French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to the Spanish border yesterday and vowed to crack down on illegal immigration to counter the “terrorist threat” in France and the rest of Europe.
France has seen three terror attacks in the last two months and along with last week’s ISIS attack in Austria, has heightened terrorism alerts across the continent.
Macron’s proposed crackdown is directed largely at Muslims making their way to France through Spain and Italy. The perpetrator of the Nice church attack last week, 21-year-old Tunisian Ibrahim Issaoui, apparently made his way to France through Italy and entered the country illegally.
“We see very clearly that terrorist actions can actually be led by some people who use migratory flows to threaten our territory,” he said during a visit to the border with adjoining Spain. “So, we must reinforce our controls for reasons of national security.”
The number of border police will be increased from 2,400 to 4,800.
While Americans are busy looking for violent white supremacists under their beds, the Islamists have been busy. The epicenter of activity is France as the trial of 14 accomplices to the terrorists who murdered 18 people in 2015 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo continues. Not only have there been three attacks since September, but Macron has proposed legislation that would outlaw Islamic separatism in France. He also has a very public, very bitter dispute with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over some islands off of Greece claimed by both countries. Erdogan recently questioned Macron’s mental health, after which France promptly withdrew its ambassador.
Seen in the context of terrorism, Macron’s call for stricter border controls makes perfect sense.
“Attacks in France, in Austria a few days ago in Vienna, show us that the terrorist risk is everywhere, that (terrorist) networks are global, which forces Europe to intensify its response,” he continued, adding that Paris will present its security proposal at a European summit next month.
Macron is also mulling more controls at the EU’s open-border Schengen area.
The tighter controls were needed to curb clandestine immigration, said Macron, adding that the criminal gangs illegally trafficking migrants into Europe were often linked to terror networks.
“I am in favour of a deep overhaul of Schengen to re-think its organisation and to strengthen our common border security with a proper border force,” Macron said on a visit to the Franco-Spanish border.
Macron said he would present proposals to European Union partners at a summit in December.
The Nice and Vienna attacks involved terrorists who moved freely through Schengen into other states.
On Oct. 29, a Tunisian man killed three people in a church in Nice. Brahim Aouissaoui had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies off North Africa, five weeks earlier. After being transferred to the mainland, Aouissaoui travelled into France by train hours before launching his attack.
The jihadist who killed four people in Vienna on Monday travelled to neighbouring Slovakia in July in an attempt to buy ammunition, Austrian officials said.
Macron said the recent attacks were a warning to Europe that “the terrorist risk is everywhere”.
Macron and other European leaders are going to have to take a hard look at their individual immigration policies. There should be some kind of uniformity so that terrorists won’t be able to take advantage of the laxity in one country to attack another.
Macron has been mugged by reality. Perhaps it will be a wake-up call for the rest of Europe.