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.

Halal supermarket ordered to sell pork and alcohol

A halal supermarket in a Paris suburb has been told by local authorities it must start selling alcohol and pork or else it will be shut down.

Good Price discount mini-market in Colombes has been told by the local housing authority, from which it rents its premises, that it has not followed the conditions on the lease that stipulate that the shop must act as a “general food store.”

The authority argues that all members of the local community are not being served properly if there are no alcohol or pork products in the Good Price store, which is run as a franchise and which last year replaced another small supermarket.

“The mayor of Colombes, Nicole Goueta, went there herself and asked the owner to diversify the range of products by adding alcohol and non-halal meats,” the mayor’s chief of staff, Jérôme Besnard, said.

He said locals, particularly older residents, had complained that they could no longer get the full range of products at Good Price, which replaced a regular supermarket, and had to travel some distance now to do their shopping.

“We want a social mix. We don’t want any area that is only Muslim or any area where there are no Muslims,” Mr Besnard said, adding that the town’s reaction would have been the same had a kosher shop opened on that spot.

The Colombes housing authority argues that the store breaches French republican principles by prioritising a certain group within society rather than catering to all categories.

It has taken legal action to bring an end to the lease which would normally run until 2019. The case goes to court in October.

Soulemane Yalcin, who runs the shop under franchise, said he was merely catering to the demands of his customers in this area of large public housing estates.

“It’s business,” said Mr Yalcin.

“I look around me and I target what I see. The lease states ‘general food store and related activities’ – but it all depends on how you interpret ‘related activities’,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.

He has hired a lawyer to fight the housing authority’s bid to get him evicted.

‘I am fed up with this evil’: How an American went from Ivy League student to disillusioned ISIS fighter

Washington Post:

In late October 2014, the FBI received an unusual email from a young man named Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya.

Bhuiya, then 25, had joined the Islamic State. Now the longtime Brooklyn resident was desperate and looking for a way out. He wanted the FBI to rescue him.

“I am an American who’s trying to get back home from Syria,” he wrote in his email, according to federal court documents unsealed last month. “I just want to get back home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration thereafter, and have everything back to normal with me and my family.”

He added: “I am fed up with this evil.”

The FBI was still verifying his identity when Bhuiya managed to escape about a week later. He returned to the United States, where he was promptly arrested and charged with providing material support and receiving military training from the Islamic State.

In a closed courtroom in Brooklyn, he pleaded guilty to both counts on Nov. 26, 2014, according to the court filings. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Bhuiya’s name is redacted in the documents, but several U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed his identity. His lawyer did not return a message, and efforts to reach his family were unsuccessful.

Prosecutors told the judge that redacting his name was “necessary to protect the integrity of the ongoing government investigations and the safety of the defendant and his family.” But NBC News in May ran an interview with Bhuiya, with cooperation from the Justice Department, in which he appeared under the name “Mo” with his face completely unobscured.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment.

Bhuiya was not your average wayward Islamic State recruit. Unlike many of the people the Justice Department has charged in connection with the terrorist group, Bhuiya appeared to have a bright future. He attended Columbia University before he fell under the sway of the Islamic State.

“A young man from an Ivy League school challenges the conventional wisdom of a typical American ISIS recruit,” said Seamus Hughes, the deputy director at the program on extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security and a former National Counterterrorism Center staffer.

Bhuiya went to high school in Brooklyn. He seemed to be a well-adjusted student who took a serious interest in Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, according to a 2008 essay he wrote for the school newspaper entitled “Sample College Essay: My Superhero.”

He praised President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who “fought a worldwide battle against the evil supervillain Adolf Hitler.”

In the essay, he said he wanted to major in psychology. He concluded: “I believe that I have greatness in me,” he wrote. “I want to be a superhero.”

According to a Columbia University spokesman, Bhuiya attended the School of General Studies. He was enrolled for one semester from January to May 2013 and did not earn a degree.

Bhuiya had come to the attention of the FBI before he traveled to Syria. According to court documents, investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York learned in June 2014 that the young man might be planning to travel to Syria.

When authorities interviewed Bhuiya at his home in Brooklyn, he told investigators that he was interested in events in Syria and supported “rebel groups.” But he claimed he lacked the money to travel to Syria and “did not know what he would do if he got there.”

Days later, he flew to Istanbul and then managed to enter Syria. He had little interest in fighting.

He implored Islamic State commanders not to “send me off to the front lines because I can be useful in other ways,” according to the NBC interview. “It seemed to me that it would, you know, save my skin.”

Bhuiya said he quickly became disillusioned and described the Islamic State as “dystopia.”

“You could see madness in their eyes,” he recalled. Bhuiya decided to flee. In the email to the FBI, he said he did not have a passport because the Islamic State had taken it. He asked if someone could pick him up at the border.

“Please help me get home,” he told the FBI.

According to court documents, Bhuiya managed to escape across the border into Turkey and make his way to a U.S. State Department outpost in Adana, which is in the southern part of the country.

He admitted that he had joined and worked for the Islamic State. He said he carried a weapon but had never been involved in fighting.

It is not clear where Bhuiya is being held as he awaits sentencing.

Court documents indicate that prosecutors, at Bhuiya’s request, had been exploring the possibility of going public with his story.

