Where To Bury Terrorists, A Question From Boston To Bavaria

The German state of Bavaria now has to face the question of where and how to bury slain terrorists. Clues could come from post-coup Turkey, or from the Boston Marathon.

In Ansbach, Germany. Flowers for victims, not terrorists ...
In Ansbach, Germany. Flowers for victims, not terrorists ...
Deniz Aykanat

The sign reads “Hainler Mezarliği."

There is a small patch of earth behind it, surrounded by a low wall and land covered in stones as if it were part of a quarry. Hainler Mezarliği means “cemetery of traitors” in Turkish.

This scene is not a picture taken from a history book or a part of a historical film set in the Middle Ages. It is the cemetery in Pendik, a suburb of Istanbul, and it is the summer of 2016. If Mayor Kadir TopbaÅŸ had his way, everyone who took part in attempting to overthrow the government during the night of July 16 would be buried here. Several graves have been dug and one alleged supporter of the coup has already been buried here as one can see by the mound of dirt that rises just above the ground.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan had made it very clear to the imams of Turkey, after all, that rebels would not receive Muslim burials.

Now the scene shifts to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a small town in Normandy, France. Two men have murdered an 85-year-old priest with a knife while he celebrated mass in his church. The local Muslim community refuses to bury the 19-year-old terrorists. Neither the local imam nor the chairman of the Muslim Council of Normandy wants to take part in the funeral.

Back in May 2013, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who with his brother had planned and executed a deadly attack on the Boston Marathon, was buried in a small Muslim cemetery in the U.S. state of Virginia. Local authorities as well as the Tsarnaev family searched for more than a month to find a cemetery willing to bury Tamerlan.

How is a society supposed to deal with the dead who caused so much suffering to its people?

This is the question that the southern German state of Bavaria now faces. The bodies of the terrorists who carried out recent attacks in both Ansbach and Würzburg have not been released by the investigating authorities as of yet, but it has already become clear that the funeral of these two young men poses a challenge for both the authorities and society in general.

Muslim burials

Würzburg’s district administration, for example, has yet to decide what shall be done with the body of a young refugee who used an axe to attack and severely injure passengers on a train and was subsequently shot dead by police. “It may be assumed that the local administration of the attacker's place of residence is responsible in the first instance," said a spokeswoman from the Würzburg district administration. "But we have to yet establish if this is also the case if the deceased is Muslim.”

But what shall be done if Muslim communities refuse to bury suicidal terrorists, as has happened France and the U.S.? “In general, a Muslim should get a Muslim burial,” says Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Muslim Committee of Germany. “But theologically speaking an imam or his community has no obligation or duty to take part in a funeral.”

The rituals, he explains, are simple, and a terrorist’s family members could perform them on their own. But finding a community willing to provide a place of burial is another matter.

Mazyek understands the reactions of people in France and the U.S. “The communities are trying to distance themselves from these people because they feel repulsed by their actions," he said. "But human dignity is inviolable, no matter the individual’s actions. Everyone has the right to a decent burial.”

Mazyek explains that the function of a burial is not to anticipate God’s wrath. “Through the burial we surrender the body to the highest of judges.” How to deal with such situations is a decision for each community, which is what the Central Committee of Muslims told the Bavarian authorities.

One thing is for certain: the local authorities should take care not to bury the terrorists too close to the family plots of any victims.

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Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money for a blockchain-powered e-commerce app. But the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors. A cautionary tale for the crypto economy.

Sky is the crypto limit

Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.

Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.

Share capital of one billion 

The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).

The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.

Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.

While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.

screenshot of the typo that revealed the Air Next scam

The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down

compta online

Raising Initial Coin Offering 

Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.

For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."

What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".

Finding culprits 

Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.

Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.

Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.

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