Europe is in a war but it does not seem to know it. Neither does NATO which has not been called upon to fight the war. All of this is very strange, because the turmoil being caused by ISIS in Europe poses a considerable threat to peace and security.
President Obama, as is well known, does not think too much of the ISIS threat anywhere, thinking it is not existential. But the truth is otherwise. ISIS was planning an attack on a Belgian nuclear reactor and was collecting data on other nuclear installations. Extensive ISIS-made surveillance film captured by police shows dramatic evidence that ISIS was well along on organizing such action.
There are different theories about the ISIS objective or objectives. These include: (1) blowing up a nuclear facility; (2) stealing radioactive material for a “dirty” bomb; (3) kidnapping nuclear officials and holding them for ransom; (4) sabotaging power plants and cause them either to go off line or to be made unrepairable; (5) crashing an airplane into one of the power plants in Belgium.
Two of the bombers who attacked Zaventem, the Brussels international airport, apparently were airport employees so they could enter the facility with an employee pass and avoid inspection. Had they chosen to do so, they could have allowed hijackers into the airport.
50 Islamic State supporters are working at Zaventem as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff
There isn’t any doubt that ISIS has penetrated critical infrastructure facilities in Belgium including its nuclear power plants. At least two Jihadists employed at the Doel nuclear plant left Belgium for Syria to fight with ISIS. One of the men, Ilyass Boughalab, is believed to have been killed in Syria and another was briefly jailed for terrorism in 2014 before disappearing.
Last November there was an unexplained explosion at the Doel Nuclear Power Station, which caused significant damage.
Overall the security situation at critical infrastructure facilities in Belgium is terrible. Israeli security had warned the country about the airport, but to no effect. Turkish authorities repeatedly warned about the suicide bombers and their colleagues, who they twice deported. Again to no effect. Others are keeping quiet, but it is likely Brussels got many more warnings and just sat on its hands.
The abysmal security situation in Europe is a major threat not only to all the nearby European capitals, but it is a threat to the United States and many others, especially if there was a nuclear incident. When Chernobyl melted down, there were major leaks of radioactive material into Europe. Even as recently as this year, 29 years after the disaster, forest fires in Ukraine have spread radioactive debris into Europe as far north as Scandinavia and Italy. The danger of a local nuclear plant explosion in the heart of Europe could impact millions, because the area is much more densely populated than Chernobyl in the northern Ukraine.
It is fairly clear that police and law enforcement authorities in Belgium and in the rest of Europe too lack any real ability to deal with the local terrorist threat, itself now being reinforced as ISIS and other Jihadists flood into Europe. It is foolish to depend on local law enforcement anywhere in Europe. Either they lack the manpower, know how, training, or political support, or all of the above, to handle the situation. This leaves Europe a ticking time bomb.
What is needed is a military intervention managed by NATO. Isn’t it odd that NATO folks have no lack of enthusiasm to go bomb folks in Libya, Iraq and Syria, but have nothing to say about the threat at their very doorstep. NATO has not held one meeting about confronting the ISIS threat in Europe or even declaring war on this terrorist organization.
NATO Ministers Meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels
How could NATO help? There are five major steps a NATO intervention can achieve:
1. Supply a multinational force to fight ISIS within Europe. This is highly important because a multinational force is less likely to be swayed by corrupt politicians and weak administration. The force has the equipment in the form of armored vehicles, drones, helicopters, communications to carry out all the needed tasks. Putting NATO in charge puts professionals on the job and commits everyone to the goal of eliminating ISIS.
2. Assures far better targeting and coordination by bringing professional military command and control assets into play to fight the threat. This will immediately result in a huge improvement in going after targets and neutralizing them.
3. Assures more professional and decisive action against terrorists including putting in place emergency military courts to try those who are captured and incarcerate them with very long prison terms. There is ample precedent for this based on the Nuremberg Military Tribunal. In 1945 it charged those involved in crimes against humanity, which fits ISIS perfectly. The definition is as follows: “Crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”
4. Puts professional military protection over critical infrastructure assets including nuclear power plants, nuclear industry, railroad, metro and airports, communications hubs, water supply and food distribution, and essential government agencies. This means NATO will guard critical facilities and provide alert and warning services as to any threat. NATO would also carry out checks on employees and others with access to critical facilities to ferret out ISIS infiltrators and spies.
5. Deploys forces and intelligence assets across national borders to shut down ISIS links and break the back of their organization. This contrasts today where internal law enforcement groups often fight among themselves even in their own country and fail to effectively cooperate across national boundaries.
These steps are how to fight ISIS in Europe. This should be the first priority of any self-respecting European government, and it should be the first duty of NATO to go after ISIS on its own territory. This is the only practical way to get rid of this threat.