Archive for category Islamic state
Mar 21st 2015
The war against Islamic State
Though Islamic State is still spreading terror, its weaknesses are becoming apparent
WHEN the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) seized Mosul and the Iraqi army fled last June, they became the world’s most dangerous terrorist organisation. Sweeping out of Syria and north-western Iraq, they stormed southward, and came close to taking Baghdad. They murdered male prisoners in gory videos and enslaved female ones. Groups from Nigeria to Libya and Afghanistan pledged allegiance to them. Devotees attacked innocent civilians in Western cities; this week at least 19 people were killed in an assault on tourists in Tunisia (though the culprits are unknown). The IS threat has pushed together unlikely allies: in Iraq America provides the air power while Iran musters the ground forces.
As our briefing explains (see article), IS differs from jihadist groups that have gone before, including its parent, al-Qaeda. It is uniquely brutal in its treatment of foes and uniquely competent as a propagandist. But what most sets it apart is its claim to have restored the Islamic caliphate. The revival of a single state to rule over all Muslims, dating to Islam’s earliest days and abolished in 1924 by modern Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman empire, was meant to eradicate decades of supposed humiliation by outsiders and Arab rulers who presided over the decline of flourishing Arab societies. Read the rest of this entry »
Malaysia’s focus on stopping would-be fighters masks growing domestic support for Islamic extremists
By Bridget Welsh and Zachary Abuza
The Edge Review | 6 March 2015
When local papers reported last month that a 14-year old Malaysian girl had been stopped from heading to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State (IS) movement, the headlines quickly faded into the background.
Her thwarted departure was marked as another “success”, but there was little discussion of the factors shaping the IS movement within Malaysia. Are there domestic factors that contribute? Let’s take stock of what we know so far.
While Malaysia – in common with other Southeast Asian countries – does not rank among the top 20 countries involved in the fighting, its presence is large enough not to be dismissed.
So far 71 people have been detained in Malaysia for their alleged participation in IS, with 59 recorded as fighting. Six Malaysians have died, including its first suicide bomber. There have been enough volunteers from Malaysia and Indonesia that a Malay-speaking unit was formed. Two Malaysians were also identified in a grisly beheading video.
Read the rest of this entry »
Why is the Police fighting a losing war with Islamic State – has IS developed a local leadership structure in Malaysia with dedicated recruiters scouting for new recruits for the terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq?
Yesterday, the Police announced that “A civil servant said to be one of the most senior Islamic State (IS) members in Malaysia and a 29-year-old housewife who recruited a 14-year-old girl into the militant movement are among three people detained by Bukit Aman”.
The 39-year-old civil servant was arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division in Kuala Lumpur on Monday while the housewife was picked up in Muar on Saturday.
The third suspect – a 22-year-old trader – was also arrested in Perak on Monday.
The civil servant, described by the police as “a senior IS member with direct links to Malaysians in Syria”, is believed to have used his position to recruit members to ensure the local militant network ran smoothly.
This is most shocking news. How “senior” is the civil servant who was arrested, and who are the more “senior” IS leaders in Malaysia?
Malaysia are entitled to ask: Why is the Police fighting a losing war with Islamic State – has IS developed a local leadership structure in Malaysia with dedicated recruiters scouting for new recruits for the terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq? Read the rest of this entry »
The IGP should be non-partisan professional top policeman to uphold law without fear or favour and not to act like the Security Chief of Prime Minister to harass and persecute dissent
I commend the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar for his composure and being unfazed by a video of three men threatening to blow up his car with him inside it, which is expected of all holders of public office and trust when confronted with extremist threats to cow them from carrying out their public duties.
Khalid sets a good example in declaring that he is not intimidated by the death threat against him, his denunciation of the group known as “Anak Malaysia Anti Demokrasi” as irresponsible for not respecting parliamentary democracy and not knowing the real meaning of democracy.
All Malaysians will support the firmest actions taken by the authorities to punish severely those involved in IS-type videos to threaten violent acts, including murder the current IGP, as Malaysians must not allow such deplorable culture to take root in the country.
