Syrian Penetration of the Southern European Front: Observations and Implications
Recently, I had occasion to travel to southern Europe. Specifically, I was on the border of Greece and its northern neighbor, Macedonia. I was rather interested in gauging the Syrian refugee issue from the standpoint of a passerby. What I noticed was that all along the road leading from the border toward Thessaloniki one could see gas stations filled with tents, kids playing soccer, women cooking on open fires and men walking along the road; a few of whom were hitchhiking (shown below).
What stood out to me was the sheer number of military age males, many of whom were equipped with cell phones. The experience generated two questions. First, where do desperate refugees acquire the funds to purchase cell phones and data/voice plans that would work in Europe? Secondly, is it possible that the men were merely innocent victims in Syria’s half decade of civil war?
One can only surmise that the first question could be answered with the discovery of additional evidence. Nonetheless, it is curious. The second question, however, seems to be more thought-provoking and the answer is partially known. As anyone keeping up with the news can plainly see, the latest source of attacks in Europe have come from the Arabic-speaking conflict zones. The Islamists who carried out assaults on Western Europe apparently mixed in with the majority of innocent refugees. What the men have in common with each other is that they are all fighting age. What they also have in common is an allegiance to the latest (and most powerful) iteration of political Islam: The so-called Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh).
One may be inclined to believe that the presence of military age males with cellphones among women and children is insufficient evidence of the potential for terrorism to materialize as they move into central and Western Europe. That is a fair guess. Yet guessing incorrectly has deadly consequences. To wit, if one casually peruses YouTube for Syrian war videos, one will notice that not only are there no moderate forces, but nearly all interviewed fighters espouse some degree of Islamist sentiment. In fact, most videos are posted by various Islamist elements; be they IS, Jabhat al Nusra (the al-Qa’ida branch in Syria), or any of the dozens of other smaller fighting units.
Hence, military age males coming from Syria (and other regional conflict zones of a similar sort) could not entirely be dismissed as mere victims of violence. With the exception of a number of non-Arab Kurdish factions, it would be counter to the Arab men’s survival instincts to imagine that they fought alongside moderate Arab militias. This is plausible for one important reason: there are none. The Free Syrian Army has patently been shown to be a farce and, oddly enough, the Syrian government forces are the only Arab moderates, if the term could be applied at all.
Although the Macedonian government gets it right in not allowing the undocumented to transit through their country without papers that carry them to the other side, this country of limited size and wealth will likely suffer the fate that awaits them when a few bad actors unlawfully slip through the cracks. As I left Macedonia, it was relayed to me by some civilians that they encountered two Arab men approximately 8.5 miles inside of Macedonia, in a mountainous area that is inaccessible by vehicular means. The Arab men asked in English where the road to Serbia could be found. Startled, the civilians pointed in the opposite direction, toward Greece. Hopefully the Macedonian border guards have since scooped them up.
While I was at a major train station, Praterstern, in Vienna a few days after my Macedonia/Greece border observation, I noticed something else. When the sun went down, young Arab males were hanging out at the main exit/entry point to the station. What they were doing was staring folks down, playing loud Arabic music and generally being rowdy and rude. For someone to imagine that they are merely displaced and alienated by Austrian society one could easily, yet incorrectly, conclude that their behavior is a result of their isolation; shifting the blame to Austrian society. This is precisely the sort of tactic that (Leftist) refugee sympathizers typically employ: blame the nation to which an external and unyielding population has sought to establish itself.
Promoting narrative fallacies is bad enough, but the policy implications are far worse. As I saw pro and anti-immigration protesters gathering in Thessaloniki (Greece) I wondered why it was that anyone would intentionally invite potential terrorists, along with the poor and destitute, that an economically failing country could not afford to absorb. The myth that poverty causes terrorism has been debunked time and again, as is clearly evident by the billions of poor folks around the world that never choose the strategy as a viable option. Indeed, even if it were true, it would run counter to one’s own argument to willfully welcome large numbers of poor immigrants who have nothing in common (language, religion, culture, and national experience) with the host country’s inhabitants. Rather, terrorism is caused by those who see fit to employ it as a tool.
At present, terrorism isn’t being used by Swedish Christians, Chinese Buddhists, or Israeli Jews. Everyone knows who is doing it, but too many are afraid to utter the words describing the faction: Islamist Supremacists/Jihadist Ideologues.
The Gas Stations in Which Refugees Were Readily Observed:
The Scene from the Northern Location:
The Scene from the Southern Location:
Military Age Males Walking Roadside: