Donald Trump is right, Again. Europe and the UK are unsafe. ISIS is operating in plain sight. With imprimatur, if to go by the New York Times’ “How ISIS Built the Machinery of Terror Under Europe’s Gaze.” The ISIS EU operatives are often given free passage by European gatekeepers. The question: Who’s complicit and is this treason by design or by accident?
… the signs of this focused terrorist machine were readable in Europe as far back as early 2014. Yet local authorities repeatedly discounted each successive plot, describing them as isolated or random acts, the connection to the Islamic State either overlooked or played down. …
… For much of 2012 and 2013, the jihadist group that eventually became the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, was putting down roots in Syria. Even as the group began aggressively recruiting foreigners, especially Europeans, policy makers in the United States and Europe continued to see it as a lower-profile branch of Al Qaeda that was mostly interested in gaining and governing territory.
One of the first clues that the Islamic State was getting into the business of international terrorism came at 12:10 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2014, when the Greek police pulled over a taxi in the town of Orestiada, less than four miles from the Turkish border. Inside was a 23-year-old French citizen named Ibrahim Boudina, who was returning from Syria. In his luggage, the officers found 1,500 euros, or almost $1,700, and a French document titled “How to Make Artisanal Bombs in the Name of Allah.”
But there was no warrant for his arrest in Europe, so the Greeks let him go, according to court records detailing the French investigation.
Mr. Boudina was already on France’s watch list, part of a cell of 22 men radicalized at a mosque in the resort city of Cannes. … his ties to the [ISIS] group were buried in French paperwork and went unconnected to later cases. … Like the killers in Paris and Brussels, all of these earlier operatives were French speakers — mostly French and Belgian citizens, alongside a handful of immigrants from former French colonies, including Morocco.
They were arrested in Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Greece, Turkey and Lebanon with plans to attack Jewish businesses, police stations and a carnival parade. They tried to open fire on packed train cars and on church congregations. In their possession were box cutters and automatic weapons, walkie-talkies and disposable cellphones, as well as the chemicals to make TATP.
Most of them failed. And in each instance, officials failed to catch — or at least to flag to colleagues — the men’s ties to the nascent Islamic State. …
… In one of the highest-profile instances, Mehdi Nemmouche returned from Syria via Frankfurt and made his way by car to Brussels, where on May 24, 2014, he opened fire inside the Jewish Museum of Belgium, killing four people. Even when the police found a video in his possession, in which he claimed responsibility for the attack next to a flag bearing the words “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Belgium’s deputy prosecutor, Ine Van Wymersch, dismissed any connection.
“He probably acted alone,” she told reporters at the time.
“All of the signals were there,” said Michael S. Smith II, a counterterrorism analyst whose firm, Kronos Advisory, began briefing the United States government in 2013 on ISIS’ aspirations to strike Europe. “For anyone paying attention, these signals became deafening by mid-2014.” …
… Intelligence officials in the United States and Europe have confirmed the broad outlines of the external operations unit: It is a distinct body inside ISIS, with its command-and-control structure answering to Mr. Adnani, who reports to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State. …
… In an audio recording released on Sept. 22, 2014, Mr. Adnani, the ISIS spokesman and chief of the external operations wing, addressed the West.
“We will strike you in your homeland,” he promised, calling on Muslims everywhere to kill Europeans, “especially the spiteful and filthy French.” And he urged them to do it in any manner they could: “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car,” he said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist propaganda.
In the months that followed, a man decapitated his employer near the French city of Lyon, sending a snapshot of the severed head to the Islamic State. Another man stormed a police station in Paris, carrying a butcher’s knife and a photocopy of the Islamic State’s flag. …
… the group’s method for carrying out jihad in Europe involves an adaptation of Auftragstaktik, a combat doctrine within the German Army in the 19th century. Those tactical guidelines call for commanders to give subordinates a goal and a time frame in which to accomplish it, but otherwise to give them the freedom to execute it.
The Islamic State explains in the article that it adopted the system to give recruits “complete tactical autonomy,” with few fingerprints that could be tracked back to the group, and “no micromanaging.”
.. That network stretched like a web across Europe to at least a dozen other accomplices, including a cell holed up in an apartment in the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, where two other teams of Islamic State fighters prepared the bombs detonated last week in Brussels Airport and a metro station.