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The issue of jihadist terrorism in Great Britain

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap]fter the London attack of March 22 last, Great Britain is still the target of the “sword jihad”. The “dirty” bomb made by Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen of Libyan origin and son of an opponent of Gaddafi’s regime, is such as to lead us to think of a rather complex network supporting and covering up Abedi and his family members.

A bomb packed with bolts and screws, designed to hurt and kill as many people as possible.

In fact, on the days immediately after the bomb attack in Manchester, the UK police arrested eight people, including two Abedi’s family members (his father and his younger brother), who were pulled over in Tripoli by RADA, the police of Fajez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Five “operatives” of Abedi’s network, including his elderly brother, were arrested in Great Britain, in the now Islamized suburbs of Manchester such as Whalley Range, Chorlton and Fallowfield.

If the critical mass of Islam in a Western country is not controlled, there is no way to block the creation of a significant and dangerous amount of jihadists.

The suicide terrorist’s father, however, is a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an organization linked to Al Qaeda.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group network was created in the early 1990s by Libyan jihad volunteers in Afghanistan, when they came back home, and has always had the primary goal of toppling Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Currently, after the crazy and ill-advised Western action against the Colonel, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group is part of the Libya Shield Force (LSF) and the old National Transitional Council.

Westerners wanted to free the people from the Maghreb and Middle East “tyrants” and the jihadists wanted the same.

It is like the pledge which is said to have been given by Francis I to the Emperor Charles V: “What my brother wants (the Duchy of Milan), that I want too”.

Nor it is a mere coincidence the leak which, on May 24 last, led the New York Times to publish the photos of the explosive device used in the Manchester Arena attack – a leak that can only have been originated from the US intelligence services, which had received the documentation in double quick time from their British counterparts.

In all likelihood, the North American intelligence services still want to protect some obscure links with the Libyan insurgency and they now aim at achieving only a medium-term goal, namely the defamation of President Trump and his overthrowing.

Intelligence services that – starting from the US scarce knowledge of the non-Anglo-Saxon world – are only operating to destabilize their country and bring back to power the “deep state” of its establishment, the “Party of the Nation” formed by Republicans such as the Bush family and Democrats such as the Clintons and the Obamas.

We can also assume that the North American agencies are continuing – on their own and without any contact with the US Presidency – their old project of destabilizing the Maghreb region and the Arab Islamic world, which began with the “Arab Springs” and was to end with the disruption of Assad’ Syria – a move that the Russian Federation has firmly blocked.

It is by no mere coincidence that the FBI and the other US intelligence organizations are tracing improbable “contacts” between the Trump Presidency and the Russian Federation.

The future war against Russia, which some North American senior officers have already explicitly theorized, is the center of gravity for the present and future action of the U.S. political and military establishment.

And, according to US strategists, the Russian presence in the Mediterranean and the Middle East can be countered by continuing the “Arab Spring” actions, also at the cost of creating golden opportunities for jihadist groups.

In February 1996 the British intelligence services funded the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group with 160,000 US dollars to kill Gaddafi, but the attack to this end failed.

Today, as at that time, Great Britain and, in some respects, the United States want to settle the Libyan issue once and for all by taking its oil back and exclude Italy at first, and later France, from the Libyan extraction industry.

However, let us revert to the bomb attack perpetrated in Manchester. The explosive used is supposed to be acetone peroxide (TATP), the same substance used by Daesh-Isis in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016.

Hence we can easily understand Prime Minister May’s harsh reaction in relation to the fully voluntary perviousness and porosity of the US intelligence services.

Indeed, these services are in really lamentable conditions.

Too many destabilization operations, starting with the activities in Serbia during the Second Balkan War; too expensive and ineffective “Arab Springs”, which were designed to make Al Qaeda be destroyed by the democratic Arab masses, and finally too much simplistic political and social engineering.

An intelligence voodoo, which has so far led to opposite results compared to those pursued.

There is no need of insisting on the embarrassment caused by US intelligence services which, in the attempt of doing harm to President Trump, favour the jihadists and undermine the relationship with the British intelligence services.

Furthermore, in Great Britain there are at least 43 cities where the police arrested several jihadists between 1998 and 2015.

A mass of Islamic terrorists who, in the future, could become so large as to be uncontrollable.

It is worth noting that, over the last five years, the management of the Islamic intelligence networks by the British Services has allowed to discover and prevent twelve attacks, especially in London, Cardiff, Southampton and Brighton.

The mindset of the Anglo-Saxon intelligence services is certainly the same as the one – dangerous for any kind of intelligence – of the enforcement agencies, which take action only when there is a clear infringement of laws.

