Archive for the ‘Politics/Foreign correspondents’ Category
[is] a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.
He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize….
..The friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, believe that Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.
When I was blogging more about the Middle East, I would get occasional threats, and I would usually trace them to University sites in Britain. So, I’m not surprised by this. According to a November, 2014 article by Westminster News Online, titled Concerns of Extremism at University of Westminster, a radical Islamic preacher, Haitham al Haddad, gave a speech at the University of Westminster, organized by the Islamic Society (ISOC).
[Haddad] has a history of homophobia, misogny and religious intolerance. He has written about homosexuality as a criminal act and has said that a ‘man should not be questioned for hitting his wife’. It is currently unknown what he said during his address at Westminster University.
Haddad has spoken at a conference held by Hizbut Al Tahrir, a group that the British Government has attempted to ban due to its extremist rhetoric. At this conference he did not hold back and let his views be known to all those who attended.
Haitham al-Haddad was set to speak at the University of Westminster tonight, but the event was “postponed due to ‘security concerns'”
According to the Daily Mail (in an article titled “Jihadi John’s old university was a ‘hotbed of radicalism where students celebrated 9/11′, claims ex-pupil – and extremist was even due to speak there TONIGHT”) Raheem Kassam, who campaigns against extremism at British universities, said the conditions at the university are right for the radicalization of someone like Emwazi.
I did not know him, he would have been two years behind me, but I am utterly, utterly unsurprised.
The university was nothing less than a hotbed of radicalism when I was there.
Are the conditions at Westminster right for the radicalisation of someone like him? The answer is yes, 100 per cent.
I once walked into a meeting of the Islamic Society where they were clapping and cheering the events of 9/11.
It was at that moment in my life I realised I wanted to set up an organisation in my life to tackle it.
Having been brought up in a Muslim household and then seeing that happening is pretty galling stuff.’
Universities across the country, the University of Westminster in particular, are being targeted by radical recruiters.
These guys [students] are being professionally radicalised. They tried it with me and they try it with any Muslim.
I remember very vividly how I would get cornered by three or four Somali guys – students in the class with me who were dressed in non-western clothing – and they would say I must come along to the Islamic Society meetings otherwise I’m not a proper Muslim.
When you are 18-years-old and a practising Muslim you feel inclined to go.I went along and saw what was happening and it absolutely disgusted me.
In what the Huffington Post has called a ‘farcical press conference’ Asim Qureshi, a director with British advocacy group CAGE, said of Jihadi John “You might be surprised to know that the Mohammed that I knew was extremely kind, extremely gentle, extremely soft spoken, was the most humble young person that I knew.”
CAGE claims that the “root cause” of Jihadi John’s crimes was that he was interrogated by MI5.
Qureshi, who became emotional as he spoke, said Emwazi would turn up at Cage’s offices with “posh baklava” as way of saying thanks. “This is the kind of person that we’re talking about. So this is why when I’m asked is the person that you see in those videos the same as the person you remember, Mohammed Emwazi, it’s difficult for me to say that yes, these two people are exactly the same.”
“Because there’s one character that I remember, one person… one young, kind person that I remember, and then I see that image and there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the two,” he continued. “While I think that there are some striking similarities between the young man that I remember and the person we see in the video, I can’t be 100% certain. He’s got a hood on – come on, guys, you know, the guy’s got a hood on his head. It’s very, very difficult.”
“He (Emwazi) was such a beautiful young man, really. It’s hard to imagine the trajectory, but it is not a trajectory that’s unfamiliar with us,” he went on.
CAGE and “HHUGS” are devoted to “provide practical support and advice to households devastated by the arrest of a family member under UK anti-terror legislation.”
One of CAGE’s members, Moazzam Begg, has been working with MI5 all along
The terrorism case against former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg collapsed after MI5 belatedly gave police and prosecutors a series of documents that detailed the agency’s extensive contacts with him before and after his trips to Syria, the Guardian has learned.
