Geopolitics

Three Massacres In 48 Hours: The Bloody Flag Of Jihad

Al Shabab fighters
Al Shabab fighters

- Editorial-

PARIS - Should the three massacres perpetrated this past weekend in Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria be approached separately? The incidents would appear to be unrelated, but all is not so simple.

In Nairobi, it took nearly three days to finally end the Westgate siege after al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist group, began their attack against the vast shopping mall in the Kenyan capital. Al-Shabab left a toll of 62 people dead and some 200 wounded.

In Nigeria, newspapers reported on Sunday that the Boko Haram militant group had attacked a small town called Borno, in the northeast of the country. Pillaging, setting fires to force families out of their homes before shooting them: 150 people have reportedly been killed by the attackers.

In Pakistan, a double suicide bombing against a Christian church in Peshawar during Sunday services killed more than 80 people and wounded dozens of others.

The circumstances are different from one country to another. Al-Shabab claims to have acted in retaliation to the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. Boko Haram wants to establish an “emirate” in a region of Nigeria. The Pakistani Christian minority, already hounded by the law, also increasingly are the victims of various attacks.

A disturbing silence

There are no organizational links between al-Shabab, Boko Haram and the Pakistani group Jundallah. But all three claim to be products of Jihadism. They consider themselves to be part of the same movement: radical Islamism. They belong to this vast nebula that more or less follows al Qaeda’s example. They claim to act on behalf of Sunni Islam. They brandish slogans against the Christians, the Jews, the infidels.

At the very least, these references are those given by their spokesmen. They often conceal tribal conflicts, local ethnic wars, or even the actions of groups that purely and solely use armed banditry.

Each situation has its own singularity that too hasty a generalization might overlook. “Globalizing” and imagining one single mythical entity looking to pursue a common objective everywhere would be a mistake.

Still, one aspect remains constant: the phenomenon that Jihadism or the Jihadist tendency has an attraction in the Muslim world.

The young who leave to fight the Damascus regime rarely join the Free Syrian Army: they mostly enlist in the myriad of Jihadist groups that are now an important part of the rebellion.

This “ideological” totalitarian jumble has become the flag around which young people in the Muslim world are ready to take up arms . Glorified and mystified on the Internet, it authorizes any type of violence – and it is deadly. The strong voices of Islam should condemn it relentlessly. But we do not hear them.

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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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