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Fifth column in the West

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Our enemy in the West is not Islam, it’s a fifth column of Wahhabi Salafi hate preachers and their appeasers who allow the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi ideology to proliferate and radicalize Muslim youth to commit atrocities here and abroad as foreign fighters.

The West cannot allow the extremists to hide behind the skirts of religion, so called charities and misguided notions of free speech to facilitate radicalization and lone wolf terrorism in our homelands.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) describes itself as a “non-profit, grassroots membership organization … established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America,” to protect Muslims from hate crimes and discrimination, and to present “an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.” However an investigation of its activities and publications (in Arabic) shows that CAIR supports Wahhabi Salafi ideology and are instrumental in the propagation of that cult throughout America and have been the root cause of radicalization of terrorists. It is reported that CAIR have been instrumental in Wahhabi Salafi cult infiltrating or controlling over half the mosques in America with the help of huge donations from Saudi Arabian sources and so-called charities in the US such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)headquartered in Richardson, Texas with branch offices in New Jersey, California, and Illinois. The Freedom House year long investigation concluded in its 89 page report, “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques.” that hundreds of Saudi documents disseminated at Wahhabi Salafi mosques in the US are telling America’s Muslims (surreptitiously in Arabic) that it is a religious obligation for all ‘good Muslims’ to hate Christians and Jews.
With the threat of fanatical lone wolves being so radicalized that they want to axe, bomb and kill their fellow non-Muslim citizens, it is imperative that CAIR and Wahhabi Salafi mosques, bookshops and hate preachers are fully investigated and if appropriate prosecuted under Anti-Terrorism legislation. The UAE terror listing of CAIR accords with the evidence it seems.

“CAIR has a key role in the “Wahhabi lobby”—the network of organizations, usually supported by donations from Saudi Arabia, whose aim is to propagate the especially extreme version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. For one, it sends money to other parts of the lobby. According to CAIR’s Form 990 filings for 2003, its California offices invested $325,000 with the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). The NAIT was established in 1971 by the Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada, which bills itself as the precursor to the Islamic Society of North America, now the largest member of the Wahhabi lobby. According to Newsweek, authorities say that over the years “NAIT money has helped the Saudi Arabian sect of Wahhabism—or Salafism, as the broader, pan-Islamic movement is called—to seize control of hundreds of mosques in U.S. Muslim communities.” J. Michael Waller, a terrorism expert, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that NAIT is believed to own 50 to 79 percent of the mosques in North America. According to Waller, NAIT was raided as part of Operation Green Quest in 2002, on suspicions of involvement in terrorist financing”

Randall (“Ismail”) Royer, an American convert to Islam, served as CAIR’s communications specialist and civil rights coordinator; today he sits in jail on terrorism-related charges. In June 2003, Royer and ten other young men, ages 23 to 35, known as the “Virginia jihad group,” were indicted on forty-one counts of “conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas.” The defendants, nine of them U.S. citizens, were accused of association with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a radical Islamic group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State in 2001. They were also accused of meeting covertly in private homes and at the Islamic Center in Falls Church to prepare themselves for battle by listening to lectures and watching videotapes. As the prosecutor noted, “Ten miles from Capitol Hill in the streets of northern Virginia, American citizens allegedly met, plotted, and recruited for violent jihad.” According to Matthew Epstein of the Investigative Project, Royer helped recruit the others to the jihad effort while he was working for CAIR. The group trained at firing ranges in Virginia and Pennsylvania; in addition, it practiced “small-unit military tactics” at a paintball war-games facility in Virginia, earning it the moniker, the “paintball jihadis.” Eventually members of the group traveled to Pakistan.

