Do Muslims Need to Defend Their Faith Against Extremists?

From The New York Times: “The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and the spread of extremism among disaffected Muslim youths around the world have led even some liberal people to condemn Islam itself as violent and intolerant.

As militants seem to be hijacking the name of Islam, how should Muslims respond to the threat of extremism?”

A group of seven Muslim activists and intellectuals debate this question for The New York Times.

Washington: Arrested Man Is Accused of Seeking to Join Militants in Syria

March 18, 2014

 

A California man who prosecutors said was on his way to Syria to join a Qaeda group was arrested on Monday near the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., on a terrorism charge, federal officials said. The Department of Justice said in a statement that the man, Nicholas Teausant, 20, an American-born convert to Islam, had planned to cross into Canada and travel to Syria to join Islamist militants. A student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., he was also a private in the United States Army National Guard but was in the process of being released as of December, according to the complaint.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/us/politics/washington-arrested-man-is-accused-of-seeking-to-join-militants-in-syria.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%231&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry19%23%2FIslam%2F7days%2Fallresults%2F2%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

Suspected militant returning from war in Syria arrested in Spain

January 5, 2014

 

An Islamist activist returning to Europe from Syria was arrested on Sunday at Malaga airport in southern Spain as a potential “threat to national security”, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The suspect, Abdeluahid Sadik Mohamed, belongs to the al Qaeda-linked group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the statement said.

A spokesman for the Ministry confirmed Sadik Mohamed is a Spanish national born in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave on Morocco’s north coast.

He had spent months alongside Islamic militants fighting in Syria and in Iraq since last May, arriving to the region from Casablanca, Morocco. He was arrested at Malaga airport on a flight from Istanbul, Turkey, the statement said.

Spanish terrorism experts have repeatedly said that authorities are closely tracking the movements of Islamic militants who have fought in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan when they come to Europe for the threat they pose as potential “lone wolves” or in group terrorist actions.

Sadik Mohamed was allegedly involved in terrorist training camps in Syria and Iraq, the statement said. The Interior Ministry did not immediately reveal his age.

He was a suspect in a partially dismantled Spanish and Moroccan network of Islamic militants that recruited, indoctrinated, trained and financed militants to be sent to the battlefronts in Syria.

The network was based in Ceuta and and in the nearby Moroccan city of Fnideq.

 

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/05/world/europe/spain-terror-arrest/

Dutch Couple Return from Yemen Kidnapping

December 11, 2013

 

A Dutch couple kidnapped in Yemen in June have been released, according to the foreign affairs ministry. Journalist Judith Spiegel and Boudewijn Berendsen were taken from their house in Sana’a.  The couple returned to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Spiegel denied speculation that the captors were affiliated with Al Qaeda, saying “…I know there were many rumours that we were in the hands of Al-Qaeda, but I’m not so sure about that.” No information is known regarding their abductors, nor if a ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

AFP reports that hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesman and nearly all of them later freed unharmed. Yemen’s powerful tribes often kidnap foreigners to use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. Al-Qaeda militants have also seized foreigners in the country.

 

Dutch News:

“Islam Must Stop:” Forza Nuova Organizes a Protest against a Mosque

It is a black October in Ravenna. Forza Nuova’s local militants are now promoting a protest in front of a new Mosque on the afternoon of Saturday, October 26. “Lepanto taught us, Islam must stop,” it’s that black and white. The first blitz against the Muslim community was carried out on October 10, a day marked in history by the neo-fascist Romagna group. It was carried out three days after the historic battle of 7 October 1571, which saw the defeat of the Ottoman fleet by the Holy League of Pope Pius V. Now the intention is to proceed with a second protest rally in front of the second largest mosque in Italy, assuming that the police grant the gathering.

Two days before the commemoration of the March on Rome, Ravenna Forza Nuova is keen to “declare their total opposition.” The group’s Facebook page states “we are always firmly against both the Islamic invasion and against the establishment of Islamic cultural centers and mosques; places of worship. Aggregation and integration of Catholicism is only a facade. The dialogue between Christians and Muslims will never exist, there can be no constructive dialogue with a religion based on hatred. Islam is a scourge of which we can and must respond and fight with our Roman and Christian roots.” It is clear that dialogue with the followers of Allah, fascists think like the chaplain Giulio Maria Tam, who every year harangue for those nostalgic days led by Duce Mussolini.

For now, the members of the garrison of 26 October number little more than fifty, but the event was created announced a few days ago. Desideria Raggi, provincial manager of Forza Nuova, ensures that many people will take part, “if state institutions filibuster my first request then we will be forced to move the garrison to another day. In that case the state will unleash anger from members and sympathizers of the movement, as happened in June with the procession in Rimini against the ius soli.”

The militants of Forza Nouva defaced a banner on October 10. When the defaced banner was discovered by Basel Ahmed, an Iraqi architect and the president of the center of culture and Islamic Studies in Romagna he was limited to stigmatize the act as “rude.” A balanced reaction, whose act was condemned by the council of Ravenna.

