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. 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. 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.
Islamic State threat moves online, expands across Africa
Two decades after the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York, terror networks Al-Qaida and Islamic State – also known as Da’esh – continue to pose a grave threat to peace and security, adapting to new technologies and moving into some of the world’s most fragile regions, the top UN counter-terrorism official told the Security Council on Thursday.
UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the threats posed by terrorist groups, saying that Da’esh continues to exploit the disruption, grievances and development setbacks caused by the pandemic to regroup, recruit new followers and intensify its activities – both online and on the ground.
“Today, we face transnational terrorist threats like Da’esh and Al-Qaida that are enduring and able to adapt to new technologies, but also expanding to include individuals and groups that commit terrorist attacks connected to xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance”, said Mr. Voronkov.
The UN counter-terrorism architecture, largely set up in the wake of the 9/11 attack, helps Member States implement effective frameworks to prevent, address, investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism.
It is also ramping up efforts to help countries adapt to the rapidly changing nature of the threat, which has become more digital and de-centralized in recent years.
Noting that the world is currently witnessing a rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan “which could have far-reaching implications” around the globe, he cited Da’esh’s expanded presence in that country and pointed out that several members of the Taliban have been designated as terrorists by the Security Council.
“We will need to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as launching pad for global terrorism“, stressed the UN official.
He briefed the Council on the eve of the fourth commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, observed annually on 21 August.
Islamic State in Africa
While Da’esh remains focused on reconstituting its capabilities in Iraq and Syria, Mr. Vornkov said the most alarming development in recent months is the group’s relentless spread across the African continent.
The so-called “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” has killed several hundred civilians since the start of 2021 in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, while the group’s “West Africa Province” will likely gain from the weakening of Boko Haram, with additional spillover of terrorists and foreign fighters from Libya.
Meanwhile, the expansion of Da’esh in Central Africa – and especially in northern Mozambique – could have far-reaching implications for peace and security in the region.
“A global response is urgently needed to support the efforts of African countries and regional organizations to counter terrorism and address its interplay with conflict, organized crime, governance and development gaps”, said Mr. Voronkov.
Repatriating women and children
Alongside Da’esh’s expansion in Africa and its rapid shift online, Mr. Voronkov also cited the continued detention of thousands of individuals with alleged links to terrorist groups as another factor exacerbating the threat.
Deteriorating conditions in detention facilities and displacement camps in northeast Syria, in particular, are serving as a rallying cry for terrorist activities. They have already fuelled instances of terrorist radicalization, fund-raising, arms smuggling, training and incitement to terror.
Against that backdrop, he echoed calls from officials across the UN for Member States to voluntarily repatriate all concerned individuals, with a particular focus on children.
In September, the Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will jointly launch a global framework to support countries requesting assistance with protection, voluntary repatriation, prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals with suspected links to designated terrorist groups returning from Iraq and Syria.
The framework has already been deployed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Taliban and Al Qaeda: Putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop?
Abu Omar Khorasani was taken from Kabul’s Pul-i-Charkhi prison and unceremoniously shot.
The first and only person to have been executed since the Taliban gained full control of Afghanistan, Mr. Khorasani was the head of the Islamic State in South Asia until he was arrested by government forces last year.
The precise circumstances of his execution are not known. His killing was, however, at least in part designed to send a message to the international community, and particularly Afghanistan’s neighbours, including China and Iran, as well as Russia, Central Asia’s security overlord.
The message was that the Taliban were cracking down on foreign jihadists and militants in Afghanistan.
Mr. Khorasani was an easy symbol. The Taliban and the Islamic State, whose ranks of foreigners are primarily populated by Pakistanis and a sprinkling of Central Asians, Uighurs, Russians, Turks, Iranians, Indonesians, Indians, and Frenchmen, have long been adversarial. The Islamic State recently accused the Taliban of being more nationalist than pious in their negotiations with the United States.
