Widespread corruption, poor governance, and large numbers of impoverished young men disillusioned with society have made many parts of Africa fertile breeding grounds for jihadism. The al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab has terrorized Somalia and neighboring Kenya for more than a decade; Boko Haram began trying to overthrow the Nigerian government and set up its own small Islamic state back in 2002. In recent years, the African terrorist groups have expanded and become more aggressive. IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre recorded 171 Islamist militant attacks in Africa in 2009, resulting in 541 fatalities; in 2015, 738 attacks left 4,600 dead. ISIS’s defeat in the Middle East last year exacerbated the problem, as thousands of African jihadists started returning home. Tunisia alone accounted for up to 6,500 of the Sunni terrorist group’s foreign fighters — more than any other nation in the world. “The more we succeed in the Middle East,” says Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), “the more we are going to see the snakes run to Africa.”
Where are ISIS militants going?
Their main stronghold is Libya, which remains embroiled in a chaotic civil war. The terror group seized the coastal city of Sirte in 2015 — its only major outpost outside Syria and Iraq. They were driven out the following year, by militias backed by U.S. airstrikes, but have since regrouped in remote rural areas. ISIS’s other North African hub is Egypt’s largely lawless Sinai Peninsula. An ISIS affiliate called Sinai Province has claimed credit for 800 attacks in the region since 2013 and was widely blamed for the massacre at a Sufi mosque in November, in which more than 300 worshippers were killed. Mokhtar Awad, a research fellow in George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, says ISIS is trying to inflame sectarian strife in Egypt in the hope it’ll lead to “the country’s unraveling.”
Is al Qaeda still a force?
Increasingly so. While the world’s attention has been on ISIS, al Qaeda has been seeking to make a comeback, and its leaders are grooming Osama bin Laden’s favorite son, Hamza, for a prominent role as an inspirational leader. The terror group’s most prominent African affiliate is al-Shabab, the former radical youth wing of the Islamist organization that used to control Somali’s capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabab carried out the 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall and the 2015 massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University; it was also blamed for the truck bomb in Mogadishu last October that killed more than 350 people. The group, which enforces a strict Wahhabi version of Islam, no longer controls any major towns or cities — it was ousted from Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union–led offensive — but still has a significant presence in southern rural areas. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which mainly operates in Algeria and Mali, is the group’s most profitable branch: Since 2003, it has made $100 million through kidnapping, drug smuggling, and extortion.
What is the U.S. doing?
The Pentagon has about 6,000 troops engaged in security and counterterrorism missions in Africa. Two-thirds are based in Djibouti, home of the continent’s only official U.S. military base; another 800 are in Niger, 400 more are in Somalia, and the rest are spread out across 47 other countries. These numbers have risen significantly in recent years. In 2008, U.S. troops carried out 172 missions, training exercises, or other activities in Africa; last year, they were involved in 3,500. At least 1,700 of the 6,000-strong deployment are special forces, whose official role is to “advise and assist” — train local soldiers and offer them battlefield guidance. But they take part in a broad range of missions, including retaking enemy territory and capturing terrorist leaders. The Pentagon is also increasing its use of drones for surveillance and for targeting individuals and training camps with airstrikes. The U.S. conducted at least 30 airstrikes in Somalia in 2017, compared with 34 over the previous eight years.
What’s the long-term strategy?
The Pentagon’s primary aim is to prevent an Islamist group from taking control of large swaths of territory, as ISIS did in Iraq and Syria. But this strategy carries risks. Local armies struggle to retain control of areas they recapture from militants. Drone strikes inevitably lead to civilian casualties, which can alienate local populations and serve as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. Above all, there are fears on both sides of the Atlantic that the U.S. could become bogged down in yet another long-term foreign conflict. “African governments want a small U.S. footprint,” said Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, then head of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, last year. “They watch what we’ve done in other places, and it scares the hell out of them. Quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me too. [You] end up in a much bigger fight than you’d prefer.”
A deadly ambush in Niger
The U.S. military’s growing presence in Africa was thrust into the spotlight in October, when four special forces soldiers died in an ambush in Niger. Their 12-man team, which was accompanying 30 Nigerien soldiers on a reconnaissance mission, came under heavy attack from about 50 ISIS-affiliated militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and heavy machine guns. The American soldiers fought back for an hour before calling in air support; French jets and helicopters arrived an hour after that. The bodies of three of the fallen soldiers were recovered that day. But Sgt. La David Johnson’s corpse wasn’t found until 48 hours later, reportedly a mile from the ambush site; more of his remains were discovered a month after that. One villager said his hands were bound and that he had a large impact wound on the back of his head, suggesting he’d been captured, beaten, and executed. A Pentagon investigation due to be released this month, however, reportedly will conclude that Johnson died in a hail of gunfire. The investigation will also examine why U.S. troops were caught unawares by the terrorists, with little available support.
By: Tovah Lazaroff, Anna Ahronheim, JPost.com Staff; jpost.com
Israeli military enforces closure on the assailant’s home village. Hamas praises attack. Assailant had history of domestic violence.
Soldiers patrolled the seam-line area of the Har Adar settlement Tuesday night after a 7:14 a.m. terrorist attack at its back gate claimed the lives of three Israelis and wounded one other.
