Number of French jihadists in Syria and Iraq decreases

The number of French citizens traveling to join Islamic State in 2016 has dropped drastically from last year, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday, putting the fall down to military reverses suffered by the militant group.

Speaking to security agents at the ministry, Cazeneuve said there had been a “fourfold decrease” with just 18 French people recorded traveling to the area in the first six months of the year compared with 69 in the corresponding period in 2015.

The depletion, he said, was explained by the group’s recent losses on the ground but also by France’s “enhanced anti-terrorism efforts.”

According to interior ministry figures released on Tuesday, 689 French citizens are still in the region, including 275 women and 17 underage fighters.

More than 900 people have been identified as having either attempted to travel to the region or expressed a desire to go there, the ministry’s figures showed.

In Germany, dealing with potential Jihad fighters

After a conference the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced that radical Islamists should be hindered to travel to war zones in order to join Jihad. This should be achieved by substituting the original ID card with a document which does not allow for exit. Indirectly, the ministry is also addressing the issue of Jihad fighters returning from Iraq/Syria and becoming a potential threat for the German society in general. Rolf Jäger, chairperson of the Interior Minister’s Conference, emphasized on the double strategy of repression and prevention needed in order to stop radicalization. In relation to this Heiko Maaß, Federal Minister of Justice, suggested to tighten law regulations concerning two significant points: Firstly, people should be held accountable when funding terrorism and secondly, people should be held accountable for already leaving Germany in the attempt to pursue an act of violence as well as receive any training in this regard (there is no legal punishment for both within the given legal framework). Members of the Christian Democratic Union criticized this proposal as one not going far enough and thereby inadequate. The Union argued that the proposal should also include the mere promotion of a terrorist organization such as ISIS/ISIL. Meanwhile, the interior ministry of Bavaria has deported the Salafist Erhan A. to Turkey, after his endorsement of ISIS/ISIL, its ideological framework as well as the beheadings.

Retrial Begins for Woman Convicted of Terrorism Charges in the Netherlands

February 15, 2014

 

The case of Soumaya S – given a four year jail term in 2008 for terrorism, and about whose conviction there are now serious doubts – is now being heard in an Amsterdam court, according to the Telegraaf. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of her case in 2011, following claims that justice ministry officials withheld crucial telephone recordings from the defence. Soumaya S’s lawyer claims that the recordings show she was not involved in a plot against Dutch politician as a member of the Hofstadgroep.

 

Dutch News:  http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/02/first_dutch_female_terrorist_r.php#sthash.Zvj0wWVw.dpuf

Individuals Convicted, Fined for Ibn Ghaldoun School Exam Theft

February 14, 2014

 

The three individuals suspected of stealing tests from the Ibn Ghaldoun school in Rotterdam have been convicted for the theft and distribution of 27 exam papers. The sentence is one month in jail and 170 hours community service. Since all three spent time in custody during the investigation, they will not have to return to jail to complete the sentence. The three have also been told they are responsible for paying 86,000 euros to the education ministry to cover the cost of exam retakes.

Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/02/school_exam_thieves_now_face_b.php

Earlier euro-islam news summary of the issue: http://www.euro-islam.info/2013/06/20/national-final-exams-stolen-at-rotterdam-islamic-school/

Spanish army veteran led a jihadist cell in Morocco

January 25, 2014

 

Morocco has uncovered a jihadist cell led by a Spanish army veteran who later fought in Afghanistan with Al-Qaeda, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

The cell was active in the north of Morocco, where Spain retains two sovereign enclaves, and around Marrakesh in the south, the ministry said in statement carried by the MAP national news agency.

The ministry did not identify the alleged leader of the cell nor specify how many arrests had been made. It said the suspects would be brought to trial after the investigation had been completed.

Morocco has announced the dismantling of several alleged jihadist cells in recent months.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the network’s North Africa affiliate, released a video in September calling for jihad in Morocco, which it referred to as a “kingdom of corruption and despotism”.