Five of the men indicted, including CAIR’s Royer, were found to have had in their possession, according to the indictment, “AK-47-style rifles, telescopic lenses, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and tracer rounds, documents on undertaking jihad and martyrdom, [and] a copy of the terrorist handbook containing instructions on how to manufacture and use explosives and chemicals as weapons.”
After four of the eleven defendants pleaded guilty, the remaining seven, including Royer, were accused in a new, 32-count indictment of yet more serious charges: conspiring to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan.[25] Royer admitted in his grand jury testimony that he had already waged jihad in Bosnia under a commander acting on orders from Osama bin Laden. Prosecutors also presented evidence that his father, Ramon Royer, had rented a room in his St. Louis-area home in 2000 to Ziyad Khaleel, the student who purchased the satellite phone used by Al-Qaeda in planning the two U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa in August 1998.[26] Royer eventually pleaded guilty to lesser firearms-related charges, and the former CAIR staffer was sentenced to twenty years in prison.[http://www.meforum.org/916/cair-islamists-fooling-the-establishment ]

Laws banning incitement to terrorist acts must be uniformly promulgated amongst civilized nations and strictly enforced until the Wahhabi Salafi madness stops and the blood stops dripping from the hatchets of the haters of our way of life.
‘Inspire’,‘Resurgence’,‘Dabiq’ and all hate websites and Social Media sites must be taken down and all hate preachers who distribute or promote them and their incitement to terrorism and criminality must be prosecuted to decrease the very real terrorist risk to our homelands of radicalized Salafi’s cashed up with Saudi petro dollars.

On Monday 13 October 2014, in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu Canada, a new but zealous convert to Wahhabi Salafi Islam 12 months ago, Canadian Martin Couture-Rouleau murdered Canadian soldier Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent by running him and another soldier down in a car pointing his finger to heaven seeking Allah as his justification for doing so. Like so many Salafi’s this convert changed his name to a more Arabic one; Ahmad LeConverti (Ahmad the Converted) before embarking on his jihad against the West. Like so many young Salafi’s he became enamoured with ISIS and heeded its online call to glorify Allah by running down and murdering infidels by using motor cars.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was radicalized at a British Columbia Mosque, the Masjid Al Salaam & Education Centre. The umbrella organization for that Mosque, theBritish Columbia Muslim Association (BCMA) manage many schools and 15 Mosques in British Columbia. They are (according to their own literature) funded in large part by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World League. BCMA have a history of inviting radical hate preachers (like Siraj Wahhaj alleged co-conspirator with the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the first World Trade Centre Bombings in 1993 who also spoke at the BC mosque calling the West a ‘filthy garbage can’) to speak to their community (said to number 80,000) in British Columbia. The Koran’s they distribute are the Wahhabi annotated Korans that emphasize armed and violent Jihad as an obligation of all ‘good Muslims’.

Zaim Farouq Abdul-malik (Zale Thompson) like Wahhabi Salafi inspired maniac, Michael Adebolajo (the Woolwich hatchet slayer) just followed the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri ‘script’ as articulated 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

Many troubled Muslim youths approached by Salafist groups likeForsane Alizza (FA- The Knights of Pride) and encouraged to progress his study their cult which was their brand of militant Salafi ‘Islam’ from their radical mosques or private ‘prayer groups’ and if suitable for mission training Al Qaeda operatives then arranged for the acolyte go to Pakistan for deeper indoctrination into the cult and specialist weapons and bomb training when he got out.
Forsane Alizza aka ‘Sharia4France’ is ostensibly an anti-Islamophobia group but authorities say it is a terrorist organization that used the mantra of anti-Islamophobia to mask its deeper purpose of radicalizing disenchanted youth from Islamic backgrounds. They followed the rhetoric of fellow terrorists like Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to recruit disillusioned youth from Islamic communities in the West away from the traditional Islamic faith of their parents who immigrated to the West and instead adopt their cult. Their cult made everything from their plight to the perceived injustice of Muslims around the world easily understood in a populist way and in the vernacular. The converts were shown a way out of their sin and into heaven by taking the express lane of radical militancy to attack all enemies of the Wahhabi-Salafi Jihadi’s (the only true Muslims) whether they be Crusader-Zionists in AF-PAK, Shia Muslims, Sufi Muslims or Moderate Sunni Muslims (all apostates in the cults eyes to be excommunicated (Takfiri) and worthy of death) or non-Sharia democracies in the West. The ultimate goal of the cult is establishing a kind of ‘Third Reich’ Salafist caliphate stretching from Chechnya to the Philippines that will restore pride and power to “Muslims” (the ones that are left after the bad Muslims have been enlightened as to the true ‘path’ or eliminated); hence their name Forsane Alizza -The Knights of Pride.