However, while preparing and organizing an attack, terrorists always go underground and cannot even afford to get a parking ticket.

Conversely, the Italian intelligence and police forces have great knowledge of the territory they control carefully as early as the time of Left and Right terrorism and Southern crime organizations, regardless of the perpetrations of offences.

Moreover, currently in Great Britain there are at least 1,500 foreign fighters, who have come back from the “sword jihad” regions, with a cover up network that, on the best possible assumption, includes at least additional 5,000 people.

Today, throughout England, the Islamic faithful are more than Anglicans, – over a million Quran believers as against approximately 930,000 Anglican followers.

Certainly, after Brexit, there is the real danger that Great Britain can no longer do without the financial support of the Sunni petromonarchies – the same ones which fund the 2,100 Islamic centres, madrasah schools and mosques which are being built everywhere on the British territorv.

After the Manchester attack, Prime Minister May had also designed the “Temperer operation”.

A scenario similar to what France has experienced during the recent presidential elections, with the probable future jihad pressure on the electoral campaign and the new version – on the English scene – of the Spanish jihadist attack in the Atocha station in 2004, which significantly changed the outcome of general elections, leading to the unexpected victory of Zapatero instead of the favourite candidate Aznar.

In fact, the “Temperer operation” envisages a vast deployment of Armed Forces in sensitive areas, such as obviously the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, Westminster Palace, Buckingham Palace, the venues of mass sport and cultural-musical events, as well as the areas where most Londoners and commuters transit every day.

Jihadists, however, are not fools and if they plan to attack again, for their own reasons, they will do so in unpredictable areas and sites.

Moreover, it is surprising how the level of protection – in the Manchester attack, as in the case of other recent or less recent jihadist actions in Great Britain – is still so flawed, inadequate or even non-existent.

Not even the recent London attack of March 22 last on Westminster Bridge made the police authorities think there could be another attack at a later stage – as it happened in Manchester.

Operation Temperer is supposed to involve approximately 5,000 units of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, deployed in the most sensitive areas and sites of the English urban areas. Once again, however, it is worth noting that nothing prevents the local jihad from choosing less relevant targets.

On the other hand, the impact of a terrorist attack is not based so much on the location, but rather on the number of victims, that is directly proportional to the political relevance of the jihadist action, as well as the effect of estrangement and block of reactions by the police forces and the intelligence services.

There is no need to attack Westminster or St. Paul’s Cathedral, just a pop concert is enough – as happened in Manchester – or a kosher supermarket, as was the case in Paris.

If there is a logical and cultural link, it is the well-known Islamist and Salafi rejection of music – viewed as a sign and work of the Evil and, obviously, the hatred for shops, organizations or people linked to the Jewish world.

Furthermore, as far as we know, the British intelligence services have already thwarted another attack in the London outskirts and they are already operating to check the links between the UK foreign fighters living in England and their contacts abroad.

Hence, in the future, there may be major attacks immediately before elections in Italy, Germany and possibly again in Great Britain, with a view to influencing their outcome, frightening citizens and destabilizing the European security and intelligence institutions and agencies.

A solution could be to clarify – once and for all – the jihad issue with the Sunni States funding and training the various Islamist groups. I do not think, however, that the European politicians – probably with the only exception of Theresa May – will have the courage, the clarity of mind and the farsightedness to raise this problem and solve it directly with the Sunni world.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Terrorism

Stateless and Leftover ISIS Brides

Sagar N

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While the World is busy fighting the pandemic and the economic devastation caused by it, one of the important problem that has been pushed to dormancy, is the status of the ISIS(Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) brides. The Pandemic has crippled the capacity of the law enforcement and exploiting this the ISIS executed attacks in Maldives, Iraq, and the Philippines. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that terrorists are exploiting the COVID-19 Pandemic. Albeit the ISIS has been defeated, approximately ten thousand of them are in ISIS detention centres in Northern Syria under Kurds. Most of these detention centres are filled by women and children, who are relatives or widows of the ISIS fighters. With their native states denouncing them, the status of the stateless women and children is unclear.

As it stands today states’ counter-terrorism approach has been primarily targeting male militants but women also have played a role in strengthening these terrorist organizations. Women involvement in militant organizations has increased as they perform several activities like birthing next-generation militants/jihadists, managing the logistics and recruiting the new members to the organizations. The world did not recognize women as key players in terrorist organizations until the 1980s when females held major roles in guerilla wars of southern America. Women have either willingly or unwillingly held a variety of roles in these extremist organizations and Islamist terrorist organizations like Hamas and al-Qaeda women do simply provide moral support.

