Jihadist Recruitment Videos Raise Important Questions About Counter-Extremist Policy

June 25th, 2014 by Dave Rich

This is cross-posted from the Huffington Post UK.

The appearance of three British Muslims in the latest recruitment video for Syrian jihadists raises important questions about counter-extremist policy and the Prevent strategy.

Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan from Cardiff, and Abdul Rakib Amin from Aberdeen, are just another example of British Muslims who have left behind their conventional British lives to seek martyrdom and jihad in a foreign land.

The government estimates that up to 500 British Muslims have followed this particular journey to Syria. Most of them have joined ISIS, the putative Caliphate that nominally controls more Middle Eastern territory than the governments of Israel or Lebanon and, not satisfied with literally crucifying Syrians, is now marauding its way through Iraq on a campaign of medieval barbarism.

These British foreign fighters in Syria are not Syrian exiles fighting for the future of their country, as was largely the case with those who travelled from Britain to Libya during the 2011 uprising there.

Nor are they disadvantaged youngsters lacking a toehold in British society. Muthana was heading for medical school before he went to Syria. Khan is the holder of 12 GCSEs including two A* and six A grades.

These are British-born believers in global jihad, living the dream of every al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet, apparently not bothered that most of their victims are fellow Muslims.

It has been said, rightly, that many, perhaps most, will return home – if they survive – and pose no threat to anybody in this country. But it is also inevitable that some of them will come back to Britain and try to kill their fellow citizens. Last month Mehdi Nemmouche, a French ISIS veteran, was arrested for the murder of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. This is more likely to be a precedent than an aberration.

The large number of counter-terrorist arrests, charges and convictions since 9/11 are testament to the success of the Police and the Security Services in disrupting terrorist activity and preventing attacks. The ‘Pursue’ strand of counter-terrorism is generally working well, despite the failure to prevent the murders of Mohammed Saleem and Lee Rigby last year.

Less clear is the effectiveness of Prevent: that part of the government’s counter-terrorist strategy that is supposed to dissuade young Muslims from falling for the seductive simplicities of jihadist propaganda. In recent years this has widened to include tackling extreme right ideologies, but radical Islamism remains its overwhelming priority.

Prevent has had some measurable successes, as would be hoped with upwards of £200million spent over six years. The Channel project, which intervenes with young people who have shown signs of supporting terrorism (and does so without criminalising them), has a good record. Lots of other projects have been successfully delivered to lots of appreciative audiences all over the country.

But the Syrian jihad is the first major crisis of radicalisation since the Prevent strategy was introduced in 2008, and it is difficult to look at the British contribution to this particularly brutal conflict without some uncomfortable questions coming to mind.

According to most estimates, Britain provides more foreign fighters in Syria than any Western country other than France. For sure, 500 people are a tiny fraction of the three million or so Muslims in Britain. But then so are the approximately 650 Muslims serving in the British army.

It seems that the moderating messages of Prevent struggle to match the savvy social media output of British jihadis in Syria, conversing directly on Twitter with would-be recruits across the UK or posting their latest YouTube videos.

Thousands of items of extremist content are removed from the internet every month at the request of the British government, but on its own this approach will not solve the problem. It is more important to compete directly with those who use the internet to spread extremist ideas, in the same internet spaces used by jihadist propagandists and recruiters.

This challenge is all the more difficult because some basic ideas in the jihadist narrative enjoy reinforcement from much wider public discourse. The notion that Islam is under attack, from Westerners, Jews, secular Muslims, apostates and others – and that in the right circumstances, violence is the appropriate response – is not restricted to ISIS YouTube videos or al-Muhajiroun leaflets.

For example, there is speculation about the role of Mohammed al-Arifi, a Saudi cleric who spoke in 2012 at the al-Manar Mosque in Cardiff that Muthana and Khan attended. Al-Arifi has called for jihad in Syria and described Shia Muslims as evil. He has claimed that Jews hide from Muslims to avoid being killed. He was banned from entering the UK earlier this year; but he had previously been invited to speak to UK audiences by (amongst others) the Federation Of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Cageprisoners, iERA and al-Muntada al-Islami. And al-Arifi is hardly the only example of a preacher with vile views being given such mainstream platforms in this country.

The point is not whether Muthana and Khan were convinced to go to Syria by the specific sermons and speeches that al-Arifi delivered in Cardiff or elsewhere. It is that as long as mainstream organisations and institutions consider a man like al-Arifi to be an acceptable speaker to put in front of their audiences, no amount of Prevent spending or government messaging will cut off the supply of impressionable young British Muslims willing to kill and die for their jihadist fantasy.

