Monday, 12 January 2015

What should we do with  suspected homegrown terrorists?                          

Islamic extremists have no appreciation of freedom of speech because to them, it doesn’t exist. Albert Camus said, “A free press can of course be good or bad but most certainly without freedom, it will never be anything but bad.” 

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

We must be free to deny the existence of God, and to criticize the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, and Buddha, as reported in texts that millions of people regard as sacred. Without that freedom, human progress will always run up against a roadblock of blasphemy.

Canada is a Westernized democratic nation and yet it has in its Criminal Code a law that prohibits blasphemy. No one really pays attention to that particular prohibition simply because no one in Canada has been charged with blasphemy in the past eighty years. Recently, two organizations have asked the Department of Justice to remove that law from the Criminal Code.

It is readily understood by many that scriptures are subjective and so to blame an entire community for a perceived wrongdoing is obviously flawed. Despite the scriptures, our constitutions which guarantees the freedoms of free press and speech are not flawed.

Surely the freedom of expression that is a pillar of Western democracy is as sacred to Westerners as are the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed is to pious Muslims.

The French publishing firm, Charlie Hebdo is a satiric magazine known for its bravado in publishing scathing articles, especially on Islam.  The murder of ten members of that French publishing firm, in Paris, occurred on January 7, 2015 at 10:20 in the morning by two male terrorists. Two police officers were also shot and killed by those terrorists, the latter one being fatally shot in the head while he lay wounded on a sidewalk.

There were three men involved in the murders. One of them was an 18-year-old man who was the driver of the get-a-way cars. He gave himself up. I don’t know his name.  The other two men were the shooters. They were brothers. They were; Said Kouachi, 34 and Sherif Kouachi, 32 (who also went by the name of Abu Issen). They were seen armed with AK-47s and pump-action shotguns. A further 12 people were injured, some gravely, in what is the worst terrorist incident in France in the last 40 years. 

As these home grown terrorists were shooting their guns, they were screaming, “We will avenge the Prophet.” and “Allahu Akbar.” (God is Great). There is no doubt in my mind that they were acting in revenge for the Danish cartoons that were published worldwide in 2008 depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an insulting manner. But those cartoons were not drawn by any of the victims in the Paris shootings. These men were killed because they were cartoonists and/or journalists.  French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, however, said that Cherif Kouachi had been described by fellow would-be jihadists at the time as “violently anti-Semitic.”    

Murdering ten cartoonists and journalists over an insult that occurred six years ago, just goes to show just how stupid Islamic extremists can be.  It is tragic indeed that the controversy over the Danish cartoons has placed a chill on this most necessary of art forms. The terrorists believe that because Charlie Hebdo courageously chose to reprint those Danish cartoons, what the terrorists were doing was right because in their holy book it says in part in verse 40; “And those who, when an oppressive wrong is done to them, they take revenge.”

These terrorists were acting on the premise that the Danish cartoonist and the cartoonists with Charlie Hebdo did an oppressive wrong against the Prophet Muhammad by making him look like a fool in the cartoons and therefore, all cartoonists should be killed. These pompous fools felt that Charlie Hebdo was a thorn in their sides so they believed that they could commit a righteous act as per verse 35 that says;  So be not weak and ask not for peace (from the enemies of Islam), while you are having the upper hand.”  They certainly held the upper hand when they came armed when they entered the building and shot unarmed innocent people.

The French President Francois Hollande had traveled to the scene in Paris's 11th arrondissement (a major subdivision of an administrative district in Paris) after what he called the “terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity.” He said it was the latest in a series of terrorist incidents on French soil, and that the nation was in a state of shock. Actually all of us are shocked by that event but I can’t say that we are all in a state of shock. Many of us have become numbed to the shocking events that have taken place in the recent past by the continuous murderous actions of terrorists.

