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Causation or Coincidence: the Relationship Between EU Border Policies and Islamic State Attacks Open Access

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Continuous armed conflict in Libya and Syria, beginning in 2011, resulted in the movement of large numbers of individuals from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe. The arrival of refugees and asylum seekers coincided with 32 attacks in the European Union carried out by Islamic State (ISIS) sympathizers. Factions within the EU posited that nefarious institutions such as ISIS used the movement of refugees to smuggle fighters into the EU, and that anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking initiatives could be used to prevent institutions such as ISIS from conducting terrorist attacks. However, close scrutiny of the attacks illustrate that the underlying security failure was not a result of anti-trafficking or anti-smuggling measures, but rather the asylum process itself. This paper proves that there is no link between anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking initiatives and the success rate of high profile terrorist attacks in the EU between 2014 and 2017. During this period, foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) did not rely on smuggling or trafficking to gain access to the EU in order to conduct attacks, or to generate revenue to support attacks.

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