The Taliban message is a partial truth at best. What is true for the Islamic State is not true for Al–Qaeda and others such as the Uighur Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The Taliban appear to believe that they can get away with the differentiation because they perceived the United States as more focused in the withdrawal negotiations on ensuring that the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and other militants will not be allowed to use Afghanistan as a base for international operations rather than on getting them expelled from the country.
The perceived US focus may have been rooted in a concern that if Taliban’s hands were forced, they would let militants slip out of the country and not hand them over to authorities. That would make it difficult to control their movements or ensure that they are either entered into deradicalization programs or, if warranted, brought to justice.
“It’s a Catch-22. The Taliban ensuring that Al Qaeda sticks to rule risks putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop. How much better that is than having foxes run wild remains to be seen,” said a retired counter-terrorism official.
Officials of the Trump administration that negotiated the agreement suggest that the continued presence of Al-Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan would violate the accord with the Taliban.
Former Vice President Mike Pence as well as Trump era State Department counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales argued that the deal “required the Taliban…to refuse terrorists safe harbour.”
Russia and China, while publicly more measured in their statements, are likely to share western concerns. Russia held military drills earlier this month with Tajik and Uzbek troops in Tajikistan, 20 kilometres from the border with Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda may have been boosted in recent weeks by multiple prison breaks in which the Taliban freed operatives of Al-Qaeda and other militant groups. It remains unclear however to what degree the breaks will help the group strengthen its presence in Afghanistan.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned this week that al Qaeda and the Islamic State could quickly rebuild their networks in Afghanistan.
The United Nations recently reported that Al-Qaeda “is present in at least 15 Afghan provinces”, and that its affiliate in the Indian subcontinent, “operates under Taliban protection from Kandahar, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.”
“Without information on who exactly escaped, it is difficult to determine whether historically significant figures remain within AQ’s AfPak network, or if it is mainly composed of newer figures these days, whether local or regional foreign fighters,” cautioned political violence scholar Aaron Y. Zelin. Mr. Zelin was referring to Al-Qaeda’s Afghanistan-Pakistan network.
Also unclear is whether Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran will be allowed to relocate to Afghanistan.
The prison breaks further go to concerns about relying on the Taliban to police jihadists and other militants with aspirations beyond Afghanistan’s borders. Of particular concern is the fact that the balance of power has yet to be determined between Taliban leaders who in recent days have been eager to put a more moderate, accommodating foot forward with security guarantees for their opponents, minorities and women and the group’s far-flung less polished rank and file.
The concern about the Taliban’s ability and willingness to control militant activity on Afghan soil is magnified by worry regarding the continued existence of warlords with the power to organise violence, provide jobs and public services, and forge or strengthen ties with militants.
“Warlords will play an active role in the future of Afghanistan. They will remain businessmen and political leaders, connected to global economic processes and networks. They will develop the military power that they need to control territory and wage war. They will, finally, continue to fight for more autonomy and, in some cases, might even manage to partially form their old regional polities once again,” said Romain Malejacq, author of a book on Afghan warlords.
“Afghanistan’s availability as a sanctuary for terrorists is, to say the least, related to its status as a warlord-ridden wasteland,” said journalist and author Graeme Wood.
The Taliban’s refusal to expel militants not only complicates the group’s efforts to garner legitimacy in the international community and particularly its neighbours, even if Al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened since 9/11 and is less focussed on attacking the United States and more on the Muslim world.
It also strengthens those who fear that Afghanistan will again emerge as a launching pad for trans-national political violence. “We are going to go back to a pre-9/11 state—a breeding ground for terrorism,” warned Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican member of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. “They (the Taliban) will not restrict terrorist groups, just ask them to operate low-key,” added Douglas London, a former head of CIA counterterrorism operations for South and Southwest Asia.
The Taliban proved already 20 years ago that they valued loyalty when they rejected US and Saudi pressure to hand over Osama bin Laden no matter the cost. The Taliban have since come to appreciate Al Qaeda’s fighting skills and contributions to the Afghan militants’ cause.
