Newly released papers seized at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad suggest that American-born al-Qa’ida operative Adam Gadahn considered Irish people to be particularly receptive for Islam. In a letter to an unknown recipient of January 2011, he suggested issuing a message specifically addressing the Irish people, inviting them to convert to Islam. Irish sympathies for the Palestinian cause, a growing disillusionment with the Catholic Church, following the revelation of clerical child abuse, and the economic crisis, Gadahn identifies as grounds for a possible openness of the Irish people to Islam. As “the most religious in atheist Europe”, they would rather adopt another religion than embracing secularism, he argues.
Channel 4 has sparked outrage by planning on screening “Four Lions”, a controversial comedy film by comedian Chris Morris about Muslim suicide bombers, as part of a season of programmes to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Four Lions is about a group of home-grown British terrorists who are planning an attack during the London Marathon, but end up making a mess of their plans. As the Daily Mail reports, Channel 4 will show the comedy alongside factual documentaries related to 9/11 and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Even though Four Lions is not about 9/11, Channel 4 was showing it at this time ‘because it looked at the wider ‘geopolitical’ discussion on terrorism’ (Daily Mail).
The Daily Star reports that hardcore Islamists are determined to establish new Sharia law enforcement zones across the UK, starting with the London borough of Waltham Forest later this month. In these zones, alcohol (as well as any other drugs and smoking), gambling, concerts, porn and prostitution, for instance, will be banned. The group has coalesced around the preacher Anjem Choudary, an Islamic extremist from London and former leader of the Islamist organisations al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK. Choudary is a strong supporter of sharia law and has publicly called for its introduction in the UK on several occasions. In May, he appeared in the news for planning a public funeral service for Bin Laden. According to the Daily Star, the preacher Anjem Choudary “has called the scheme an alternative to government attempts to combat violent extremism under the Prevent strategy”. The call for Sharia-controlled zones affects those 25 areas across the country that the government has described as those areas where violent extremism is a problem. In the long run, the group is hoping to establish an Islamic Emirate.
In the months leading up to Osama bin Laden’s death, a survey of Muslim publics around the world found little support for the al Qaeda leader. Among the six predominantly Muslim nations recently surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, bin Laden received his highest level of support among Muslims in the Palestinian territories – although even there only 34% said they had confidence in the terrorist leader to do the right thing in world affairs. Minorities of Muslims in Indonesia (26%), Egypt (22%) and Jordan (13%) expressed confidence in bin Laden, while he has almost no support among Turkish (3%) or Lebanese Muslims (1%).
Over time, support for bin Laden has dropped sharply among Muslim publics. Since 2003, the percentage of Muslims voicing confidence in him has declined by 38 points in the Palestinian territories and 33 points in Indonesia. The greatest decline has occurred in Jordan, where 56% of Muslims had confidence in bin Laden in 2003, compared with just 13% in the current poll. Jordanian support for bin Laden fell dramatically (to 24% from 61% the year before) in 2006, following suicide attacks in Amman by al Qaeda. In Pakistan, where 2011 data is still not available, confidence in bin Laden fell from 52% in 2005 to just 18% in last year’s survey.
Al Qaeda also received largely negative ratings among Muslim publics in the 2011 survey. Only 2% of Muslims in Lebanon and 5% in Turkey expressed favorable views of al Qaeda. In Jordan, 15% had a positive opinion of al Qaeda, while about one-in-five in Indonesia (22%) and Egypt (21%) shared this view. Palestinian Muslims offered somewhat more positive opinions (28% favorable), but about two-thirds (68%) viewed bin Laden’s organization unfavorably.
Ratings of al Qaeda are, for the most part, unchanged, except in Jordan, where al Qaeda’s favorable rating fell from 34% in 2010 to 15% currently.
As was the case with views of bin Laden, Nigerian Muslims typically offer more positive views of al Qaeda than any other Muslim public surveyed.
The radical cleric Anjem Choudary, known supporter of Osama Bin Laden and former leader of the outlawed Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, announced he would lead a funeral prayer for Bin Laden outside the US Embassy in London on Friday. He called on fellow extremist to join the public prayer and demonstrations against the killing of Bin Laden. Further, he warned of potential domestic terror attacks following Bin Laden’s death. Similarly, the exiled radical preacher Omar Bakri has called for funeral prayers in front of US Embassies around the world. Bakri has condemned the killing of Bin Laden and warned the West of heavy retaliation by Al Qaeda. Britain, like other Western countries, has advised the public to remain alert to the threat of Al Qaeda.
On Friday, then, hundreds of Bin Laden supporters gathered outside the US Embassy in London and protested against the killing of Bin Laden. Concurrently, in Cardiff, a group of approximately 25 Muslims has held a funeral prayer for Bin Laden. Welsh Islamic leaders have, however, condemned the group for holding the funeral prayer. The Muslim Council for Wales and Riverside, for instance, described the group as “publicity-seekers”
Following the killing of Bin Laden, the radical Islamic prayer Pierre Vogel is planning a public funeral prayer for the leader of Al Qaeda in Frankfurt/ Main on Saturday. The city’s authorities, however, have prohibited the public prayer for Bin Laden, as it can be understood as a public ridicule of the victims of 9/11 and other terror attacks by Islamic radicals. Yet, Vogel argued that the prayer was not meant to be a defense of the 9/11 attacks. According to him, Bin Laden, as a Muslim, had the right to receive a prayer.