On Feb. 15, a video was uploaded under a You Tube account named ISIS Malaysia 69 which featured four masked men threatening to light up fireworks in courts across the country, which was followed by another one, featuring a group of three individuals that called themselves Anak Muda Anti-Democracy (AMAD) on Tuesday which threatened to kill Khalid, by blowing up his car with him inside it.
The last thing Malaysia needs is the introduction of IS-type of barbarities and atrocities on our shores.
A day before the IS-type video death threat to Khalid, I had issued a statement criticizing the IGP for a wrong sense of priorities, setting up the world’s first police special unit on sedition for him to twitter instructions to harass Pakatan Rakyat leaders and NGO activists while overlooking the bigger national threat of Islamic State extending its tentacles to vulnerable young Malaysians including 14-year-old boys and girls. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ora Szekely
February 20, 2015
Over the last year, Islamic State has presented the rest of the world with a steady stream of atrocities: An attempted genocide against the Yazidi people in Iraq, massacres and bombings of Shi’ite civilians in Syria, and gruesome executions of journalists and aid workers. Last week the militant group murdered — via mass beheading – 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians in Libya. But despite the bravado of Islamic State’s public statements, the Islamist militant group increasingly appears to have painted itself into a strategic corner.
Islamic State’s expansion so far has been based heavily on extortion and theft. Using revenue from the oil wells it captured in eastern Syria in June 2014, along with money raised by looting in Mosul, supplemented by funding from ransoms paid by governments for its hostages, Islamic State was able to hire lots of fighters very quickly by paying top salaries. But revenues from the oil wells have dropped (due both to U.S. bombing and falling global oil prices), and with the tragic death of American aid worker Kayla Mueller earlier this month, Islamic State has executed what is likely its last foreign hostage, potentially eliminating a key source of its funding.
The result may be that Islamic State has reached an important crossroads. The strategy that it has relied on so far to fuel its expansion is becoming increasingly untenable. If Islamic State is going to hold on to its recent gains, it has some policy changes to make. Read the rest of this entry »
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
By Graeme Wood
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing. Read the rest of this entry »
Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi
21 February 2015
US air strikes have damaged morale in Raqqa, Syria, but a local anti-Isis activist says no one is expecting the group to be driven out
When Isis took over Raqqa, a wave of black swept over the city. The group’s dark flags were raised where its members lived or worked, women were required to shroud themselves in black, and black paint was daubed on buildings and in public spaces.
When US air strikes started, though, activists warned families not to dry dark clothes outside or on their roofs, in case they were mistaken for Isis flags. Perhaps Isis was worried, too, as it has started repainting everything. One central square, where crucifixion and other gruesome punishments are carried out in public, has been decked out in candy colours – pink, green and white. Another is golden.
Apparently, the pressures of publicity and the mundane and expensive business of ruling a city have pushed even Isis to make some compromises.
Last summer, crimes like smoking or failing to shutter a shop during prayer time would have earned transgressors several dozen lashes, but some religious police have started to accept fines in place of punishment from those who can afford it. There are even reports that they have been forcing traders to stay open through prayers, so that they can collect more money from them – around 1,500 Syrian pounds (around £5) each time.
It is not just money that they are short of. They lack blood for fighters injured in air strikes or on the frontline. People don’t want to donate, so they compel them. Anyone with business at the Islamic court is told first to go to a certain hospital, donate a pint of blood, then return with the receipt. Only then will the case be processed.
You can’t pay your way out of that donation, even if you do have money, which not everyone does. They have shut down many companies, including legal firms, for instance. Isis doesn’t believe in the old legal system, claiming that it tries to replace Allah’s law with the law of men. Read the rest of this entry »
21 February 2015
Unlike the slow and careful rise of al-Qaida, Isis is extending its global reach far and fast – sometimes to groups with very different beliefs
Marched on to a Libyan beach in now gruesomely familiar orange jumpsuits, the last moments of 21 Coptic Christians carried the vicious jolt of previous Isis snuff videos, but with an added charge of fear.
The setting, in Libya, suggested that the group was spreading further and faster than even their dramatic early advances seem possible, and it came after vows of allegiance to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by militants from Afghanistan to Yemen.
“With affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the group is beginning to assemble a growing international footprint,” Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, warned the US House of Representatives this month.
