As the U.S. panics over the mostly made up threat of Syrian jihadists entering the country as refugees, investigators in Europe have discovered that the majority of men responsible for the horrendous November 13 attacks in Paris were European citizens who had traveled to Syria where they joined the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and trained before returning to their home countries.
“It appears so far that as many as six of the assailants who killed 129 people with guns, grenades and suicide bombs at six sites last Friday were Europeans who had traveled to Syria and returned to carry out attacks at home,” reports the New York Times’ Katrin Bennhold.
More than 1,000 French citizens and 600 Germans are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Belgium, with its population of about 11 million, has 520 fighters in Syria, the greatest number of fighters per capita. More British Muslims have joined the Islamic State — about 750 — than are currently enrolled in the British armed forces, according to Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London, who has been monitoring the social media accounts of Western jihadists over the past two years.
While the Times article focuses primarily on European national security, it also inadvertently highlights how effective and tactical ISIS has been in increasing the fear and distrust that surrounds Syrian refugees. In both the United States and Europe, blame and racism have been firmly pointed in the refugees’ direction.
Historically, people have always found it much easier to blame danger on outsiders rather than their own friends and neighbors, but—as the events in Paris prove—the truth is often far more nuanced.
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