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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Interest in the weapons and explosives used in Paris attacks draws attention to smuggling networks and European black market.

Link: Paris attacks raises the issue of weapons smuggling in Europe.

Following last Friday's horrendous terror attacks in Paris, the issue plastered on most of the front pages of all the European newspapers is the Syrian refugee crisis.  Its a simple jump from Islamic extremists to the unknown factor of tens of thousands of basically unidentified Muslim refugees being resettled in Europe.  No doubt the number of terrorists or potential terrorists within the refugee population is miniscule.  Certainly its possible that ISIS or even Al -Qaida could hide operatives within the groups that arrived from Syria, but the sad reality is, these groups already have people who are willing to die for the cause.  There is no need to move operatives into Europe within the refugee pipeline, when it is possible to just put them on a plane.  Forging passports and related identity documents is a booming business.  Be that as it may, the timing of these attacks has European leaders revisiting the idea of large resettlement schemes.  ISIS carried out these attacks for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, they are intent on spreading fear in our communities and giving people reason to conduct their lives as usual.  ISIS dreams of the day that the towns roll up the streets at sundown, and parents stop sending their kids to school out of security concerns.  ISIS is also determined to sow confusion, not only with the attacks in urban, residential areas, but also by encouraging the movement of large numbers of refugees into Europe.  Its not a coincidence that this attack occurred as Europe and the United States were discussing the most humane method by which to address the refugee issue.  These attacks have reintroduced the issue for debate in the various European capitals; many EU states are asking for clarification regarding the EU policy on refugees, while many in the poorer states are asking why it is their responsibility to pay taxes to house and feed these people who aren't even European.  Confusion reigns in many corners, which gives ISIS another small victory.  At the end of the day, if the discussion leads some states to refuse refugees, then the label "racist" will return to everyday conversation, and ISIS will have won a more substantial victory.  ISIS realizes that they can't defeat us with the limited resources currently at their disposal.  Their goal is to pit us against ourselves until they are able to confront us in a conventional military capacity.

I have yet to hear a commentator or newscaster opine about the origins of the weapons and explosives used in the Friday evening attacks.  I have seen some thoughtful editorials on the subject, especially in the French press.  Given the strict weapons laws in place in the EU, how were these eight monsters able to arm themselves with Kalashnikovs and AK47s?  As for the suicide vests, any person with the proper training could probably find the parts and ingredients necessary to construct such a device at the local Walmart or Auchan, but my instincts tell me that the forensics people will determine that the origin of the parts and explosives used to build the suicide vests to be Syria.  The sad truth is that it is quite simple to smuggle just about anything through Europe.  The smuggling networks that exist in Europe are amazingly intricate and business-like.  Again, I will rely on my instincts when I say that the weapons used in these attacks probably made their way through the Balkans.  During the time that I spent in Kosovo in early 2000, I discovered that the people of Kosovo are tremendously honest, kind and hard-working.  Unfortunately, it is also the lynchpin location for the largest smuggling operations that feed Europe.  The Black Market dominates much of the economy of Kosovo, and probably of neighboring states as well.  When considering the issue of smuggling, most people consider the illegal transportation of goods such as alcohol and cigarettes.  Well, underneath the boxes of cigarettes are crates of weapons and ammunition.  It is a simple issue of supply and demand.  If people are willing to pay enough money, then these networks will find a way to smuggle the requested items.  We live in a world were women are still transported illegally across borders for the sex business; sneaking weapons into a country shouldn't be that difficult.  As for the suicide vests, I'm sure that the perpetrators were able to request/order exactly what they needed in the way of explosives.  The detailed and professional nature of organized smuggling in Europe should make it easier for European law enforcement agencies to disrupt the movement of illegal weapons into Europe.  The French police have started really focusing on this issue, which will hopefully result in one-less option for terrorists in their effort to obtain weapons.

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