Actions of Finsbury Park Mosque leading up to attack

Darren Osborne, who attacked Muslims gathered outside Finsbury Park Mosque early Monday morning, had previously expressed his intentions to “do something about them,” meaning Muslims. Patrons at a Cardiff Pub say that Osborne had ranted about the pro-Palestinian Al Quds Day march occurring in London on Sunday. As such, it is believed that he intended to attack the march but did not make it to London in time to do so.

He talked about a need to “stand up to Muslims.” Others in the pub argued with him but did not report him to authorities.

Later that night, Osbourne was reported by a neighbour for being unresponsively drunk in his van but police found him not to have committed any crime and did not arrest him. A day later Osborne attempted to kill a group of Muslim worshippers leaving prayers and attending to an elderly man in need of first aid.

Osborne had a history of violence and was banned from all pubs in his old hometown of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. He was not banned in his new town of Cardiff. He recently seperated from his partner and reportedly is living in a tent. He has four children.

Police are investigating if he has ties to extremists. Far-Right extremism and domestic terrorism has been on the rise and police are struggling to keep up with related investigations. There have been some calls for the inclusion of intelligence services.

Union of French Mosques condemns London attack

The Union of French Mosques strongly condemns the attack carried out in London on June 3, 2017, leaving seven victims and 50 wounded, of which four were French. Among those hurt, 21, including one Frenchman, are in critical condition. The UMF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and hopes for a swift recovery for those wounded and reaffirms its support for and solidarity with the British people who have faced these last months, with courage and dignity, against a despicable and cowardly terrorist fury.

Immersed in enormous suffering as a result of these crimes, France’s Muslims cannot find enough strong expressions to denounce the betrayal of their religion by criminal organizations that claim to act in their name. Faced with this suffering, the UMF calls on France’s Muslims to carry on their struggle, by all legal means, against extremists and followers of hate and violence.

The UMF calls on French Muslims to keep the victims of terrorism in their thoughts and to intensify their prayers, during this sacred month of Ramadan, for Peace in the World.

Paris, June 4, 2017

 

In Bordeaux, Muslims fight radical Islam

Fouad Saanadi is preaching to the converted, but not the mainstream Muslim community he belongs to. In a discreet building near city hall, the Bordeaux imam meets with bewildered parents and fragile youngsters, some of whom have never set foot inside a mosque.

Many come from troubled families and neighborhoods. Some are mentally unstable. He and a small group of experts are fighting a powerful adversary: militant Islam.

“My role is not to tell people the ‘good’ or ‘true’ Islam, but to help awaken a critical approach,” Saanadi says of Bordeaux’s year-old CAPRI program aimed at preventing radicalization. “We are not here to confront but rather to awaken a critical awareness.”

Bordeaux counts among a growing number of communities across Europe searching for ways to counter extremism, following a wave of largely home-grown terrorist attacks. The question is all the more important for France, the target of three terror strikes in two years, and western Europe’s biggest exporter of extremist fighters.

Unlike countries like Germany and Britain, France is a relative newcomer to approaches beyond law-and-order ones, and new efforts to branch out have not always proved successful. Indeed, a recent Senate report characterized the state’s approach in tackling radicalization a failure.

 

Today, there is a new sense of urgency to finding answers. Hundreds of foreign fighters are beginning to return to Europe, authorities say, posing risks as potential terrorists and recruiters. Some end up in French prisons, already considered jihadist breeding grounds.

“The European system is not experienced with dealing with so many radicalized people,” Khosrokhavar says. “We need to invent a new way of dealing with this sort of problem.”

A partnership between Bordeaux’s city hall and the regional Muslim federation, the year-old CAPRI program may be one sign of changing times. While the initiative is local, it offers a religious dimension to fighting radicalization – one that is drawing interest from other municipalities.

“For the youngsters and the families, the fact we’re doing this program with the Muslim community is positive,” says Bordeaux’s Deputy Mayor Marik Fetouh, who is also CAPRI’s spokesman. “It shows we’re not confounding Islam and radicalization, and often the theologians will create links between the families and CAPRI.”

Imam Saanadi gathers with half-a-dozen therapists, psychiatrists and legal experts to evaluate each new case. Of the 36 youngsters now enrolled, roughly 40 percent are women. A number are converts, or “born again” Muslims from largely secular backgrounds. The average age is 22. “It’s a puzzle,” Saanadi tells DW. “When we put together the different pieces, we can see whether to intervene or not.”

