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The ‘Muslim factor’ in France

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The terrorist threat level in France is as high now as it was in 2015 – 16; the terrible days of Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, the Nice lorry – killer and the murder of Father Hamel in his church in Rouen – writes BBC’s Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield.

The major battlefield defeats of ISIL in Iraq and Syria in the 18 months prior to June 2017 signaled the beginning of the end of the group’s long term territorial ambitions and military strength. As the group has lost territory, it has also suffered a significant loss of revenue, which is estimated to have declined threefold between 2015 and 2016.

This decline in revenue continued throughout the remainder of 2017 and into 2018. Due to its territorial losses, the group had a dramatically smaller revenue base from tax collections with much of its oil deposits also either lost or destroyed. As its battlefield losses have intensified, many foreign and domestic fighters have deserted and sought to return to their countries of origin. These developments fundamentally undermine the group’s ability to recruit Jihad based volunteers to promote Ummah on its existing marketing strategy and brand, which has been partly centred on an image of invincibility.

More troubling, is the potential for many hardened fighters and leaders to leave Iraq and Syria to join new radical permutations of ISIL or existing ISIL affiliates in other countries.

This has contributed to a continuation of last year’s trend of an expansionist agenda of ISIL. However while the number of countries that suffered an ISIL directed attack increased from 11 in 2015 to 15 in 2016, six fewer countries suffered an attack from an ISIL affiliated group. In Europe and other developed countries, ISIL’s activity was the main driver.

The year 2016 was the most deadly for terrorism for OECD member countries since 1988. However, ISIL’s diminishing capacity has coincided with positive trends in the first half of 2017 with the number of deaths dropping to 82 compared to 265 deaths in 2016; although this figures excludes Turkey and Israel.

Since 2014, 75% of terrorist deaths in OECD countries have been ISIL directed or inspired. Associated with this trend was a change in terrorist tactics used in the OECD countries. Since 2014, there has been a general shift towards simpler attacks against non-traditional and softer civilian targets.

ISIL inspired attacks also increased to 68 in 2016 from 32 in 2015. A greater number of attacks were foiled by security services with half of the attacks using bombs and explosives thwarted. Two years ago, only 1/3rd of these types of attacks were foiled by the security services.

These more sophisticated types of attacks involve more people and planning, and therefore are more likely to be detected. Less sophisticated attacks that can be executed at lower cost can be more difficult to detect, such as ‘lone wolf’ warrior attacks. It should be noted that the 2016 levels of terrorism in OECD counties is not without precedence.

Since 1970 there have been nearly 10,000 deaths from terrorism in OECD countries, excluding Turkey and Israel, with 58% of these deaths occurring prior to 2000. ISIL is only the 4th most deadly group and accounts for 4.7% of terrorist deaths in OECD countries since 1970.

Separatist groups such as Irish separatists (IRA) and Basque Nationalists (ETA) have killed over 2,450 people since 1970, accounting for 26% of the total deaths from terrorism since 1970. Central America and the Caribbean continues to be the least affected region.

There were only 12 deaths recorded in 2016, which accounts for less than 0.4 per cent of all terrorism deaths. Meanwhile, 94% of all terrorist deaths are located in the Middle-East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The massive influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Europe since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 has given rise to, or exacerbated already existing tensions regarding immigration issues. The largest number of attacks occurred in Germany, which has also been the OECD country that has accepted the highest intake of refugees and asylum seekers.

German’s hated the decision of Angela to accept the refugees and she was paid back with less number of seats and rise of German nationalism.

ISIL’s ability to undertake and inspire attacks among OECD countries is largely due to its successful exploitation of social media and the internet. ISIL used encryption technology for timely unmonitored communication between commanders in Iraq and Syria and operatives in the OECD.

They used Telegram and other tools to send across the messages. Furthermore, they have developed a broad message that appeals to a wide range of people and which can be easily contextualised. Among OECD countries, France experienced the most deaths from terrorism yet it was able to foil a quarter of all attacks. 92% of the deaths in France from terrorism were from three attacks: the November 2015 Paris and Île-de-France attacks as well as the 2016 Nice truck attack.