 

Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/i-am-fed-up-with-this-evil-how-an-american-went-from-ivy-league-student-to-disillusioned-isis-fighter/2016/06/29/155e777e-3e07-11e6-80bc-d06711fd2125_story.html

Dutch jihadis from Arnhem captured in Turkey

The Dutch Public Prosecutor announced that two men from the Dutch city of Arnhem presumably traveling to the battle zones of Syria of Iraq were captured in Turkey. The pair had gone missing for an extended period of time.

They belong to a group that is being surveilled on account of their supposed radicalization. Nothing was made known about their identity. In the interest of the investigation the Public Prosecutor has announced it will not elaborate on the exact place or circumstances of the arrest. From the city of Arnhem a considerable number of people have already set out for travel.

One of the arrested people is Abdelkarim el A. (29) also known as Muhajiri Shaam. He was assumed to have died in August in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He appeared in the media last year with a video message from Syria in which he called upon Muslims to carry out ‘a firm and strong act’ against the Dutch government if need be because it is supporting America.

His brother Youssef el A. had to appear in front of a judge recently in the Dutch city of Rotterdam because he was supposed to have transferred money to Abdelkarim. According to the Arnhem mayor Herman Kaiser the amount of jihadis traveling from his municipality has been stable over the past months.

Dutch filmmakers make documentary about IS victims

© Long Road Ahead
© Long Road Ahead

The young Dutch filmmaker Paul Voors (21) travelled together with three other young filmmakers to the North of Iraq to film victims of the Islamic State (IS). “Once you return home and try to sleep you finally realize what you have actually seen.”

The documentary “Long road ahead” by Felix Govers (20), Pauls Voors (21), Laurens van de Geer (20), and Stephan Valkenier (27) tells the story of four IS victims in Iraq. Poignant was especially the 15 years old Yezidi girl that was kidnapped, beaten, and raped by IS. “The girl wanted to commit suicide,” Voors tells. “She changed her mind when she heard men from the IS laugh about yezidis who did. She did not want to grant them the pleasure.”

Paul’s mother worked at the charity organization Dorcas and would travel frequently to Iraq. The stories he heard from his mother were so terrible that it motivated him to do something about the situation. The four filmmakers were guided in Northern Iraq by Dorcas. “It was safer to travel under their protection but we made the film independently.”

“One of the things I found most striking was to see how the yezidis live there,” Voors tells. “The environment stinks and their living spaces are demarcated by canvas.” A refugee had showed Voors a tape they brought with them when they ran. “It showed a wedding party of several months earlier. Everyone looked gorgeous. Now they were like drifters. The women looked much older and their gaze was exhausted and hopeless.”

The men hope their documentary will attract attention to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Voors: “The past couple of months the amount of Iraqis that are in need has risen to more then eight million people. I hope that people realize that we have much riches in the Netherlands. It doesn’t hurt to share some of that.”

Watch the trailer here:

https://vimeo.com/129705999

Minnesota’s Somali-Americans Urge New Treatment for Would-Be Terrorists

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ordered three young men accused of plotting to travel to Syriato fight for the Islamic State kept in detention while awaiting trial, at least for now. That decision came after the defense argued that entrusting the men immediately to their families and Somali-American leaders was the best way to insulate them from radical Islam.

But United States District Judge Michael J. Davis, in a shift from what other federal judges have done in similar cases involving young people accused of being Islamic State recruits, signaled a willingness to revisit his decision in the coming months.  “This is way too important for us to treat it as a regular criminal case,” Judge Davis said at the end of the third hearing. “It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.”

But some Muslim leaders here are trying to make a different case: that the best way to push young people away from militant Islamic groups is to keep them engaged with their community, with responsible clerics and their relatives.  Such an approach, they say, would be a humane counterpoint to the terrorist narrative that the American justice system is anti-Muslim and strictly punitive.

Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)
Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)

4 Muslims Seek Damages for Time on Government No-Fly List

NEW YORK — Four Muslim men who have accused FBI agents of putting them on a no-fly list because they refused to become informants want to pursue damages against the agents even though the travel ban has been lifted, the men’s lawyers told a federal judge Friday.
Plaintiff lawyer Robert Shwartz told U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams that “various FBI agents punished (the men) and put them on because they refused to become informants at their mosques.” As a result, they were unable to travel to see loved ones, lost job opportunities and suffered the “stigma of being treated as threats to aviation security,” he said.

Everyone knew about Omar H. possible flight

Jihadi Omar H. was sentenced for a year, with four months probation. After these four months he was able to leave the Netherlands, despite that the authorities were aware of his situation. And the information about his possible flight from the country was shared with all these authorities. Beside this, his passport was revoked and he was cut off from his financial resources. But in the Schengen-area and Turkey one is able to travel with a identity-card. Ivo Opstelten, minister Security and Justice however is working on the prohibition of this too.

Tens of children involved in jihad-travel

There is a relatively high amount of children involved in ‘jihad-travel’, according to data from the National Coordinator counter-Terrorism and Safety (NCTV). 25 from a total of 33 children were supposed to leave together with their family, 8 out of 33 where planning to leave individually.

The last two years, around 160 people have left the Netherlands. 18 of them have died. Around 100, among them around 30 women, are still in Syria or Iraq. 30 have already returned to the Netherlands.

The level of threat is still ‘substantial’, which means that the chance of terrorist attack is considered likely.

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