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ISIS death cult brides and Misrad Omerovic aka “Ebu Tejma”

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Misrad was born in Tutin Serbia(1) to Muslim parents. In his twenties he became radicalized by Wahhabi (Vehabije) Imams in Saudi funded mosques that have been proliferating throughout Bosnia and the Balkans. (2) He got a Saudi ‘scholarship’ to be further radicalized by Wahhabi fanatics in Mecca KSA between 2002 and 2008. He then went to a Chechen run terrorist ‘finishing’ school in Vienna to study martial arts and weapons training.

Misrad is part of a Wahhabi Salafi ideologue who preaches hatred against Shia, Sufi, Christians and the West in social media. (3)He is also part of a local terror cell based at the Wahhabi dominated Altun Alem mosque in the Viennese district of Meidling (Austria). (4) Vienna is a well-known hub of global Jihadist terrorism, mainly because of Bosnian Muslim activity funded by Saudi Arabia. Misrad does not earn a living. He is on welfare (like so many hate preachers living in the West). Misrad has a pregnant wife and five children, all of whom live on welfare of the Austrian government.

Unlike the Australian PM who called the recent Sydney Siege attack by a Wahhabi madman Man Haron Monis (5) as ‘politically’ motivated, the Austrian authorities are more correct in calling Wahhabi actions of that type ‘religiously motivated’ extremism and terrorism.
Sabina Selimovic and Samra Kesinovic  two Bosnian girls (aged only 14 and 16 when they left Austria) who were refugees in Austria and then settled in Austria were lured to their deaths in Syria by Wahhabi propaganda mouthed by Bosnian Ebu Tejma aka Misrad on his You Tube channel. Misrad as Imama of the Altun Alem mosque asked Muslims in the congregation about whether they had “daughters of marriageable age, presumably to entice and reward the jihadists joining the fight under the black banner of Isis” (6).

“Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world. It is rooted in the 19th century where it emerged as a way of combating the spread of European ideas and values. But in recent years, it has come to be associated with the jihad of extremist groups that advocate the killing of innocent civilians. Security services recorded a constant stream of Salafist preachers, often accompanied by Mujahedin fighters travelling up from Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the mosque and the imam has been appearing in online videos revealing that it is every Muslim’s duty to join jihad if an Islamic state is under attack from non-believers. It is not even necessary to ask parents for permission, because even that normally essential parental duty takes second place to the duty to fight.” (7)

When they ran away to join ISIS in Syria, Sabina and Samara left a note, telling their parents: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.” (8)
They became the poster girls for ISIS on the internet.

In Syria the girls had to wear a full black niqab and were used as virtual sex slaves for ISIS fighters in an ISIS brothel run by British Wahhabi women pimps in the ISIS ‘capital’ Raqqua Syria before becoming pregnant. They were reported to have regrated their decision and wanted to come home to Austria but it was too late. According to UN official David Scharia one girl has recently been reported as having been killed and the other ‘disappeared’ in Syria. The exact circumstances are not known. (9)

33 year old Misrad was arrested on 28 November 2014 with 12 other Wahhabi Salafi’s in Vienna on terrorism charges. (10)
“Austria has been concerned for years over fears that the country was becoming a hub for terrorist activities after inviting thousands of Muslim refugees into the country during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.” (11)

The Austrian police and national security officers (WEGA) like their counterparts in other countries such as Australia (12) have been conducting mass nationwide raids to weed out Wahhabi extremists who have been funding ISIS and luring hundreds of young Muslims aged between 15 and 30 either as Wahhabi concubines to ISIS fighters or to their death as cannon fodder in Syria and Iraq. There are estimated to be 150 Austrian citizens who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS fighting or sex brigades.

The Austrian anti-terror sweeps (13) were the culmination of a 2 year investigation and involved 900 police and intelligence operatives in which they allegedly monitored phone calls between Misrad and the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The nationwide raids were the biggest in Austria since WWII. Many centres of Wahhabi extremism were uncovered in mosques, so called ‘prayer rooms’, private homes of Wahhabi’s and Islamic Centres in key Austrian cities like Graz, Linz and Vienna.(14) The raids found proof of recruitment for ISIS, terrorist propaganda, cash and other terrorist paraphernalia. 13 arrests were made.

