Europe’s security nightmare

January 9, 2015

Members of the French GIPN intervention police forces secure a neighbourhood in Corcy, northeast of Paris

A massive manhunt continues for two brothers suspected of being the killers of 12 people at a satirical French weekly. The focus is on a large expanse of woodland northeast of Paris.

One of the two brothers – both French-born sons of Algerian parents – had previously been tried on terrorism charges and served 18 months in prison for trying to travel to Iraq a decade ago to fight as part of an Islamist cell.

One of the top concerns of security services in Europe is that disaffected citizens come back from places like Syria or Iraq having been taught how to fight and kill.

United States and European sources close to the investigation said the other brother was in Yemen in 2011 for a number of months training with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Both were on a U.S. “no fly” list.

The head of Britain’s MI5 Security Service said militants in Syria were plotting attacks to inflict mass casualties in the West, possibly against transport systems or “iconic targets”. Andrew Parker said a strike on the United Kingdom was highly likely.

German industry output slipped by 0.1 percent in November, according to data hot off the press, a day after industry orders dropped by 2.4 percent on the month, almost completely eclipsing a 2.9 percent rise in October. An increase in output had been forecast.

Separate trade data showed exports fell for a second month running, this time by 2.1 percent. Imports were up, however, suggesting domestic demand is holding up.

All the indications are that Europe’s largest economy barely grew in the fourth quarter of last year, similar to Q3’s paltry 0.1 percent expansion. The German economy ministry predicts the economy grew in the last three months of 2014. It said industry output has now bottomed out though another decline in construction is expected in Q4.

Industry output readings for Britain, France, Spain and Greece are due later. The latest PMI surveys point to euro zone growth of just 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter which, given inflation in the bloc has just turned negative for the first time since 2009, will do nothing to dissuade the European Central Bank from launching a government bond-buying programme with new money before long.

For the markets, all eyes are on the U.S. monthly jobs report at 1330 GMT.

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