According to Border Police, the Palestinian assailant approached the town’s gate posing as a laborer. When the officers manning the gate grew suspicious of him because of his unusual clothing, he pulled out his weapon and opened fire.
After an exchange of gunfire, the assailant was shot dead, but not before fatally injuring three people and severely wounding another.
It was the first terrorist attack in the 31-year history of the settlement that abuts the Green Line just outside Jerusalem.
The victims – Border Police officer Solomon Gavriya, 20, of Be’er Ya’acov, and security guards Youssef Othman, 24, of Abu Gosh, and Or Arish, 25, of Har Adar – were buried in cemeteries in their hometowns late in the afternoon.
Israeli media identified the attacker as 37-year-old Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, a father of four from the West Bank village of Beit Surik. The man is said to have had a valid work permit allowing him to enter Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Israel Defense Forces closed Beit Surik and the nearby village of Biddu after the attack. Residents can enter the villages but can only leave for humanitarian reasons.
Troops also raided Jamal’s home and arrested three Palestinians, including two of his brothers, on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
Following the closure of Beit Surik, some 15 Palestinians rioted against the IDF in Biddu.
A general closure of the West Bank has not been imposed and Palestinians with work permits can still enter Israel, an IDF spokesman said.
The attack took place at the back end of the settlement, called the Biddu gate, because it borders the Palestinian village of that name. Some 200 Palestinian laborers cross daily through the gate and into Har Adar, as did Jamal, who had a work permit for communities in Judea and Samaria.
It is not currently known if the assailant belonged to a terrorist organization, but Hamas has praised the attack and called for others to carry out similar ones.
Jamal was well-known and trusted in Har Adar, where he worked privately for a number of families.
Early Tuesday morning, Jamal hid a gun under his jacket and headed to the gate, as he normally did.
But the jacket, an unusual item in the September heat, aroused the suspicion of the security officers who called him over for a special inspection.
Jamal “pulled out a pistol he had in his possession, and fired at close range at the security guards and the [Border Police] officer,” police said.
The two security guards and the Border Police officer were immediately killed. Other officers at the scene shot and killed Jamal.
Har Adar’s security team head, Amit Steinhart, was wounded, but was able to call Har Adar council head Chen Filipovitz and urge him to rush to the scene.
“He asked me to look out for his wife if he died,” Filipovitz said.
The council head replied: “Don’t be ridiculous, you are not dying.”
Filipevitz arrived in minutes and helped cover the bodies.
He recalled how the night before, Othman had stayed late in the council offices to help fix the television. In the council offices workers fielded calls all day, telling people of Steinhart’s recovery and the tragic fate of the three slain victims.
Palestinian workers were asked to leave by noon and will not be allowed into the settlement on Wednesday, save for a few necessary exceptions.
Har Adar Resident Drora Bardizchev, who had employed Jamal in her home, said in an interview to Channel 10 News that she was shocked by the attack. She said she had enjoyed a very good relationship with him, often spending time alone with him in the house and drinking coffee together during breaks. She said the man, whom she referred to as Nimer, had been under stress in recent months due to a domestic dispute with his estranged wife.
The Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) issued a statement saying Jamal had significant personal and family problems, including a history of domestic violence. The statement added that his wife had fled to Jordan several weeks ago, leaving him to care for their four children.
The IDF Spokespersons Unit released a Facebook post that Jamal had written to his wife, in which he stated that his actions were unrelated to their relationship. In the post, which was published on Facebook on Monday, he wrote that he was to blame for their poor relationship due to jealousy and stupidity and that she should care and educate their children according to the teachings of God.
The injured Israeli, the town’s security chief, was rushed to hospital for treatment.
The attacker’s home village, located about a kilometer away from Har Adar, has been placed under a military closure.
One of the victims murdered was identified as border police officer First Sergeant Salomon Gabaria (20) from Be’er Yaakov. Yossef Otman, from Abu Gosh, and Or Arish (25) from Har Adar were identified as the slain security guards.
Israel’s police superintendent Roni Alsheich said the actions of the security officers prevented a far more serious outcome.
Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance teams that arrived first at the scene pronounced the three victims dead.
MDA paramedic Zohar Lomar described the efforts to save the fourth person shot in the attack: “I went to treat him, he was suffering from gunshot wounds in the stomach and chest. We transferred him to the ambulance and evacuated him to hospital, all the time continuing lifesaving treatment… On the way he spoke to us and told us about what had occurred.”
Moshir Abu Katish, a Muslim volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah, was also one of the first responders on the scene. He lives in the neighboring Arab-Israeli town of Abu Gosh.
“I raced over to the scene, which took place near the fence of Har Adar. Security forces had shot and killed the terrorist who had carried out a shooting attack against a group of Israelis,” Abu Katish said. “I ran to treat the injured people who were suffering from gunshot wounds to their upper bodies. Unfortunately, the three more seriously injured people in the attack were pronounced dead at the scene. We treated a fourth person who was injured at the scene before he was transported to the hospital for further treatment and observation.”
Dov Baksht, the commander of ZAKA rescue and recovery organization, who was at the scene of the terror attack, said, “This is a very difficult attack – a terrorist opened fire at close range on four Israelis. The outcome is very bad, with three Israelis killed and the body of the terrorist. The ZAKA team at the scene has three ambulances to evacuate the murdered victims and ZAKA volunteers are working to collect the remains.” Baksht added, “The forensics teams from the Israel Police are currently working on the scene. We are waiting until they have completed their work and then we will enter the scene once again to complete our sacred work.”
