It is often said that Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. That is patently not true at least to the extent that a cult can be termed a religion. Certainly without fail, all terrorists acknowledge a religious motivation for their acts whether it’s blowing up their underwear or shoes in planes over the US or hacking to death infidels on the streets of our homelands.
What the authorities mean to say (laudably) is that Terrorism does not equate with Islam for fear of tarring the whole Islamic community with the same brush. I have written an interesting article on the need to be accurate in describing the terrorist threat: https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=134:islam-the-religion-vs-the-wahhabi-salafi-takfiri-cult&Itemid=487
Not all Muslims are terrorists but some of them clearly are. What’s more worryingly is that many millions (not just hundreds) are potentially terrorists with very little radicalizing and indeed some have become terrorists very soon after ‘conversion’ to ‘Islam’.
Look to any Islamist street demonstration or riots against the West over the past 14 years (see picture as example of protests over the Danish cartoon incident) and you see similar hatred of the West based on the fingers pointed to Allah and the slight against their religion as a justification for their outrage. A convert after saying that there is only one God, Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet must then try and be a good Muslim. However how Muslim ought to live his life (especially in the West) is where the problem of identity, self-esteem and civic responsibility to adhere to the laws of the land arise. That’s where the extremist Salafi cult comes in and creates a tear in the social fabric and poisons the mind of some Muslims and where counter terrorism and anti-radicalization measures must interdict future terrorism mindsets.
The extremists Muslims (those that want to follow a literal and strict adherence to the warrior ways of the first Muslim caliphs) give the young Muslim men the ideological blueprint on how to be a good Muslim. These extreme fundamentalists are called Salafis/Whabbi’s (or in Indian sub-continent Deobandi/Taliban). Whilst there is a quietest branch of these religious Islamic fundamentalists, at the extreme end of the spectrum are the ‘Takfiri’ (those who see any deviation from their ideology as apostasy and all who practice falsity deserve death. Therefore the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi glories in terrorism (especially if by Allah’s providence they can be also martyred at the same time) and the barbaric acts we have all witnessed in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and on the streets of New York, Boston, Toulouse and Woolwich, Train stations in London and Madrid, bars in Bali, the primary schools of Beslan or the concert halls of Moscow.
ISIS like the Woolwich slayer, Michael Adebolajo is just following the Salafi Takfiri script as written by its ideologues like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, Anwar al-Awlaki, Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza (al-Masri) , Anjem Choudary, Trewvor Brooks (Abu Izzadeen), Mizanur Rahman, Mohammed Achamlane, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, and Abu Musab Al Suri, al-Bagdadi etc .
It is good and admirable that leaders make a distinction between mainstream Islam and the Islamists but it is wrong to say terrorism of the Jihadist kind has “nothing to do with religion” or religious ideology. The population will switch off this narrative as it’s obvious that Jihadist terrorism is inspired by something in Islam. What the people do not understand however is that it’s an extreme sect within Islam. When the next horrific Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorist attack happens, like the planned random beheading of person on the Streets of Australia, there will be a backlash against the Muslim community as a whole, especially those that are ostensibly fundamentalist (such as men with beards and long white robes and women in black burqas).Also there will be little hope in tacking the extremist pro-terrorism ideology of the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri’s if security agencies monitor potential terrorists too broadly which will only tend to alienate the Muslim community who will feel under siege.
World leaders have finally come to the conclusion that civilization must not only attack ISIS on the ground but also its ideology. President Obama, Australian PM Abbott and UK PM Cameron have come to call ISIS a ‘death cult’. This too whilst an accurate descriptor is not helpful in the degradation of their ideology and ability to radicalize homegrown terrorists or fighters for their land wars in the Middle East. Now how does one attack a ghost death cult that has nothing to do with Islam? It is not possible. There is no ‘Death Cult’ website, bookshop or headquarters. The leader of ISIS al-Bagdadi, has a PHD in Islamic studies and would but for his barbaric methods in Syria and Iraq be considered as an ‘Islamic Scholar’. So it’s not about Islamists having a shallow understanding of Islam. It’s about a sect within Islam itself.
