Confronting ‘Lone Wolves’

terrorism

Cairo – The recent shooting in the US city of Las Vegas demonstrated that the terrorism of “lone wolf” attackers is a major and terrifying danger. The massacre, the worst in the US’ modern history, left an unprecedented number of people dead and injured and officials are still confounded as to what prompted Stephen Paddock to go on his horrific rampage.

Europe was not spared the danger of lone wolves with Marseille witnessing one that left two people dead. What we need to ask now is: What is the best way to confront this inhumane and very complicated phenomenon, especially since no one has so far been able to find out what pushes someone to commit such atrocities?

We should at first distinguish between the American and European lone wolves. The former have easy access to weapons, while the latter obtain weapons only for the intention of committing such terrorist crimes.

With the Las Vegas shooting, the US Congress will once again be faced with the debate over the freedom to purchase and own weapons. Any change to this reality would require an amendment of the country’s constitution, which no one at Congress has yet dared to demand.

In confronting lone wolves in the United States, we must distinguish between those who commit their crime out of national extremist and racist beliefs and radicalized others, who use the excuse of Islamic extremism.

Even though lone wolf attacks in the US are less common than those in Europe, they often claim the lives of more victims because the shooter has access to a more lethal arsenal. This therefore demands that the confrontation be waged against the legal regulations that permit the possession of arms. It also demands logistic, security and intelligence operations to counter these crimes. This second form of confrontation is similar to the one being wage against the phenomenon in Europe.

In previous articles, we had stated that lone wolf attacks were originally adopted by al-Qaeda and later ISIS. It was first born from the womb of the Islamic resistance of the Soviet occupation of Muslim territories in Afghanistan and later, with the emergence of ISIS, it was born out of the US military invasion of Iraq.

At this point, we can assert that major unjust policies around the globe and in the Islamic world are a factor that can produce more lone wolves, who believe that a life without dignity or independence is meaningless and not worth living. American and European policies in the Middle East, in recent years in particular, have had disastrous results in this regard.

These powers did not foresee the unexpected repercussions of and reaction to their destruction of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and their random dismantling of systems that have been around for decades. This opened the door wide for lone wolves to run rampant and commit their crimes.

We are now faced with the equation: As long as injustices remain, lone wolves will continue to threaten the world and its security.

Tackling open humanitarian wounds and achieving international justice could be the main solution confronting this phenomenon.

Over the years, it became obvious that many of the lone wolves in Europe often are second generation Europeans, who were born there or who arrived there at a young age. They grew up and were educated in Europe. They all however have one thing in common, which was their major failure to integrate into the new societies that had adopted them. The massive degree of their failure was reflected in the extent of their criminality in their attacks.

Why did this failure to integrate take place and who is responsible for it? Are the migrant youths to blame or did Europe fail in providing the necessary cultural, social, political and economic environments to achieve this integration?

The emergence of lone wolves in Europe is enough indication that there is a flaw in the integration mechanism. There is no doubt that the host country should be blamed. The first step to addressing this flaw lies in bridging the mental divide that separates the lone wolves from their host societies. In return, respect and appreciation should be shown for Islamic and Muslim beliefs. This respect should be reciprocated by the new migrants and refugees.

Furthermore, European countries should exert greater positive efforts to support integration through free courses that are linked to obtaining residency permits and local nationalities. This means that the migrants should be helped to learn the local language. Authorities should also prepare camps where the new arrivals could mingle with the locals. The locals in turn should be encouraged to interact on a human level with the migrants and stand with them against extremists, who are seeking division between the two sides.

It goes without saying that this type of individual terrorism has nothing to do with the right form of Islam. The severity of the situation however demands a united stand and approach. There are several major Muslim authorities that can all take such a stand and unite against forces that are deliberately trying to distort the correct image of the religion.

These authorities should project the image of the tolerant Islam that believes in coexistence and the respect of human rights regardless of their faith, race or gender.

In this regard, European governments should open the door wide for these enlightenment efforts through providing all possible means for Islamic centers to achieve this purpose and allow the voice of moderation to be heard throughout the continent. This will help achieve coexistence and rapprochement against those seeking division.

One of the most important mechanisms to confront the lone wolves phenomenon is deepening dialogue. There should be a dialogue between different generations, between locals and naturalized citizens, and between different religions. This is undoubtedly one of the most important forms of dialogue that will help eliminate the misconceptions clouding people’s hearts and minds.

Arab Muslim and Christian authorities have a role in this regard. As roots of the Arab world, they have played a part in forming this civilization. Their voice is therefore invaluable on the European scene where they will likely be welcomed by moderate Christians, who honestly seek the integration of the migrants in their new societies.

In order to close the door against the preachers of hate, we recommend that these dialogues be based on the common characteristics shared between the followers of the monotheistic religions. Going into the theological details of the religions will not help anyone because the whole purpose of the dialogue is to find common factors, not differences.

Have we forgotten or overlooked something in our search for the best means to confront lone wolves?

The lone wolf himself remains at the heart of the problem. It is a stretch to say that this phenomenon can be eliminated permanently because no one can really know what lurks in the human psyche and what their real intentions towards others are. This is a complicated case for the sociologists and psychologists.

There are however several mechanisms that can isolate the lone wolf, meaning his chances of getting together with terrorist elements can be narrowed down. The less likely the chances of the would-be lone wolf meeting these elements, the weaker his threat becomes.

How can such an isolation take place in the world of social media, the internet and modern technology?

This places a major responsibility on the shoulders of those in charge of those sites. The first step lies in shutting down websites and social media accounts that are suspected to be terrorist, especially those that seek to recruit members and others that promote murder.

Another factor to look into when addressing lone wolves is the time they spent in prison. Jails have become a hatching plant for would-be attackers due to their negative interaction with radicals, who preach their hate speech. Prisons have become beacons for terrorist thought. Very dangerous inmates should be isolated and prevented from contacting others in order to halt the spread of their terrorist propaganda.

‘Lone Wolf’ Phenomenon Started in West, Adopted by Qaeda, ISIS

terrorism

Cairo – One of the most dangerous predicaments facing those confronting terrorism in the world, especially in Europe and the United States, is how to face the so-called “lone wolf” phenomenon. The phenomenon is in fact part of the greater map of what is known as “sleeper cells” that extremist groups use to carry out their operations in areas that are far from the main base of the terror organizations.

This raises several questions, most importantly: “Do the terrorist groups that have filled the world with terror recognize the lone wolves? If yes, how and why?”

As he sought answers to these questions, the researcher came across a document released by the terrorist ISIS organization in which it hailed the lone wolves. It described them as “heroes” for striking down the “infidels and those who supported them in combating Muslims.” The document resorted to the Quran to justify the acts of the terrorists, which they interpret as an “act of great worship that will bring them closer to God.” It blamed the West’s oppression of Muslims for the emergence of lone wolves.

Lone wolves: A western concept

Research has revealed that the “lone wolf” phenomenon originated in the West, not the Arab or Muslim world. Researcher Dr. Mahmoud al-Bazzi wrote about this in his work, “Lone Wolves … ISIS’ Last Resort.”

In it, he said that the term “lone wolf” became common in 1990 when two racist Americans Alex Curtis and Tom Metzger called on individual and small cells to spread terrorism through operating underground and in secrect, instead of working in the open and for large organizations.