As secretary-general of Bordeaux’s Muslim federation, Saanadi himself ascribes to a moderate, government-sanctioned brand of Islam that respects French secularism but is not always considered legitimate among more fundamentalist believers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he does not personally know anyone who has joined a jihadi movement. “Terrorism is a question for national education,” he says. “We see children at the mosque two hours a week. The rest of their time is at school.”

Whatever the cause, most agree that France has a serious problem. Roughly 700 French jihadists are still fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to recent government figures; another 1,350 suspected radicals are in French prisons, including nearly 300 with direct ties to terrorist networks.

Nationwide, authorities classify another 15,000 as extremists and potential security threats, including an estimated 200 or more in the southwestern Gironde department that includes Bordeaux. The state’s traditional law-and-order response has not proved effective, critics say.

“The state took too much time and now it’s searching for miracle solutions,” sociologist Ouisa Kies, an expert on radicalization in prisons, told DW.

Last year, the center-left government adopted a softer approach with uncertain results so far. It earmarked more than $300 million (284 million euros) for de-radicalization programs over three years, and rolled out the first of a dozen voluntary centers planned across the country.

But in February, a French senate report deemed the de-radicalization center, in the Loire Valley, a “fiasco.” Only nine youngsters had been treated there, it said, and it was currently empty.

The new government funding windfall has also helped fuel some 80 local initiatives, some with dubious credentials. “It’s becoming a market,” says Bordeaux’s main imam, Tareq Oubrou, who provides theological advice to CAPRI. “Everyone is becoming a de-radicalization specialist in two seconds.”

“As soon as there’s an initiative by a Muslim leader or members of the community there’s always suspicion,” says Kies, who believes the Muslim leadership nonetheless has a narrow but necessary role to play in countering radicalization.

In Bordeaux, Saanadi is the first to acknowledge the limits of his intervention. “There are no miracle solutions,” he says. “It’s very easy to destroy, but very difficult to reconstruct.”

Fillon wants French Muslims to express their ‘anger’

François Fillon wants to see a “cry of anger against extremists” he said during a visit to the Saint-Denis mosque in Reunion.

He wants to see “the same French citizens of the Muslim faith give a cry of anger and protest against extremists, not only against terrorists,” but “against those who have deformed Islam’s message and who call for division from within the Muslim community.”

“I will not allow those who contradict the values of the Republic…the Republic has the right to defend itself against those who call for its destruction,” he insisted.

“If coexistence between religions is exemplary in Reunion, it’s not the same case throughout the country,” he said during the visit.

He also wished that “we had a CFCM that would be more of a religious authority. I don’t think that we need an organization for the Muslim faith in France that is political.”

 

 

 

“It’s us or them” Sarkozy speaks out against Islamists

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in Nice on Tuesday night, the candidate lashed out at François Hollande’s Socialist government, and presented himself as the saviour of France before promising to “re-establish authority”.

He said: “On May 7, 2017, playtime will be over. France is in such a critical position right now because it has been led by a weak and arrogant leader whose government has lost all authority and has no control over its people.”

 Sarkozy likened himself to ‘populist’ Republican Donald Trump and said that he, as the “people’s president,” would put French interests above all else.

“Mr Trump wants to protect American interests, which is great news, because I want to protect French interests. Listening to people is the president’s duty. How many more Brexits and Trumps do we need before government officials realise that people are angry?”

The right-winger’s war on radical Islam and immigration also intensified ahead of this weekend’s election.

He said: “We live in France. Here, the state comes first, religion comes second. People should be discreet about their religious beliefs. We live in a country where women are equal to men and I will not tolerate medieval behaviour.”

The presidential hopeful added that political Islam was incompatible with French values: “France faces a very high threat from terrorism and I, as president, will wage an unrelenting war against provocative jihadists. Against inhumane extremists who promote mass violence. Against Islamic barbarians who hate us, hate what we love and what we stand for. It’s us or them.”

Sarkozy also promised to crackdown on illegal immigration by re-establishing border controls within the Schengen area, and said that France was no longer in the position to welcome migrants and could no longer help them integrate into French society.

“We need a powerful head of state, a commander-in-chief, a man of experience, and that man is Nicolas Sarkozy,” Eric Ciotti, a right-wing lawmaker for the department of Alpes-Maritimes, said.

Valls: France needs ‘new relationship with Islam’

Prime Minister Valls said France, which is home to around five million Muslims, needs to forge a new rapport with Islam.

“We need to reset and invent a new relationship with Islam in France,” Valls said.

The PM has long wanted to help nurture a more French version of Islam, without extremists elements and said in Friday he was in favor of a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

He also wants imams to be trained in France rather than abroad.