Forsane Alizza has links to other radical Islamist groups in Europe, such as al-Muhajiroun / ‘Islam4UK’ in Britain and ‘Shariah4Belgium’, ‘Muslims Against Crusades’ as well as ‘Revolution Muslim’ in the United States. Al-Muhajiroun means “the Emigrants”. The name comes from their ‘target market’, the children of traditional Islamic parents who immigrated to the West. These Islamo-Fascist cult’s modus operandi is not unlike the Hitler Youth movement of the Nazi’s, brainwashing the youth with magazines, and sending them to specialized indoctrination schools and camps with their ‘brothers’ and SS style (Mujahedeen) elite training, how to be ‘good Muslims’ just like the Nazi’s did in the 1930’s by teaching the ‘jugend’ how to be ‘good Germans’. The devotees would then have no qualms about the war ahead and what had to be done to the ‘untermench’ (Jews, Crusaders and Takfiri or moderate/traditional Muslims). The allies upon liberating Eastern Europe could not believe how civilized people could commit the atrocities that the Einsatzgruppen did especially against women and children. These Hitler Youth graduates were formed into heartless death squads responsible for the murders of over 1,000,000 people, mainly Jews including women and children in occupied Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1944.

It is no surprise then that when today’s Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi’s strike whether its Bali, Beslan or Toulouse, they do so without mercy and show no remorse afterward if they survive. Indeed they often laugh and smile chanting “Allahu Akbar” like the Bali mass murderer Amrozi bin Nurhasyim did when sentenced by an Indonesian Court rejecting his defence that his actions in 2002 planting bombs that indiscriminately killed 202 tourists because he was seeking to ‘strike at America and its allies, especially Israel’ were justified under Islam.

If we in the West allow them and other Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri’s free reign to radicalize our youth and the Wahhabi warpath will be strewn with the lives of more innocents in our homelands and ordinary Muslims will start to face persecution from an ill-informed public. This will play into the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS and their narrative of a clash of civilizations and so become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Security agencies and Police must be able to fully investigate radical hate preachers the mosques, bookshops and internet sites known to incite, support and facilitate hatred, extremism and terrorism. How else can lone wolves be interdicted before they execute their schemes? For example:

