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#################### Geoff Seidner
The EU is reaping what it has sowed. Islamic State’s jihadist attack on the EU’s de facto capital, Brussels, is a direct consequence of lax immigration policy that has produced an Islamist core in Belgium prepared to enact jihadism against the West.
The Belgian ambassador to Australia, Jean-Luc Bodson, has underplayed state culpability for the attacks and claims it is not a reflection of European immigration policy. He is wrong on both counts.
Two months before Belgium was targeted by jihadists, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump warned it had become “a hellhole” because of sharia law advocates who refused to integrate. He was excoriated for it.
Late last year, Tony Abbott urged Europe to adopt a rational border security policy and offered the Australian immigration model as an example. The Left was so upset by the prospect that Europe might see the light, they rushed to defend the lax border policies that are ushering jihadists into the West. The New York Times’ editorial board warned European officials against the Australian model, sowing shameless agitprop under the headline, “Australia’s brutal treatment of migrants”.
In the wake of the Brussels attack, Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the success of the Australian immigration model that combines strong border policy with national security and gives priority to the intake of genuine asylum-seekers from UN refugee camps. The Belgian ambassador reacted rather unproductively. Instead of considering the benefits of the Australian model, he prosecuted the fallacy that there is no link between European refugee policy and Islamist terrorism.
Yet the emergence of pan-European jihadism demonstrates immigration and national security policies are indivisible. Despite Bodson’s claim to the contrary, the jihadists involved in the Paris and Belgium terror attacks have benefited directly from the EU’s open-border and refugee policies. A key planner of the gruesome Paris attacks, Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a jihadist with Islamic State before re-entering Europe by posing as a refugee. Suicide bomber Ibrahim Abdeslam was a returned jihadist from Syria. Another Paris jihadist entered Europe posing as a refugee under the name Ahmad al-Mohammad. He was reportedly welcomed in refugee camps before slaughtering dozens of innocents in Paris.
The bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui also travelled to Syria in 2013 before returning to Europe with Algerian jihadist Mohamed Belkaid under a false identity.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims that Belgian authorities ignored his country’s warning that Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the two Belgian brothers responsible for the latest terrorist attacks, was a returning jihadist.
It is not the first time Belgium’s lax approach to national security has been connected to international jihadism. Two days before 9/11, Tunisian-born Belgian Tarek Maaroufi aided in the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a champion of anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The Belgian government was implicated in the jihadist killing because it had refused Tunisia’s request to extradite Maaroufi on suspicion he belonged to a terrorist group.
In Europe, Belgium is the biggest per capita supplier of jihadists for Syria and Iraq. It appears that for well over a decade, the Belgian government has known about the nation’s Islamist problem.
For example, a 2002 report by the Belgian parliamentary committee of state intelligence services detailed the failure of the state to screen Islamist radicals properly.
The failure was attributed to poor funding, the mistaken belief that Belgian Islamists wouldn’t attack on home soil and officials’ fears of being accused of xenophobia or racism towards immigrants and Muslims.
Brussels developed into a hub for terrorism because of lax immigration policy and the refusal of many politicians to counter the Islamist threat.
But the complex administrative structure of Belgium also impedes the policy cohesion and political bipartisanship required to combat terrorism.
Across Europe, Muslim communities tend to vote Left, which provides an incentive for progressivist politicians to minimise any problems therein and refuse bipartisan alliances with the Right.
A survey for Le Figaro newspaper, for example, found that 93 per cent of French Muslims voted for the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande in 2012.
Hollande continued to defend the open-border policy even after jihadists’ exploitation of it to slaughter French citizens became public knowledge.
The role of Socialist politicians has loomed large in the development of Islamism in Belgium. From 1992 to 2012, the suburb of Molenbeek was governed by socialist mayor Philippe Moureaux. Molenbeek is home to several terrorists implicated in the Paris and Brussels attacks, and Salah Abdeslam was harboured there.
During his term, Moureaux pursued an aggressively open-border position and attacked those who criticised it as racist.
Following the Paris attacks, a former resident of Molenbeek, Teun Voeten, reflected on its demise from a multiculturalists’ dream into a dilapidated monoculture ruled by conformist Islam.
Writing for Politico, he chronicled the closure of Jewish shops, gay persecution and the abuse of women, who were spat at on the streets and called whores.
As a result of the EU’s failure to uphold its primary duty of care to protect law-abiding citizens, the Schengen Agreement on a borderless Europe is all but over.
The European political elite and the Belgian ambassador to Australia should tell the truth about the root causes of the continental jihadist crisis.
The EU’s politically opportunistic approach to immigration coupled with an aggressive open-border policy has facilitated the growth of transnational jihadism as a European condition.
Bodson’s apparent attempt to reframe reality by blaming jihadism primarily on poverty and unemployment rather than European open-border policy is unpersuasive.
He would do well to consider the Australian immigration model rather than dismiss it with the insular attitude long associated with the European political class.