Islamic Terrorists, v. 2.0

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Former Reason national correspondent Mike Lynch sends along this piece from the Wall Street Journal about a "new breed of Islamic warrior" who were likely responsible for the Madrid train bombings. One characteristic: They're worse than the old breed. On the up side, they show a willingness to let women participate in armed struggle against the infidels. On the down side, they pointedly take advantage of Western traditions of tolerance and civil liberties.

These Islamist warriors—schooled in the North African doctrine known as Takfir wal Hijra and trained by Afghan veterans of al Qaeda—think, recruit and operate differently from traditional Islamist networks. For Europe, that makes the threat particularly acute. The Takfir movement is strongest in Morocco and Algeria, the primary sources of Muslim immigration to Western Europe. Takfiri theorists openly advocate using immigration as a Trojan horse to expand jihad, or holy war….

As Osama bin Laden's control over terror networks has been disrupted, new radicals operate at the fringes of his movement. Many of his core beliefs, especially his anti-American animus, are being superceded by broader interpretations of global jihad. Instead of just apostate Muslim regimes or U.S. interests, jihad is being expanded to include virtually everyone outside the sect. That leads many antiterror specialists to say the Madrid bombings may represent a change for Islamic terrorism. "This is al Qaeda 2.0," says Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy….

Unlike previous generations of radical Islamists, who attracted police attention by their long beards, public proselytizing and orthodox postures, the newer generation of holy warrior blends in better. They are encouraged to lead a double life in the ultimate pursuit of jihad, according a German intelligence report.

"Outwardly they pretend to lead a modern lifestyle," says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp. "But deep inside they adhere to a pure medieval strain of Islam." Many Takfiris shave their beards and avoid mosques for security reasons. "Recruits conceal their true beliefs until the time is right," Dr. Ranstorp says….

Groups inspired by the Takfiris also show a willingness to recruit women for armed jihad. Most Islamist groups, which adhere to strict Quranic interpretations, shun involvement of women. Naima Oulad, a Moroccan woman, was jailed last week on suspicion she played a supporting role in the Madrid attacks. Ms. Oulad is the first woman jailed after more than 60 arrests related to Islamic terrorism in Spain in the past three years….

Takfiri ideology originated in a similarly named sect in Egypt in the 1970s and burst into notoriety with the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The doctrine spread during the Afghan war in the 1980s and was brought back to North Africa by veteran mujahedeen who preached to young people.

Although Takfiris espouse a hard-line interpretation of Islam, the ideology is popular because it encourages followers to reconfirm their faith by breaking its own rules. That flexibility, coupled with their seemingly deeper integration into Western life, makes it harder for police to detect them. It also gives Takfiris an ability to choose soft, civilian targets that will have the biggest political impact in each country….

Not sure this link will work for non-WSJ subbers, but it's worth reading in full here.

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  1. Who cares what the date is? Jewish women in Roman Judea, Christian women in medieval Europe, Muslim women today – you asked why women would go along with a sexist religious establishment.

    And the answer is very simple – when a religion is widespread in a culture, most people in that culture accept its precepts and rules as correct, no matter how wrong they look from the outside. There is nothing unique about Islam, or women from Islamic countries.

  2. Joe-
    It’s one thing to “go along” with a religion; it’s another thing to blow people up in favor of it. Personally, I think any god worth worshipping ought to be able to kill his own enemies, rather than recruit repressed and horny bigots to do it for them. I mean, c’mon, Lord; you can make the Universe from scratch in seven days but you can’t knock down two lousy skyscrapers? Weeeeeak.

  3. zorel,

    In France at least, the fastest growing ethnic population is no longer North African, but Chinese (indeed, that’s been the case for roughly six-seven years). And of course the project as far as North Africans is concerned is to integrate them successfully into French culture (like we have done with the large number of immigrants that France has received the past few hundred years).

  4. Jean Bart: While reading Gillespie, before I opened the comments, I was thinking, “These kids will be a problem only for a while.” The integration, I suspect will have the effect of Islamists be subsumed into the host cultures. After several years of liquor and sex, they’ll start to forget why they hate non-Muslims.

    This “terrorism 2.0” strikes me as an expression of youthful rage. Rather than shoplifting and spraypainting walls, the respected leaders are telling the kids that murder is an acceptable outlet. And for a time, the idea of being part of a great hidden movement must appeal to those who need something to belong to. It’s a secret street gang based on the Koran.

    Initially, it might be more difficult ot police to track the movement, but in future, the integration with host society will make it easier to infilitrate, and likely lead to internal strife. When I see my fellow gang member in love with a member of the enemy, I begin to doubt his conviction to help me blow up her train.

