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The State: A Cautionary Tale? Review of Peter Kosminsky’s Drama about British Recruits to the Islamic State.

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The State: A Cautionary Tale?

The first episode of The State, the tale of four British people who leave Europe and join the Islamic State in Raqqa Syria, was shown last night. Channel Four, at a time of glossy, paper-thin, series, terrestrial, streamed or in Box Sets, needs no justification to show serious tragedy. Peter Kosminsky, who adapted Wolf Hall, it was a “narrative that needed to be told”. “As far as I know there’s been no other depiction certainly in drama, of what happens to young British Muslims when they arrive in Islamic State.” (The ‘I’. 17.8.17)

The audience hardly has to be told of the importance of the subject. Globalisation means not only that media had brought a cascade of information about Daesh and its acts, but also has facilitated the recruitment of these supporters amongst several thousand other Europeans. As Graeme Wood put this in the Way of Strangers (2017) “Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theocratic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.”

This should not lead us to forget that ISIS was able to create its original totalitarian strongholds from many more Middle Eastern recruits in the wake the bloodbaths of post-invasion Iraq, and the Syrian civil war. Or that, as Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan have recounted, their “draconian rule and religious obscurantism” was initially resisted in Raqqa itself by brave individuals like schoolteacher Souad Nofa (Pages 187 – 190. Isis. Inside the Army of Terror. 2015)

In this vein, The State Kosminsky has stated that the production is based on extensive research both about life in Raqqa, and the “relationship many radical Muslims have with their faith”. “These people are either recent converts to Islam or people [who are] born Muslims, but who’ve been relatively recently ‘born again’ relatively recently and come to an interest in the faith”.

Radicalisation.

Sunday’s broadcast did not begin with lengthy treatment of the process of ‘radicalisation’ that led to the voyage to Raqqa. We are rushed into the crossing into Syria, hungry for clues about whether the recruits were ‘self-radicalised’, dreamt of their own pious utopia, or were pushed into Jihad by a passage through Salafism and recruiters who float in its milieu, as Gilles Kepel famously suggests (La Fracture. 2016).

Some indications about their background do emerge. Adolescent Ushna is anxious to fit in and wed. She hopes to be “a lioness amongst the lions” but her manners suggest an effort to adapt to Daesh’s Islamist rules, as do the other, mobile phone hugging, companions. Single mother and Junior Doctor, the Black British Shakira,  wants to tend to the – Islamist – sick. In a  scene, with echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale, women are instructed by American convert  Umm Walid, brittleness peppered with “sweeties”,  in their proper role as helpmeets. This Ushna challenges, as if she was in a university seminar, by citing female warriors at the time of the Prophet. 

Towards the end of the programme, a speech, in which the male combatants are informed of the coming Apocalypse, when America has been lured into their territory and Armageddon will unfurl, suggests something of Olivier Roy’s Jihadist “imaginaire” (Le djihad et la mort. 2016). Yet the characters already show ambiguity towards this war, a global jihad waged with the utmost force against the unclean, unbelieving “Kuffar” (the word constantly used in The State), whose violent momentum Roy considers the source of the attraction of ISIS.

The State is, Kosminsky has announced, a “cautionary tale” far from a “recruitment video”. We can expect disillusion, although it is hard to see why anybody should feel empathy for those, portrayed by actors,  who have joined an armed totalitarian organisation, a would-be state, whose genocidal acts are more than well known and self-advertised. It is certainly a powerful story, well dramatised. 

 

Whether this series will help shed light on the wider conflicts in the Middle East, from the Civil War in Syria to Iraq, where, as Gilbert Achcar has underlined, there are many other murdering bands, not to mention the Assad regime itself, remains to be seen (Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprising  2016) But we hope, that after we see how Daesh treats women, we’ll hear a lot less of the genre of comments by Judith Butler about the Burka carrying “many meanings of agency” which Westerners have not grasped. (Precarious life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. 2006)

Next episode tonight…

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The State is a four-part mini-series following the story of four British men and women who have left their lives behind to join ISIS in Syria, and although it is a fictional story, it is based on extensive research of real life events.

Channel Four.

