Terrorist Fish Swimming in a Refugee Tide

One of the most revealing, and bizarre, aspects of the Paris aftermath is the frenzied attempt to explain away the reports that a Syrian passport had been found near the pieces of one of the suicide bombers. This would raise the possibility that terrorists were infiltrating Europe under the cover of the flood of refugees. This would pose a serious challenge to those invested in the grandiose humanitarian gesture of opening Europe’s borders.

The straw that most of the rationalizers grasped was that the passport was evidently forged, and not well.

How this somehow undercuts the possibility that a terrorist made his way from Syria is beyond me. All that matters is whether the passport was used to secure entry into Europe. And apparently it was. Greek officials verify that the passport was so used. Indeed, the Greeks now report that it is likely that a second attacker passed through Greece.

If a terrorist used a (bad) forgery to obtain entry to Europe, that would make things worse, not better. It would mean that European borders can be breached by amateur counterfeiters.

One of the most risible attempts to deny the possibility that a Syrian cell infiltrated Paris was made by the appalling Anne Applebaum. Applebaum argues-in all seriousness, apparently-that terrorists couldn’t have come from outside, because they knew Paris too well.

Um, it’s known that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of French Muslims have traveled to Syria, many to fight with the Islamic State. Many of these would be from Paris, and know the city quite well, thank you. Francophone fighters familiar with Paris trained in the heart of darkness of Syria would be the perfect perpetrators of mass terror in the City of Light.

And how the hell were they supposed to get back to France? Flying Air France on their French passports (likely known to French authorities)? No, obviously. But submerging themselves in the tide of migrants and traveling on false documents would be the perfect way to move from Syria to France.

What’s more, having a core team move from Syria would reduce the amount of communication needed to carry out the operation. All the planning could be done in the security of Raqqa, and those coming from Syria could confer face-to-face with their collaborators in France once they arrived. Much reduced need to send orders or plans over communication channels that could be monitored by the DGSE or NSA or GCHQ.

There have been warnings for months about the risks posed by returning jihadis. Those risks have apparently been realized, and it is just disgusting that those invested with accommodating the refugee flood refuse to accept that reality, because their unicorn dreams are so much more important.

This is not to say that all of the attackers came from abroad. Several were apparently French and Belgian. The irony that the Arab neighborhoods of Brussels are out of control of the authorities is too rich (though sick). As if on cue, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said (presumably between drinks), that EU immigration policy would not change as a result of Paris.

So Brussels, the capital of the nanny superstate that claims competence over the most minute aspects of human existence is incapable of performing the most basic function of a state: securing the physical security of its residents. And it is unwilling to admit its failures, and indeed, is committed to compounding them.

Merkel is doubling down too, despite a swelling rebellion in her own party, and Germany at large. Yet another example of the complete disconnect between the European “elites” and the hoi polloi they deign to rule.

Yes. There is a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. But there are well known ways of addressing it that do not involve throwing open Europe to all comers, terrorists included. Refugee camps could be expanded in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. They could be funded much more liberally.

And here’s a wild idea. Why not force the Gulf state oil ticks, the Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis, and Qataris, to (a) pay to support refugees, and (b) actually take in refugees, something they have adamantly refused to do?

They are pouring money into Syria to arm fighters. They should spend even more money to deal with the fallout of their actions.

And it is not just Europe that is willing to take on huge numbers of refugees. The US is as well. Speaking through the appalling incompetent throne-sniffer and toady Ben Rhodes, the administration says it is not reconsidering plans to admit 10,000 refugees from Syria.

“We have very robust vetting procedures for those refugees. It involves our intelligence community, our national counter-terrorism center, extensive interviews, vetting them against all information.”

“What we need to be able to do, frankly, is sort out that foreign fighter flow, those who have gone into Syria and come out and want to launch attacks or those who have connections with ISIL in Syria,” Rhodes said. “We need to be able to have the intelligence base to identify and target those people.”

Why should we have the slightest confidence that the US government will have the ability to do this? It only takes a few errors by the magical intelligence sorting hat to create a Paris-like disaster here in the US.

Europe (and the US) can deal with the way things are, or the way they wish they could be. Grasping at straws about forged passports would mean they are doing the latter. Keep that up, and there will be many more Parises to come.

About Craig Pirrong 230 Articles

Affiliation: University of Houston

Dr Pirrong is Professor of Finance, and Energy Markets Director for the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business of the University of Houston. He was previously Watson Family Professor of Commodity and Financial Risk Management at Oklahoma State University, and a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Washington University.

Professor Pirrong's research focuses on the organization of financial exchanges, derivatives clearing, competition between exchanges, commodity markets, derivatives market manipulation, the relation between market fundamentals and commodity price dynamics, and the implications of this relation for the pricing of commodity derivatives. He has published 30 articles in professional publications, is the author of three books, and has consulted widely, primarily on commodity and market manipulation-related issues.

He holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of Chicago.

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