Europeans, both civilians and law enforcement personnel, may well be on tenterhooks, wondering what thousands of young Muslim men and women, who left their countries of origin to join the Islamist terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Africa, will do when they return. Europeans have reason to be concerned: many of the returning jihadists were trained to murder civilians.
When they come back to the countries to which their parents fled to escape the political and economic distress of the Arab and Muslim world, many of these mujahideen plan to kill their hosts in the name of extremist Islam. They will call their hosts "infidels," and kill them for the "crime" of not being Muslims.
Although Western countries mistakenly turn the spotlight on the Middle East, the real danger is in their own backyards. Thousands of young men are still being brainwashed by imams in mosques throughout Europe. Those who return from Syria and Iraq operate openly -- organizing, and waiting for orders – all in the name of freedom of expression.
When these orders come, bombs and rifles will not require trips to the Middle East; they have already been put in place.
The imams in the mosques and the Muslim field operatives hide behind democracy's ideology, its freedom of speech and worship, its individual liberty and pluralism – just as Muhammad did during the days of jahiliyya (the period of ignorance before Islam), when he began spreading Islam in a polytheistic Mecca -- which also allowed freedom of speech at that time.
Conditions for Islamic activity in Europe are perfect. The West has only good intentions: it desires to integrate its Muslims socially and economically. Yes, most Muslims are not terrorists, but that most terrorists are Muslims is slowly being internalized by a public suffering from naiveté and a serious lack of understanding of radical, violent Islam.
The refusal of people in the West to believe that extremist Muslims are serious when they state that their plan is to take over the world and impose sharia on it, may possibly be the result of fear -- either of physical, financial or political harm -- or possibly of political correctness. At best it blurs, and at worst conceals, radical Islam's intentions. Anyone who does reveal these intentions is condemned an "Islamophobe" a "racist" or accused of "hate speech."
These accusations are specifically designed to neutralize all opposition before it begins. The Westerners do not understand the Islamists' plan of action. Accusations make them helpless; their helplessness is broadcast to the Islamists. The Islamists then smell blood in the water and ratchet up their demands and murderous activities even more.
The most serious problem of the Western intelligence agencies is that most of their agents do not understand Arabic. This shortcoming makes it impossible to follow the nuances of both the imams and the field operatives. Worse yet, the Westerners seem not understand the Arabic mentality. The imams and operatives work ceaselessly and with great sophistication in their communities to accelerate the process of isolation and alienation. They nurture the poverty-stricken Muslims' sense of deprivation and rejection. They whip up a fabric of Islamist success. They talk about the partial victories of the Islamist terror organizations in the Middle East. They glorify the reputation of terrorism, and they instill a fear of radical Islam as a threatening rising power.
A Salafist demonstration in Solingen, Germany on May 1, 2012, moments before it degenerated into a violent riot. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)
While radical Islam has been gaining strength and influence, Europe has been increasingly helpless regarding its Christian and Jewish populations, and has been seriously demonizing its Jews.
As Islamists increase in both numbers and power, they become more feared, more violent, and more attractive to young, neglected and marginalized Muslim youths, attracted to their power and happily recruited to a new "home."
The only active reaction in the West is the rise of various groups that say they will return Islam to what they say is its proper place. The patience of these groups seems to be wearing thin; a violent clash seems possible.
It is unfortunate that neither the radical Islamist ideologues nor the leaders of the moderate Muslim world understand either Europe's pluralist spirit or the damage they are doing by increasing this tension. A clash will harm most those Muslims living in Europe who seek nothing more than a normal life.
Sadly, the Muslim states that sponsor and incite global terrorism -- Sunni Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as Shi'ite Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah -- are now paving the way for the destruction of their own Islamic communities in Europe, in the name of a regressive and extremist Islam.
To pour oil on the flames of the European protestors, Turkey's President Erdogan is now hinting that Europe and Israel are to blame for the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket massacres in Paris, while the Egyptian Mufti has threatened Europe with hellfire and a bloodbath if cartoons "insulting the prophet" continue to be published.
The moderates in the Islamic communities in Europe understand the tragedy waiting in the wings for Muslim-Christian peaceful coexistence, and have made efforts to condemn the extremists responsible for them. But their voices are often too weak to be heard. These brave, non-extremist imams and neighborhood leaders know that terrorist operatives often attack as "infidels" anyone who dares to condemn their actions. They are understandably afraid of what will happen to them if they openly oppose violence and incitement.
Meanwhile, as Europe's economy disintegrates, immigrants, most of them Muslims from Turkey and Africa, continue to flood into Europe. As the indoctrination of hatred toward the West continues to escalate, no European country – or even the United States -- has found a way to keep radical, violent Islamist indoctrinations out of its mosques, community centers and hiding places.
Europeans so badly want to believe that the legacy of Islam is free from incitement to violence against the West. They hold close the notion that a non-violent Islam exists, which will not turn the Islamic legacy into a model for violence and terrorism. A non-violent, non-extremist Islam does exist, but it is not the one being marketed by charlatan imams and other extremist operatives pretending to be "moderate."
The West has been duped. Billions of dollars, including the laundered proceeds of crime, have been sent from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, to fund incitement and terrorist activities in schools, universities, and radical Islamic charities and institutions in the West. The governments of the West have been victimized and tricked by oil money, Islamic sophistry, voter blocs and political correctness.
