Quotes of the day

[A]t least one of the Paris terrorists who killed more than 120 people on Friday entered Europe as just another face in the crowd — embedded in the current wave of Syrian war refugees

One of the men who attacked Paris held an emergency passport or similar document, according to an unnamed French senator who was briefed by the French Ministry of the Interior. The senator told CNN the bomber falsely declared himself to be a Syrian named Ahmad al Muhammad, born on September 10, 1990, and was allowed to enter Greece on October 3. From there he moved to Macedonia, then Serbia and Croatia, where he registered in the Opatovac refugee camp, the lawmaker said. Eventually, he made his way to Paris, where he was one of three men who blew themselves up at the Stade de France…

European officials told CNN that they believe a new professional squad of terrorists is inserting itself into some of these migrant voyages.

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A terrorist behind the Paris attacks who allegedly posed as a Syrian refugee was rescued by Greek authorities after the migrant boat he had smuggled himself on sunk, it has been claimed…

The rescued men were brought to the island of Leros on October 3. They were among a convoy of 69 refugees who were registered and had their fingerprints taken before continuing on their journey…

The newspaper Protothema says the men’s passports were checked but the island authorities did not have the ability to determine whether their documents were real or not.

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Screening migrants represents a formidable security challenge at a time when European intelligence agencies are straining to keep track of thousands of their own nationals who have rallied to Islamic State, officials say.

France, which blamed the Sunni insurgency for Friday’s attacks, faces an especially difficult task because its security services have been suffering from what they describe as a relative blindness in the region since Paris stopped cooperating with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This is what we had feared,” a senior French official said.

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The suicide vests used Friday by attackers in Paris — a first in France — were made by a highly-skilled professional who could still be at large in Europe, intelligence and security experts say.

All seven of the assailants who died in attacks wore identical explosive vests and did not hesitate to blow themselves up — a worrying change of tactic for jihadists targeting France…

“Suicide vests require a munitions specialist. To make a reliable and effective explosive is not something anyone can do,” a former French intelligence chief told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“A munitions specialist is someone who is used to handling explosives, who knows how to make them, to arrange them in a way that the belt or vest is not so unwieldy that the person can’t move,” he added.

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ISIS has developed a specific group within its organization dedicated to launching terrorist attacks abroad, like the one the claimed more than 100 lives in Paris, U.S. officials told ABC News.

“There is a specific unit on the organization charts of ISIS for external attacks, for planning and carrying out attacks in western Europe and in the United States,” said Richard Clarke, a former White House counter-terrorism advisor and current ABC News consultant.

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The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, has for the first time engaged in what appears to be a centrally planned campaign of terrorist attacks aimed at inflicting huge civilian casualties on distant territory, forcing many counterterrorism officials in the United States and in Europe to recalibrate their assessment of the group…

“There is a radical change of perception by the terrorists that they can now act in Paris just as they act in Syria or Baghdad,” said Mathieu Guidère, a terrorism specialist at the University of Toulouse. “With this action, a psychological barrier has been broken.”

Indeed, at a time when many Western officials were most concerned about Islamic State-inspired, lone-wolf attacks — terrifying in their randomness but relatively low in casualties — the attacks in Paris have revived the specter of coordinated, high-casualty attacks planned with the involvement of a relatively large number of perpetrators…

“Their goal is an unconventional urban guerrilla war,” said Franck Chaix, an officer of the Gendarmerie, France’s semi-military police force, and a former head of its special intervention force, G.I.G.N.

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Over the past year, current and former intelligence officials tell Yahoo News, IS terror suspects have moved to increasingly sophisticated methods of encrypted communications, using new software such as Tor, that intelligence agencies are having difficulty penetrating — a switch that some officials say was accelerated by the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden…

In the months after the Snowden disclosures, U.S. officials tell Yahoo News, some terror suspects — including those associated with IS in Iraq and Syria — were even overheard by U.S. intelligence making comments along the lines of “let’s not use that anymore,” one former official said.

