Tuesday, March 23, 2004

New European Age of Terror

Madrid bombings and the subsequent Spanish election upset is probably the most worrisome political development in Europe in recent memory. It not only shows the utter vulnerability of Europe to terrorism, it also shows that, under certain circumstances, terror works. With such precedent it is almost certain that the terrorists would continue to employ similar tactics hoping to scare governments and electorates into submission.

Problem is even worse that most people in Europe are willing to admit.

Because, Muslim fanatics aren't the only people willing to use terror in order to bend governments and nations to their will. And Middle East issues aren't the only issues that could be seen worthy of terror.

In other words, seeing apparent success of al-Qaeda, many non-Muslim terrorists would try to emulate their success.

The most spectacular demonstration of what lies ahead for Europe was Sunday's soccer game between SS Lazio and AS Roma, two teams from Rome known for their rivalry and current financial problems. The high risk game was abandoned after sudden and mysterious escalation of fan violence.

Now Roberto Maroni, Italian minister of interiors, claims that the violence was organised. Rival soccer hooligan groups have found some sort of understanding and started violence with a very specific aim of ending financial woes of their beloved clubs. The idea was to blackmail government into reducing clubs' huge tax debts that threaten to eject Lazio and Roma from Italian top soccer division.

Few weeks ago this might have looked like a pipe dream, but after Spanish elections any group of European thugs can expect their threats to be taken more seriously than before. And government's response is more likely to be appeasement than it was before.

Unless some European government makes a resolute gesture of defiance and rejection to threats, the Old Continent is entering the new age of terror.


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