As a result of the Wahhabi terror grooming, funding and propaganda campaigns by the likes of Misrad, the Austrian Parliament on 10 December 2014 passed wide sweeping Anti-Terror laws (15)that included banning ISIS and AL Qaeda flags as terror symbols and takes away Austrian citizenship from Austrian Muslims who go to Syria to join ISIS. These laws mirror similar laws passed in Germany on 5 September 2014 that were based on the  1960 anti-Fascism laws called Abzeichengesetz (Badge Law)– which outlaws Nazi symbols, flags, uniforms and insignia. Other European countries like Denmark are said to be following suit.(16)

“Austria’s government has announced a new ‘counselling centre for extremism’ and a deradicalization hotline (0800 2020 44), intended to help young Muslims living in Austria from falling under the influence of jihadist recruiters and extremists.” (17)
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1.http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=29&nav_id=77084 Tutin (is both a town and municipality of Serbia). Along with Gornja Maoca andSouth-West Sandzak region have long been a hotbed for Wahhabi (aka Jihadist) extremism in Serbia. Since 2008 the growth of Wahhabi extremism in Bosnia has spread throughout the Balkans including Serbia and into Austria. file:///C:/Users/Media-Server/Documents/Articles%20by%20Athos/08(06)KM.pdf. The main instigator of the spread of Wahhabism from Bosnia into Serbia was the former Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric (although he denies this) . He has a working relationship in that regard with the Mufti of Sandzak in Serbia, Muamer Zukoric and Chechen Wahhabists who promote Jihad. Serbian authorities have identified 500 Islamic terror leaders that operate inside Serbia whose activities include drug smuggling, human trafficking and recruiting locally to send Jihad fighters to Syrian war. http://serbianna.com/blogs/bozinovich/archives/1972 In 2011 17 Wahhabi terrorists, including Mevlid Jasarevic were arrested following an attack on the US embassy in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. http://www.thejournal.ie/17-arrested-over-terrorist-attack-in-sarajevo-266870-Oct2011/ The Wahhabis (Vehabije) first started appearing in the Balkans in 1997 http://www.islamicpluralism.org/493/euro-islam.
2.http://www.defenddemocracy.org/content/uploads/documents/facebook_fatwa_low_res_2.pdf
3.http://www.defenddemocracy.org/content/uploads/documents/facebook_fatwa_low_res_2.pdf “the (Saudi) monarchy relies on the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (eighteenth century), the Al al-Sheikh lineage, who preach the ascetic Salafi version of Islam indigenous to Saudi Arabia, now known as Wahhabism. Thus, the Al al-Sheikh and other prominent religious families provide the House of Saud with religious authority, which bolsters its credibility at home and defends it from religious detractors abroad…. In 1962, ibn Saud’s son, Faisal, who became king in 19 6 4, founded the Muslim World League (MWL) to facilitate the global propagation of Wahhabism. Faisal intended the MWL to challenge Shi’a, Sufis, and other “heretical” Muslim sects. To further that objective in South Asia, the MWL backed the Deobandis and other Salafi fundamentalist groups ideologically akin to Wahhabis. Meanwhile, the Saudis sent missionaries and funding for Islamic schools…. From 19 7 3 to 20 0 2, the Saudi government spent more than $ 80 billion on Islamic institutions and activities in the non-Muslim world alone…. construction of more than 1,500 mosques, 150 Islamic centers, 20 2 Muslim colleges, and 2,0 0 0 Islamic schools. 36 As of 20 0 2, Saudi funding produced an estimated 10 0 0 0 Deobandi-run schools in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Other targets for Wahhabi outreach were countries with large Muslim populations like Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia, where the Saudis have spent more than $ 6 0 0 million alone. As a result of this outreach, nearly 80 percent of all Islamic institutions in the U.S. and Canada are Saudi-sponsored, not to mention mosques and Islamic centers across Western Europe”
4.http://www.independent.mk/articles/4072/Bosnian+Jihad+Teenagers+Announce+Getting+Married
5.https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=459:wahhabi-s-on-the-warpath-in-sydney-australia&Itemid=487
6.http://www.thelocal.at/20141128/profile-of-a-jihadist-terror-arrestee-revealed
7.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2865316/The-terror-mastermind-recruited-Austrian-ISIS-poster-girls-got-160-join-jihad-Syria-Iraq.html
8.http://en.annahar.com/article/179305-austrian-teens-latest-victims-of-rape-by-by-is-husbands-now-want-to-come-home-as
9.http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/expert-austrian-teen-girl-dead-joining-isis-article-1.2049826
10.See December 12,  2014 article http://www.thelocal.at/20141212/custody-extended-for-islamic-hate-preacher
11.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2865316/The-terror-mastermind-recruited-Austrian-ISIS-poster-girls-got-160-join-jihad-Syria-Iraq.html
12.In October 2014   http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/antiterrorism-police-raid-melbourne-homes-over-jihad-funding/story-fnpdbcmu-1227075758106?nk=3fbccc7f0481beca5a6cad9fe4db4df3
13.http://aje.me/1y87zHQ
14.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2852886/Austria-13-radical-Islamic-suspects-arrested.html
15.See December, 11, 2014  http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
16.See December, 11, 2014  http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
17.http://www.thelocal.at/20141201/austria-launches-hotline-for-extremism