The PM has warned in the past that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France, home of Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

And he has pledged to “massively” increase France’s security and defense budgets in the coming years, as the country grapples with a growing jihadist threat after two deadly attacks last year.

“The Salafists must represent one percent of the Muslims in our country today, but their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he said.

France has long had an uneasy relationship with Islam, even before recent jihadist killings in Paris, Nice and Rouen. While the French public and politicians broadly supported the two laws opponents argued it would only work to stigmatize and alienate the country’s Muslim community even further.

It is not clear what the PM is thinking of when it comes to this “new relationship” but in the past he has expressed extending the ban on religious signs to universities.

“The veil does not represent a fashion fad, no, it’s not a colour one wears, no: it is enslavement of women,” he said, warning of the “ideological message that can spread behind religious symbols”.

“We have to make a distinction between wearing the veil as a scarf for older women, and it as a political gesture confronting French society.”

However members of his own government including the education minister and university bodies do not believe there is a need to extend the law.

French Sociologist and director of the Religious Observatory in France doubted Valls had any clear idea of what he meant by “new relationship” but that it was a mistake to suggest this was the source of terrorism.

“I doubt he has a clear idea in his head, but he needs to separate the issues,” said Liogier who has criticized Valls in the past for “showing a complete ignorance of all the multiple dynamics that play a role in Muslim communities today.”

“Let’s stop talking about Muslim “communitarianism” being the source of terrorism. A man with a beard or a woman wearing the veil are other issues, they are not the problem of terrorism.”

 

Muslim charity to put ‘Allah is great’ posters on buses to portray Islam in a positive light

Hundreds of British buses will carry adverts praising Allah as part of a campaign launched by the country’s biggest Muslim charity to help victims of Syria’s civil war. Islamic Relief hopes the posters, which bear the words “Subhan Allah”, meaning “Glory be to God” in Arabic, will portray Islam and international aid in a positive light.

Buses will carry the advertisements in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester and Bradford. These cities have large Muslim populations and the charity hopes it will encourage people to donate generously ahead of the start of Ramadan on 7 June.

Imran Madden, the UK director of Islamic Relief, said: “In a sense this could be called a climate change campaign because we want to change the negative climate around international aid and around the Muslim community in this country.

“International aid has helped halve the number of people living in extreme poverty in the past 15 years, and British Muslims are an incredibly generous community who give over £100 million to international aid charities in Ramadan.”

The new campaign will appear on buses from 23 May on 640 buses around the country. The adverts will have a special resonance in London as the city elected its first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Thursday – despite a Conservative campaign, which repeatedly accused him of having connections to extremists.

Paris terror attacks: We Muslims must hunt down these monsters who make a mockery of our religion

Twelve years ago, I converted to Islam to marry a Tunisian. It was a purely formal conversion. I remained fundamentally agnostic until 20 months ago, I experienced a spiritual revelation, started to believe in God and to practise my religion of adoption.

We must take the lead in fighting and hunting down extremists, not just beside, but ahead of, our Christian, and Jewish brothers and sisters.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year, I felt it was my duty as a concerned Muslim citizen to express my outrage at having my religion hijacked by mindless thugs.

With several French Muslim theologians and intellectuals, we launched the “Khlass le silence!” (“Enough with the silence!”) movement, which called on French Muslims to take the lead in the struggle against the monsters who make a sordid mockery of our religion.

Despite the emotion felt throughout France and the French Muslim community, our appeal fell largely on deaf ears.

Less than a month later I teamed up with Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic leader of Malaysia’s opposition; the Palestinian-Austrian theologian Adnan Ibrahim; and a number of other authoritative Muslim figures from all around the world.

In pictures: A night of carnage in France’s capital

Together, we argued that while our natural instinct as Muslims to distance ourselves from the jihadists, saying that the latter have “nothing to do with Islam”, was understandable, it was dubious intellectually and altogether irresponsible to keep our reaction at that.

The last serious attempt at launching a movement of Islamic reform, led by the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh at the turn of the 20th century, ended up in failure and gave way to the creation of the Muslim brotherhood.

To overcome the state of denial described above and the moral decadence that is affecting many of us, nothing less than a new movement of Islamic reform is needed.

Despite some welcome marks of support, our calls continued to go unheeded. Our initiative was attacked or ridiculed by many in the French Muslim community and we were soon branded apostates by Islamic State (my picture appeared along with death threats in their French language propaganda magazine Dar al Islam).

