Actually, Europol hardly needed to issue its warning today, because ISIS beat them to the punch. The terrorist quasi-state published a 17-minute video showing some of the perpetrators of the Paris attack preparing for their mass slaughter by beheading and shooting prisoners in Syria. They issued an explicit threat against the UK, and in particular Prime Minister David Cameron:
The 17-minute video shows the extent of the planning that went into the multiple attacks in Paris, which French authorities have said from the beginning was planned in Syria. The video was provided online by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.
The video does not contain any footage of the attacks themselves, but is assembled from material shot before the men left for Paris, as well as news and amateur videos. The video did not specify where the nine men were filmed, but it was believed to have been in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
The video also contains threats against the United Kingdom, showing images of London landmarks Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral and claiming extremists are ready to strike “anytime, anywhere.” At one point, the image of British Prime Minister David Cameron is shown with a crosshair over his face. …
Seven of the militants, including a 20-year-old who was the youngest of the group, were filmed standing behind bound captives, described as “apostates,” who were either beheaded or shot.
Europol notes — perhaps belatedly — the shift in ISIS operations from merely ground acquisition to a full-blown international terror organization:
Europe is currently facing the most significant terrorist threat in over 10 years. The Paris attacks on 13 November 2015 indicate a shift towards a clear international dimension of Islamic State to carry out special forces style attacks in the international environment. This and the growing number of foreign fighters are posing new challenges for EU Member States.
More attacks in the EU may happen in the future. Therefore there is a great need within the European Union to strengthen our response to terror, to suspected terrorist networks and foreign fighters, and have an improved strategic understanding of threats.
This metastasis in ISIS became apparent last year, when they took credit for downing a chartered jet carrying more than 200 Russian tourists out of Sharm el-Sheikh. There had been some doubt as to whether this and other terror attacks for which ISIS claimed credit were in fact operations carried out on orders of their leadership, or whether these were just local groups “inspired” by ISIS. This video makes it clear that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his organization have returned to the roots of their al-Qaeda origins, and plan to use the relative safe haven of the Syrian-Iraqi desert to plot attacks on Western targets. Thanks to the opening provided by the refugee crisis, Europe makes the most sense for planned operations, but the US could easily be next — and is certain to be on the aspirational list of ISIS operations.
Politico’s European bureau reports that Europol has also recognized that risk:
Although there is no evidence that the terror group plans to use the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from Syria to attack Europe, there is “a real and imminent danger” that the Syrian diaspora could become radicalized and targeted by ISIL, Europol warned.
There is also evidence that ISIL has set up a special command center aimed at undertaking operations in Europe and specifically in France.
“In selecting their targets IS has shown its capability to strike at will, at any time, and at almost any chosen target,” the agency said. “In its target selection it shows a preference for soft targets with a potential to cause mass casualties.”
Er, no evidence? French investigators found evidence that the Paris plotters used the refugee crisis as a screen for its operatives, as well as fake Syrian passports. So too did the suicide bomber in Istanbul that targeted the Sultanahmet plaza and the tourists that gather there. Turkey had also found eight suspects that came through the refugee program before they had an opportunity to launch any attacks — and so did Honduras with five men traveling on fake Syrian passports who had first come through Greece.
Perhaps there may be no evidence of a current plot using sleeper agents amidst the refugees, but we’ve certainly seen how ISIS has exploited the crisis recently. It may be politically correct to discount the dangers of a mass migration from a radicalized region, but as a security policy, it stinks. ISIS has demonstrated how seriously it takes its terrorist mission to murder as many people as possible, and Western nations had better start taking it more seriously than they have up to now.