Islamic Center of Queens on 37th Avenue Woodside (aka Masjid al-Fatima) which was founded by Brother Aqeel Khan and taken over by radicals from the Wahhabi Salafi group Hizb ut Tahrir and associated group al-Muhajiroun/Sharia4UK (via Omar Bakri Mohammed)
•    American Al-Muhajiroun member Syed “Fahad” Hashmi frequented the Mosque. He was indicted on terrorism charges in May 2007
•    Sajil Shahid / Sajeel Shahid also went to this Mosque. Sajeel was one of the Wahhabi Salafi mentors of the London 7/7 tube bombers setting up a safe house for them during their bomb making training in Pakistan. Shahid is associated with the Queens mosque by reason of his being both a leader of al-Muhajiroun in Pakistan as well as UK. Britons were outraged this year to learn he and his brother Adeel Shahid set up and ran for the last 5 years a government funded Wahhabi Salafi primary school ‘Ad-Deen’ in Ilford Essex using the pseudonym Abu Ibrahim. He said in an interview
•    ‘ We see the US and British governments as the biggest terrorists in the world.’
•    Al Muhajiroun and its leadership (through such operatives as brothers Sajil and Adil Shadid and associates such as Junaid Babar) used Lahore Pakistan as a base to train British Muslims to perform armed jihad in Af-Pak, Chechnya, Bosnia and UK. Richard Reid the Al Qaeda shoe bomber was a regular attendee of the Essex Islamic Community Centre before his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 over Miami. Several jihadi brothers meeting at Ilford for ‘prayer’ were also foreign fighters with the Taliban in AF-Pak and now Syria/Iraq.
•    “’Al-Muhajiroun (aka Sharia4UK) has one goal,’ said Anjam Choudry, its UK chairman. ‘We would like to see the implementation of the sharia law in the UK. Under our rule this country would be known as the Islamic Republic of Great Britain. To do that, attracting young Asians is not enough. So we are making a conscious effort to recruit large numbers of non-Muslims. ‘Whites, Chinese, Japanese and Indians in this country are all bored with the capitalist system. It’s a bankrupt ideal. We have found that young non-Muslims, like our Asian followers, want something new. You can tell that from the anti-globalisation movement. So we’re offering them something pure: a religious mission, the values of sharia law and jihad.’” http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/feb/24/religion.september11
That is one of the reasons why Anjam Choudry, loves and promotes ISIS so much as they are imposing Sharia law strictly wherever their black flags capture a town in Syria or Iraq.
•    
“In July 2006, while London mourned the victims of 7/7 on the first anniversary of the attacks, the Islamist Mohammed Sawalha held an exhibition celebrating Islam. This Islam Expo, held at Alexandra Palace in north London. Here Sajil Shahid had a stall, promoting Islamic computer games…. Al Muhajiroun members such as Abdul Raheem Saleem, aka “Abu Yahya” in 2006 demonstration in Sloane Square, where placards called for the beheading of “those who insult Islam” … Abu Hamza,the radical preacher at Finsbury Park Mosque (and leader for a time of UK Muhajiroun had a role to play in the brainwashing of) Zacarias Moussaoui, the “20th man” in the 9/11 conspiracy” http://www.islam-watch.org/adrianmorgan/How-Britain-Encouraged-Terrorism2.htm
•    • Masjid al-Fatima Mosque also has links to Pakistani/American Wahhabi Salafi terrorist Moahmmed Junaid Babar who was implicated as a bomb instructor at a Lahore terrorist training centre used by the radicalized Muslim youths who committed the 2005 London 7/7 Bombings. He grew up in Queens NY before becoming radicalized by Al Muhajiroun’s with Abu Hamza al-Masri and Omar Bakri Mohammed. Babar was an associate of Pakistani/Canadian Momin Khawaja, andOmar Khyam who were part of a fertilizer bomb plot in London. He was also an associate of Kazi Nurur Rahman of East London who was planning a Mumbai style attack in the UK (having been trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) who carried out that atrocity as well as being part of the fertilizer bomb plot. Kazi Rahman was jailed for 9 years and will be released this year. Babar although guilty and liable for a life sentence went to prison for only 4 years being released in 2011 (as part of a plea bargain). He said in a BBC TV interview “I will kill every American that I see.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zAHW1MVTP4

Salafi Lone Wolves and Wahhabi-Salafi hate preachers who radicalize them are hatchet wielding ISIS jihadists on our streets seeking to do the ‘will of Allah’ as they are brainwashed to believe with radical zeal, especially if freshly ‘converted’.
How does one stop the Wahhabi warpath? Deal with KSA funding of Wahhabi Mosques and Islamist ‘Centres’ in our homelands and shut the mouths of the Salafist hate preachers and you minimize the Jihadist threat at our Parliaments and on our streets. Hadal Muhajiroun/Sharia4UK been dealt with in London, Forsane Alizza/Sharia4France, Sharia4Belgium been dealt with sooner by appropriate laws and LEO in France and Belgium, and hadMasjid Al Salaam & Education Centre and BCMA been dealt with in Canada and the poison dripping from the hate preachers lips who useMasjid al-Fatima dealt with in New York, London’s ‘7/7’, the Woolwich slaying, the Toulouse and Brussels massacres would not have happened and Patrice Vincent would be alive today and also Nathan Cirillo ( whose funeral is pictured above) would be alive today and the New York policemen would not be in hospital from axe wounds of the Wahhabis on the warpath.
The UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) at a regional workshop on incitement and violent extremism held in Nairobi November/December 2011 reaffirmed the UN’s policy that States need to prohibit and prevent incitement to terrorist acts motivated by extremism and intolerance.