Desecration at Jewish cemetery in Manchester

June 24th, 2014 by CST

CST has received reports of the desecration of a large number of gravestones at Blackley Jewish Cemetery on Rochdale Road, Greater Manchester. Approximately 40 gravestones were pushed over or smashed at some time between 4pm on Sunday 22nd June and 3.30pm on Monday afternoon.

This follows the discovery last week of antisemitic graffiti and swastikas on gravestones at the same cemetery.

Greater Manchester Police have recorded this desecration as a hate crime and will provide extra patrols in the area, to reassure the local community and act as a visible deterrent against any further incidents.

This sickening desecration will cause deep distress to the families whose loved ones are buried at Blackley Cemetery. We will work with the Police to support the local community and we call on anybody with information about this desecration to call police on 101 or to contact CST on 0161 792 6666.

All photographs © Community Security Trust

Blackley Cemetery Desecration3

Blackley Cemetery Desecration 4

Blackley Cemetery Desecration 5

OSCE launches international hate crime website

June 17th, 2014 by Dave Rich

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has launched a new Hate Crime Reports website, transforming its annual hate crime report into an interactive and user-friendly resource. The new website divides hate crime data collected from various sources across the OSCE region into digestible chunks of information that are country- and issue-specific, and will be constantly updated.

The OSCE’s annual hate crime report details official and NGO reports of hate crimes in its 57 participating states across Europe, Asia and North America. CST has worked with the OSCE and ODIHR for several years and our antisemitic incident figures are included in its report for the UK.

The new website includes data on hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, Christians, people of other religions; hate crimes against Roma and Sinti; hate crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia; and hate crimes against and other targeted groups. It also has contact details for relevant NGOs in each participating state (including CST).

The website also explains the obligations of governments to monitor and record hate crime, and the training that ODIHR is doing across the OSCE region to help participating states to live up to these obligations.

The full website is here; the section on the UK is here; and the section on antisemitism is here.

 

Brussels suspect – the lessons

June 2nd, 2014 by CST

On Friday 30 May, customs officials in Marseilles, southern France, arrested 29 year old French national Mehdi Nemmouche on suspicion of having perpetrated the previous Saturday’s terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium. If this is the terrorist, then there are some blatant lessons to be learned about modern Jihadism and the security implications for Jews and non-Jews in Western Europe.

The truth is that by now, after over a decade of terror attacks and plots from Madrid to Manchester, these lessons ought merely to be confirmed: but many people are still reluctant to accept them.

The Brussels attack occurred on Saturday 24 May and was carried out by a gunman using a pistol and an AK 47 assault rifle. CCTV images showed an unidentified man walking into the unguarded building, before he opened the museum door and shot inside, leaving three dead and another on the brink of death. The gunman then walked away. News of Nemmouche’s arrest was supplemented by statements from Belgian prosecutors and French authorities. These were first responses and came before Nemmouche’s initial questioning had concluded, never mind any actual trial and confirmation of guilt. Nevertheless, a summary of the current information is extremely worthwhile:

  • Nemmouche was radicalised whilst in French prison. He was jailed for robbery and spent five stints in prison. Of Muslim origin, he went from having little or no interest in Islam, to becoming a would be Jihadist radical.
  • He joined Jihadists in Syria. He left for Syria on December 31, 2012, three weeks after being released from prison.
  • In Syria, he fought with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the most radical of the Syrian Jihadist groups: more so even than Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusrah, from which it split (and to which it is now hostile). ISIS is the most popular destination for western Jihadists traveling to Syria.
  • Nemmouche returned to Europe in March 2014. (Having spent over one year in Syria.)
  • He was known to the French authorities. How closely they were monitoring him before, during or after the Brussels attack remains to be seen. He was arrested in what is described as a customs search of the coach on which he was traveling from Brussels to Marseilles. (It had originated in Amsterdam.)
  • In his luggage was found the same weapons as apparently used in the Brussels attack; a baseball hat similar to that worn by the shooter; and news cuttings about the attack.
  • The weapons were found with a white cloth bearing in Arabic the name of ISIS and “G-d is great”.
  • Nemmouche also had a Go Pro camera similar to that used by Mohamed Merah when he filmed his murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah primary school in Toulouse, France in April 2012. Nemmouche has apparently admitted that the camera was strapped to his bag so it would film the attack, but it failed to do so. In his possession, Nemmouche had a 40 second film of the weaponry, which includes someone (seemingly him, but not definitely) saying they carried out the attack.

