On Refugee Flows, Radicalized Lone Wolves, Unaccompanied Minors, and Indiscriminate Slaughter

By Dan Cadman and Dan Cadman on July 21, 2016

European media are reporting on a terrorist attack that took place on a suburban commuter train near the southern German town of Wurzburg. The perpetrator, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), attacked travelers including a group of visitors from Hong Kong.

It is in some ways reminiscent of the aborted attack that took place on a train running between Belgium and France just short of a year ago, in August of 2015. In that attack, the individual used a gun and a knife, but was overcome by three Americans traveling on the train.

Unfortunately, there was no one to intervene this time. In the instant attack, the individual, using a knife and an axe, seriously wounded three of the Hong Kong visitors, who are alleged to be fighting for their lives. There are conflicting reports on the additional number of riders on the train who suffered lesser injuries (see
here and here).

As the attacker fled the train, he was pursued by police who shot and killed him not far from the scene. He was later identified as Muhammad Riyad, a 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who had been living with a foster family in Germany. A search of his room by police revealed a handmade Islamic State (IS) flag. He also apparently posted a video claiming allegiance to IS stating that he intended to commit a suicide attack against “kufar” (unbelievers). There is no word yet providing details of the foster family, and why they were unaware of his radicalization.

According to BBC World News, in the first half of this year, Germany has welcomed 370,000 migrants seeking asylum, of whom 60,000 are Afghans. Of that sub-population, 7,000 have been unaccompanied minors such as the attacker.

Although those figures are high, they are less than half of last year's inflow to Germany. By 2015 year's end, well over a million migrants, many of them from so-called “conflict zones” such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan had arrived in Germany.

The flood of human beings followed Chancellor Angela Merkel's promise to receive all without numerical limitation, a commitment that has been mitigated by time and circumstance, such as the shocking attacks on female New Year's Eve revelers in several cities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe by hordes of Middle-Eastern men.

With cooling receptivity on the part of German society, Merkel and other European Union (EU) power nations such as France have since been insisting that the arrivals should be apportioned out among all EU nations in a complex quota system, with threats to withhold key EU development funding for member states that balk at accepting their “share” of the migrants.

This attack is sure to reignite the debate about the wisdom of Merkel's course of action in Germany, which has had a significant domino effect throughout Europe, many of whose nations will also no doubt be asking probing questions about the capacity of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to provide public safety and security, particularly as it follows in close succession so many other acts of indiscriminate slaughter by jihadists, most recently the horrific Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.

It will no doubt do the same here at home, as the presidential debate winds into its final months, given the vast differences between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates on the subject of refugee admissions and serious questions about the adequacy of national security vetting processes in an immigration benefits adjudication culture based on “get to the yes”.