Alexander Athos is a writer and businessman.He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (European History) Personal background Alexander was christened Orthodox brought up Catholic and now Evangelical Christian with an acceptance of the best in Christian tradition and a respect for genuine people of faith from other cultures. Political inclinations: Christian intellectual who has an eclectic predisposition to understanding global and national political and social trends and seeking to influence them for good by thoughtful and persuasive discourse.

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Terrorism

Balancing Counter-Terrorism Measures with International Human Rights

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In his statement at a special meeting of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee on 6 March 2003, the Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan has noted:

 “….Our responses to terrorism, as well as our efforts to thwart it and prevent it, should uphold the human rights that terrorists aim to destroy. Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law are essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism – not privileges to be sacrificed at a time of tension.”

Acts of terrorism are one of the gravest forms of human rights violations that can potentially shake up the spirit of society. People acquire a hateful approach towards the terrorists and those involved in terrorist activities. Moreover, governments do not hesitate to take all possible hardest actions against terrorism to secure their citizens and nation. It can be understood that any counter-terrorist measure taken to satisfy this sentiment of society will more likely be appreciated rather than being criticized. In the wake of this situation, it becomes crucial for the state and its agencies to observe the human rights laws while enacting and exercising the anti-terrorist measures (OHCHR 2008). It has been found that there exists a continuous struggle between national security interests and the protection of the human rights of individuals. In numerous cases, European and American Courts have preferred human rights over the draconian legislative provisions to curb terrorism. When one is dealing with terrorism, measures taken for counter-terrorism shall give high regard to human rights. If States fail to achieve this balance, they will ultimately defeat the success of their counter-actions. Thus, it is to be remembered that one should not become a demon that they are fighting.

Understanding International Human Rights

Human rights are the core universal values available to every individual and group being a human. It provides fundamental freedoms to individuals and protects them from the arbitrary use of power by the state (OHCHR 2008). International human rights are the rights reflected under various core international human rights treaties and customary international law. It includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and others. Moreover, the prohibition of genocide, torture, and slavery is widely recognized as peremptory norms from which no derogation is possible. All the concerned state parties are under an obligation to protect human rights enshrined under these instruments. They shall not take any action in the breach of their commitments.

The immense importance of human rights raises a few considerations before the state. Whether human rights can be compromised in the name of national security? How should states deal with a situation where human rights fall between their national security or other interests? This short note will try to reflect on these essential issues.

What Is Terrorism?

There exists no universal definition of the term ‘terrorism’ (Acharya 2009); however, General Assembly has tried to define it as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them” (UNGA 1995). This term finds its mention under International Humanitarian Law that prohibits ‘terrorism’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ committed during an armed attack (Kaponyi 2007). During peacetime, such acts are dealt with under national laws, international criminal law, and human rights laws. Terrorism has been observed as a criminal act rather than an act of war (Acharya 2009); however, this definition is still evolving.

Terrorism is a controversial term, and its meaning differs from context to context and time to time. A person or group who acts as a terrorist for some might be a hero for others. However, it should be presumed that all such violence and destruction that constitutes terrorism and terrorist activities are done in the breach of human rights. These activities cause severe injury to the life and liberty of the individuals and the unity and integrity of the nation (Kaponyi 2007). In the interest of humanity, the state needs to adopt counter-terrorism measures in its legislation and enforcement actions to prevent and suppress terrorist activities while observing the rule of law.

Interaction Between Counter-Terrorism Measures And International Human Rights

There exists an unavoidable link between counter-terrorism measures and international human rights (Kielsgard 2013). Acts of terrorism provide legal justification to the threatened state to take actions that can cause severe human rights abuses. The interplay between these two concepts aims to address three dimensions of human rights: concerning the victims of the terrorist attacks, concerning the suspected terrorists, and concerning the people subjected to terrorism (Kaponyi 2007). The first category requires the right to life and dignity and the right to justice. The second category talks about the right to life, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary detention, torture and degrading treatment, and the right to asylum. The third category talks about the right to life, right to information, freedom of association, strike, and expression. It is to be noted that the list of these rights are not exclusive and may include other related rights. Therefore, the state’s actions must not defy its international human rights commitments in the guise of national security. There have been instances when courts have curtailed unnecessary and vague security measures found in infringement of human rights.

