The March 23 terrorist attack in France, which began in the city of Carcassonne and ended nearby in Trèbes, has once again focused a light on the Gordian knot facing European societies: mass migration and its associated elements of crime and radical jihadists.
The perpetrator of the attacks was 25-year-old Moroccan-born Radouane Lakdim, who killed four in the course of a carjacking and subsequent supermarket hostage-taking, allegedly done in the name of ISIS. One of those murdered was a police officer who traded himself for dozens of other hostages being held in the supermarket. Lakdim was a small-time drug dealer and criminal with several brushes with the law under his belt, and his radical views had once put him under surveillance by security and intelligence officials.
Lakdim represents the classic failure of government to protect its citizenry in the most fundamental of ways: Despite his criminal history, Lakdim not only wasn't at risk of deportation, he had in fact managed to acquire French nationality and there don't appear to have been any moves to strip him of it. What's more, he was strongly suspected of being a radical Islamist and had been under security surveillance for a period of time, at least until more pressing priorities obliged overwhelmed police and intelligence officials to deprioritize him in favor of others more likely to do harm, after which, the spotlight being off, he struck.
It's worth noting that the intersectionality of mass migration, crime, and terrorism isn't just a one-off in Lakdim's case. It represents a depressing commonality among European jihadists. He isn't even the only one who fell off the radar of security authorities for suspected jihadist tendencies and then went on to commit horrific terrorist acts. That, too, is a depressing reality.
I'm sure that some progressives will object to any implication of connectivity among mass migration, crime, and terror — which is ironic, given their recent emphasis on the notion of "intersectionality", the connectedness of things — and yet we see it perfectly, again and again, in Lakdim and others of his ilk, such as the perpetrators of the March 2016 terror attacks at the international airport in Brussels (who had also been involved in planning the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris).
To be sure, not all migrants, even those who take advantage of mass migration events to cross borders illegally, will be involved in crime or terror. But it is equally sure that criminals and terrorists will seek protective coloration by hiding among the multitudes of others who cross borders or live in isolated religious/cultural/ethnic enclaves within a nation's borders. They become difficult to identify or isolate this way; the larger the haystack, the more difficult it is to find the needles within.
Logic dictates that, confronted with this reality and given the inability of state security forces to adequately police and protect their society, governments would systematically trim the size of those haystacks, especially in light of the porous nature of European borders. Not so. In fact, the European Union (EU) continues to press its member states to accept their assigned quota of the roughly two million aliens who migrated by "irregular" means over the past three years, or face fines and other sanctions.
Many EU nations, particularly those to the east who were the first recipients of the landward portion of the human tidal wave, have pushed back. This isn't surprising, since they had little part in instigating it or accepting it in the first place (see here and here).
Confronting an EU that seems unwilling or unable to develop a coherent immigration control and enforcement strategy, the various nations have been obliged to develop their own methods. Some have done better than others. Here are some examples.
Finland, the happiest country on Earth according to a United Nations report, has apparently chosen a reasonably robust approach, with periodic police checks and dragnets designed to specifically identify and arrest aliens residing illegally in the country. Needless to say, it has been accompanied by the usual complaints of targeting based simply on ethnicity. Ethnicity, however, can be one legitimate indicator of nationality — even here in the United States where, combined with other "articulable facts" it can give rise to probable cause to detain an individual. This would be even more true in Finland, which is a singularly homogeneous country whose dominant populations are Finns, Swedes, Sami, and other northern European peoples.
Sweden is another happy Scandinavian country that, at least until recent influxes, was, in ethnic terms, fairly homogeneous. However, government policies in the past couple of decades have changed the ethnic makeup, at least in metropolitan areas, some of which have begun to evidence the existence of insular enclaves where Swedes — including firefighters, emergency medical workers, and police — fear to tread. As a result, the Swedish Moderate Party has begun to advocate deployment of military units into these assimilation-free no-go zones.
In Belgium, which has had so many recent problems with radical Islam in recent years, much of it bred internally in enclaves such as Mollenbeek — an unacknowledged no-go zone that was home to the Islamists who spread terror in both Paris and Brussels — the notion of trimming the migrant haystack in order to find the needles apparently has just begun to dawn on police and security forces. MSN recently ran a heartwarming "human interest" story involving a fairly sophisticated division-of-labor network in Brussels, whereby illegal aliens gather at certain locations where they are parceled out and then whisked away by waiting volunteer motorists to various safe house locations stocked with food and beds. The police have recently begun to conduct raids on the aliens who gather at these locations while waiting for pick-up, but have yet to take firm action against the brigade of Belgians involved in harboring the aliens. Perhaps they are reluctant to take this nascent sanctuary movement head-on, but one suspects that they would be well advised to do so. Our own country is a prime example of what happens when that particular phenomenon is left to fester by federal authorities.
In France, the authorities have begun to focus on enforcing laws against the crime of harboring and transporting aliens. The Washington Post ran a recent article that puts a human interest spin on the morally uplifting notion of alien harboring: It's the story of a French "farmer" (who, as far as I can tell, does no actual farming) who goes a step farther than the Belgians, and actually crosses the international frontier into Italy to gather illegal aliens and bring them back to squat on his farm until they're ready to move on. Because of the human interest angle, the Post is, of course, singularly devoid of curiosity when it comes to making inquiries as to how this "farmer" knows exactly who he is harboring among the masses. Do they have criminal histories? Are they wanted fugitives in Italy or their home countries? Are they radicals and terrorists? Who knows? Fortunately, the French police have arrested and charged him with criminal offenses that could land him in jail for five years, although who can say whether the gendarmes took this action after pressure from the Italians. One hopes not.
Finally, we have Germany, which appears to be suffering official schizophrenia as the result of the two faces of Chancellor Angela Merkel where mass migration, crime, and terrorism are concerned, even though Germany has repeatedly been rocked by huge numbers of migrants (many of them now failed asylum seekers who have not been removed), shocking incidents involving harassment and assault by migrant men on German women in public plazas and parks, and no small number of terror attacks, including a horrific and deadly attack on a Berlin market at Christmastime in 2016.
Merkel was in no small measure responsible for triggering the tidal wave of humans migrating illegally into Europe, in the same way that Jimmy Carter triggered the Mariel boatlift with ill-chosen and poorly thought-out public phrases of welcome without limit or regard to the legal niceties. Recently, though, to the surprise of many — and probably only because her party was struggling to gather a governing coalition after a poor showing in the federal election that tilted decidedly rightward — Merkel acknowledged that no-go zones had developed in Germany.
Even so, when the interior minister raised questions about the interrelationship between Islam and German culture, Merkel's response was "Islam is part of Germany." Well intended as the remark may have been, it raised more than a few eyebrows. Context is everything. Interestingly, only a few days before, Jawad Khoei, a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric was interviewed by the BBC Arabic channel and had this to say in relation to Islam and Europe: "[Christians] were the owners of this land, and the Muslims came in as their guests." How deeply disturbing that a Muslim cleric is more prone to speak honestly about the nexus between culture and religion than Germany's chief political leader.
In sum, what seems clear to an outside observer is that it's unlikely the EU's central governing authority will have much success forcing migrant quotas on resistant states. Furthermore, unless and until the EU gets serious and develops a coherent strategy to police its borders and its interior spaces, it is destined to continuing failure on the intersectional matters of migration, crime, and terror. Each nation taking its own path cannot possibly result in collective success given the paucity of border controls among and between the 28 member states of the EU (including Great Britain, which, of course, is in the middle of "divorce proceedings" from the EU).