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Geopolitics

A Quiet Wave Of European Muslims Sets Out For War In Syria

Authorities worry for the safety of the mostly young sign-ups, but also the risk that they return home radicalized -- and set on striking targets in Europe.

Regents Park Mosque
Regents Park Mosque
Jean-Pierre Stroobants

BRUSSELS – Counter-terrorist experts in Europe are growing alarmed at the number of European youths joining the ranks of Islamist combatants in Syria.

They say that these – mostly inexperienced – youths are taking huge risks by joining an extremely violent conflict. They are also worried about the security risk these young combatants could pose for European countries when they return after being indoctrinated and trained by al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Inside Russia’s Revival Of Stalinist “Filtration Camps”

Though different than concentration camps constructed by Nazis, the “filtration” facilities nevertheless recalls a brutal history, and have been reopened under Putin, and ramped up since the invasion of Ukraine.

Civilians leaving Mariupol on foot

Anna Akage

"It was like a true concentration camp."

This is how Oleksandr, a 49-year-old man from Mariupol, described where he and his wife Olena were taken in by Russian security officers. Speaking to a reporter for the BBC, the couple was fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated for hours, and their phones searched for material that could somehow identify them as “Nazis.”

But there is another name given to that these locations, and the process, that have been set up to handle Ukrainians taken into custody in areas occupied by pro-Russian separatists: They’re called: “filtration camps.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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