Taliban fighters this week, in a violation of their pledge to inclusiveness, demonstrated their ideological anti-Shiite affinity with Al-Qaeda by blowing up a statue of Abdul Ali Mazari, a Shiite Hazara militia leader killed by the Taliban when they first took power in 1996.
Drones in the Hands of Terrorists: What Happens Then?
Ardian is a counter-terrorism researcher, lecturer and security analyst, with a field research experience in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Western Europe, the Balkans, Kenya, Somalia and Central Asia. Ardian is the co-founder and director of the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI), a U.S.-based research institute focused on studying translation left-wing, right-wing, and militant jihadi forms of political violence. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration.
Interviewed by Tatyana Kanunnikova.
What will be the role of drones in future terrorist attacks?
If we look at some of the most recent examples in Europe—for instance, the Gatwick Airport incident where drone sightings were reported—these led to a lot of confusion among airport officials as well as policymakers and law enforcement. In this specific case, we are talking about dozens of flights canceled, millions in costs for the airport as a result of the shutdown. We are also talking about the anti-drone technology that needs to be implemented by the airport, which translates into substantial financial costs. If we look at other places, such as active conflict areas, we’ll see that Houthi rebels used drones to target and assassinate Yemeni leaders and they were also striking key national infrastructure in places like Saudi Arabia. Even here, in the United States, sightings and illegal actions of drones flying over cities and close to government facilities in some cases speak to the fact that drone operations may be a thing in the future.
Here, in the United States, there are examples of individuals who have attempted or actively pursued ways to utilize remotely piloted aircraft or drone technology in general to cause harm to U.S. interests. For example, in 2012, a group of Virginia-based individuals, with direct or indirect affiliation with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization, sought to acquire this sort of technology for the terrorist group. In 2011, we had a U.S. national, who actually was a student at one of the reputable universities here in the United States and who plotted to pilot explosive-laden, remotely controlled planes and attack U.S. government facilities and military installations. If we look at the issue from this particular standpoint, there is potential for malicious use of drones in not only active conflict zones but also here in the West, which should not be overlooked.
In 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that drones constituted an imminent terrorist threat to U.S. cities. Is this threat still considered imminent?
That is a good question and that has been part of the discourse here in the United States as well. The concern is that they come with a very low acquisition cost, which presents an opportunity to pursue that kind of technology to many groups, state and non-state actors, including private individuals. One can easily procure parts to build it. It does not require sophistication in terms of running the aircraft as well.
These are all areas of concern for officials and law enforcement, especially here in the West. While I would caution against labelling drone usage for malicious or harmful purposes as the most pressing threat in the West, one should still not discount the fact that local law enforcement and other entities may not be best positioned to counter the drone threat. They are not necessarily best equipped and staffed to adequately address such a threat. I would say it is one thing to confront or operate against drone threats in active conflict zones, where the military has the resources and the capability to address that kind of threat. Domestically, in the West in general, that could be an issue given that we arguably lack the sort of sophistication needed to detect, monitor, and counter drone threat at the local level, in our cities.
Are modern terror groups capable of modifying consumer drones to conduct improvised attacks?
Terrorist groups, especially those of the modern day, have been very capable of doing that. I have witnessed first-hand such cases during our research in Syria and Iraq. I’ve seen a number of modified consumer drones used by ISIS to target the Peshmerga in the North of Iraq, Iraqi security forces in Mosul and other places. From a structural standpoint, [ISIS] were known for their Phantom DJI models. They often utilized Styrofoam, a light, easily accessible, cheap material to build drones, as well as to modify and turn other drones into actual weapons. In many cases, we saw that they were able to mount certain amounts of IEDs or other explosive devices.
There was, of course, the ability to pursue that kind of technology given a low acquisition cost. One thing that we also see is the mimicry in the use of drone technology. For example, the drone technology that has been used by ISIS is being mimicked by ISIS affiliates in other parts of the world as well because, again, of the low acquisition costs and the ease with which it can be built.
What tactics and techniques do drone-using terrorist groups use?