The documents included minutes of meetings that MI5 officers and lawyers held with Begg, at which he discussed his travel plans and explained he was assisting opposition fighters in their war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
On seeing the material, Crown prosecutors realised it corroborated Begg’s defence case: he insists he was always perfectly candid with MI5, and says the agency assured him no attempt would be made to hinder him if he wanted to return to Syria.
According to the Guardian, “the intelligence agencies are unable to comment on the claim that it tried to recruit Emwazi, in part because the killings of the hostages by his grouping are still a matter of police investigation. But the parliamentary intelligence and security committee report into the Lee Rigby murder sets out the agency’s position.”
The intelligence committee wrote: “Agents are one of MI5’s most important sources of intelligence. MI5 often approaches subjects of interest (SoIs) in order to try to recruit them as agents.”
According to people who have moved in jihadi circles in west London, Emwazi began to be noticed about five or six years ago. “That’s when he emerged, so to speak,” said one. Among his associates at that time was Bilal el-Berjawi, a Londoner of Lebanese origin who was killed by a drone strike in Somalia three years ago.
I’m bothered by the phrase “According to people who have moved in jihadi circles in west London”. There are known jihadi circles in west London, and the press and the government are ok with that? As Hillary Clinton said, “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours”.
Groups like CAGE and MI5, working together and separately, are empowering Jihad in Europe, not discouraging it. The left and the right have been playing this game for decades. Both wonder why so many of their youth are running to Syria to join ISIS.
As I see it, it’s all a matter of framing. If we see these operations as an attempt to keep the public safe and diminish terrorist activity, they are a dismal failure. But if we see them as an opportunity for governments to continue doing business with (and receiving bribes from) the people who support the terrorists, while appearing to be providing security to voters, then it’s all a resounding success.
The video shows what appears to be an Asian worker being “interrogated” by a Saudi man, who is taking the video. The Saudi man is seen Repeatedly striking and Abusing the Asian man, who Appears to be Apologizing and Cowering in fear.
Asian man: “… for my children, Sustenance. My father, my mother, to Provide a living to them. But , I’m sorry. ”
Saudi man: “Why do you say the Saudi Government is bad?”
Asian man: “No, I did not say the Government is bad …”
Saudi man: (Hitting the Asian man) “Why do you say the Saudi Government is not good?”
Asian man: (…)
Saudi man: “Saudi Arabia is afraid of America, you animal?” (Continues hitting the Asian man)
Asian man: “I’m only here for my Livelihood, I’m only here for my Livelihood …”
Saudi man: “Why do you say Saudi Arabia is not good?”
Asian man : “No, I will not any more. Enough. I’m not saying Saudi Arabia is bad, look, citizen …”
Saudi man: (Extends his hand to the Asian man) “Greet me”
Asian man: ( kisses the Saudi man’s hand Several times)
Saudi man: Is Saudi Arabia good or bad?
Asian man: “It’s good, it’s good.”
Saudi man: Saudi Arabia is your dad, you dog.
Asian man: “Yes, it’s my dad ”
Saudi man: Your Government is like a Saudi Arabian dog, you dog. A Saudi dog, you dog … “(Continues hitting the Asian man)
Asian man: “It’s OK …”
Saudi man: “What’s your name?”
Asian man: “Abdallah”
Saudi man: “Abdallah what, you animal? ”
Asian man: “Akhtar Ali”
Saudi man: “Akhtar Ali?” (Spits loudly at the Asian man) “At Akhtar Ali, you animal. Saudi Arabians are animals, huh? ”
Asian man: “No, no, they’re perfect”
Saudi man: “Saudi Arabia is what then? What is it? ”
Asian man: “The best country in the world, a land of goodness and blessings”
Saudi man: “Goodness and blessing. And what are you, what are you? ”
Asian man: “Enough, look, look I’m a Muslim, thank God …”
Saudi man: (Cuts him off) “You are what?”
Asian man: “Bangladeshi ”
Saudi man: “You are an animal. What are you? ”
Asian man: “Animal.”
