Medic student who joined ISIS ‘to treat jihadists’ wants to go back to UK

A British teenager who tried to join the Islamic State says she wants to go back home. A Turkish politician confirmed the 19 year-old, who previously praised the Charlie Hebdo attacks, sent a message to her family outlining her desire to return to the UK. Lena Mamoun Abdelgadir, a 19 year-old student, who grew up in the UK county of Norfolk, was one of a group of nine medical students who traveled to Syria to provide medical assistance to the group formally known as ISIS/ISIL.  However, a Turkish lawmaker, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu confirmed the UK citizen now wants to quit the militant organization and return to the town of Kings Lynn, where her father works as a respected consultant orthopedic surgeon.

 

Abdelgadir, who was a straight A student in the UK, before going to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to study medicine was one of seven British medics to travel to Syria. An American and Canadian citizen also joined them. The students aged between 19 and 25, who were all studying medicine, boarded a flight from Khartoum to fly to Istanbul on March 12. Abdelgadir’s parents have flown to Turkey and are anxiously waiting at the border for any news.

 

Boris Johnson calls for new word to be used when describing Islamic extremists

Boris Johnson has insisted that an alternative word needs to be found to describe extremists who claim to act in the name of Islam. The Mayor of London told worshippers at the Al Falah Islamic Education Centre in West Acton that he was concerned about the level of Islamophobia in the capital. And Mr Johnson, whose great-grandfather was a Muslim, added that a “problem in the language” needed to be resolved, with the issue discussed with the Muslim Council of Britain.

The Mayor insisted the police could deal with Islamophobia and intimidation, adding: “It’s very difficult to distinguish Islam and Isis, Daesh, whatever – we have a problem in the language. “When anybody says Islamism, Muslim fundamentalist or terrorist or something like that, the wider public hear the word Muslim – you see what I’m saying? So you need to find an alternative word. I had a really good session with the Muslim Council of Britain to find an alternative word. It’s not easy.”

Dutch participants in jihad: few Turks, mostly Moroccans

The Dutch newspaper Het Parool has stated that among Dutch Jihad participants just a small percentage are Dutch citizens with a Turkish cultural background. But it also suggested that “all the ingredients for radicalization among the Turkish-Dutch community are present.” Terrorism expert Edwin Bakker estimates that approximately 15 to 20 have a Turkish-Dutch cultural background out of a total of 200 to 250 Jihad participants. Around 80 percent has a Moroccan cultural background, Bakker states.

Het Parool further suggested that while the Turkish-Dutch community struggles with high percentages of unemployment and social-economic arrears there is also an observable increase in interest for Islam. An additional factor is the frontline of the Syrian war that borders on Turkey were Turkish-Dutch citizens have relations and speak the language.

According the Het Parool experts explain the low contribution of Dutch Turks by alluding to the strong social control in the Turkish community. Bakker states “I know of one case of a Turkish-Dutch boy that nearly crossed the border with Syria when he stopped his journey under pressure of his family. Otherwise they would come and get him. This is a typical type of pressure we can observe in the Turkish community.”

80 French jihadists have been killed in Syria and Iraq

Eighty “Frenchmen or French residents” who left French soil to participate in jihad in Iraq and Syria have been killed thus far, stated Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“There are already close to 1,4000 people who have been identified, Frenchmen or residents, as having ties to these networks. Around 750 are fighting or have left to fight, 410 are in France, 260 have come back,” he stated.

On January 19 Paris prosecutor Francois Molins announced that 1,280 people “were either in transit, were on location, were coming back or had already come back to France.” On January 22, Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve stated that there had been 73 Frenchmen killed in Syria and in Iraq. “As long as we have this situation which persists in Syria, in Iraq, in the Near and Middle East, we know we will have these [jihadist] candidates.”

Will the French government’s anti-jihad campaign be effective?

The French government began a campaign aimed at dissuading young Frenchmen from leaving France to fight in Syria and launched a video to combat jihadism. The video is primarily aimed at showing the “myths surrounding jihadism” by explaining what awaits them as foreign fighters. To combat the propaganda used by ISIL and rebel groups the video contrasted the promises made by jihadi recruiters with the harsh reality: war, violence and massacres.

It targets both young men and women. One line says, “They tell you: come make a family with one of our heroes. In reality, you will raise your children in the midst of war and terror.” The film ends with: “The indoctrination speeches made by jihadists lead to new victims every day,” followed by the hash tag #stopdjihadisme. The site contains several other sections, such as “Understand the terror threat,” “Decipher jihadist propaganda,” and “React-The state’s action,” and “Mobilize-Together.”

Each section is composed of several chapters containing interviews with experts, explanations, historical references and links to other sites. For example, anthropologist Dounia Bouzar explains how the Internet’s popularity allows jihadi recruiters to establish contacts, especially with young people.

