There has been much discussion over the lapses in security follow-through by Belgium Security Forces which may have contributed to both the Paris attack and the more recent Brussels bombing as Molenbeek neighborhood produced both terror cells and much of the planning for both attacks were carried out there. Additionally, the leader of the Paris attacks was captured by Police in that same area. We have heard that Turkey had deported a number of Belgians who had been arrested attempting to enter Syria presumably to join the Islamic State and that the Belgian authorities did little if any follow-through and allowed these people to slip from view of enforcement personnel. There was told that the United States and Israel had both warned Brussels of the coming attack with some information pointing to Molenbeek and bombing of the airport and main subway station, the exact targets. Still, the Belgians did little if anything.
From this one might think that the situation in Belgium in general and in Brussels particularly was excessively lax considering the warnings received. What many may not have caught is that much of Europe and the world are similarly not well protected from terrorism. Egypt had a Russian jet loaded with a bomb explode over the Sinai and just this week had another aircraft hijacked by a disturbed individual. Though the hijacking was not technically terrorism, the people suffered through an ordeal which for all intents and purposes was an act of terror. The number of attacks across Europe since 9/11 has far outstripped that of the United States, a fact that almost every news coverage stressed, especially those based in the United States. This begs a few questions as to what are the differences between Europe and the United States which might account for this difference.
Could it be as simple as availability as most terrorists can walk to Europe from the Middle East or Northern Africa (MENA) where the United States would take a deal of swimming. That makes entry into the United States more regulated despite its presumed porous southern border with Mexico. One fact many are not aware of is that the southern border of Mexico is heavily guarded and short of bribery one does not cross without proper authorizations which in a strange manner makes that porous southern border of the United States a little safer. But there is a greater difference and it has to do with dividing the authority and assignment for responsibility to prevent terrorist strikes. The fact that the United States has an overriding security apparatus which operates nationally while each state operates locally makes all the difference. When one police force in Europe gets any evidence of a terrorist cell operating within their area, they would hopefully monitor them. But what if their plans are being sent cryptically to a cell the other end of Europe, what would the interaction appear as. Would it be as the Turkish, Israeli and American security warned the Belgians. Even with warnings, would there be in existence the infrastructure in their police to handle such intelligence. Very likely not and this needs to be made evident to those in the United States of their good fortune for being a republic binding the fifty states together in cooperation with set rules and assignments and this is their security which is lacking in Europe.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine the United States never did become one nation and instead became fifty nations just as Europe has different nations. There would be different languages spoken in some of the nations due to the primary immigrants and no universal English preferred as was the case for over two centuries. How well would the individual nation states be at handling security? Would they have in place a unified method of securing their airports? Would they have the funding for expensive scanners and detectors for every air terminal? What would they do with individual bits of information from the many varied individual nation states to figure out a grand scale the targets for terror strikes? Remember that the United States had the CIA, the FBI, Military Intelligences, all the individual state, county, city and rural police. All together they might have been able to piece together the 9/11 attacks and prevented them. They had all the pieces and even the computer of one of the conspirators along with all their levels of security and they missed it! Europe has no overriding law enforcement which can operate freely and without any interference from local authorities. Don’t even try to claim INTERPOL which puts out its Ten Most Wanted lists and attempts to coordinate two hands clapping patty-cake from two people across the room from each other, it does not mesh well.
That is the problem in Europe, no coordinating body which can gather all the information and coordinate efforts. Even if INTERPOL had the smoking gun they would still require local police and security personnel to act to prevent any catastrophe. There was one article which got the solution correct, but it will require the nations of Europe to make a decision. Will the nations of Europe actually make an effort to cooperate if an overseeing agency is activated and placed responsible for tracking all things terror related and to whom these individual police and security agencies would necessarily need to report all leads and respond to any inquiries. Without their agreement in advance there is no reason for going through the actions as full coordination and cooperation is the key to success, just as it works, mostly, in the United States. What would rankle the nerves of the Europeans the most is that the overriding group would be NATO and would necessarily coordinate with Israeli security services in order to gain the whole picture. There would also be coordination with Egypt, Jordan and any other government willing to share solid and good information and intelligence. We all know that the European will do almost anything not to appear to react as Israel acts. They view the Israelis as paranoid lunatics who howl at the full moon and other imaginary threats. The Europeans are convinced that through respect and deference they can avoid terrorism like has been levelled against Israel, justifiably by most European thinking. Well, that same snake which the Europeans have been financing for decades has finally come home to roost and is killing Europeans and not just Jews. The time has passed where Europe needed to awaken to the threat levels they are facing and it is not too late, but it is imperative that action start and start soon to fight this rising menace. Either Europe will learn from the United States for coordinating across state lines and from the Israelis on how to implement smart security.
A final note on air safety. We have done our share of international flying in the past five years and have seen differing levels of security in the United States and elsewhere. We also have had more than sufficient relations with others including one friend whose plane landed in Brussels minutes after the terror attack, their ordeal was harrowing at best and maybe, just maybe, their luggage will find them again some day in the not too distant future. United, American, Southwest and whatever airlines you care to mention with one exception rely on whatever security the airport at which they fly from provides. That is pure insanity as that does not guarantee a level of expertise or efficiency that provides a safe environment for their passengers and employees. Many of these airlines met with Israeli representatives who described the means by which very few El Al aircraft has ever been successfully hijacked. The solution explained by El Al have always been regarded as the best methods for protecting passengers and aircrews but also too expensive and man-hour intensive to be utilized by these other major carriers. They claim passengers would refuse to pay the extra required for such screening while El Al does the multi-layered screening of passengers and background test their crews leading to the safest flying experience possible. Even further, the El Al aircraft are fit with Elbit Systems C-MUSIC anti-missile Protection systems, and that alone is worth the price of the fare.
The people at El Al take these incidents very personally. One of the most daring and astonishing stories is well worth reading titled How to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, by the only pilot who ever did. Please take the time and read this true story of one pilot who asked the right questions and used every bit of resources he had to foil an armed hijacking using guile, skill and a large dose of chutzpah. Meanwhile, if Europe is going to get a handle on the terror threat they prefer to pretend is not real, they are going to have to accept facts and deal intelligently with the threat and find a means for a coordinated effort by whatever means. NATO is simply the best suited with its current configuration and technical abilities and was designed to protect Europe from threats, that may as well include current terror threats, and let us all realize that maybe the Israelis actually know what they are dealing with and one might learn a thing or two.
Beyond the Cusp