The terror suspects also increasingly began avoiding U.S. Internet providers, such as Google and Yahoo, and switching instead to foreign Internet providers, such as those in Russia…

FBI director James Comey has tried to highlight the danger of encryption capabilities offered by the new Apple iPhone as well as others offered by U.S. companies.  “But even if we get the keys [to encryption] from Apple and the like, the dark Web can’t be controlled,” said the official.

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With Paris now enduring this second major terror bloodbath in under a year, questions are now being asked about how much longer both Europe’s open border system and vision of a tolerant, multi-cultural society can survive

Designed to facilitate the free movement of goods and labour that is the economic life-blood of the continent, the Schengen system has also enabled the easy transfer of both weapons and, potentially jihadist fighters, across those same borders…

Even before the Paris attacks, Donald Tusk, the EU president, had warned that Europe faced a “race against time” to save the 20-year-old system, which is seen as one of the Union’s most concrete achievements…

Mr Lewin of the Henry Jackson Society, warned that unless liberal governments were more open about confronting the threat posed by militant Islam to European societies, they risked losing the argument to the real hardliners.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Sunday there was no need for a complete review of the bloc’s refugee policy after the Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State jihadists.

“Those who organised, who perpetrated the attacks are the very same people who the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite. And so there is no need for an overall review of the European policy on refugees,” Juncker said ahead of a summit of the Group of 20 top world economies in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

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For many refugees like Assad, Friday night’s attacks came as a shock, a sudden reminder of the war-torn countries they have left behind. A day later, however, he and others fear further backlash from the government and French citizens alike. “I’m worried,” says Assad, who has lived in France for three years. “How will people look at us?”…

While Paris was burning, a few hundred miles north, a refugee camp on the outskirts of Calais was on fire. At about 11 p.m. local time, a blaze ripped through at least 40 shelters in the camp, which is known as the Jungle. The fire ignited rumors that the two events were connected, a claim that Aaban, 19, a refugee from Afghanistan who lives in the camp, is quick to refute. “This is not the work of refugees,” he says in a phone interview. “I don’t know who did this but it was not refugees.”…

Kheet expresses hope and doubt that one of the attackers was indeed Syrian. “If they find a Syrian passport that doesn’t mean that who did that is Syrian,” he says. But he concedes that it ultimately doesn’t matter. “European people’s opinion will change anyway,” he says. “We Muslims know that Europe before November 13 is not the Europe after that date.”

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Refugee camps in Italy’s northern regions are under almost constant attack by far-right protesters who have torched prayer rooms and constantly hand out anti-Islam propaganda. In many of the camps, the security fences do more to keep angry citizens out than to keep the migrants and refugees in. Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s far-right Northern League, wrote on his Facebook page that all Islamic communities in Italy should be subject to close surveillance, suggesting, “The throat cutters and Islamic terrorists should be eliminated with force!”…

Those sentiments were echoed across the continent over the weekend. Poland’s newly elected, incoming European Affairs commissioner Konrad Szymanski said Poland would no longer accept refugees and migrants after the Paris attacks. “The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis,” he said Saturday. “We’ll accept them if we have security guarantees. This is a key condition, and today a question mark has been put next to it all around Europe.”…

In the article with the “Islamic Bastards” headline, Libero journalist Franco Bechis insisted that there is no way to know who may be hiding among the refugees. Under European law, all migrants and refugees should be fingerprinted and their details should be logged, though in many cases, the sheer number of arrivals make it logistically impossible to do. The Daily Beast has witnessed refugees arriving without being documented. Bechis insists it isn’t done at all. “From January to the end of October a small city of ghosts have landed on our shores,” he wrote. “None of them have a document. None of them have a fingerprint. Nobody gives the Italian authorities a name, a surname, a city of origin. The only thing we know from the people who see them land is that they are mostly Arab and African.” 