  5. Mark, did the wine and sex make the kids who joined the Weather Underground forget why the hated capitalism? Most of their generation, yes, but when we’re talking about the connection between culture and terrorism, we’re talking about only a tiny sliver of any given culture that is actually going to start blowing people up.

    So even if time and assimilation turn 90% of the North African kids into well-tanned Frenchmen, and 9% into happy, peaceful North Africans Living in France, that’s still plenty of potential bombthrowers.

  6. joe: If that’s the case, which I agree is likely, the world is not faced with a “global terror threat”, but with the ordinary homicidal lunatics of modern society. It reverts back to a police issue rather than a military one.

    If the infighting and mistrust works perfectly, they’ll wind up killing each other rather than mainstream citizens.

    It’s good news for those who aren’t blown up.

  7. “What kind of woman would help radical Islamists take over the world?”

    Gosh, Jennifer, why don’t you ask the nice Chechen ladies who were wearing the bomb belts in the Moscow theater?

    “”Takfiri theorists openly advocate using immigration as a Trojan horse to expand jihad, or holy war….” Damn, lonewacko’s going to be all over this.”

    Hey, Joe. I’ve been all over this for a while. Check out my Immigration category.

    See, for instance Ireland moves to eliminate birth citizenship or The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris

    The braindead Sally Struthers types and the greedy shoulda-been-a-slave-holder types fail to see the long-term effects of their actions. Hopefully the rest of us will be able to one day hold them accountable.

  8. These “Islamic Terrorists, v. 2.0” don’t sound any different than the Sept. 11 gang from a couple years back. Atta may have been an obvious fundamentalist in Germany, but he was beardless & “western” while living in the USA, as were his buddies. Remember all the stories about the hijackers at strip clubs, Vegas casinos, Pizza Hut, etc.?

    Anyway, wasn’t Atta a regular in Madrid in the months before 9/11?

    Whether it’s a North African strain of fanaticism or the Pakistani variety or whatever, it still comes down to Saudi Arabia funding these attacks and various Western governments looking the other way because we sure wouldn’t want to offend our good friends from the House of Saud. (While I doubt a Kerry administration would be brave enough to actually invade Saudi Arabia in retaliation for 9/11 or whatever horrid attack comes next, removing the Bush Administration would at least close a few terrorism-funding loopholes happily allowed by Cheney & Co.) Take away the money and you’ve got the same bunch of angry weirdos who would like to blow up the Infidels while getting a lap dance, but the difference is they probably *won’t* be blowing up anything, and would be reduced to the kind of pathetic “terrorism” practiced by those white-trash skinheads claiming to be part of the White Aryan Resistance: throwing beer-bottle molotovs at the Jewish Senior Center or an MLK Jr. freeway sign. Still disgusting, but certainly nothing compared to the Madrid attacks.

  9. Ken Lane is correct when he points out that
    “These “Islamic Terrorists, v. 2.0” don’t sound any different than the Sept. 11 gang from a couple years back. Atta may have been an obvious fundamentalist in Germany, but he was beardless & “western” while living in the USA, as were his buddies. Remember all the stories about the hijackers at strip clubs, Vegas casinos, Pizza Hut, etc.?”

    Indeed, in late September or early October of 2001 I saw a report on some cable news show that used the word “Takfiri” to describe these “secret agents” of Islamic fundamentalism.

    It is ironic to instruct your agents to shave their beards, avoid mosques, and drink liquor in order to promote the Islamic revolution. It would seem to indicate a character flaw for a believer to accept such a role…

    In America we have people with a similar character flaw – narcotics officers who use drugs to get in with the people they will arrest.

  10. I am not sure anyone understands that much about cultural blending…I was never as eupeptic as the Reason staff at the thought that honest-to-goodness Muslim boys were watching hard-core Internet porn late nights.

    I have heard the contention that one reason the Crusades eventually collapsed, is that the most valuable Crusaders– the front-line experienced fighters who had taken local lands and women– were being gradually assilimated into the generally more attractive Islamic culture…and were beginning to be viewed with suspicion by the European motherland.

    So picture this, ten years from now:

    Paul Bremer, reclining on cushions in flowing silk, spearing dates and lamb with the fingers of his right hand, while his left strokes the head of an even-more-silken catamite. Meantime he dictates to his eunach-secretary (across from the chess position set up with non-Staunton pieces)–
    “No can do, Effendi! We got to go REALLY slow on this one.”