Since 1990, racist attacks carried out by such groups emerged in the US. The cells were not part of any organization and they called for attacks against non-whites through all possible means. If arrested, the assailants were told to inform authorities that they “had nothing to say.”

Bazzi listed a number of attacks carried out in Europe and the US that bear the clear hallmarks of “lone wolf” Anglosaxon protestants, not Muslims.

A sample of this is the February 1992 attack by Constable James Allen Moore, who shot dead three Catholics at the Belfast office Sinn Fein, a republican party that calls for uniting Ireland.

In the same vein, terrorist Jewish physician Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 people and wounded 150 others in a machinegun attack at the Ibrahimi compound in al-Khalil in the Palestinian territories on February 25, 1994.

Perhaps the worst lone wolf attack in history was the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City in the US. The assailant, Timothy McVeigh, drove an explosives-laden truck into the building in an attack directed against the government. A total of 168 people were killed and 680 wounded in the bombing.

In 2011, Anders Breivik went on a rampage at a youth camp on Utoya island in Norway, killing 60 youths. He identified himself as a “secular Christian, who was seized by religious and racial intolerance and delusions of crusader wars.”

Qaeda before ISIS

A lot has been said over the past two decades about the United States’ ties with political Islamic movements and later al-Qaeda. The ISIS group later emerged from the Qaeda fold.

The question that should then be asked is: Had al-Qaeda adopted the lone wolf strategy before ISIS did?

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that al-Qaeda was the first to follow this strategy and it was later adopted by ISIS, which had spread the guidelines on lone wolf attacks on its followers.

The guidelines urged the followers to stay away from their places of residence after carrying out their attack. They are advised to avoid using their telephone and be wary of leaving behind any incriminating fingerprints. They should cover their face when they execute the attack and place a withdrawal plan before even thinking of putting a plot into action.

They were urged to cause as many casualties as possible. In addition, ISIS called on would-be lone wolf attackers to blend in society by shaving their beards, dressing up in western clothes and putting on perfume, even ones that contain alcohol. The attacker should blend in the local society to avoid appearing as a Muslim. They should also refrain from regularly heading to mosque for prayers.

Given the detailed guidelines, one has to ask: Are those behind it amateurs or do they have experience in international intelligence and can disguise themselves in their surroundings?

Road to recruitment: How and who?

Regardless of the minds behind the lone wolves, the vital question that should be asked is: How are they able to recruit new members despite the distance between the terrorists and what are the characteristics of the candidates?

The long distance between the plotters is no longer a major issue or obstacle as modern technology has made it easy to overcome geographic restrictions. The terrorists have access to satellite telephones that allow them to evade government and intelligence surveillance.

It is likely however that would-be lone wolf attackers are lured over the internet. Some studies revealed that ISIS has over 90,000 Facebook and Twitter Arabic accounts, as well as 40,000 accounts in other languages.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “lone wolves” or “lone cells” are much harder to monitor. They pose an intelligence challenge more than terror networks operating on the ground. They can garner information on the latter through surveillance, but lone extremists emerge from spontaneous ideas that are difficult to control with traditional weapons.

The characteristics of the lone wolf has been the center of debates. The best candidate for ISIS are individuals who have mental and social problems and a criminal record. Figures that do not fall under this umbrella have, disconcertingly, started to appear.

They all however share the main purpose of attacking the “enemy and fragmenting it through individual acts that do not need great organization.” Organized armies face difficulties in confronting individual extremist elements because they are unpredictable.

Some observers believe that even though the lone wolves act alone, they ultimately cannot be separated from ISIS.

Professor Jytte Klausen, a scholar of politics who teaches at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said in an article in the US “Foreign Affairs” magazine that after years of worrying about the terrorist lone wolf, it appears that the dangerous terrorists indeed cannot be separated. Understanding why suicide-bombers are ready to attack and kill at random in a small neighborhood can be understood through looking at the terrorist threat as a social virus that spreads through a complicated infection process.

“Dangerous terrorists cannot be separated.”

Is this really true?

It is certain that lone wolves receive direct instructions and this was revealed by a 2015 ISIS pamphlet called, “The Lone Wolf Strategy.” In it, the author, “Abou Anas al-Andalusi,” hails ISIS member Mohammed Merah, who committed the 2012 Toulouse attack. He said that Merah was not really a lone wolf, but a member of an extremist group called “Jund al-Khalifa.”

Given this reality, we should now ask how can we deal with the lone wolf phenomenon and avoid it in the future?

Questions on al-Qaeda’s Possible Return

al-Qaeda

Cairo – In mid-August al-Qaeda threatened to derail Britain’s train system, urging its supporters to heed its call. This brought up the debate about whether the extremist organization was on the rise again, 16 years after the United States declared war against it.

There are many factors that support this possibility, starting with the defeats that the ISIS terrorist group has been dealt on the ground and also with the Taliban regaining some of its foothold in Afghanistan. Contrary to his pledges during his electoral campaign, US President Donald Trump vowed to send more forces to combat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to prevent it from returning to power. So have Washington and the world failed in confronting al-Qaeda throughout a decade-and-a-half?

Al-Qaeda threats

Security agencies in Europe took seriously al-Qaeda’s threat to target the British railways. They consequently upped security at train lines throughout the country, which shows, in one way or another, that al-Qaeda’s plotting has not weakened in recent years. In fact, it may have taken advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the fight against ISIS to quietly regroup to build resources and alliances to continue its eternal war against the United States.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy released one of the best reports to address al-Qaeda’s future and reawakening in light of the consecutive ISIS failures. It examined the extremist group’s ability to rise again from the rubble of the war against it in Afghanistan. It also tackled the recent crises in the region and the emergence of ISIS, which was originally a dogmatic and more radical branch of al-Qaeda itself.

Al-Qaeda and new host environments

It is perhaps ironic that the years of the so-called Arab Spring would produce new host environments for al-Qaeda and provide it with new allies that would allow it to continue its approach, as un-innovative as it is.

Syria was without a doubt the prime background for the reemergence of al-Qaeda. Since the beginning of the conflict, the extremist group has looked for new allies there and it appears to have found them in al-Nusra Front, which boasts thousands of fighters that believe in al-Qaeda’s ideals and goals. There is no doubt that al-Qaeda took advantage of the civil unrest in a number of Arab countries to gain new followers.

Some of the new host environments for al-Qaeda lie in Libya. The whole world saw how one country, Qatar, had the sole purpose to spread al-Qaeda’s forces in the North African country to seize control of it.

Perhaps the Libyan national consensus government security agencies’ unveiling of a terrorist plot to target with chemical weapons officials in the country’s capital spurred western circles to action. The plot was to be carried out by one of al-Qaeda’s branches in the Arab Maghreb. Revealed in August, the plan raised questions among European security agencies about whether these lethal chemical weapons are still in al-Qaeda’s possession in Libya. Are these weapons being used locally or will they cross the Mediterranean to be used in a terrorist attack in Europe?

Al-Qaeda: From Yemen to Africa

In early August, the US Department of Defense dispatched special forces to Yemen to help the pro-legitimacy forces in their operations against al-Qaeda in the country. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis stated that the special forces’ operations will be focused in the Shabwa province where the extremist group is particularly active in the Arab peninsula. So what can we interpret from this statement?

Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have certainly taken advantage of the situation in Yemen, which is on the verge of being declared a failed state. The country today is divided between pro-legitimacy forces, led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and a fragile alliance between former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi insurgents.

Amid the complexities of this scene, al-Qaeda has found ways to recruit new members and spread its network beyond the Arab peninsula and reach the Arab Gulf. The organization may be weak in Yemen, and not as powerful as the media, especially western ones, claims. This does not mean that the group is not any less active in the absence of the state. Its power grows as the state weakens. The equation is simple: As long as the civil war in Yemen rages on, al-Qaeda will be able to strengthen itself and defeating it will be difficult.

The catastrophic spread of al-Qaeda in Yemen will have consequences on Africa, where the group is seeking to spread, through Libya and Yemen’s coast that is near several African countries.

In fact, al-Qaeda has not stayed away from the spotlight in Africa and it has claimed responsibility for violence there. The latest of its terrorist crimes was an August 10 attack against a restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. The country itself has been a target of al-Qaeda attacks and it boasts the very active Ansar al-Islam group, led by Ibrahim Malam Dicko, as one of its affiliates. Established in 2016, this group’s ideology is more in line with al-Qaeda than ISIS.

The question about al-Qaeda’s future was best answered by former aide to US forces in Afghanistan, Seth Jones. Now a political scientist at the RAND Corporation specializing in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism, Jones published an article in the American Foreign Policy magazine in which he discusses al-Qaeda’s future.

In it he quoted Daniel Byman of Georgetown University as saying that the extremist group will weaken due to its poor popular support and the effective international efforts to combat terrorism. In addition, he said that resentment has grown against the group due to its killing of Muslim civilians

Others in Jones’ article shared a different view. Former FBI agent Ali Soufan said that al-Qaeda will undoubtedly make a comeback. He explained that the group is now transforming itself from a small terrorist organization to a powerful network. He asserted that it has grown in numbers, developed its fighting ability and is spreading in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Jones examined many hypothetical scenarios where al-Qaeda either returns to power of weakens.

One of the most dangerous scenarios is the probability that with ISIS’ demise, its members would join al-Qaeda and form a new organization. Al-Qaeda is different from what it was a decade ago and its movement is less centralized, meaning loyalties to it are changeable and therein lies the catastrophe.

Al-Qaeda welcomes Trump’s plan

On August 21, Trump announced a new plan on Afghanistan that sees the deployment of more US troops there in an attempt to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Has this plan come as the kiss of life for al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan in particular, and its supporters across the globe?

The truth is that prior to Trumps’ announcement, al-Qaeda saw in him and his former aide Steve Bannon a new lifeline to return to spotlight. How is that?

Very simply, before he was sacked, Bannon was the screaming voice of the US administration that claimed that “the power of Islam cannot be stopped by peaceful means.”

Bannon here gave al-Qaeda an opportunity to re-portray the West as being at an existential war with Islam. This is the way that the organization justifies its violence and fundamental ideology.

Now Trump is planning to start a new military war against Taliban and the remaining al-Qaeda affiliates, which will undoubtedly redraw the world map between peaceful and war-torn countries.

The New York Times recently said that even if all the world’s terrorists were killed tomorrow, they will come back again as long as both religious and racial fundamentalism and the lucrative heroine trade on the Afghanistan Pakistan border remained.

So does the solution in Afghanistan lie in leaving the country like Barack Obama did?

Of course not, because that will transform it into a new ISIS hub even if the name of the group changed. Perhaps Trump’s new strategy will provide a temporary solution.

Is there an end?

The extremism embodied by ISIS and al-Qaeda will not suddenly disappear for good. The hostile ideologies will remain in one way or another – whether in the wars in Africa or Asia or the Middle East and as long as central issues are unresolved and preachers of hatred, the end of the world and the clash of civilizations remain.

Radicalism and Terrorism: Obstacles Hindering Historic and Geographic European-Muslim Ties

Islam

Cairo – One of the most important questions posed on the intellectual scene is one related to the ties between Europe and Islam as a religion and Muslims as followers of that religion. This is a relationship that dates back to centuries. Yes, they may not all have been calm and peaceful, but they, in one way or another, witnessed a form of cooperation and coexistence.

At this we ask, will recent terrorist attacks, which are a sign of growing radicalism, act as an obstacle to coexistence or will the Europe of enlightenment and tolerance be able to overcome this hurdle in recognition of the relationship that dates back to over a thousand years?

Associate professor of media studies and Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University, Deepa Kumar argued in her book, “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire,” that for over a century and a half, the West has looked towards the East in general, the Ottomans in specific, as being inferior to it. The West believed that eastern cultures were only capable of producing oppressive societies. The most accurate perception of Islam in the West occurred during the age of Enlightenment. During the Romantic age, Islam was viewed as something exotic.

Kumar refuted the claim that the West and East were in a constant state of conflict. In fact, she noted that the history of the West and the history of the East were closely connected.

The critical and fundamental question that should be asked is: “Did the West always have a negative and distorted image of Islam and Muslims?”

Not at all at first. The distortion started to emerge during colonial times and with efforts to “demonize Islam and Muslims.”

In examining the terrorist attacks that have taken place over the past two decades, we are concerned in whether Islamophobia was an obstacle that hindered communication between West and East, which could have prevented these crimes.

Perhaps French political journalist Edwy Plenel can offer the best answer to this question in his book “For the Muslims.” He said that Islam is being manipulated to produce an internal enemy to create a state of panic among the most important figures of the European public, especially in France. He noted that France has started to adopt violent stances against immigration, which in many media, has become synonymous with Islam, extremism, terrorism, cultural invasion and other terms from the xenophobic dictionary.

Plenel pointed out to a pre-ISIS 2013 human rights report that clearly showed violent anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-Muslim blocs. If we compare the current sentiment in Europe to the one preceding World War II, we can say that Muslims today have become the scapegoat, similar to how Jews used to be, revealed the report.

This sentiment led to debates over barring religious symbols, such as the veil, from universities and institutions of higher education in Europe. Islamophobia has been used as an excuse to protect “secularism” and politicize issues of immigration and terrorism.

Logically, the Europeans should have kept these two issues apart because they have nothing to do with each other as some sides are trying to say through distorting facts and questioning whether Islam allows cultural diversity. How is this possible while some figures still cast doubts against Muslims and their ties with Europe?

The “father” of Orientalism, Bernard Lewis, has for a long time, been a planter of doubt. Despite being naturalized as an American citizen, he never forgot his European roots, therefore presenting the image of a racist Europe that is intolerant of Islam and Muslims. This image, which was evident in his 2010 book, “Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East”, was present even before the emergence of ISIS and it preceded the recent terrorist attacks.

Lewis spoke of the intolerant European minority, which has grown in numbers in recent years. This minority believes that the developments in Europe today are part of a second wave of attacks by Muslims, which is summed up by terrorism and immigration.

The author said that terrorism is being used in service of the religion. He stated that Islam recommends it as a fact of life and that Muslims believe that the world is divided into one of peace, which is ruled by Islamic Sharia law, and another that is ruled by war. Lewis also spoke of Europe losing its demographic identity due to the flow of immigrants. He went so far as to warn of the “Islamization” of the Christian continent as a result of the influx of Muslims.