On Tuesday evening, Israeli security forces arrested two of the assailant’s brothers in connection with the attack, The IDF Spokesperson’s unit reported. The brothers were taken in for questioning.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman condemned the attack and vowed to hunt down the terrorists and those who sent them out to kill Israelis. Liberman stressed that there is no difference between Palestinian-fueled terror and fundamentalist Islamic terror in Europe. He added that before there could even be talk of negotiations, the world must demand that the Palestinian Authority cease its inciting ways.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin responded to the attack, saying the nation’s hearts were with the families of the victims. “The brutal terror attack exposes, once again, the daily reality that Israeli security forces, who are on the front lines, have to deal with,” said Rivlin. “We will continue to confront terror and put our hands on the attackers and their backers.”
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said there were no prior indications about the assailant’s deadly motivations. He placed responsibility for the attack at the feet of the Palestinian Authority, which, he said, encourages terror with its policy of handing out stipends to terrorists and their family members.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the attack “The Palestinians’ welcome greeting to American envoy Jason Greenblatt.” She said the Americans must focus all their attention on ending the murderous Palestinian terror efforts and that any negotiations with them are futile as long as they continue to incite to terror.
Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay called on the government to act “with an iron fist” against terrorists whose sole purpose is to harm Jews. “Har Adar is a community that for years exemplified coexistence between Jews and Arabs. This attack is a severe blow to the relations between the two communities,” said Gabbay.
Joint List MK Yousef Jabarin blamed the policy of the Israeli government for the attack. “The far right Israeli government is responsible for the bloody circle of violence and the conflict’s enshrinement,” he said. “There is no such thing as an enlightened occupation. There is no occupation without resistance.”
In July, three Jewish family members were killed when a Palestinian terrorist entered the West Bank Settlement of Halamish and stabbed them while they were sitting down for Shabbat dinner. The terrorist in that incident was incapacitated by a neighbor, a soldier who was home on leave.
Have you noticed that, immediately after an Islamic terrorist attack in our nation, the airwaves are ablaze with warnings – not against Islamic terrorism but against Islamophobia. So, the fear is not that there will be more terrorist attacks. The fear is that people will be fearful of Muslims. That is misguided enough (although I too deplore when the larger Muslim community is blamed for what the radical extremists do). But what just happened in Bondi, Australia takes this illogicality to a whole new level.
As reported on News.com.au, “A LOCAL council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi because it could be a terrorist target, in a shock move that religious leaders say has caved in to Islamic extremism and created a dangerous precedent.”
Yes, the Jewish community was not allowed to build a new synagogue for fear that it would be targeted by radical Muslims. Talk about a reverse in logic.
The decision had been fought in the courts, but it was upheld this week, leading to outrage and dismay.
“Jewish leaders are shocked the decision appears to suggest they cannot freely practice their religion because they are the target of hate by Islamist extremists — and that the council has used their own risk assessment of the threat posed by IS against it.
“The head of the local Jewish community said the council and the court had effectively stifled freedom of religion and rewarded terrorism.”
As expressed by Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, the “implications [of the decision] are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organisation should be allowed to exist in residential areas. It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism.”
Logic would tell you that if terrorism is the problem, you stand against it, not punish potential victims. Logic would tell you that if you bow down to the threat of terrorism, you empower it. What were the people of Bondi thinking?
While the Muslim population of Australia is growing rapidly, it still constitutes only 2.6 percent of the population, and the Australian media constantly defends Islam as a religion of peace. Why, then, so much fear? If the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, why be afraid to build a synagogue in Bondi? Is the government not able to deal with a handful of radicalized, violent Muslims?
In Muslim majority nations where strict Islam is practiced, Jews and Christians are reduced to second-class citizens, having to pay the jizya tax and deprived of the right to build new synagogues and churches. Yet today, in Australia, where non-Muslims outnumber Muslims by roughly 40 to 1, a Jewish community cannot build a new synagogue. To ask again, what kind of logic is this?
In years past, I have pointed out the hypocrisy of feminists and LGBT activists siding against Israel and with Hamas, as well as the absurdity of portraying Hamas as the victim. As I noted in 2014, “As the standard, anti-Israel, pro-Hamas narrative goes, Israel has the Iron Dome defense whereas Hamas has no such defensive shield. In other words, it’s not fair that Hamas is unable to murder the civilians it targets day and night, since Israel’s superior technology is able to shoot down their missiles. Talk about taking all the fun out of terrorism.”
Others have pointed to the self-contradictory message sent by Islamic extremists who say, “How dare you call us terrorists! We will kill you! Off with your heads!”
Yes, nice guys, one and all. How did we misjudge them?
When it comes to the outrageous decision in Bondi, local Jewish leader Vic Alhadeff said it well: “This simply shows how we’re all losing our freedoms. Those who want us to be afraid are winning, and this ill-conceived judgment represents a dangerous precedent.”
And do you know who should lead the protest against the court’s decision? It is the Muslims of Australia. They should say as one man, “We renounce terrorism, we believe in freedom of religion, and we affirm your right to build a new house of worship. In fact, we want to stand with you to combat radical Islam, and we pledge our help and support.”
