Al-Qaeda: France is “Number one enemy” according to Islamist group leader

Following the wave of attacks in France at the beginning of 2015, it seems the worst should be expected. Recently, an online message clip was published by the media branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on YouTube. Ibrahim al-Rubaish, one of the group’s leaders, indicated that France is his “number one enemy.”

With the “weakening” of the United States in the last several years, “France has replaced America in its war against Islam,” declared the group’s leader. Washington considers the branch directed by Ibrahim al-Rubaish to be the most active and dangerous branch of Al-Qaeda. It claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which resulted in the loss of 12 lives. Several days ago the leader called to “avenge” the Prophet Muhammad. Ibrahim al-Rubaish called for attacks against the “infidels” in the West, France in particular, and to attack “without consultation” those who mock the Prophet Muhammad.

French anti-jihad video reaches nearly one million views

Launched at the end of January, the online government clip, which is meant to counter jihadist propaganda on social media, has received nearly 1 million views on YouTube and Dailymotion. According to The Parisien, including Twitter and Facebook, the video has garnered more than 1.9 million views. This is a success for the campaign, which uses the hashtag #Stopdjihadisme.

“The idea is to provide a counter-discourse that corrects sectarianism and provides correct information,” explained Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve. Almost 80 French jihadists have been killed during terrorist operations in Syria and Iraq, and close to 1,400 have been identified as having links to these networks.

Spanish speaking jihadist fighter of ISIS vowed to retake Spain

July 2, 2014

Syria-based Jihadists have vowed to retake Spain – “the land of our ancestors” – in a video shot in Castilian Spanish that emerged on YouTube from a Syrian pro-government account.

“We are in the Holy Land [Syria], the land of Islam and I tell and warn everyone: we are living under the Islamic flag and we will die for it until we open those locked lands from Jakarta to Andalusia. And I say: Spain is the land of our ancestors and we will open it with the power of Allah”.

In Washington, Muslims gather to get ‘Happy’ for the camera

April 22, 2014

 

A young man drummed on a bucket as a portable speaker played the uber-upbeat song “Happy,” Pharrell Williams’s anthem to joy and to the pure communal value of boogying in the street that has engendered countless copycat videos across the globe.

Because I’m happy — Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth . . .

Malik, 39, and Salma skipped through a gantlet of applause and cheering.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you . . .

Jamal, wearing a thobe, and Kareem, in jeans, performed a high-stepping routine of their own. Behind them and in front of them, husbands and wives, parents and children, and total strangers bounced and shimmied and twirled as curious passersby stopped to watch and the camera rolled.

They were brought together by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which advocates for U.S. Muslims, and which last week announced a plan to help steer susceptible members of their communities away from radical Islamist ideology, and Make Space, a Washington-area organization for Muslim professionals and youth.

The video comes on the heels of a version depicting British Muslims that has garnered 1.2 million YouTube views. Like that one, this will show Muslims old and young, male and female, wearing headscarves or letting their hair flow freely — all embracing the concept of happiness.

“It sort of happened in a grass-roots sense — a couple of days ago I posted on Facebook and we put the word out yesterday,” Hasan Shah, Make Space’s board chairman, said Tuesday. “It was something that everyone wanted to do, because it could be done within the boundaries of our religion. It’s not provocative, it’s not risque in any sense.” After all, he said, happiness “is neither Eastern nor Western, it’s universal.”

Still, the British version, called “Happy British Muslims” has been controversial in some circles, underlining the challenges Muslims can face when trying to create art in a Western context.

While many Muslims were elated by the video and wanted to copy it immediately, some said it violated Islam’s law or at least its spirit of modesty, particularly with women dancing and singing in public. Others felt it was humiliating and unnecessary to prove that members of the planet’s second-largest religion are, in fact, happy.

But the 50 or so Muslims who gathered at McPherson Square were hardly encumbered by these concerns — though the organizers did remind them to limit their gyrations to the upper half of the body.

The song’s contagious popularity seemed like a perfect vehicle for that, said Haris Tarin, the D.C. director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Since this song has gone viral, we thought, why not take advantage of it? It may be a little wacky, a little out of the ordinary . . . but it gives that idea of the American Muslims in the public square.”

