Global Independent Analytics

Top U.S. intel official: European countries ignoring terrorist tracking tools

"We make sure that we know as much as we can… But we can't know everything all the time."

Pamela Brown reporting for CNN: EU countries should try harder to detect terrorist threats thinks a top U.S. counterterrorism official in charge of ensuring the United States security.

"It's concerning that our partners don't use all of our data," said Terrorist Screening Center Director Christopher Piehota in an exclusive interview with CNN. "We provide them with tools. We provide them with support, and I would find it concerning that they don't use these tools to help screen for their own aviation security, maritime security, border screening, visas, things like that for travel."

Piehota’s words could not be misinterpreted. U.S. did provide watch lists to Europe, but it’s EU countries that don't systematically utilize this information to identify suspected terrorists or screen migrants coming who are responsible for Brussels and Paris attacks.

The problem comes from EU members each having their own personal terrorist watch list that comes with its own unique set of standards for tracking terrorists. Further complicating matters the 26 European countries that operate inside the "Schengen zone" do not perform routine border checks.

Moreover, U.S. borders are not as safe as they used to be with the evolving ISIS presence in Europe.

The biggest danger comes from foreign nationals from visa-waiver countries who do not appear on any watch list could possibly slip into the U.S. to launch an attack. For example, would-be terrorists can surreptitiously travel to and from Syria from Europe and then travel to the U.S. without ever arousing the suspicion of government officials on either continent.

"There are many that we do know about. And, unfortunately, there are some that we do not know about," Piehota said.

"It's highly concerning," he said. "We make sure that we know as much as we can. And we take that information and we use it the best we can to minimize threats to our communities. But we can't know everything all the time."

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

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