In Hamdan v Rumsfeld US Supreme Court held that the structure and procedures of the Military Commissions been set up to try detainees of Guantanamo Bay violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Common Article 3 of Four Geneva Conventions, 1949. It was a landmark case that restrained the Presidential power vis-à-vis the treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners (Philips 2006). In Hamdi v Rumsfeld Supreme Court rules, US citizens detained as enemy combatants have the right to due process and the ability to challenge their enemy combatant status. However, in Rasul v Bush Supreme Court provided that it has jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions foreign nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay. This case attracted several petitions from foreign citizens challenging the basis of their detention. To prevent a large number of petitions from detainees, the US government came up with Military Commission Act in 2006 that bars foreign nationals from challenging their detention that was ultimately held unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in the case of Boumediene v Bush. It can be observed that the Supreme Court has generally prioritized human rights over its national security issues (Wald 2010).

Similarly, the Court of Appeal in Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department found arbitrary ‘stop powers used against journalistic information’ contained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, 2000 of the UK to violate freedom of expression provided under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In another case of Gillan and Quinton v United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights held blanket power to stop and search under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 2000 to violate the right to respect for private life that later got repealed and replaced by the legislature.

Counter-terrorism measures provide incentives to the government authorities to reinterpret their law justifying interrogation, detention, and ‘targeted killing’ (Sanders 2017). It provides immunity and legitimacy to their acts of human rights abuses with the least accountability. Under its ‘War on Terror’ against the Taliban Government in Afghanistan, the US has denied applying human rights and humanitarian law to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and termed them as “enemy combatant” (Duffy 2005). However, from the International Humanitarian Law perspective, it can be counter-argued that the US is detaining combatants by creating a category based on a weak claim supported by reliable facts. They are arrested for an indefinite period without providing them the rights of prisoners. From the International Human Rights approach, a State is obliged to fulfill its international commitments over the persons who are present under its authority and control. This global outreach of the subject founds its applicability even in the areas beyond national jurisdiction, thus holding the US responsible for Guantanamo Bay that lies outside US territory.

Counter-terrorism measures are abused on the pretext of discrimination (Kaponyi 2007). General Assembly Resolution and UN Council on Human Rights Resolution prohibit discrimination that treats people from one ethnic or racial origin, religion or belief, disability different from the others. The creation of plausible legality of human rights violations by the state establishes a requirement to promote human rights (Sanders 2017). Where the UN General Assembly and Security Council have taken several counter-terrorism measures to combat terrorism, UN bodies also aim to respect human rights even in emergency cases. Law is undoubtedly evident that counter-terrorism measures cannot be fulfilled without considering human rights (Kielsgard 2013). States should respect human rights along with its counter-terrorism and security measures.

Conclusion

The real issue lies in determining the legality of counter-terrorist measures that occasionally fall short of the state’s international commitments under its human rights regime. It has been observed that the absence of any definition of terrorism provides ample scope for the state to interpret the term ‘terrorism’ with a political bias favoring its interest (Kaponyi 2007). Further, a State can easily justify its actions in the name of national security that denies human rights to the individual and ultimately raises questions on the rule of law (Duffy 2005). Under the case laws, judges have shown an inclination to respect the international commitments on human rights regime. However, this cannot be said affirmatively for the legislature and enforcing authorities.  It is not the counter-terrorism measures, but their abuse is problematic. Arbitrary and poorly-implemented counter-terrorism measures have their consequences. Co-lateral damage must be proportional. Since both counter-terrorism measures and human rights are important issues for a country; thus, it is essential that a balance be struck between them. It should be noted that fight against terror and the observance of human rights must go hand in hand. The State’s responsibility is to respect human rights and not use counter-terrorism measures as a justification for their violation.