Al Qaeda too, once a formal and structured terrorist group has become after years of degradation, more of an ideal and an enabler than a formal group. Again you won’t find an Al Qaeda bookshop or HQ. However you find the same ideology behind their motivation and justification for terrorism against the West.
The ideology of all the terrorist organizations or lone wolves that have or want to commit terrorist acts against the West whatever they call themselves is a cult of Islam that can be correctly and accurately described and called the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi. That is the one ideology that is behind all the fronts and brand names like: Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and ISIS ‘al Muhajiroun’, ‘Islam4UK’, ‘Sharia4Belguim’, Forsane Alizza, ’Force de Défense Musulmane sur Internet’, ‘Sharia4France’, Al-Haramain , Benevolence International Foundation, Wafa al Igatha al Islamia , Hizb ut-Tahrir, al-Gheraba, Muslims Against Crusades, et al.
Underscoring this point is the life sentence for terrorism this week handed down by a New York court of Osama bin Laden’s son in law, Sulaiman Abu Ghayth (pictured far left next to OBL).
Abu Ghayth was jailed for life September 2014 for conspiring on a planned second wave of 9/11 attacks. What was his previous occupation and driving motivation when planning more 9/11 attacks on the West? He was a religious instruction teacher at school and an imam at a Kuwaiti Mosque. He was a ’religious’ man but of a fanatical Salafi sect of Islam, the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri sect. In court Abu Ghayth denied he was an al-Qaida recruiter and claimed his ‘role was a religious one aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors’. Speaking in Arabic through a translator, Abu Ghayth also told the New York court, “today when you are shackling my hands, and intend to bury me alive, you are unleashing the hands of thousands of Muslims and they will join the rally of free men.” In his March 2014 trial prosecutors showed jurors a 50-second clip of a five-minute videotape of Abu Ghaith from October 9, 2001, in which he threatens that “America must know that the storm of airplanes will not abate, with God’s permission.” Alluding to martyrdom, he said there were “youths who are yearning to death just as Americans yearn to live…. “We strongly advise Muslims in America and the Britain, the children and those who reject unjust American policies, not to board aircraft and we advise them not to live in high-rises and tall buildings.”
When you see pictures of ISIS fighters what are they gesturing with their hands? They are pointing with a finger toward heaven/Allah, in whose name they slaughter the innocents. In fact they are brainwashing their children from a very young age to equate submission to God with terrorism as the picture of ISIS children shows.
What is on their black flag but religious symbolism that all Muslims would easily recognize?
What is the essential message of ISIS and all such Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri groups and individual fanatics? That Islam is ISIS, God inspired, God sanctioned and God predestined to rule over all with their version of Sharia law. What did Mohamed Merah say just before he gunned down little Jewish children in Toulouse France: “This will bring France to its knees before Allah”:
What do they do before they blow themselves up, execute someone or fire a weapon but a religious salutation Allahu Akbar (Arabic: الله أكبر meaning “God is greater” and in context of the salutation before committing violence…’ (their ideology, their God, their faith’ is greater than the infidel non-believer/apostates or their errant religion or man-made democracies).
The Islamists whether they are ISIS fighters or lone wolf be-headers on the Streets of our homelands are brainwashed by the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi cult to believe their barbarous acts are sanctioned by the Quran and the example of their Prophet, Mohammed in the way in which he went about securing temporal power in the Middle East and North Africa in the seventh century creating the First Islamic Caliphate. To deal with the terrorist threat humanity has to deal with their ideology. The people best placed to do that are the vast majority of Muslims. To engage with that community, we should not speak for them when terrorism happens. We should give the Muslim majority a voice.
