Sunday, April 10, 2016

10-Apr-16: In Europe, jihadists hiding in plain sight

Krayem: His family are "stunned"
[Image Source: A 2015 Swedish blog]
This past Friday afternoon in a corner of Brussels, the Belgian capital, police arrested five people, two of them considered "Europe’s most wanted fugitives" as well as
hardened operatives of ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for both the Brussels attacks on March 22, which killed 32 people, and the Paris attacks on November 13, which killed 130. [TIME Magazine, April 8, 2016]
The two are Mohamed Abrini, 31, and Osama Krayem, 23.

Krayem's background sounds ominously familiar. Raised in Rosengard, a section of the Swedish city of Malmo ["28-Sep-12: Malmo's beleaguered Jews have more to worry about this morning"] whose Jews we described four years ago as living in a state of siege - and which appears to have continued going downhill since then. Associated Press reports this morning that that "Krayem comes from a Palestinian family" and that, despite the violence and bigotry that has put Malmo on the map in the past few years, his family "was stunned by his turn toward extremism" while acknowledging that "many other guys" from the area had become "foreign fighters".

Krayem's victimhood is embellished in that AP report via a quote from a Rosengard social activist who operates a program to help local immigrants integrate into Swedish society: the accused mass-murderer, he says, is
well-known to the local police for multiple criminal activities like thefts [and] was the perfect target for radicalization — no job, no future, no money. [AP, April 9, 2016]
Krayen's recent trajectory closely resembles what is known about several other of the jihadists who carried out the Friday 13th massacre in Paris last November. He joined the ISIS forces in the ongoing Arab-on-Arab Syrian bloodbath. Then, for reasons not yet explained, in September 2015 he managed to sneak back into Europe amid
the mammoth influx of migrants last year, landing on the Greek island of Leros... Carrying a false Syrian passport in the name of Naim El-Hamed, he made his way to a refugee center in Germany, where Salah Abdeslam collected him on Oct. 3 and brought him back to Brussels. [Source]
We have some comments about Abrini that we will post later.

Right now, the most urgent issue these arrests raise is - what conditions made it possible for the surviving members of the Paris jihad attack group to melt into the background in Sweden, France and Belgium and avoid arrest until now, aided, as TIME's commentator put it, by a network of collaborators who hid them during a period of more than four months. They were, after all, the targets of Europe’s biggest manhunt in memory.

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