The Mail reviewer Christopher Stevens  says,

The State is no sort of truthful drama, as it claims to be. This is a recruitment video to rival Nazi propaganda of the Thirties calling young men to join the Brownshirts.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

As the Caliphate Falls Daesh Fighters Should be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity.

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ISIS Fighters Should be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity. 

This is in the news today,

Isis fighters’ bride reveals horror of life in the so-called caliphate. Independent.

Islam Mitat describes a ‘Little Britain’ in Raqqa where many young British people fought for Isis

An Isis fighter’s wife has revealed the horrors of the life of jihadi brides under the so-called caliphate after she was forced into Syria by her husband.

Islam Mitat, 23, a young mother of two said her life was turned around when her husband of three years, Ahmed, forced her to go to live in an Isis bastion in Syria, where he became a jihadi fighter.

Originally from Morocco, Ms Mitat a physics student and keen former fashion blogger, discovered life in “Little Britain” within the caliphate.

Speaking to The Sunday Times from a safe house in northern Syria, she revealed how she set up home with teenage British twins, Zahra and Salma Halane, who ran away from their home in Manchester in 2014.

Will the jihadists, many of whom are said to be involved in crimes which the UN has described as Genocide (ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide) and  Human Rights Watch has said are Crimes against Humanity,  face justice?

The British government has just announced this:

The UK has stripped more than 150 suspected jihadists and other criminals of their citizenship to stop them returning, it has been reported.

Ministers have issued the “deprivation orders” in case the collapse of the Islamic State in the Middle East leads to a sudden influx of militants from Syria, according to the Sunday Times.

Quoting official figures and security sources, the paper said more than 40 suspects have had their right to a passport removed this year, with about 30 targeted since March.

It added those who have had their citizenship removed include gunmen and “jihadi brides” who have travelled to Syria.

The news comes as the Syrian army and its allies reported made gains in the last IS-held territories in Homs province.

They are all dual nationals, including British-born people with parents of different nationalities, as ministers cannot take away citizenship if it would lead a suspect stateless.

A senior security source told the Sunday Times: “There’s an awful lot of people we have found who will never be coming home again.

Our number one preference is to get them on trial. If we don’t think that’s possible, we use disruption techniques.”

Last week the Home Office revealed that just six suspects in Britain who cannot be deported or prosecuted are subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims).

Security minister Ben Wallace said: “Prosecution and conviction is always our preference for dealing with terrorists.

“Tpims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) are one of a range of powers at our disposal to disrupt terrorism-related activity where prosecution is not possible.”

Evening Standard.

The fighters for Daesh have not just committed acts of  terrorism  or are a potential threat in the UK.

They, like their forebears in the Nazi  Einsatzgruppen, stand accused of crimes against humanity.

They should be tried for that by an appropriate court.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Hundreds of Tributes paid to heroic Luke Rutter, 22, killed while fighting ISIS in Syria.

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Luke Rutter

Hundreds pay tribute to “heroic” Birkenhead man killed while fighting ISIS in Syria.

The Liverpool Echo (more here reports,

Luke Rutter joined Kurdish forces last March.

Hundreds have paid tribute to a Birkenhead man who was killed while fighting against the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

Luke Rutter, 22, was fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) when he is reported to have died on Wednesday, July 5.

The group called him a “martyr” in a statement announcing his death and that of an American Occupy Wall Street activist on their website.

After we reported the tragic news yesterday, ECHO readers posted their tributes on Facebook to the “heroic“ young man.

Dave Hinds said: “RIP. No doubt had his own reasons for going. Fought with a great crew who will not forget him. Prayers and blessings to family and friends.”

Peter Levis added: “Only knew Luke for a bit but from what i seen he was a very strong man and knew what he had to do.

“Rest in peace Luke gone but never forgotten. A hero in my eyes for what he done.”

Luke reportedly travelled to Syria last March without telling his family, according to The Guardian.

The YPG said he had been killed while he was patrolling an area in the Syrian town of Raqqa, where the Islamic State has a strong presence.

He is believed to be the fourth British fighter killed in Syria fighting against the group.

Posts on the YPG Facebook page called Luke a “brave soldier“ and a “great and humble“ man.

