The application of 600 police, intelligence agents and other operatives has resulted in the arrest of three alleged violent Islamic extremists in Germany, as has been reported around the world. Other shoes are starting to drop. As could be expected from an investigation of this magnitude, three arrests were just the beginning, and one of the real questions will be how far back German authorities, and the other agencies they cooperated with, were able to trace the purported would-be bombers’ connections, and how far they will be able to pursue the connections. Do the traces lead to areas in Pakistan the government does not actually control? Where does the money trail lead?
The Guardian claims “The fact that homegrown suspects were at the core of the plot shocked many Germans.” The Washington Post offers similar sentiments, “The arrests Tuesday shocked many Germans, particularly because two of the suspects were native-born Germans who had converted to Islam, including one named Fritz.” No actual shocked Germans are quoted by either paper, but they’d have to have had their heads pretty far in the sand (or up something else) to have been either shocked or surprised. The zeal of the converted is proverbial, and the fact of ethnic Germans converting to Islam has hardly been a secret. If any Europeans thought there was a safe barrier between “us” and “them,” they should have been disabused of that notion long ago.
Some years back I had the opportunity to ask a senior security official in Bavaria how an overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly Christian police force hoped to infiltrate radical circles that were generally not white and Islamic. With admirable candor he said, “That’s a crucial question for us.” But what he didn’t have then was a good answer. The presence of converts in violent jihadi circles is a sign that they could actually be infiltrated. In that sense, they may even be easier to crack than, say, ethnically-based mafias, which is good news.