“We are going to widely circulate this video on social networking sites in order to reach the most people who might be influenced by these claims and these sirens. We hope to create shock among them. And the site proposes solutions, remedies, and help for young people, their families and their friends,” said Christian Gravel, director of the Government Information Services. (SIG)

“Do they think they’ll scare or dissuade with such a site?” Asked Florian Philipport, Vice President of the FN. “Is this a firm enough response to the grave danger to which France is exposed? This communication operation only serves to mask the blatant inaction of those with political power,” he said.

In a Midi Libre poll, 71.6% of respondents said they don’t believe the government’s anti-jihad initiative will be effective, 18.6% think it will be, and 9.8% didn’t have an opinion.

Spanish call centers and butcher’s shops fund jihad

There is a network of at least 250 call centers, halal butcher’s shops and grocery stores in Spain funding jihadist operations in Syria and Iraq. To send donations to the Islamic State (ISIS) or the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, the network uses the ‘hawala’ informal money transfer system. The system avoids inspection by the authorities and moves the savings of over 150,000 Muslims, estimated at 300 million euros per year, Spanish daily El Pais quoted intelligence services as saying.
It is used by Syrian, Tunisian, Algerian and especially Pakistani immigrants. Investigators say that there are about 300 hawala terminals and clandestine ‘offices’ in Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, Bilbao, Santander, Valencia and Madrid used by the network to support the ‘jihadist cause’.

It is also the channel through which payments to jihadists of Spanish nationality get to Spain from camps in northern Syria. Intelligence services estimate that there are about 100 youth – mostly of Moroccan origins – that have joined ISIS, including about 15 that have been killed in suicide operations against the Syrian regime under Bashar Al-Assad.

It is also the channel through which payments to jihadists of Spanish nationality get to Spain from camps in northern Syria. Intelligence services estimate that there are about 100 youth – mostly of Moroccan origins – that have joined ISIS, including about 15 that have been killed in suicide operations against the Syrian regime under Bashar Al-Assad.

 

OP-ED: Freedom of the press and global jihad (J. Cesari)

At the offices of French satirical magaizne "Charlie Hebdo." (Photo: Reuters)
At the offices of French satirical magaizne “Charlie Hebdo.” (Photo: Reuters)

Since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo on 7 January, the saying (wrongly attributed to Voltaire), “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” has become a motto against radicalism. Unfortunately, this virtuous defense of freedom of speech is not only inefficient but is backfiring, as demonstrated by protests in Muslim countries against the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, which was released in the aftermath of the attacks.

The challenge of global jihad in Europe is broader and is the result of the lack of symbolic integration of Islam within liberal democracies, as well as the preeminence of a global theology of intolerance which Al Qaida and ISIS have used to build their political ideology.

See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/02/freedom-press-global-jihad/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=oupacademic&utm_campaign=oupblog#sthash.4vkcNJ4u.dpuf

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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Dutch universities host study to ask: Why would you become a jihad activist? [PDF DOWNLOAD]

coverdawaactivism-207x300Why would you become a jihad activist? Three reasons.

A group researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Amsterdam presented their study among radical Muslims and why they’re interested in extremist ideologies. Three conclusions can be drawn.

1. Democracy is hypocrisy: events and the way the USA and other western governments have responded after 9/11 have caused a lot of anger among (radical) Muslims. According to them, Muslim are not allowed to express their opinion, while they themselves and their religion are being insulted regularly in the name of ‘freedom of speech’, by for example Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirshi Ali, Geert Wilders and the Mohammed cartoon in Denmark. They also feel that Muslims have been treated very badly in the name of democracy, referring for instance to the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and drone attacks in Muslim countries.

2. Discrimination of Muslims: Muslims feel discriminated and get annoyed because of the ‘Islam debate’, (judgmental) questions about Islam and the ban on the burqa and the negative coverage of the topic in the media.

3. Together against the rest: they feel safe within their own network, where they won’t feel judged by their opinions and where the kafir outer world won’t distract them from their ‘pure’ interpretation of the Islam. They enunciate however also their message outside this network, for example online.

A copy of the report (in Dutch) is available for download here.

Two sets of British brothers travelled to Syria to fight with ISIS

Four members of the same family are suspected of having flown to Syria to fightalongside the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Two brothers aged 17 and 20, from
Camden in north London, are believed to have travelled with their cousins via Milan to Istanbul before they all crossed the border into Syria.

Their cousins, also brothers and are from Wednesbury in the Midlands, have been identified as Mejanul Islam, 22, and Kamran Islam, 19, and their parents told the Sunday Times that the young men had told them that they were going to London to visit their extended family.

The mother of the siblings said they claimed to have gone on holiday to Thailand and the family had no idea that they had plans to actually travel to Turkey to potentially cross the border into Syria. Community leader Dr Jamal Rifi, in western Sydney, said the family had no inkling that the boys were at risk of joining Isis.