“The mosque was inaugurated in the presence of the prefect and all the heads of law enforcement” says the mayor of the Democratic Party Fabrizio Matteucci “because everyone has a right to pray to the god they believe. After the raid on October 10, I heard that someone is thinking of organizing a counter-demonstration, but my invitation is to ignore and isolate the initiative of Forza Nuova. The police will maintain order. The same Basel Ahmed has said he wants to completely trust the authorities; this is an example of great seriousness on the part of the Muslim community of Ravenna. Now we have to wait for a decision to be made on whether the demonstration will be allowed.

Il Fatto Emilia Romagna: http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2013/10/15/ravenna-forza-nuova-organizza-manifestazione-contro-moschea-islam-va-fermato/744925/

Concerns over online Qur’an teaching as ex-Pakistan militants instruct pupils

With his track record as a member of the political arm of a banned terrorist organisation, Mian Shahzib is unlikely to ever be given a visa to enter Britain. But that does not stop the jovial 33-year-old from giving British children religious instruction every day from the comfort of his home in Pakistan. He spends hours each night sitting under a fluorescent light in the courtyard of a small mosque in Lahore, peering into a laptop as children first from the Middle East, then Europe and North America spend half an hour after school talking to him over a faltering Skype line. The fact that a hardcore Islamist and long-term follower of the UN-proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has daily access to children in the west is likely to fuel concerns about religious radicals spreading their message. The organisation is on the UN’s list of sanctioned organisations because of its alleged association with al-Qaida and is considered a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

 

Shahzib’s website, Easy Qur’an Memorising, makes no mention of his history and is one of hundreds of such online companies, some of which advertise on satellite channels broadcasting to the Pakistani diaspora. They are part of a little-known outsourcing boom fuelled by parents of Pakistani origin turning to Qur’an teachers in Pakistan.

The Guardian was told of other online tutors with radical backgrounds or who are members of extreme or sectarian organisations, but it is impossible to know how widespread the phenomenon is in a completely unregulated industry.

 

Sultan Chaudri, the owner of Faiz-e-Quran, said his company is at pains to scrutinise all 13 teachers who work for him to ensure radicals are not employed. “All the problems we are seeing in Pakistan and Afghanistan is because these young children get sent to madrasas where no one knows what sort of education they are getting or what kind of indoctrination is taking place.” Outsourced Qur’an teaching started about six years ago and there are now a handful of big players. Although there are no reliable figures on how many children around the world are being taught by Pakistan-based teachers everyone seems to think it is growing fast.

French Islamist captured ‘after fighting’ in Mali

A French Islamic convert who threatened his home country has been captured in northern Mali, allegedly after fighting on the militants’ side.

French troops captured Gilles Le Guen, who now goes by the name Abdel Jelil, on Sunday night north of Timbuktu, the army said.

Mr Le Guen, 58, is believed to have been living in Timbuktu.

France’s Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said he appeared to have fought alongside Islamist militants.

Islamic militants Richard Dart and Imran Mahmood Trial

Richard Dart and Imran Mahmood believed they were outwitting surveillance officers when they held a “silent conversation” on a laptop. As they plotted terror attacks and discussed how to make explosives, they had no idea they were leaving a technological footprint that would eventually build into key evidence against them. Over many months, police and experts pieced together 2,000 pages of computer codes, painstakingly translating them back into language “character by character” and piecing them together to make the conversation. In the words of one of the Counter Terrorism detectives involved the practice could be likened to the two terrorists writing on a notepad before ripping out the pages and destroying the paper. However, forensic analysis was able to find the imprint left behind and piece together the shredded. When ordered to stand, Richard Dart refused saying ‘I don’t wish to stand up because I believe ruling and judgement is only for Allah’. Richard Dart, the middle class boy from Dorset who turned into an Islamic extremist, remained defiant to the bitter end as a judge gave him an extended jail sentence for being a dangerous terrorist today. Richard Dart’s extremist beliefs were laid bare in a television documentary made by his step-brother. The film, called My Brother the Islamist, was broadcast on BBC Three in 2011 and featured Dart having close contact with hate preacher Anjem Choudary and declaring that he backed sharia law to eradicate evil in UK society. Bearded Dart, who had only been a Muslim for six months at that point, said: “I support the cause of jihad, that’s part of being a Muslim.”

CAIR Welcomes AP Stylebook Revision of ‘Islamist’

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/5/13) — The nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today said the decision by The Associated Press (AP) to revise its Stylebook reference to the term “Islamist” is a “step in the right direction.”

Late last year, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) approached AP about modifying the reference, which had been added to its influential Stylebook. That entry read: “Islamist — Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.”

CAIR suggested that AP change its Stylebook to incorporate language similar to that used in the reference to “fundamentalist,” which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.

Earlier this year, CAIR urged media outlets to drop the term because, “Unfortunately, the term ‘Islamist’ has become shorthand for ‘Muslims we don’t like.’ It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term ‘extremist,’ giving it an even more negative slant.”

In an update emailed yesterday to online Stylebook subscribers, AP modified the “Islamist” reference to read:

“An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.”

Frank Gardner’s return to Saudi Arabia

BBC Correspondent Frank Gardner, critically injured in a militant attack there nine years ago, returned to Saudi Arabia on his first trip back since the incident. The murderous insurgency that took so many lives here in the mid-2000s, including that of my cameraman Simon Cumbers, has been largely defeated, its militants killed, arrested or driven over the border into the desert wildernesses of Yemen. The article describes the experiences of Mr Gardner and the people he meets on his trip through Saudi Arabia.