An in-depth analysis of Lewis’ views leads us to an unexpected place, a fertile ground where radical Muslims and their European allies meet.

He explained that radical Muslims have an appeal to leftist anti-Americans in Europe, who see them as a substitute to the Soviets. They appeal to the anti-semitic right as a substitute to Nazis. These views have managed to garner support, often by the same people. Some figures in Europe clearly believe that grudges trump loyalties.

In Germany, the majority of Muslims are of Turkish origin. They tend to compare themselves to Jews, saying that they have succeeded them as the victims of German racism and oppression. Lewis referred to a meeting that was held in Berlin to address the situation of the new Muslim minorities in Europe. He remarked that one of the attendees wondered: “For 2,000 years the Germans were unable to accept 400,000 Jews, so what hope is there for them to accept two million Turks?”

Of course, Lewis has to add fuel to the fire, noting that Muslim Turks are playing on German guilt to advance their own agenda.

Within the lines of searching for the future of Europe and its Muslims, we find that there are some figures who are promoting the idea of “Islamicizing” the continent.

Radical French Jewish journalist Eric Zemmour, author of “Le Suicide Francais”, called for expelling Muslims from France. He said that it was shameful to compare the position of Jews in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the position of Muslims in France today. He claimed in an article in France’s Le Figaro newspaper in October 2014, that the Jews back then were rich and contributed to the economy. Muslims today spark fear due to their large numbers and Islamic terrorism and extremism. In addition, he remarked that the majority of violence against Jews in France is usually committed by Muslims.

In the same vein, French journalist Benoit Rayski, who is specialized in attacking Islam, wrote an article called: “It is our duty to be Islamophobic.” He constantly seeks to justify Islamophobia by promoting stories of the crimes committed against Christians in Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan, as well as highlighting ISIS’ execution of western hostages.

The question that should be asked at this point is whether Europe can reconcile with Muslims. The answer is not clear yet, especially in wake of recent terrorist attacks.

We are perhaps on the doorstep of a new phase of relations between Europe and Islam and Muslims. In sum, we can say that the direct relationship between Europe and Muslims took place over three different phases or eras. During each phase, the Muslim that Europe met was different. In the first phase, the Arabs played a prominent role. The Ottoman Turks were prominent in the next phase and the Mongols in the third.

Some observers believe that we have reached the fourth phase of European-Muslim ties.

The best way to conclude the above statements is to refer once again to Plenel, whose views on Islam have not been distorted by terrorist attacks in France. He believes that attributing the entire beliefs and culture of a certain peoples to the actions of the few paves the way for dark days.

The torchbearers of enlightenment in Europe now have the task of correcting the misconception in the continent, where Islam as a religion that rejects modernity is being presented as the norm. This is only adding fuel to the clash between Muslims and the radical right in Europe, paving the way for more deadly fundamentalism.

America between Current Racial Confrontations and Fears of Future Civil War

Charlottesville

Cairo – It can be said that American racism has adopted a specific approach towards non-whites and immigrants. It also produced extremist racist groups, most notably those with Nazi leanings. The presidency of Donald Trump came to open the door wide to the “America first” policy that many inside and outside the United States said was reminiscent of “Deutschland uber alles” (Germany above all else). Given this simplified backdrop, can someone understand the dimensions of what took place recently in the city if Charlottesville, Virginia?

The date Saturday, August 12. The location, a public garden in Charlottesville that houses the statue of Confederate General Robert Lee, one of the most prominent advocates of the separation of the southern US from the Union during the country’s civil war nearly two centuries ago.

Some residents of the city decided that it was time to remove the statue given that it is a reminder of a painful historic period in US history, that of slavery. The residents believed that keeping the statue is an insult to free America, where all people are equal under law, whether they are black or white, born on its land or naturalized. It appears that not everyone shares this belief.

Coming from such far-flung states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin and armed with authorized weapons, right-wing racist groups descended on Charlottesville, chanting their traditional anti-black and anti-semitic, xenophobic and anti-immigrant slogans. The real clash then erupted when a vehicle ran over some protesters to transform the campus of the historic University of Virginia, which was established by one of the most important US presidents, Thomas Jefferson, into a war zone. The scene was painted with the images of racial intolerance and hatred and a return of right-wing extremist groups, such as the American Nazi Party, Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance, National Alliance and many others.

This racist American scene raises a major question: Is there an institutional methodology working in the country that is working against African Americans?

In his exciting book, “Racism: A Very Short Introduction,” Ali Rattansi, a visiting social science professor at City University in London, speaks of the screaming racism inside the US and the forms of inequality in the country. He gave the example of how in 2001, the actual average income of black families was 62 percent of that of white people. The figure dropped to 58 percent when Latinos were excluded.

According to official figures, compared to white children, there are three times more African American children who are raised in poverty. There are two times as many unemployed African Americans as white people, a figure that has remain fixed for a long time. African Americans remain the most residentially segregated members of society, which can be attributed to white Americans’ refusal to live in an area where African Americans make up more than 20 percent of the population. The differences in infant mortality rates is a clear indication of the health of the population. Infant mortality rates among African Americans is double that of their white counterparts. In addition, some 75 percent of African Americans have completed their high school diploma, but only 14 percent pursued a university degree.

Given the above, is what took place in Charlottesville a strange occurrence?

Where did the rioters on the August 12 day come from? Not many people are aware of the existence of the American Nazi Party that was established in Arlington, Virginia in 1958. It was founded by George Rockwell, who had dreams to rule the US in the 1970s, but his assassination by a party defector put an end to that plan. His ideas stemmed from the Hilter’s Nazi ideals and his plan, had he been elected as US president, called for eliminating the Jews the same way Hitler did. He also wanted to deport African Americans and rewrite the constitution with a Nazi base.

The Ku Klux Klan meanwhile was and still is one of the most violent of racist movements in the US. It has a history of violence, burning houses and properties and kidnapping of African Americans and foreigners.

Established in 1974 by physics professor William Luther Pierce, the National Alliance is considered the most dangerous neo-Nazi movement in the US. Its ranks are filled with murderers, bombers and bank robbers. It’s suffice to point out that Timothy McVeigh, the bomber of the Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995, was a member of this Nazi group.

The US scene is not limited to traditional Nazi or far-right extremist groups. Agence France Presse reported on how a new generation of right-wing extremists has started to find its ground in the country. Why and how?

The answer leads on two paths. The first is financial and the second is intellectual. The first path is linked to the economic and financial situation in the country and the second is connected to the political state over the past decade, the last two years, specifically.

Addressing the financial path, the protesters who rioted in Charlottesville mainly came from the central United States, which is popularly known as the Rust Belt due it is economic decline.

This takes us to Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and chapter 23 entitled, “The Coming Revolt of the Guards.” The guards here are the American people, who have started to grow restless and angry towards the oligarchy in the country that is unjustly controlling its wealth.

Zinn noted that one percent of the US population holds a third of the country’s wealth. The remaining 97 percent is distributed in a way that keeps the people in a constant state of conflict, such as between small homeowners and non-homeowners, blacks against whites, natives and immigrants. Zinn warned Americans, especially their leaders, that what took place in the 1920s when the Klan managed to recruit millions of followers, could be repeated again as long as millions of American still aspire for solutions to the major problems that are plaguing their country’s economy and society.