 

Global Post: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140125/morocco-uncovers-new-jihadist-cell

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:

Bible College Helps Some at Louisiana Prison Find Peace

ANGOLA, La. — Like most of his fellow inmates, Daryl Walters, 45, can expect to spend the rest of his days in the infamous prison on a former slave plantation here. Yet there he was on a recent evening, preaching the Gospel to 200 men in a spired church in the heart of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, talking salvation and joy to murderers and rapists and robbers who waved their arms to an inmate band’s Christian worship music.

Mr. Walters is a graduate of one of the most unusual prison programs in the country: a Southern Baptist Bible college inside this sprawling facility, offering bachelor’s degrees in a rigorous four-year course that includes study of Greek and Hebrew as well as techniques for “sidewalk ministry” that inmates can practice in their dorms and meal lines.

There are 241 graduates so far, nearly all lifers who live and work among their peers. Dozens of graduates have even moved as missionaries to counsel or preach in other prisons.

Beyond the bachelor’s degrees, the college has granted hundreds more certificates or associate degrees, producing a cadre of men who lead churches, provide informal counseling in their dorms and take on what many describe as their hardest task — informing fellow inmates when a loved one on the outside has died.

The graduates include 15 Muslims, who took the same Bible-based courses but minister to the 250 Islamic inmates.

Some 2,500 inmates attend church regularly, according to Cathy Fontenot, assistant warden — mostly Protestant or Roman Catholic but also Muslim, Jewish and Mormon services. The prison population is 75 percent black, with a small number of Latinos.

The prison college has received growing outside attention. A similar collaboration with a Southern Baptist seminary has started in Texas, where inmates with sentences of at least 10 years are eligible. In-prison Bible colleges have also been started or are under discussion in California, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and other states.

The American Civil Liberties Union has watched for signs that the seminary or the prison has crossed constitutional lines by using state money or coercion to promote religion. In the past, the group has sued Angola to force the removal of a biblical citation at the entrance and to give a Muslim graduate of the seminary access to materials from the Nation of Islam, the American Muslim group that is more entrenched in northern prisons.

Still, the seminary appears to be legal because it is paid for privately, is voluntary and admits non-Christians, said Marjorie R. Esman, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. in Louisiana.

Update: Dutch Embassy in Yemen Remains Closed

14 August 2013

 

The Dutch embassy in Yemen will remain closed until further notice, according to a foreign affairs ministry spokesman. After closing due to terrorist threats, the embassy was thought to be reopening this week, however this has not happened. Embassy activities are being handled through ministry in The Hague.

Underage Girl Married in Islamic Ceremony in the Netherlands

May 14 2013

 

According to De Volkskrant, during a meeting on honor-related violence held by the social affairs ministry, police announced that they had supported an underage girl’s Islamic marriage. The Pakistani girl, who was in love with a Pakistani Hindu boy in her neighbourhood, was resisting a planned marriage to a cousin in Pakistan. Police brought her to a secret location, because her family threatened to kill her. The parents supported their daughter’s choice of partner on the grounds that the daughter would have an Islamic wedding. As a result, the couple married in an Islamic ceremony, though the girl was underage and in the Netherlands the performance of a religious marriage without a preceding civil marriage is an offence.

French Imams Visit Israel to Clear Image

On Islam – 11 November 2012

 

A group of French Muslim imams arrived in Israel on Sunday, November 11, on a controversial visit to dispel the perceptions that Muslims are harboring hatred against Jews. “Unfortunately French Muslims are seen as being anti-Semitic,” Hassan Shaljoumi, who heads a mosque in the Paris suburb of Drancy, told Maariv daily. Shaljoumi is a member of a 12-strong delegation of French imams, who arrived in Israel for talks with Israeli officials to show that Muslims are not anti-Semitic.

 

The delegation will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the visit. The visit, funded by the French foreign ministry, follows accusations to the Muslim community of harboring hatred against Jews.