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[continued...]

Indeed, the fissure between liberalism and multiculturalism is opening just as the continent undergoes its most momentous population shift since Asian tribes pushed westward in the first Christian millennium. Immigration obviously hits a national security nerve, but it also raises economic and demographic questions: how to cope with a demonstrably aging population; how to maintain social cohesion as Christianity declines and both secularism and Islam climb; whether the EU should exercise sovereignty over borders and citizenship; and what the accession of Turkey, with its 70 million Muslims, would mean for the EU. Moreover, European mujahideen do not threaten only the Old World; they also pose an immediate danger to the United States.

 

A FINER SIEVE

The United States' relative success in assimilating its own Muslim immigrants means that its border security must be more vigilant. To strike at the United States, al Qaeda counts less on domestic sleeper cells than on foreign infiltration. As a 9/11 Commission staff report put it, al Qaeda faces "a travel problem": How can it move its mujahideen from hatchery to target? Europe's mujahideen may represent a solution.

The New York Times has reported that bin Laden has outsourced planning for the next spectacular attack on the United States to an "external planning node." Chances are it is based in Europe and will deploy European citizens. European countries generally accord citizenship to immigrants born on their soil, and so potential European jihadists are entitled to European passports, allowing them visa-free travel to the United States and entry without an interview. The members of the Hamburg cell that captained the September 11 attacks came by air from Europe and were treated by the State Department as travelers on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), just like Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

Does that mean the VWP should be scrapped altogether, as some members of Congress are asking? By no means. The State Department is already straining to enforce stricter post-September 11 visa-screening measures, which involve longer interviews, more staff, and more delays. Terminating the VWP would exact steep bureaucratic and diplomatic costs, and rile the United States' remaining European friends. Instead, the United States should update the criteria used in the periodic reviews of VWP countries, taking into account terrorist recruiting and evaluating passport procedures. These reviews could utilize task forces set up in collaboration with the Europeans. Together, U.S. and European authorities should insist that the airlines require U.S.-bound transatlantic travelers to submit passport information when purchasing tickets. Such a measure would give the new U.S. National Targeting Center time to check potential entrants without delaying flight departures. And officers should be stationed at check-in counters to weed out suspects.

Europe's emerging mujahideen endanger the entire Western world. Collaboration in taming Muslim rancor or at least in keeping European jihadists off U.S.-bound airplanes could help reconcile estranged allies. A shared threat and a mutual interest should engage media, policymakers, and the public on both sides of the Atlantic. To concentrate their minds on common dangers and solutions might come as a bittersweet relief to Europeans and Americans after their recent disagreements.

 

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