    As he gazes upon the Euphrates from the cool alabaster yacht, which is his palace…sigh “It is GOOD to be an Emir.”

  11. Well a big Good #^&ing Morning to you, too!

    “Takfiri theorists openly advocate using immigration as a Trojan horse to expand jihad, or holy war….” Damn, lonewacko’s going to be all over this.

  12. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there are at least one more generation of terrorists left to encounter; that means another twenty-thirty years of terrorism.

  13. “The Takfir movement is strongest in Morocco and Algeria, the primary sources of Muslim immigration to Western Europe.”

    And just last year the Moroccan government claimed (and honestly thought in my opinion) that they had terrorism and terrorist elements under control there.

  14. jean bart-

    I missed what you said last week. Why just one more generation?

  15. Jean Bart,

    “there are at least one more generation of terrorists left to encounter; that means another twenty-thirty years of terrorism”

    The chances of these terrorists going away in the next ten-twenty years are not high; that will result in yet ANOTHER generation of kids growing up on such ‘values’

    By then, there will be significant Arab/Muslim polpulations in most of the EU countries. Only a small portion of them will be radicals – but their community will not (or can’t) stop them and the countries as a whole won’t do anything for fear of offending the muslim communities. The window of opportunity is closing and there does not seem to be much EU is doing.

    From that perspective France’s ban on head scarves may be a start to try to secularize their society – wonder how it will go with the French people (especially once the extremists start threatening ‘jihad’)

  16. So much for all the people saying we should expose the terrorists to US Pop culture as a way of deprogramming them. Apparently they are still just as radical, but know how to fit in better.

  17. What kind of woman would help radical Islamists take over the world? That makes about as much sense as “Jews for Hitler.” Well, no, perhaps a better analogy would be “Black South Africans for Apartheid.” Asinine.

  18. Jen,
    Ever hear the term “Stockholm Syndrome”?

    Geez, with this new breed of “Sinning Muslims for Extremists,” my promiscuous, hard-drinking, blasphemous, clean-shaven ways don’t absolve me from suspicion as a potential terrorist.

    I wish they’d stick to the stereotypes and strict adherence to Islamic rules, so heathens like me can live our lives in peace. Fuckers.

  19. Jennifer, Islam is hardly unique in its subordination of women, and its ability to appeal to conservative women who think their proper place is in the home.

    You can believe that the crowd throwing stones at adultresses (whether 1st century Judea or 20th century Iran) includes family-values mommies.

  20. You can believe that the crowd throwing stones at adultresses (whether 1st century Judea or 20th century Iran) includes family-values mommies.

    Yes, but those women had to wear fake beards and feign deep voices. And then they stoned the guy in charge of the stoning after he said “Jehova.”

    Never let a woman do a man’s execution! 🙂

  21. But are they really terrorists or are they freedom fighters? Tell em Warren.

  22. JOe-
    I know all religions have anti-woman crap in them, but right now only Islam is taking that seriously. Much as I hate folks like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, they’re not the ones putting women into burkas, and they have no objection to women learning how to read.

    There are different levels of female subjugation. I mean, America in 1890 was hardly a feminist Utopia, but I would rather live there than in Saudi Arabia.

  23. If booze and sex caused assimilation, then the muslim population in France would be fitting in a whole lot better. I can’t imagine a place on earth where the booze and sex are better accomplished, never mind the delights of stinky cheeses and ridiculously sublime cooking.

    You may not want to disregard that report too quickly. I have a friend who works in the national office of a legit (i.e. non-terrorist supporting) muslim & arab advocacy group. He has mentioned that the less legit groups with which he is familiar have started to proselytize and target Western radical leftist women for conversion to Islam – the idea being it’s pretty easy to create a Muslim anti-American revolutionary, out of someone whose mindset is already revolutionary and anti-American. And once you have a convert, they believe it’s easier to slip a 30 year-old blonde German woman (or for that matter a French Moroccan girl, or a Turkish/German woman) past security, than a 28 year-old Egyptian man. Racial / ethnic profiling issues aside, that hypothetical German or French woman is much less likely to show up on watchlists or display travel patterns that would raise eyebrows… I don’t know how much success they’ve had, but this article is the second time I’ve heard comments with a similar theme. The female is the deadlier of the species…

  24. “It is ironic to instruct your agents to shave their beards, avoid mosques, and drink liquor in order to promote the Islamic revolution. It would seem to indicate a character flaw for a believer to accept such a role…”

    Taqqiya isn’t just for Shia anymore.

  25. voluntaryXchange has two other internet tidbits on takfiri.

    Sorry if this is a repeat – technical difficulties with my first post.

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