It is clear that the United Nations General Assembly circumscribes the right of people (including religious preachers and political leaders of whatever ethnicity) to have freedom of opinion and expression and dissemination of ideas (Article 19 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948) by the necessary caveat that laws can and should be made to curb that freedom for the protection of national security and the rights of others (Article 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966).
Moreover in 2005 the Security Council of the UN made Resolution 1624 concerning threats to international peace and security caused by acts of terrorism condemning in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts.
The UN repudiates any attempts at the justification or glorification (apologie) of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts. The international community recognizes that incitements of terrorist acts are motivated by extremism and intolerance and that this poses a serious and growing danger to global communities.
Many terrorists masquerade as religious organizations and so the UN has made it clear that States must prevent the subversion of educational, cultural and religious institutions by terrorists and their supporters.
The Salafi-Takfiris seek like the Nazi party or the Bolsheviks, to be the vanguard of their own form of global revolution of what they see as their constituency (not Arians or the proletariat as Nazis and communists do) but of the world wide Ummah of Muslim people who they are actively seeking to convert to their cause and their dogma. They do this primarily through the financial and ideological infiltration and takeover of traditional Muslim mosques, educational institutions and ‘charities’.

If there is trouble with Turkey in relation to Cyprus or with respect to the treatment of Muslim minorities in Greece, it would serve Greece well to make lawful catagorizations and distinctions in their laws and policies based on a thorough understanding of the real source of terrorism. That way it can withstand the international pressure and scrutiny that may come to try and exploit any domestic problems that may arise from the country trying to protect its legitimate national interest.
In a recent article in ‘Defecnegreece.com’, Ionnis Michaletos titled, ‘Radical Islam passing through Greece’ (Nov 25 , 2011), the point is made that Greece in its delicate financial state is at serious risk from domestic terrorism and a transit point for the flow of terrorist resources across its borders and further into Europe.

However, it is dangerous, against the UN resolutions and counter-productive to label people too broadly by reference to religious, ethnic or national profiling as ‘terrorists’. For example the use of ‘Islamists’ by Ioannis and many others is unfortunate. The perpetrators of terrorist acts in the name of ‘Islam’ are not really ‘Muslims’ at all but simple political terrorists who try and legitimize their criminality and hatred by adopting the mantle of religion. By analogy it would be unjust to call anarchists who commit terrorist acts as ‘Orthodox Extremists/Orthodoxists’ even if the anarchists sought to justify their criminality by reference to the Orthodox religion.
The better approach would be to call them by the name of their philosophy; ‘Salafi-Takfiris’.

They are the Islamo-fascist ideological umbrella, source of funds and foot soldiers for Al Qaeda and associated movements (AQAM); Indonesian ‘JI’ ; Pakistani ‘JeM’; ‘LeJ’; Moroccan ‘Direct Path’; Algerian ‘GSPC’ Philippines ‘Abu Sayyaf’, etc and lone wolves/home-growns.

99.99% of the terrorist problem in Greece and the West (whether cells or lone wolves) does NOT come from traditional/orthodox Islam but from the well-funded and extreme Salafi-Takfiris (AKA Salafi-Jihadis).

Any Greek who is serious about wanting to know the truth behind unrest at home or in the Middle East should simply type ‘Salafi’ into the Google box before the issue they want to research. This will open up avenues of investigation that can ‘cut through’ the media speak that sometimes play to the tune of the rich and powerful who have an unfortunate financial vested interest in the nation states that support them that often leads to misinformation in the global media.
Read articles and books on Salafi- Takfiris and then you will see the scale and nature of the threat not just to our Greek homeland but also to millions of traditional Muslims who they hate as much as us. For example a Muslim referred me to an excellent small book ‘Terror’s Source’ by Vincenzo Oliveti. Even though it’s a 2002 book, it is well worth reading.
In fact because its central thesis is that Takfiris are spawned from Salafis and Salafis are the growing in number and themselves spawned from state sponsored/petro dollar driven Wahhabi infrastructure. Their game plan is the world ‘take over’ of mosques in the West, nation states in the Middle East then the mobilization of them against the West.
It is the current generation of ordinary orthodox Muslims more than the West that are currently the victims of this right wing ‘putsch’ into the West via traditional/orthodox Islam.

Rather than ethnic/cultural profiling and casting the net wide in a discriminatory manner against all Muslims or people from the Middle East, all law enforcement (LE) has to do to maximize its effectiveness both at counter radicalization and interdiction of lone wolves and extremist cells is to concentrate their efforts against all and any forms of Salafi-Takfiris and the nation states that sponsor them.
That includes funding (whether through so called ‘charities or schools) and propaganda (whether that be disguised as religion or not).
If all else fails ‘follow the (source of the) money’ and make laws that stop that flow and you will reduce the risk of contagion and brainwashing of home-grown individual terrorists and cells.
If you do not tomorrow’s generation of Muslims may well be press ganged; financed or duped into Salafi-Takfirism.
It would serve the Greek people well if the war on terrorism properly defined who the ‘terrorists’ are (especially as Al Qaeda was but a form of Salafi-Takfirism).

