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

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The Maldives-Syria Connection: Jihad in Paradise?

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 22
November 21, 2014 04:03 PM

 

Screenshot from Abu Turab video in Divehi (Source: YouTube)

The Maldives, the Muslim-majority archipelago country in the Indian Ocean, is going through a tumultuous time, facing increasing Islamist activities at home, an exodus of radicalized youth to join the jihad in Syria and a growing domestic clamor for the implementation of Shari’a law. This has been accompanied by the targeted abduction and intimidation of local Maldivians who hold progressive ideals and secular values. Although the country is better known as a romantic honeymoon destination, these developments – which include the establishment of the “Islamic State of the Maldives” (ISM) group – have exposed the deep extremist undercurrents in Maldivian society and are increasingly drawing the attention of local and international security forces. Continue reading

Why can’t British intelligence services locate Isil hostages?

The Big Question: why has the UK so far been unable to find the suspected British Islamic State killer and the group’s hostages?
Alan Henning

Alan Henning Photo: PA

“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

Turkey not asking NATO for help with ISIS


SPAIN/

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen through a viewfinder as he addresses the media during a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not pictured) in Madrid, June 12, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Susana Vera)

On June 11, NATO ambassadors gathered in an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request to discuss the rapid expansion of radical Sunni Islamist militants in northern Iraq in which they took control of Mosul and Tikrit. That same day, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spin-off group fighting in both Iraq and Syria, seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate, taking the consul general and his 48 staff members hostage. Earlier in the week, ISIS also took 31 Turkish truck drivers hostage.

Summary- Turkey briefed NATO ambassadors regarding the seizure of its Mosul consulate, but it did not ask for any NATO involvement, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be engaged directly in the hostage negotiations.

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Hizbollah’s Political and Security Situation: Existing and Emerging Challenges

Download PDF Print         INSS Insight No. 529, March 19, 2014
Since the beginning of the bloody civil war in Syria three years ago, Hizbollah’s political and security environment has grown far more complex, with the Lebanese Shiite organization involved in a prolonged civil war that has strong regional implications, and with its status within Lebanon increasingly contested. Thus while Hizbollah remains the single most powerful military organization in Lebanon, both its freedom of action and its capacity to project power have been constrained. Currently, Hizbollah must deal with challenges at both the domestic and regional levels.
Since the beginning of the bloody civil war in Syria three years ago, Hizbollah’s political and security environment has grown far more complex, with the Lebanese Shiite organization involved in a prolonged civil war that has strong regional implications, and with its status within Lebanon increasingly contested. Thus while Hizbollah remains the single most powerful military organization in Lebanon, both its freedom of action and its capacity to project power have been constrained. Currently, Hizbollah must deal with challenges at both the domestic and regional levels.

Funeral of a Hizbollah fighter killed in Syria, March 3, 2014; AFP/Getty Images

Within Lebanon, Hizbollah is grappling with a prolonged period of instability, with the country ever-more polarized between pro-and anti-Bashar al-Assad supporters. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the pressure on Lebanon caused by the steady influx of Syrian refugees, numbering one million by late 2013 more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s total population a number expected to rise to 1.5 million by the end of 2014.  Continue reading

Ankara denies presence of al-Qaeda bases on Turkish soil

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According to claims there is a camp for training of Syrian opposition fighters in the western province of Bolu. (Photo: Today’s Zaman, Üsame Arı)

30 January 2014 /ANKARA, TODAY’S ZAMAN

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has denied allegations by Israel’s military intelligence chief that there are al-Qaeda bases in Turkey, calling such claims “groundless.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç dismissed the Israeli claims, saying that Turkey had been subjected to al-Qaeda attacks in the past and is still under threat. Bilgiç also added that as a result of the drawn-out Syrian crisis, some groups sympathetic to the al-Qaeda ideology have found fertile ground in the war-torn country and that those group’s activities also posed a threat to Turkey.

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Analytic Guidance: The Syria Crisis

Analysis

September 12, 2013 | 0403

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 5 ahead of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. (ALEXEY KUDENKO/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

Analysis

Editor’s note: Periodically, Stratfor publishes guidance produced for its analysis team and shares it with readers. This guidance sets the parameters used in our own ongoing examination and assessment of events surrounding Syria‘s use of chemical weapons as the crisis evolves into a confrontation between the United States and Russia. Given the importance we ascribe to this fast-evolving standoff, we believe it important that readers have access to this additional insight.

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s change of tack from a strike on Syria, the threat of war has not dissolved. It has, however, been pushed off beyond this round of negotiations.

The president’s minimalist claims are in place, but they are under serious debate. There is no chance of an attack on chemical weapons stockpiles. Therefore, the attack, if any, will be on command and control and political targets. Obama has options on the table and there will be force in place for any contingency he selects. Nothing is locked in despite public statements and rhetoric in Washington, London, Paris or Moscow.

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