By Herbert London
The barbarians are not at the gates; they are in the gates. On March 22, two explosions occurred at the Brussels airport and subway station, killing more than 34 people and injuring about 180. It would appear as if these attacks were retaliation for the apprehension of Salah Abdeslam, the architect of the recent Paris murders, and an ardent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporter. It is hardly a surprise that ISIS assumed responsibility for this atrocity.
As of this writing, the bomb-maker for the murders is still at large, albeit he too might have found a safe house in Molenbeek, Belgium, the area where Abdeslam was hidden from public view by family and friends.
French Prime Minister François Hollande said, “We are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.” There is no doubt radical Islamists are at war, but it isn’t at all clear whether the West is at war with them.
For years, Molenbeek has been an ostensible hotbed of radical Islamist sentiment. It is virtually sealed from intelligence monitoring by an inner network of communication and secrecy. Yet authorities did nothing about it; in fact, it was a practical “no-go” zone. Tourists to Brussels would be told if you jog, stay away from Molenbeek. The attacks in Paris in which 130 were murdered were planned in the close-knit apartments of the Brussels suburb.
What these explosions are designed to do is foment panic and anxiety. They also put in sharp focus the failure of European policy toward Muslim migrants. Europeans generally do not integrate migrants into the economic or cultural fabric of a nation. They are separated by choice and design. Lip service is given to assimilation, but the reality is closed, radicalized colonies within the larger national structure. And this is the case from Malmo, Sweden to Rotterdam, Netherlands and from Paris to Hamburg.
Unless these communities are infiltrated, perhaps raided to remove weapons and propaganda material, radicalism will fester. The antidote to radicalization is an alternative: a life that harmonizes with nature. This condition isn’t bought as in a market; it is the fruit of civil society, of being part of a larger community. Europeans need an experience with integration, even though they have been pursuing the wrong policy for decades and it may be too late to change.
However, war is at the doorstep. Many more will be killed. Interpol may track down the culprits of these most recent attacks, but other killers will emerge, motivated by religious fervor. That is why we must protect ourselves from the killers through military vigilance and we must challenge the doctrine of jihad through ideological battle.
There are allies in this battle. Prime Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi contends that Islam needs a revolution form within to extirpate radical sentiment. He has been joined by the kings of Bahrain and Jordan in an alliance that could be the vanguard for the positive reformation for Islam. That is a condition the West could encourage, but not impose or lead.
At the moment in this long war, it is imperative that police and military assets are mobilized to prevent another slaughter. This may mean compromising some civil rights and it certainly does mean trampling on political correctness. An unwillingness to offend could lead to blood on the streets.
Citizens of the West cannot escape history. As President Lincoln noted, “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and under a just God, cannot long retain it.” A powder keg has been lit under the foundation of Western civilization and its citizens must learn to extinguish the blast and find its bombers before freedom will be lost and the civilization will be in ruins.
London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.