Last month, French police thwarted an attempted terrorist attack at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Luckily, the cell of radicalized French women who were taking orders from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) commanders in Syria did not get away with it, but it seems that more often than not, they do. How is this possible?
On July 14, when the people of France were celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of the Bastille prison by secular Republican revolutionaries in 1789, an apparent lone-wolf terrorist drove a truck into a holiday crowd in Nice. Eighty-four people were killed and more than 300 were wounded, some of whom may be disabled for life.
Media coverage of the incident followed a now-familiar pattern. At first, it was reported that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian citizen living in France, had carried out the attack on his own. Initial investigations suggested that he was not religious or interested in Islam, ate pork, drank alcohol, was sexually active and perhaps had “mental problems.” And, of course, the Internet was filled with claims by ISIL that it had masterminded the attack.
As there is no death penalty in France, when and if these people are convicted, they will enter a prison system where 70 per cent of the prisoners are Muslims, many of whom have been radicalized behind bars. Other prisoners will treat them like heroes. They will be well protected, even privileged.
Europe is now a hotbed of terrorist attacks by Muslims. In Belgium, on March 22, two suicide bombings took place, at the Brussels airport and the Maalbeek metro station. The terrorists died with their victims. Thirty-two people were killed and more than 300 were wounded. Security officials searched the airport after the explosion and found another bomb. Again, we can assume that many of those who survived will be disabled for life. And yes, ISIL took automatic credit for the attack.
How is it that in Europe, one of the most advanced and well-organized societies on the face of the Earth, Muslim terrorists seem to just come out of the woodwork — fully armed with trucks filled with explosives, assault rifles and bombs — and wreak havoc on civilian society? How is this possible, given the sophistication, wealth and training that are the pride of the French and other European police forces, as well as their intelligence and security agencies? The clue to the answer to these questions begins in Molenbeek in Brussels, the capital city of the European Union and the NATO alliance.
Molenbeek is what terrorism and security experts call a “no-go zone.” In Europe, no-go zones are what North Americans would call ghettos. But French and Belgium no-go zones have a distinct profile. They are usually ethnic enclaves in otherwise prosperous cities, like Paris and Brussels. They are almost exclusively populated by Muslims. In France, these are largely Muslims from North Africa and former French West Africa. Some are French citizens and some are illegal residents.
These no-go zones are areas of high unemployment, especially high youth unemployment. Anthropologists and sociologists who study these phenomena point out that inevitably these conditions result in the creation of violent gangs. So, although a significant number of usually middle-aged men and women commute outside their no-go zones to work in the wider society, they come home to these lawless suburbs. Well, not quite lawless, given that a new set of laws is replacing those of secular France or Belgium in many of these areas.
Gangs dominate these suburbs and make their living by selling drugs. As the young gang members are looking for authority and endorsement, they have turned to the radical Islamic preachers who come from countries like Algeria, and who are members of radical Islamic movements in countries such as Morocco and Iran.
The Saudis and the Iranians often bankroll these preachers and the radical imams who live in these ghettos. Those imams who cannot get financial support from foreign benefactors often collect welfare from the French state and still preach jihad in the ghetto. Mosques become hotbeds of radical activity. They are also ideal places to store and transfer weapons and explosives, to be used in the growing number of terrorist attacks taking place across western Europe.
At the same time, in these no-go zones there is a push for the implementation of Sharia law and Sharia courts. Let us remember that Sharia law condones polygamy and recommends amputation for theft and the death penalty for any apostate who leaves Islam. Non-Muslim wives, and sometimes husbands, of these children of the ghetto are often forced, or pressured, to convert to Islam.
As this dynamic reaches its extreme, non-Muslim owners of apartments and residents of these areas are forced out, often under threat of violence, or after having been attacked. Once radical Muslims have gained control over these no-go zones, the general non-Muslim population does not enter them, out of fear of being attacked. And soon after, the police and the fire departments fear to enter them, as well, and stop patrolling them altogether.
Given the fact that the radical Muslim preachers of these ghettos are fundamentally anti-Semitic in their preaching, Jews in countries like France and Belgium, whose parents may have survived the Nazi occupation, are even more frightened of entering these no-go zones than other citizens. Not surprisingly, their synagogues in nearby suburbs are regularly attacked and vandalized. The state can neither protect Jewish citizens and their property, nor exert its authority in the no-go zones.
Despite the fact that both the liberal American press and numerous think-tanks and research institutes in France, Belgium and Britain have done studies and written articles about this growing phenomenon, there are still elite politicians like the mayor of Paris who deny that there is any such thing as a no-go zone in the French republic.
In August 2014, the French magazine Contemporary Values suggested that France had more than 750 areas of “lawlessness,” a.k.a. no-go zones. In a 2011 study, comprising 2,200 pages, Giles Kepel, a political scientist and specialist on Islam at the Institut Montaigne, and his colleagues conclude that these no-go zones are now becoming separate Islamic societies. In these areas, Sharia is replacing French civil law and the residents are rallying under the banner of radical Islam and violent jihad, against their fellow French citizens. No doubt a similar dynamic has been taking place in the South Asian Muslim enclaves in Britain, as well as in the Turkish and Balkan Muslim enclaves in Germany.
Not all recent immigrants to Europe behave this way, however. The British Sikhs who moved there in large numbers after the Second World War have, as a group, one of the highest living standards in the country. Many of the Argentinians who entered western Europe during the period of the junta have also mixed effortlessly with their host societies, as have thousands of Poles.
The answer to how these terrorists are able to appear all of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, and strike at the heart of Western civilization should now be clear. The reason apparently lone assassins suddenly materialize in prosperous European cities and are able to kill scores of people and wound hundreds is that they have a state within a state that gives them refuge, the no-go zone. There they do not need a passport. There they can store arms. There they can prepare their attack plans. From there they can quickly go out and wreak havoc. If they get lucky, their co-conspirators can disappear back into the no-go zones, knowing they will be seen as heroes by their neighbours, their religious leaders and the growing number of alienated, drug-dealing youth gangs.
Before the French, Belgian, German and British governments — including their police, courts, schools and housing authorities — offer resident Muslims in Europe the blessings of a secular society, they will have to take back the ghettos. They will have to disarm the militants, deport scores of preachers, pacify the gangs, cut off the drug supply and cut off funding from Saudi Arabia and Iran. And they will have to persuade key players in the ghetto to stand up to their violent neighbours and instead support the peaceful aims of the state.
However, if the European ruling elites and the mainstream media have stopped believing in the liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) that was proclaimed on that fateful day of July 14, 1789, then the future of France and much of western Europe will be one of a growing series of terrorist nightmares. They will have lost the war against the jihadists, the authority of the state will wither, and the French and other European majorities will be treated like a conquered people in their own lands. The same fate awaits the British, if they do not soon take preventative action.