November 15, 2015

The cruel terror attacks in Paris on Friday night claimed at least 129 lives and plunged the city of lights into darkness. President Hollande announced three days of national mourning, and he also ordered the closure of borders and limitation of travel within the country. The gruesome attack, the worst in France since the World War II, came in the wake of controversial refugee influx in Europe from the Middle East. ISIS has claimed responsibility of the highly concerted assaults, which terrorised the entire continent, and it is expected that France and its allies will retaliate ISIS with great precision and velocity. Mr. Hollande called the assault an act of war and indicated that measures necessary will be taken for countering the terrorist threat. On Sunday, Mr. Hollande welcomed his predecessor and rival Nicalos Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. After the meeting, Mr. Sarkozy shared the position of Mr. Hollande and told, “We need everybody in order to exterminate Daesh, especially the Russians.”

The investigation into the assault has already revealed the identities of the terrorists. From the eight assailants, seven have died, six of whom blew themselves up and one was killed in a shoutout with police. French authorities are trying to locate the eight assailant who is suspected to have fled the country after participating in the attacks. Three Kalashnikov rifles and bullets were found in a black Seat Lean in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil on the early Sunday morning. The car, according to authorities, was used by the shooters at the restaurants to escape. The investigation also unfurled throughout Europe, especially in Belgium seven men were detained, one of the detainees was linked to a rented car that three terrorists, who had slain 89 people at the Bataclan concert hall, had used. On Sunday Belgian police announced that two of the dead terrorists had lived in Molenbeek, located by Brussels. Belgian prime minister Jean Michel acknowledged that Molenbeek had been becoming a seriously grave problem for the country, as almost entire terrorist assaults in Belgium were perpetrated by the people who came from there. The Belgian newspapers scornfully labeled Molenbeek as “the jihadist capital of Europe.”

The fears of security agencies about terrorists arriving in disguise as refugees were also confirmed; for one of the assailants of Paris attacks, Ahmed al-Muhammad, had arrived in France as a refugee through the Balkan route. He blew himself up at Bataclan. Investigators found a Syrian passport around his body. The twenty-five-year-old had first been registered as a refugee on the Greek island of Leros on October 3. During last ten months, more than 600 thousand refugees from Turkey have entered Greece, the majority of whom were from Syria. The Greek State Radio, citing police circles, claimed that a second man, allegedly involved in the terrorist attacks, has also entered Europe from Turkey. Ahmed al-Muhammad, who travelled to the Western Europe from Greece, applied for asylum in Belgrade. The Belgrade daily Blic reported that al-Muhammad was registered by the Serbian authorities in the reception centre Presova on October 7. The registration documents show that al-Muhammad was born on 10 September 1990 at the Syrian city of Idlib. He left Serbia and entered Croatia by Opatovac. Then he should have travelled via Hungary and Austria before reaching the final destination Paris.

Even though it is unclear who recruited and armed al-Muhammad, it is certain that he was unarmed when he traveled from Serbia to Macedonia. It is also speculated that al-Muhammad met with ISIS proponents while in the Balkans. Dzevad Galijasevic, an expert in the fight against terrorism, told that some Islamist communities in the Balkans constitute a major risk, and he claimed that Islamist networks in the Balkans jeopardised the security of not only the Balkans but also entire Europe. At the last G-7 summit in Munich the security loopholes in the Balkans were widely discussed. There are several villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina that openly sympathise with ISIS or radical Al-Nusra Front. Houses in such villages are adorned with the ISIS flags, and they are located just near the borders of the European Union.

Some fundamental questions about the terrorist attacks in Paris are still unanswered, and it is clear that the answers of these questions will reveal the scale of terrorist nest in Europe. Firstly, how did these terrorists, who acted in three synchronised teams, successfully carried out one of the deadliest terrorist assaults in Europe? How did they receive instructions from ISIS leaders in Syria and Iraq? Who provided them with the required logistics for the assaults? Why could this attack not be prevented? Meticulously coordinated attacks in Paris seem to be the result of extensive planning of people from several nations who have access to sophisticated weaponry.

It looks likely that French military presence in Syria and Iraq for countering ISIS will be intensified in the upcoming days. The gruesome terrorist attacks in Paris are also likely to deteriorate already grim living conditions of refugees in Europe. Many Europeans already started blaming refugees for the cruel terrorist acts. It should not be forgotten that for many people the likes of Paris assaults were daily phenomena in countries such as Syria and Iraq, from which they strived to flee for living free in peace.