Clarissa Castrello said: “Rest in peace in our hearts and in our souls our beloved British YPG Luke Rutter, Comrade, Hero and Angel.

Brave soldier, proud warrior and valiant fighter. God bless you and all Martyrs. My prayers are for you and all Martyrs. Her biji Kurdistan.”

Michael Michaelssen added: “One of the greatest and most humble guys I’ve ever met! Thanks for the lessons.”

Erik Scurfield from Barnsley, Dean Evans from Warminster and Ryan Lock from Chichester have also been killed while fighting alongside the YPG.

YPG Facebook:

YPG’s British Martyr Luke Rutter (Soro Zinar)’s final message and photos.

Comrade Soro travelled to Rojava in March and joined the YPG to fight the fascist and reactionary Daesh (ISIS) gangs in Raqqa. He was martyred on 5 July 2017 after battling bravely in the terrorist group’s so-called capital. The people of Rojava will not forget his sacrifice.

Sehid Namirin! Martyr’s don’t die!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2017 at 12:30 pm

American Anarchist, Heval Demhat, Fighter for Freedom, Falls in the Battle against Daesh.

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Yesterday on BBC 2 Newsnight reported on the battle to liberate Raqqa. After interviewing a heroic Kurdish woman commander, the programme talked to Kimberley Taylor, 27, who has joined the forces against Daesh, reminding viewers  that some brave people from across the world  have taken their side.

This has also happened, another courageous volunteer amongst the martyrs who have joined the struggle  against Jihadist Islamism.

This has also happened, one amongst the martyrs against Jihadist Islamism.

American Anarchist Killed in Battle to Liberate Raqqa from ISIS.

Report from: It’s Going Down  July the 10th, 2017.

According to the IRPGF (International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces), an anarchist militia fighting within the Rojava revolution against ISIS in so-called Syria, an anarchist from the United States, Heval Demhat (nom de guerre) has been killed during the struggle to liberate Raqqa in Syria from ISIS control.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 11, 2017 at 11:33 am

Saudi Arabia chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK: time for the Left to respond.

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Theresa May meets King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia in April

Theresa May with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud in April

Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a report has warned.

The conservative Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations preaching violence and foreign state funding.

In a new report entitled “Foreign Funded Islamist Extremism in the UK”, the thinktank calls for a public inquiry into extremism bankrolled by other countries.

It suggests several Gulf states and Iran are responsible for much of the foreign funding of extremism in the UK, but that Saudi Arabia in particular had spent millions on exporting its conservative branch of Wahhabi Islam to Muslim communities in the West since the 1960s.

The thinktank, run by controversial journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray, said this typically took the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which host radical preachers and distribute extremist literature.

The report calls for a public inquiry in Saudi Arabia’s connections with UK based extremism.

The UK’s Saudi Arabian embassy told the BBC the allegations were “categorically false”.

The Henry Jackson Society is not a friend of the left. But this report cannot be dismissed. The left needs to come up with a response to Islamism. Opposing anti-Muslim racism does not mean protecting the ideology of Islamism and the actions of violent Islamists.These are opponents of human rights, the enemy of all democrats, feminists, progressives and the left. We have to oppose all forms of Islamism, but above all the jihadists.

The Guardian reports,

Tom Wilson, a fellow at the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the society – and author of the report, said: “While countries from across the Gulf and Iran have been guilty of advancing extremism, Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly at the top of the list.

“Research indicates that some Saudi individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology. So it is ironic, to say the least, that Saudi Arabia is singling out Qatar for links to extremism when it has patently failed to get its own house in order.”

The report argues that although Saudi leaders have acknowledged the need to rein in some of the funding of extremism, including by setting up a counter extremism centre this year, the level of funding of Wahhabism has been on the increase.

It claims in 2007 Saudi Arabia was estimated to be spending at least $2bn (£1.5bn) annually on promoting Wahhabism worldwide. By 2015 that figure was believed to have doubled.

The impact of this increased spending may well have been felt in Britain: in 2007, estimates put the number of mosques in Britain adhering to Salafism and Wahhabism at 68. Seven years later, the number of British mosques identified with Wahhabism had risen to 110.

