By Ron Jager
Islamic terrorist organizations received an unanticipated victory after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Within a short period thereafter, the Russian army unilaterally withdrew from Afghanistan. The war had attracted Muslims, mainly Sunnis, from all over the Arab world, to join forces and participate in a modern-day jihad against the Communist enemy. That war was fought for almost ten years. When it ended, two strategic developments had emerged: the first was that Arab mercenaries acquired and mastered advanced military skills and capabilities after years of fighting; however, with the war ended, they were “unemployed” and unwelcome in their counties of origin. The second was that Arab countries and non-state Islamic terror organizations had come to believe it was within their power to win a war against the “Western infidel.”
The Western alliance led by the United States supported Islamic militant groups in Afghanistan, on the assumption that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That short-term assumption turned out to be a long-term strategic blunder. After the war in Afghanistan ended, Western countries absorbed thousands of returning “unemployed” jihadist mercenaries as a tribute of thanks for fighting and beating the Soviets. This led to the following scenario: well-trained Islamic terrorists, confident that they could overcome the West, were popping up throughout the entire Western world. This emerging core generation of veteran Islamic militants became the founding fathers of today’s radical Islamic organizations, establishing seemingly innocent “gate organizations” that exist even today throughout Europe and in the United States; they are also responsible for the development of radical terror organizations such as al-Qaeda, which culminated in the 9/11 terror attack.
Based upon this history, we are likely to witness a repetition of this scenario in the coming years in Europe and the United States. The war going on today in Iraq and Syria represents the ultimate jihad between the Sunni and the Shia. Although they are not fighting the West directly, both sides are extremely frustrated by this situation and are constantly attempting to bring their radicalism and Islamic terror to the shores of Europe and the United States. The terror attack at the Boston Marathon is an example of how Islamic terror has infiltrated the United States. Today, Western countries will not openly absorb thousands of returning “unemployed” jihadist mercenaries; however, a critical mass of these terrorists will be allowed to return to their home nations as citizens.
Many of those lacking citizenship will nonetheless manage to enter Europe and the United States due to the current political atmosphere supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and the difficulties inherent in stopping unrestricted immigration, especially along the 2,500-mile border between Mexico and the southern states of America. Terrorists who remain abroad and are unable to fulfill their “right of return” will join efforts to attack the West by conducting low-scale terror attacks against tourists and foreign embassies, cyberattacks, or major terror attacks through the recruitment and directing of Islamic terrorists living in the West–similar to what transpired on 9/11.
In recent months, many have seen and felt how ISIS instills fear in the hearts of civilized people by broadcasting the savage beheading videos of innocent Americans and Europeans, continuing to shock the world anew each time. According to the latest UN estimates, around 20,000 of the Islamic State’s activists are volunteers who have joined the organization from all around the world, and their numbers are increasing. Islamic State includes volunteers from approximately 90 countries, including from Europe and North America, and also several dozen from Israel. In the near future, when Islamic State falls apart or ceases to be attractive, thousands of Western-born-and-bred Muslims–all steeped in jihadist ideology, with comprehensive guerrilla-warfare training and extensive combat experience–will neatly pack away their black flags and return home to mom.
In response to this imminent threat, President Obama appeared recently at the UN Security Council to head a special meeting of world leaders that focused on the fight against terror and, more precisely, the fight against Islamic State. Obama presented the Security Council with a revolutionary proposal to require all the world’s states to enact laws and adopt a series of measures to successfully cope with and restrict what now appears to be the most threatening aspect of the Islamic State phenomenon–that is, the foreign terrorist fighters from all around the world coming to help ISIS in the Middle East who could return thereafter to their countries of origin.
Obama’s proposal is premised on substantial legislative change that would allow the countries from which the volunteers are departing to prevent them from leaving and to prosecute those planning to set out for the Middle East. In the wake of such legislation, countries will also have an obligation to prosecute anyone who helps these fighters reach Syria and Iraq, even if the assistance amounts to nothing more than the purchase of an air ticket.
Such a move, legal experts worldwide concur, would undoubtedly impose significant restrictions on an individual’s freedom of movement. Picture this: someone wants to go “to provide humanitarian aid” to his Muslim brothers who are rebelling against the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad, and the government of Britain or France or Germany arrests, tries, and jails him just because he purchased an air ticket to Turkey, from where he planned to set out.
Few know that a key partner to this initiative, as well as other revolutionary proposals announced by Obama in the same speech, was the UN Security Council’s primary antiterror body, the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), whose senior official is Israeli counterterror expert Dr. David Scharia. He warns of this impending danger: “A large number of them will return home more radical,” Scharia says, “with a whole lot more operational experience, with military capabilities and, no less important, with a network of ties they can maintain via technological means that were not at their disposal 10 or 15 years ago. This presents a danger the likes of which we’ve never seen before, something new and extremely threatening. According to our professional assessments, of the 90 countries from which volunteers have departed, more than half are in a state that we call ‘seriously affected by it’–in other words, countries that are under serious threat with the return home of those volunteers.”
In today’s highly charged political environment concerning immigration reform as instigated by President Obama, the need to pass legislation to significantly curtail unrestricted amnesty to illegal immigrants will most likely be left to the Republican-controlled Congress. Due to the clear and present danger posed by returning Islamic terrorists to their home countries, this seemingly unpopular legislation can be an effective rallying call to support those legislators in both houses of Congress to limit the unrestricted amnesty being granted and proposed by President Obama.
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.