Table of Contents:
Hamza bin Laden Sought to Continue His Father’s Terrorism Legacy: Alissa J. Rubin, Farnaz Fassihi and Yonette Joseph, New York Times, Aug. 1, 2019
Europe’s ISIS Abdication: The Editorial Board, Wall St. Journal, June 14, 2019
Canada Has Taken An Important Step In The Fight Against Right-Wing Extremism: Wesley Wark, Globe and Mail, June 27, 2019
After the Sri Lanka Bombings: Why Does the West Keep on Ignoring Christianophobia?: Jacques Chitayat, Isranet.org, May 2019
As a boy, Hamza bin Laden appeared in propaganda films for Al Qaeda, the terrorist group led by his father, Osama. He preached jihad, trained with fighters and was introduced as a voice of Al Qaeda, “a young lion to carry forth the cause.”
But much of his story remains shrouded in mystery. And when American officials announced on Wednesday that the younger Mr. bin Laden had been killed in a United States strike in the past two years, details about where and how he died were as scarce as information about his life in the shadows. He was believed to have been about 30 years old.
Mr. bin Laden had been mistakenly pronounced dead before, when officials thought he had died in the SEAL raid to kill his father. Two years ago, there was also a failed attempt to kill him, according to three officials. Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted on Twitter on Thursday that Al Qaeda-affiliated channels on Telegram, the messaging app, had been discussing the reports of Mr. bin Laden’s death, but there has been no official confirmation or denial from Al Qaeda’s general command.
After an American Navy SEAL team killed Hamza’s father in 2011, documents recovered from the hide-out in Pakistan showed that Hamza, a favorite of his father, was being groomed for a leadership role in Al Qaeda. From a young age he showed a keen interest in joining his father’s violent campaign against the United States and its allies.
The younger bin Laden was named a member of Al Qaeda in 2014 by his father’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahri. The group’s leaders saw in the young man with the famous name as a figure someone who could attract followers of rival Sunni Islamist groups like the Islamic State. A still from a video made available by the C.I.A. of Hamza bin Laden, center, in what is believed to be his wedding to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, a mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Hamza vowed vengeance for his father’s death, calling for attacks on Western capitals and warning Americans that they would be “targeted in the United States and abroad,” according to the State Department. In a series of audio recordings released by Al Qaeda beginning in 2015, Hamza bin Laden called for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy and urged Syrian jihadi groups to unite to liberate the Palestinians. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Europe’s ISIS Abdication
The Editorial Board
WSJ, June 14, 2019
While Islamic State’s physical caliphate is gone, many surviving ISIS fighters and their families—who came from across the world—still pose a security threat. Yet Western European countries mostly are refusing to repatriate their citizens to face justice or rehabilitation at home.
About 40,000 foreigners joined ISIS, some 5,000 from Europe. Many brought families, while others married and had children in the caliphate. The Syrian Democratic Forces, amid its battlefield victories, has detained thousands of ISIS veterans.
Today the SDF has about 2,000 foreign militants from more than 50 countries in custody, and they continue to trickle in. Thousands of their wives and children—including European citizens—live in the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. The SDF has done what it can with limited resources, but as summer temperatures rise there’s concern that refugees and detainees will start dying of heat exposure in the Syrian desert.
The most humane and safe solution is to return home as many ISIS fighters and their families as possible. About 300 Americans joined the group, and many died on the battlefield or went missing. Washington’s policy is to recover Americans in Syria and prosecute when possible. The U.S. has repatriated eight citizens—from adult male fighters to children—and is working on six more.
Kazakhstan also has been a global leader, treating the repatriations as a humanitarian issue. Some countries are conducting repatriations quietly because of domestic political considerations, but most understand this is the least bad option.
Yet, Western Europe refuses to take fighters back, and officials from countries like Germany and Sweden instead are pushing for an international tribunal to prosecute them. Representatives from 11 European countries pressed the idea again last week at a meeting in Stockholm.