It argues that Saudi Islamic charitable groups have tended to fund Wahhabist ideology. Some of Britain’s most prominent extremist preachers — such as Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza, Abdullah al Faisal and Shiekh Omar Bakri — have all sat within what can be described as a broadly Wahhabi/Salafi ideology, the report says. In 2014, it was estimated that Britain’s Salafi Mosques had a collective capacity for a 44,994-strong membership.

The report by no means exclusively blames Saudi – pointing out that the Qatari-funded Al-Muntada Trust has been connected with a number of mosques where radicalisation has taken place. Specifically, in the case of a group of young British men from Cardiff, it has been suggested that “attendance at the al-Muntada-linked Al-Manar Mosque was significant in their radicalisation and decision to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State”.

In its own outline the Report says,

  • The foreign funding for Islamist extremism in Britain primarily comes from governments and government linked foundations based in the Gulf, as well as Iran.
  • Foremost among these has been Saudi Arabia, which since the 1960s has sponsored a multimillion dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.
  • In the UK, this funding has primarily taken the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions, which have apparently, in turn, played host to Islamist extremist preachers and the distribution of extremist literature. Influence has also been exerted through the training of British Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, as well as the use of Saudi textbooks in a number of the UK’s independent Islamic schools.
  • A number of Britain’s most serious Islamist hate preachers sit within the Salafi-Wahhabi ideology and are apparently linked to Islamist extremism sponsored from overseas, either by having studied in Saudi Arabia as part of scholarship programmes, or by having been provided with extreme literature and material within the UK itself.
  • There have been numerous cases of British individuals who have joined Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria whose radicalisation is thought to link back to foreign funded institutions and preachers.

This comes after this (the Blaze)

Intelligence officers have said they have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in the United Kingdom, according to a report by the Times of London on Saturday.

Of the 23,000 radical jihadists identified in the United Kingdom, the intelligence sources said about 3,000 are believed to pose a “threat” and are currently being investigated or actively monitored. “The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a ‘residual risk,’” reported the Times.

The BBC  stated earlier this year,

Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, say the British authorities.

This BBC News database is the most comprehensive public record of its kind, telling the story of over 100 people from the UK who have been convicted of offences relating to the conflict and over 150 others who have either died or are still in the region.

Many of these people, the modern-day equivalent of those who joined the Nazi Einsatzgruppen have committed war crimes.

The jihadists of Daesh above all have murdered Syrian, Kurds and Iraqis,  enslaved and committed genocide against our Yazidi sisters and brothers (Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL).

They need to be brought to justice.

Defence of universal human rights begins with the fight against the ideas and the people who give the jihadists succor and support.

 

Solidarité avec le peuple syrien ! Solidarity with the Syrian People!

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Ensemble is a bloc of a number of radical left wing groups in France.

They, by majority vote, backed Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the recent Presidential election and some of their supporters were candidates for his list, La France insoumise .

Two of them are at present MPs in the National Assembly: Clémentine Autain, 11e circonscription de Seine-Saint-Denis, and Caroline Fiat, 6e circonscription de Meurthe-et-Moselle.

This declaration, signed by Roland Merieux, Ollivier Mollaz  and Francis Sitel appears on the Ensemble site.

Without translating the whole statement – which concerns the place of foreign policy in the overall strategy of newly elected President Macron in Syria – the key points are:

  • Macron considers that there is one, “absolute enemy” in Syria,  Terrorist Groups.
  • That against these enemies it is necessary for there to be co-operation between all those fighting them.
  • That a political solution to the conflict in Syria does not have to include as a condition the departure of Assad.

(Il n’existe qu’un « ennemi absolu » : les « groupes terroristes » (un lexique extensif qui est celui de Poutine et de Bachar al-Assad). 2) Contre cet ennemi, il faut la coopération entre tous ceux qui le combattent, en premier lieu la Russie. 3) La solution politique à rechercher pour la Syrie ne saurait inclure le départ de Bachar al-Assad.)

The declaration underlines, by contrast, that Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity, that he has waged war against his own people, and that he, as a result is “our enemy” and an enemy of France.

