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Paris Attack Intensifies European Migrant Debate

  • Henry Ridgwell

The discovery that one of the suicide bombers involved in the attacks in Paris last Friday was carrying a Syrian passport – and apparently had arrived on the shores of Greece last month on a refugee boat -- has intensified the already heated debate over the migrant influx into Europe.

French prosecutors confirmed Monday that Ahmad al Muhammad – believed to be a Syrian national -- was among the attackers who blew himself up at the French national soccer stadium in Paris. His passport, thought to be a forgery, was found near the body.

Muhammad’s fingerprints matched a set taken by Greek officials on the island of Leros in October, as a group of around 70 migrants came ashore.

Far-right party

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party – expected to poll strongly in upcoming regional elections – was quick to react.

Le Pen called Monday for an immediate halt to the arrival of migrants in France, saying their resettlement in villages and towns could prompt fears of the existence of terrorists who could take advantage of the mass migration to strike at France again.

Poland warned it might pull out of a European deal on the resettlement of refugees out of security concerns.

Migrants line up at the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGESO) waiting to register in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 17, 2015.

Migrants line up at the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGESO) waiting to register in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 17, 2015.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, warned against conflating the terror threat with Europe’s migrant crisis.

To blame the migrants, Schulz said, would mean calling the victims the perpetrators -- the last thing countries should do.

Cautionary notes

Security analyst Sajjan Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation cautioned that most of the attackers in Paris were European citizens.

“If ISIS really wants to carry out attacks in the West, they don’t need to import terrorism through refugees. They can recruit from within our own societies," Gohel said.

Gauri Van Gulik of human rights group Amnesty International warned against a "knee-jerk" reactions.

“What we need now is leadership in keeping us safe, without harming or violating the human rights of those who need protection as well. The irony, of course, is that people who are being blamed for this are fleeing the exact same type of terrorism, violence and horrors at home," Van Gulik said.

Security analysts said the Islamic State group likely intended the rapid identification of Muhammad and his route to Paris -- as the group looks to exploit tensions over migration in Europe.

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