Shocking Conversations With Recent Migrants to Europe

 In Counterterrorism

My husband, Joseph, and I just spent a couple of weeks traveling in Europe for summer vacation. We were in the UK, Austria, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Greece. Given that several of these countries are on the frontlines of the migrant crisis, we couldn’t help but notice migrants everywhere we traveled: small groups of young men gathered in parks, train stations, and cafes where they hang-out. My husband Joseph, being a native speaker of Arabic and a passionate humanitarian, had some interesting conversations with some of the young men, most of whom who hailed from North Africa. He’s gifted at establishing trust with others and was able to get some of them to speak about their experiences.

The conversations with recent migrants revealed some shocking things.

Most of the young men with whom Joseph spoke harbored significant anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiments (they didn’t know he was Christian). A couple of guys on the outskirts of groups Joseph engaged were clearly radicalized and/or ripe for recruitment into jihadi groups. Of course, this concerned us from a counter-terrorism perspective.

But the more Joseph talked with migrants, the more we realized that there’s a bigger story here; this may be the most underreported angle of the whole crisis:

Crime syndicates, particularly those involved in the drug trade from Afghanistan to Europe, are sending military-aged Turkish and Afghan males to Europe to support the opiate industry. In addition, they are recruiting lonely, desperate, jobless Arabic-speaking males to work the drug trade in Europe. Given the number of migrants involved and the number of Europeans already addicted to drugs, the heroin addiction in Europe is about to spiral out of control.

How do we know? Because we saw it ourselves. My husband was almost assaulted while speaking with a young Syrian; we’ll call him Ahmad. While they were chatting, a group of Afghan males approached. They threatened Joseph, telling him to leave the park. Suddenly, a menacing and angry 18-year old lifted his hand to strike Joseph. Just in time, Joseph lifted his arm to block the punch while yelling, “Knock it off!”

The young man got closer. He cursed again, warning Joseph to get out of the park, but Joseph yelled back, “I am NOT talking to you!”

Later on I asked, “Weren’t you scared that you were about to get beat up?”

Joseph explained, “I was in that position so many times growing up in Egypt. I got used to standing up for myself, even when I thought I was about to get pummeled by bully kids.”

Joseph’s confidence worked. The Afghan gang backed off. And Joseph was able to get some good insights from Ahmad. Later on, we figured out that these young males use the park to distribute drugs. We also think they were grooming Ahmad to become a drug mule or heroine pusher. We were raining on their parade by invading their territory and trying to bond with their potential recruit.

Once things calmed, Ahmad let Joseph in on a secret. He said, “The Austrians see the Afghans cozying up to Austrian women and say, ‘Oh good, look they’re integrating!’ when in fact they are actually getting these young women into drugs. Authorities are stupid. They have no idea what’s going on here.”

Some migrants Joseph met with said they desperately wanted to work, while others said there was no need to get a job as the social benefits provided by countries like Austria and Germany are plenty enough to live on. In Austria, they said that the government provides a significant stipend (up to 800 Euros a month for each child, including children left behind with mothers or other family members in their home countries).

As a result of this policy, men are leaving their families, relocating to Europe and gathering social benefits for them there. Two-thirds of Austria’s social assistance this year has gone towards the support of migrants. Therefore, migrant reception centers are full of single, military-aged males, most from Afghanistan and North Africa and authorities don’t why. (Seriously people, it’s not that hard to figure out.)

Even if they want to work, many of the new arrivals are unskilled. Their inability to secure jobs which will compound the pre-existing economic crises these countries are experiencing. The situation is simply unsustainable unless Europe takes a fresh look at what’s driving the crisis, improves its policies, and approaches the situation from a security and intelligence perspective.

Europe needs to use intelligence tools and methodologies to pursue people-smugglers the way the worldwide community has pursued terrorists and their associated networks.

By Michele Rigby Assad.  Greece: Signs of the economic crisis are everywhere.

BACKGROUNDER: Wars aren’t the cause of the crisis…People Smugglers are.

In the USA and Europe, it was largely assumed that they massive influx of migrants in 2015 was caused by ISIS. But the truth is that people smugglers took advantage of Europe’s good will towards Syrian and Iraqi war refugees and caused the migrant crisis by sending waves of other nationalities across land and sea borders into a woefully unprepared Europe. These people weren’t war refugees but economic migrants—people hoping to find countries with better job opportunities or social benefits. Sure, Iraqis and Syrians are there as well, but not in the numbers you think.

People smugglers marketed their services hard using social media and word of mouth. Many men we spoke of found smugglers via social media, trying to gather their own intel about the best smuggling routes. The smugglers are responsible for presenting Europe as the promised land, lying about the types of support the refugees will receive, and making the border crossings sound easy and safe. They are the ones responsible for the flood of immigrants under the banner of “war refugees”. The migrants were told to ditch their papers (passports) and inform immigration officers that they were from Iraq or Syria. As a result, economic refugees from Africa, Turkey and Afghanistan have flooded into Europe while smugglers have become multi-millionaires.

The human misery caused by the smugglers is beyond words. For all those migrants who have made it to Europe (which has turned out to be far from the promised land they envisioned), thousands of others have perished at sea while the rest are being taken advantage of, extorted for money they don’t have, used as slaves and held against their will on both ends of the flow. For example, an enormous industry has sprung up in Libya and Europe to take advantage of economically disadvantaged Africans who have no idea how very badly their human rights wil  be crushed by the people they paid to help them seek a better life. And since Libya is largely a nonfunctioning or failed state, there’s not much that can be done about it.

Austria’s Social Policies and Immigration

Austria is considering a plan to reduce child benefits for foreign EU workers whose children live in their home countries. Austria’s minimum social benefit currently amounts to about 840 euros (900 dollars) per month, higher than average wages in some eastern EU countries. Meanwhile, per Austrian’s foreign minister, the number of jobless Eastern Europeans in Austria had risen by 200 per cent to 50,000 people since 2011.

Austria has a shrinking population and if they can welcome immigrants who wish to work and are able to work (and are not there to abuse the system or push drugs), then this could benefit society. However, the social welfare laws need to change in order to create a more robust and sustainable system for all involved.

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