Monday, 12 January 2015

Playing Detective - A Couple Of Unanswered Questions From The Paris Slayings

I'm no different from anyone who doesn't work for the police or intelligence services, although I have published a work of fiction about terrorist actions. And my amateur spidey sleuth senses are twitching over a couple of aspects of last week's terrorist outrages in Paris.

Firstly, at least one of the terrorists may have seen action in Syria, but Kalashnikovs and Rocket-Propelled grenade launchers are not just something you can smuggle back in your suitcase like hotel towels.

So how did the terrorists get their hands on such hardware?
1) The radical Islamic terror networks have excellent quartermasters who can secure this kind of ordnance
2) The terrorist bought them from the criminal underworld.

Either way, the two converge in the sense that even the quartermasters have to source the guns from somewhere, so at some point someone is trading them illegal weapons

Have Europe's borders become so porous that guns flow as freely as people? Where are the security checks on baggage (if smuggled by individuals) or freight (if sent commercially)? At some point in the transport cycle this hardware is likely to have originated from outside the EU, from the former Soviet Union, or Syria and Iraq perhaps. But the moment it comes into the EU it has to be discovered by the authorities or we remain totally vulnerable.

The French underworld has always been heavily tooled up, with machine guns to the fore. So it is quite conceivable that the guns were purchased locally. In which case it behoves the criminal classes to rediscover some notions of loyalty to the state they operate within, by keeping their sixth sense open as to the possible use of desired purchases and refuse to deal with terrorists. After all, it could be their wives and children hit in the crossfire. It's true that some terrorists have backgrounds within the criminal underworld, but if they drop out of circulation to go fight in Syria and then reappear trying to hook up with their old contacts again, it ought to sound alarm bells to the crims.

Secondly, Jihadists who declare war on their home state, cherish and welcome death. They don't hand themselves up for arrest of their own volition. And yet seemingly this is exactly what the third member of the Kouachi cell did in Reims. Could he possibly be entirely innocent, but his name came up in the frame because some identification material of his was found in one of the cars stolen by the brothers during their spree? Could he have handed himself in just to clear himself as an entirely innocent party? If that is the case - and we've heard absolutely nothing since his arrest - then the third gunman from the Charlie Hebdo massacre is still at large as well. Some more information on the status of this other accomplice (or not) would be welcome to clear up the fog.

I am also slightly confused by the role of Hayat Boumeddiene, the common law wife of the third gunman Amedy Coulibaly. Coulibaly's video sees him declaring his allegiance to ISIS, yet ISIS purportedly don't allow women to fight in their cause because of their lesser role in society to men (I'll refrain delving into the psychosexual exploration of that anxiety). Boumeddiene is said to have been a planner for her husband and exchanged 500 phone calls with the wives of the Kouachi brothers. Were these all just bolstering of their spirits, a reaffirmation of their commitment to the missions of their husbands? Or was this the means of planning communication that meant their husbands could remain off the grid? Boumeddiene is also over the internet pictured aiming a crossbow. If she is in Syria as seems likely, is she being feted as a war hero's widow? Or is she being allowed to apply her nefarious talents to ISIS' operations in the field?

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