From Newsweek, with thanks to Ali Dashti and RB:
The most fanciful park in Paris, and one of the least known, set among the city’s poorest immigrant neighborhoods, is the Buttes Chaumont. A craggy mountain rises out of a taciturn lake, and a narrow path leads across what’s called the “Bridge of Suicides.” Muslim boys trained there last year for holy war in Iraq. Several were in their teens, born and raised in
France, and many knew nothing more about guns and bombs than what they’d seen in movies. Some spoke no Arabic. But they heard the call to jihad that was raised by radical Islamist preachers, and they answered it. One died in Fallujah. Three are known to be imprisoned in Iraq, at least one of them in Abu Ghraib. Three others are jailed in France. One blew himself up in an attack on the road to Baghdad airport.
The boys had little impact on the Iraq war. But they represent a growing threat to Europe-and, some studies suggest, to the United States. Over the last three years, starting even before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Jordanian terrorist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and groups close to him developed a sort of underground railroad to smuggle zealous fighters from Europe through Turkey and Syria into Iraq-and home again, if they survived. Now those recruits have been joined by a stream of young Islamists from Western Europe who are making their own way to the battlefield. Some are looking for Paradise as “martyrs,” some just for street cred back home and some for serious combat experience in urban warfare. “Those who don’t die and come back will be the future chiefs of Al Qaeda or Zarqawi [groups] in Europe,” says French terrorism authority Roland Jacquard.
“We’re watching very closely,” says Gijs de Vries, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator. “It only takes one or two dedicated individuals to create serious damage.” All over Europe, in fact, investigators now face the threat of terrorists who are virtually self-taught, organized in groups with little or no central command and united by their obsession with the jihad against Americans in Iraq. “It has become a battle cry for Islamists around the world,” says Michael Taarnby, author of a report on terrorist recruiting for the Danish Justice Ministry. Their most devastating blow to date was not inside Iraq but in Madrid last year, when a gruesome bombing spree killed 191 people in retaliation for Spain’s presence in Iraq.
At a conference marking the anniversary of the Madrid atrocity last week, Robert Leiken of Washington’s Nixon Center presented a provocative study of 373 radical Muslim terrorists arrested or killed in Europe and the United States from 1993 through 2004. His conclusion: some 87 percent are from immigrant backgrounds, but 41 percent are Western nationals, either naturalized, second generation or converts to Islam. “More French nationals were arrested than nationals of Pakistan and Yemen combined,” says Leiken. While homegrown Muslim terrorists have so far been rare in the United States, in Europe they virtually recruit themselves, and Leiken points out that those who have European passports have almost open access to American territory through an ongoing visa-waiver program.…
Because American immigration officials are afraid to face the realities of the global jihad. So they continue to pretend that this is a problem confined to certain nationalities, not to a religion, thus making it easier for a French Muslim to get into the United States than a Lebanese Christian. But which one of those is more likely to be part of a jihad group? (For those of you ready to tell me about Hilarion Capucci, note that I said “more likely.”)