Not a single Muslim leader came to our defence in France when that happened, and barely a thousand of our fellow Muslims manifested their support for our initiative.

On this ignominious day, the time has come for me to repeat with a greater sense of urgency still what my cosignatories and I said earlier this year:

“My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, it is time to make our voices heard: we must rise up massively and tell the barbarians who ordered, executed or condoned the acts of mass murder just committed in Paris that from now on we will take the lead in fighting and hunting them down, not just beside, but ahead of, our Christian, Jewish, or agnostic brothers and sisters.

“We must do so because Muslims are the extremists’ first victims and because we have mustered the courage to take our responsibilities and launch a massive, global movement for Islamic reform.

“If we do not, we must accept that these monsters represent Islam (and us) in the face of the entire world. With obvious consequences in many an forthcoming European election. The choice is ours.”

Jihadism Born in Paris Park and Fueled in Prison

They jogged together or did calisthenics along the hilly lawns and tulip-dotted gardens of Buttes-Chaumont, the public park in northeastern Paris built more than a century ago under Emperor Napoleon III. Or they met in nearby apartments with a janitor turned self-proclaimed imam, a man deemed too radical by one local mosque because of his call for waging jihad in Iraq.

The group of young Muslim men, some still teenagers, became known to the French authorities as the Buttes-Chaumont group after the police in 2005 broke up their pipeline for sending young French Muslims from their immigrant neighborhood to fight against American troops in Iraq. The arrests seemingly shattered the group, and some officials and experts were skeptical that members ever posed a threat to France.

But the shocking terror attacks last week in Paris have now made plain that the Buttes-Chaumont network produced some of Europe’s most militant jihadists, including Chérif Kouachi, one of the three terrorists whose three-day rampage left 17 people dead and who was killed by the police.

Other alumni from the group have died in Iraq or remained committed to radical Islam, including a French-Tunisian now aligned with the Islamic State who has claimed responsibility for a handful of assassinations in Tunisia, including the July 2013 murder of a leading left-wing politician.

“They were considered the least dangerous,” Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East studies and specialist on French Islamic terror cells, said of the Buttes-Chaumont group. “And now you see them really at the forefront.”

Now French authorities, while still piecing together how such violent attacks could have been staged in the capital, must also be concerned by the possibility that other homegrown groups may be passing unnoticed — or may be similarly underestimated.
The attacks suggest the prospect of a potent intermingling among some members of the original Buttes-Chaumont group and other extremists. Their meeting place, apparently, was the French prison system.

There, their radicalism hardened as some members of the group came together with other prominent jihadists who were connected to more extensive and dangerous militant networks.

For decades, France has endured Islamic terror threats and attacks, from Iranian-inspired groups during the 1980s to Algerian extremists in the 1990s to cells linked to Al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

More recently, French and other European security services have grown increasingly alarmed by thousands of young, alienated Muslim citizens who have enlisted for jihad in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

In each decade, a familiar pattern has emerged: a radicalized minority of European Muslims — whether they have gone abroad for jihad or not — have been angered and inspired by wars the West has waged in the Arab world, Africa and beyond, and have sought to bring the costs of those conflicts home.

After French authorities swept up members of the Buttes-Chaumont group in the 2005, during his time in prison Chérif Kouachi came under the sway of an influential French-Algerian jihadist who had plotted to bomb the United States Embassy in Paris in 2001.
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IS “fishing” for teenage girls in Spain

A view of the Principe District in Ceuta. Ceuta is inhabited by majority North Africans and is increasingly a hotspot of recruiting activity for ISIS. (Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP)
A view of the Principe District in Ceuta. Ceuta is inhabited by majority North Africans and is increasingly a hotspot of recruiting activity for ISIS. (Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

The Islamic State captures teenage girls in Spanish Muslim communities through propaganda disseminated through social networks. Ceuta is the area most affected by this trend. In one of the known cases a girl from the region (just under 14 years old) tried to travel to Iraq through Turkey, but was intercepted in Melilla. She wanted to join the jihad and marry some extremist fighter. In total there have already been at least five cases of successful ‘fishing’ of minors in Ceuta.

According to experts, the contents spread extremist movement militants are designed to ‘catch’ specifically to adolescents with traditional values, many are fascinated by very simple causes, others consider it a culmination of their practice of Islam. At their age, they perceive it as an adventure and want to participate in it.

In turn, to the extremists, the virgin girls are a key point in their strategy. Although its function is merely reproducing, the idea is to contribute to the expansion of radicalism through the repopulation of the ‘infidels’ nations.