Paris police said the gunmen abandoned their car at the northern Porte de Patin and escaped but their escape was temporary. They were identified as suspects after they told the owner of the car they grabbed who they really were and the older brother's ID card was deliberately left in the getaway car. That is a clear indication that they wanted to be killed and remembered as martyrs.

They were finally located in a print shop in an industrial complex in Dammartin-en-Goele (40 km northeast of Paris) where they had previously let the owner walk away (he thought they were police officers). They didn’t know that another worker was hiding from them while in the shop. The police were waiting outside the print shop. Later the two shooters ran out of the building towards the police and were immediately killed by the police. They had finally achieved their final dream—dying as martyrs, just as they previously said they wanted to do. One of the Kouachi brothers was quoted as saying in the TV documentary. “It's written in the texts that it's good to die as a martyr.”

These two French brothers were already known to U.S. authorities and had been put on the American no-fly list, A U.S. official said that the older brother, Said Kouachi, had travelled to Yemen. Though there is conflicting information about what he did while in Yemen, U.S. and European sources told Reuters he trained with al-Qaeda in that Arab Peninsula which is one of the terrorist’s  most active affiliates. al-Qaeda's Yemen branch released an audio statement on the attacks in France, after a member of the group told the Associated Press they had “directed” the assault on Charlie Hebdo.

Soon after, the branch's senior cleric Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari issued a recording on the group's Twitter feed commenting on the “blessed raid on Paris.” He denounced the “filthy French” and called them “the heads of infidelity who insult the prophets.” He praised the “hero mujahedeen” who he said “taught them (the French people) a lesson and the limits of freedom of speech." It was not immediately clear why al-Nadhari did not outright say that the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the attack.

Chérif , a former pizza deliveryman was a member of the “Buttes-Chaumont network,” a group that reportedly sent men to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq on behalf of al-Qaida. He had appeared in a 2005 French TV documentary on Islamic extremism and in 2008, he was sentenced to three years in prison for trying to join up with fighters to kill Iraqi soldiers in Iraq but was released after serving only 18 months in prison.

While serving time, Le Monde reports that Chérif met Djamel Beghal, also known as Abu Hamza, a radical preacher who became his mentor. Beghal was serving a 10-year sentence for his role in a 2001 plan to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paris. The sentence was certainly not enough to deter this homegrown terrorist. In my opinion, both brothers and Beghal should have been sentenced to life in prison. Said Kouachi previously communicated with U.S. born Anwar Awlaki, who at that time had topped the CIA’s most wanted list (later killed in a fatal American drone attack in Yemen on September 30, 2011).  Said Kouachi had gone to Yemen to join the Al Qaeda where he received weapons training there. According to him, after he returned to France, he said he was under instructions from the al-Qaeda in Yemen to commit acts of terrorism in France which is exactly what he did.

What prompted these two killers to commit acts of terrorism? It was a firebrand Muslim preacher that persuaded Cherif Kouachi to book a flight to Syria to wage holy war. I don’t know if that Muslim preacher has been arrested but if not, he should be arrested and tried for terrorism and sentenced to life in prison. This penalty should apply to all Muslim preachers who advocate terrorism in any manner whatsoever.

There was another terrorist in Paris who also committed an act of terrorism around the same time the Kouachi brothers were committing their terroristic acts. His name was Amedy Coulibaly, 32 (a black man) who was the gunman  who died in a police assault in Paris on January 9 after he took hostages at a kosher supermarket at 1:30 in the afternoon in Porte Vincennes at the eastern edge of Paris.  He also met Djamel Beghal, the radical preacher who became his mentor while the latter was under house arrest.

Coulibaly had a history of ties to crime and violence. He shot four of the people (Jews) in the store to death as soon as he entered the kosher store in Paris. Did he do it because they were trying to flee from the store? Police told the Associated Press that Coulibaly appeared to know Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi. Sometime after the store was surrounded by police, he ran down an aisle and towards the large glass window where he could be seen by the police outside the store and was shot dead at approximately 5:18 no doubt as per his wish to die as a martyr. He is also believed to have murdered a female police officer and wounded another south of Paris on the morning of January 8, 2015 which was part of his terrorist plot.  