Vogel’s plans have not only been welcomed, but also criticized for its potential of public provocation within his own ranks and by other Muslim organizations, such as Milli Görus.
Following the ban of the funeral prayer by the city’s authorities, Vogel slightly changed the agenda for his public appearance to a general prayer, without reference to Bin Laden. This is in line with a number of orders issued by the administrative court to prevent the funeral prayer for Bin Laden.
Following the killing of Bin Laden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly announced her relief about the news during a press conference. More specifically, Merkel said it was “great news” and that she was “happy” to hear about the killing of Bin Laden. Further, she expressed her respect for Obama’s strategy. Merkel’s expression of joy over Bin Laden’s death has unleashed heated debate; her statement has been criticized by various religious groups and members of the political opposition as well as Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the governing coalition. Critics expressed their discomfort at the expression of joy over the death of a human being. Church representatives argued that from a Christian perspective, in particular, it was especially inappropriate to express happiness about the intentional killing of another human being. While most critics were understanding of expressions of relief about Bin Laden’s death, they considered it to be inadequate to express happiness in the way Merkel did. Others, such as Omid Nouripour, member of the Green Party, not only criticized Merkel’s statement, but also the killing of Bin Laden more generally. Nouripour stressed that the rules and regulations of a constitutional state had to be kept – even in the war against terror.
Many members of the Christian Democrats, however, supported Merkel. Heiner Geißler, for instance, argued that any civilized person should be happy about the fact that Bin Laden did no longer pose a threat. Geißler responded to criticisms by religious groups and argued that being Christian did not mean to be pedantic and “preachy”. He understood Merkel’s statement merely as an expression of happiness that this “problem” had been solved. Similarly, Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, saw Merkel’s happiness as not related to someone’s death, but the success in the war against international terrorism. Also amongst those defending Merkel’s statement is Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who, similar to Merkel, welcomed Bin Laden’s death as “good news”. While Westerwelle said that relief about Bin Laden’s death was understandable, he warned that the reactions to his killing in the West must not lead to any provocation of Al Qaida. Further, he emphasized the need to stay vigilant, as the killing of Bin Laden did not end the international fight against terrorism and extremism
Reacting to the public criticism, the Government emphasized that Merkel’s statement could not be isolated from the context. Seen in its context, it merely expressed relief that Bin Laden no longer posed any threat.
The National Post – February 19, 2011
This article reflects the opinion of Dr. Michael Welner, an expert forensic psychiatrist witness in numerous high profile civil and criminal proceedings in the United States. Here he reflects on the impact of prison relating to the fundamentalism of Omar Khadr:
Against the backdrop of these competing forces, the United States Department of Defense asked me as a veteran of highly sensitive forensic psychiatric assessments to appraise the risk of one such Guantanamo detainee, Omar Khadr. Mr. Khadr, by his own statements in 2002 and most recently in October 2010, admitted to throwing a grenade that killed Sfc. Christopher Speer as he inspected the scene of a recently completed battle. Khadr was 15 at the time that he killed Speer.
When I interviewed Khadr last June in my capacity as a forensic psychiatrist, he was an English-speaking, socially agile 23-year-old with the kind of easy smile that so similarly warms those who encounter the Dalai Lama and Bin Laden alike. Anticipating his eventual release, the military commission asked me to go beyond the natural tendency of advocates and adversaries to see what they want to see in Omar the man.
In American as well as Canadian facilities, tens of thousands of inmates are converting to Islam every year. Yielding to the notion that they are respecting religion, corrections officials have failed to make a committed effort to staff prisons with devout, forceful but peaceful-minded Muslim imams. As a result, the more charismatic, Machiavellian, and aggressive leaders within North American corrections facilities dominate and influence vulnerable and often alienated Muslim prisoners. These influences remain after prisoners are released and have been implicated in American terror attacks by American-born ex-cons.
News Agencies – November 9, 2010
Five people believed to have trained as Islamist militants in Pakistan’s troubled Afghan border region have been arrested in and around Paris. Some of those arrested were picked up in the suburb of Roissy, where France’s largest airport is located, security sources said on condition of anonymity. Police and intelligence officers have been questioning the suspects. Some of the suspects are apparently linked to death threats made a few weeks ago against the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden warned France last month that its planned ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified attacks on its nationals. French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux later said that the country faced a real terror threat and he urged “total vigilance”.
News Agencies – October 28, 2010
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) has condemned the recent threats against France issued by Osama bin Laden. In a press release, the organization stated “in the name of the values of Islam, religion of peace and the middle way, the CFCM reaffirms its complete condemnation of all hostile acts made against our nation and our compatriots were they come from.”