Does that have a chance of happening? We shall see, although it may be highly unlikely. (I’d be thrilled to be wrong here in my skepticism.)
But there’s another group that most certainly can and should stand up, and that is the Christian community of Australia. Let them raise their voices and shout to this beleaguered Jewish community, “Bondi is not a ghetto, and Australia is not a war zone. Together, we will stand for freedom, liberty, and safety.”
What a message this would send to the Jewish people of Australia and beyond.
Islamic State-affiliated group Ahfad al-Sahaba claimed responsibility via a statement that was shared through Israeli media.
Islamic State-affiliated group Ahfad al-Sahaba claimed the firing of a rocket from Gaza that hit an open area on Monday night.
The group claimed responsibility via a statement that was shared through Israeli media. This is not the first time that the group, which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for a rocket attack.
The projectile landed in an open area near the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel, the IDF said.
No injuries and no damage were reported. A red siren alert was not activated as it was detected early on that the projectile was aimed at an open area.
Envoy’s comments mark the second time a senior Saudi official has referred to Hamas as either a terrorist or extremist group in the past two months.
Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Bin Abdullah Salih on Wednesday unequivocally said in an interview that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
When an Algeria-based reporter for Al-Nahar TV asked him if Saudi Arabia considers Hamas a terrorist group, Salih said, “Of course… It certainly is, if it seeks to create and cause problems.”
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, frequently endorses and carries out violent attacks against Israeli military personnel and civilians. Israel, the United States, the European Union – among others – all consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.
Salih also criticized some Hamas leader’s for living lavish lifestyles outside of Gaza.
“The right to resistance is guaranteed to the PLO, not one sitting in a five-star hotel in Qatar, carrying out conspiracies from there,” Salih said. “It should be that one is with his people and trying to advance his issue.”
Some Hamas leaders including former Hamas Politburo chief Khalid Meshaal reside in expensive hotels in Doha. However, many top leaders in Hamas, including its current Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh, live in relatively modest conditions in Gaza.
Salih’s comments mark the second time a senior Saudi official has referred to Hamas as either a terrorist or extremist group in the past two months.
Days after a coalition of Arab states cut ties with Qatar on June 5, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir called on Qatar to stop funding “extremist groups” like Hamas.
However, a document of demands the coalition of Arab states presented to Qatar in late June did not explicitly refer to Hamas.
Hamas on Thursday issued a carefully worded critique on its official website of the Saudi ambassador to Algeria: “We, in Hamas, express our utmost disappointment and disapproval of what was said by the Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Salih in terms of inciting statements against Hamas. We consider [these statements] to be at odds with the values, principles, and customs of our Arabic and Islamic nations.”
Al-Nahar TV cut the Saudi ambassador’s comments on Hamas out of the online version of its interview with him.
Sharia law, the president at the time of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils ludicrously argued, far from discriminating against women, “guarantees women’s rights that are not recognised in mainstream Australian courts”.
The Australian Federal Police investigated 69 incidents of forced or under-age marriage in the 2015-16 financial year, up from 33 the previous year. While there are no official numbers, it is estimated that there are 83,000 women and girls in Australia who may have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has spent the past four years probing numerous religious organizations, has made no inquiries into Islam. The commission has held 6,500 one-on-one private interview sessions with survivors or witnesses making allegations of child sexual abuse within institutions, but only three sessions in relation to Islamic institutions.
What legacy did Australia’s former Grand Mufti, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali — named “Muslim Man of the Year” in 2005 and the country’s most senior, longest-serving (1988-2007) Muslim cleric — leave behind?
In 1988, when Hilali was imam of the largest mosque in Australia, he gave a speech at Sydney University in which he described Jews as the cause of all wars and the existential enemy of humanity.
In July 2006, he called the Holocaust a “Zionist lie” and referred to Israel as a “cancer”.
In October 2006 — insinuating that the long prison sentences handed to Sydney’s Lebanese gang-rapists for attacking young teenage girls in the year 2000, were unfair — he compared Australian women who do not wear the Islamic veil to meat left uncovered in the streets and then eaten by cats. During his long career, Hilali also praised suicide bombers as heroes and called the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States “God′s work against oppressors” and “the work of 100 percent American gangs”.
At the time, Hilali’s principal adviser and spokesperson, Keysar Trad, wrote, “The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country and… the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us.” Trad subsequently served as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils — the national umbrella organization, which represents Australian Muslims at national and international level — from July 2016 until May 2017.
“In 2009, the New South Wales Supreme Court found that Mr. Trad ‘incites people to commit acts of violence’, ‘incites people to have racist attitudes’ and is a ‘dangerous and disgraceful individual’… When talking about the gang rape of young women in Sydney by a group of Lebanese men… Mr. Trad … described these types of perpetrators as ‘stupid young boys’… Mr. Trad did not condemn Sheikh Hilali’s disgraceful comments about women being ‘uncovered meat’ in a speech about rape. Instead Mr. Trad chose to defend that speech and the sheikh’s comments”.
In February, Trad told Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt that an angry husband can beat his wife as “a last resort” but should only use his fists against her once he sees that “counselling” — chocolate and flowers, according to Trad — does not work.
Trad also called for the introduction of polygamy in Australia. He said that taking a second wife was “an alternative to divorce”, as, “in our religion, god hates divorce”.
Recently, in May 2017, after an emergency election, Rateb Jneid replaced Trad as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.
Since 2011, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, who does not speak English and relies on translators, has been the Grand Mufti of Australia. In 1995, before moving to the West, Abu Mohamed wrote:
“The West does not bring to us any good, all they bring are their diseases, their designs and their shortcomings… They insist to impose on us their corrupt values, and their philosophy and mannerism, the very things which brought disease, fear, crime and stress to them, the very things which severed ties and broke relationships.”
The Grand Mufti’s views were also laid bare… with the release of details of a book he wrote saying non-Muslims wanted their women to walk around ‘exposed as a piece of sweet pastry … devoured by the eyes of men'”.
In December 2012, Abu Mohamed led an Australian delegation of Muslim scholars to the Gaza Strip, where they met senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh. Abu Mohamed told local news agencies:
“I am pleased to stand on the land of jihad to learn from its sons and I have the honor to be among the people of Gaza, where the weakness always becomes strength, the few becomes many and the humiliation turns into pride”.
In 2013, Grand Mufti Abu Mohamed visited sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Qatar. Qaradawi advocates suicide bombings; has urged the world’s Muslims to fight in Syria and has said that killing people who leave Islam is essential, as Islam would otherwise disappear.
After the Paris attacks in November 2015, Abu Mohamed implied that the ISIS atrocities were partly caused by “Islamophobia”, saying:
“It is… imperative that all causative factors such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention must be comprehensively addressed.”
With Muslim leaders such as former Grand Mufti Hilali, former president of the Association of Muslim Councils, Kayser Trad, and current Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, it should hardly come as a surprise that sharia — and indeed jihad — have made significant inroads in Australia. In 2011, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils sent a submission to the Federal Parliament’s Committee on Multicultural Affairs, asking for Muslims to be able to marry, divorce and conduct financial transactions under the principles of sharia law. Sharia law, the president at the time of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils ludicrously argued, far from discriminating against women, “guarantees women’s rights that are not recognised in mainstream Australian courts”.
Although polygamy is illegal in Australia, a study in 2011 found that, “Valid Muslim polygynist marriages, lawfully entered into overseas, are recognized, with second and third wives and their children able to claim welfare and other benefits”. When former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for action after learning about the issue, he was told that it would cost more to pay the wives the single parent benefit. Centrelink, the Australian authority responsible for welfare and other benefits, said that it did not hold data based on polygamous relationships or religion, and that Islamic marriages are not registered. The problem of unregistered Islamic marriages and social welfare fraud is a familiar issue in Europe.
Last year, a 14-year-old Melbourne girl was forced to marry Mohammad Shakir, 34, in a ceremony at a Victoria mosque. In March, Shakir pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of forced-marriage. Ibrahim Omerdic, the Melbourne imam who performed the Islamic wedding ceremony, is also due to appear in court on criminal charges.
Muslim Australian girls, some allegedly as young as nine, have also been taken overseas, or are being threatened with it, and forced to become child brides. A nine-year-old girl reported that she would be taken to Afghanistan to marry, while others were told they would be forced to marry cousins of their parents when they turned 13. In 2012, a 16-year old refugee girl from Afghanistan was flown to Pakistan for a “family holiday” and forced to marry a man she had never met.
The Australian Federal Police investigated 69 incidents of forced or under-age marriage in the 2015-16 financial year, up from 33 the previous year. In the 2013-14 financial year, only 11 cases were investigated. Government agencies are said to consider the figure of 69 potential recent cases the tip of the iceberg, with many girls “too fearful to contact police”. A government child-welfare hotline has received more than 70 calls for help in the past two years, mainly from concerned teachers, counsellors and school principals. Forced marriage was criminalized in March 2013 in Australia. However, the law is not retroactive and marriages entered into prior to the law are beyond the authorities’ jurisdiction, meaning those girls are almost certainly lost.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is another Islamic practice that has recently come to public notice in Australia. In March 2016, three people, among them the mother and a Muslim cleric, were sentenced in Sydney for their role in the female genital mutilation of two seven-year-old sisters. While there are no official numbers, it is estimated that there are 83,000 women and girls in Australia who may have been subjected to FGM. 1,100 girls are born every year to women who may have had FGM, which means that their daughters are also at risk of being subject to FGM.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has spent the past four years probing numerous religious organizations, including Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and obscure cults numbering a negligible amount of members, such as new age ashrams, has made no inquiries into Islam. The commission has held 6,500 one-on-one private interview sessions with survivors or witnesses making allegations of child sexual abuse within institutions, but only three sessions in relation to Islamic institutions.
Four Islamic terrorist attacks, including the Lindt Café siege in Sydney in December 2014, in which the manager and a mother of three were killed, have taken place in Australia. Eleven attacks have been foiled, including planned public beheadings. This statistic does not include the January 2017 car-ramming in Melbourne. The driver, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, murdered six people, including children, and wounded 20 others, when he plowed his car into pedestrians. Even though a witness claimed that Gargasoulas was shouting “Allahu Akbar”, police refused to treat the event as a terrorist attack and even allegedly told a reporter to remove her interview with the witness from the internet. Gargasoulas had apparently converted to Islam prior to the attack and told the judge in a subsequent court hearing, “Your Honour, did you know the Muslim faith is the correct faith according to the whole world?”