George Bush or President Obama saying Islam is a religion of peace is not the best way to go about the PR war on ISIS Al Qaeda or other Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorists. They must call the terrorists by name of their ideology. Islamism is not accurate appropriate or helpful. It is the Wets lazy shorthand. When Western leaders refer to them they should use their correct descriptor Wahhabi Salafi Takfir Jihadi or WSTJ…that will cover the fighters and supports of ISIS, Al Qaeda ,Boko Haram, etc. and also the hate preachers, supporters and potential fifth column terrorists in our homelands. Our leaders and media should also let the voice of moderate (and majority) Islam be heard immediately after the terrorist attacks occur as we need to empower the Muslim community to inoculate their people from the WSTJ Ebola type contagion and be seen to condemn these attacks and also be seen by the non-Muslim fellow citizens as not condoning terrorism against their fellow citizens by apparent silence.
Until the Western leaders and media appreciate that one cannot understand (let alone defeat) ISIS or Al Qaeda without defeating their ideology, there is little hope. Their implacable hatred of the West is based on their genuinely and fanatically held religious views. There will be no end to terrorism of the Jihadist/Islamist kind, in fact it will only get worse,(especially in our homelands) even if ISIS is bombed back to the stone age unless the West recognizes the terrorist problem as associated with the extreme Salafi sect of Islam and their ambition to hijack that religion for the imposition of Sharia and world domination by WSTJ Muslims as the vanguard of an Islamic ‘Third Reich’ type Caliphate.
Wahhbai Salafi preachers like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman have been at the forefront of radicalization and terrorist plots in the Middle East and the West for decades.
The arrests this week of Choudary and his ilk are long overdue and should be repeated around the world against all radicalizers and advocates and supporters of terrorist ideology irrespective of their protests that they are ‘religious men’. What is needed now is a microphone and camera in front of Muslim leaders welcoming the arrests of these evil men who threaten their communities as well as the countries within which they live. The Islamic leaders will speak the truth and say these men are from a minority sect Islam which they and most Muslims find abhorrent and against their principles and beliefs as ‘good Muslims’. Unless this happens neither we nor the Muslim youth can recognize what being a good Muslim is or is not and our security in the West will remain precarious. Counter rsadicalization in civil society is therefore more important than Counter Terrorism laws in defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda. Choudray’s 2IC, Abu Izzadeen told then UK home secretary John Reid he was an ‘enemy of Islam’ after the minister asked Muslims to step in if they thought children were being radicalised.
This is where the real war on terrorism needs to focus. Had the UK and other Western nations acted earlier to clean out the vipers den of al Muhajiroun’, ‘Islam4UK’ etc, ISIS may never have had the support of foreign fighters recruited from the West. Ideology is important. Politicians and the media must act responsibly and honestly in reporting the religious sect ideology behind terrorism so that it can be interdicted and the fabric of our multi0cultural societies not be rent by a backlash of the community who no longer listen to their leaders rhetoric.
Turkey begins the return of ISIS fighters to Europe
Today, Turkey started sending ISIS fighters back to Europe, as it promised last week.
Europe needs to take responsibility for its ISIS fighters. US President Trump is right on that.
As Turkey’s minister of internal affairs said last week, Turkey is not a hotel for foreign terrorists. Europe’s jihadists are its own problem to deal with.
What is interesting however is that Turkey has been releasing ISIS fighters from the region that it held in custody. But not when it comes to European jihadists.
With this move, Turkey’s aim is to actually punish Europe. Erdogan is doing this out of spite because he knows that this is what Europeans fear the most. It is not Erdogan’s priority to try ISIS, as he has shown previously. To piss off the Europeans, yes, that’s a different story.
This recent development comes to remind us that Western Europe has a big problem to deal with. The evidence from conflict zones will not hold in European courts which means that authorities might have to let ISIS fighters that still have their citizenship walk free. That is a European nightmare.
This serves to remind French President Macron that France not Bosnia is the biggest jihadist force in Europe. Macron called Bosnia a jihadist ticking bomb in that unfortunate Economist interview but France is the real problem. No other European country has such a high number of jihadist fighters in the Middle East.
Today a Greek ISIS fighter whose citizenship had been stripped was not allowed in Greece upon return from Turkey. We will see that a lot in the coming weeks. The situation of no citizenship will create a legal question of statelessness which will make the return of ISIS fighters also a human rights question.
