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 →
“We don’t know where he is. Obviously, if we knew where he was, we would be able to look at all sorts of options but we don’t know where he is.”
This unusually candid statement by British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, brought into sharp relief the relative impotence of the West in dealing with Islamic State militants who are holding a number of hostages.
Videos showing the murder of three men, two Americans and one British, have recently been released by the group. A fourth, Alan Henning, a British national, faces the same fate.
Hammond noted that “we are doing everything that we can to protect him”. But without reliable intelligence his options are limited. British and US special forces are highly capable, but their operations must be targeted with precision.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s recent exposures suggested to many that GCHQ and the NSA would be able to deliver such precision. Hitherto, they have not. Continue reading →
At present, according to the latest intelligence in Rome, some fifty Italians are fighting with the Islamic State (IS — get my assessment of that dangerous group here), of whom a shocking eighty percent are converts, not immigrants or born Muslims. Many go abroad to wage holy war after a surprisingly brief period of conversion and radicalization. They are very young and come mostly from northern Italy. The Salafi jihadist scene in Italy is fragmented regionally and a key role is played by what Italian intelligence terms “liaison officers,” the individuals who facilitate the recruitment of new holy warriors and get them to the war zone. Continue reading →
Theme: The Muslim communities and jihadist networks in Italy and Spain present similar characteristics and it is therefore interesting to look at the recent development of home-grown jihadist radicalisation in Italy.
Summary: Over the last three years the demographic and operational features of jihadism in Italy have shown significant shifts. The first generation of foreign-born militants with ties to various jihadist groups outside Europe is still active, although less intensely than in the past. The Italian authorities, however, have increasingly noted forms of home-grown radicalisation similar to those recorded in other West European countries over the past 10 years.
The lag has been caused by a simple demographic factor. As in Spain, large-scale Muslim immigration to Italy began only in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some 20 (in some cases 30 or 40) years later than in economically more developed European countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The first, relatively large, second generation of Italian-born Muslims is therefore coming of age only now, as the sons of the first immigrants are becoming adults in their adoptive country. Of these hundreds of thousands of young men and women, a statistically insignificant yet security-relevant number is embracing radical ideas.
Satellite imagery taken in May 2013 of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre in North Korea. (IHS/DigitalGlobe)
North Korea’s decision to restart its 5 megawatt electric (MWe) reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear scientific research complex threatens Northeast Asia with a disaster potentially worse than Chernobyl, according to nuclear experts.
“This reactor comes from another world. The Yongbyon site has a concentration of so many nuclear facilities that if there was a fire in one building it could lead to a disaster worse than the Ukrainian one,” said Seo Kyun Reul, a professor at the nucleonic department of Seoul National University.
SEOUL — Recent satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has restarted a small nuclear reactor, allowing the secretive nation to potentially bolster its stockpile of plutonium for weapons, a U.S. research institute said Thursday.
Commercial satellite images from Aug. 31 show two plumes of white steam rising from a turbine building adjacent to the reactor. That steam is an essential byproduct of the reactor’s operation, and its venting suggests the “electrical generating system is about to come online,” the report said.