Terrorist Mastermind Killed

The Financial Times reports Terrorist Ringleader Killed in Raid

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian described as the ringleader of the group behind the attacks in the French capital that killed at least 129 people, died during the seven-hour siege in Saint-Denis.

Confirmation that Abaaoud, 27, was in Paris will prompt fresh questions about intelligence leading up to the attacks. The Belgian national had been presumed to be in Syria, where he had joined the Islamist militant group Isis.

“We have to be extremely careful,” Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister told France Info radio before the confirmation. “If Abaaoud has been able to travel from Syria to France, it means that there are failings in the whole European system.

Failings in Whole European System

That there could be “failings in the whole European system” is shocking news. Just look at the massive number of controls in place that should have prevented this tragedy.

  • Chancellor Merkel and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker welcome refugees from war-torn countries with open arms.
  • Millions of refugees allowed entry.
  • Fake passports not detected.
  • Belgium, France and other countries allow citizens to go to Syria and fight alongside ISIS and return as if nothing meaningful transpired.
  • France receives multiple terrorist warnings from Turkey but ignores them.
  • Germany intercepts massive weapons cache headed for Paris but essentially does nothing.

Surely, at least one of those strong controls should have worked. Alas, things slipped through the cracks, and we are now faced with the shocking revelation by Laurent Fabius that there may be “failings in the whole European system.”

Mish readers are undoubtedly as shocked by this revelation as I am.

France Blames Belgium

In the wake of unforeseen and unknowable in advance security failings, Belgium Cries Foul Over French blame Game.

The Belgian government issued a private diplomatic protest to France this week over what it perceives as the French leadership’s unfair blaming of Belgium for Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, saying that homegrown jihadism is as much a problem for France as it is for Belgium.

The protest, made by Prime Minister Charles Michel’s chief diplomatic adviser to the French ambassador to Belgium on Tuesday, comes after international scrutiny has focused on the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, home to at least three of the attackers and the militant believed to be the plot’s architect.

Belgian officials said only one of the three teams that carried out the Paris attack was linked to Molenbeek, and that France was attempting to point the finger at Belgian failings to cover up its own domestic lapses in countering Islamic extremism.

In a speech to parliament on Thursday morning, Mr Michel came to the defence of his security services, saying they were not to blame for what happened in Paris. “I do not accept the criticism which are aimed at denigrating the work of our security services,” he said.

One official said Brussels was particularly irked at the claim by Bernard Cazeneuve, French interior minister, that the attacks had been organised in Belgium.

Criticized Belgium Locks Barn Door

Although Belgium security or lack thereof had little to do with the problem, Belgium Strengthens Counter-Terrorism Measures.

Belgians who return from fighting in Syria face jail as part of a host of measures unveiled by the country’s government aimed at stemming criticism of its handling of counter-terrorism.

Prime Minister Charles Michel announced an extra €400m for Belgium’s security services, which have been slammed for a series of blunders in the run-up to last week’s attacks in Paris.

Belgium has more foreign fighters per capita than any other EU country, with the bulk of these coming from just a handful of communities in cities such as Brussels and Antwerp.

At the moment, few of the suspected 500 Belgian citizens who have traveled to fight in Syria are in jail. Mr Michel said: “The rule must be clear. For jihadis returning, their place is in prison.”

Reflections on Barn Door Locking

Gee, who coulda possibly thunk letting jihadis go to Syria and return unabated was a bad idea?

This is yet another one of those unforeseeable things you have to find out for yourself after problems occur.

However, we can take comfort that some of the 500 Belgian citizens who traveled to Syria to fight alongside ISIS are in jail.

How many of the 500 are in jail? Answer “a few”. And the rest? I suspect they have fled the country or soon will.

Meanwhile, neither Angela Merkel nor Jean-Claude Juncker have rescinded their open arms policy.

After all, massive security measures are in place. And those existing security measures coupled with new security measures like barn door locking provide assurances that no one will again sneak in from Syria, through Greece, on a fake passport and make their way to Paris.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock