The rise of the Islamic State will inspire other jihadist groups to claim their own caliphates and emirates. In the long run, the extremism of these contrived dominions and the competition among them will undermine the jihadist movement. However, before that happens, the world will witness much upheaval.
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Posts Tagged jihad
A new study based on interviews conducted over social media with foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria raises doubts about the commonly held notion that young men in North America and Europe who are drawn to violent Islamic extremism must be marginalized loners looking for an alternative to their dead-end lives.
Three university researchers who contacted dozens of jihadists from abroad in Iraq and Syria, including some Canadians, say they seemed to be drawn mainly by the religious ideas—“no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox”—behind jihadism. Rather than being isolated individuals who self-radicalized in front of their computer screens, the report says they usually found mentors and, at least in the case of the Canadians, joined the fighting in “clusters.”
In the working paper, they write that the foreign fighters they contacted “run the gamut from troubled youth with personal problems to accomplished young men and women from stable backgrounds.” In the 20 interviews they analyzed, not one of their subjects suggested “directly or indirectly” that being marginalized socially or economically pushed them onto such an extreme path.
Four separate studies since 1999 all found that 80% of U.S. mosques were teaching jihad, Islamic supremacism, and hatred and contempt for Jews and Christians. There are no countervailing studies that challenge these results. In 1998, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a Sufi leader, visited 114 mosques in the United States. Then he gave testimony before a State Department Open Forum in January 1999, and asserted that 80% of American mosques taught the “extremist ideology.” Then there was the Center for Religious Freedom’s 2005 study, and the Mapping Sharia Project’s 2008 study. Each independently showed that upwards of 80% of mosques in America were preaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity ultimately to impose Islamic rule.
Saudi Arabia was funding Muslim radicalism in mosques and charities at the time the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were gathering in the United States and making contacts with Saudi nationals, according to a declassified intelligence document.
To jihad watchers, the paper confirms their charges that the Saudi government and its wealthy citizens fund extremist teachings in America. To this day, the kingdom is pressing its harsh Wahhabi Sunni Islam on American Muslims as it seeks to spread Islam around the world, they say.
From The New York Times:
They walked parallel paths to trouble, never graduating from high school and racking up arrests. They converted to Islam around the same time and exalted their new faith to family and friends, declaring that they had found truth and certainty. One after the other, both men abandoned their American lives for distant battlefields.
Today, both are dead. While their lives ended five years and over 2,000 miles apart, their intertwined journeys toward militancy offer a sharp example of how the allure of Islamist extremism has evolved, enticing similar pools of troubled, pliable young Americans to conflicts in different parts of the world. The tools of online propaganda and shadowy networks of facilitators that once beckoned Mr. Kastigar and Somali men to the Horn of Africa are now drawing hundreds of Europeans and about a dozen known Americans to fight with ISIS, according to American law enforcement and counterterrorism officials.
“As Caliphates Compete, Radical Islam Will Eventually Weaken is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
In a 52-minute video that surfaced in late August, Abubakar Shekau, the head of Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, spoke of an Islamic State in northeastern Nigeria. The statement came two months after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the transnational jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq, declared the re-establishment of the caliphate, renaming the group the Islamic State. Though likely inspired by the Islamic State, Boko Haram is not simply mimicking its more powerful Syrian-Iraqi counterpart; it is taking its cue from the Nigeria-based Sokoto Caliphate, which was established in the early 1800s and existed for almost a century until Britain gained control of the region.
The Caliphate’s Role in History
According to classical Muslim political theorists, there can be only one caliphate for the entire Muslim global community, or ummah. In practice, though, there have been rival claimants to authority and even competing caliphates throughout the history of Islam. In our July 1 analysis on the subject, Stratfor explained not only how multiple emirates and sultanates emerged independently of the caliphate but also that there were rival caliphates — for example, the Abbasid in Baghdad (749-1258), Umayyad in the Iberian Peninsula (929-1031) and Fatimid in Cairo (909-1171).
Read the rest of this entry »
“Worsening Violence in Iraq Threatens Regional Security is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
Battles continue to rage across northern Iraq, pitting jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant against Iraqi security forces and their allies. The growing reach of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has escalated an already brutal campaign in Iraq. Alarmingly quick advances by the militants across an important region of the Middle East could draw in regional powers as well as the United States.
Using hit-and-run tactics, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL, has sought to keep Iraqi security forces dispersed and under pressure. ISIL has achieved this by striking at areas where security forces are weak and withdrawing from areas where Baghdad has concentrated its combat power. The jihadists have been working hard to improve their tradecraft by developing skill sets ranging from staging complex ambushes to using Iraqi army equipment effectively in surprise raids. ISIL has also sought to better develop its ties with local Sunni communities. Read the rest of this entry »
From The Clarion Project:
In 2009, Michael Braun, former Chief of Operations for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said that Hezbollah uses “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”
In April 2010, an individual named Jamal Yousef was apprehended in New York City. During interrogation, he admitted to stealing weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah. Yousef alone knew of a Hezbollah stockpile in Mexico that included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons.
“Syria and the Limits of Comparison is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Robert D. Kaplan
Because so many war plans simply do not survive the reality of war itself, each war is a unique universe unto its own and thus comparisons with previous wars, while useful, may also prove illusory. One of the many wrong assumptions about the Second Gulf War before it started was that it would somehow be like the First Gulf War, in which the pessimists had been humiliated by the ease of the victory. Indeed, the Second Gulf War unfolded in vastly different ways, this time proving the pessimists right. That is why the recent media refrain comparing a military operation in Syria with the one in Kosovo in 1999 worries me.
There are profound differences. Read the rest of this entry »
“European Jihadists: The Continuation of a Historical Trend is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
The threat of experienced militants returning to Europe from combat in North Africa and the Middle East is fueling debate about immigration and integration in Europe and strengthening xenophobic and nationalist sentiments. It is not a new phenomenon for Europeans to travel abroad to fight. Reports have circulated for months about the growing number of foreigners fighting alongside Islamists in places such as Libya and Syria. Most recently, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Aug. 5 that leaks by unspecified European intelligence services warned that terrorist organizations in Syria could be preparing international attacks, particularly in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
From The Long War Journal:
A Palestinian jihadist group, Masada al Mujahideen, recently claimed credit for ongoing wildfires in Arizona in a statement posted to jihadist forums today. The statement, titled “Masada al-Mujahideen Fulfilled its Promise and Attacked America Again After the Expiration of the Period with Fires that Achieved Historic Results,” was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“Why the Boston Bombers Succeeded is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis
When seeking to place an attack like the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing into context, it is helpful to classify the actors responsible, if possible. Such a classification can help us understand how an attack fits into the analytical narrative of what is happening and what is likely to come. These classifications will consider factors such as ideology, state sponsorship and perhaps most important, the kind of operative involved.
In a case where we are dealing with an apparent jihadist operative, before we can classify him or her we must first have a clear taxonomy of the jihadist movement. At Stratfor, we generally consider the jihadist movement to be divided into three basic elements: the al Qaeda core organization, the regional jihadist franchises, such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and grassroots operatives who are radicalized, inspired and perhaps equipped by the other two tiers but who are not members of either. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Acute Jihadist Threat in Europe is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart, Vice President of Analysis, and Sidney Brown
On March 26, the Belgian federal police’s counterterrorism force, or Special Units, conducted a felony car stop on Hakim Benladghem, a 39-year-old French citizen of Algerian extraction. When Benladghem reacted aggressively, he was shot and killed by the police attempting to arrest him. The Special Units chose to take Benladghem down in a car stop rather than arrest him at his home because it had intelligence indicating that he was heavily armed. The authorities also knew from their French counterparts that Benladghem had been trained as a paratrooper in the French Foreign Legion.
Additional intelligence showed that Benladghem had traveled extensively and that, through his travels and email and cellphone communications, he appeared to be connected to the international jihadist movement. Rather than risk a confrontation at Benladghem’s apartment, where he had access to an arsenal of weapons as well as a ballistic vest and helmet, the police decided to arrest him while he was away from home and more vulnerable. The Belgian authorities did not want to risk a prolonged, bloody siege like the one that occurred in April 2012 in Toulouse, France, when French police attempted to arrest shooter Mohammed Merah. Read the rest of this entry »
From Freedom Outpost:
In the latest edition of Inspire’s, al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine, a feature post on page 10 reads “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” Critics of radical Islam are listed, among them is Florida pastor Terry Jones, who gained recognition for burning Korans and an Obama effigy.