It concludes that only the Syrian People can legitimately decide who is in Power.

Comment:

In the light of these policy changes, which are not confined to France, it would be perhaps better if the left in Britain began to look into its position on Syria, where real genocides have taken place and where the Assad regime murders and tortures,  rather than other parts of the Middle East.

What is our stand on solidarity with the Syrian people against Assad?

The issue has come to the heart of French politics at present, as this public letter in Libération today demonstrates:

TRIBUNE : Monsieur le Président, maintenir Assad, c’est soutenir le terrorisme.

Dans une interview donnée à la presse européenne le 21 juin, Emmanuel Macron ne fait plus du départ de Bachar al-Assad un «préalable à tout». Une centaine d’intellectuels et de spécialistes de la région réagissent.

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Emmanuel Macron doit conforter la légitimité de son pouvoir. 

Sur les questions sociales, pour précipiter et gagner l’affrontement sur le Code du travail et l’augmentation de la CSG, la procédure des ordonnances offre un moyen certes peu démocratique, mais efficace pour précipiter la concrétisation de la volonté présidentielle.

Pour ce qui est des questions internationales, il ne lui est pas même besoin d’user de ce type d’opération faisant peu de cas du rôle du Parlement. La Vème République les inscrit dans un « domaine réservé » où le Président décide souverainement. Emmanuel Macron a donc toute liberté pour déployer son activisme.

Outre les rencontres avec les dirigeants de l’Union européenne, Angela Merkel en premier lieu, une visite remarquée auprès du roi du Maroc, des entretiens avec Trump et Poutine, le voici qui se saisit de la décisive question syrienne.

De longue date monte au sein des cercles dirigeants la volonté d’imposer un tournant à la diplomatie française : en finir avec un « moralisme », louable mais hors de propos, pour rallier la realpolitik. Admettre enfin que Bachar al-Assad est toujours au pouvoir, et que l’appui massif de la Russie et de l’Iran lui permettra d’y rester. Donc qu’il faut cesser de vouloir l’écarter, et s’appuyer sur l’argument que l’ennemi prioritaire c’est Daech et les « groupes terroristes » pour prôner un accord avec Poutine et Bachar !

François Hollande, au lendemain des attentats de novembre 2015, avait évoqué un tel changement de la politique française à l’égard de la Syrie. On en a entendu des échos dans les propos tenus par Jean-Yves Le Drian lorsqu’il était ministre de la Défense. Mais le cap avait avait été maintenu : pas de solution politique possible incluant de manière durable le maintien au pouvoir de Bachar al-Assad.

Dans un grand entretien accordé à huit journaux européens, dont le Figaro, Emmanuel Macron opère un tel tournant. « le vrai aggiornamento que j’ai fait à ce sujet, c’est que je n’ai pas énoncé que la destitution de Bachar al-Assad était un préalable à tout ». C’est maintenir une ambiguïté puisque les rapports de force avait déjà conduit à une inflexion de la position française, conduisant à envisager une solution de transition préservant l’existence du régime, mais préparant la mise à l’écart de Bachar al-Assad : non un « préalable », mais une conséquence de ladite transition. Emmanuel Macron affiche également une grande fermeté apparente à propos de l’usage des armes chimiques, qu’il s’engage à sanctionner, seul s’il le faut. Depuis 2013 et la reculade d’Obama on sait ce que vaut ce type de « ligne rouge » !

« Dans le même temps », deux idées décisives sont avancées :
1) Il n’existe pas de « successeur légitime » à Bachar al-Assad.
2) Cette autre concentrée en une formule terrible : « Bachar n’est pas l’ennemi de la France, mais l’ennemi du peuple syrien ».

Donc pour résumer le propos du Président :
1) Il n’existe qu’un « ennemi absolu » : les « groupes terroristes » (un lexique extensif qui est celui de Poutine et de Bachar al-Assad).
2) Contre cet ennemi, il faut la coopération entre tous ceux qui le combattent, en premier lieu la Russie.
3) La solution politique à rechercher pour la Syrie ne saurait inclure le départ de Bachar al-Assad.

