Fred Burton: Hi, I'm Fred Burton and I'm here today with Adriano Bosoni, our European analyst, to discuss the terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris this morning. Adriano, I know you were just recently in Paris. What were some of your unique observations?
Adriano Bosoni: Hello Fred. When you visit France, Germany, the Netherlands and many other European countries, you notice a very complex political context. You see there is a big debate going on over the role of minorities. You see that there is the rise of nationalist parties that target foreigners in general but mostly minorities in particular. You see that there is a big debate over the restitution of border controls within Europe and how to deal with the crisis of asylum seekers and refugees arriving to European countries from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. So today's attack happens in a context of a very very politically charged social and political environment in Europe.
Fred: And I also thought it was fascinating when you brought up this morning at our analyst meeting your observations on the French police checking trains. Would you like to share that with our audience?
Adriano: Yes, a couple of months ago, I traveled to Paris from Frankfurt and I was surprised to see that after crossing the French border, French policeman came into the train and started asking for people's passports. And this makes sense because what we have seen in the past months is countries trying to come up with measures to deal with the problems of nationals going to fight in the Middle East and also nationals coming back, so-called returning Jihadis, which is an extremely complex issue because they are trained to either withdraw their passports, share more information, apply additional controls on train stations or bus stations, or even on board of trains, but it’s an extremely difficult situation. You cannot track every single potential threat.
Fred: Without a doubt. I know that first hand from my work in being a counterterrorism agent. In essence, the average person has no idea how many people it takes to surveil a potential target 24/7, and then if you look at the sheer number of suspected jihadis running around in Europe, it’s a daunting task.
Adriano: And it also has a political side because in the coming weeks and months, we will see on one hand popular pressure on the governments to try to apply additional measures, but at the same time this could also benefit nationalist parties, which were already growing because of the unemployment crisis, because of the crisis in the eurozone, and these kinds of events only fuel that debate over the role of minorities and give even more strength to those nationalist and Eurosceptic parties.
Fred: From a tactical perspective, having myself worked many fixed post assignments trying to protect diplomatic facilities and other locations, to me this is the kind of frightening scenario where you have terrorists that have clearly conducted a high degree of pre-operational surveillance and factored in killing the French counter-surveillance team before actually killing their targets inside that location. I'm sure we haven't seen the end of this in Europe.
Adriano: No, this is an extremely complex problem, and as you said we will unfortunately see more episodes like this in the future.
Fred: Well fascinating. Well thank you for joining us today from Germany. I believe that's all we have time for. For those of you interested in more, please visit our website www.stratfor.com.