I’m seeing fans of Merkel’s open-borders policy on Twitter celebrating this as some sort of grand debunking of the “great right-wing freakout” about refugees. Okay, but … I don’t think this says what they think it says.
Mystery deepened over a Paris attacker who traveled to Europe via Greece and the Balkans, after French officials said Monday that the Syrian passport he had used was indeed a fake.
Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.
Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night…
Greek authorities on islands such as Leros, Lesbos and Chios have confronted thousands of arrivals every day in recent months as refugees and other migrants make the short sea crossing from Turkey in inflatable boats. Short of staff and equipment, Greek police carry out only a simple procedure that involves taking people’s data and fingerprints, and sometimes asking them a few questions, before giving them permission to travel onward, deeper into Europe.
The mystery surrounding the passport isn’t whether the papers are real or fake, it’s whether the jihadi bomber really did enter Europe with a wave of refugees or whether he simply wanted it to appear that way. The key question when the passport was found was whether it really belonged to the bomber or whether he had stolen it from someone and then cunningly carried it during the attack, knowing that once it was found afterward, it would spark a backlash against refugees. Maybe the guy was actually a homegrown terrorist, born and raised in France, who was simply exploiting the refugee crisis to sow extra dissension between native Europeans the new arrivals. That would have been a crafty ploy by ISIS, designed to pit the refugees and Europeans against each other. On the other hand, as I said this morning, it’s also arguably likely that ISIS wants the refugee process to continue. For one thing, it’s helping them cleanse the caliphate in Syria of Christians, Yazidis, and more moderate Muslims who don’t want to live as Salafists. For another thing, the larger Europe’s Muslim population gets, the more tension there’ll be long-term between the non-Muslim majority and Muslim minority even without provocations by ISIS. That’ll radicalize younger western Muslims in due course.
But I digress. The “right-wing freakout” is unjustified if the bomber merely posed as a new arrival by carrying someone else’s (fake) passport. He didn’t. He really was a new arrival. Those are his fingerprints on the passport that was used to enter Greece in October as a refugee. What does it matter whether his ruse, that he was there to resettle after fleeing persecution and not to murder people, involved a fake passport rather than a real one? One of the core arguments all along against the EU opening its borders to huge numbers of refugees is that the sheer volume was bound to make it impossible to tell the real refugees from the posers, be they migrants looking for better work or jihadis looking to kill some French concertgoers. What this story confirms, horrifyingly, is that EU authorities can’t tell a fake passport from a real one. In which case, how the hell do they have any confidence that there aren’t more attackers among the many thousands they’ve already admitted? Exactly how many fake passports are out there?
In an interview with The Daily Beast, a former member of ISIS emphasized that Syrian passports, like the one found on that Paris terrorist, can be bought from the Syrian regime.
“There are people who go back and forth to Aleppo or Hama or Latakia or Tartus—you give them $1,000 and a nice photograph, and they’ll print you a good passport,” Abu Khaled, a former member the Islamic State’s internal security service, Amn al-Dawleh, said Monday.
“The guys with the regime are corrupt; they’ll give you whatever you want for money,” he added.
“In a sense,” sneers the Daily Beast, “Republican governors of 14 states took ISIS at their word” by declaring that their states’ borders are now closed to Syrian refugees because of one jihadi’s fake passport. Actually, it sounds like they took ISIS’s enemy, the Assad regime, at its word, since it seems from the excerpt like it’s Assad’s guys who are cranking these quasi-genuine papers out for cash. But that point is neither here nor there. If open-borders fans are using this story as proof that there still haven’t been any real refugees linked to terrorism, okay, but no one seriously claims that most refugees are terrorists. The claim is that refugees are bringing terrorists with them, right under the noses of border controls. If anything, the situation is worse than feared since now we know for sure that security forces can’t tell fake refugees from the real deal. What now?