Ainsi, alors que Bachar al-Assad est coupable de crimes de guerre et de crimes contre l’Humanité, que pour se maintenir au pouvoir il mène depuis six ans une guerre barbare contre son peuple, qui est cause de centaines de milliers de morts, de millions de déplacés, de la destruction du pays, lequel est livré à des occupations étrangères… Cela ne suffit pas selon Emmanuel Macron pour qu’il soit considéré comme un « ennemi de la France » !

L’auteur de Révolution a oublié la « guerre aux tyrans !»…
Faut-il rappeler au Président de la France qu’on ne combat pas le terrorisme en s’alliant à ceux qui en sont les fourriers. Et qu’un peuple n’a pas à confier aux dirigeants de ce monde le soin de désigner qui a la légitimité pour le gouverner.
Parce que Bachar al-Assad est l’ennemi du peuple syrien, il est notre ennemi. Il devrait être celui de la France, même présidée par Emmanuel Macron.

Et c’est au seul peuple syrien de décider qui ne doit pas être au pouvoir, et qui peut légitimement y accéder.

Roland Merieux – Ollivier Mollaz – Francis Sitel.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 3, 2017 at 12:17 pm

On the Fundamentally Flawed Stop the War Coalition Statement on the London Attacks.

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StWC: Deeply Flawed Response to London Atrocities. 

The events on Saturday have left millions deeply saddened.

It is to be welcomed that the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has responded to the murders with a serious  statement.

Nevertheless, it is deeply flawed. 

Enough is enough: the government must change course.

The Stop the War Coalition is unequivocal in its condemnation of the latest terror attack in London which has left 7 innocent people dead and many more injured. We extend our sympathy to the relatives of the dead and injured.

For those that committed this crime killing was a means to an end. Like the Manchester attack which preceded it, these murders aimed at disrupting the election, at inflaming racial and religious divisions, and at provoking the government into repressive measures. Theresa May and her ministers show every sign of doing exactly what the terrorists hope they will do.

There is a cycle of violence here in which the role of successive governments is a central part. To destroy Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria by military intervention and not expect that these ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers and provoke violent responses was always a policy blindness bordering on the perverse. And of course, UK military forces remain deployed in all these countries to this very day.

Nor will repression based on religious or racial profiling work. The Prevent programme has not prevented terrorism. Internment in Guantanamo did not work. France has continued to suffer racist attacks despite a State of Emergency that has lasted from 2015 to the present and has seen protests banned and tens of thousands arrested.

We urgently need a serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism, not knee-jerk, populist rhetoric.

What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad; an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology; an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

This, and only this, will begin to drain the swamp in which the terrorists thrive. Anything else perpetuates a mutually reinforcing cycle of violence.

The difficulties with this statement centre on  the sentence that as a result of Western interventions,  ” ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers “. The West is to be blame for having sown dragon’s teeth. The dragon is fearful, but its the sowers who are the ones responsible.

But who are the people who aim at inflaming racial and religious hatred and disrupting the election?

Not a word.

Islamic State.

 A genuine debate on these issues has to begin with this: who are the Islamic State and what are their aims?

Daesh, ISIS, the group which has claimed that its supporters carried out the killings is a Salafist jihadi group, as Gilles Kepel has called them (for a discussion of Kepel’s. Le Prophète et Pharaon 1984. and  La Fracture 2016 see here) That is, they are rigorist pietist Islamists who, in distinction to some ‘quietist’ (inward looking) Salafists  are engaged directly in violence to impose Sharia law, an Islamic society, fitted out with a totalitarian state, to impose their views. Daesh is also highly sectarian, in the original religious sense. They are marked not just by their hatred of non-Sunni Muslims but for all Sunnis who do not accept their particular ‘line’ of Quranic literalist  interpretation.

Daesh is only the most notorious Salafist Jihadist organisation. If it is, at present, within a broader mouvance, the leading group, there have been many predecessors and their continue to exist competitors. Amongst the best known early example of Salfist jihadis were the Groupe Islamique Armé  (GIA) which slaughtered  thousands during the 1990s Algerian civil war – a conflict that does not fit at all into the “Western intervention causes Terrorism” pattern. Think about it. Just ask this question: what Western military presence was there during a conflict that cost several hundred thousand lives?