The Rise OF ISIS and its Aftermath in Afghanistan
“I will see you guys in Newyork”.Abu Du’a, the leader of ISIS, whose nom de guerre (war name) was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told his American captors as he was released from a brief detention during Iraq war. After American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Al Baghdadi joined the Arms Resistance against the U.S led coalition troops in Iraq but he was captured and detained in a US. – run Iraqi prison in 2006. Following al Baghdadi’s release in the late 2000s, he joined the predecessor to ISIS: the Islamic State of Iraq(ISI). This group initially affiliated themselves with AL- Qaeda, but was later rejected by AL Qaeda due to their brutal acts and it became Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). IN 2010, al Baghdadi became the leader of ISI and changed the name of the organization to Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013.
On 29 June 2014, ISIS declared the worldwide caliphate under the leadership of “caliph Ibrahim” with publishing a statement of supporting al Baghdadi’s designation as caliph. This concept of caliphate is mainly based on the universal religion and its ultimate goal is the establishment of Islamic state. This political idea of Islamic state is embodied in the concept of the ummah (community) which says that all the Muslims wherever they reside are bounded by a common faith which transcends all geographical, political or national boundaries.
Many other groups had pledged allegiance to ISIS like the Boko haram in Nigeria, the bait al Maqdis in Egypt, the Islamic movement in Uzbekistan, andthe previous leader of TTP Hafiz Saeed, also pledged allegiance to al Baghdadi in Oct, 2014 renaming themselves as the Islamic state of Khorasan (ISK) in Afghanistan. IS-K’s early membership included a contingent of Pakistani militants who emerged in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province around 2010, just across the border from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Many of these militants were estranged members of TTP and Lashkar-e Islam, who had fled from Pakistan to escape pressure from security forces.
ISK emerged in different provinces of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan but outnumbered in the eastern province of Ningarhar, Achin district, due to some specific reasons. Achin district is one of the backward, underdeveloped and illiterate regions of Afghanistan which makes its population vulnerable to recruitment as new militants. Moreover, peopled welling in this district joined and supported this new group not only for their Islamic ideology but also for the high salaries of $500 paid by this organization.In the beginning of their journey in the region, ISK dealt people in a soft manner and always refrained from offensive language to encourage and inspire the people to join this militant group.
But with the passage of time, ISK changed its behavior and started the forceful imposition of sharia law. People were prevented from the cultivation of opium which was the main source of revenue for the locals of that region, seized drugs and sentenced drug addicted people, however, majority of their own militants were drug addicts and sold drugs seized from the locals to meet their own financial needs. They introduced numerous fabricated laws that were neither in conformity to national, Islamic nor in conformity with the locals laws. The militants of the group were indoctrinated to such an extent that they were willing to sacrifice everything for the interest of the group. One of their militants, involved in a robbery case, accepted his crime in front of the group’s judicial committee. As per the Islamic rules, anyone involved in the robbery would have their hands cut off. Therefore, When the militants were cutting hands, he was chanting ‘’Allah ho Akbar’’-Allah is the greatest.
Taliban and Afghan forces have attacked the Achin district many times but no one of them succeeded in retaking the district from ISK. This region was completely monopolized by this group and they ruled the people according to their own so called sharia law. People started displacement from the region towards Jalalabad, the provincial capital because they were unable to abide by these brutal laws and tolerate the atrocities. Following is a short story which a person told in anonymity about the excessive brutalities perpetrated by ISK in Achin.
“We all flocked outside after Friday prayer, according to announcement in sermon. They brought seven detainees belong to Emirates a Taliban group, Afghan national Army member and spies. All were covered with black ski masks. Meanwhile, an ISIS militant rode on a trained horse, having sharp sword in hands and reached to the spot. He decapitated all of them and shouted “Allah ho Akbar”. With the sound of Allah ho Akbar, we all scattered like flies in the air and no one knows what happened. But later on it was realized by people who delivered us to hospital that the place was targeted by a US drone. Many people were injured, and the ISIS militant who was beheading the prisoners was burned by drone attack. I still have the scene in my mind which has really affected me mentally and can’t take out those thuds of the sword from my mind when he was beheading those innocent people”.
