October 18, 2014

Islam: The Way to the Light or the Road into the Darkness of the Middle Ages? 5

Part 5. The Eternal Question: “What to do?”

Reality of the threat

The lecturer in Sociology at the Institute of Political Studies and the author of “The Myth of Islamization” (“Le mythe de l'islamisation”) Raphaël Liogier argues that in societies of Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Islamic extremism is not considered normal behavior for a believer: “Radicals often have difficulties with self-determination. They are characterized by economic frustration and narcissistic wound, pushing them to take action. It's mental illness”. There you are! Islamic extremism is just a mental illness! They should not be fought, they should be treated! Is it not too easy!?

Needless to remind you that the activity of radical Islamist organizations in European countries creates for them more than a real threat. The two-level threat at that.

At the political level, Islamists are trying to “dilute” the Western society, challenging its democratic values​​, such as sexual equality, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of speech, press, and other, unacceptable to the faithful. They aggressively defend the establishment and functioning of political parties based on religion and of Sharia tribunals. They hope to create or deepen a cultural and social gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. The idea is to radicalize Muslim communities, to subject them to the same goal.

At the second, terrorist level, Islamists create operational terrorist cells involved in recruiting and training new members, planning and coordinating terrorist activity. Here we have very exact facts and figures. As a starting point let's take, for example, 2000:

- March 11, 2004, 10 explosions thundered in passenger trains in Madrid (trains at the railway stations Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia). 191 people were killed, nearly 2,000 injured. This happened three days before the parliamentary elections in Spain and was the largest terrorist attacks in the country's history. Initially the responsible for the attacks was blamed on the Basque separatist organization ETA. Later it was found out that the underground Islamist organization “Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri,” which is part of “Al Qaeda”, was involved;

- The murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam November 2, 2004;

- July 7, 2005 in London between the stations “Aldgate” and “Liverpool Street”,“King's Cross” and “Russell Square” and near the station “Edware Road” in cars of 3 trains of the tube, explosive devices detonated almost simultaneously. After some time in Tavistock Square, in the passenger compartment of the double-decker bus another explosive device went off.

According to the investigating authorities, the explosive devices could have been powered by suicide bombers. As a result, 56 people were killed, at least 700 people injured, and about 30 people were missing. Public transport in the city during the day was almost paralyzed.

The summit of the “Great Eight” (G8) which began on July 6 in Gleneagles, was actually crossed up.

Responsibility for the action was taken by the extremist organization “Secret organization” Al-Qaeda “in Europe”.

- July 18, 2012 in Bulgaria, in Bourgas airport “Sarafovo” was blown up a bus with Israeli tourists, who flew from Tel Aviv to stay at a local resort “Sunny Beach”. In the bus there were 40 tourists from Israel, as well as the driver. Seven people died, more than 30 people were seriously injured, among the victims there were two pregnant women.

Bulgarian investigators concluded that the bomb on the bus had either been installed before boarding, or it had been put in the luggage compartment at the time of loading the luggage. The act was committed, allegedly by members of Hezbollah;

- March 19, 2012 in Toulouse (France) terrorist Mohammed Mera in a Jewish school “Otzar HaTorah” (“Treasures of the Torah”) shot four people: a teacher and three children aged 4 to 7 years.

During the same period special services of European states prevented more than twenty major terrorist attacks:

- In April 2004, the Belgian Federal Police prevented two terrorist attacks at the stage of preparation: one in a Jewish school in Antwerp, the other was to take place during a meeting devoted to the opening of the tunnel TGV in the same city;

- In the spring of 2004, again in Madrid, was prevented an attack against a National Audience (the highest juridical authority of the country, where the famous Judge Baltazar Garzon works);

- In June 2004, the Moroccan terrorist organization GICM tried to hold terrorist acts in Lisbon against several prominent political figures, including against the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso;

- the cell HOFSTAD (responsible for the murder of Van Gogh) had been planning a series of attacks, including several murders, including the member of the Parliament of Somali origin Ayaanu Hirsch Alia, as well as a terrorist attack in the Parliament, using a vehicle bomb or a bomb, an attack against the Headquarters of the Secret Service, Schiphol airport, etc. Only the abolition of the cell after the murder of Van Gogh prevented these criminal acts;

- In November 2004, a group of men who had been preparing murder of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, were arrested in Germany.

