‘Take the threat seriously’: US, Russia, Europe need to fight ISIS together – ex-DIA chief Flynn
“What I’ve heard over the past 24 hours is a bunch of excuses” from Europe following the fatal Brussels airport and metro attacks, Flynn said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “We have to stop apologizing for the political correctness that I see just running rampant.”
Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) between 2012 and 2014 and commanded US Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq before that, believes there is a direct link between migrant crisis and the Brussels and Paris terror attacks.
There is very little coordination between EU nations right now, even as border controls “absolutely” have to be tightened, Flynn warned, reminding that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has said it wanted to infiltrate Europe and the US through the refugee stream.
“There is a major problem how we vet these refugees that are coming in, where they come from, how we document them, how we share the documentation, how we then share the intelligence surrounding them,” Flynn said, adding that information-sharing between the law enforcement, security services and intelligence “has to get better, it must.”
It took the Belgian authorities months to act against the suspected ringleader of the terror attacks in Paris, and Tuesday’s bombings have been speculated to be a reaction to his arrest.
“This is not just authorities in Belgium, this is the leadership of Europe, of the EU,” Flynn said, arguing that the US, Russia and the entire international community have to stand together against what he described as a “vicious enemy, getting worse by the day.”
The first step would be to take the threat seriously, he argued, pointing out that the EU has not done so. While governments all over Europe preach multiculturalism, terrorists hide in “no-go areas,” where law enforcement is too afraid to go into.
“You can’t have that in one’s country, you just can’t have that,” Flynn said.
Commenting on reports about the existence of 400 IS fighters on the continent, Flynn said that there were probably even more. IS has a well-networked command and control structure in the EU, with the ability to make decisions rapidly and carry out terror attacks at will, according to the retired general.
Flynn pointed out that there have been at least 75 terrorist attacks outside of Iraq and Syria in the last 6 months.
“We’re going to see more of these attacks until we do more against this enemy.” he said. “We have to stop this rise of radical Islamism, and we have to go to the heart of it.”
Turkey will have to step up its border control, stop the flow of foreign fighters from anywhere between 80 and 120 countries into Syria and Iraq, and as a moderate Muslim country, “do much more to restrain this radical Islamic cancer,” Flynn added. “There should be some demands on them to do that.”
Sunni and Shia leaders in the Middle East and North Africa likewise need to do more to address the issue of the growing number of men under 30 with nothing to do, according to the general.
The US and Russia need to talk directly, behind closed doors, and work out a way to bring their national security strategies together in the fight against a common enemy, as they have done in the past.
“This is now a hot war, and we can’t try to think that it’s not. This enemy has declared war on us,” Flynn said. “We have to quit talking past each other.”
“We cannot allow some enemy to take initiative away from the international community, which is exactly what they’re doing…We’re on our heels, if not on our knees.”
Ideally, the problem would have to be resolved at the source, by creating security and stability in Iraq and Syria so people there could stay in their homes. However, Flynn believes the problem is much bigger than just the region.
“ISIS is also leveraging the information domain, through cyber and through social media,” he said. “We’re not talking 30,000 guys in Syria anymore – we’re talking about potentially a million radicalized Muslims around the world.”
“ISIS is beatable, radical Islamism is beatable. It will take much more of an effort than what we’re currently involved in,” the former director of the US military intelligence concluded.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.