Preventing extremism: Why stop European jihadists from going to Syria?

The Financial Times (paywalled) reports that “Western intelligence agencies have handed Turkish authorities the names of nearly 5,000 people they fear are attempting to travel to Syria to join al-Qaeda linked groups, in a stark illustration of the escalating terror threat posed by homegrown jihadis”.

Turkey has already deported between 1,000 and 2,000 “jihadists” back to their home countries in Europe where they then become a virulent threat.

DailyBeast: It is a scenario that counter-terrorism experts have been warning about for the past two years: a European citizen who travelled to Syria in order to join up with jihadist groups returns to Europe in order to carry out a terrorist attack. It is something we all knew eventually would become a reality and, more worryingly, knew we could not prevent.

“Moderate Islam” in European countries is conspicuous by its complete absence in holding back the extremists and the idiot fanatics. I have no doubt that most Muslims are moderate. But they have been too passive for far too long against their own extremists.  In Europe, in Africa and even in China. They have – for example – allowed the extremists to take over parts of the school system in Birmingham in the UK. But it is not just “moderate Islam” which has abdicated its responsibilities. The political establishment in Europe (mainly) has to take its share of the blame. Political correctness in Europe involves allowing all fanatics and extremists – whether from the neo-Nazis as in Ukraine or Greece or from the religious Islamic fanatics in France and the UK or from the ecofascism of the hard-left green activists – to flourish unchecked.

But I wonder why the intelligence agencies don’t just let these jihadists reach Syria? Why warn Turkey and then have them all deported back to carry out their mayhem? If the US could revoke Snowden’s passport while he was travelling, surely it would be most effective for the US and EU countries to merely revoke those of the 5,000 known to be on their way to Syria? And concentrate on preventing their return? Like it or not, in the current situation Bashar al-Assad could be best equipped to handle these fanatics.

In the long run of course the alienated youth who are then radicalised have to be addressed at home. And the best bet is if “moderate Islam” is encouraged to defuse and neutralise their idiot fanatics. The position of the political centre defines the extremes. A passive centre allows the political spectrum to be skewed towards one extreme or the other or even to reach a bifurcation. The way to prevent unacceptable extremism lies then, I think, not in trying to prevent the extreme views from forming (which is futile) but in having a sufficiently pro-active centre which effectively starves the extremists of recruits.

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