From my personal research experience as well as experience in places like Syria and Iraq, the drone technology was primarily used to gain intelligence, for surveillance purposes. Drone usage has also proven powerful for propaganda purposes, namely imagery that was captured through drones and exploited for propaganda purposes. Of course, one must not overlook the military-strategic component, such as the ability to mount explosive devices and drop them onto enemies. It also serves to demonstrate “aerial power,” which comes, again, with a huge propaganda value that VE and terrorist groups have been able to put to use as well.
Another thing that we see, which is very interesting, is that the drone usage, especially as far as ISIS is concerned, has given them this opportunity to claim the alleged power and control not only on the ground but also in the airspace. This gives the illusion as though—especially as it [ISIS] started losing its controlled area in 2016-2017 and onwards—the drone operations afforded the group with this sort of aerial superiority, the operational capacity to penetrate into the airspace and attack enemy forces. This did give them [ISIS], from a propaganda perspective, a huge boost as well. And we have seen, for example, that ISIS would launch their drones laden with explosives into enemy lines, accompanied by other drones equipped to record such attacks, which was then shared via Telegram or other social media platforms utilized by ISIS for their propaganda purposes. As for the success of their drone-led attacks, it is really debatable; firstly, because they [ISIS] are only going to advertise their successes. We actually do not know much—at least publicly—about their downfalls or any limitations. Some of the images, if we look at some past attacks, in 2017, for example, when ISIS dropped several IEDs via drones onto the Syrian army base storing significant stashes of weapons in a stadium, showed significant damages to the Syrian military. But we do not know with certainty about their successes, the level of their success, as we often see what they choose to share on their media.
What we do know is that it is important for us to differentiate between terrorist groups or non-state actors that have utilized drones in a limited capacity and those that have active drone programs. If we look at organizations like Hezbollah (Kataib Hezbollah), Hamas, ISIS or even Houthis, they do have a record of successfully running drone programs, weaponized drone programs. In fact, these programs are sponsored by a state. For example, we know that Iran has played a significant role in sponsoring Hamas and Hezbollah’s use of drones, and so on. Again, when trying to differentiate where the drone threat might come from, it is important to understand the difference between the usage of drones by certain groups or entities in limited capacity versus those who have been running or supporting drone programs.
Are drones more likely to be used as means of transportation or as autonomous weapons?
In many cases, aside from the primary surveillance function, they have been utilized by terrorist groups as a means of transporting explosive and other materials from point A to point B. But as for the use of autonomous weapons, to my knowledge to date, to be able to drive this sort of autonomous drone weapons, they lack such a capability given that such drone technology needs to be accompanied with artificial intelligence. Most of these [drones] are programmed to, say, carry out attacks, drop a bomb, and so on. There has to be artificial intelligence incorporated with these autonomous weapons for them to be effective in other ways. But I have not seen this sort of technology, especially with ISIS. Perhaps, this could be the case with other groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
What targets would terrorists prioritize when conducting drone attacks?
As for the targets, what we have seen in places like Iraq and Syria, much of the drone strikes targeted, of course, the military, those perceived as enemy. As I mentioned earlier, in 2017, there was a highly publicized attack where ISIS dropped a significant number of explosives onto the Syrian army positions and weapons supply points. Attacks were also carried out against the Iraqi security forces during operations in Mosul. Surveillance function is an important component because it affords this sort of “pre-attack” planning ability to ISIS and other terrorist groups to better organize and coordinate their attacks. They would normally send out drones to collect information and then follow up with an attack, as is often the case. What we have seen is not only the use of drones for attack purposes but also the demonstration of power by sending many drones at the same time to create an illusion or perception that ISIS is capable of attacking with multiple drones and penetrating the enemy’s aerial space.
There is a nightmare scenario that small drones can be used to deliver chemical or biological agents in an attack. Or disperse deadly viruses over a public gathering place. Is it real?
In Iraq or Syria, where ISIS or other operating terrorist groups are involved, it is a matter of being able to gain access to chemical or biological weapons. It is not a far-fetched notion. And there are some examples of such incidents taking place. There were some efforts on the part of ISIS to deliver chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction via drones.