The beheading of a tourist in Algeria, a meticulously videoed attack on an Egyptian army base, including the casual murder of surviving soldiers, a suicide bombing in Tripoli’s smartest hotel – all were recently masterminded by militants publicly loyal to a group whose name once defined its geography: “Islamic state in Iraq and Syria”.
Affiliates are adopting their slick media production along with bloody tactics, amplifying the influence of the violence. The murder of the Egyptian Christians has already drawn bombing raids on Libya by Egyptian jets, which may suit some Isis commanders keen to draw enemies into an expensive and draining war.
There are echoes of al-Qaida’s global expansion, even as its leader shrank into hiding, through loyal but virtually autonomous units in Yemen, north and east Africa, and other areas. But al-Qaida expanded slowly and carefully, vetting would-be allies that wanted to use its terrifying brand in their own battles.
Isis by contrast has already welcomed several would-be supporters under what seems to be a looser umbrella, among them Afghan fighters whom analysts say have significant theological differences with the group. Read the rest of this entry »
By ROD NORDLAND and RANYA KADRI
New York Times
Feb. 3, 2015
AMMAN, Jordan — When relatives learned Tuesday night that the Islamic State had released a video showing the death of a Jordanian fighter pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, they tried to keep it from his mother, Issaf, and his wife, Anwar. They switched off the television and tried to wrest a smartphone out of his wife’s hand, but she had already seen a mobile news bulletin.
Anwar ran crying into the street, calling her husband’s name and saying, “Please, God, let it not be true.” Issaf fell to the floor screaming, pulled her head scarf off and started tearing at her hair.
That was even before they knew how he had been killed. No one dared let them know right away that Lieutenant Kasasbeh’s tormentors had apparently burned him alive inside a cage, a killing that was soon described as the most brutal in the group’s bloody history.
Jordan responded rapidly, executing Sajida al-Rishawi, who was convicted after attempting a suicide bombing, and Ziad al-Karbouli, a top lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq, before dawn on Wednesday, according to the official news agency Petra. Read the rest of this entry »
Can Islam support a secular, democratic government?
Christian Science Monitor
August 30, 2007
I need a secular state
By Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im
ALTANTA – To be a Muslim by conviction and free choice – which is the only way one can be a Muslim – I need to live in a secular state. By a secular state, I mean one that is neutral regarding religious doctrine to facilitate genuine piety. The state should not enforce sharia (the religious law of Islam) because compliance should never be coerced by fear or faked to appease state officials. When observed voluntarily, sharia-based values can help shape laws and public policy through the democratic process. But if sharia principles are enacted as state law, the outcome will simply be the political will of the state.
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Many Muslims equate secularism with antireligious attitudes. Yet I believe that a secular state can promote genuine religious experience among believers and affirm the role of Islam in public life.
The so-called Islamic state is conceptually incoherent and historically unprecedented. There simply is no scriptural basis for an “Islamic state” to enforce sharia. Read the rest of this entry »
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
Feb 3, 2015
AMMAN (Reuters) – Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive, and Jordan vowed to avenge his death with an “earth-shaking” response.
A Jordanian official said the authorities would execute several militants jailed in Jordan in response, including a Iraqi woman who Amman had sought to swap for the pilot taken captive after his plane crashed in Syria in December.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the content of the video, which showed a man resembling airman Mouath al-Kasaesbeh standing in a black cage before being set ablaze. But the reaction of the Jordanian authorities made clear they treated it as genuine. Read the rest of this entry »
Dissident Iranian journalist; Intl. Press Association World Press Freedom Hero
Extremist Islamic groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra Front in Syria, have transformed the holy Quran into a manifesto for war, terrorism and bloodshed. These groups use the most modern weaponry and technology, and their crimes have created worldwide concerns. Their goal is to return the Islamic world to the medieval age.
At the same time, the corrupt dictatorial Arab regimes in the Middle East, particularly the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf, have transformed the democratic Arab Spring into a sectarian war between the Shiites and Sunnis, in order to prevent democracy from taking roots in their own nations.