At present part of the GIA forms Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the first part of whose name, Al-Qaeda leads us to a group which needs no further introduction.

The rise of Jihadi Salafism is not doubt the result of complex conditions. But once formed it has a concrete existence. Its development can outlined, from “Micro-powers” centred around ultra-pious Mosques, attempts to create ‘zones’ where Sharia law becomes part of everyday life, to efforts to capture state authority and the means of repression that guarantee religious ‘law’ and function in the total absence of any form of democracy.

At present the most visible  material form of this Salafist Jihadist  ideology, that is a power, with its military and political presence in Iraq and Syria, is ISIS.

The Islamic State is the proximate cause, the inspirer, if not the commander, of the London bloodbath. Daesh is at present the immediate cause of these attacks.

There are is much more to discuss. Whether, as many people believe, the ground for this totalitarian entity was prepared not just by the civil war in Syria and the US-allied occupation of Iraq, but by the finance of Wahhabist Islamist teaching by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (which formally support Al-Nusra in Syria and not ISIS), is open to discussion.

What is not open to debate it that religion not international politics, still less “imperialism” plays the major part in Daesh’s  strategy and actions.

How should we look at this? One false route is to ignore the role of faith and simply dismiss their ideas as a “perversion” of Islam.

In the Way of Strangers  Encounters with the Islamic State |(2017) Grahame Wood observes,

The notion that religious belief is a minor factor in the rise of the Islamic State is belied by the crushing weight of evidence that religion matters deeply to the vast majority of those who have travelled to fight. Not only does it issue mountains of Fatwas and other pious declarations, but also, Wood demonstrates, the Islamic state cannot be understood without a deep immersion in the ideology of Salafism and a variety of Islamic schools. The “simplest explanation” for their roots is that their founders were “extreme Islamists”. As for effort to dismiss their faith basis, those doing so rarely have any knowledge of the clerics and scholars in its ranks.

“Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theoretic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.”

As the Blog you are reading commented,

As one reads The Way of Strangers happy talk about Islam as a “religion of peace” quickly evaporates. The ‘literalist’ Islam of the Islamic, baked by scriptural authority, state sanctions the most severe forms of Hudud punishment, slavery, infamously including sexual captives, and the regulation of all aspects of personal life fused around loathing of the non-licit and the ‘kuffer’. It is obsessed with, The Way of Strangers continues, the takfir¸ the “sport” of declaring those who disagree with them and claim to be Muslims “apostates” under sentence of death. It has genocidal intentions, already put into practice against Yazidis. Wild dreams of a worldwide apocalypse the Islamic state’s followers, to come in decades not months, round off the picture.

Attacks by ISIS inspired, or organised, individuals and groups did not start in Britain.

In 2014 a man opened fire in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, leaving four people dead. On 30 May, Mehdi Nemmouche, who in 2013 had fought for Islamists in the Syrian Civil War  was arrested at a bus station in Marseilles and admitted to the shooting. This was the first incident of a European jihadist committing an act of terrorism after returning from Syria.

Without continuing this list, marked by the heart-rending terrorist murders that have been inflicted in France, Germany, Belgium, Turkey and elsewhere, the common cause is the existence of the Islamic caliphate, Daesh, in Syria and Iraq (Islamic terrorism in Europe (2014–present)

StWC confuses  one of the conditions for the rise of Daesh, military intervention in the Middle East, with the existence of ISIS, the immediate causal force behind these atrocities.

It does not mention explore in any detail the all-important regional and religious and inter-state  aspect to the war in the Middle East, between Iran and its Shia allies and the Saudi backed forces, a division from Syria all the way to Yemen.

It does not mention the Syrian civil war, with its own internal causes, either out of a deliberate wish to avoid its own failure to oppose resolutely the Assad regime or back the only forces consistently fighting against ISIS, the Kurdish armed militias of the YPG, their Arab allies or their  internationalist brigades.

Many will say that this absence is more than “policy blindness”. It is a sign of moral cowardice.