These challenges make the people feel helpless and discouraged, leading to their isolation from others, their world, jobs and themselves. This pushes them to embrace the extremist right-wing culture.

The second path that explains the rise of American nationalism is greatly linked to the election of Trump as president. His electoral campaign slogans were enough to awaken the racist beast.

This awakening had its original roots during Barack Obama’s term in office, as pointed out by France’s La Croix newspaper in a recent report. It said that Trump’s victory was a response to Obama’s election and a rejection of another African American coming to power.

During his campaign, Trump resorted to many visuals and demonstrations that the Nazis used to stir German nationalism. He indeed succeeded in garnering the votes of the far right, who in turn highlighted the demographic economic decline of the white man against the African Americans, Latinos and immigrants.

No one can deny that Trump promoted the ideals of the anti-immigrant “Alt-Right”. The danger lies in the fact that on the surface, he presented an alternative culture to that advocated by traditional racist groups, but in reality they are more dangerous and alarming. It is likely that this Alt-Right movement will spread.

An observer of US developments cannot make official or direct accusations against Trump and label him a sponsor of the new form of racism in the US. Implicitly, however, one can simply look at his time in office and his close circle and see he is leading the country on the path of racism and intolerance. Some fear that violence and eventual sectarian and racial unrest will eventually lead to civil war.

Take for example some of the figures who were part of his electoral campaign and who are still with him:

David Duke is an extreme nationalist white supremacist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. He had voiced his support for Trump during his electoral campaign and once said: “I’m overjoyed to see Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years…. My motto will remain ‘America First’.”

Duke still acts as a sort of spiritual leader of the Klan, which is witnessing a rapid rise in its members, especially since the group is playing on unemployment to stir up racist sentiment. Many whites are not finding job opportunities and believe that immigrants and African Americans are taking these opportunities.

The other figure is Richard Bertrand Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank that believes in the establishment of a racial state that excludes minorities. In an extensive reading of the Washington Report website, we can see a clear link between the 38-year-old Spencer and the Alt-Right that works on uniting white supremacists throughout the country.

In celebration of Trump’s victory, the Washington Post reported Spencer as saying: “Let us celebrate like 1939, a date that the audience knows is when Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany and Nazis began to create their racial state.”

Terrorists between Psychological Disease and Madness of Ideological Extremism

terrorism

Cairo – Once against terrorism and terrorists attacked Europe with ISIS claiming responsibility for the car-ramming that injured six soldiers in a Paris suburb last week. The latest incident sparked a wide a debate over the links between terrorism and extremism with psychological and mental problems.

In Germany specifically, a wide debate addressed the catastrophic exploitation of terrorists of the mentally disturbed and ideologically radicalized in their suicide operations due to “the ease in which their brains can be washed.” This is a crisis that not only affects Europe, but extends to all six continents. Intolerance is easily achieved, especially regarding absolute dogmatic problems, as opposed to tolerance, which accepts the other and their opinions without a hint of chauvinism.

At this point, we must ask: Does the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the tightening of the noose around its fugitives mark an end of the spread of extremism of this terrorist group or is there a greater and more complicated problem that requires psychological intervention more than the analyses of security and intelligence forces, despite their importance?

This leads us to the problem of intolerance and the environment that gives birth to terrorism.

“Les Fanatiques Nouvelle ED: la folie de croire” is one of the latest intellectual and psychological publications that tackle the crisis that we are examining. Written by French Clinical Psychologist Professor Bernard Chouvier of Lyon University, the book was published by a Niniveh publishing house and translated into Arabic by Dr. Kassem al-Mokdad of Damascus University.

The book questions the purpose of addressing intolerance and the answer is that intolerance and radicalization are spreading more and more these days.

Chouvier opens our eyes to the fact that behind these terrorist and violent acts are men and women who are fighting for higher values (such as their alleged ISIS caliphate) and who are constantly setting a certain vision of humanity at the forefront of this pursuit.

The question that the world should ask, if it wants to radically combat terrorism, is how can we understand that there are people who strongly believe in a cause and are willing to take a destructive path to achieve it? Chouvier stressed that it is important to draw the portrait of the terrorist, identify the person behind its mask and study the ideas that they are translating into action.

The catastrophe of intolerance is that at times it could be a temporary occurrence, but in many, it becomes a way of thinking and acting methodologically. Living intolerantly does not make intolerance simply a means to an end, but it becomes an end in and of itself.

The author presents the intolerant person as a “holy human”, but he is not like any other human or any other holy figure. This person offers his body and soul for his cause and is mad about what he believes in. “Holy” here means the absolute and perfect that covers such an expanse that it borders on the realms that it contradicts, and that its the sacrilegious. Once he reaches this point, the intolerant person is no longer able to distinguish between what is “holy” and what is sacrilegious because they have all been lumped into one category.

The intolerant person interprets principles in an inverted manner, which costs life its value and grants negativity a meaning for him, if not a means. Destruction becomes a need for revival.

In one of the book’s chapters, Chouvier explains that terrorism is a form of intolerance and the terrorist therefore has a need to share his ideas with others. The other should yield to the terrorist ideology or be forced to yield to them. For Chouvier, an intolerant person is one who is very convinced with the sincerity of his ideas and is prepared to resort to violence in order to transfer these ideas to others or impose them on them.

If we apply Chouvier’s psychological explanation to ISIS, we realize how this phenomenon appeared and, more dangerously, how other similar groups may emerge in the future. The terrorist believes that the theoretical value of his ideas makes the means to reach them valid. The terrorist’s vision of terrorism lies in resorting to destruction, elimination, imprisonment, amputation and murder to build a system of freedom.

We often ask: How can ISIS and other radical and terrorist groups find a human environment from where they can recruit their members?

The problem here is that the recruitment is ongoing and it will produce new layers of ISIS with different names, especially if the ISIS defectors are not dealt with rationally.

Chouvier offers a new term that helps us understand the legend of recruitment in radical groups, and that is “intoleration”, or the act of leading one towards intolerance.

The greatest trap, said the French professor, is the media. He explained that the intolerant groups distort the normal beliefs of their potential new recruit by highlighting the contradictions in daily life, such as adolescence, social marginalization or life’s hardships. These groups become involved with people who are seeking answers to their personal existential crises and they employ social media to gradually manipulate their target and lure them over to their cause.

Those who tried to differentiate between the suicide bombers and the terrorists have wondered about what motivates someone to end their life with their own hand or even end the life of their loved one. We have seen how fathers have strapped explosives belts on their sons to blow them up against their perceived enemies.

Chouvier portrays the intolerant person as one seeking to apply pain and destruction upon himself in his attempt to assert the depth of his conviction to his beliefs.

Furthermore, the deep psychological analysis of the extremist’s distortion of what is holy should be used by security and intelligence agencies as a tool to deal with radical terrorists. This will reveal the behavior of this form of intolerance where the recruit becomes almost forced to carry out an action to avoid his internal implosion, which caused by an excessive awareness. Violence is the outlet that the recruit turns to prove the extent of his conviction in his beliefs.

