European Allies Still Struggle With Intelligence Sharing

Excerpted from:  
ISIS Spreading in Europe, U.S. Intelligence Chief Warns
By Eric Schmitt and Alissa J. Rubin
April 25, 2016
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State is operating clandestine terrorist cells in Britain, Germany and Italy, similar to the groups that carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the top-ranking American intelligence official said on Monday.

When asked if the Islamic State was engaging in secret activities in those nations, the official, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said: “Yes, they do. That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies.” He then added, “We continue to see evidence of plotting on the part of ISIL in the countries you named.”

(…)

Two weeks ago, Mr. Clapper led a group of American intelligence officials who met in Germany with their European counterparts in what he said was an effort “to promote more sharing between and among the nations in Europe.”

“That, right now, is a major emphasis of ours,” he added.

Many European nations still refuse to share basic intelligence, even within a government, leading to blind spots across the Continent that make it easier for terrorist groups to strike. Brussels has more than a dozen police forces, and French intelligence, police and judicial officials do not routinely share terrorism information, American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said.

Mr. Clapper’s comments should not come as a surprise to anyone. US and European intelligence services have been warning about the influx of operatives and the establishment of terror cells on the continent for several years. It is also logical that we will see the greatest threat of attack in countries with the highest concentration of refugees from war zones. What is concerning is that 15 years after 9/11 and 11 years after 7/7, our European allies apparently still struggle with intelligence sharing. Every country in Europe is a potential target – thus every country in Europe should be coordinating their counter-terror efforts to the greatest extent possible. Information sharing, not higher walls or more armed guards, will be the only way the terror threat is eliminated.