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-washington-muslims-gather-to-get-happy-for-the-camera/2014/04/22/c2dd9108-ca34-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html

Katy Perry accused of ‘portraying blasphemy’ with Dark Horse video

February 28, 2014

 

An online petition demanding Katy Perry’s Dark Horse video be taken off YouTube has attracted about 65,000 signatures. According to the petitioners at Change.org, the video is guilty of “portraying blasphemy”, because of the video’s use of a pendant reportedly inscribed with the word Allah.

Katy Perry’s Dark Horse clip, which premiered on 20 February, has already attracted more than 30 million views. A phantasmagorical riff on Egyptian mythology, it features Perry as a magical queen who transforms suitors into sand. One of these suitors, a man wearing an “Allah” pendant is struck by lightning and disintegrates into sand.

“At 01:15 into the video … a man is shown being burned whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word ‘Allah’, which is the Arabic word for God,” wrote the man who launched the petition, Shazad Iqbal, from Bradford. “Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an [opponent] of [Allah]) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames. People from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world [will agree], using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion.”

“The fact that Islam didn’t even exist in ancient Egypt is what really confuses me, Why [did] they [feel] the need to have anything to do with Islam in this video?” added a signatory from High Wycombe.

While the music video has not been pulled in its entirety, the pendant has been cut so that only a plain gold chain can now be seen. It remains unclear whether YouTube edited the video or was told to by the singer’s record company as both parties have yet to comment.

Dark Horse is currently at number six on the UK singles chart and more than 37 million people have viewed the video on YouTube since it was uploaded on 20 February.

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/katy-perry-causes-offence-by-burning-allah-pendant-in-dark-horse-music-video-9153998.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/katy-perry-takes-break-from-offending-muslims-to-deliver-friends-baby-its-been-a-miracle-day-9157332.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/katy-perry-dark-horse-music-video-edited-after-causing-muslims-offence-9159660.html

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/feb/26/katy-perry-petition-islam-blasphemy-allah-dark-horse-video

Federal Court Orders YouTube to Take Down Controversial Anti-Islam Video

February 28, 2014

 

A federal appeals court ordered YouTube to take down a controversial anti-Islam video in an unusual copyright decision that Google, which owns YouTube, said raised questions about freedom of speech.

The video, “Innocence of Muslims,” was briefly blamed in 2012 for inciting violence across the Middle East that killed four American diplomatic personnel in Libya and was the topic of a debate over free speech at the time.

Many countries, including the United States, asked YouTube to consider taking down the video. YouTube refused because it said the video did not violate its guidelines governing hate speech, though it put the video behind a warning page. (It temporarily restricted access to the video in Egypt and Libya, which it called an extraordinary measure. It also restricted access in countries where the video is illegal, including Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia, in response to court orders.)

But the latest court order is about an entirely different legal issue: copyright.

The case was brought by an actress in the film, Cindy Lee Garcia, who had a minor role for which she was paid $500. The California Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, overturning an earlier federal court decision, ordered YouTube to remove the video because it said that Ms. Garcia had a copyright claim to the work and that the infringement of the copyright had led to death threats against Ms. Garcia by critics of the film.

Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the majority opinion that the filmmaker had lied to Ms. Garcia about the movie, which turned out to be very different from the one in which she agreed to perform. He also said her performance could be copyrighted.

NY Times: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/federal-court-orders-youtube-to-take-down-controversial-anti-islam-video/?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%234&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F5%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

Islamic converts threatened to ‘kill non-believers’ in vigilante patrol

November 11, 2013

 

Two Islamic converts threatened to stab members of the public and “kill non-believers” as they roamed the streets of east London in the early hours of the morning. Ricardo McFarlane, 36, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons joined a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” attempting to impose Sharia Law. Alongside a ginger-haired white convert called Jordan Horner, 19, the pair confiscated alcohol and berated non-Muslims for their alleged anti-Islamic behaviour as well as uploading YouTube videos criticising inappropriate dress.

Last month Horner, who wants to bring Sharia law to Britain, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and two charges of using threatening words and behaviour.

Today the prosecution accepted pleas from MacFarlane to affray and the 23 year-old to using threatening words and behaviour. Both men refused to stand in the dock as they pleaded guilty.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10

‘Muslim Patrol’ vigilante pleads guilty to assault and threats

October 18, 2013

 

A Muslim convert who was part of an east London gang of self-styled vigilantes calling themselves the “Muslim Patrol” pleaded guilty in court on Friday to assaulting two people in the street. Jordan Horner, 19, admitted two charges of assault and using threatening words and behaviour in January this year.