What was his motive?  Apparently he told BMFTV, the French affiliate of CNN that he was acting on behalf of ISIS and that his shootings and those of the Kouachi brothers had been synchronized.

The four men were all members of the same Paris jihadist cell that sent French fighters to Iraq a decade ago. According to France's L'Obs, Coulibaly spent time with Cherif Kouachi when they were both in prison in Fleury-Mérogis between 2005 and 2006.

Coulibaly was sentenced in 2010 for his part in an effort to free Islamist militant, Smain Ali Belkacem from jail. The two Kouachi brothers were also named in connection to the effort, but not charged because of lack of evidence.

Details about Coulibaly’s past are slowly emerging from French outlets. He was born in 1982 in the Paris suburb of Juvisy-sur-Orge. He grew up in Grigny south of Paris, was the only boy in a family of 10 children. Since his late teens, he has been convicted several times for robbery and at least one time for drug trafficking. In a report prepared for a Paris court, a psychiatric expert found Coulibaly had an “immature and psychopathic personality” and “poor powers of introspection.” His sense of morality was apparently lacking and he had a wish to be “all powerful.” I suppose when you have a gun in your hand and you are facing unarmed people in a store, you are all powerful. He was previously arrested and sent to prison for his involvement in a plan to free an Algerian terrorist serving time for a 1995 subway bombing that killed eight people and wounded 120. He had planned to wait for him after the bomber was released. Why would the bomber be released?

In 2009, police searched Coulibaly's apartment and found 240 rounds of ammunition that could be used in Kalashnikov assault weapons. Now I can’t think of a better reason to suspect that this man was a terrorist. After all, why would he have those bullets in his possession?

Coulibaly’s wife was Hayat Boumeddien. They were married in an Islamic wedding ceremony not recognized by France law. I think she is a Muslim because she was previously photographed wearing a black abaya, (a robe-like dress, worn by some women in parts of the Muslim world ) with her face covered by a niqab veil.  She was not in France at the time of the shootings in the grocery store since she entered Turkey on January 2 and is now believed to be in Syria. She is still wanted by the police in France on suspicion n that she was with Coulibaly when he shot the female police officer and wounded another that was part of the terror plot. It is not likely she will be captured by the French police since she is in Syria and no doubt for the purpose of joining the ISIS terrorists. Only militias and Islamic zealots go to Syria nowadays. Female acolytes are very much prized by terrorist organizations because of their abilities to hide explosives under their garments and the Muslim culture of not touching women in Muslim countries.

Homegrown terrorists are a real danger in society because it is often difficult to determine who they are until they do something that brings them to the attention of the authorities.

For example, consider the case of 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, an Algerian Moslem. He was a member of a one-parent home, suffered from psychiatric problems, and when he was young, he was a juvenile delinquent. In 2007, he was arrested for making a bomb in the Afghan city of Kandahar and imprisoned. He escaped from the prison along with 400 Taliban insurgents. In March of 2012, he went on a horrific shooting spree and killed seven persons, including three children in the French cities of Montauban and Toulouse, France. He did this in the name of al-Qaeda. He claimed that he acted in revenge for France’s military involvement in Muslim lands. Was him living in a one-family home, having psychiatric problems and being a juvenile delinquent the main cause for his terroristic behavior? Not necessarily. Many people have those problems and they don’t turn into terrorists.

It would appear that the Kouachi brothers were not that much different than Mohamed Merah since their upbringing, their experiences with immigration and struggle with unemployment was a common denominator.

