100,000 jihadists

September 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Bergen at CNN estimates the total number of Islamist Jihadists in the world, over the dozen or so areas where there are conflicts.

If we tally up the low and high estimates for all these groups, we can begin to have a sense of the total number of jihadist militants that are part of formal organizations around the globe. We found that on the low end, an estimated 85,000 men are fighting in jihadist groups around the world; on the high end, 106,000. …

(We excluded from our overall account the armed forces of Hezbollah and Hamas, because these organizations also engage in conventional politics and governing and also do not attack American targets — all facts that make them at odds with al Qaeda and its affiliates and splinter groups).

In one sense the approximate number of 100,000 is reassuring as it represents just 0.006% of the total Muslim population of 1.6 billion.

But I also find it a frighteningly large number, as this is not an estimate of conventional forces, but of people willing to die as part of a jihad, including suicide attacks.

By historical standards this is hardly a major threat. At the end of the Cold War, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact countries could muster around 6 million men to fight in a war against the West, a number that is some 60 times greater than the total number of militants estimated to be fighting for jihadist organizations today.

And, of course, the Soviets had a vast supply of nuclear-armed, land-based missiles, nuclear-armed submarines and nuclear-armed bombers and many other highly sophisticated weapons systems that jihadist organizations have never acquired and are quite unlikely to.

The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that the threat posed by jihadist organizations around the globe is quite inconsequential when compared with what the West faced in the past century.

I don’t think it is comparing apples and applies. The nature of warfare has changed. Look what damage a dozen terrorists did on 9/11. They may not be an existential threat, but they are a significant one.

The vast majority of the estimated 85,000 to 106,000 militants fighting with militant jihadist groups around the world are fighting for purely local reasons, for instance, trying to install Sharia law in northern Nigeria or trying to impose Taliban rule on Pakistan and Afghanistan, while only a small number of these militants are focused on attacking the West.

That is some relief (except for the locals), but once they succeed in forming Islamic states with sharia laws, will they become safe havens for those who want to attack the West?

Having said that, the best outcome in Iraq and Syria might be to let ISIS rule the area they already have, rather than try to bomb them into submission. Let them have their own mad evil country, and watch it crumble as they try to govern with no ability or resources.

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The Kenyan massacre

September 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Hawke’s Bay man has had a “miraculous escape” after being shot in the back as he lay on the floor while dozens around him were mowed down and killed at a mall in Kenya.

Napier mum Elaine McLaren said her son, Andrew McLaren, was “very, very lucky” after being shot during the Westgate mall massacre in Nairobi.

Mr McLaren, 34, was one of about 150 people wounded when al Qaeda-linked militants opened fire inside an upmarket shopping mall in the capital of Nairobi on Saturday (local time). At least 59 people were killed.

A horrific terrorist attack.

The NYT reports on the rationale for the attacks:

The Shabab, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia, took responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Kenya’s military operations in Somalia, which began nearly two years ago. “Kenya will not get peace unless they pull their military out of Somalia,” said Ali Mohamoud Rage, the Shabab’s spokesman, in a radio address. 

So it is nothing to do with Israel, the Middle East or the US.

The Shabab, who have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, used to control large parts of Somalia, imposing a harsh and often brutal version of Islam in their territory. They have beheaded civilians and buried teenage girls up to their necks in sand and stoned them to death. But in the past two years, the African Union forces, including the Kenyans, have pushed the Shabab out of most of their strongholds.

They sound worse than the Taliban. Politico reports:

Gunmen stormed the mall about noon local time armed with grenades and assault rifles. They asked cornered victims if they were Muslim or non-Muslim, witnesses told the Associated Press. Non-Muslims were held, while Muslims were allowed to go free.

Sounds like the Nazis asking if people were Jewish or not. The rise of Islamofascism is one of the world’s biggest threats today.

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The London attack

May 23rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

A cub scout leader confronted terrorists just seconds after they had beheaded a soldier asking them to hand over their weapons and warning them: “It is only you versus many people, you are going to lose.”

Well done Ingrid Loyau-Kennett.

Cub scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett selflessly engaged the terrorists in conversation and kept her nerve as one of them told her: “We want to start a war in London tonight.”

Mrs Loyau-Kennett, 48, from Cornwall, was one of the first people on the scene after the two Islamic extremists butchered a soldier in Woolwich, south east London.

She was photographed by onlookers confronting one of the attackers who was holding a bloodied knife.

Give her a medal.

“I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British soldier and I said really and he said ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there.”

It is worth recalling that the 9/11 attacks preceded the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it was not Afghanistan as their excuse, it would be something else.

In some ways having terrorists just jump out and stab someone to death is possibly more scary than bomb attacks. You can detect bombs, but there is little defence against an attacker with a knife – except a gun!

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Islamic Terrorism

April 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by a radical brand of Islam but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, US officials said after interrogating and charging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with crimes that could bring the death penalty.

Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room, where he was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during his attempted getaway. His older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died after a fierce gunbattle with police.

The Massachusetts college student was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the US for about a decade, practiced Islam.

Two US officials said preliminary evidence from the younger man’s interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism but were apparently not involved with Islamic terrorist organisations.

In one sense it is more concerning they were not dupes put up to it by a terrorist group, but decided to turn to terrorism based solely on their religious beliefs.

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims, and it goes without saying that the vast majority do not practice or support terrorism. Just mindlessly ranting against an entire religion achieves nothing.

And of course there have been terrorists motivated by other religions – Northern Ireland, for one.

But to my mind there is a difference with terrorism done by extreme Islamists. It is that religion seems to be the sole reason for the terrorism.

Most terrorism involves territorial disputes. Northern Ireland was part-religious but partly an fight over the partition or Ireland.

Terrorism in Kashmir is linked to control of disputed territory. Religion is part of it, but not all of it.

Other factors involved in why people turn to terrorism can be extreme poverty, lack of education etc.

But when it comes to terrorism involving relatively well off, well educated citizens, with no territorial dispute – the sole factor often is just their belief in an extreme version of Islam. And to be frank that is scary.

Tony Blair and the IRA managed to find a political settlement that has almost stopped terrorism in Northern Ireland. The same has happened in other areas.

But I’m at a loss to know how you stop people like the Tsarnaev brothers concluding that their God wants them to blow up children who are watching the Boston Marathon. When a religion doesn’t unambiguously condemn violence and killing, and many priests promote rewards in the afterlife for those who kill in God’s name – no wonder. When Iran’s mullahs hand out fatwas encourging people to kill the likes of Salman Rushdie, it is no surprise that you have others decide that killing people for their God is a good idea.

Christianity has it faults, and a chequered history. But the number of Christian priests who in modern times ever call for someone to be killed is almost zero – the odd lunatic excepted. But sadly in Islam, all too many religious and political leaders (and the two are linked) do preach violence in God’s name.

The solutions are not easy. Just condemning 1.6 billion Muslims for the sins of a few is not a solution – just prejudice. But neither is there merit in ignoring the problems and almost unique challenges of Islamic terrorism. The lack of a central authority in Islam, and the inability to modernise their teachings, makes change very challenging.

In the end the only practical long-term solution is to encourage moderate Muslim leaders, to speak out and condemn the extremists, and make clear that terrorism is evil and sinful – no matter what.

But I have to admit I am pessimistic. I don’t see an end to religious terrorism in my lifetime.

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The Boston killers

April 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing lay hospitalised under heavy guard as people across the area breathed easier and investigators tried to piece together the motive for the deadly plot.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, was reported in serious condition and unable to be interrogated the morning after he was pulled, wounded and bloody, from a boat parked in the backyard of a home in Watertown, Massachusetts. 

The capture came at the end of a tense day that began with his older brother, Tamerlan, dying in a desperate getaway attempt.

President Barack Obama said there are many unanswered questions about the Boston bombings, including whether the Tsarnaev brothers – ethnic Chechens from southern Russia who had been in the US for about a decade and lived in the Boston area – had help from others.

“When a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right,” Obama said. 

“That’s why we take care not to rush to judgment – not about the motivations of these individuals, certainly not about entire groups of people.”

However, Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau told CNN the early indications were that the brothers did act alone.

That appears to be the case. In fact it seems the (deceased) older brother probably put his younger brother up to it.

It is still a very distressing case. The two killers were relatively well integrated it seems, but the older brother appears to have become a radical Islamist. Hopefully we may learn from the surviving brother if there was a specific trigger that led to this.

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Vigilantes in London

January 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

Police launched an investigation into the group, who call themselves Muslim Patrol, after footage emerged showing the men in vigilante mode, the Daily Mail reports.

In one scene the men are heard calling white women ”naked animals with no self-respect”.

In another scene, the men snatch alcohol from people in the street saying it’s ”evil”.

The group has filmed its antics and uploaded videos on YouTube.

The most recent video was uploaded on Sunday.

Shot on a mobile phone, the latest footage shows a number of men shouting ”this is a Muslim area” towards white Britons.

Scotland Yard says it is investigating.

The Muslim Council of Britain has condemned the group.

It’s only a couple of idiots, but they do a lot of damage with such actions. I hope the Police catch and identify them. It would be wonderful if they do not have permanent residency ad can be deported. They should move to a country that does have sharia law, so they can be happy there.

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A death sentence for a film

November 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Egyptian court has convicted in absentia seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

If you get death sentences for making crappy films, then someone should kill all the cast and crew of All The King’s Men! That is the 2006 version, not the 1949 version.

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Maher on Islamists

October 1st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This is from a couple of years ago, but I think still relevant. Note that his criticism is about Islamists, not Islam or Muslims generally.

Maher is generally regarded as being on the liberal side of US politics.

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