By sticking its head in the sand and not taking legitimate steps, which indeed may occasionally impinge on some individual rights, to preserve the right to life, the West keeps itself and its population from understanding the real threat posed by extremist Islam. If Europe wants to take the necessary steps to protect itself, it is losing the race.
It does not take a prophet to see what is coming, or even a simple observer such as Libya's late leader, Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, who said that Europe would fall to the Muslims without a shot being fired.
The truth is, to understand how Europe is deteriorating and careening towards self-destruction, one should look at the limp-wristed policy of appeasement used by the EU in general, and France in particular, when dealing with the conflicts in the Middle East -- the years of dedicated cynicism, corruption, cowardice and the distortion of the truth in the service of narrow, short-term self-interests.
Europe's policies harm first the Palestinians because they encourage radical organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and now the Islamic State [IS], which halt progress towards a Palestinian state. When Europe claims that Hamas is a "legitimate resistance organization" -- rather than a vicious, terrorist organization with no recognizable standard of ethical behavior or morality -- it torpedoes all chances of creating a decently governed State of Palestine -- one that will not be ruled, now or in the future, by rampaging Islamist terrorists.
Like it or not -- and frankly this author does not -- the last bulwark keeping radical Islamism from engulfing Europe is Israel. Nevertheless, for decades France has supported the Arab-Muslim world against Israel, the result of latent and not-so-latent anti-Semitism, oil, and most of all, the political pressure of its indoctrinated Islamic community.
France's hypocrisy and treachery are famous throughout history. In its weakness, France tries to curry favor with the Arabs and radical Islam, thereby inviting blackmail and setting the table for its own submission.
In view of the conduct of Europe in general, and France in particular, it should come as no surprise that by yoking us Palestinians like farm animals to our leaders, who are the real beasts, they are betraying the Palestinians.
Europe's policies of encouraging groups such as Hamas, which constantly espouse violence, demolishes the Palestinian effort to achieve a responsible Palestinian state that finally could end the conflict with Israel.
The French have naïvely taken the bait: they now associate the Palestinian "Resistance" with the courageous French underground Résistance, which fought the Germans during World War II. As they admire the French Résistance, they incorrectly assume that the Palestinian "Resistance" must be a good thing, too.
But, as they well know, there is no way to compare them. The Palestinian "Resistance" is nothing more than terrorist organizations repressing their own people. They do not resist an evil force; they are an evil force.
The problem is that in setting up the Arabs to get rid of the Jews -- so the Europeans can pretend to themselves that they had nothing to do with it -- the people they are hurting are not only the Jews and Palestinians. By encouraging Hamas, Islamic Jihad and now even the Islamic State in the region, they are obtusely hurting themselves.
That is why overtly and covertly, the French hypocritically support Palestinian terrorism instead of supporting genuine efforts for a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are betting on the wrong pony.
That is also why the French support the UN and UNRWA, which perpetuate the Palestinian problem, instead of demanding that the Arab states, where many of the Palestinians reside, absorb them, grant them citizenship and set them free. The truth is that they do not really care about the Palestinians, only about destroying Israel. That is why the European Union so easily removed Hamas from its terrorist list. Similar to this was the French decision unilaterally to recognize the "State of Palestine" -- despite the fact that the Palestinian national consensus government is made up of Hamas and the PLO. Both are unrepentant terrorist organizations. Both not only openly incite terrorism and violence and call for Israel's extinction, but also train their own children for nothing but violence when they are not using them as cannon fodder. All that would seem to show what France really cares about, and it has nothing to do with free speech, democracy, good governance and least of all the well-being of the Palestinians. The only thing it is clear they care about is getting rid of the Jews.
France's hypocrisy in calling the Israelis "occupiers" ignores the fact that Israel did not invade, conquer and occupy a Palestinian state: there never has been a Palestinian state. France also ignores the fact that in fairness, the Israelis have never said they wish to destroy the Palestinian people, while, to be frank, every day we Palestinians speak and make plans about how we will destroy Israel.
France further ignores the fact that that so-called Palestinian "resistance" -- in the form of the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Popular Resistance Committees -- has, since its inception and throughout its history, done nothing but murder and maim Jewish civilians.
Now, in new summits of hypocrisy, the International Criminal Court [ICC] is planning to investigate Israel for war crimes because it had the gall to defend itself against terrorism, while what did Europe do? Europe -- in the face of slaughter, bloodshed and atrocities committed by extremist Muslims -- invited every terrorist-sponsoring dictator to join it in a march to protest the very murders that these dictators had paid for.
Europe dozes as the Palestinian terrorist organizations continue their ceaseless efforts to destroy the Palestinians, as well as Israel and the Jews. Then Europe awakens periodically to support the Palestinian "Resistance," which bears no resemblance whatever to the French Résistance of World War II.
An Arab proverb says, "a dog will have a crooked tail even if you put it in splints for forty years." There is no difference between Hamas's aspirations to be "liberated from the Zionist occupation," and radical Islam's aspirations to be liberated from the "Christian occupation" in Europe -- from France to Andalusia to Vienna -- to enable Islam to take over the world.
The willingness of the French to view terrorism, whether Palestinian or Hezbollah, as "legitimate Resistance" is an all-time low.
No terrorism is legitimate: Not terrorism against Jews, not terrorism against Palestinians, not terrorism against Christians in the Middle East and not terrorism against cartoonists in France. For the sake of the future State of Palestine, all "Resistance" should be against radical Islam, as embodied by groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State, among others. They are the ones we should resist. They should not be allowed to rule us in some Islamist "Palestinian State."
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.