Recently, Australia adopted stricter vetting rules for immigrants to avoid admitting those who harbor hostile Islamic views. Evidently, this measure comes several decades too late: Those who harbor hostile Islamic views were let in a long time ago. Now, what will Australia do about those who are there?
ISIS is recruiting an army of AK-47-brandishing women from the West who are just as bloodthirsty as the men they are marrying. Calling themselves “lionesses of Allah,” they are thought to now number more than 600, and they’re bearing the next generation of terrorists, whom they call “cubs of the caliphate.”
Many of these women are true believers who trust that even with horrific gore and bloodshed, they are helping carry out the holy work of Allah in restoring the ancient Islamic caliphate, and that once it’s reestablished, all believers will live in peace and harmony under Islamic rule.
Jones, who in her youth was a guitarist for an all-girl rock band, Krunch,
has also been implicated in two foiled plots to kill Americans and is training her young son to follow in her footsteps.
She and other Western women are actively recruiting like-minded “si
sters” to their twisted cause. Their primary duty is “to raise the next generation of lions in Islamic State,” as Jone
s’ good friend, Umm Muthanna al-Britani, another young British woman, put it in a tweet.
And ISIS pays them a generous stipend for each “cub” they deliver
($25 for each child per month, plus a $400 maternity bonus, and a $500 marriage bonus). This is a strategic m
ove. With more of its men killed in battle, the terror group has to ensure its longevity.
But these moms celebrate death more than life. In fact, they incite their “brothers” to suicidal violence, even reminding them of the supposed heavenly rewards for achieving martyrdom while killing infidels. As Umm Osama, an online friend of Muthanna, once tweeted: “when you get so excited hoping for 7ooris” — the famous “72 virgins” — “remember this n say ‘Marhrah adDugma’ (u can do it).”
They don’t shed a tear if they lose a husband. If he dies in battle, they are “instantly transformed into a hero — the wife of a martyr,” or “shaheed,” Center for Terrorism and Security Studies fellow Mia Bloom said.
ISIS rewards such widows well. “U dnt hav 2 pay 4 ANYTHING if u r wife of a shaheed,” one Western woman in Syria wrote.
Increasingly, the women cadres in ISIS are seeking to enter and die on the battlefield themselves, following in the path of their idol, Tashfeen Malik, who pledged allegiance to ISIS before helping her husband massacre 14 innocent people gathered at a 2015 Christmas office party in San Bernardino, Calif.
They routinely tweet and message out of Syria and Iraq their fervent desire to be “martyred in the cause of Allah.” This is the overriding ambition of Muthanna, for instance. As she stated in a recent tweet, “I came here to die. I will not leave till I get what I came here for: shahadah [martyrdom].”
In a more recent tweet, she made reference to obtaining a suicide belt to make her death wish come true. “Everyone around me is getting shahadah,” she complained in frustration. “When will it be my turn?”
ISIS women, who are known to watch and share gruesome videos of beheadings, appear to have the stomach for it.
Muthanna, for one, cheered the massacre the group carried out in Paris: “Wish I could have seen the hostages being slaughtered last night with my own eyes. Would have been beautiful.”
“Burn Paris burn,” she gushed in another tweet, adding, “LOL HOW SCARED ARE THESE KUFFAR [nonbelievers].”
More and more ISIS brides are being trained to kill. Last month, ISIS reportedly began deploying a deadly new all-female sniper squad to help fighters in Mosul, Iraq, hold off US and Iraqi forces.
More chilling, ISIS has issued a new marriage certificate allowing brides to carry out suicide missions. Under “condition of wife,” it reads: “If the Prince of believers [ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi] consents to her carrying out a suicide mission, then her husband should not prohibit her.”
“This may suggest that the group is looking ahead to a similar transition in using female cadres for suicide missions,” International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism Director Anne Speckhard said.
Women pose a more daunting security threat to the West, because authorities in general do not expect violence from them. So they can pass security more easily, sneaking into public places carrying weapons or wearing bombs without raising suspicions, even strapping explosives around their waists to appear pregnant.
With ISIS now losing territory in Iraq and Syria, America and Europe could see not just more battle-hardened ISIS jihadists returning home, but also young women trained for suicide missions.
More than 45 American women are said to have joined or tried to join ISIS in Syria. Many have been busted marrying or attempting to wed ISIS fighters.
“I was horrified that she openly admitted to FBI agents that she seriously considered launching a VIP attack right inside the United States,” said Speckhard, who is also a Georgetown University psychology professor.
ISIS is known for sex slavery, mass rape and other brutally misogynistic practices. So what in the world would attract Western women to its fold?
“It seems unfathomable to most of us that a female would want to join ISIS, but their online propaganda has a major focus on twisting the concept of women’s rights,” said Ryan Mauro, a national-security analyst at the Clarion Project. “You’ll see pictures of fully covered women with guns, as if they are treated as equals in jihad.”
Still, Mauro doesn’t buy the conventional wisdom that most of the young female recruits are lonely or angst-ridden and easily seduced into joining ISIS by charismatic male recruiters, who “groom” them much like online child predators.
“It’s not as simple as a girl having a crush on a man. That’s the easy, politically correct answer,” he said. “There’s obviously another critical ideological element involved, because those are issues facing all teenagers.”
In fact, tweet after tweet from ISIS brides reveal they are less victims than willing participants. They show they plainly know their religion and see living under an Islamic theocracy as superior to the secular democracies of the West.
“NO SISTER leaves the comfort of their homes just to marry some man,” suspected American ISIS recruiter Umm Waqqas wrote. “Muslims from all ages are leaving to live in a REAL Muslim country & live under the shades of Sharia,” or Islamic law.
Consider the teen daughter of the Khan family of Chicago. The FBI caught her trying to join ISIS as a minor. Records show she was convinced she had to pack up and join the jihad, even if it meant giving up her comfortable suburban life.
The daughter was well-grounded in Islam — having even earned at a young age the honor of “hafiz,” for memorizing the entire Quran — long before she watched ISIS videos and decided to forsake America. She left a note explaining she could no longer bear to live in “the land who’s [sic] people mock my Allah, my beloved prophet (saw), the commandments of Allah (swt), his law. The ones who are using my money to kill my brothers and sisters.”
Both “saw” and “swt” are abbreviations for traditional Muslim phrases.
Her tweets indicated she supported ISIS’s violence and even intended to participate in it. Like many female ISIS recruits, she had reasoned through her decision theologically, with little emotion, in spite of the atrocities done in the name of that theology.
Mauro, who is also a counterterrorism professor at Liberty University, points out that female recruits are convinced ISIS is “reflective of Allah’s will,” and that it’s their duty to join its caliphate. Part of that is because ISIS makes a convincing case, scripturally.
“When you look at ISIS propaganda, it’s not just well-produced but well-referenced, with tons of references to Islamic verses and scholars,” he said. “The propaganda presents researched arguments that enable ISIS recruiters to withstand scrutiny from a prospective recruit.”
Plus, the terror group paints an attractive picture of Islamic utopia.
“The ISIS caliphate is portrayed as an ideal society on earth where things are great, with women valued, morals upheld, social services minimize insecurity and newcomers are welcomed into the family,” Mauro added. “And you get to earn a ticket to paradise if you die standing against the infidel to preserve it.”
Jaelyn Delshaun Young, of Vicksburg, Miss., is serving 12 years in federal prison for conspiring to provide
material support to ISIS. In 2015, the 19-year-old former honors student and cheerleader was arrested trying to travel to Syria and join ISIS. A Muslim convert, she sent messages to FBI agents she thought were ISIS members, saying, “I cannot wait to get to Dawlah [ISIS territory] so I can be amongst my brothers and sisters under the protection of Allah swt to raise little Dawlah cubs in sha Allah [God willing].” Young expressed a hatred for US soldiers. The FBI’s criminal complaint said she applauded the 2015 Islamic terrorist attack on military sites in Chattanooga, Tenn., saying in a message: “What make me feel bettee [sic] after just watching the news is that an akhi [brother] carried out an attack against US marines in TN! Alhamdulillah [praise Allah], the numbers of supporters are growing.” The
FBI complaint also revealed that she tried to help ISIS target small, regional US airports. “When we get to Dawlah In sha Allah I can tell you about it,” she wrote.
Hoda Muthana, a Birmingham, Ala., college student, fled to Syria to join ISIS and is now suspected of acting as a recruiter for the group. In recent online messages, Muthana has encouraged other American Muslims to attack their own country. “Terrorize the kuffar at home,” she tweeted, using a derogatory Arabic term for non-Muslims. “Wake up!” “You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping!” Muthana added. “Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades.” The devout 21-year-old Muslim reportedly married an ISIS fighter from Australia less than a month after arriving in Syria, but he died only a few months later in an airstrike.
Shannon Maureen Conley is a Denver woman serving a four-year prison sentence for attempting to join ISIS in Syria, where she planned to marry a Tunisian fighter she met online. A Muslim convert, Conley was arrested at age 19 for providing material support to a terrorist group. In interviews with FBI agents, she “repeatedly referred to US military bases as ‘targets,’ ” a criminal complaint says. She said she sought to “wage jihad” and viewed even women and children as “legitimate” targets if they were visiting a military base. “It is OK to harm innocents if they are part of a target,” she said. Conley, who practiced firing rifles at a local shooting range, mentioned attacking a government “motorcade” inside the US. “Conley said she needed to go overseas to be trained in jihad, but did not need to be overseas to wage jihad,” the government’s complaint said. Before her arrest, the hijab-wearing Conley had been on the FBI’s radar for nearly a year, thanks to a complaint filed by a local pastor who feared she was casing his church building for a terrorist attack. She was seen walking the grounds wearing a backpack and taking notes. Asked why she appeared to be targeting the mega church, Conley said, “I hate those people.”
Daniela Greene was an FBI translator in Detroit who secretly married an ISIS leader after converting to Islam. She was supposed to be investigating the federally designated terrorist Denis Cuspert, but instead sneaked off to Syria, married Cuspert and warned him that “the FBI had an open investigation into his activities,” recently unsealed court records show. The 38-year-old Greene, who held top-secret security clearance, is also suspected of sharing intelligence with the high-value target. The Clemson University alumna lived with Cuspert for 30 days before authorities arrested her. Cuspert, a native of Berlin, is a known ISIS recruiter who has appeared in ISIS propaganda videos, including one in which he appears to be holding a severed head that he claims belonged to a man executed for opposing the ISIS “caliphate.” Greene served just two years in prison for her traitorous actions and is now out on supervised release.