Furthermore, they knelt innocent elders of the Shenwari nation belong to the same district on the bombs accused of in affiliation to the Taliban. A gruesome video also uploaded by them to the YouTube. These kind of brutal acts were the routine of everyday in Daesh or ISK controlled areas.
Afghan Commando assisted by US special forces have been fighting with the ISK in Achin for the last few years and have made significant progress contributing to the liberation of some villages but there are speculations that united states itself is assisting this militant group and supplying food and weapons to them through helicopters which has put the Afghans in doubt. US dropped the ” mother of all bombs” – the most powerful conventional bomb in the American arsenal formally known as GBU-43/B massive ordnance air blast on 13 April 2017 on ISIS Khorasan cave complex in Achin district, Ningarhar. According to a statement from the United States military in Afghanistan, the bomb hit a tunnel complex but they didn’t say how many militants were killed or whether the bombing caused any civilian casualties. The fact is that it was only an experience of their conventional bomb which is clear from the following statement of the Ex-president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai:
“This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons”. This claim of Ex-president was further forged by the locals of Achin who stated that there was neither weapons depot nor any single ISIS fighter in the targeted region.
Currently Achin district has been cleared by Afghan Forces from this group but there are opportunities of their return to the region. Afghan Forces should show their strong presence, build the region and rehabilitate former militants. We are the veterans of many regions where US and Afghan forces have operated and lost hundreds of their soldiers for clearing the region but have left the region vulnerable to the insurgents return. Moreover, America should equip Afghan forces with sophisticated weapons to counter these threats. Afghan National Directorate can play a vital role in the dissolution of this group by infiltration of their own spies in disguise.
Moreover, in comparison to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which have oil resources of about $2 billion and financed by different Arab states, this group is very much dependent on local revenues and neighboring state Pakistan. Pakistan may not be able to support two insurgent groups-Taliban and ISK-simultaneously for a single goal. And the so called jihad vacuum is also filled by Taliban which never want any rival jihadi group in Afghanistan.
Imprisoned ISIS Wives and Children Have Nowhere to Run To, Nowhere to Hide
The guards have said if the war comes close, then they will leave here,” a Western ISIS wife texted me today from Camp Roj in far northeastern Syria, a detention center that houses 500 ISIS wives and 1,200 of their children. “What to do if we are left alone?” she asks. “There’s nowhere to go and too risky to get caught by Bashar [al-Assad].”
As she writes, I’m in Belgium sitting next to an FBI agent. I ask him what she should do, but amid all of this chaos, he doesn’t have an immediate answer.
The ISIS wife continues: “I like how America thinks it’s too dangerous for them [the U.S. military] to be here but safe for us to remain with Assad.”
Over the past two years I’ve been in and out of the northeastern territory of Syria held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) six times with staff from the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). We have conducted in-depth interviews with 217 ISIS men and women, 100 of them in SDF held territory, for our project countering the ISIS brand, which the SDF has supported fully.
The woman texting me today gave us an interview last year and has managed to stay in touch via illicit phones other detainees allow her to use.
At the same time she is texting me, our Kurdish translator texts that they are living under the sound of bombs and troops advancing. Assad’s troops are marching eastward, while Turkey is barreling in from the north. Which soldiers will reach Camp Roj first and what the women should do if the Kurdish YPJ-Women’s Protection Units guarding them decide it’s too dangerous to remain in place, is something the guards have told the inmates to think about.
The female inmates of Camp Ain Issa, farther west, faced a similar dilemma earlier in the week when the Turks began shelling. Until Sunday, Ain Issa Camp housed a total of 12,000 women and children, but according to one Belgian woman, it descended into “complete chaos” as fires broke out, the guards left, and the women escaped in the hundreds.