According to the media reports since the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2006 female suicide attacks have been increased and they have been extensively part of ISIS. The ISIS had a female brigade which they called as Al-Khansaa which was established to perform search activities in the state. Both foreign and domestic recruits in the Islamic state have participated in brutal torture. A recently acquired logbook from a guesthouse in Syria provides important information about 1100 females who joined the organization, the western women who are called as ‘the muhajirat’.

When the people from rest of the world joined organizations such as ISIS, they burnt their passports and rejected their national identity. Especially women from western countries who were radicalized online based on their phenomenon ‘ISIS brides/Jihadi brides’ to marry terrorists. Since Islamic State isnot recognized by the world these marriages are not legally valid, apart from this a number of these brides have experienced sexual torture and extreme violence.

While the erstwhile members of the extremist organizations like ISIS and others are left adrift the one challenging question remaining is should states and their societies keep them and reengage or rehabilitate or prosecute them. How firmly the idea of their erstwhile organization is stuck in their minds and especially the followers who crossed the world to join remains a concern to many. The U.S backed Kurdish forces across turkey border hold thousands of these left-behind women and children in their centre. Hundreds of foreign women and children who were once part of an aspirant state, The caliphate are now floating around the concentration camps in Syria, Turkey and Kurdish detention centres and prisons. Many are waiting to return to their origin countries. They pose a unique challenge to their native states like whether to include them or not and even if they include how to integrate adults who at least for a time part of these terrorist organizations and what to do with children who are too young to understand the politics and obstacles keeping them in camps and detention centres where resources are scarce. Women present a problem because its hard to know what kind of crimes they have committed beyond the membership of the terrorist organization.

It is no secret that women also have been part of insurgency across the world, like in ISIS,LTTE,PIRA and PFLP. The responsibility of women in ISIS includes wife to ISIS soldiers, birthing the next generation of jihad and advancing ISIS’ global reach through online recruiting. The International Center for Study of Radicalization (ICAR) estimates that out of 40000 people joined ISIS from 80 different countries nearly 8000 are women and children. After the defeat of ISIS and such extreme organization those who are left behind possess the ideological commitment and practical skills which again a threat upon return to home countries.

The states across the world are either revoking the citizenship or ignore their responsibility. The most famous case of Shamima  Begum a UK citizen married to an ISIS fighter whose citizenship was revoked by the UK government. In other cases like HodaMuthana of the USA and Iman Osman of Tunisia have been the same case. As recently as Tooba Gondal an ISIS bride who now in a detention camp in northern Syria begged to go home in the UK in a public apology.

The American president Donald Trump issued a statement saying women who joined ISIS cannot return. The NATO deputy head said “…returning ISIS fighters and brides must face full rigours of the law”. Revoking the citizenship and making someone stateless is illegal under international law and it is also important to know how gendered these cases are because the UK have successfully prosecuted Mohammad Uddin and the USA has also done it so. Stripping off their citizenship itself a punishment before proper trail and the only good out of it would state can take their hands off in dealing with cases. Samantha Elhassani the only American who repatriated from Iraq so far and pleaded guilty for supporting ISIS. Meanwhile, France is trying to route its citizens who joined the ISIS and extradited few who are under trial in Bagdad.

As experts and political analysts say “countries should take responsibility for their own citizens” because failure to do so will also make the long term situation more dangerous as jihadists will try to a hideout and turn into militant groups for their protection. The children, the second-generation ISIS need cultural centres and rehabilitation centres and this is an international problem. These women known as jihadists brides suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder and many are pregnant or multiple children born in ISIS territory.

In some countries travelling abroad to join the insurgencies in North Africa and Syria was not always a criminal act, Sweden criminalized such act recently but to prosecute them proof of offences committed in the conflict zone is difficult to collect and most countries in the world do not allow the pre-trial detention for more than 14 days. With problems of different national Lawson extradition and capital punishment and to prosecute them in conflict countries is also a challenge for states. Since Kurdish forces have signalled that they cannot bring all the prisoners into justice the home countries will have to act or else it might create a long term dangerous situation. With the civil war in Syria is about to end it is time to address these issues because since there are more ISIS fighters in Kurdish prisons and detention centres they could be influenced to join rebels who are fighting the regime of Assad in last standing province of Idlib.

