From the Welfare State to the Caliphate

From the Welfare State to the Caliphate

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — When he was 3 years old, Ahmed arrived in southern Sweden from Iraq, together with his older brother and parents. The family settled in one of their new country’s cut-off suburbs, where its many new immigrants come to live, but mostly to be forgotten.

The family found a home in one of the many rows of gray, faceless apartment buildings that make up these deeply segregated suburbs that ring Sweden’s urban centers — in Angered, outside Gothenburg. As he grew into his teenage years, Ahmed began to scold his siblings to be more religious. He spent considerable time in front of his computer, becoming engrossed in graphic, violent videos from the civil war in Syria. Inspired, he read the biographies of martyrs who had died in battle, waging jihad in the holy land. And gradually he turned inward, withdrawing from society and his former life. Continue reading

Europe Cracks Down

 

 

Europe Cracks Down

They can take our lives, but can they also take our freedom? The Charlie Hebdo assault in Paris last week is only the latest chapter in a months-long series of attacks, which built in turn on a yearlong escalation of concerns about the extraordinary number of Europeans traveling to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State, al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, and a host of other jihadi groups. Since the Charlie Hebdo attack, European governments have moved swiftly to roll up terrorist operatives who were already on their radar, with more than a dozen arrests since Thursday, Jan. 15.

 

In response to this escalating threat, Western countries are looking at an array of new laws and government powers to deal with the problem. In Europe and Australia, proposals to enhance counterterrorism powers are in full bloom. In the United States, similar ideas of lesser scope are quietly circulating behind the scenes, likely to emerge into public view soon enough. Continue reading

Arrests fuel jihad fears in Spain’s African lands

Arrests fuel jihad fears in Spain's African lands

A picture taken on December 4, 2014 is a general view of El Principe district in Ceuta.

CEUTA, Spain – Aisha has lived all her life in one neighbourhood in Spain’s African territory of Ceuta, but now she is willing to move – even to the war zone of Syria.

“I would go and live with my family in the Islamic State in Syria, and if my husband died there in combat, I would accept it,” said the mother-of-four, dressed in a black hijab, who asked for her real name to be concealed.

Her home district of El Principe in this European enclave of 87,000 people on the tip of Morocco has a reputation for hardship – and a new, growing one for Islamic radicalism.

Police on Tuesday raided a gang they suspect recruited 12 women online and sent them to join the violent extremist group calling itself Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

Five of the suspects were arrested in Barcelona, Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other north African territory, to the east. Two were detained in Morocco, close to the border with Ceuta.

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Germany’s Intelligence Chief Says At Least 550 Germans In IS Ranks

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

November 23, 2014

The head of Germany‘s domestic intelligence agency says that some 550 citizens of the country have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Hans-Georg Maassen told the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” in an interview published on November 23 that the number of Germans fighting alongside IS militants had risen from 450, the number German officials have previously been using.

Maassen said about 60 of those German citizens were killed in fighting, with at least nine killing themselves in suicide attacks.

Maassen said German authorities believe some 180 jihadists have returned after fighting in Syria and Iraq and since Germany is part of the alliance fighting the Islamic State extremist group, the country is “naturally” a target for the militants.

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The Hunt for Black October

The Swedish Navy is desperately trying to find a Russian submarine prowling off the coast of Stockholm. What’s Vladimir Putin up to?

BY Erik Brattberg , Katarina Tracz OCTOBER 20, 2014

What first sounded like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel is turning out to be Moscow’s first serious test of Western resolve since the invasion of Crimea earlier this year. While details are patchy and the situation is still unfolding, three separate credible eyewitness accounts and a photo showing a dark structure descending into the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea seem to confirm the presence of a foreign submarine or mini-sub some 30 miles from Stockholm. If so, this would be a major escalation of tensions in the Baltic Sea region. Continue reading

Italy’s Air Force Restructures Special Ops Brigade

Sep. 30, 2014 – 11:55AM   |   By TOM KINGTON
New Machinery: The Italian Air Force is due to receive AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue and special operations missions.
New Machinery: The Italian Air Force is due to receive AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue and special operations missions. (AgustaWestland)

ROME — Through a shake-up of its bases, the Italian Air Force is streamlining its special operations and rescue operations, trimming costs as new aircraft come into service, and reflecting what officials describe as a shift in the type of mission they are handling in the 21st century.

On Sept. 22, the Air Force’s 1st Brigade for Special Operations moved into new premises at Cervia Air Base on Italy’s Adriatic coast, part of an enlargement of the brigade that saw it take command of the 15th Wing already based at Cervia, which undertakes combat search-and-rescue missions.

Three wings already grouped under the brigade’s command, which are spread around Italy, are set to partly shift personnel and machinery to Cervia. Continue reading

Council of Europe – The Journal: PACE President’s visit to Azerbaijan, terrorist recruitment & Russia accused of intercepting phone data – Week of 29 September 2014

Council of Europe Palais de l'Europe aerial vi...

Council of Europe Palais de l’Europe aerial view – Architecte Henry Bernard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 26, 2014 –

Council of Europe Journal for the week of 29 September 2014:

 

  • PACE President, Anne Brasseur, pays an official visit to Azerbaijan
  • Recruitment and financing of terrorism and organised crime – a Council of Europe conference discusses the issues
  • Russia’s accused of intercepting telephone data without a court order

 

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur, has been paying an official visit to Azerbaijan

Ms Brasseur met with President Aliyev and also held meetings with leaders of political parties in the parliament, members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE and the Prosecutor General. She also met human rights activists to discuss the issue of journalists and others held in detention. 
Afterwards, Ms Brasseur commented on her visit, saying that: more progress was needed in Azerbaijan regarding freedom of expression, freedom of association, and judicial  independence.

And, speaking about the recent arrests of civil society activists, the President said it was a source of “grave concern”. She went on to say that the detentions highlighted the need to address systemic deficiencies in the operation of justice in Azerbaijan as noted in the findings of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the pre-trial detention of Ilgar Mammadov.

NEWS IN BRIEF



  • A Council of Europe international conference in the Spanish city of Málaga has been discussing ways of tackling recruitment to terror and organised crime groups. The conference, made-up of judges, prosecutors, policy makers and other terrorism experts, has also been addressing a range of issues, including radicalisation and recruitment in prisons and ways of stopping the funding of terror campaigns. Continue reading