The number of Muslims in France are approximately four million. The vast majority of them come from Algeria and they are law-biding citizens. But just as there are losers in every country, France has them also. Persons of Muslim origin constitute the largest contingent of prisoner in the jails in France— their ages being in the 18-24 year old range.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39 an Army psychiatrist facing deployment to Afghanistan gunned down dozens of people on November 7, 2009 at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. It was one of the worst mass shootings ever on an American military base. 13 people were killed—12 soldiers and one civilian. 28 were wounded in the rampage. Reports suggested Hasan may have yelled something like "Allahu Akbar" just before the shooting. Family members said he had previously complained about being harassed because he was a Muslim and that he had expressed deep concerns about deployment.

A jury panel of thirteen officers convicted him of 13 counts of premeditated murder, 32 counts of attempted murder, and unanimously recommended Hasan be formally dismissed from the service and sentenced to death. Hasan is currently incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas awaiting execution while his case is reviewed by appellate courts.

The question that is raised is; was he acting as a homegrown terrorist?  During the six years that Hasan worked as an intern and resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, colleagues and superiors were deeply concerned about his behavior and comments. 

Prior to the shooting, Hasan had expressed critical views described by colleagues as “anti-American” which is a sign that he may very well have planned to kill Americans for ideological reasons which would make him a homegrown terrorist. An investigation conducted by the FBI concluded that his e-mails with the late Imam Anwar al-Awlaki were related to his authorized professional research and that he was not a threat. That conclusion turned out to be a stupid mistake on the part of the FBI.  

Saad Khalid was what is considered a typical middle-class immigrant upbringing in the suburbs west of Toronto. The teen who came to Canada with his family from Pakistan in the mid-1990s played on the high school cricket team and took part in the school's multicultural society before heading off to university. Somewhere along the way, things changed for Khalid. He became radicalized and now he is serving time in an eastern Ontario maximum-security prison with a 20-year sentence for his part in the so-called Toronto 18 plot to bomb high-profile targets in downtown Toronto and kill the prime minister of Canada by beheading him.

Both the United States and Canada don’t play footsies with terrorists.

Wannabe terrorists believe that under the Islamist dream put forth by ISIS, young Muslims can move to Syria or Iraq and instantly become members of a conquering army and the ruling class of something that resembles a state. This analysis helps explain why ISIS has been so much more successful than al Qaeda in recruiting Westerners. Bin Laden talked about a caliphate. ISIS seems to be delivering one. No matter how culturally confident the West is, it obviously can’t, and never could, offer this kind of vision—one that has natural appeal to immature youth who are also losers.  Then when they find out that their dreams are not going to come to fruition, they want to return to their homes.

France has a big problem. So does Great Britain. So does the rest of Europe  and so does the United States and Canada. The problem is that there are  several thousand immature, native-born or nationalized Islamist extremists who travel  abroad to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, or Al Qaeda in Yemen and Pakistan. These wannabe terrorists are recruited over the Internet, or in their neighborhoods, or at some of their mosques, and they are offered all-expenses-paid trips to the Middle East to fight a holy war. They travel freely across Europe and into Turkey, and then they cross, undetected, over the porous border into Syria or Iraq. ISIS and al-Qaeda trains them, gives them battlefield experience.  

When they them become disillusioned, they are returning to their homes as citizens who know how to use sophisticated weapons, make car bombs, recruit terrorist cells and plan attacks. There are over 1,000 French citizens who have gone to fight for ISIS, over 1,000 Brits and hundreds of Germans, Belgians and Dutch. There also a great many Americans and Canadians who are no different. They are prepared to launch a guerrilla war against us in our own neighborhoods. They will shout “Allahu Akbar” while they are slaughtering our neighbours, friends and families.  Our leaders insist these are criminal acts, not acts of war. Terroristic acts are both criminal and acts of war. But unlike in war, we shouldn’t take them as prisoners if they are caught killing people. They should be killed if they are found to have a weapon in their hands. It is sort of academic since most these losers prefer martyrdom instead of imprisonment.