Such tribunals have a terrible record at meting out justice, let alone doing so efficiently. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia existed for nearly a quarter century and its annual budget at one point ran nearly $300 million. That tribunal indicted only 161 people. The ISIS courts could require thousands of indictments.
A common European worry is that national courts would hand out light sentences or acquittals. But reforming domestic judicial systems is easier than building an international legal regime. Any concerns arising from a lack of evidence would also exist at a tribunal.
The most serious problem is that a tribunal would delay justice for terrorists and their victims, delay rehabilitation for those who can benefit, and delay a resolution to the looming humanitarian crisis in the holding camp. The longer a process takes, the more likely that regrouped ISIS remnants in Iraq and Syria could organize prison breakouts. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Canada Has Taken An Important Step In The Fight Against Right-Wing Extremism
Globe and Mail, June 27, 2019
The Canadian government has altered its stand on right-wing extremism. Two linked far-right organizations, Blood and Honour and Combat 18, have now been added to Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations. That list was created in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. While the banned entities list has mushroomed since 2001 and now numbers 60 groups, it has always been focused on Islamist terrorist organizations. Right-wing extremism has now been added to the spectrum of national security threats. Some will argue this is long overdue; others will see it as political pandering. Both views are wrong.
Most Canadians will never have heard of either Blood and Honour or Combat 18. They are neo-Nazi groups with a British and European base. Blood and Honour claims to have a Canadian chapter of “division.” Blood and Honour does the propaganda work, drawing on a neo-Nazi playbook; Combat 18, or C18, is the armed wing. C18 has never carried out a violent attack in Canada.
There is always the danger that banning such groups calls unwanted attention to them and furthers their noxious cause. But being listed as a terrorist entity will serve as a public deterrent. The listing also carries some legal and surveillance teeth. Property belonging to listed groups can be seized, their financing disrupted, and members are in legal jeopardy should they be accused of facilitating the activities of the group. They will be on the radar screens of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and other law-enforcement agencies in Canada.
The public recognition of the threat posed by right-wing extremists follows on both domestic acts of extremist violence, including the Quebec City mosque attack in January, 2017, the April, 2018, van attack in Toronto, and major incidents abroad, culminating in the recent mass killing in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, 2019. The Christchurch massacre was particularly galvanizing, forcing governments to pay heed. It proved that right-wing extremism could no longer be characterized as a protected form of free speech; its violence was on display and taking on global dimensions. Security agencies were beginning to see a worrying copy-cat pattern, whereby right-wing groups were being inspired by the violent example of terrorist attacks and were using similar low-tech tools (such as guns, knives, and vehicles) that could easily be acquired by individuals.
There were also signs of a rising tide of right-wing violence in the United States, witnessed in the October, 2018, shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In an age of populist discontent, the fear arose that right-wing extremism would feast on a fractured politics. Potential cross-border inspiration and linkages raised new concerns in Canada.
Right-wing extremism embraces a jumble of disparate causes, including single-issue flashpoints such as abortion rights, white supremacy and anti-government nostrums. What it shares with terrorism is an ability to use the internet and social media to propagate its cause, a determined effort to be transnational and a free ride on some of globalization’s benefits, such as the ease of global travel and communication. All of these facets were demonstrated in the Christchurch attack. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
It seems that religious violence will not be a thing of the past anytime soon. These last few months, stories of atrocities committed with religious motivations have made headlines across the world, the most notable example being the attacks on various churches and a hotel in Sri Lanka over Easter weekend, the attacks on two synagogues in the US and on a mosque in New Zealand. The images were appalling, and so were the results of the attacks.
In Sri Lanka, 321 people were killed in a single day. ISIS, despite its considerable loss of territory, remains a serious threat. The entity claimed responsibility for these attacks through their news agency, Amaq, using the app Telegram. The group said that the bombings had been intended to target Christians, as well as citizens of countries belonging to the coalition fighting the Islamic State.