Are drone strikes effective against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS? If yes, why?
As regards counterterrorism, if we ask government officials, they would argue that they are effective. The way to measure such effectiveness would be to look at how certain terrorist leaders—or those associated with terrorist actions at some level—have been targeted. Most recently, Qasim al-Raymi from al Qaeda in Yemen was killed via drones, so that was one measure of success. During the Obama administration, in Yemen alone, we had upwards of 1200 drone attacks targeting different militants. During President Trump, we delivered hundreds of attacks, specifically targeting militants in Yemen, Somalia and other places. In Pakistan alone, the drone targeting campaign lasted over 10 years. We also have the recent example where the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was targeted and killed via a drone strike.
But again, if we look at terrorist organizations as unified and cohesive organizations, then we could say that killing their leaders specifically should reduce terrorist attacks as well. But we also know that terrorist organizations are not cohesive or unified in many ways. In that regard, the effects of killing a terrorist leader become perplexing or complex. For example, when a terrorist leader is killed, in theory, it should lead to a situation where a terrorist group’s leadership and control is undermined. On the other hand, depending on who comes next in the line of succession, the successor may be more prone to violence.
It is a really complicated question. In retaliation, groups may also increase terrorist attacks against civilians. And we have also seen this in terrorist groups with centralized leadership. One must also consider drone attacks leading to civilian casualties and significant grievances. I conducted research with my colleagues in Somalia last year. And during the course of interviews, drone attacks were largely criticized and raised as the source of grievance by some, even leading to recruitment and joining Al Shabaab in some cases. Although those attacks were aimed at Al Shabaab leaders or affiliates, or ISIS operatives, grievances were raised that they did lead to civilian casualties as well.
What are the risks associated with drone operations? Are there ways to mitigate those risks? How do we prevent them?
Some drones can fly at a very high altitude, while some fly only at low altitudes, which can be problematic under either scenario. From an anti-drone technology standpoint, that becomes a problematic proposition and requires a better understanding of how drone technology may be applied in the future. But again, as I mentioned earlier in the example of drone sightings at the Gatwick airport, when it led to significant confusion and material damage, the same thing applies here [in the West] in local contexts because of the inability to fully grasp and understand this emerging technology, but we’re also talking about the need to counter that technology if deployed in cities or in other places where it could pose significant difficulties and strains, especially on local governments and law enforcement.
Last year, for the first time in history, drones autonomously attacked humans. According to the UN report, these drones were supplied by Turkey to the Libyan forces. Can machines be allowed to make their own decisions to kill or should autonomous drone attacks be banned?
I have not done much research on the topic, and I do not know if these autonomous attacks led to human casualties. If this is the case, that would change the course of how we understand autonomously driven objects, specifically as it relates to drones. As stated earlier, autonomous weapons, coupled with this sort of artificial intelligence, do make sense in some way, provided that humans exercise some level of control. We have to understand the decision-making process that goes into creating this sort of autonomous technology [drones].
We know from our research that we could feed a certain image to a drone, which would enable that particular drone to carry out an attack based on the image fed. Having said that, a slight change, modification, misreading of that image (or its pixels) by the drone could lead to significant errors in terms of targeting capabilities. The lack of human control may always pose a level of risk. Humans need to play a role in a drone’s “decision-making” process. If we look at other fields that utilize these autonomous technologies, like self-driving, autonomous vehicles (AV), one can find errors there as well. From such a perspective, that could be problematic as well. Also, the question is not only how they [autonomous drones] are used but also where and how many of them are used. If we are talking about an autonomous drone being utilized in certain operations, say in a conflict zone like Syria and against ISIS, it may lead to different outcomes as compared to, say, using them in non-conflict areas, in cities and where large segments of civilian population are present. The room for error is especially there in the case of the latter, when operating in spaces where civilians are present. Again, we do not know much [publicly] about this emerging technology, including their decision-making process, their objectives, how they operate in different geographic areas, etc. These are all questions we need to better understand and address.
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