 In the years since President Obama had taken office, several young Muslim Americans had plotted terrorist attacks at home, including one who nearly exploded a car bomb in Times Square in London. 150 of them had joined ISIS. White House aides concluded that the government’s efforts to combat radicalism within America’s Muslim communities was a disjointed mess.

When the police authorities state that they have the homegrown terrorists under surveillance; that is what I would call bullshit. There are thousands of these homegrown terrorists so it follows that the governments don’t have the manpower to watch them 24/7. The French authorities said as much the same thing about the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly being under surveillance. They had the Kouachi brothers under surveillance for three years and then six months before they committed their terroristic attacks, the surveillance of them was stopped.

Denis McDonough, a top President Obama aide who is now White House chief of staff, took charge of the problem, overseeing a strategy to prevent violent extremism. But after a recent string of attacks on their fellow citizens by Islamic radicals, including the massacre in Paris by a pair of French nationals, critics complain that the plan has been halfheartedly implemented, produced bureaucratic turf fights, lacks funding, and does little to make Americans safer at a moment when the Islamic extremist message is more prevalent than ever.

Several of the men who have carried out recent domestic terror attacks were already known to law enforcement officials. Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev currently on trial was interviewed by FBI agents in 2011. One of the alleged Paris gunmen had been stopped from traveling to fight in Iraq a decade ago. A man who took dozens of hostages in Sydney, Australia last month had a long criminal record. And despite all that, these terrorists still managed to commit terrorist acts.

Some of the attacks that have occurred in the United States were committed by people who are seriously mentally ill with some of the recent attackers having shown clear signs of mental illness, and yet this is not being seriously considered by the U.S. administration’s strategy.

Fortunately, since 9/11, Al Qaeda’s core has been decimated. U.S. Special Forces, drone strikes and intelligence cooperation with allies have rendered the organization that attacked New York, Washington and Pennsylvania a shadow of its former self. However, like cancer cells that metastasize to the most difficult locations to get at them, Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-like franchises have flourished in ungoverned territories in Yemen, North Africa, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and others. For this reason, there will be wannabe terrorists seeking excitement from their dull lives by venturing into those hotbeds of terrorism. Then they come home to render acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

When attempting to detect the radicalization to violence of small groups of men who may be unknown to law enforcement, it is vital to understanding the demographics of a city rather than ineffectively watch entire communities.  They should identify hotspots for radicalization where those who discuss and debate turning to violence meet. It is especially important to be aware of wannabes who attend Muslim mosques where the Imams advocate terrorism.

Most importantly, there should be the continued use of cyber-intelligence, which in this context means the monitoring of open social media sites by analysts to detect the online radicalization of individuals in the community who are broadcasting via their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts that they are supportive of violent overseas terrorist groups. This will serve as leads for follow-up investigations or a visit by law enforcement in order to disrupt the radicalization of those who are seriously thinking of being a homegrown terrorist.

Just after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, thousands upon thousands of Japanese-Americans were unfairly incarcerated in detention camps. As it turned out, there wasn’t one Japanese-American that was disloyal to the United States. 

Radical Islam is a threat to everyone and must be dealt with harshly. Homegrown terr0rists who return to our countries after fighting with other terrorists or even intend to leave our countries to fight with terrorists should be arrested and placed in such detention camps. They should be kept there until our governments are satisfied that they are no longer a threat. That may take years. While incarcerated, they should be permitted to further their education and be trained in various occupations available to them so that if they are released, they will find it easier to get a job. The government will of course be obligated to help them re-integrate back into society. A person who has a job that he or she is happy with and is making a decent living is less likely to want to lose it all by being killed or imprisoned for life as a terrorist.

I am aware that there would have to be more than one such camp in Europe considering the fact that at least 4,000 young men left Europe to go to Syria and Iraq to fight along side the ISIS terrorists. Does anyone want these men back in Europe as members of terrorist sleeping cells, waiting for the right moments to commit acts of terrorism in Europe and elsewhere? 

