‘Fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria before battlefield moves to Western capitals’

​Western nations as well as Russia, China, and Latin America which face a threat from radical Islamic extremism have to fight it at its source, or else the battle will eventually move to their own capitals, warns counter-terrorism expert Jonathan Fine.

RT:In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, some see the problem as a clash of civilizations. Do you agree?

Jonathan Fine: In many aspects, yes. I think the major challenge Western Europe has, it’s not only Western Europe, it’s a global problem of defining the problem. And the problem is radical Islam and its violent manifestation with a very clear set up, basis of origin, history, and specific terrorist organizations that are executing and translating this ideology into action.

If you, for example, look at how most of the British and French networks were defining the enemy in the past few days, most of the terminology never mentioned ‘terror of Islam.’ They were talking about militants, activists, combatants, radicals. The French president talked about barbarians. But that doesn’t really say anything.

We are talking about a very specific way of translating and manifesting Islam and that is radical Sunni and radical Shia Islam. This is not an amorphous terminology. We know exactly who is doing this. And it goes back to the history of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and scholars like Hassan al Banaj Saeed Kuthab, Abdullah Yusseff Hassan, Sheik Yussuf Kaldhari, and of course today we’ve got the problem with organizations like al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS).

RT:French authorities are facing questions over why they failed to prevent the attacks. The suspects were on the terror watchlist beforehand. But is that a fair accusation to make? How can you clamp down on everyone 100 percent of the time?

Jonathan Fine: The answer is simple: you can’t. There’s no doubt that the Kouachi brothers and Amedy [Coulibaly] – the guy that targeted the kosher supermarket – were on the list, were on the list of not entering the United States. Sharif, one of the brothers, was trained in the Yemen. The younger brother wanted to go and fight in Iraq.

RT:So how can you counter it, to make Europe safer place?

JF: The Europeans have two hard choices to make, and the truth is, it’s not only Europe; it's China, it's Russia, it's Europe, it's Israel, it’s the United States, and it's also Latin America. At the end of the day, you have to decide: do we want to wage war in their countries of origin meaning Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, the Levant, or do we want to battle them in Trafalgar Square, Red Square, Tiananmen Square, or Place de la Concorde, or any other place around Europe or the Western hemisphere.

This is the hard choice of the West and all those who suffer from terrorism, which includes both the Russian Federation and China.

RT:So you say this is policy gone wrong and the West has brought it on itself?

JF: In some aspects, yes, because I think that many people in the West are running away from the problem. It’s like a little kid hiding in a tent with a flashlight in a dark room, who says there is light around them. If Europe doesn’t define the problem as radical Sunni Islam, and with all due respect, President Obama and President Hollande, [have to say] “yes there is Islamic terror and we have to name it as it is.” If they don’t do that, they’ll never win this. And this is a very hard choice to make because it doesn’t only finish with the terrorism itself. There is a huge problem of Islamic immigration to Europe, which the Europeans have brought upon themselves. Now it’s true that a lot of these Muslims are not terrorists, they’re not members of these organizations, some of them are sympathetic, some of them support...

RT:Absolutely. And they are horrified by what they have witnessed here. They are worried about reprisal attacks now.

JF: Of course and rightly so. Of course they are. But you just can’t go out with slogans like we saw yesterday in thedemonstration, such as multiculturalism and integration, when in fact if you visit European cities, and these are two examples, like Brentford in England or Malmo in Sweden [you don't see that]. If that is multiculturalism and integration, then I can tell you that as an Israeli Zionist Jew, I have much more integration and multiculturalism with Gaza than the average Swede or the average Briton has with local Muslims in Europe today. This is how bad the situation is.

RT:When did this start going wrong then? Multiculturalism is painted as a very positive thing within Europe.

JF: It is a beautiful thing, but the question is if it’s realistic or not, because part of the Muslim population in Europe simply doesn’t want to integrate. And on the other hand, a lot of Europeans don’t want them to integrate. It’s a very complicated problem. I think it started with the fact that Europeans, when they absorbed thousands or millions of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan for example, from North Africa, there was...

RT:But surely many younger Muslims in Europe who were born there do not share the opinions of their parents?

JF: The third generation is the lost generation. The problem is the young generation; the major problem is not with the parents, but with the second, third generation. Although physically, for example [they were] born in Britain or in France, they do not perceive themselves neither as Britons nor as French. They are totally disconnected to their surroundings; they have not integrated into European society.

The Europeans also have to bear fault and the blame of not exercising, what I would say, a pragmatic absorption policy. This is the reality of the situation now.

Now you don’t have to put all the Muslim population in one basket, but the more moderate Muslims that are in Europe today have to make a very, very clear stand where they are now. Do they relate to all this? It’s not enough to say we’re not terrorists and smile and say “its good if the French and the British and the Jews are beaten from time to time” because of the colonial past, because of occupation or whatever, or God knows what...

RT:So what is your prognosis for the future?

JF: My prognosis for the future is that things are going to get much worse before they’re going to get any better. I am not completely convinced, despite the demonstration yesterday, that Western Europe has internalized the clear definition of who the enemy is and what should be done.

And as I said before, they’ve got two very hard choices: either the battle will be relocated to Africa, the Middle East, where most of these groups have originated from, and that’s where their major bases are, or the battle will be waged in the streets of Paris, Berlin, and London. These are the two choices they have to make when it comes to counter-terrorism, and I’m sorry that I’m not optimistic about this. There are hundreds of sleeper cells today in England, Germany, in France. Talk to their intelligence communities and you can see how scared most of them are. We haven’t seen yet the Islamic State’s modus operandi, which they promised to bring over to Europe. And if they don’t have a very clear definition of who they are up against, it’s going to be a very, very long and bloody campaign, unfortunately.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.