The group threatened to kill non-believers and “shank” them, meaning stab them. They also uploaded videos to YouTube criticising non-Muslims for being inappropriately dressed. Horner and his group allegedly said: “Why are you poisoning your body? It is against Islam. This is Muslim Patrol. Kill the non-believers.” One then told another to “go get the shank” in reference to a knife, but as the group of men started walking away Horner threw punches at two of them, hitting one in the jaw.

The actions of the “Muslim Patrol” were condemned by the East London mosque, which described them as “utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord”.

During that incident, he pushed one photographer outside the Walthamstow house of the radical preacher Anjem Choudary two days after Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich on 22 May. He also threatened to cut off the head of another photographer, before causing £3,000 of damage to her car.

He will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

 

The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/18/muslim-patrol-vigilante-guilty-assault

American Jihadist Is Believed to Have Been Killed by His Former Allies in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya — A young man from Alabama who traveled to Somalia and became an infamous Islamist militant, commanding guerrilla forces and earning a $5 million American bounty on his head, was believed to have been killed by his former extremist allies on Thursday, according to news reports and Islamist Web sites.

The jihadist, Omar Hammami, known for his rap-infused propaganda videos for the Shabab, a brutal Islamist group in Somalia, was reported killed in an ambush on Thursday morning. If true, his death would bring to a close one of the more unusual chapters in more than two decades of fighting in the Horn of Africa.

 

But Mr. Hammami, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, “the American,” has been declared dead before, only to resurface alive.

There is little question that Mr. Hammami has been on the run from his former comrades. His recent troubles brought to the surface rifts within militant circles in Somalia, particularly between foreign fighters and Somalis. In a Twitter message in April, Mr. Hammami said the group’s leader had “gone mad” and was “starting a civil war.”

J. M. Berger, the editor of the Web site Intelwire.com and author of the book “Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam,” said that it appeared this time that Mr. Hammami had indeed been killed.

Mr. Berger, who has been monitoring hundreds of Shabab-related social media accounts for over a year, cited a death notice on a Jihadi Web site that had supported the American militant and posted interviews with him in the past.

 

The son of a Southern Baptist mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Mr. Hammami was raised in Daphne, Ala., where he was a gifted student and high school class president. He later embraced the ultraconservative form of Islam known as Salafism before ultimately moving to Somalia in 2006 to fight for the Shabab.

 

The charismatic American fighter was a propaganda coup for the Somali militants. He worked on recruitment and handled financial affairs for the group. But Mr. Hammami was more than just a YouTube sensation and back-office militant. He is believed to have personally commanded forces in the field and organized guerrilla attacks.

 

He did not consider his native land off limits. “It’s quite obvious that I believe America is a target,” he wrote in an e-mail to The New York Times in 2010.

 

Growing up in Daphne, a city of 23,000 on Mobile Bay, Mr. Hammami loved Kurt Cobain and Nintendo and dabbled in drugs. But he also attended Bible camp. His decision to join a violent group responsible for beheadings and forced amputations was especially bewildering to family and friends.

 

The State Department’s Arabic outreach team spoofed an al-Qaeda video

In the war for Middle Eastern hearts and minds, the U.S. Digital Outreach Team is on the virtual front lines: debating America’s critics on Twitter, commenting on Arabic message boards and generally engaging with anyone they can reach. But that outreach appears to have crossed a new line: spoofing al-Qaeda propaganda videos on an official State Department YouTube channel.

The Digital Outreach Team is fairly transparent about its activities — as evidenced by that closing credit. According to an Associated Press article from April, a month before the Zawahiri spoof went online, the team consists of roughly 50 native Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu speakers. It’s grown considerably since January 2009, when a State Department bulletin listed only 10 team members; it’s been around, per the bulletin, since November 2006.

The team runs Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, and it tangles with commenters on popular Arab news and discussion sites, always identifying themselves as State Department employees and using their real names. In 2012, they had 7,000 online engagements, reports the AP, up from 2,000 in 2009. The idea is to “explain U.S. foreign policy and to counter misinformation” through the power of Diplomacy 2.0, says the State Department bulletin.

The program’s success is difficult to gauge. A 2012 study of the program, published in The Middle East Journal, concluded that engagement did little to change the tone of anti-American conversations. In a sample of several hundred forum posts, users were more likely to ridicule or refute the Outreach Team than engage with it. Only 4 percent of posts expressed positive views of the team, and a sliver more — 4.8 percent — expressed positive views toward U.S. foreign policy.