Counterterrorism officials in France, Germany, Britain, and the United States have given warnings this week about the rising threat of attacks by Al Qaeda and its affiliates, especially in Europe. Are our politicians listening? Are you concerned?
"Al Qaeda and its allies are taking aim at Europe, according to US and Western intelligence officials, who say there are indications a terrorist plot is in the offing" writes the Washington Times. (HT: ACUS)
While FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that Al Qaeda continues to be "committed to high-profile attacks directed at the West," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stressed the increasing threat of smaller-scale attacks, which require less planning and fewer pre-operational steps and therefore are more difficult to detect before they occur.
France's counterterrorism chief Bernard Squarcini warned in Le Monde: "All the lights are red. They are flashing from everywhere." The risk of a terrorist attack on French soil has "never been higher" and "objectively, there are reasons for worry." David Ignatius covers this warning in English in the Washington Post and adds that Joerg Ziercke, the head of Germany's federal crime office, noticed a growing number of residents traveling to terrorist camps and describes 131 people in Germany as "potential instigators." He said 70 of them had "completed paramilitary training in terror camps" and 40 had combat experience with insurgents in Afghanistan.
His British counterpart Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, warned of rising threats from Yemen and Somalia. According to The Telegraph he noted that "a significant number of UK residents" were receiving training from al-Qaeda's Somali affiliate and that "it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by these Somali recruits."
Many papers in the United States and Europe wrote about these warnings from their countries' top counterterrorism officials this week, but it was not front-page news. Are the media and politicians, especially in Europe, underestimating the threat?
Or is the calm European response more appropriate because terrorism is just an ordinary risk that we have to accept and live with?Cross-posted from atlantic-community.org -- The Open Think Tank on Global Issues