The attacks involving ISIL have focused on low risk, high impact targets and often focused on civilians. These types of attacks are less likely to be foiled and in some instances are able to be copied by others. Examples include the attempted shooting in August 2015 on a Thalys train in France where the planned attacker was overpowered by passengers.

The gunman was initially described as a lone actor yet he was directed by the leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks. Targeting a train was seen as a ‘softer’ target than a plane as the level of security is significantly lower.

Belgium, French neighbour had the highest ratio of fighters returning from Syria at 25%, followed by France at 18%, the United States at 17% and Germany at 12%. The vast majority of OECD member countries had no confirmed cases of lone actors traveling to Syria prior to perpetrating their attack.

The ages of perpetrators ranged from 17 in Norway to 55 in South Korea with the average being 30.4 years. This is slightly older than what previous research has found to be the average age for individuals to join terrorist organisations.

The Facebook revolution, to which it was referred, began with the Arab Spring. While it failed, it launched a revolution of ideas augmented by the rapid flow of information. This is fueling revolutionary causes and extremism worldwide.

The new global disorder has become a spontaneous network of Skype calls, Facebook likes and tweets, all of which flow in the arteries of the internet across the globe in real time. The nature of power, and who wields it, has shifted.

Cyberspace has leveled the playing field. Individuals, small countries and most recently terrorists and criminals, can now punch above their weight in the cyberspace thereby creating new security issues of encryption and decryption.

The global human brain is being swayed by fake news, Twitter and social media, while real journalism and books are losing authority and power. As history is unfolding it is also becoming rudderless. No country or individual in global affairs is arousing enough political or moral authority to sway the new generation of Millennials who only believe 19% of people can be trusted. World is getting lonelier place.

It is not surprising that extremists are gaining a foothold in a world with such unprecedentedly low levels of social trust. Cyberspace has created a vast network of sleeper cells all across the world. Each Muslim house is a possible and potential sleeper cell, ready to do its duty as an ummah.

Technology is offering terrorist groups greater strategic and operational freedom and new types of ‘leaderless attacks.’ These will grow in scope in the future. Al-Qa’ida mastered satellite television and cable news. ISIL are the masters of social media and the smart phone. The next group will want to further exploit the internet to conduct cyber operations and ultimately cyber war.

ISIL is already building up its new ‘cyber caliphate’ and cyber army focused on collecting intelligence, coordinating operations and unleashing cyber jihad. While ISIL members have yet to acquire the expertise of threat groups backed by nation states such as the Russian Bears, Iran’s Kittens and China’s Pandas who hack industrial infrastructure, ISIL has started to build up a cyber army in the hopes of conducting asymmetrical financial attacks.

Several hacker teams conduct cyber operation carrying the ISIL banner. If terrorist groups lack in-house hacking talents, they can buy these skills on the dark web. Everything is for sale, from zombie computers that can swamp a network with traffic to sophisticated cyber malware.

In April 2016, ISIL united five distinct hacking groups into a ‘United Cyber Caliphate’ (UCC). Its purpose is to build a cyber jihad army and create forums to enable followers to wage cyber-terror campaigns and conduct crime and muster support for sleeper cells. The UCC has been busy publishing kill lists, distributing cyber – operations guidelines on terror operations and inviting new followers.

In another security breach, Wikileaks published a leak called Vault 7 consisting of approximately 9,000 files that detailed the activities and surveillance and cyber warfare capabilities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Center for Cyber Intelligence. These exploits were used to launch the massive WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks, which helped close the gap between the capabilities of states and those of terrorists and criminals.

In the EU, where most countries are well-off in absolute economic terms, there remains large differences in youth unemployment levels when comparing native and foreign born citizens. A first generation young immigrant in Belgium is 64% more likely to be unemployed than a young person born in Belgium. Such differences may be due to other factors such as education or language levels but importantly these differences contribute to feelings of ‘unfairness’ in the country.

