February 11, 2016
Intel agencies had hints of ISIS plot before Paris attacks, source says
by Paul Cruickshank
(CNN)Intelligence obtained by Western security agencies before the November 13 Paris attacks indicated as many as 60 ISIS fighters had been deployed by the group to Europe to carry out attacks on five cities and had already reached European soil, a senior European counterterrorism source told CNN.
The intelligence indicated the target cities included Paris, London, Berlin and a major population center in Belgium, according to the source. It also indicated Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the head of ISIS’ external operations efforts, was the key figure behind the ambitious plan, the source said. There was no indication the plan was to attack the cities simultaneously.
Intelligence agencies will continue to struggle with identifying and thwarting terror attacks in the West. By using human smuggling and immigration routes, encrypted communications, and focusing on soft, non-iconic targets, ISIS has effectively rewritten the terror handbook. While the intelligence community will eventually develop technologies and techniques to combat this new modus operandi, the immediate focus has to be on identifying these operations in the planning/logistics phases, and “connecting the dots” in order to detect pre-attack preparations. Local law enforcement and the general public will play increasingly important roles in this effort.