The Washington Post’s decision to publish an op-ed piece by a representative of the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham has raised numerous eyebrows and elicited a number of incredulous responses. But perhaps the most salient and telling point about Ahrar al-Sham from an American perspective has thus far gone largely overlooked: namely, the fact that the jihadist group sought and obtained the liberation from a Syrian prison of none other than Mohammed Haydar Zammar, the al-Qaeda recruiter who assembled the Hamburg cell….
See my new post at World Affairs here.
“Oh, you Jews! Allah has permitted us to kill your brothers on French soil and here on the soil of the Islamic State.” So says the speaker in an Islamic State video released in March, which allegedly shows a Palestinian Mossad agent being shot dead by a child executioner. Standing next to the boy and behind the kneeling detainee, the man, whose face is uncovered, speaks French with the cadence of the banlieues, France’s troubled urban slums that have proved fertile recruiting grounds for the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. He has been identified as none other than Sabri Essid, the self-described “half-brother” of the infamous Jewish school killer, Mohammed Merah.
In fact, Essid is Merah’s stepbrother. In the summer of 2011, Essid’s father, Mohamed, married Merah’s mother, Zoulikha, in a religious ceremony. As far as Islamic law is concerned, Merah thus became Mohamed Essid’s stepson. The boy in the video, incidentally, is Sabri’s own stepson, Rayan. Several other members of the extended Merah-Essid clan are likewise known to have left France to join the “lands of jihad” in Syria, including Mohammed’s elder sister Souad.
See my portrait of France’s “first family of jihad” in the June 29 issue of The Weekly Standard, now available online here.
The accusation that the oil-rich Middle East micro-kingdom of Qatar is a major supporter of jihadist terror is a commonplace in English-language media and political debate. But if the Qatari royal family and two lawyers with close connections to the French political establishment have their way, any such talk could soon prove to be illegal in France.
For the details, see my new article at World Affairs here.
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Back in the heady days when the West was still enthralled by the “Arab Spring,” the 2012 Egyptian presidential elections represented a watershed – if albeit an ambiguous one, given the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi. In the meanwhile, however, evidence has emerged that Morsi did not win the elections after all, but was merely declared the winner by the electoral commission in order to avert the violence that was sure to follow an announcement to the contrary. Moreover, according to reports in the Egyptian press, it was not only the Egyptian “street” that brought pressure to bear on the authorities to name Morsi the winner, but also then US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton…
See my new post at the Weekly Standard here.
French literary star Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Soummission has been widely pilloried as islamophobic in the French media. The book depicts the “submission” of France to Islamic rule – or, at any rate, to the government of an Islamic party – in the not-so-distant future of 2022. But on closer inspection, Houellebecq’s novel is less about any external threat to France, Islamic or otherwise, than about a profound internal malaise. He brandishes the specter of “Islamization” in order to set in relief the folly and opportunism of France’s own elites, who, he suggests, in order ostensibly to “save the republic” would even be prepared to dilute its principles with a “moderate” dose of sharia.
See my review essay in the May/June issue of World Affairs and now available online here.
What happens in France if you are convicted of plotting terror attacks with chemical weapons on French soil, including, among other potential targets, the Eiffel Tower? Well, if you are the Algerian jihadist Saïd Arif, you spend a few years in jail; and then when you are released, instead of being deported, you are put up at public expense at hotels throughout the French countryside, receiving not only full room and board but also unemployment benefits to boot; before one fine day you steal a car and drive off to points unknown.
On the amazing story of Saïd Arif, who was reportedly killed last month in a missile strike in Syria, see my new article at The Weekly Standard here.
How many European jihadists have gone to Syria? EU officials and the Western media continue to cite relatively reassuring figures, typically in the low thousands. But the official statistics are misleading. The real figure must be significantly higher: undoubtedly now in the tens-of-thousands. See my new article at Geopolitical Monitor here.
The hypothesis that Germanwings Flight 9525 was intentionally crashed by its allegedly suicidal co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, has dominated the headlines to such an extent that it has taken on the aura of established fact. Numerous aviation experts and professional associations have condemned this rush to judgment and the role of French authorities in fueling it. What the aviation experts and professional associations know, but the broader public in general does not, is that a known malfunction in a cockpit computer on the A320 family of planes could initiate a controlled descent like that Lubitz is accused of having intentionally brought about and, furthermore, that so long as the computer is running, the pilot or pilots would not be able to override it.
For the details, including critical commentary on the Germanwings investigation from French pilots, see my new article on Geopolitical Monitor here.
As reported by the Austrian daily Der Standard, some fifty Bosnian soccer fans broke into a chant of “Kill, kill the Jews!” during a pro-Palestinian rally in Vienna’s central Saint Stephan’s Square last week. For details and video, see my new post at the Weekly Standard here.