Among the women housed there, 265 were wives of foreigner terrorist fighters, alongside 1,000 of their children. On the second day of the Turkish air assault, Belgian ISIS wives Bouchra Abouallal and Tatiana Wielandt decided it was better to go on the run with their small children than remain in place to learn what next disaster might befall them.
We interviewed Bouchra Abouallal in September 2019. Completely exhausted from her experience with ISIS, she said that life inside the Caliphate was “the best possible deradicalization program ever.” Already prosecuted in absentia and facing a five-year sentence in her home country of Belgium, she told ICSVE researchers she would prefer to return home even to serve a 20-year sentence rather than remain in the camp under the menace of the cruel ISIS-inmate enforcers who threatened all European women who no longer wanted anything to do with the ISIS Caliphate.
Now Bouchra Abouallal is on the run with her three small children. In audio messages punctuated in the background by shelling she told a Belgian journalist that she was headed toward the front lines in hopes she could make it to safety in Turkey, where she wishes to turn herself into the Belgian consulate and make her way home.
While European officials here in Brussels have stated that Turkey agrees to help any escaped ISIS cadres that end in their hands to be returned to their homelands, up until recently, Belgium was refusing to let her come back. Instead of seeing her as someone victimized by the Islamic State’s propaganda and lies, and fooled by the “Shariah for Belgium” group that had radicalized many in her native city of Antwerp, Belgian politicians see her as a threat.
But it is not difficult for Belgian authorities to turn past posts on her social media accounts against her.
“Your system has failed oh Belgian state,” Bouchra’s Facebook page read after she slipped out of Belgium to go live under the Islamic State. Referring to the way the Belgian police had hassled her upon her first return home from Syria, her posts taunted them, saying “You were watching us 24/7 and you still haven’t managed to stop us. Why? Because Allah is the best planner (…)” Her threats continued with, “We have left because we believe that it is a duty for every Muslim. To the policeman who threatened to take our children away, I can say that my children will turn yours into orphans, with the will of Allah.”
Bouchra claims that it wasn’t she, but one of her ISIS husbands, who authored these hate-filled posts. She says he used to lock her up at home and post on her Facebook page without her permission. Indeed, when we interviewed Bouchra in September she spoke gently as she denounced ISIS, giving us permission to use both her image and her name in a counter narrative video—this, while knowing the ISIS enforcers in the camp would likely punish her for it.
The woman texting me today from Camp Roj does so fearing that if it becomes known it was her texting she will be punished by her YPJ guards. Yet pure terror drives her to try to stay connected with the outside world as she makes wrenching decisions for herself and her young child.
Americans are also in this camp. We have interviewed two American passport holders—Canadian dual-citizen Kimberly Pullman and disputed American citizen Hoda Muthana.
When I ask today’s texter about Americans in the camps, she tells me there are five in all, two more in Camp Roj and another in Camp Hol. She states that there are also two American children in Camp Roj. We’ve met one of them, Adam, the two-year-old son of Hoda Muthana. Both times we interviewed his mother, Adam was struggling with chronic bronchitis. Today the woman texting me from Camp Roj tells me that the air is thick with fumes from the bombings, which is causing many of the children to have breathing difficulties.
“Going to jail right now won’t be great,” this woman writes as she imagines her future in the West—if she can ever manage to get home. Then she envisions another future: “I could get lost among all of this trouble.” Then again she realizes that fleeing the camp, if her guards do abandon their posts, might also prove disastrous.
“Please let the governments know that we are not happy with the escape of the women [who have left the camps]. We are actually scared and want to just be safe in our own embassies,” she texts. “We don’t want to keep running away. We want to be tried. I’ve already had the chance to run away before and I decided to be tried in my own country.”
Now the pressing question, amid all of this chaos unleashed by Trump greenlighting the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria: Is anyone going to do anything to get these former ISIS wives and their children back home where they can face justice and live in safety or do we just leave them to face whatever fate turns up as hostile armies converge?
Author’s note: first published in the Daily Beast
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