I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling.
Complicated problems, to be sure, but why should they concern us here in the United States, beyond mere anthropological curiosity? Well, first of all, these young men are “ours.” They grew up during the years in which we were the dominant influence and paymaster in Afghan society. Since 2001, we have spent billions on an Afghan school system that we like to cite as one of our greatest accomplishments. These young men either attended these schools, in which case the investment in their education has been worse than useless, or did not have access to a school, in which case the money must have been fraudulently diverted. We have also invested many, many millions of dollars on gender programs and rule-of-law programs to convey notions of female equality and human value, and regard for law and order. We have funded radio programs and entire TV stations devoted to this goal, launched poster campaigns and sponsored at enormous cost a large number of civil-society groups purporting to disseminate these values. And here, now, are our “graduates,” rampaging across Europe like the worst sort of feral beasts.
Secondly, the relevance to U.S. refugee policy is sadly obvious. It will require rigorous vetting indeed to weed out such deeply disturbed, degenerate young males whose willingness to be deceptive is so pronounced and whose motives are so irrational.
Which brings me to a final theory being vented in Austria: that these destructive, crazed young men are being intentionally infiltrated into western Europe to wreak havoc: to take away the freedom and security of women; change patterns of behavior; deepen the rifts between liberals, who continue to defend and find excuses, and a right wing that calls for harsh measures and violent responses; to inflict high costs and aggravation on courts and judicial systems and generally make a mess of things.
For the record, I am not convinced that there is a deliberate plan behind this, but I do agree that angry and unstable young men are susceptible to destructive paths. Those paths can lead to ideological extremism and terrorism, or to the formation of gangs and packs that attack, harm and destroy. As we have seen, presently many of their attacks are inept and easily blocked by random civilian passersby. But they will get more skillful over time, and Europe had best develop a defense against them.
What to do? The necessary measures, I think, are obvious.
Anyone convicted of a felony or any kind of sexual crime should be immediately deported, and that consequence should be made known to new arrivals as part of their initial orientation. This is the only way to stop the accelerating problem. (Doing so will, of course, require changes to European law.)
Every arriving refugee and asylum seeker must be subjected to rigorous fact-checking of their story, including validation of their asserted age by lab testing if there is any doubt. Yes, it’s troublesome and costly, but not nearly as troublesome and costly as letting the wrong people in, or putting hundreds of thousands of foreigners permanently or semipermanently on the dole with benefits they are not entitled to. And European countries must share the resultant data with each other, and identities must be linked to fingerprints, not to documents of dubious authenticity or no documents at all.
Members of the relevant diaspora communities must make very clear to the refugees that they do not approve of and will not assist them with their false claims, cheating, bad behavior or crime. They should instead emphasize by their own example, as well as by direct outreach, that a good and fulfilling life is possible in their new homes with hard work, a sincere effort to fit in and a cooperative attitude.
Finally, the Left has to do a bit of hard thinking. It’s fine to be warm, fuzzy and sentimental about strangers arriving on your shores, but let’s also spare some warm, fuzzy and sentimental thoughts for our own values, freedoms and lifestyle. Girls and women should continue to feel safe in public spaces, be able to attend festivals, wear clothing appropriate to the weather and their own liking, travel on trains, go to the park, walk their dogs and live their lives. This is a wonderful Western achievement, and one that is worth defending.
Dr. Cheryl Benard was program director of the Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth and the Alternative Strategies Initiative within the RAND Corporation’s National Security Research Division. Her publications include Civil Democratic Islam, Building Moderate Muslim Networks, The Muslim World After 9-11, The Battle Behind the Wire - US Prisoner and Detainee Operations, and Eurojihad - Patterns of Islamist Radicalization and Terrorism in Europe. Civil Democratic Islam was one of the books found in Osama Bin Laden’s library during the raid on his compound.
Image: Migrants and refugees beg Macedonian policemen to allow passage to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia during a rainstorm, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis/File Photo