The term ‘terrorist’ should therefore not be classified as ‘Islamists’ but rather ‘Salafi-Takfiris’ and that adherents to that philosophy be named in the anti-terrorist legislation as ‘terrorists’ or ‘supporters of terrorist organization’.
Once the law is focused on the real threat (in our Greek homeland) the imposition of criminal sanctions can be effective and non-discriminatory. Also with broad community dialogue with Islamic communities in Greece with this understanding (whether they be domestic or refugees) can assist to ‘inoculate’ the broad Islamic community (on our own soil and in Europe more broadly) from contagion of this extremist group. In this way the authorities in Greece can protect the national interest in conformity with international law.

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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‘Disturbing spike’ in Afghan civilian casualties after peace talks began

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A family runs across a dusty street in Herat, Afghanistan. (file photo) UNAMA/Fraidoon Poya

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan witnessed a sharp rise since peace negotiations started in September last year, even though overall deaths and injuries dropped in 2020, compared to the previous year, according to a UN human rights report launched Tuesday. 

In their annual Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Annual Report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) documented some 8,820 civilian casualties (3,035 deaths and 5,785 injuries) in 2020, about 15 per cent less than in 2019.  

It was also the first time the figure fell below 10,000 since 2013. 

However, the country remains amongst the “deadliest places in the world to be a civilian”, according to Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

“I am particularly appalled by the high numbers of human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers killed since peace negotiations began in September”, she said. 

At least 11 rights defenders, journalists and media workers lost their lives since September, resulting in many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, quitting their jobs, and even leaving their homes and the country – in hope it will improve their safety. 

Rise in ‘targeted killings’ 

According to the report, the overall drop in civilian casualties in 2020 was due to fewer casualties from suicide attacks by anti-Government elements in populated areas, as well as drop in casualties attributed to international military forces.  

There was, however, a “worrying rise” in targeted killings by such elements – up about 45 per cent over 2019. The use of pressure-plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the Taliban, air strikes by the Afghan Air Force, and ground engagements also resulted in increased casualties, the report said. 

According to the report, anti-Government elements bore responsibility for about 62 per cent civilian casualties, while pro-Government forces were responsible for about 25 per cent casualties. About 13 per cent of casualties were attributed to crossfire and other incidents. 

2020 could have been ‘a year of peace’ 

Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, called on all parties to take immediate and concrete action to protect civilians, urging them “not to squander a single day in taking the urgent steps to avoid more suffering”. 

“2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished due to the conflict”, Ms. Lyons said

The “overriding objective” of the report is to provide the parties responsible with the facts, and recommendations, so they take immediate and concrete steps to protect civilians, she added. 

Ms. Lyons highlighted that “ultimately, the best way to protect civilians is to establish a humanitarian ceasefire” – a call consistently made by Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council

“Parties refusing to consider a ceasefire must recognize the devastating consequences of such a posture on the lives of Afghan civilians.” 

UNAMA-OHCHR report: Women casualties (killings and injuries) documented between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2020

‘Shocking toll’ on women and children 

The report went on to note that the years-long conflict in Afghanistan “continues to wreak a shocking and detrimental toll” on women and children, who accounted for 43 per cent of all civilian casualties – 30 per cent children and 13 per cent women. 

“This report shows the acute, lasting needs of victims of the armed conflict and demonstrates how much remains to be done to meet those needs in a meaningful way”, High Commissioner Bachelet said. 

“The violence that has brought so much pain and suffering to the Afghan population for decades must stop and steps towards reaching a lasting peace must continue.” 

Attacking civilians ‘serious violations’ 

With the conflict continuing, parties must do more to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties, the report said, urging them to fully implement the report’s recommendations and to ensure that respect and protection of human rights is central to the ongoing peace negotiations. 

It also reminded the parties that deliberately attacking civilians or civilian objects are serious violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes. 