Simultaneous with such developments, a Western-made “industry” called Islamophobia not only presents the Holy Quran as the manifesto of fundamentalist warmongers (that claim to represent Islam) and their rigid interpretation of its teachings, it also reduces Islam to its skewed “interpretations.” This reductionist approach has been popular among the Orientalists. The approach also claims that formation of an Islamic government is a necessary condition for a society to be Islamic.
As I will argue in this essay, these claims are false.
Islam and secularism are completely compatible. What I call “secular Islam” is thus the best antidote for Islamic terrorism. “Secular Islam” means that the collection of beliefs, moral values and teachings which comprise Islam do not confer on Muslims a mission to form a government or state. The idea of establishing an Islamic state based on the Quran and the Sunnah is incorrect, as neither presents a model for such a state. Read the rest of this entry »
Muhyiddin’s faux pas claiming that extremism had never existed among Muslims in Malaysia is of the same class as Najib’s first praise and glorification of Islamic State terrorism
The Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin’s faux pas claiming that extremism had never existed among Muslims in Malaysia is of the same class as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s faux pas giving praise and glorification of Islamic State terrorism last June.
Muhyiddin’s latest faux pas join’s the DPM’s host of infamous “quotes” like “I am Malay first, Malaysian second” and “Malaysian youngsters are receiving better education than children in the United States, Britain and Germany”.
If there are no extremists among Muslims in Malaysia, how come the Bukit Aman Special Counter Terrorism Division had arrested 51 persons suspected of being Malaysian militants.
Furthermore, why have the number of Muslim Malaysians fighting for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq gone up from 39 to 59 since October? Read the rest of this entry »
11 January 2015
For many on the left, tolerance comes easily. But economic disarray has sapped the will to defend our principles of rationalism and individual liberty
There’s a map of Europe that was supposed to tell the main story. It shows the wealth created in every region in the European Union, colour coded: yellow for poor, green for average and purple for the rich areas that produce up to 125% more per head than the average.
The result looks as if somebody took a broad purple paintbrush, starting near Florence, and swiped upwards through the Alps, western Germany and the Netherlands, running out of paint a little around Denmark, but then colouring in most of Scandinavia.
The lifestyle in these rich regions is the outcome Europe aspired to when it adopted first the single market and then the euro. When the euro project was still working, it was assumed that around this highly developed central bloc of wealthy regions, crossing national borders, there might develop the paradigms of a transnational European culture. Think the high-spec family car, the regional opera house and the skiing holiday. It was, after all, along this geographic corridor connecting Florence with Flémalle that the Renaissance happened.
The eurozone crisis put an end to this conceit. But the current wave of revulsion against Islamist terrorism challenges us to ask, urgently, what the common European culture actually is. Austerity has drawn a horizontal line through the map of Europe, across which solidarity has not readily flowed. German unemployment this week hit an all-time low of 6.5%, while youth unemployment in Italy – even in the “purple zone” – stands at 43%. So if the Charlie Hebdo atrocity was aimed at sparking a culture war in Europe, it could not have been better timed. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
11 January 2015
Some Malaysians have gone to the extent of taking personal loans from banks and moneylenders in order to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) in the Middle East.
The South China Morning Post quoted Malaysian counter-terrorism officials as saying the loans were taken to fund passage and living expenses in Syria and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
January 8 2015
As they went on their rampage, the men who killed 12 people in Paris this week yelled that they had “avenged the prophet.” They follow in the path of other terrorists who have bombed newspaper offices, stabbed a filmmaker and killed writers and translators, all to mete out what they believe is the proper Koranic punishment for blasphemy. But in fact, the Koran prescribes no punishment for blasphemy. Like so many of the most fanatical and violent aspects of Islamic terrorism today, the idea that Islam requires that insults against the prophet Muhammad be met with violence is a creation of politicians and clerics to serve a political agenda.