For now, the most important lessons appear to be very obvious:

  • Europeans (including hundreds of Britons) who travel overseas to fight Jihad pose a potentially deadly terrorist threat upon their return here.
  • The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.
  • Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense.
  • Those who rushed to claim that these killings were somehow not what they appeared (such as supposed brilliant intellectual Tariq Ramadan) should have kept their biases to themselves.
  • Even if some west European commentators and politicians want to keep hiding from the ramifications of each successive Jihadist terrorist attack and plot, their local Jewish communities can have no such luxury.

Below photograph: Israeli holidaymakers Miriam and Emanuel Riva, two of the Brussels victims.      Les proches aux funérailles d'Emmanuel (g) et de Miriam Riva (d), un couple victime de la fusillade de Bruxelles, au cimetière de Kyriat Shaul, à Tel Aviv, le 27 mai 2014 ( Jack Guez (AFP) )

Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism

May 29th, 2014 by CST

A new report (pdf) looking at connections between integration and extremism has been published by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London; COMPAS, University of Oxford; and the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

The report includes a chapter by CST’s Dave Rich on the relationship between antisemitism and far right or Islamist extremism. Other chapters look at integration, extremism and British Muslims; drivers of far right extremism; and the relationship between ethnicity, economic disadvantage and class.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf). An extract from Dave’s chapter is below.

The first and most obvious point to make is that far right and Islamist extremists try to use antisemitism for political purposes. It can be argued that this political mobilisation of antisemitism is its defining characteristic, which differentiates it from other forms of bigotry. This is most commonly found in antisemitic conspiracy theories that blame a Jewish ‘hidden hand’ for the ills of a particular society, party or community; and that accuse Jews of ‘dual loyalty’ – the idea that Jews are loyal only to each other or, nowadays, only to Israel.

This political use of antisemitism by far right parties and movements form a familiar and tragic part of European history. In recent years explicit antisemitism has largely disappeared from the public propaganda of Britain’s main far right movements, but the underlying ideas remain in euphemistic references to ‘international finance’ or ‘Zionist businessmen’. In 2000, British Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairman Nick Griffin advised BNP writers to get around the law by using “Zionists” as a euphemism for “Jews” when writing articles. This is not to suggest that anybody who criticises Zionism is antisemitic; just to note that genuine antisemites developed an antisemitic usage of the word “Zionism” a long time ago. Three years later, Griffin blamed the Iraq war on what he called Tony Blair’s “pro-Israeli big business backers”. In 2006 he changed tack, publicly denouncing antisemitic conspiracy theorists as “Judeo-obsessives”; only to return to their ranks a few years later in describing the English Defence League (EDL) as a “Zionist” plot.

Less well known is the use of antisemitism by Islamist extremist movements, again for their own political purposes. The Egyptian Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb, in his 1950s essay Our Struggle with the Jews, claimed that Muslim societies were threatened by large numbers of Muslims acting as “Jewish agents”. He included academics, writers, scientists, journalists and even Muslim religious authorities – all serving, he claimed, a vast Jewish conspiracy to undermine Islam. In this example, Qutb was using antisemitism not against Jews, but against Muslims who disagreed with him. In its leaflets, Hizb ut-Tahrir falsely describe Uzbek President Islam Karimov as Jewish, while in Britain, Islamist organisations regularly claim that British politicians and media are under the sway of Jewish or Zionist financial influence.

Recently the question of antisemitism within British Muslim communities became a topic of mainstream debate, after the Labour peer Lord Ahmed was revealed to have blamed his 2009 imprisonment for dangerous driving on a Jewish conspiracy. He was condemned by a range of Muslim commentators, one of whom, Mehdi Hasan of the Huffington Post, warned that antisemitism is “routine and commonplace” in “some sections of the British Muslim community.” “There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there”, he wrote: “mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views.”

Pears integration report2

Shooting at Jewish Museum in Brussels

May 24th, 2014 by CST

At least three people are believed to have been killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

There are numerous media reports concerning the attack, but precise details remain unconfirmed.

Due to the location of the shooting, CST has to work on the basis that this shooting may be a case of antisemitic terrorism rather than a criminal incident.

CST is in close contact with Police and with the Belgian Jewish community and our thoughts are with those who were killed and injured in the shooting and with their families.

There is no evidence to suggest a specific threat to UK Jews arising from this incident. CST requests that all UK Jewish venues and events should continue to function as normal whilst ensuring that security measures are strictly implemented.