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Is Blacklisting on Cards for Pakistan?

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Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been an integral part of the economic decision making and regulatory procedures of the country. The days of the ultimate decision are finally on cards as the Global Watchdog is expected to evaluate and review the performance and strategies of Pakistan via virtual meeting tentatively scheduled for February 22-25, 2021. This would be a much-anticipated review since a keen eye would be payed following a long hiatus to the litigations recently undertaken by the country to eliminate the risks and gaps in the financial framework which might earn Pakistan, a way out from the grey list. However, while the preceding meeting only guided more hopes for better litigation and measures to curb terror financing, brimming foreign propaganda and nefarious rulings within the country itself might hamper the way out but instead could dig the trench further towards a harrowing financial turmoil.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list back in June 2018 due to strategic deficiencies. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the world, Pakistan was allowed a breather of 4-months to comply with the 27-point action plan; of which Pakistan met only 14 targets while missing out on the rest of 13 targets. Moreover, Pakistan could only satisfy 10 of a total of 40 recommendations devised by the task force. These lags led to a major pitfall in the Pakistan’s Stock Market; PSX plummeting bellow 30,000 points. Furthermore, a bitter narrative started blooming regarding arch-rival India pulling all the strings to push Pakistan down further, even in the blacklist. This was largely shunned by the Indian representatives but the failure of the economic and diplomatic front of Pakistan was evident by now.

The FATF plenary was scheduled, like traditionally, in June. However, all scheduled evaluations and review procedures were deferred for 4-months in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing yet another unforeseen yet thoroughly welcomed relief span to Pakistan to strive more actively to meet the requirements.

In the preceding 4 months, Pakistan acutely worked to amend the contradicting laws and policies, the parliament playing an agile role to introduce new bills relating to counter-terrorism and countering money laundering as an act to expedite compliance to the international laws and ultimately meeting up all 27 points in the action plan. Almost all the bills presented, albeit some political resistance, were eventually passed which even led to optimism in the stock market; PSX climbing back over 40,000 points after more than half a year, rallying to record high levels despite of the pandemic wreaking havoc on the investors’ mentality across the globe.

The meeting held, after a steep deferral, back in October 2020; the FATF committee observed and commended on the vigilant stance assumed by Pakistan to crawl out of the Grey list. Pakistan has since delivered on 22 out of the 27 core points of the action plan defined. However, the meetings adjourned till February, retaining Pakistan in the grey list under the tag of ‘jurisdiction under enhanced monitoring’ whilst praising the steps of counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering adopted by Islamabad.

Pakistan was warned back in February last year that if not complied by the 27-point action plan, it could be a great threat to the foreign mechanism and would be eventually moved to the monitored jurisdiction, notoriously also known as the ‘Blacklist’. Later this month, FATF would examine if Pakistan meets the 8 key categories of the action plan; remedial actions taken against money laundering, counterfeit terrorism while also reviewing the vigilance of the institutions in countering Terror Financing and actively managing risk. The committee representing Pakistan would perpetually convince the plenary that the country in-fact meets the criteria and transitioning over the next month, the fate of the tormented economy would finally prevail in light of the decision made.

However, Pakistan has been sluggish in taking action against the notorious entities linked to terrorism around the region. The meeting nears with the pinned watch of UN regarding Pakistan’s role of providing a safe haven to Lashkar-e-Taiba founder, Hafiz Saeed, or the notorious acquittal of Ahmed Omer Sheikh, the prime culprit of the Daniel Pearle Murder case of 2002. Pakistan, however, claims to have made virtue on 22 of the defined 27 points while has garnered ‘Substantial progress’ on the remaining 5 points. Thus, the optimism brews that the meeting would push the country out of the list and would open more financial avenues especially in these distressful conditions.

Although Pakistan’s Foreign Office including the Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, appears optimistic to climb out of the grey list after 3 years, the infamous decisions passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the excessive money laundering cases surging against the ex-office holders of Pakistan and the determined efforts of India to subvert Pakistan in global politics, all thwart down that optimism bit by bit. And while some of the economic experts claim that the decision of advancing Pakistan off the Grey list would be naïve move and would arguably impact regional dynamics, the decision could fall in tandem with the preceding outcome of sustaining the grey list status or could deteriorate the level further as gauged by a political expert, opining his narrative: “The facts demand that Pakistan remain on the grey list. The FATF shouldn’t just keep Pakistan on the grey list. It should rather warn Islamabad that absent rapid and wide-ranging reform; blacklisting is coming”.

