From my latest VOA report — you can find it here: “The refugee crisis roiling Europe presents a win-win opportunity for Islamic State (IS) extremists, says international terrorism research consultancy TRAC.
By hiding among thousands of asylum-seekers, the Islamist militants can expand their operational presence in Europe, the consortium of analysts warned in a briefing released Thursday.
And if any of their infiltrated members are caught, the backlash could help radicalize disaffected European Muslims.
Despite fears that IS is exploiting the refugee crisis to infiltrate Europe by disguising members as asylum-seekers, only six cases have so far been reported. Analysts, however, say the apparently meager numbers shouldn’t be a cause for relief or a source of complacency — a point echoed by European intelligence officials who VOA spoke to on condition of anonymity.
So nice to see the Washington Post catching up.
This was my dispatch for the Daily Beast posted February 6 on signs of internal fraying within ISIS.
“The propagandists of the putative Islamic State would have you believe it is just one big happy family, righteously slaughtering apostates, enslaving women (literally), beheading and burning alive its prisoners, all in the name of God. But quarrels over a range of issues—from divvying up of the spoils of war to competition over women and, yes, the handling of foreign hostages—point to a lot of trouble beneath the surface of this terror army…
Punitive killings, the flight of some senior ISIS commanders, and the execution of more than 60 foreign fighters who wanted to leave in recent days risk provoking more flare-ups, say residents who recently escaped Raqqa.”
Today — a month later — the Post today reports:
“The Islamic State appears to be starting to fray from within, as dissent, defections and setbacks on the battlefield sap the group’s strength and erode its aura of invincibility among those living under its despotic rule.
Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines, and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic state.”
“Where are your great men? Who is your Mandela, your Gandhi, your Aung San Suu Kyi?” asks French Muslim philosopher Abdennour Bidar in a moving open letter to the Muslim world published on October 3 in the French newspaper Marianne.
He continues: “Where are your great thinkers whose books should be read worldwide, as they were when Arab or Persian mathematicians and philosophers were referred to from India to Spain? You are actually so weakened behind the self-assuredness that you always display… You have no idea who you are or where you want to go, and it makes you as unhappy as you are aggressive… You persist in not listening to those who call on you to change by finally freeing yourself from the dominion over all of life that you have granted to religion.”
He says this: “I see you in a state of misery and suffering that saddens me infinitely, but that makes my philosopher’s judgment even harsher. Because I see you in the process of birthing a monster that presumes to call itself the Islamic State, and which some prefer to call by a demon’s name – Da’esh. But worst of all is that I see that you are losing yourself, losing your time and your honor, in your refusal to recognize that this monster is born of you, of your irresoluteness, of your contradictions, of your being torn between past and present, of your perpetual inability to find your place in human civilization.”
Worth reading in its entirety and you can here. It has nuances that Bill Maher would do well to take on board but at the same time it is an unrelenting critique of what the followers of Islam have allowed to happen to their religion and rejects utterly excuses for the rise of the jihadists saying the West is not to blame.
Al-Qaida linked jihadists in insurgent-held areas in northern and eastern Syria are targeting children as young as four-years-old and teenagers for indoctrination, conducting teach-ins, opening schools and training camps, say human rights activists.
“You are seeing the jihadists trying to create a new pool of suicide bombers,” says psychotherapist Mohamed Khalil of the London-based Arab Foundation for Care of Victims of War and Torture. Read my full VOA dispatch here.