Why is Europe an ISIS target?

Maria Dubovikova
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The terrorist attacks that targeted Brussels, the capital of Europe, carry several significant messages. It came right after the arrest of the mastermind of the Paris attacks – carried out on November 13 last year – which suggests that terrorists are proving to be unstoppable no matter how much efforts are made to catch them. For each fighter getting killed or captured, there are two that surface.

This also suggests that this group of individuals don’t really need a leader and can carry out acts of terrorism more or less on their own. Terrorists are trying to undermine peace and security in Europe to derail its social development, target the center of the Union and end their liberty. They believe this will impact the future of Europe and dramatically weaken the West. At least that is what these terrorists aspire for.

They are also intent on sending a strong message that they have a presence inside these countries and that they are in a position to strike at any time. This message is strengthened by the fact that they have managed to carry out attacks despite very high security measures. For months since the Paris attacks, Belgium has been living under the threat of terrorism. Yet the security agencies have failed and terrorists have managed to spread fear and panic.

Responsibility for what has happened must be shared by many players. Those who are behind and responsible for these attacks are not just based in Belgium but have global presence and are also linked to each other.

ISIS propaganda materials always address its target audience. They highlight the “humiliating condition” of Muslims living in other countries. They also emphasize that Muslims have had to flee their homelands as life there had become unbearable due to outside intervention and that imperialistic policies of invading countries have destroyed the Muslim world.

Such messages are available in high quality visually attractive media packages and are delivered by means of colorful ISIS magazines, video messages and other components of ISIS media machine. They find resonance in the minds of the migrants, even those belonging to the second generation.

Belgium adopted the most dangerous model of multiculturalism in which newcomers to their land, who had lost their natural surroundings, were not proposed to integrate socially, mentally, or culturally under the pretext of show of respect for their culture.

Maria Dubovikova

Their minds, in the absence of a foundation of their own culture and without a firm background of their motherland, become susceptible to this propaganda. Brussels and Belgium have mostly been indifferent to what is happening with its Muslim communities. Extremist literature is sold openly in their bookshops.

Activities taking place inside mosques and those of the preachers have not been monitored in the manner they should have been or have been entirely neglected. Belgium adopted the most dangerous model of multiculturalism in which newcomers to their land, who had lost their natural surroundings, were not proposed to integrate socially, mentally, or culturally under the pretext of show of respect for their culture. Apparently this respect didn’t include their dignity and equality of all inside the society.

This problem is more or less common in other European societies. The West’s inadequate and shortsighted policies have brought the Middle East region to the brink of collapse, leading to conditions that give rise to extremism of all kinds based primarily on the immense hatred toward “non-believers”, as ISIS propaganda labels the West.

Failed policies

By continuing the same policy in the Middle East and trying to fight terrorism using insufficient means the West is aggravating the situation. This is causing migrant influx to Europe, which gets infiltrated by ISIS fighters. The process is perpetuated by the same failed policies on adaptation and assimilation fronts. All these put together make the current refugee problem a truly explosive mixture.

In the current circumstances, Russia’s traditional “I told you so” position has a major significance for the Western counterparts. It is true that most of its predictions over the Western policies in the Middle East have come true. However, its own current policy now raises deep concerns and questions and it is time for all the sides to unite the forces to fight the terrorist and extremist threat. Russia could be an important element here taking into account its own experience of tackling terrorism and extremism on its territory.

Uniting forces should not only mean cooperation but also understanding that all lives matter. This approach of the whole world mourning victims of terrorism in the West is unacceptable. The lack of adequate response toward terrorist attacks killing tens and hundreds in the Middle East and the tragedies in Europe leave a feeling that most of the world still considers non-western world as one of another kind where lives are far less valuable than that of the “civilized Europeans”.

Such an approach shows deep lack of trust and gives new alibi to extremists and their propagandists. The world should stand strong and united in its fight against extremism and work with the Muslim community on measures to counter the ISIS propaganda. We are all in one boat and if we start to sink nobody will survive.
Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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