These facts make it clear that the purpose and object of the Islamist terrorist organizations has been and remains Europe. And this is not just a blow to European countries, supporting, as many Europeans think, the United States in the war in Iraq. Attacks in Madrid on March 11 had been prepared in 2000-2001, when the war in Iraq had not begun yet, and the Spanish troops were not present there, and when the attack on the National Audience was being planned, Spain had already withdrawn its troops from Iraq!

Besides, France and Belgium are not involved in the war in Iraq, and both the governments have condemned the American intervention. Nevertheless, actions were planned in these two countries too.

Islamists' need for committing actions in Europe is not congenital, but it follows from the essence of the old continent. Whatever the differences between the United States, European countries and some other states, such as, for example, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, — they all belong to the same “camp” — the Western world — and this definition has no ethnocentric character any longer. They accept the same democratic values ​​as the old Europe. It is these values ​​that make us all, non-Muslims, enemies of Islamists. Besides, even if there is currently no military presence in Iraq, the European Union gave a political promise to help the new Iraq and the Kurds in their fight against the “Islamic state” and against the created on the part of the territories of Syria and Iraq, “Arab Caliphate.”

Over the past 12 months we have also seen a qualitative development of the threat: more than ever, Islamism is asserting itself as a mutating virus. Where, for example, in the early 2000s, security services used to face terrorist structures, mainly consisting of experienced extremists, often with Afghan experience, aged 25-40 years, now there more common are young people, who, by definition, have no “past” in Islamist circles. Thus, French Islamists-mercenaries killed or arrested in Iraq, were only 18 to 20 years old. Samir Azzouz, a member of the cell HOFSTAD, during his arrest was only 18 years old, and he was declared wanted, when at the age of 16 he tried to go to the war in Chechnya.

What the whole Europe fears now, is the returning of fighters from Syria and emergence of a new generation of hard and unscrupulous terrorists, who September 11, 2001 were 12 to 15 years old, and whom it took a year or two to go through the brainwash required to participate in terrorist attacks. It took their older brothers more than 10 years to go through this.

Today's terrorist groups more and more often are made ​​up of people with strong local connections, who can count on solidarity of local communities and families. These groups are also associated with marginal groups of society and criminal circles, which increases their dangerousness: new Jihadists have no problem to get shelter, weapons or explosives. They, despite their young age, are included in the “underground”. Sometimes they can even penetrate police structures and special services, like the organized crime does it: one of the members of the cell HOFSTAD was hired as a translator of AIVD of the Dutch intelligence service.

Finally, new terrorist cells, even more than before overlap in their activities: a cell of HOFSTAD, based in the Netherlands, was preparing its actions, and at the same time was participating in planning terrorist attacks in Spain and Portugal. A threat to the interests of the United States from European terrorists is also very real. It is obvious that American targets (embassies, consulates, military personnel, employees of American companies) are natural targets for terrorists.

But in all this there is something else, namely, most of the Second generation, and almost all the Third generation of Muslim immigrants today have European citizenship and passports. Thus, all these people can move freely throughout Europe and the United States. Needless to remind that the September 11 attacks had been planned in Germany, UK and Spain.

What should we expect?