Saudi man: (Presents his hand) “Greet, you animal”
Asian man: (Kisses the hand of the Saudi man)
Saudi man: (Hits the Asian man) “Anything more you want to say? ”
Asian man: “No, no, there’s no more”
Saudi man: “Any talk about Saudi Arabia? Saudi Arabian Government is on top of your mother’s head, you son of a bitch “(Hits Asian man)
Asian man: “OK …”
Saudi man: “Anything more you want to say about Saudi Arabia?” (Continues to hit the Asian man) “So you want to say Saudi Arabia is afraid of America, you dog? Huh? Entire the world is afraid of Saudi Arabia, you animal! ”
Asian man: “Yes, yes, OK”
Saudi man: “I swear to God, anything else you say about Saudi Arabia …”
Asian man: “No, no never, no more … ”
Saudi man: (Presents his leg to the Asian man) “Greet here”
Asian man: (Kisses the Saudi man’s leg)
Saudi man: “Now go away you animal, go, road”
HibaPress, who posted this video, tagged it #cantwaitfortheoiltorunout
Via al Jazeera
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has nearly been pushed out of the Syrian border town of Kobane, activists and Kurdish officials said Monday, marking a major symbolic victory both for the Kurds and the U.S.-led coalition targeting the armed fighters.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and senior Kurdish official Idriss Nassan said ISIL had been nearly expelled, with some sporadic fighting on the eastern edges of the city near Turkey.
“[ISIL] is on the verge of defeat,” said Nassan, speaking from Turkey near the Syrian border. “Their defenses have collapsed and its fighters have fled.”
In September, ISIL fighters began capturing some 300 Kurdish villages near Kobane and thrust into the town itself, occupying nearly half of it. Tens of thousands of refugees spilled across the border into Turkey.
By October, ISIL control of Kobane was so widespread that the group even made a propaganda video from the town featuring a captive British photojournalist, John Cantlie, to convey its message that ISIL fighters had pushed deep inside despite U.S.-led airstrikes.
More from the Kurdish Female Fighters Y.P.J
It’s tough to be President Obama, having to choose where to go for which event. The White House admitted that it was a mistake that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden showed up in Paris for the march in support of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo murders, instead sending the U.S. ambassador to represent the world’s greatest democracy among Merkel, Netanyahu, Abbas, and other national leaders included in the crowd. Some of us thought that President Obama might have showed up in Ferguson as a statement on police violence toward young black men.
One place the President is going is to Saudi Arabia in recognition of the death of 90-year-old King Abdullah and to meet with his successor, 79-year-old and reportedly dementia-afflicted King Salman. Can you spell O-I-L? Or maybe it is I-S-I-L? Whatever the motivation, making Saudi Arabia a must-go raises questions about what values the U.S. government is upholding….
…Saudi Arabia is an ally of the freedom-loving U.S. against the ISIL extremists who have garnered significant attention in the West due to ISIL’s predilection for decapitating its captives. But Saudi Arabia commonly conducts its own public beheadings as its implementation of the death penalty. Quartz added that Saudi Arabia is one of only four countries in the world to still execute minors. Famously, Saudi Arabia punishes women with death by stoning for adultery and anyone with hand amputations if caught stealing.
Saudi’s proclivity for extreme punishment such as beheadings a la ISIL appears to reside partly in the nation’s support for Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islam originating with eighteenth-century Islamic scholar Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. According to Middle East Eye, which developed the visual below, the standards of punishment of ISIL are almost identical to those practiced by the Saudi regime:
….President Obama has already planned to cut his trip to India short to chat with King Salman, assuming there is much of a chat to be held. Add this visit to the president’s failure to go to Paris as another miscue that will require White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to eventually utter some sort of apology.—Rick Cohen
We call Saudi Arabia an ally, we say we depend on them for oil, but we get most of our oil from Canada. If Canada amputated limbs as punishment for banditry, would we treat them with the same toadying deference? I doubt it.
After years of defending human rights activists as a legal advocate in Saudi courts, he was called in front of a terrorism tribunal at the end of 2013 for a trial that from its earliest days was declared a farce by human rights organizations. This was not the first time Mr. Abu al-Khair was made a target of the justice system, having first faced trial in 2011 for signing a petition that called for government reform.
