• Why jihadism appeals to religiously illiterate loners

    Many of the jihadist killers, as they shoot their innocent victims, invoke God with the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar.” Indeed, this otherwise innocuous everyday religious utterance is frequently usurped as a jihadist battle cry. But those drawn to jihadism are usually not particularly religious prior to their involvement with violence. They are either raised in largely secular households or possess only a rudimentary grasp of their parental faith, which rarely extends to religious practice of any sort. It is not to exonerate religion in any sense to say that for many French Muslims, whose life in the banlieues consists of not much more than a mix of unemployment, crime, drugs, institutional racism, and endemic cycles of poverty and disenfranchisement, jihadism potentially offers a way out of the banal and inane drudgery of daily life. In direct contrast to feelings of boredom, purposelessness, and insignificance, the jihadists offer redemption through the image of the chivalrous warrior, recast as some sort of avenging hero.

  • Fate of suspected mastermind of Paris attacks still unclear

    The fate of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of Friday’s attacks in Paris, is still unclear after a massive early morning raid by the French police on an apartment building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Dennis. The Washington Post reported that the 27-years old Belgian of Moroccan origins was one of the two people killed in the raid, but other news outlets in France and the United States – including all leading French media — report that Abaaoud’s fate is unknown. The French authorities say that forensics experts have been combing the partially destroyed, seeking DNA and other evidence. Since the Friday attacks, the French police have launched 414 raids on sites where terrorists and terrorist supporters were suspected to be hiding.

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  • 2 dead, 7 arrested in French police raid on apartment building in search of attacks’ mastermind

    About 200 members of the special units of the French police early Wednesday morning (Paris time) swooped on the Parisian banlieue, or suburb, of Saint-Denis – where the Stade de France, one of the sites of Friday’s terrorist attacks, is located – and arrested seven people. Two people were killed. One of the dead was a young woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest. French Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the operation was a result of a credible tip — in all likelihood, a police informer who resides in the neighborhood — suggesting Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, was holed up in an apartment in a residential building.

  • Visa Waiver program more serious threat than refugees: Senate Intel. Comm. chair

    Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said that terrorists who are citizens of Visa Waiver countries – and who, therefore, can travel from Europe to the United States without a visa — pose a more serious threat to U.S. security than refugees from Syria. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), vice-chairman of the intelligence committee, said that around 13 million people enter the United States each year through the Visa Waiver program, but she also understands that more than 40 million stolen travel documents are on the black market in Europe.

  • NATO should invade ISIS-held territory

    In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, NATO should invade ISIS-held territory with the goal of creating two semiautonomous, predominantly Sunni Arab regions under restored Syrian and Iraqi sovereignty. This would be difficult and costly. But it is perhaps the only path to long-term solutions of both the Syrian refugee crisis and the threat of ISIS. No options are good, but this is the least bad alternative, and it will give all relevant regional and international actors something they want. Diplomacy is essential to a long-term solution to the Syrian civil war. But someone needs to take over ISIS’ territory, and local forces cannot do it alone. President Obama should reconsider his refusal to contribute ground forces. If he won’t, additional American advisers, special operations forces, air strikes, and intelligence could help troops from other NATO countries and local actors defeat ISIS and reach a lasting solution.

  • Boko Haram has destroyed 1,100 schools so far this year: UN

    So far this year, the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram has destroyed an estimated 1,100 schools in north-east Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, the UN said. Analyst estimate the Boko Haram has killed about 17,000 people since it began its insurgency in 2009.

  • Paris terrorist attacks reignite debate over end-to-end encryption, back doors

    The exact way the terrorists who attacked France last Friday communicated with each other, and their handlers, in the run-up to the attack is not yet clear, but the attack has prompted law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Europe and the United States to renew their call to regulate the use of new encryption technologies which allow users to “go dark” and make it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to retrieve the contents of communication.

  • Increasing toll: Terrorists killed 32,658 people in 2014 compared to 18,111 in 2013

    New report finds that finds that the number of lives lost to terrorism increased by 80 percent in 2014, reaching 32,658 — the highest level ever recorded. This compares to 18,111 deaths in 2013. The global economic cost of terrorism reached an all-time high at $52.9billion, compared to $32.9 billion in 2013, and a tenfold increase since 2000. Terrorism is highly concentrated, with 78 percent of all deaths and 57 percent of all attacks occurring in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, andSyria. Boko Haram and ISIS were jointly responsible for 51 percent of all claimed global fatalities in 2014. Lone wolf attackers are the main perpetrators of terrorist activity in the West, causing 70 percent of all deaths over the past ten years. Islamic fundamentalism was not the main driver of terrorism in Western countries: 80 percent of lone wolf deaths were by political extremists, nationalists, and racial and religious supremacists.