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“They’re stupid, but they aren’t evil,” their friend Sabrina, an administrative worker in one of the theaters in the 11th arrondissement, said. “They are victims of a system that excluded them from society, that’s why they felt this doesn’t belong to them and they could attack. There are those who live here in alienation, and we are all to blame for this alienation.”…

“After the attacks in January, they said we should unite, but that essentially meant that we should be together and not think independently,” says Clemens Mama, a teacher. “They don’t want us to think that maybe it’s connected to the policies of our government and of the United States in the Middle East.” No, she wasn’t surprised that the attackers apparently included people who were born and raised in France. “These are people the government gave up on, and you have to ask why,” she said…

“Daesh is so dangerous to France,” said Johann Crispel, a business student at a college near one of the restaurants that was attacked, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State and wrinkling his nose as he enunciated it. “Perhaps it’s correct to bomb them in the name of democracy and freedom, but it brought the war in Syria to us in France. I don’t think it’s worth it.”

It was hard to find anyone at this gathering who would say a bad word about the attackers, and expressions of patriotism were restrained.

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[I]n one night of slaughter, the attacks in Paris have caused the tectonic plates of geopolitics to shift sharply rightward, and no one will be unaffected. The new axis of opinion in the U.S. and Western European countries is plainly going to be harsher, more interventionist and less tolerant of, well, tolerance. Americans were already beginning to lose their post-Iraq war squeamishness about intervening overseas: a November Quinnipiac University poll found that American voters, by a 54-38 percent margin, backed sending U.S. troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. It’s safe to assume we’re about to grow more even more interventionist in mood, and Obama, as is his wont, may well follow the public temper, stepping up the minimalist approach he’s taken to countering Islamic State in Iraq and Syria so far.

Already in Washington a somewhat more subdued version of this martial mood —subdued only because it didn’t happen here this time—is hardening up the 2016 presidential race…

[W]hat is different this time around is that, for almost the first time since those raw days of unity just after 9/11—when Le Monde declared on its front page, “We Are All Americans”—the West is fairly well aligned on this new chapter in the global war on terror. After the Iraq invasion the Bush administration lost its chance to muster a unified international front against al Qaeda, a failure that cost it dearly.

What will the new stage of “war” look like? If in fact the U.S. and France are now prepared to be “ruthless,” it means that French planes and troops can soon be expected in Syria and possibly Iraq, and in Washington the festering debate between the White House and the Pentagon over whether America’s few “boots on the ground” in those countries are to be used in combat or not will be resolved in favor of more aggressiveness.

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[W]e will never kill our way out of this phenomenon. In January 2013, after Bin Laden’s death but long before ISIS’s emergence, my counter-extremism organization Quilliam declared (to choruses of raised eyebrows at the time), “It’s a full blown jihadist-insurgency, stupid.” And no insurgency is sustainable, or even possible, without a level of residual support for its core ideological aims among the core communities from which it draws its fighters.

Jihadism has well and truly taken root among an entire generation of angry young Muslims. This is particularly the case in Europe, where thousands have left to join ISIS. This insurgency is incredibly hard to tackle, because its recruits remain invisible in our very own societies, born and raised among us, fluent in our languages and culture, but full of venom for everything they have been raised into.

Though London is by now well overdue a similar attack, a question that could legitimately be asked is why does France seem to be bearing the brunt of such coordinated jihadist terror, up until now most potently symbolized by the Charlie Hebdo attacks? Unfortunately for France, though not unique to it, between 5 and 10 percent of its population is Muslim. Real, serious problems with economic and social integration prevail in this group, fuelling resentment on a scale that baffles most expert policy makers. Even if hundreds, out of millions, take this resentment to its deadly conclusion, France has a huge problem on its hands, as we saw on Friday. But so do we all.

