In my book Onward Muslim Soldiers I discuss the phenomenon of mujahedin traveling the world, going from jihad to jihad. From the looks of this report by Kathryn Haahr for The Jamestown Foundation, the next battleground is Europe. “Foreign fighters allegedly returning to Europe,” from the International Relations and Security Network, with thanks to Ixnay:
Recent pronouncements by a Spanish judge who has led high-level inquiries into al-Qaida in Spain, Baltazar Garzon, and the head of France’s domestic security service, Pierre de Bousquet, imply that Iraqi foreign fighters are already returning to Europe to re-establish or establish new networks to support terrorist operations in Europe (AFP, 9 May). While Garzon’s and Bousquet’s official comments provide no concrete details about the number of European Islamists returning from Iraq nor their nationalities, it is apparent that there is terrorist activity. With Iraq being the new center of gravity for jihad, Europe has become the de facto center of gravity for recruitment, weapons and financial activities, all critical to ensuring the continuation of jihad in Iraq and, increasingly, in Europe.
The return of jihadists from Iraq and Afghanistan would transform European states from logistical platforms (support infrastructure) to “battle front stations” (operational structures). After their experiences in Iraq, jihadists are probably returning infused with the intention to engage in jihad in their respective European countries and to make Europe the new front in the international jihad. These jihadists will bring back ideological concepts and recruitment and fighting techniques that can assist their efforts in radicalizing and mobilizing segments of the Muslim populations in Spain, Italy and France. Of particular concern is training they may have received in fighting techniques (such as IED’s and suicide bombings) and the use of chemicals for unconventional attacks. Several jihadi personalities, including Abu Musab al-Suri, have legitimized the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons as a tool in jihad.