Admittedly, these are harsh measures but so far, nothing else is working.

What we have to do is convince all Muslims in our countries that if they are peace loving, obey our laws and equally important, respect all persons in our countries, no matter what their religion or ethnicity is, then they are more than welcome to be equal members of our communities and they will be given every opportunity to succeed in their endeavors. This is the democratic manner in which we in Canada live and Muslims and all other ethnic and religious groups should embrace it just as we all do.

Unfortunately, some countries like France tend to segregate some of their citizens such as Muslims from the rest of its citizens. Many Muslims are having difficulty in getting jobs because of this unofficial segregationist policy in France.  It is the fuel that is readily ignited by terrorists. Just as the Americans fought the British in 1773 for their independence, the Muslims are fighting segregation for their rightful place in the counties they have chosen to live in.

However, the current state of affairs in democratic countries is forcing the governments to take harsh measures to fight terrorism and those measures tend to infringe on the rights of people of different ethnicities who simply want to carry on with their everyday lives. Over the past decade, the Swedish city of Malmo has taken many refugees from Iraq and Syria and yet these refugees feel as if they are unwelcomed. In Paris and Birmingham, those two cities are so riven by Islamic radicalism, even the police fear entering parts of those cities. Much of this problem stems from the fact that Muslim youths are having difficulty in finding jobs because they are Muslims. After Germany abused the Jews in the first third of the last century, that nation later became a beacon of freedom but alas, in this century, much of that goodwill towards the Muslims has eroded and thusly hardliners are advocating against Muslims immigrating to Germany.

Canada is a nation of immigrants because as a nation, we willingly accept them. They are treated fairly and have the same rights as other citizens. Unfortunately, there are misinformed Muslim youths who have been seduced by the concept of a world-wide Islamic jihad and they want to be part of it. It is these youths who are a danger to our nation. We as a nation must find a way to convince these misguided youths that Islamic jihad is not for them.

However, preserving our way of life is becoming difficult when we are facing these jihadists who want to destroy our way of life. That is why I am so adamant that we deal with those who are returning from Iraq and Syria as experienced terrorists and imprison them as soon as they reach our borders. And those who have taken concrete steps to go to those countries to fight as terrorists should also be imprisoned.

How do we change the thinking of Muslim youths who are troubled souls who want to fill the void in their lives with a sense of purpose when they are faced with promises of excitement, a place in the supposed ISIS caliphate and a fabulous afterlife where 72 virgins are waiting for their arrival? That isn’t an easy task.

First, we must convince them that they are truly citizens of our country and that they have the same rights as everyone else. Second we must convince them that we as a nation have empathy for Muslims elsewhere who don’t have the same freedom and rights that we have. Third, we must make sure that they have the same opportunities as everyone else to find work. If we fail in this endeavor, then those disillusioned youths will undergo a gradual metamorphosis from a disillusioned youth to a radical terrorist.

Let’s face it. We are not talking about a minority group of people. It has been estimated that between 2010 and 2030, the number of Muslims will have increased from 1,6 billion to 2.2 billion. That is a 35% increase.  Do we want ourselves and our children and their children facing that many angry Muslims? What we want is the Muslims to be our friends. To make this happen, we have to treat them as friends. One way to do this is to stop mocking their prophet. It was stupid to do it in the past and it is equally stupid to continue doing it. Christians get upset when their saviour, Jesus is mocked. The Jews will also get upset if we mock Moses. Do we expect that Muslims will take the mockery of their prophet lying down? I think not.

I see nothing wrong in publishing cartoons abut Islamic jihadists but the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons in a disparaging manner is outright stupid. That stupidity resulted in the people in the French publishing firm, Charlie Hebdo being murdered. Now I am not saying that they asked for this to happen but it shouldn’t have been a surprise to them and everyone else that this was invariably going to happen sooner or later. 

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