The Statement does not mention the StWC’s leaders (in the groupuscule Counterfire)  own past reactions to terrorism, notably during the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher to ‘explain’ the murders in terms of a ‘blow back’ against the “West”, nor the vile suggestion by people such as George Galloway, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali and  Seumas Milne, that Charlie Hebdo “had it coming to them”.

Nor does it even begin a “serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism.”

Let us have one.

The Present Terrorist Wave.

France is perhaps the place where such a discussion has taken place.

Gilles Kepel’s Terreur dans l’Hexagone, Genèse du djihad français,, with Antoine Jardi. 2015) just now out in paperback, traces how Jihadi Salafism gained an audience in France.

In a narrative that closely parallels  Kenan Malik‘s writings the authors portray a generational shift from a Muslim community in which secular anti-racism had an audience (in France, La Marche des Beurs 1983), to the present day inflection of Salafism and religious intolerance  in the banlieue. Social conditions in these quarters are perhaps fertile ground for the religious ideologues.

Does this explain the way they have taken shape?

Kepel’s critic, Olivier Roy, by contrast talks of the “Islamisation of radicalism” and the growth of a nihilistic ‘death cult” (Le Djihad et la mort. 2016). Roy considers that the historical sequence, from SOS-racisme, to increased pious observance,  to present day genocidal Islamism ignores a fundamental break in ideology. Salafism is not ‘one’ thing, a continuum from ultra-orthodox to violence. There is a new dimension: the willingness to kill and die.

Roy asks, “why, for the past 20 years, have terrorists regularly chosen to die? “

Roy has written (Guardian April 2017) of this “youth movement”,

My argument is that violent radicalisation is not the consequence of religious radicalisation, even if it often takes the same paths and borrows the same paradigms. Religious fundamentalism exists, of course, and it poses considerable societal problems, because it rejects values based on individual choice and personal freedom. But it does not necessarily lead to political violence.

The objection that radicals are motivated by the “suffering” experienced by Muslims who were formerly colonised, or victims of racism or any other sort of discrimination, US bombardments, drones, Orientalism, and so on, would imply that the revolt is primarily led by victims. But the relationship between radicals and victims is more imaginary than real.

Those who perpetrate attacks in Europe are not inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Libya or Afghanistan. They are not necessarily the poorest, the most humiliated or the least integrated. The fact that 25% of jihadis are converts shows that the link between radicals and their “people” is also a largely imaginary construct.

It is less sure that his conclusion will be accepted, but it ought to be debated,

The systematic association with death is one of the keys to understanding today’s radicalisation: the nihilist dimension is central. What seduces and fascinates is the idea of pure revolt. Violence is not a means. It is an end in itself.

How does the StWC propose to deal with Jihadi Salafism, if Roy is to be believed, a death cult? That is a group prepared to kill the ‘kuffer’ the mecreants not just aimed at (as the StWC mind-readers claim), “provoking the government into repressive measures” but because they wish everybody who does not agree with them to submit or be murdered.

They start by asserting that Guantanamo Bay, the French state of Emergency and the Prevent Programme, have had no success.

This may well be the case.

StWC Proposals.

But what does the StWC offer?

Let us untangle their proposals.

  • What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad.

Clearly this will not affect the armed forces of ISIS nor its blood-thirsty supporters. There is only way one can begin to defeat them, by physical force against their ‘Caliphate’.WHy not back, if the StWC is so reluctant to back the West, with support for the YPG, the Kurdish armed groups?

  •  an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology

If arms sales are stopped how will this alter the Saudi’s finance of Wahhabist hatred?

  • an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

It is hard to take this seriously.

How is not doing something – I had no idea that “profiling” was the cornerstone of anti-terrorist policing in the first place – going to stop terrorism?

The StWC statement offers a paradigm of radicalisation-attack-repression-radicalisation, the “mutually reinforcing cycle of violence”.

Or to put it more simply: the more you repress a radical group the greater its support and radicalisation.

Perhaps instead of not doing things – that is, not repressing – the StWC might consider that that, regardless of what the State or the government does, they could begin by making allies with secularist forces, like the Kurds cited above, and with liberal secular voices in the countries they express such concern about.

They could also make a far more effective reply to Theresa May’s appeal to ‘British values’ by stating support for universal human rights.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm