Fox News on March 23, 2016, published an AP report on the Islamic State group having trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks. It includes deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, officials have told The Associated Press. Excerpts below:
The network of agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria and Iraq. The officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the jihadi networks, described camps in Syria, Iraq and possibly the former Soviet bloc where attackers are trained to attack the West. Before being killed in a police raid, the ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks claimed he had entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters, who scattered “more or less everywhere.”
Estimates range from 400 to 600 Islamic State fighters trained specifically for external attacks…Some 5,000 Europeans have gone to Syria.
In claiming responsibility, the Islamic State group described a “secret cell of soldiers” dispatched to Brussels… The shadowy cells were confirmed by Europol — the EU police agency which said in a late January report that intelligence officials believed the group had “developed an external action command trained for special forces-style attacks.”
French speakers with links to North Africa, France and Belgium appear to be leading the units and are responsible for developing attack strategies in Europe, said a European security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about briefing material. He is also familiar with interrogations of former fighters who have returned to Europe. Some were jailed after leaving IS while others were kicked out of the terror group. The fighters include Muslims and Muslim converts from all across Europe.
Fighters in the units are trained in battleground strategies, explosives, surveillance techniques and counter surveillance, the security official said.
Similar methods had been developed by al-Qaida but IS has taken it to a new level, he said. Another difference with these “external operation” units is that fighters are being trained to be their own operators — not necessarily to be beholden to specific orders from the IS stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, or elsewhere.
The question for many intelligence and security officials is now turning to just how many more fighters have been trained and are ready for more attacks.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official who was not authorized to speak publicly said people from the cell that carried out the Paris attacks are scattered across Germany, Britain, Italy, Denmark and Sweden. Recently, a new group crossed in from Turkey, the official said.
Comment: Both the United States and Europe seem not to accept that there is an ongoing war. In his book Terrorism – Var tids krigfoering (Terrorism – Warfare of Our Time, 1978) warned that political terrorism was not only the warfare of our time. It is with great certainty also the warfare of the future. If the democracies of the West are not prepared and manage to use their sword in a competent and resolute fashion only fear of an evil, swift death remains. Belgium has proven to be ill prepared to fight radical Islamic terrorism. Sweden with only around 10 million inhabitants is one of the countries harboring the highest number of terrorist trainees returning from the Middle East. There are no signs that Sweden is fully prepared for a terrorist attack.