If the governments reject the repatriation applications then they will be signalling that their action is essential for national security and thus asserting that failed or poorly resourced states are better equipped to handle potential extremists. The criminal system in Iraq is corrupt and human rights violations have been reported and which creates the risk of further radicalization. One should not forget that even citizenship of Osama bin laden was also stripped but which did not stop him from forming al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. If the citizens commit crimes and forget their responsibility then the states must bring them to justice instead of stripping citizenship. The states must come with a solution for this problem before its too late, setting up an international tribunal to deal with these cases would be a great start but these tribunals are time-consuming and expensive.

States must act as a responsible actor in the international system. Jihadist terrorism is a global problem and states must act together to deal with it because with nearly 40000 fighters joining caliphate from across the world it only shows how global and deeply rooted the phenomenon is. Instead of stripping their citizens’ citizenship, states must find a way to act together for the peace and security of the international community.

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COVID-19: Game-changer for international peace and security

Newsroom

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In Iraq, children look over a wall at clouds of smoke from burning oil wells, the result of oil fires set by ISIL. © UNICEF/Lindsay Mackenzie

The world has “entered a volatile and unstable new phase” in terms of the impact of COVID-19 on peace and security, the UN chief told a virtual meeting with world leaders on Wednesday.

Speaking at one of a series of international meetings among heads of State to enhance global cooperation in fighting terrorism and violent extremism, as part of the Aqaba Process, Secretary-General António Guterres said the pandemic was more than a global health crisis.

“It is a game-changer for international peace and security”, he spelled out, emphasizing that the process can play a key role in “promoting unity and aligning thinking” on how to beat back the pandemic.

Warning lights flashing

Mr. Guterres maintained that the coronavirus has exposed the basic fragility of humankind, laid bare systemic and entrenched inequalities, and thrust into the spotlight, geopolitical challenges and security threats.

“The warning lights are flashing”, he said, pointing out that as the virus is “exacerbating grievances, undermining social cohesion and fueling conflicts”, it is also likely to “act as a catalyst in the spread of terrorism and violent extremism”.

Moreover, international tensions are being driven by supply chain disruptions, protectionism and growing nationalism – with rising unemployment, food insecurity and climate change, helping to fuel political unrest.

A generation in crosshairs

The UN chief also noted that a generation of students is missing school.

“A whole generation…has seen its education disrupted”, he stated. “Many young people are experiencing a second global recession in their short lives.”

He explained that they feel left out, neglected and disillusioned by their prospects in an uncertain world.

Wanted: Global solidarity 

The pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities to emerging threats such as bioterrorism and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.

“The world faces grave security challenges that no single country or organization can address alone”, upheld the Secretary-General, “there is an urgent need for global unity and solidarity”.

Recalling the UN’s Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week in July, he reminded that participants called for a “reinvigorated commitment to multilateralism to combat terrorism and violent extremism”.

However, a lack of international cooperation to tackle the pandemic has been “startling”, Mr. Guterres said, highlighting national self-interest, transactional information sharing and manifestations of authoritarianism. 

‘Put people first’

The UN chief stressed that “we must not return to the status quo ante“.

He outlined the need to put people first, by enhancing information sharing and technical cooperation “to prevent terrorists exploiting the pandemic for their own nefarious goals” and thinking “long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes”.

“This includes upholding the rights and needs of victims of terrorism…[and] the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, especially women and children,  and their dependents to their countries of origin”, he elaborated.

Closing window 

Meanwhile, the risk of COVID-19 is exacerbating the already dire security and humanitarian situation in Syrian and Iraqi camps housing refugees and the displaced.

“The window of opportunity is closing so we must seize the moment”, the UN chief said. “We cannot ignore our responsibilities and leave children to fend for themselves and at the mercy of terrorist exploitation”.

He also expressed confidence that the Aqaba Process will continue to “strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation, identify and fill capacity gaps, and address evolving security threats associated with the pandemic”, and offered the UN’s “full support”.

Post-COVID rebuilding 

The Secretary-General also addressed the Centenary Summit of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) on how private and public sector cooperation can help drive post-COVID change. 

He lauded the IOE’s “significant contributions” to global policymaking for economic and social progress, job creation and a mutually beneficial business environment, calling it “an important pillar of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its earliest days”.  

“Today, our primary task is to defeat the pandemic and rebuild lives, livelihoods, businesses, and economies”, he told the virtual Summit.

In building back, he underscored that workers and small business be protected, and everyone be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. 

Businesses input

The UN chief urged businesses to engage with the multilateral system to create a “conducive global environment for decent work, investment, and sustainability”; and with the UN at the national level, to help ensure that multilateralism “works on the ground”.    

He also encouraged them to actively participate in national and global public-private dialogue and initiatives, stressing, “there must be space for them to do so”. 

Tripartite cooperation

ILO chief Guy Ryder highlighted the need for “conscious policy decisions and tripartite cooperation to overcome transformational challenges”, such as technological change and climate change, as well as COVID-19. 

Mr. Ryder also flagged that employers must continue to collaborate in social dialogue and maintain their commitment to both multilateralism and the ILO.

The IOE represents more than 50 million companies and is a key partner in the international multilateral system for over 100 years as the voice of business at the ILO, across the UN, the G20 richest countries and other emerging forums.

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Traumas of terrorism cannot be erased, but victims’ voices must never be forgotten

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In remembering and honouring all victims of terrorism, Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN stands by those who grieve and those who “continue to endure the physical and psychological wounds of terrorist atrocities”.

“Traumatic memories cannot be erased, but we can help victims and survivors by seeking truth, justice and reparation, amplifying their voices and upholding their human rights”, he stressed.

Keep spotlight on victims, even amid pandemic

This year’s commemoration takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, when vital services for victims, such as criminal justice processes and psychosocial support, have been interrupted, delayed or ended as Governments focus attention and resources on fighting the pandemic.

Moreover, many memorials and commemorations have been cancelled or moved online, hampering the ability of victims to find solace and comfort together. 

And the current restrictions have also forced the first-ever UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism has to be postponed until next year.

“But it is important that we keep a spotlight on this important issue,” stressed the UN chief.

“Remembering the victims of terrorism and doing more to support them is essential to help them rebuild their lives and heal”, said Mr. Guterres, including work with parliamentarians and governments to draft and adopt legislation and national strategies to help victims.

The Secretary-General vowed that “the UN stands in solidarity with all victims of terrorism – today and every day” and underscored the need to “ensure that those who have suffered are always heard and never forgotten”.

Terrorism unjustifiable

General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande saluted the resilience of terrorist survivors and called the day “an opportunity to honour the memories of the innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of terrorist acts around the world”.

“Terrorism, in all forms and manifestations, can never be justified”, he stated. “Acts of terrorism everywhere must be strongly condemned”.
The UN commits to combating terrorism and the Assembly has adopted resolutions to curb the scourge while working to establish and maintain peace and security globally. 

Strengthen assistance

Mechanisms for survivors must be strengthened to safeguard a “full recovery, rehabilitation and re-integration into society through long-term multi-dimensional support”, stated the UN official.

“Together we can ensure that you live a full life defined by dignity and freedom. You are not alone in this journey. You are not forgotten”, concluded the Assembly president.

‘Human dimension’ 

Closing the event, Vladimir Voronkov, chief of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, maintained that victims represent “the very human dimension of terrorism”.

While terrorists try to depersonalize victims by reducing them to mere numbers or statistics, Mr. Voronkov maintained that “we have a responsibility to do the exact opposite”.

“We must see victims’ hopes, dreams and daily lives that have been shattered by terrorist violence – a shattering that carries on long after the attack is over”, he stated. “We must ensure their human rights are upheld and their needs are met”.

Reaffirming humanity

While acknowledging the “terrible reality of terrorism”, Mr. Voronkov flagged that the survivors shine as “examples of resilience, and beacons of hope, courage and solidarity in the face of adversity”.

In reaffirming “our common humanity”, he urged everyone to raise awareness of victims needs and rights.

“Let us commit to showing them that they are not alone and will never be forgotten”, concluded the Counter-Terrorism chief.

Survivors remember

At the virtual event, survivors shared their stories while under lockdown, agreeing that the long-term impacts of surviving any kind of an attack is that the traumatic experience never really goes away.

Tahir from Pakistan lost his wife in attack against the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Islamabad.  

“If you have an accident, you know how to cope with it. Terminal illness, you know how to cope with it. But there is no coping mechanism for a person who dies in an act of terror”, he said.

Meanwhile Nigeel’s father perished in the 1998 US Embassy attack in Kenya, when he was just months years old. 

The 22 year-old shared: “When you are growing, it really doesn’t have a heavy impact on you, but as life starts to unfold, mostly I’ll find myself asking if I do this and my dad was around, would he be proud of me?”

And Julie, from Australia, lost her 21-year-old daughter in the 2017 London Bridge attack.

“The Australian police came to our house and said ‘we have a body, still not confirmed’, so they recommended that we fly to London”, she recalled. “I can’t describe how devastating as a parent to lose a child in these circumstances is for the rest of your life”.

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