Belgium also had one of the highest rates of citizens leaving to fight alongside ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Estimates from April 2016 put the total number of foreign fighters from Europe at somewhere between 3,900 and 4,300 people. It is estimated that 30% of these individual fighters have since returned to their countries of origin and 14% have been confirmed dead. The majority of foreign fighters come from just four countries; Belgium, France, Germany and the UK.

Belgium has the highest per capita ratio of foreign fighters while in Germany nearly two-thirds of the 910 German foreign fighters had previous criminal charges. Female fighters are estimated to make up 17% of the total number of European foreign fighters. They work as sex slaves and contribute to Jihad. For those EU member states who have more than five foreign fighters joining ISIL, somewhere between six and 23% are converts to Islam.

The terrorist organisation that calls itself the Islamic State or Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is based in Iraq and Syria. The group originally emerged in 2014 as an offshoot of the Iraqi based al-Qa’ida group. Al-Qa’ida formally broke ties with ISIL because of their aggressive attacks against civilians and Shi’a Muslims.

ISIL’s ambition was to govern the Levant region, which includes Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Terrorist activity is funded through various legal and illicit avenues and often benefits from corruption and support from the edges of the formal economy. For example, the owner of a Nigerian telecommunications company was arrested in 2011 for using business profits to fund Boko Haram activities as well as suppling terrorists with SIM cards and mobile phones.

Some examples of illegal sources of funding for terrorist groups include narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, high end ransom, extortion, illegal mining and banking transfers. For many terrorist organisations money transfers, such as Western Union, provide a secure avenue for discreetly transferring funds. In recognition of this countries have introduced legislation to place restrictions on short term financial flows; this has occurred largely through compliance with transnational banking laws that aim to stem the flow of terrorist finances.

A young Tunisian man armed with a knife and carrying a copy of the Quran attacked worshippers in a French church and killed three churchgoers, prompting the government to raise its security alert to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

The attack in the Mediterranean city of Nice was the 3rd in less than two months that French authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class after the images were re-published by a satirical newspaper targeted in a 2015 attack.

Thursday’s attacker was seriously wounded by police and hospitalised in life – threatening condition after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica. The imposing edifice is located half a mile (less than a kilometer) from the site where another attacker plowed a truck into a crowd on France’s national day in 2016, killing 87 and injuring hundreds.

France’s anti – terrorism prosecutor said the suspect is a Tunisian born in 1999 who reached the Italian island of Lampedusa, a key landing point for migrants crossing in boats from North Africa, on September 20, 2020 and traveled to Bari, a port city in southern Italy, on October, 9th.

Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard did not specify when he arrived in Nice. The French consulate in the Saudi city of Jiddah was also targeted Thursday, a man claiming allegiance to an anti – immigrant group was shot and killed by police in the southern French city of Avignon, and scattered confrontations were reported elsewhere, but it is unclear whether they were linked to the attack in Nice.

France’s national police chief had ordered increased security at churches and mosques earlier this week, but no police appeared to be guarding the Nice church when it was attacked, and Associated Press reporters saw no visible security forces at multiple prominent religious sites in Paris. French churches have been ferociously attacked by extremists in recent years. Thursday’s killings come ahead of the Roman Catholic All Saints’ holiday.

It was the 3rd attack since Charlie Hebdo republished the caricatures in September as the trial opened for the 2015 attacks at the paper’s offices and a kosher supermarket. The gunmen in that attack claimed allegiance to the ISIL and al-Qaida, which both recently called anew for strikes against France. A defiant President Emmanuel Macron vowed to deploy thousands of more soldiers to protect important French sites, such as places of worship and schools.

Macron said France had been attacked “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief”, adding “And I say it with lots of clarity again today: We will not give any ground.”

“One major issue, as everywhere, remains the pernicious role of social media. This has been clearly shown in investigations into the murder of the teacher in Conflans. The teenage killer came from 60 miles away, and his knowledge of the teacher’s actions was based on misleading clips circulated by angry parents and a mosque.” Jason Burke in The Guardian.