But should this come as a surprise? ISIS may claim to have carried out this attack as a “retaliation” for the Christchurch mosque attack, but their violent hatred of non-Muslims, especially Christians and Jews, has been well-known for years. One only has to scroll for a few minutes through some pages of their propaganda magazine, Dabiq, to find explicit calls for violence and terrorism against Christians all over the world: “Likewise, we renew our call to the muwahhidīn [everyone engaged in jihad] in Europe and the disbelieving West and everywhere else, to target the crusaders in their own lands and wherever they are found” (Dabiq, issue 7, 2015), “So I say to the Muslims, be wary very wary of allying with the Jews and Christians, and whoever has slipped by a word, then let him fear Allah, renew his faith, and repent from his deed (…) Every Muslim should get out of his house, find a crusader, and kill him.” (Dabiq, issue 4, 2014).
The terrorist attacks on the Sri Lanka churches and the following worldwide reactions, or underreactions, reveal worrisome double standards of media coverage about anti-Muslim and anti-Christian violence: When an anti-Islamic incident takes place, such as the ones in Christchurch and Quebec City, the media dedicates lengthy coverage time to the ideological background of the act. Peoples across the world express thoughts, prayers and start discussions about hatred of Islam, as they all should, in the name of human decency. However, the words “anti-Christian violence” or “Christianophobia” are absent from the media’s vocabulary and are not on the tip of people’s tongues. Could it be because the number of anti-Christian terrorist attacks is vastly inferior to the anti-Muslim ones? The Global Terrorism Database reported that 20 terrorist attacks were carried out targeting Christians worldwide in only 4 months of 2017, and ISIS has executed dozens of murderous attacks on Coptic and Nigerian Christians over recent years, but media and academia are failing to put the violence in its larger ideological context.
A Christianophobic wave is in fact sweeping across the globe A brief visit to Google Trends will show that the number of searches about Islamophobia outnumber any search about anti-Christian violence about 30 to 1, which in no way accurately represents the real situation of Christian minorities. The quick global response to the Christchurch attacks included the Prime Minister of New Zealand and celebrities adorning hijabs. The world was invited to reflect on its supposed inherent Islamophobic sentiment. After Sri Lanka, no lessons were learned, and the condition of Christian minorities was not given its deserved attention.
There is a selective outrage and coverage about one type of persecution when ideally, religious violence of all kinds should be equally discussed and, even more importantly, condemned. Jews, who have never been strangers to persecutions over centuries, should offer a helping hand to oppressed Christian minorities and the West should finally acknowledge that their coreligionists are fearing for their lives.
On Topic Links:
Accused Terrorists Use Loopholes to Tap Frozen Funds: Ian Talley and Bradley Hope, WSJ, June 19, 2019 –– Loopholes in U.N. Security Council sanctions procedures are allowing blacklisted al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists and their supporters to tap their bank accounts despite a U.N. asset freeze, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.
When Terrorists Stay Home: The Evolving Threat to Europe from Frustrated Travelers: Robin Simcox, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2019, Vol. 12, Issue 6 — In September 2018, Dutch authorities thwarted an alleged major Islamic State-inspired plot that was being planned in the Netherlands.
EU Counter-Terror Chief On Battling The Virtual ‘Caliphate’ And What To Do With Children Of Jihadists: Luke Brown, France 24, July 1, 2019, Video. –This week we’re looking at something that has changed the way we live our lives in Europe: the terrorist threat.
European Privacy Laws May Be Hampering Fight Against Terrorism: Natalia Drozdiak, The Japan Times, July 8, 2019 — When U.S., European and Canadian law enforcement officials claimed success last year in largely obliterating militant group Islamic State’s online propaganda network following a two-year operation, it was a public database of domain names that partly helped.
The Forgotten American Victim Of Terrorism: Moshe Philips, Arutz Sheva, July 12, 2019 — It was a time when the term “suicide attack” was unknown. It was also a time when everyone assumed that a terrorist attack had to be carried out with a bomb, or a gun, or a knife.