“Hellfire, Morality and Strategy is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman
Airstrikes by unmanned aerial vehicles have become a matter of serious dispute lately. The controversy focuses on the United States, which has the biggest fleet of these weapons and which employs them more frequently than any other country. On one side of this dispute are those who regard them simply as another weapon of war whose virtue is the precision with which they strike targets. On the other side are those who argue that in general, unmanned aerial vehicles are used to kill specific individuals, frequently civilians, thus denying the targeted individuals their basic right to some form of legal due process.
Let’s begin with the weapons systems, the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper. The media call them drones, but they are actually remotely piloted aircraft. Rather than being in the cockpit, the pilot is at a ground station, receiving flight data and visual images from the aircraft and sending command signals back to it via a satellite data link. Numerous advanced systems and technologies work together to make this possible, but it is important to remember that most of these technologies have been around in some form for decades, and the U.S. government first integrated them in the 1990s. The Predator carries two Hellfire missiles — precision-guided munitions that, once locked onto the target by the pilot, guide themselves to the target with a high likelihood of striking it. The larger Reaper carries an even larger payload of ordnance — up to 14 Hellfire missiles or four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound bombs. Most airstrikes from these aircraft use Hellfire missiles, which cause less collateral damage.
Unlike a manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles can remain in the air for an extended period of time — an important capability for engaging targets that may only present a very narrow target window. This ability to loiter, and then strike quickly when a target presents itself, is what has made these weapons systems preferable to fixed wing aircraft and cruise missiles. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Consequences of Intervening in Syria is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis
The French military’s current campaign to dislodge jihadist militants from northern Mali and the recent high-profile attack against a natural gas facility in Algeria are both directly linked to the foreign intervention in Libya that overthrew the Gadhafi regime. There is also a strong connection between these events and foreign powers’ decision not to intervene in Mali when the military conducted a coup in March 2012. The coup occurred as thousands of heavily armed Tuareg tribesmen were returning home to northern Mali after serving in Moammar Gadhafi’s military, and the confluence of these events resulted in an implosion of the Malian military and a power vacuum in the north. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadists were able to take advantage of this situation to seize power in the northern part of the African nation.
As all these events transpire in northern Africa, another type of foreign intervention is occurring in Syria. Instead of direct foreign military intervention, like that taken against the Gadhafi regime in Libya in 2011, or the lack of intervention seen in Mali in March 2012, the West — and its Middle Eastern partners — have pursued a middle-ground approach in Syria. That is, these powers are providing logistical aid to the various Syrian rebel factions but are not intervening directly.
Just as there were repercussions for the decisions to conduct a direct intervention in Libya and not to intervene in Mali, there will be repercussions for the partial intervention approach in Syria. Those consequences are becoming more apparent as the crisis drags on. Read the rest of this entry »
“Is Boko Haram More Dangerous Than Ever? is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis
On Nov. 25, Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group from northern Nigeria, attacked a church in Jaji, Kaduna state, using two suicide bombers during the church’s weekly religious service. The first bomb detonated in a vehicle driven into the church, and the second detonated approximately 10 minutes later, when a crowd of first responders gathered at the scene. About 30 people were killed in the attacks; the second blast caused the majority of the deaths. The incident was particularly symbolic because Jaji is the home of Nigeria’s Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and many of the churchgoers were senior military officers.
In the wake of the Jaji attacks, media reports quoted human rights groups saying that Boko Haram has killed more people in 2012 than ever before. The group has killed roughly 770 people this year, leading many to conclude that Boko Haram has become more dangerous.
However, it is important to look beyond the sheer number of fatalities when drawing such conclusions about a group like Boko Haram. Indeed, a less cursory look at the group reveals that while 2012 has been a particularly deadly year, the Nigerian government has curtailed the group’s capabilities. In terms of operational planning, the group has been limited to simple attacks against soft targets in or near its core territory. In other words, Boko Haram remains deadly, but it is actually less capable than it used to be, relegating the group to a limited, regional threat unless this dynamic is somehow altered. Read the rest of this entry »