During the fifth hearing in front of the terrorism tribunal he was jailed mid-trial under the January 2014 anti-terrorism law, which covers verbal acts that harm the reputation of the state. Mr. Abu al-Khair was eventually sentenced to ten years for his activism amid growing international condemnation of Saudi repression. His decision not to disavow his beliefs led to this week’s further sentencing.
Unfortunately, Mr. Abu al-Khair’s case is not unique. As more Saudis have begun to speak out against government repression, the monarchy has responded by escalating its crackdown on dissent, including by using the already dubious terrorism tribunal system to punish human rights defenders.
It is ironic that while Saudi officials condemned the brutal killings of journalists at Charlie Hebdo, and their Ambassador attended the rally in Paris, their Justice Ministry was preparing to carry out the first of 1,000 public lashings of Raif Bawadi. Like the cartoonists, Mr. Badawi has been accused of insulting Islam, and like them and his former lawyer, Mr. Abu al-Khair, he was simply exercising his nonviolent right of freedom of expression. Needless to say, his persecution has drawn an international outcry, including by many of those who joined the Saudi government in denouncing the attacks in Paris….
….I urge the Saudi government to release Mr. Abu al-Khair and Mr. Badawi and dismiss the spurious charges against them. This kind of repression and barbarity have no place in the 21st Century.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi reports on Jabhat al-Nusra and the Druze of Idlib Province:
While most analysis of the Druze in Syria focuses on their positions in Suwayda province- where they constitute the majority of the population- as well as Jabal al-Sheikh in Damascus/Quneitra provinces, it should be remembered that there is also a Druze community in the Jabal al-Samaq area of Idlib province, more widely known as Jabal al-Zawiya. This community consists of numerous villages, whose names can be found here. Unlike their co-religionists in the south, these Druze have no capacity for the formation of self-defence militias analogous to the banners of ‘Jaysh al-Muwahhideen‘ (‘Army of the Unitarians/Monotheists’) or ‘Forces of Abu Ibrahim’ (named after Druze figure Abu Ibrahim Ismail al-Tamimi). The Druze in Jabal al-Samaq are therefore dependent for preservation on the good-will of whichever external actors are present in their areas….
… a document has emerged of a meeting between JN officials and proclaimed Druze village representatives who have converted to Sunni Islam, agreeing on the implementation of Shari’a and Sunni Islamic supremacy:
“Statement on the first meeting for the villages of the mountain [Jabal- i.e. Jabal al-Samaq]
Attendants of the session:
Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Tunisi [the Tunisian]: area official
Abu Hafs al-Homsi: Shari’a official of the area
Abu Muhammad and Abu Khadija: Administration guys.
Representatives of the area [NB: names blocked out but villages listed, compare with the first listing of Druze villages in Jabal al-Samaq]:
The representatives of these aforementioned areas have disavowed the Druze religion and have said that they are Muslims of the Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamaat [Sunnis]. And an agreement has been made between them on one side and the representative of Jabhat al-Nusra (Sheikh Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Tunisi) on the other on what follows:
a) Implementation of God’s law in the aforementioned areas with focus on the following points:
(i) Searching of the idolatrous tomb-shrines, destroying their structures and flattening them on the ground.
(ii) Securing of places for prayer in all the aforementioned villages in which there are no designated places for prayer; teaching of the Qur’an, aqeeda [creed] and jurisprudence therein for the youths and children.
(iii) The obligation of wearing hijab according to Shari’a for women outside their homes.
(iv) No display of gender-mixing in schools.
b) Choosing of two persons from each village for the organization of matters concerning services, aid, and oversight of contraventions under the stead of JN.
The beginning of that operation is to be implemented before the appointment of the next meeting…
…These regulations imposed on the Idlib province Druze by JN are of some concern when one also considers that there is a growing JN presence and influence in areas like Azaz where other minorities are to be found. Were JN to gain sufficient strength to take over Azaz from Northern Storm, it is certainly possible that the group would attempt to assert supremacist authority over the area’s Yezidis as well.
More about Jabhat al Nusra, thanks to Stanford University.