REFERENCES

  • Acharya, Upendra D. (2009): “War on Terror or Terror Wars: The Problem in Defining Terrorism,” Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol 37, pp 653.
  • Boumediene v Bush (2008): 553 U.S. 723
  • Duffy, Helen (2005): The “War on Terror” and the Framework of International Law, Cambridge University Press
  • General Assembly, Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, A/RES/58/187 (2003)
  • General Assembly Resolution, U.N. Doc. A/RES/49/60 (Feb. 17, 1995)
  • Gillan and Quinton v United Kingdom (2010): ECHR 28 (2010)
  • Hamdan v Rumsfeld (2006): 548 U.S. 557 (2006)
  • Hamdi v Rumsfeld (2004): 542 U.S. 507
  • Kaponyi, Elisabeth K. (2007): “Upholding Human Rights in the fight against terrorism,” Society and Economy, Vol 29, pp 1.
  • Kielsgard, Mark D. (2013): “Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: Uneasy Marriage, Uncertain Future,”Journal Jurisprudence, Vol 19, pp 163.
  • Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2014): EWHC 255 (2014);
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008): “Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism” <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Factsheet32EN.pdf>
  • Philips, Dennis (2006): “Hamdan v Rumsfeld: The Bush Administration and ‘The Rule of Law’,” Australian Journal of American Studies Vol 25, pp 40.
  • Rasul v Bush (2004): 542 U.S. 466
  • Sanders, Rebecca (2017): “Human rights abuses at the limits of the law: Legal instabilities and vulnerabilities in the ‘Global War on Terror’,” Review of International Studies Vol 44, pp 2.
  • UN Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2003/68: Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, E/CN.4/RES/2003/68 (2003)
  • Wald, Patricia (2010): “National Security versus Human Rights: An uneven playing field,” American Society of International Law, Vol 104, pp 458.

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Terrorism

Pakistan’s fight against terrorism inside its borders

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When Pakistan first appeared on the map, it had little to no idea how its neighbors would harness its land. It came quite clear after the separation of East Pakistan that the land of the pure would require more foresight in dealing with those around it. They might even need to fight to maintain peace on its soil.

Since the birth of Pakistan, it has been subjected to different fights to maintain its status. With all its struggles, finding peace for the valley, and balancing its economy, the country has faced many turbulences. It has proven itself against all sorts of malicious endeavors. Some that had the potential to harm its name in the international society.

It was 9/11 that not only shook the whole world but this nook of the Asian continent as it plunged into instability. It seems like someone was busy hiding a terrorist network in Pakistan. From terrorism attacks on the APS school to the attack on the five-star PC in Gwadar. The country has been struggling to keep its face clear even though it has suffered from Islamophobia in the international community.

Pakistan and its army have been heading strong and determined to keep the citizens of Pakistan safe along with protecting the people on the globe who accept the hostility of the country to open its land for tourism. Since 2010 the country has been busy weeding out terrorist organizations. Many casualties have been taken as the roots of terrorism were attacked. The blood of martyrs has colored the land, but success has come in bits and pieces. The country was not facing armed militia but organized troops funded by the neighbors.

The terrorist funding trail reveals India’s involvement. These are no more allegations, and evidence of 22 billion PKR expenditure for the nourishment of such networks in Pakistan are available. This is quite a question, especially when keeping in mind the economy of the country. Besides, Narendra Modi’s support for extremism is simply a dot that needs to be connected.

The attack on APS was the boiling point for the whole nation. When every eye cried. Investigations were made to let the world know that Pakistan will not tolerate terrorism of any sort. Peace will be kept, and any intention against it will be answered with unpleasant outcomes. It has been, and the number of terrorism incidents has remarkably gone down.

As per the UN charter, the intrusive involvement by patronizing any country’s domestic issues is a clear violation. With ISIS contributing their share to terrorism in further Asia, it has been investigated that Indian intelligence agencies are trying to knit a scarf of deception by linking ISIS by creating “Daesh-e-Pakistan.”Adding firmness to their plan, they have already admitted 30 Indian militants in this organization and relocated them to camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Two Indian agency representatives were responsible for handing over these militants to Daesh commander Sheikh Abdul Rahim.

The geographical advantage that Pakistan holds brought a ray of sunshine with the CPEC project. But as the country started working on its economy’s progress, the state has witnessed countable heart-wrenching fights against terrorist groups. While Pakistan struggles to keep global security and safety and fights against incendiary of this terrorism, Indian state policy has internalized terrorism as an instrument. With Modi’s incumbency, the Kashmir valley has burned, but Muslims in Delhi face their wrath.

Hence, the policy was not a joke, it was a serious mission, and satisfactory amounts were sent to sub-nationals through humanitarian assistance to cause unrest in Balochistan. With Peshawar police attack on 11 May 2020 to target killing and eventually linking with a suicide attack on Mardan Judicial Complex in 2016. Pakistan has been highly receptive to all intelligence gathered to averting a colossal attack on 14 August 2020. Maj Fermin Das, an official from Indian intelligence, was found to be the mastermind behind the planning of this attack. This person was operating from Afghanistan, which failed obviously!