One holy book is deeply concerned with blasphemy: the Bible. In the Old Testament, blasphemy and blasphemers are condemned and prescribed harsh punishment. The best-known passage on this is Leviticus 24:16 : “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”
By contrast, the word blasphemy appears nowhere in the Koran. (Nor, incidentally, does the Koran anywhere forbid creating images of Muhammad, though there are commentaries and traditions — “hadith” — that do, to guard against idol worship.) Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has pointed out that “there are more than 200 verses in the Koran, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called ‘blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet’ . . . but nowhere does the Koran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.” On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” Khan says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.” Read the rest of this entry »
by David D. Kirkpatrick
New York Times
Jan 8, 2015
CAIRO — Islamist extremists behead Western journalists in Syria, massacre thousands of Iraqis, murder 132 Pakistani schoolchildren, kill a Canadian soldier and take hostage cafe patrons in Australia. Now, two gunmen have massacred a dozen people in the office of a Paris newspaper.
The rash of horrific attacks in the name of Islam is spurring an anguished debate among Muslims here in the heart of the Islamic world about why their religion appears cited so often as a cause for violence and bloodshed.
The majority of scholars and the faithful say Islam is no more inherently violent than other religions. But some Muslims — most notably the president of Egypt — argue that the contemporary understanding of their religion is infected with justifications for violence, requiring the government and its official clerics to correct the teaching of Islam.
“It is unbelievable that the thought we hold holy pushes the Muslim community to be a source of worry, fear, danger, murder and destruction to all the world,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt lamented last week in a speech to the clerics of the official religious establishment. “You need to stand sternly,” he told them, calling for no less than “a religious revolution.”
Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language. Promoted by groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, that discourse echoes through Muslim communities as far away as New York or Paris, whose influence and culture still loom over much of the Muslim world.
“Some people who feel crushed or ignored will go toward extremism, and they use religion because that is what they have at hand,” said Said Ferjani, an official of Tunisia’s mainstream Islamist party, Ennahda, speaking about the broader phenomenon of violence in the name of Islam. “If you are attacked and you have a fork in your hand, you will fight back with a fork.” Read the rest of this entry »
7 January 2015
Terrorism feeds on society’s fears – and the relentless questioning of Muslims’ loyalty plays into its hands
It’s hard to admit to a reaction other than sadness to the murder of 12 people, especially when it takes place in a city that feels so close by. The images of sprawling bodies and masked assailants on familiar-looking streets gives the tragedy an extra edge of horror.
Yet in the moments after the news broke about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I found it impossible to ignore a sinking feeling: the recognition that we were being pulled further into a cycle of distrust and division.
It grew as I read through the responses online. The straightforward reaction from far-right extremists was the hashtag #killallmuslims, which would have been easy to ignore as empty words if it hadn’t reminded me of the firebombing of mosques after the Lee Rigby murder. Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2015
Today’s fanatics are blind to the compassion and care in the prophet’s life. Their ignorance must be tackled head on
The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam and the very freedoms that allow 30 million Muslims to prosper in the west.
Free speech is not a western concept: it is a universal craving of the human soul. The gunmen ran away shouting that they were “avenging the prophet Muhammad”. How dare they? We cannot let the murderers define Islam.
In seventh-century Mecca, it was the prophet Muhammad who fought for free speech to proclaim one God as the creator of life and worthy of worship. The city’s pagans were his violent persecutors.
Today Muslims live freely in every European country because of the very freedoms that the terrorists struck at. Without the freedom to blaspheme and believe, Muslims would be seen as heretics and would be unable to flourish as faith communities in the west. The pogroms and wars of religion in Europe’s history bear testament to European life without freedom. Read the rest of this entry »
January 8, 2015
It may suit cynical politicians to push the ‘clash of civilisations’ line, but such polarised thinking is simplistic and can be deadly
It has already started – the talk of a clash of civilisations. After the horrific Paris attack in which 12 people were killed, there is a palpable sense of a Europe on the edge, teetering between righteous anger and tense restraint. Many of the subsequent reactions have fallen along the predictable lines of reasserting the difference between “us” and “them”.
But the Paris attack was not yet another front in the “clash of civilisations”. The term civilisation in itself is meaningless in this context. What civilisation do the terrorists represent? It is understandable that, on the face of it, the attack highlights the perpetrators’ and the victims’ starkly opposed values, one barbaric and silencing, and the other enlightened and freedom loving.
But this is a false dichotomy. It omits a far more uncomfortable and complicated truth about racial tension in France, immigration, and how Muslims are settling in an increasingly secular Europe where the resurgence of rightwing parties has further racialised religion. Read the rest of this entry »