The Jewish Museum in London will be open as usual and full details regarding opening times can be found on their website.

CST has produced a Security Bulletin containing security advice that can be downloaded and displayed at communal locations.

Please follow the instructions of the Security Officers at any communal venues and events that you attend and we thank you for your support and cooperation at this time.

 

BNP Youth: “Yesterday Belongs To Me?”

May 22nd, 2014 by Mark Gardner

The BNP seems set for a whitewashing in today’s European and local elections, but as the ballot box recedes, so the party has now fully returned to its old Nazi-style antisemitic heritage: and the torch is passing to BNP Youth, a new generation of great white hopes, destined for the same old futile, stupid, antisemitic dead end.

At times the language and targets, “Zionists“, “neo-Cons“, “capitalists“, “globalisation“, resemble the modern extremes of far Left, Islamist and (especially) New Age ideology. There is, however, nothing modern about BNP antisemitism, not even when they swap the word “Zionist” for the word “Jew“. (As advised here by party leader, Nick Griffin.)

It is a very serious antisemitism that blames Jews for nothing less than the destruction of European nations. This is not neo-Nazism, it is old original Nazism, echoing Mein Kampf and Der Steurmer.

In public broadcasts the party still targets Muslims for ugly racism, but within its own circles the deeper antisemitic ideology is resurrected. Nick Griffin shows the way in this BNP TV video, entitled “Europe Rises Again” (note that wording, “rises again”). It was filmed in March at a far Right conference in Rome. From about 55seconds to 2min 08 seconds, Griffin warns against globalisation and (from 1.20) “another Zionist war” that wants the “blood” of Europe’s young men. Then (from 1.40), it is Europe’s nations being:

murdered…cold-blooded, calculated and deliberate by the Zionists, the neo-Cons and the capitalists

References follow to “vampire banks” and (7.44) how European “elites” are “not politicians, they are banksters’ puppets”. This is old Nazi territory and Griffin’s imagery of “banksters’ puppets” and “vampire banks” fits it snugly, like a Hugo Boss SS tunic.

Where Griffin leads, BNP Youth follows. Their recent video, “BNP Youth Fight Back” has been understandably ridiculed, but is no laughing matter. It is under 3 minutes long and begins with BNP Youth Organiser Jack Renshaw decrying the enforced “bastardisation” of the British people. Other young faces follow, demanding to know who is responsible for a range of crimes, from national debt to poor education.

The answers come next, beginning at 1.14 with “the banksters” (yes, “banksters” again). Then, at 1.20, an especially well-worn scapegoat:

The heartless Zionists, who’s interests are foreign interests, who send our soldiers to fight and die for private profit of greedy politicians.

In another BNP TV film “Spreading Truth To Youth”, Jack Renshaw is simply bizarre (see 10.10 to 11.15), moving from “anti-bankster” (that word again!), to attacking the Rothschilds, to denying antisemitism, and even claiming “Talmudic” Jews are regarded by other Jews as “Satanists” (Judaism has no such concept.)

Later, at 14.07, Renshaw denies the BNP is:

racist, fascist, or whatever…eh…Talmudic word you want to throw at us

It would, like the BNP Youth Fight Back film, be funny were it not so serious. As an absolute minimum, you have young men and women who care deeply about their country, but are being led into a futile life of stupidity, hate and anger, railing against invisible enemies and rendering themselves less employable every time they feature in one of these films.

For Jack Renshaw, the damage may already be done. It can be seen in yet another short BNP TV film, “Nationalism not Globalism”, in which he claims (1.15) that the European Union can only be explained as the first stage of a “global New World Order”, wrought by “cultural Marxists” and “capitalists”. Again, (2.20 to 2.47) it is about “the banksters” and specifically the Rothschilds who allegedly want to enslave the world with trillions of pounds of debt.

Returning to unspecified “cultural Marxists” and “financial institutions”, Renshaw (3.52) claims they are:

trying to mongrelise the races of the planet

This is plain old fashioned racism, it fits National Front templates from the 70s and sounds like older Nazism. Sure enough, Renshaw strikes upon a lesson from history. He says the BNP should stand for elections so as there is (5.05) “a lion among the lying treasonous traitorous bastards”. Then (5.14):

Eventually when nationalists get to power, because it will happen, its inevitable, we’ll be able to hang those treasonous

At this point he stops and the applause takes over. Never mind their election broadcasts, this is what the BNP is really about: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

 

 

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