Chouvier also highlighted a type of terrorism that adheres to a leader. These terrorists are willing to give their body and soul for their leader. Such groups usually have a military organization and the members are driven by their loyalty to their commander, and not a certain creed. The crisis here is that the leader here becomes an attractive hero, who knows how to build an organization whose members are transformed into killing machines he can manipulate as he chooses. The leader has no major cause or absolute values.

The adherent of this type of terrorism has driven analysts in Germany to examine the psychopathic mind that is programmed by a project that is devised by a higher power. At this point, Chouvier addresses the “lone wolf” attacker, who falls in his “own special category of intolerance.”

This intolerance is solely linked to the individual, who resorts to solving his psychological problems through spreading terror in his surrounding. This form of new intolerance was witnessed on the streets of France, Germany and Brussels. The individual is completely wrapped around himself and unleashes his internal violence, which he cannot control himself, on to those close to him.

He justifies this by thinking that “as long as others don’t understand me and as long as they are oppressing me and pushing me to my limit, then I will fulfill their wishes by eliminating myself from this world. But they should also pay the price of this in blood and tears.”

Chouvier describes this type of intolerant person as a “kamikaze”. Delving deeper in his mind, we realize that he is suffering from real pain caused by deliberate human neglect and social rejection.

He stressed that intolerance is a disease that strikes the mind and it should be studied before it emerges. Proper education and institutions could be the best cures to treat this virus.

International Initiative to Confront Extremism over the Internet

terrorism

Cairo – It appears that the confrontation against terrorism and extremism will extend for a long time, which demands that new mechanisms to fight these phenomena be devised. This is necessary since the state of global terrorism at the end of the second decade of the 21st century is very different than what it was at the beginning of the century.

This is demonstrated in that the September 11, 2001 attacks in each of New York and Washington were a product of hierarchical efforts within a terrorist organization. The latest terror attacks that have taken place, in Europe in particular, were a product of contacts between the perpetrators, but without them actually meeting each other in person. This has prompted some observers to deem the internet a “curse” that has befallen the modern human race after it made it easy for perpetrators to carry out their attacks.

This has therefore led to efforts to come up with global plans to confront what is now known as cyber- terrorism and extremism.

Terrorists and secret communication

Before looking into these plans and global forums on combating terrorism, perhaps we should examine some of the secret operations that saw terror groups resort to the internet to carry out their dark plots.

Investigations in the November 2015 Bataclan theater attack in Paris revealed that the assailants had used online games as an innovative way to communicate with each other. They successfully evaded French security agencies by avoiding using known communication methods, such as face-to-face meetings, email or mobile phone text messages. Their secret method was unprecedented in that they used internet backalleys without alerting France’s internal and external counter-terrorism networks.

This secrecy was not limited to France. Russia witnessed a terrorist attack against the St. Petersburg metro station in April. Russia’s Federal Security Service announced in late June that the suicide bomber had used the Telegram Messanger app in order to organize his attack, starting from the preparation phase until the moment of execution.

The Russian security agency stated that the majority of international terrorist organizations use the Telegram app, which allows them to carry out secret conversations through encrypted data.

Russian authorities demanded Telegram founder Pavel Durov to disclose this data in line with Russian law, but he had refused, saying that it goes against constitutional freedoms.

Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism

The West, led by the United States, could not stay away from the fight against terrorism. Over the course of a decade, the US realized that potential terrorist attacks on its territory could not take place without the infiltration of its internet network, whether by traditional terrorists, religious extremists or hostile countries, such as Russia and China.

On this note, social media and tech giants Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube unveiled in June the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism to combat terror after coming under pressure from governments all over the world to stop terrorist propaganda on their platforms.

We should here ask if these companies are willing to abandon the economic and commercial competition between them to unite against a greater target that threatens them all. It appears so, as the companies announced that the Forum gives their effort an official trait and cements current and future cooperation between them. The Forum is based on joint work among its members and sharing the best technological methods to counter terrorist content on the internet.

This recent step was preceded in December 2016 with the four companies’ announcement of the formation of a global partnership to combat terrorist content online.

The companies recently explained how the Forum will focus on technological solutions to track terrorism and improve methods to remove controversial content from the world wide web. They are also seeking to develop anti-terrorism propaganda.

Terrorist funding

Talk about the close ties between terrorist groups and the internet has gone beyond simply providing the extremists with ideas on how to carry out attacks or means to communicate among each other, but it has reached a new evil and innovative realm of funding these crimes.

Why funding? Over the past two years, ISIS had completely relied on smuggled and stolen oil from Iraq and Syria and the profits of selling looted ruins from these countries in order to fund its operations. The group had to however find new sources of financing in wake of the massive setbacks that it has suffered and in order to sustain its activities. The internet therefore appeared as a new source of funding that no one had previously thought about.

In mid-May the world woke up to one of the worst internet hacks in modern history when the Wanna Cry Ransomware program attacked computers all over the world. The program works through encrypting the affected computer’s system, demanding the user pay a “ransom” to an unknown party through the digital bitcoin service, for example.

Ransomware could be a dangerous method for terrorist groups to obtain funding. Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity Strategy at Proofpoint, Ryan Kalember confirmed that terrorist organizations had resorted to cybercrimes and ransomware.

Can we say that Washington is to partially to blame for this new form of global cyber threat? Perhaps so, because the US National Security Agency said that the May hackers had exploited a weakness in Microsoft, which prompted the tech giant to correct it after it was leaked last year. Users’ failure to update their operating systems was a weakness that was exploited by terrorists, who boast internet experts among their ranks, to hack several major companies, individuals and even governments, in order to obtain funding for their crimes.

ISIS Sets its Sights on Europe after Iraq, Syria Losses

ISIS

Cairo – The entire world is preparing for the battle of liberating Syria’s Raqqa from the clutches of ISIS, only days after the terrorist group was defeated in Iraq’s Mosul. Does this mean that ISIS will be destroyed permanently?

A Russian orientalist researcher said that the liberation of Mosul is a major victory, but the terrorist group retained some fighters in the city, who fled to Raqqa. Once this city is liberated, they have nowhere else to go but Europe.

Europeans fear that their continent will be an imminent ISIS target, especially after the group’s disappointment in the Middle East and North Africa, most notably in Libya.

In mid-June, Europol released a report that warned of a change in ISIS strategy in its attacks against European countries. It stressed that the group has started to rely on the recruitment of girls and younger members to carry out terrorist attacks.

It is currently targeting youths younger than 25 years old and it has shifted its attention, now more than ever, towards girls. Given this information, Europol warned that the worst is yet to come, adding that ISIS may go so far as to carry out nuclear, chemical and biologic attacks.

The report based its findings on surveillance of ISIS and its battles in Iraq and Syria where they managed to attach explosives to drones.

The European agency’s nuclear concern stem from the terrorists’ theft of some 40 kilograms of low enriched uranium from scientific institutes at the University of Mosul. The report noted that low enriched uranium does not pose a major threat, but it is enough to cause panic among the people. This does not in anyway lessen the severity of the situation.

Europol’s concerns were confirmed when ISIS released a video of children, whom it described as stronger than men of state, who have been trained to fight for the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. It said that these new recruits were the “new heroes” of the organization. What is most alarming is that these children are from different nationalities, such as Turkish, Iraqi, British and Russia.

