The Berlin terrorist attack just a little over a week ago fit a noteworthy pattern. German authorities had investigated Anis Amri — the Tunisian man who drove that large truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding 56 others — and found “links with Islamic extremists.”
Later killed in Milan, Italy, Amri had been wanted in Tunisia for “hijacking a van” and jailed in Italy for arson and a “violent assault at his migrant reception center.” And yet with all that known or easily knowable, the German authorities couldn’t prevent him from killing innocent Germans.
It’s not just a European phenomenon, either.
Consider Omar Mateen, this country’s worst mass shooter, having massacred 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The FBI had spent ten months looking into Mateen.
Years before the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI had tracked Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the bombers.*
“In case after case . . . authorities have come forward after the fact to say that they had enough cause to place the suspect under surveillance well before the violence,” the Washington Post recently noted. This was the case with the majority of recent lone-wolf terrorism plots.
“If any lesson can be learned from studying the perpetrators of recent attacks,” a report in The Intercept concluded, “it is that there needs to be a greater investment in conducting targeted surveillance of known terror suspects and a move away from the constant knee-jerk expansion of dragnet surveillance . . .”
The fact that known threats are consistently not being stopped suggests curtailing mass surveillance won’t hurt our security, but improve it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* The same is true regarding the Ft. Hood (work-place) shooter, Nidal Hasan. Likewise, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (formerly Carlos Bledsoe), who was under the active eye of the FBI after returning from Yemen . . . until he opened fire on a Little Rock, Arkansas, recruiting station killing one soldier and wounding another. Ditto Ahmad Khan Rahami, the less deadly bomber in New York City and New Jersey.