It’s been no secret to everyone with Indian involvement in creating instability in Jammu Kashmir. Gilgit Baltistan is not far from it, sharing the same boundaries. Out of 60 implanted IEDs, 22 were successfully diffused, but 38 exploded and took 13 civilian lives and 48 military personnel. The explosives used in those IEDs have been traced back to, you guessed it, India.

No matter how many times Pakistan will try to keep out the pest from its soil, they seem to be crawling back inside. Safety is not just the issue of Pakistan but is the issue of the whole world.  Countries funding their neighbors to keep unrest in the continent requires global attention, and determined action should be taken.

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Terrorism

Jihadist terrorism in the EU since 2015

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Security patrol activity to prevent terrorism. Photo by Manu Sanchez on Unsplash

Europe has experienced a series of terror attacks since 2015. Who are the terrorists? Why and how do they act?

Jihadist terrorism is not new in the EU, but there has been a new wave of islamist attacks since 2015. What do jihadist terrorists want? Who are they? How do they attack?

What is jihadist terrorism?

The goal of jihadist groups is to create an Islamic state governed only by Islamic law – Sharia. They reject democracy and elected parliaments because in their opinion God is the sole lawgiver.

Europol defines Jihadism as “a violent ideology exploiting traditional Islamic concepts. Jihadists legitimise the use of violence with a reference to the classical Islamic doctrine on jihad, a term which literally means ‘striving’ or ‘exertion’, but in Islamic law is treated as religiously sanctioned warfare”.

The al-Qaeda network and the so-called Islamic state are major representatives of jihadist groups. Jihadism is a sub-set of Salafism, a revivalist Sunni movement.

Who are the jihadi terrorists?

According to Europol, jihadist attacks in 2018 were carried out primarily by terrorists who grew up and were radicalised in their home country, not by so-called foreign fighters (individuals that travelled abroad to join a terrorist group).

In 2019, nearly 60% of jihadi attackers had the citizenship of the country in which the attack or plot took place.

Radicalisation of home-grown terrorists has speeded up as lone wolves are radicalised by online propaganda, while their attacks are inspired rather than ordered by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or IS.

Europol explains that these terrorists may not necessarily be very religious: they may not read the Quran or regularly attend mosque and they often have a rudimentary and fragmented knowledge of Islam.

In 2016, a significant number of the individuals reported to Europol for terrorism were low-level criminals, suggesting people with a criminal history or socialised in a criminal environment may be more susceptible to radicalisation and recruitment.

Europol draws the conclusion that “religion may thus not be the initial or primary driver of the radicalisation process, but merely offer a ‘window of opportunity’ to overcome personal issues. They may perceive that a decision to commit an attack in their own country may transform them from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’.”

The 2020 Europol report shows that most jihadi terrorists were young adults. Almost 70% of them were aged 20 to 28 years old and 85% were male.

How do jihadi terrorists attack?

Since 2015, jihadist attacks have been committed by lone actors and groups. Lone wolves use mainly knives, vans and guns. Their attacks are simpler and rather unstructured. Groups use automatic rifles and explosives in complex and well-coordinated attacks.

In 2019, almost all completed or failed attacks were by lone actors, while most foiled plots involved multiple suspects.
There has been a tendency for jihadist terrorists to favour attacks against people, rather than buildings or institutional targets, in order to trigger an emotional response from the public.

Terrorists do not discriminate between Muslim and non-Muslim and attacks have aimed for the maximum of casualties, such as in London, Paris, Nice, Stockholm, Manchester, Barcelona and Cambrils.

The EU’s fight against terrorism

EU measures to prevent new attacks are wide-ranging and thorough. They span from cutting the financing of terrorism, tackling organised crime, and strengthening border controls to addressing radicalisation and improving police and judicial cooperation on tracing suspects and pursuing perpetrators.

For example, MEPs adopted new rules to make the use of guns and the creation of home-made bombs more difficult for terrorists.

Europol, the EU’s police agency, has been given additional powers. It can set up specialised units more easily, such as the European Counter Terrorism Centre created in January 2016. It can also exchange information with private companies in some cases and ask social media to remove pages runs by IS.

In July 2017, the European Parliament created a special committee on terrorism to evaluate how to better fight terrorism at EU level. MEPs produced a report with concrete measures they want the European Commission to include in new legislation.

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