government has been accused of crimes against humanity by the United Nations.
Meanwhile, as the E.U. and Afghan government get ready to co-host the Brussels conference on Afghanistan next week, a leaked “non-paper” that surfaced earlier this year is back in the news. The document, which an E.U. spokesperson refused to comment on this week in response to an inquiry from the Guardian, outlines a plan to demand that Afghanistan accept at least 80,000 asylum seekers deported from Europe, with the threat of withholding aid on the table to persuade the Afghans.
This revelation comes despite acknowledgment in the secret “non-paper” that Afghanistan depends massively on foreign aid just to ensure security for its Western-backed government that has been in place since the U.S. invasion, which could easily collapse without continued assistance. “Afghanistan remains highly aid dependent (around 40% of GDP), with 2/3 of the budget allocated to the security sector. Without continued high levels of international transfers, the Afghan state established after the 2002 intervention is unlikely to prevail, as it is being faced by multiple security, economic and political challenges,” the document states.
It also discusses things like “possible support for vocational training,” or as the London Daily Telegraph put it, “The Afghan elite will be rewarded with university places in Europe, under a new EU strategy to use aid and trade as ‘incentives’ to secure deportation agreements for economic migrants from ‘safe’ areas of Afghanistan.”
Earlier this year, at least, prior to events such as the mass shooting in Orlando and recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, some were arguing that “Europe has a bigger terror problem than the U.S.” Following the latest comments from FBI officials, however, it seems likely that we’ll soon see America engaging in immigration machinations similar to those by the E.U — perhaps overtly under a potential Donald Trump presidency, versus covertly under Hillary Clinton.
Either way, however, and in both Europe and America, such moves will only do so much to stop terrorism — if that is what the politicians and policymakers who have built careers around the Global War on Terrorism even really want.
The E.U. “is already contributing to the development of biometric identity cards and electronic population registers” in Europe, ostensibly to identify potential deportees, according to the leaked Afghanistan conference “non-paper.” Corruption and human rights violations are well-documented in many countries under consideration by the E.U. for secret anti-immigration deals, and substantial risk exists that surveillance equipment and funding sent to these governments could be diverted for repressive, criminal, or even terrorist purposes. Despite these risks, however, such behind-the-scenes dealings on immigration issues appear to be Europe’s preferred method.
Meanwhile, despite the domestic focus on the threat of ISIS and ISIS-inspired homegrown terror attacks, the U.S. continues its quixotic effort to defeat the group while simultaneously overthrowing the Syrian government — and potentially fighting the Russians. In the wake of the recent failed cease-fire with Russia in Syria, the Obama Administration is now reportedly considering sending more weapons to the supposed good guys in that ongoing and bloody conflict, weighing “whether to authorize the Central Intelligence Agency and its partners in the region to deliver weapons systems that would enable CIA-vetted rebel units to strike Syrian and Russian artillery positions from longer distances.”
Thus the military-industrial complex perpetuates itself, the governments of the West blissfully unaware, ostensibly, that their ongoing efforts at nation-building, externalizing major problems, and policing the world will only continue the cycle of violence.
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