The terrorist threat level in France is as high now as it was in 2015 – 16; the terrible days of Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, the Nice lorry – killer and the murder of Father Hamel in his church in Rouen – writes BBC’s Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield. According to him, the symbolism of the Samuel Paty beheading has left the country disoriented and frightened. A minute’s silence was held in the National Assembly.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemned the attack and spoke of its solidarity with the victims and their families. Turkey, which has seen ties with France sour in recent days over remarks by Macron, strongly condemned the “savage” attack. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the killings had “brought death to a place of love and consolation”.

Scott Morrison has condemned inflammatory remarks by former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad in the wake of the Nice terror attack. In a series of tweets, Dr Mahathir, 95, wrote about the cultural struggles between the Muslim and Western worlds. He said that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past” in a post that was later taken down by the Twitter.

Good sense prevailed over, else Dorsey is left oriented. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the remarks as “absolutely absurd”. He was also awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru “peace’ award for International understanding for the year 1994. Total Muslim appeasement.

All EU member states have expressed their solidarity with France following the knife attack that killed three people in the southern city of Nice. Leaders from the 27 countries gathered Thursday during a video conference focusing on COVID-19. In a joint statement, they condemned “in the strongest possible terms these attacks which represent attacks on our shared values.” They added: “We call on Leaders around the world to work towards dialogue and understanding among communities and religions rather than division.”

Iran’s foreign minister has strongly condemned the deadly knife attack in southern France and called it a “terrorist attack.” Javad Zarif said in a tweet Thursday: “We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in #Nice. This escalating vicious cycle – hate speech, provocations & violence – must be replaced by reason & sanity.”

Zarif also referred to French President Emanuel Macron’s staunch support of secular laws that protect caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an exercise in freedom of expression. Zarif said: “We should recognise that radicalism only breeds more radicalism, and peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocations.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack in Nice. In a tweet Thursday, Netanyahu said Israel “unites in shock and condemnation of the atrocious attack” at the Notre-Dame Basilica. “All civilised people must stand in full solidarity with France against the scourge of terrorism,” he said. “There can be no justification or equivocation.”

Muslims in India protested on the streets at Bhopal, where local legislator took the lead but strict action was taken and FIR was filed against the unruly lawmaker and 2,000 of his supporters. In the Muslim dominated area of Mumbai, posters of French President were plastered on the road and people traveled on the road. Later police intervened and removed them. A sad insult to India’s best friend but a tweet by the Indian PM cheered the hearts of world leaders.

Protest was also held at Aligarh by Burqa clad Muslim women. A student who gave a provocative speech was detailed and serious charges were leveled. They must get liberated from the medieval mindsets and respect the freedom of expression and get out from the clutches of religious fatwas and deter themselves from following freedom to dress. In Pakistan at Pakistani Islamic seminary Jamia Hafsa beheaded an effigy of the French president Emmanuel Macron! What a shame.

The leadership of France is together. There is lack of sabot gang in Europe. French leader Marine Le Pen, who is a strong contender to become next President urged to impose a ban on Pakistani immigration amidst critical comments by leaders from Pakistan on France. 

Calling it as a threat to the country, the leader of the National Rally Party called for a ban on Pakistani immigration. Taking to twitter she wrote (in French which roughly translates to): “In view of the new ultra – violent demonstrations today in #Bangladesh (demonstrators who called to behead our ambassador) and #Pakistan, I call for an immediate moratorium on immigration from these countries, in the name of national security. MLP.”

Trouble in France has begun as a shooter injures Greek Orthodox priest in France’s Lyon and flees – police hunt to trace him. We must learn, practice and implement Chinese model to control the Muslim radicalism and ways to control the Muslim population.

My sincere piece of advice is that we should read Bridgette Gabriel book – Because they hate us. These true incidents of Lebanon tell us how a Christian country in1976 turned to Muslim country. For the political part of Islam there is no concept of country in Islam They believe in Umma, a Muslim geographical area controlled by Caliphate. The world should know terms like Taqqiya. This all will educate Hindus and Christians and Buddhists and every human being of the earth.

Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.

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