‘Former Arsenal player’ in Syrian jihad video identified as Portuguese

April 16, 2014

 

A jihadist fighter described as a former Arsenal footballer has been identified as a Portuguese citizen, it can be disclosed.

The man appeared in a video released online two weeks ago urging others to join the jihadists, using a false name and speaking in a heavy accent.

Rumours spread in the media and across the internet that the man was Lassana Diarra, 29, who played international football for France and for clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Portsmouth. Diarra was forced to deny he had ever set foot in the war-torn country.

The video was posted in an account linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) which is associated with al-Qaida.

British and foreign security services performed analysis on his accent and learned that he is probably Portuguese, sources have now disclosed.

They believe the man is an individual called Celso Rodrigues Da Costa who had been living in Leyton, east London with his two brothers.

In the video posted last week, the man believed to be Da Costa was wearing a balaclava and a relatively smart, green quilted jacket as he sat beside a lake, brandishing an AK-47.

He was sending a message to the people of the Ukraine, apparently in the belief that Muslims in the Ukraine or Crimea might want to join the fight in Syria.

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/16/former-arsenal-player-syria-jihad-portuguese-da-costa

Publico

http://www.publico.pt/mundo/noticia/policia-britanica-identifica-portugues-por-incitar-a-adesao-a-al-qaeda-1632605

Judgement of the Librarian of Al Qaeda has started

April 24, 2014

 

The National Court will start the judgement of Mudhar Hussein Almalki also known as the Librarian of Al Qaeda , which the prosecution accuses of participating directly in different platforms such as online jihad.

Almalki was arrested in 2012 in Valencia and was the supervisor of the propaganda team of the jihadist group Ansar al- Mujahideen which follows the guidelines and instructions of Al Qaeda.He also participated on a daily basis in the three most important jihadist internet forums.

 

La Vanguardia

http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20140424/54406170421/audiencia-nacional-bibliotecario-al-qaeda.html

Muslims in German political parties

April 23, 2014

 

In Germany, both the Greens and the Christian Democrats have had working groups for Muslim members for some time now. In February, the Social Democrats followed suit. Are these new groups really and truly different? Or are Germany’s main political parties simply jumping on the diversity trend bandwagon?

Qanrara: http://en.qantara.de/content/muslims-in-german-political-parties-the-diversity-trend

Can European Islam Be Inspiring to the Arab World?

April 16, 2014

 

The question “can European Islam be inspiring to the Arab world?” may smell of pejorative Orientalism: Europe thinks for the Arab world even when it comes to religion! Yet, the /intent (anniya /in Arabic/)/ is not that. The question aims at questioning the established dichotomy of “Islam vs. the West.” Comparing two geographies or two versions of religion in two different political entities is the aim here, though the title seems to compare a religious interpretation in a political geography “European Islam” with a another political geography “the Arab world.” By the Arab world here is meant “Arab Islam” – to avoid repeating “Islam” twice. Both Western Europe and the Arab world are heterogeneous and have different histories with religion and politics, and it is not acceptable to put them all in one basket through entities as the title above suggests. However, it is the links between these two geographies, polities, and histories that have encouraged posing the question for further reflections.

Moreat Resetdoc web magazine, at: http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022382

Happy British Muslims

April 18, 2014

 

The Happy British Muslims video was put together by a group of young British Muslims called the Honesty Policy, with a very simple aim: to spread positivity and a bit of empowerment along the way. Who are the Honesty Policy? They have chosen to remain anonymous. “Anonymity is a symbol of integrity, and integrity doesn’t need a face,” they state on their website.

Two days after the video was posted it has gained more than 570,000 views on YouTube, and counting. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with thousands of messages of support, although some have criticised the video and labelled it as sinful. The Honesty Policy group stated that “If this video has done anything, it is to galvanise a tremendous, unified and coherent community voice in its defence. Cross-cultural, inter-organisational, multi-ethnic; we have all become one. And what has been the unifying force? Happiness.”

The video’s participants include politicians, journalists, students, families and community leaders. Timothy Winter of Cambridge University, also known as Abdul Hakim Murad, makes an appearance. Renowned among Muslim academics for his stoic nature, Winter doesn’t dance, but poses with a sign reading “I’m happy!”

Winter has released a statement of support stating: “I’m delighted to see the outcome of the Happy British Muslims video, which has unlocked a remarkable tide of goodwill around the world, and significantly tilted the image of Muslims among many sceptics. Islamophobes must be grinding their teeth to see Muslims of different races and age-groups united by happiness. No one will produce a Sharia argument against jumping for joy!”

Although throughout the release of the positive responses some have questioned the need for such a video, with some suggesting that Muslims have to dance to “happy” to prove they don’t mean harm! That the Muslim presence in the media and in social and public engagements is always about proving that Muslims are not a threat and just like everyone else.

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/sinful-video-of-british-muslims-dancing-to-pharrell-williamss-hit-happy-comes-under-attack-9268418.html

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/music/shortcuts/2014/apr/18/happy-british-muslims-video-pharrell-williams

Islamic extremism a ‘deadly’ problem for charities, says William Shawcross

April 20, 2014

 

Islamist extremism is the “most deadly” problem charities face, the chairman of the sector’s watchdog has said. William Shawcross, who took on the role at the Charity Commission in October 2012, said it was “ludicrous” that people with convictions for terrorism or money laundering were not automatically disqualified from setting up charities or becoming trustees.

He said he has written to the prime minister, David Cameron, to ask for changes to the law and that the commission was taking tough measures against any charity that was “sending cash to extremist groups in Syria” or “dispatching young Britons for training in Syria by al-Qaida or other extremist groups”.

In February the watchdog was condemned as “feeble” and “not fit for purpose” following an investigation by MPs into its performance. The public accounts committee, chaired by Labour’s Margaret Hodge, found the Charity Commission had failed to act robustly to deal with clear cases of abuse and the cross-party group of MPs said they had “little confidence” in the body’s ability to address its shortcomings.

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/20/islamic-extremism-charities-deadly-problem-william-shawcross

British rebel fighter offers rare insight into daily life of foreign jihadists

April 20, 2014

 

A British citizen who fights with the rebels in Syria has released a video tour of the home he shares with fellow fighters in the war-torn country. With security services in the UK growing increasingly concerned about the number of Britons travelling to join extremist groups in Syria, the video offers a unique insight into the daily lives of those who have already made the journey.

Abu Abdullah, thought to be a member of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), has appeared in a number of similar videos in which he calls for British Muslims to join him in Syria. Whereas much of the output from jihadist organisations has sought to glamorise the life of a rebel fighter, Abu Abdullah’s video appears aimed at presenting a more realistic portrayal of the difficulties they face.

On Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, rebel groups with slick media operations post photographs and videos of their exploits on the battlefield and the video was uploaded by a group calling itself Rayat al Tawheed (Banner of God), which claims to be the English-language media arm of ISIS.

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-rebel-fighter-offers-rare-insight-into-daily-life-of-foreign-jihadists-9272178.html

Angry and fiery Hamza preached jihad court is told

April 20, 2014

 

Prosecutors will this week seek to build on their sweeping terror case against a former radical cleric from north London by calling a succession of former associates and followers as witnesses and playing recordings of his past sermons and statements in which he vilifies the West and praises al-Qa’ida. The stakes are high for the US government as the trial of Abu Hamza, former imam of the Finsbury Park mosque, north London, enters a second week. He was brought to the US in 2012 to stand trial on charges of fostering terror around the world after a years-long extradition battle. To lose would be a serious embarrassment.

Abu Hamza, 56, who has already served six years in Britain for inciting hatred and soliciting murder, faces 11 charges. He is accused of trying to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon, providing assistance to hostage-takers in an attack on western tourists in Yemen in 1998 that left four dead, and sending support and fighters to al-Qaida in Afghanistan. He denies all the charges.

Before making his statement, defence lawyer Joshua Dratel stood behind Abu Hamza, seated at the defence table, and clasped his shoulders in a gesture meant to relay to jurors that despite Hamza’s fiery reputation and appearance – he lost both hands and an eye in Afghanistan – he remains a human being. He confirmed that Abu Hamza will later take the stand.

The trial is due to last a month.

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/abu-hamza-terror-trial-hamza-the-human-or-hamza-the-terrible-9271359.html

 

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10775603/Angry-and-fiery-Hamza-preached-jihad-court-is-told.html

Muslim students divided on sharia-compliant loans

April 22, 2014

 

Muslim students are divided about government moves to introduce student loans that comply with sharia law. Muslim groups have been pressing hard for reform because the rise in tuition fees in 2012 brought with it the expectation that students would take out loans and pay them back, with interest, once they had well-paid jobs.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – which is running the consultation – says: “We know that some students, whose religious beliefs forbid the taking out of a loan that incurs interest, may be unable to take advantage of student loans because of this change. This could make it more difficult for them to get a higher education. We’re exploring the possibility of making an alternative student finance scheme available alongside traditional loans. This funding would be sharia-compliant and overseen by a sharia advisory committee.”

Most Muslim students have applied for loans and are intending to go to university regardless of reforms. If anything, it’s the size of the fees that are of most concern to them, just like it is for most other students. But many other Muslim students will welcome this move because it could remove a barrier to their educational aspirations. Muslim organisations such as Fosis (the Federation of Student Islamic Societies) say they know of many Muslims students who decided against going to university because of the new system of student loan repayments.

Under the government’s proposed fund pooling (takaful) model, a special sharia advisory committee would oversee a fund that would be fed by students repaying money once they are in employment and earning over a threshold. The repayments would be set against a benchmark rate equal to that of a conventional student loan. The idea is that such a system would allow students to avoid paying interest, and the pool of funds generated by the repayments would be used to benefit future students. The government has insisted that despite concerns raised by some commentators, Muslim students will be no better off than their contemporaries under any new scheme, and their repayments will be in line with those of students who take out traditional loans.

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/17/muslim-students-split-on-sharia-loans

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/sharia-student-loans-will-muslim-students-avoid-paying-interest-on-finance-for-higher-education-9268079.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/istudents/could-the-end-of-the-shariacompliant-loan-crisis-for-muslim-students-be-in-sight-9274918.html