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”
Asia Bibi, the Christian mother imprisoned on death row in Pakistan, will have her appeal hearing delayed yet again after the nation’s Supreme Court rejected a request for her case to be heard in early June.
Saiful Malook, Bibi’s attorney, told the Pakistani news outlet The Express Tribune that Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar declined his client’s request for an early hearing. As previously reported, Nisar, a Muslim lawyer, had submitted the request in mid-April for Bibi’s case to be heard in the first week of June.
“I have been informed that the plea was declined by the CJP,” Malook told the Tribune.
Bibi, who is also known as Aasiya Noreen and could become the first woman in Pakistan to be executed over a blasphemy allegation, has spent nearly eight years in prison after local Muslim women accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The women got angry because she drank from the same water bowl as them.
As blasphemy, in some instances, in Pakistan is punishable by death or life in prison, Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010 even though she maintained her innocence.
“This is very unfortunate. Her husband became quiet when he heard the latest developments. We shall again apply for the hearing and keep struggling for justice,” Joseph Nadeem, executive director of the Renaissance Education Foundation, told the Asia-based Catholic news outlet ucanews.com. “There are many factors at work behind the slow pace of judiciary. Her case has been in the doldrums due to huge pressure. There will be a strong reaction if Bibi is freed, opposing groups have made it a matter of honor and ego.”
Initially, Bibi appealed her death sentence to the Lahore High Court but her hearing was delayed at least seven times before her appeal was heard in October 2014 and her sentencing was upheld.
Last summer, there was optimism that Bibi might finally have her appeal heard by the Pakistan Supreme Court. It was reported that Nisar had ordered Bibi’s appeal to be heard in the second week of October 2016.
However, the hearing was postponed. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, the hearing was delayed after Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman was recused from the case because he was the chief justice on the Islamabad High Court when that court upheld the conviction of the Muslim bodyguard who assassinated Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer in 2011. Gov Taseer had spoken out in defense of Bibi and against the nation’s blasphemy laws.
Since Pakistan instituted blasphemy laws in the 1980s, the laws have been used by Muslims to settle personal scores and target Christians and other religious minorities. Bibi is not the only Christian to have been victimized by the blasphemy laws.
Last October, it was reported that a 9-year-old Christian boy was accused of burning the Quran. The boy and his mother were later arrested and claimed they were beaten and tortured by police.
“Such atrocities have become routine. The plight of Bibi has had a dampening effect on minorities. Their grief cannot be addressed because of religious retrogressive and extremist groups. Islamists consider her freedom a defeat for their movement,” Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir told ucanews.com.
Pakistan currently ranks as the fourth worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.
JERUSALEM — As Palestinian prisoners ended the third week of a mass hunger strike, Israel released videos that it said showed the strike leader, Marwan Barghouti, sneaking snacks in his cell.
Palestinian leaders dismissed the videos, released on Sunday, as fakes aimed at deflating the strike of over 1,000 prisoners, which has stirred protests and clashes with security forces in Palestinian areas. The prisoners are demanding better conditions in Israeli jails.
Prison officials said the videos showed Mr. Barghouti, the strike’s organizer, eating cookies on April 27 and then a candy bar on Friday. He is being held in solitary confinement at the Kishon prison.
Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, said the strike was not about prison conditions, which he said exceeded international standards, but about Mr. Barghouti’s political goals. Though serving life sentences for five murders during the Second Intifada of the early 2000s, Mr. Barghouti, 57, is popular among Palestinians and is seen as a possible successor to the unpopular Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, 82.
“Barghouti is a murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back,” Mr. Erdan said. “Israel will not give in to extortion and pressure from terrorists.”
Palestinian officials organizing the strike called the videos, filmed from above, “absurd.” Mr. Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, told reporters in Ramallah, West Bank, that Israel was “trying to stop the strike in any way, resorting to despicable acts,” but that “this video will increase the prisoners’ insistence on continuing.”
The strikers’ demands include more family visits and access to education, an end to solitary confinement, and better health care.
Organizers say the prisoners, some of whom have fallen ill, have survived on only water and salt. Israeli officials allege that some are taking vitamin supplements.
While Mr. Barghouti and most of the other strikers belong to Mr. Abbas’s Fatah party, some belong to its rival, Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. About 6,500 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons.
In Gaza, Maryam Abu Daqqa of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called the videos “a false attempt to create chaos” in the movement. The strike “will continue until Palestinians’ just demands are met,” she said.
Initial investigations revealed that he planned to enter the courthouse complex and detonate the explosive devices, targeting security forces inside.
A potential security crisis was averted Wednesday morning after Israeli forces caught a Palestinian carrying a pipe bomb outside of a military court in the West Bank near the Palestinian village of Salem.
According to border police, the suspect, a minor from Jenin, attempted to enter the complex via a military checkpoint. When asked by security officials to show identification, the suspect said he did not have any, prompting a search of his person. During the search, soldiers found two pipe bombs in the suspect’s possession.
Initial investigations revealed that he planned to enter the courthouse complex and detonate the explosive devices, targeting security forces inside.
The suspect was taken by security forces for further investigation.
Bomb disposal technicians were called in to neutralize the devices.