Murder of a Libyan Smuggling Boss Will Change Nothing

By Dan Cadman on September 30, 2015

A friend sent me a curious news item from the British online Telegraph outlining the assassination of a Libyan migrant smuggler and eight of his bodyguards. The man was apparently at the apex of this dirty trade. The article goes on to cite speculation that the massacre was the "wet work" of Italian security services in retaliation for the tens of thousands of migrants sent to Italian shores in the past several months.

I'm not one to automatically reject theories just because they skew heavily on the dark-and-sinister scale, but on the other hand probabilities must be weighed, and they mitigate against this notion. Surely the Italians are smart enough to know that such a hit is like cutting off the Hydra's head: Two more will spring up to replace the one lost.

More likely, this was the act of a ruthless competitor or ambitious underling. Libya is a lawless, failed state akin to Somalia, rife with extremists and out of control militias thanks to the intervention of Western powers who aided in the overthrow of strongman Muamar Qaddafi during the glorious Arab Spring — you know, the one that brought so many flowering democracies to countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. (Don't you bet the Europeans wish they could put that herd of cats back in the bag.)

But one thing is a near certainty: The murders will not change by an iota the number of migrants being sent to sea in overcrowded dinghies and leaky floating garbage scows from the northern coast of Africa by profit-mongering smugglers, in no small measure because of the stunningly ineffectual collective reaction by European Union member states.

One can also guess with reasonable statistical likelihood that the EU nations will, in the fullness of time, come to rue how they have responded for many reasons. Not least of which will be having invited jihadists into their midst, because European authorities' asylum vetting processes will prove to be as ineffectual as ours where rooting out present and future terrorists is concerned.