It is clear that in the nearest future, the threat won't become smaller. Since March 11, 2004 European secret services and Law have been increasing the pressure. Dozens of arrests have been carried out in Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and other countries where the GICM's (Groupe Islamique Combattant Marrocain) network was destroyed. Arrests prevented several attacks with dramatic consequences. Paradoxical result of these effective anti-terrorism measures designed to reassure the European public opinion, troubled by bombings in Madrid and London, have become thoughts that the threat is over, because nothing else happens. But it is not so. The threat in the nearest future will not decrease because:

- The situation in Iraq continues to be a most powerful destabilizing factor. Stabilization processes in Syria and Iraq must be stopped at all costs — such is the Islamists' goal. Europe and NATO have agreed to maintain stability, and are creating a new coalition against the IS. Hence, there is need to “tear down| Europe from this position by means of violence and terror.

- Events in Morocco give rise to concern. The most widely represented terrorist organization in Europe and the most dangerous one at the moment — is GICM. The organization suffered losses in Europe and Morocco. But the struggle against it is far from being over, as without it no state reforms are possible. Development of the situation in Morocco in the coming years will have a major impact on the situation in Europe. If terrorism cannot be eradicated, and it remains strong enough, then the consequences will be felt in Europe, as Moroccan groups will be replenished with new members.

- “New generation” of Islamic terrorists in Europe is just beginning to go onto the terrorist stage. Recruited from the “third generation”, they are, as we know, have faced problems of identity and consider themselves victims of integration. This has encouraged the young people to violence. The matter is that informal networks of young people born in Europe who know the situation very well and have a claim against the local population, can serve as a transition to structured international organizations. They may even try to organize their own jihad as revenge for real and imagined insults.

In a word, the situation will remain quite dangerous in the nearest future too.

So what to do?

Experts in the field of counterterrorism develop recommendations on the struggle against terrorism in general and suicide terrorism in particular. Here are some of them:

- To raise the level of cooperation of people of all faiths in order to prevent distorted religious beliefs, used by terrorists to justify themselves (by the way, terrorism is banned by all religious canons, Islam included);

- To struggle against the religious legitimacy of jihad prescribed by the leaders of extremist groups and individuals claiming to be legitimate religious leaders. Their true intentions and religious misinterpretations should be unmasked everywhere;

- To conduct sensitization in countries affected by terrorism, with particular attention to young people, who often join the ranks of “suicide bombers”;

- To leave terrorist organizations with no access to finance, and to prohibit raising funds for religious or social purposes. After all, it is no secret that they are actually meant for the organization of terrorist acts and propaganda of hatred to people of different religions;

- To work together to develop new technologies and tactics, to strengthen special anti-terrorist units;

- To create international funds for research in the sphere of struggle against terrorism;

- To develop and implement a joint policy against governments that support or actively participate in terrorism in general and suicide terrorism — in particular.

Having faced the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism, Europe is taking steps. Naturally, the official rhetoric is the same everywhere: struggle against terrorism is a priority, and many measures are taken to counter it. But the reality is different. Some people are still not aware of the real danger posed by terrorism.


First. The West affects little the processes in the Arab world, although, of course, it tends to support Arab reformers. But this approach should be subtle and professional.

Second. The increasing influence of Islamist parties in North Africa and in the Middle East is due to the deep disappointment of the local population in the methods of ruling of the former government.

Radicals promise justice based on Sharia, thereby making adjustments in the public consciousness, “cutting out” secular beliefs from it. There is an open and systematic Islamic expansion, both in the inner life of these countries and in the international aspect.

Third. Radical ideas in France and Germany are actively fed by protest movements in the countries of the “Arab Spring.”

Muslim extremists have become more active in Egypt, Islamist sentiment has become stronger in Algeria, a real threat of civil war is growing in Yemen, and Islamists are striving for power in Tunisia.

This leads to multiple increasing of the pressure on special structures designed to maintain the anti-terrorist struggle in European countries. This should initiate new ideas and various initiatives by governments and non-governmental organizations. Should, but is it really?

So, it is time to ponder the question, — in what Europe our next generation will live? Isn’t it time to unite for joint decision of European problems?