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Even if all such weapons and explosives could be stopped from entering the EU tomorrow, there remains the problem that Europe has so many would-be jihadists already. The number of “watchable” suspects, meaning potential terrorists who need monitoring by the security services, in France alone exceeds 5,000, according to Paris. “We’re overwhelmed, and it’s getting worse daily,” was how a senior French intelligence official explained his situation to me recently.

There now will be much commentary from pundits and politicians arguing it’s time to “get tough” with the jihadists in Europe, accompanied by promises of more resources to deter the next outrage. Spies will believe such promises when executed, not before, but the stark reality is that there is no intelligence or law enforcement fix to the threat that Europe now faces from the global jihad.

As I explained back in January, after the last outrage in Paris, although France has very competent security services, among the best in Europe at countering terrorism, the number of potential jihadists is now so vast that no intelligence agency can reliably track and deter them all. Time and again, suspects on watch-lists go missing. In real life, unlike the movies, intelligence is never perfect.

Unless Paris is willing to contemplate harsher measures, such as the internment of potential jihadists, known Islamist radicals, we should expect more attacks.

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The attack in Paris on Friday — and the attacks in other European capitals preceding it — has more the character of an intifada: All you need is a crowd and the will to do evil. Guns, knives, gasoline, improvised explosives, motor vehicles — the weapons are commonplace, and they are incidental.

What an intifada needs is either easy passage across borders or a suitable domestic environment in which to hide. Paris offered both in the form of Europe’s open borders and the large population of immigrant Muslims in French cities…

The United States should apply an extraordinary level of scrutiny to visitors from countries whose main exports are jihad — before, during, and possibly even after their stays. And we should place severe limits on immigration to the United States from those countries. Europe’s ambulatory Syrian invasion has a number of Europe’s peoples, such as the Poles, asking themselves why a country that doesn’t already have a large unassimilated Muslim minority in its midst would want one, and there aren’t any convincing answers coming out of Paris or Stockholm or London or Frankfurt or . . .

Yes, that would constitute an act of terrible callousness to millions of people seeking a better life away from base primitivism in Dar al-Islam, but the responsibility of the United States government is to United States citizens, not to the poor suffering people of Yemen and Syria. The good and the guilty will suffer together, in no small part because the good unwittingly provide the fertile soil in which the guilty cultivate jihad.

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To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.

So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.

So screw the candlelight vigil.

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If you’re one of the millions of young people who enjoyed this period of relative comfort, I’m sorry tell you that it’s coming to an end. If Madrid, London, or Mumbai didn’t wake you up, Paris should. In the last week, three major terrorist attacks—not just in France, but in Lebanon and against a Russian airliner in Egypt—have killed more than 400 people. ISIS has claimed responsibility for all three massacres. A year ago, you could have said that the terrorists who wanted to hit the West couldn’t pull it off, or that those who could pull it off it didn’t have the ambition. You can’t say that anymore.

It’s tempting to argue that Paris is just blowback, and that if France and other countries stop hitting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, ISIS will stop hitting back. But that doesn’t square with ISIS’s statement of responsibility for the deaths in Paris. The statement says the assailants were “targeting the capital of prostitution and obscenity.” It celebrates the carnage at “the Bataclan Conference Center, where hundreds of apostates had gathered in a profligate prostitution party.” It praises the killers for blowing themselves up “in the gatherings of the disbelievers.” The authors of this statement, and people who think like them, won’t leave you alone. They’re at war with your way of life…

In a world full of religious violence and terrorism, you’ll have to choose among some bad options. You might have to accept unsavory partners, such as Russia and Iran. You might have to send American troops abroad. You might have to join the fight yourself. And you’ll probably have to accept some degree of mass surveillance. It takes roughly 25 people to track every potential bad guy. France can’t field enough domestic officers to monitor thousands of possible plotters. Neither can we…

For those of us living stateside, the last 14 years have been pretty easy. Those days are over.

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“If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained.”

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“I say this as a liberal, I would be concerned as a Democrat about the entire terrorism part of this debate.”