ISIS has struck again.
This time inside ground zero of the jihadi breeding ground in Europe - Belgium. Many questions have been asked whether these attacks can be stopped, whether law enforcement can stay a step ahead of the sick caliphate's next move.
Belgium law enforcement officials are stretched to the brim. They have 215 cases investigating active terror suspects. The USA has had 147 cases investigating home grown jihadist since 9/11, 31% of these being in the last 12 months. Looking at the numbers, Belgium seems to face an impossible task.
Just over the border, France is facing its own set of problems where 10% of the population and 70% of prison inmates are Muslim.
We now have two European countries carrying the emotional scars of senseless terror attacks. Hundreds of families mourning the loss of loved ones and individuals having to adjust their lives by adapting to being disabled after losing a limb or two
We have two countries whom are stretching their resources to fight the enemy among us.
How can Europe get one step ahead of these terror cells? They should take a page from the US intel agencies playbook. Since 9/11, the US Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) expanded its operations to every FBI field office in the country. The JTTF is a joint task force between several US intel agencies, sharing information and working together to fight terrorist.
The Europeans need a similar task force. They have Europol's counter terrorism unit and the European Counter Terror Centre however, in order to fight ISIS head one, they need one unit, consisting of several agencies, with adequate funding and powers, to launch counter terror operations, proactively, on the ground in European cities.
You can have all the technology in the world but the most important aspect of counter terror operations is the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). Within such a European task force, the agents need to engage communities like Molenbeek, where most of these suspects grew up and plotted the attacks, to recruit informants. Agents need to be adequately funded to launch undercover operations and have the money to pay informants for information.
These communites are tightly knit and people are scared to approach authorities direct. If they have some incentive, they are more likely to share info.
"They are everywhere, yet they are nowhere," the intellectual godfather of counterinsurgency, David Galula, commented referring to these terror cells among us.
"An effective counterterrorism strategy involves a range of financial, law enforcement, and military tools, but that is not enough. Groups regenerate. Terrorists recruit new terrorists. Names change, or were never true to begin with. You cannot kill your way to victory; you must interrogate your way to mission success." - Business Insider (Robert Caruso, Sept 2014)
The only way to act in war is on credible intelligence. The only way to get this intelligence within the streets of Molenbeek or Saint-Denis or any other terror hotbed, is by blending with the enemy. To make him believe you are one of them. Then act. Take his sorry ass to interrogation before he can detonate his vest that takes him to his paradise. Before he gets there, he must face the wrath of the prison system and face a bit of hell.