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

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.

Continue reading

Islamic State recruits broadly, not just fighters

FILE - In this Oct. 22,2 104 file photo, the apartment building in Aurora, Colo., which police say is the home of two of the three teenage girls who, according to U.S. authorities, were en route to join the Islamic State group in Syria when they were stopped at an airport in Germany. The three teenage girls from Colorado swapped Twitter messages about marriage and religion with recruiters for the Islamic State group, then set out for Syria with passports and thousands of dollars in stolen cash. Authorities intercepted them in Germany, then returned them to their families without criminal charges.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As it looks to expand its territorial base across broad swaths of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group is recruiting for more than just fighters

The extremist organization also has been targeting its sophisticated propaganda to entice potential wives and professionals such as doctors, accountants and engineers in its efforts to build a new society.

Among those it has lured were three teenage girls from Colorado, who set out for Syria this fall after swapping Twitter messages about marriage and religion with IS recruiters, and a young woman who sought to fight there — or failing that, to use her nursing skills. It’s a diverse pool of recruits whose motives perplex Western governments seeking to combat the flow.

The group “is issuing a bit of a siren song through social media, trying to attract people to their so-called caliphate,” FBI Director James Comey told reporters. “And among the people they’re trying to attract are young women to be brides for these jihadis.” Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

How a Libyan city joined the Islamic State group

Nov 9, 12:24 PM EST
AP Photo
AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

 CAIRO (AP) — On a chilly night, bearded militants  gathered at a stage strung with colorful lights in Darna, a Mediterranean coastal city long notorious as Libya‘s center for jihadi radicals. With a roaring chant, they pledged their allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group.

With that meeting 10 days ago, the militants dragged Darna into becoming the first city outside of Iraq and Syria to join the “caliphate” announced by the extremist group. Already, the city has seen religious courts ordering killings in public, floggings of residents accused of violating Shariah law, as well as enforced segregation of male and female students. Opponents of the militants have gone into hiding or fled, terrorized by a string of slayings aimed at silencing them. 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