Can the threats ISIS made in the recording be translated into actions, or are they simply part of a media and psychological war it is waging against Europe and major powers?

We can assert that Europe has become the destination for ISIS members fleeing the Middle East, where it is being defeated day after day. Their infiltration to Europe is confirmed by Italian intelligence reports, as stated by The Guardian in May, that voiced fears that ISIS members may be hidden among wounded Libyans.

The Guardian explained that Italian intelligence uncovered a complex network of ISIS members and other terrorists that has been operating since 2015. Terrorists were able to infiltrate Europe after pretending to be wounded Libyan soldiers who were sent abroad, by state-run hospitals, to receive treatment. The terrorists would then head to Turkey, travel to Romania, then Serbia and Bosnia, before heading to the final destination of their terror attacks.

Entering the heart of western European countries cannot have been achieved without proper funding and communication. So who helped them in their mission?

In early June, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department on New Challenges and Threats Dmitry Feoktistov announced that Moscow has information that ISIS was attempting to invest in projects in Europe through some Middle Eastern banks.

Russian officials informed Washington of the specific names of these banks that are investing in two European countries. They revealed that ISIS was trying to make up for its losses by turning to the precious metal trade. The group has seized phosphate mines in Iraq and several cement factories in Syria.

In addition, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that it has information that indicates that ISIS was attempting to invest in the real estate market in Turkey and the US city of New York.

Moreover, European police have also expressed their fears that ISIS and its partners have gone so far as to establish an “ISIS Facebook”, which would represent a new dangerous nightmare.

The security agencies are truly investigating the possibility that the group and its partners, including al-Qaida, may indeed be in the process of setting up their own social networking site.

The purpose of this network is to promote terrorist activities and garner funding away from security inspections.

A spokesman for European police told Agence France Presse: “We are still trying to identify all the details of this account, including who set it up and why.”

Initial findings, revealed that it connects ISIS with other terror organizations.

Is the group therefore making arrangements for a plan that will be achieved by 2020?

The terrorists had in the months that it had bolstered its presence in Iraq and Syria, issued a statement saying that its leaders were planning on invading Europe before 2020. This invasion will be a form of vengeance for wrongs the Europeans have committed against the Arab world with the Sykes – Picot agreement. The terrorists consider that this agreement was an attempt by the “unbelieving West to divide the Muslims and prevent the establishment of a new Islamic caliphate.”

At any rate, ISIS heading towards Europe is reminiscent of combatants who returned from Afghanistan in the early 1990s after they fought the Soviets. These terrorists withdrew from the country and have spread corruption and terror throughout the Arab world for several years before they were finally dealt with on the security and ideological levels.

An Arab security official remarked: “If those returning from Afghanistan graduated from the school of violence, returning ISIS members have studied and trained in the academies of violence and terror, which makes dealing with them a catastrophic issue.”

This is demonstrated in the great difficulty European security and intelligence agencies are facing in monitoring the fighters, who are returning from conflicts in the Middle East. The terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe in recent years attest to these challenges.

A Canadian-French intelligence report recently highlighted ISIS’ campaign against Europe, asking what the terrorists seek to achieve there.

According to the report, ISIS has two goals:

– It wants to prove that coexisting with “traitors” is impossible. It therefore targeted Germany and France, the primary hosts of the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe. These two countries also have the most lenient migrant policies.

– It wants to encourage the “jihadist rise” in Europe because European recruits have exceptional value for the terrorist group.

ISIS’ main goal in Europe is not military, but political and symbolic. This is why lone wolf attacks serve its agenda and make the group a constant threat. The escalation that it is exercising perfectly reveals its dynamism and highlights its remote control of sleeper cells.

US: Plight of the Innocent Muslim with the Far-Right

US

Cairo – Gradually, the unbalance immoral equation that governs the approach of some in the West against Islam and Muslims is being uncovered. This unjust equation shows clear and flagrant contradiction where every attack or threat on human life or property, no matter how great or minor, is blamed on Muslims. Even if this threat is not real or simply a claim, it is blamed on Muslims.

In contrast, every threat that comes from a white man is, at most, described as an “isolated criminal incident” that does not threaten the western way of life or infringe on international peace and security.

On June 24, Britain’s Independent newspaper released a US study by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute on the various attacks that had taken place in the country between 2008 and 2016.

At first glance, the western reader would believe that Muslims are the primary culprits in these attacks, which goes in line with the waves of Islamophobia that the US and Europe are witnessing, especially in the past two decades.

The surprise was that the study revealed that the majority of these terrorist attacks were carried out by non-Muslim extremist groups that have nothing to do with the religion.

The study instead said that the vast majority of the crimes were committed by far-right white Americans inside the US. During the eight-year period covered in the study, some 115 attacks were reported, including the 2015 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three people dead at the hands of white supremacist Robert Dear. The study said that the perpetrator was a white man, not a Muslim.

In addition, the study highlighted police and security measures at a time of an attack. It said that 76 percent of Islamic attacks were thwarted as opposed to only 35 percent committed by far-right extremists.

At this point, we have to ask: Who is promoting the idea that Muslims are the neo-barbarians inside the United States and that they stand behind every evil?

Media and Middle Eastern Studies professor at Rutgers University in the US and author of “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire,” Deepa Kumar said that there is a “great opera” that is fabricating facts inside the US.

This is aimed at misleading the American public and keeping it victim to the illusion that law enforcement officials “were working on keeping the US safe from the terrorist Islamic barbarian hordes.” Even with the help of this deception and a justice system that has been completely manipulated to serve the needs of the so-called war on terror, the US government has only been able to issue 20 indictments a year linked to violent terrorist plots.

Take for example the statistics released by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. They showed the huge gap between the threats reported in the Islamophobic media and the actual reality, whose figures are in line with those released by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.

For example, of the 14,000 Americans killed in 2011, only one was a result of a “Muslim terrorist plot.”

Who killed 150,000 Americans?

A Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security study on Muslim-Americans between September 2001 and May 2011 identified 172 terror suspects or perpetrators. Of those suspects, only 11 indeed carried out attacks inside the US and were responsible for the death of 33 people over an entire decade. What about the rest?

Of the 172 cases, at the time of the study, 29 are awaiting trial, and 63 cases are linked to a secret informer.

Throughout the decade that these cases unfolded, 150,000 murders were committed in the United States. Did Muslims kill all of these victims?

Who is therefore promoting the idea of Islam and Muslim terrorists inside of the US? The answer is undoubtedly linked to a number of American authors, journalists and intellectuals, who are known for their traditional hostility and who are afflicted with the “fear of Islam.”

Among the discriminatory books that were released in the US in the past decade was Bruce Bawer’s “While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within”. The book’s pages are filled with lies and misconceptions that demonstrate the author’s ignorance of the most basic teachings of Islam and place him among the ranks of the most hostile anti-Islam figures. In his book, he seeks to incite the West against Muslims and compares Islam to Nazism. Even though the work was admired by some of the writer’s fans, it was severely criticized by a number of neutral European and American historians and intellectuals, who pointed out to Bawer’s errors.

Another author who share’s Bawer’s sentiment is Jewish American journalist Mark Steyn. The author of “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It” not only criticizes Islam, but directs a harsh attack against Europeans, who have allegedly left the US alone in its war against terror. He said that Europe did not understand that its needs demand that it ally itself with the Americans in this war.

