It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Nov. 18 2015, 1:03 p.m.
WHENEVER A TERRORIST ATTACK OCCURS, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.
The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot.
In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.
Known to authorities? At least three of the men involved in planning and carrying out the French attacks were known to European authorities. Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, who helped carry out the massacre at the Bataclan concert venue, had been flagged as a radicalization risk in 2010. French police reportedly ignored two warnings about Mostefaï before he carried out the attacks.
Some of his friends claimed to have tried to alert French police about his radical views, but said they were told the authorities could do nothing. Samy Amimour, another of the men involved in the Bataclan massacre, had been previously charged with terrorist offenses “after an abortive attempt to travel to Yemen,” according to Paris prosecutors.
The alleged mastermind behind the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was also well-known to European police; he featured prominently in jihadi propaganda and was named as a wanted extremist after a gun battle in Belgium in January. Others involved in the attacks are also likely to have been on the radar of police and intelligence agencies due to their travels to Syria.
Bilal Hadfi, for instance, was living in Belgium after having returned from Syria, where he is believed to have fought with Islamic State militants. Hadfi apparently attended the Instituut Anneessens-Funck college in Brussels; his former history professor recalled that, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015, Hadfi defended the attacks. The professor reported him to management due to concerns about his radical views, but management “decided not to intervene, to avoid stigmatizing the young student.”
In June, Hadfi reportedly posted on his Facebook page encouraging terrorist attacks: “Those dogs are attacking our civilians everywhere. Strike them in their community of pigs so they can’t feel safe again in their own dreams.” The family of Ibrahim Abdeslam, who detonated a suicide vest inside a cafe during the attacks, said he too had spent “a long time” in Syria before returning to Europe.
Can overwhelming incompetency and blatant stupidity be blamed for this or is there another agenda at work? Could the agenda of importing terror in order to justify the massive increases in surveillance capabilities, the loss of personal freedoms, and increase in authoritarian emergency powers be a reason for this apparent insanity?