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Terrorism

Europe Must Confront Iranian Regime’s Terrorism

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After a two-and-a-half-year investigation, on 4thFebruary 2021, a Belgian court sentenced four culprits for attempting to bomb a large gathering of tens of thousands, including politicians and dignitaries, at a global summit organized by the Iranian opposition – the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – in Villipinte, France in June 2018.

The perpetrators who attempted to attack the global summit included Assadollah Assadi, a senior accredited Iranian diplomat, who received the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on attempted murder and terrorism charges – and his three accomplices who were imprisoned for 15,17, and 18 years, respectively. This was the first time that an Iranian diplomat was convicted in Europe.

The conviction and the sheer scale of the crime requires the EU to reconsider its approach to the Iranian regime.

The 2018 global summit was attended by tens of thousands of people who advocate for democracy and freedom in Iran. If the foiled terrorist plot had been successful, thousands of innocent people, including European citizens and prominent political figures, would have been killed or injured. The head of Belgium’s national security has blamed the Iranian regime for orchestrating the attack, including Iran’s Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Intelligence and Security who played a significant part in the execution of the attack.

Such terrorism-related trials are not new for the regime. In 1997, the regime was tried for a major terrorist act in Germany. The proceedings were called the Mykonos trial after a Berlin restaurant in which regime agents gunned down several opponents.

In a report dated April 10, 1997, the European Union’s Presidency stated: “The High Court of Justice’s findings in Berlin in the Mykonos case indicates Iranian regime officials’ involvement at the highest level.”

On April 29, 1997, the Council of the European Union reaffirmed that progress in normalizing relations between the EU and Iran would only be possible if Tehran’s officials respect international law and cease terrorist acts, including those against Iranians residing abroad. When the regime refused to comply,Europe made a declaration to expel Iranian nationals with intelligence and security ties. Twelve countries that were not members of the European Union at the time also complied with the declaration.

21 years after the Mykonos trial, Assadi used his diplomatic cover to take a high-powered explosive on a passenger plane from Iran to Austria. He then personally handed it over to two intelligence agents to detonate it at the NCRI rally in Paris. The irrefutable evidence in this case shows Iranian regime officials’ involvement at the highest levels.

Separately, the regime’s ambassador and three diplomats were expelled from Albania (January 2020), three diplomats were expelled from France and the Netherlands (March 2018), and a diplomat was expelled from Denmark (October 2018) in the wake of the regime’s terrorist plots. All of these expulsions reveal the involvement of the regime’s embassies, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Intelligence and Security to create terror in the European region.

Despite all of this, the EU has not taken any serious measures to counter the regime’s belligerence.

Europe’s failure to take appropriate actions has emboldened Tehran. Inaction reassures the regime that it can act with impunity, even in Europe. Europe has essentially communicated to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism that not even an attempt to bomb a peaceful gathering, which could lead to the killing of hundreds of European citizens, would bear any consequences. Thus, Europe’s appeasement is in large part fueling the regime’s aggression.

It is naive to speculate that Tehran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did not know about this conspiracy. Zarif sits on the Supreme National Security Council, which approves all such major security decisions. Additionally, his ministry and embassies serve as logistical and operational centers for terrorism and espionage.

Those who hatched and approved this terrorist plot, none other than senior Iranian leadership, must be brought to justice. This step is a necessary deterrent against Tehran, the godfather of international terrorism.

German security officials are reportedly still investigating the numerous trips that Assadi made throughout Europe, where he helped establish an extensive Iranian regime spy network across the region. At the time of his arrest, he had received several receipts for payment of money. The identities of money recipients have yet to be determined. The regime has always used its embassies and so-called religious and cultural centers abroad as centers of espionage against its opponents.

Normalizing diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime must be made contingent on disbanding its terrorist apparatus in Europe and ensuring that it will never again engage in terrorism in Europe. By taking this critical step, European leaders will protect their own citizens and effectively counter the regime’s terrorist threats.

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