Upon its release, Steyn’s book topped the bestseller lists and was critically acclaimed, which confirms that his lies and discrimination are well received by some far-right anti-Islam readers in Europe and the US.

Given that people tend to struggle to remember events that have taken place more than three years ago, a reminder seems necessary. The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute study found that the majority of terrorist attacks committed in the US between 2008 and 2016 require a deeper reader, but this does not prevent us from making a few quick highlights.

April 19, 1995 will remain a witness to the reality that the Americans themselves have turned a blind eye to. On that black day, white American Timothy McVeigh carried out a terrorist attack in Oklahoma City, killing 168 Americans in a truck bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. McVeigh chose the timing of the his attack to coincide with the anniversary of the standoff between police and the right-wing David Koresh group in 1993.

Were voices at the time raised to condemn the crimes of the white man and warn of the US far-right years before the September 2001 attack?

The Psychological Explanation of Extremism and Terrorism

terrorism

Cairo – At a time when Egypt witnessed the horrific terrorist attack in al-Minya and when Britain’s Manchester was still reeling from its own terror assault, Bibliotheca Alexandrina released a very important book that tackles terrorism.

In his book, “The Psychological Explanation of Extremism and Terrorism,” psychologist and former Egyptian Minister of Culture Dr. Shaker Abdul Hamid seeks to understand the roots of extremism and its effect on the world.

Shaker concludes his book with a hope that the culture of creativity will confront the culture of fundamentalism and terrorism. I will focus on the fourth chapter, terrorism and political violence, a phenomenon that has been paining the globe, from Manchester to al-Minya, in an attempt to understand the hellish developments of the modern world.

The image that the two attacks projected is that terrorism works on spreading fear, terror and the constant sense of being threatened. This is because it is difficult to predict as no one knows when and where such attacks may take place.

This crisis, says Shaker, pushes us towards finding the causes of terrorism This includes the environment that produces it and the political and symbolic messages that it is trying to deliver through its narratives that ceaselessly appear here and there.

The Problem of defining fundamentalism

Shaker goes deep in searching for the definition of terrorism that has become problem of the theorists tackling this global “plague”. This problem emerges in the varying interpretations of what constitutes a terrorist act. What some groups deem to be legitimate resistance others deem to be terrorism.

Despite these difficulties, most observers have agreed that terrorism is the methodical use of violence to achieve political goals by a group or organization. These groups or organizations usually target state symbols in their pursuit of their goals.

Difficulties remain however in attempting to reach a convincing definition of terrorism, one which distinguishes between terror and violent behavior. The agreement that has so far been reached is that terrorism “is the deliberate and systematic use of violence, carried out by a small number of individuals. Or it could be social violence that is marked by spontaneous and unorganized behavior that requires the participation of great numbers.”

The extent of terrorism’s reach has prompted thinkers to go beyond tackling it through security and intelligence measures, important as they are. They are looking at the source of terror and ways to dry them up.

Reasons for the spread of violence and terror

Antonius C. G. M. Robben and Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco ask in their 2000 book, “Cultures under Siege: Collective Violence and Trauma”, deep questions about terrorism and violence. They are questions we seek to answer in our attempt to understand and explain the spread of violence in some human societies. These questions include:

1. What are the usual motives of political violence that is linked to extremism and terrorism in particular?

2. What culture usually harbors and produces violence more than others?

3. What cultural narratives are connected to violence and aggression? How are the codes of social violence encoded into these narratives?

4. What is the role of the “basic trust”, a term coined by Erik Erikson? What is the role of trust or mistrust in the social institution and cultural practices that give meaning to human life?

At this, Shaker cited some researchers who said that violence and terrorism could be traced back to the “basic mistrust”, as Erikson described it, in these institutions and practices.

Other researchers said that political violence is a product of disappointment among the young and old. The motives of violence and aggression have differed throughout history. Some modern ideologies have developed major general ideas on the cultural lowliness of others in contrast to their cultural superiority. This is demonstrated in the anti-immigrant wave, as well as Nazism, racial movements in Europe and the United States, hate-filled protests and even genocide, similar to what happened in the former Yugoslavia.

Shaker for his part underlines ideological hatred towards the other and how it is linked to killing, as seen in Stalinism in the Soviet Union and several anti-Communist states during the latter part of the 20th century.

Some researchers also say that religious texts have played a role in feeding political ideologies with hatred. They gave the example of how Jews were portrayed as the killers of Jesus.

Who is terrorism attributed to?

Shaker tackles a very sensitive issue and it is some attempts, especially by enlightened western circles, to attach terrorism to Islam and Muslims as if the world has been emptied of all extremist Hindus, Buddhists, Christians or Jews.

He noted that even though extremism exists in all other religions, the current terrifying and bloody image is unfortunately always being linked to Islam alone. Muslims themselves, through their actions and behavior, have shockingly cemented this image in the eyes of the world.

Shaker asks central and sensitive questions that represent the highest level of self-criticism, not self-flagellation. He asks:

“When his asylum request to a European country is rejected, what prompts the Syrian refugee to blow himself up at a restaurant?”

“Why is it that when Muslims feel marginalized in European countries, they commit explosive acts of terror instead of setting an example of good behavior?”

The truth that the author asserts is that terrorism does not belong to one country and not another. Terrorism does not belong to a certain social or economic class. It does not belong to a certain ideology or political approach.

Do ideologies promote terrorism?

They say that “under the skin of every ideologue is a terrorist.” How much truth is there in this statement? Does it necessarily mean that ideologies are the main cause of terrorism?

Shaker says that ideologies that are being referred to here are political, scientific and social ideas and theories. One of the most powerful ideologies is nationalism, where people believe that their countries are superior to others, as seen by the United States.

In this context, terror is employed as a strategy that is linked to violent rhetoric in order to support left and right ideologies. Terrorism can therefore be explained as “a violent strategy whose orchestrators seek to create fear.” Those behind terrorism want to provoke a reaction against it so that hostility is created, which will serve their goals.

As opposed to regular criminals, terrorist ideology believes that its violent actions are right, justified and necessary against oppressive authorities. Its political aspect then emerges in that terrorists attack the very legitimacy that the identity of the modern state is based upon.

‘Jihadist’ thought and the crisis of violence

Perhaps in order to understand the al-Minya and Manchester attacks, one must refer to the book, “The Youth and Violent Groups … Youth Visions”, said Shaker. The book summarizes the motives of religious violence as seen in the Islamic Jihad, Jamaa al-Islamiya and Muslim Brotherhood groups in Egypt and other countries.

The Islamic Jihad called for waging a holy war against secularism because it separated religion from the state, its laws, education and media. It deemed such systems as legitimizing the rule of the devil instead of the rule of God.

This has led to the division in the world between the secular, who are governed by those who do not apply God’s rule. They are represented by different religious foes, such as the Copts or Marxists, as well as cultural figures, artists, foreign tourists and others.

If they are secular, then they are inevitably infidels. This is a discrepancy that should be clarified.

Secularism does not oppose religion, but it opposes including some religious matters in all aspects of life.

On the other side of this divide lie those who believe that they have the absolute truth and faith. They label others as infidels and turn them into the devil, who should be destroyed. This is where the killing machine started.