  • Mass-casualty terrorist attacks on the rise, with 11 attacks in first half of 2015

    Mass casualty terrorist attacks, defined as attacks which kill more than 100 people (excluding perpetrators) in a particular country on a particular day, are on the rise. Between 1970 and 2014 there have been 176 such attacks. Between 2000 and 2014, there were mass casualty attacks in twenty-five countries, but most of them occurred in Iraq and Nigeria. Between January and June 2015 there were eleven attacks in which terrorists killed more than 100 people in a single country on a single day.

  • France’s invokes EU treaty’s mutual defense assistance article

    Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s defense minister, has formally asked other EU members for help in fighting ISIS — the first time ever that the EU treaty’s article 42.7, the EU mutual assistance article, has been invoked. Article 42.7 of the EU treaty states that in the event of “armed aggression” EU countries have “an obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power.” Article 42.7 has been added to the Lisbon Treaty in the wake of the 2004 attack by al-Qaeda terrorists on a train in Madrid, an attack in which 192 people were killed.

  • EU explores ways to bolster European defenses against terrorism

    European interior and home-affairs ministers will meet in an emergency session in Brussels this Friday to explore measures to strengthen the RU zone’s defenses against terrorism. The main topics to be discussed on Friday will include a Europe-wide database of airline passengers, firearms security, and the bolstering of security of external borders, that is, the borders between the Schengen Agreement countries and those European countries not members of the treaty. France said that it would also insist on reintroducing national border checks within the Schengen zone – in effect, suspending the Schengen Agreement.

  • France demands effective suspension of the Schengen open borders agreement

    France will this week call for an effective suspension of the Schengen Agreement on open borders across Europe. The agreement was in 1985 in the town of Schengen in Luxembourg. It removes border checks within Europe, meaning that anyone. France will not call for a formal abrogation of the agreement, but would rather demand that all members of the Schengen Zone begin border identity checks, a move which amount to an effective suspension of the 30-year old agreement

  • France attacks ISIS targets in Raqqa, says more retaliatory actions will follow

    French warplanes have launched thirty airstrikes on more than a dozen Islamic State targets in Raqqa, the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate. The raids were France’s first – but likely not the last — retaliation to Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The French Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the sites attacked by the French planes had previously been identified on reconnaissance flights. The bombing raids were launched simultaneously from bases in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in coordination with U.S. forces.

  • U.K. put special British police unit on standby in the wake of Paris attacks

    In the early hours of Saturday, following the previous evening’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the British government put a special British police unit on standby for an emergency national mobilization of officers. The move was a precautionary measure taken as the government weighed placing the United Kingdom on its highest state of terrorist alert. There are forty-three local police forces in England and Wales, and raising the terrorist threat level to critical — the highest would have triggered the dispatching of officers from some of these local forces patrol sites and neighborhood in the country’s big cities.

  • How Islamic law can take on ISIS

    The vast majority of Muslims almost certainly feel moral revulsion and outrage about the violence perpetrated by ISIS in Paris last Friday. However, the truth of the matter is that ISIS leaders and supporters can and do draw on a wealth of scriptural and historical sources to justify their actions. Traditional interpretations of Sharia, or Islamic law, approved aggressive jihad to propagate Islam. They permitted the killing of captive enemy men. They allowed jihadis to enslave enemy women and children, as ISIS did with the Yazidi women in Syria. ISIS’ claim of Islamic legitimacy can be countered only by a viable alternative interpretation of Islamic law. But for an alternative view of Sharia to emerge and take root through modern consensus, Muslims must first acknowledge and confront the problem of having acquiesced to a traditional interpretation of Sharia and ignored alternatives that would condemn ISIS as un-Islamic. Whenever ISIS collapses or is defeated, and for whatever cause, the world can only expect a new ISIS to emerge every time one disappears until we Muslims are able to discuss openly the deadlock in reforming Sharia.