This article is a joint publication of TheNation.com and Foreign Policy In Focus.
From Germany to Belgium to France, European countries have been on a manhunt for terrorists in the wake of January’s shootings at the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and a Parisian kosher supermarket. The pursuit has been especially intense in Belgium, where officials describe their targets as jihadist sleeper cells about to mount new terrorist attacks.
But while top forces have been mobilized against migrants who have supposedly left Europe to train with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), only to return and wreak havoc in Europe, there’s another explanation for recent attacks.
The real breeding ground for extremism stems from the treatment of immigrant groups within Europe. Racial, ethnic and religious discrimination have driven a generation of young migrants to radical movements as a solution to the absence of job prospects, poor education, deteriorated neighborhoods, lack of respect and repeated bouts in jail. Ironically, the crackdown on these communities in the aftermath of the attacks could potentially escalate the problem.
Rather than focus its attention on outsized warnings about terrorists being trained abroad, European countries would do well to oppose the anti-immigrant movements at home and promote a left that can organize not only the traditional working class, but immigrants as well.
Fanning the Flames
The fear coursing through the public, and motivating public officials, is not surprising.
After all, the Western media have painted an image of thousands of home-grown jihadists returning to Europe to sow terror after they’ve received military training in Yemen, Iraq and Syria at the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS. CNN, among the most sensationalistic of the media sources, has warned its global audience that “as many as 20 sleeper cells of between 120 and 180 people could be ready to strike in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.” And, as the narrative goes, European security agencies are barely able to follow up on them.