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Map: How the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria has surged since October

 27 januari 2015  

The number of foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria, mostly to fight alongside the Islamic State, has grown to 20,000 — up more than 5,000 from previous estimates made in October, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR).

These new figures are alarming, inasmuch as they indicate that the conflict has attracted more foreign militants than the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The last time this many militants traveled to fight in a foreign conflict was in 1945.

Another key takeaway from the new data is that, at 4,000, a fifth of the foreign fighters come from Western nations. While estimates from countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, fluctuated a little, there were huge increases in fighters coming from European nations.

France previously accounted for 412 fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria. The new data show that number has  almost tripled, to 1,200. The Netherlands, Britain and Austria all accounted for about 100 additional fighters.

Belgium, a much smaller nation, went from 296 to 440 and has the highest number of fighters per capita of any Western nation. The country has been "experiencing the consequences of what critics call decades of ineffectiveness in integrating immigrants, including many Muslims."According to a story by my colleague Michael Birnbaum:

[T]he country faces particular challenges because it has long been starkly divided itself, with bitter rivalries between a Dutch-speaking north and a French-speaking south. That has hurt the coherence of the government’s response and exacerbated the difficulties that immigrants have had fitting in.

Germany, a country in the news for its anti-Islamization movement, saw the number of fighters going overseas more than double in just four months. According to a report by the ICSR:

The number of Germans immigrating to Syria has risen massively over the past two years. Islamists have tried to recruit German-speaking Muslims in the past, but now their efforts have grown in both quality and quantity.

The Middle East still accounts for the highest number of foreigners fighting in Iraq and Syria.





Threat of lone wolf attacks worries U.S Homeland Security chief 

“Lone wolf terror attacks remain a significant threat within the United States,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday, “and it could occur without warning.”

“We have to be vigilant against an independent actor here in the homeland who might choose to strike at any moment,” Johnson told CNN‘s Barbara Starr in an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

The threat posed by these potential attackers is nothing new. But Johnson’s concerns show how challenging counter-terrorism has become.

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Just a few years ago, U.S. officials pursued a group that followed more predictable recruitment patterns.

“Core al-Qaeda was a relatively traditional command and control structure where someone would be recruited, they train at an overseas camp and then they’d be sent to commit a terrorist attack,” Johnson explained.

Crucially, said Johnson, the government has to offer a competing message to the young men who might otherwise be drawn in by the extremist rhetoric they see online. This as groups like ISIS develop increasingly sophisticated social media and propaganda arms that strive to recruit western jihadists.

INSS terreur aanslagen in Parijs

The Terror Attacks in Paris: Tip of the Iceberg or a Passing Episode?


The shock that gripped France following the terrorist attacks in Paris in early January 2015 will probably wane as time passes. Similarly, the urgency assigned to effective handling of the danger originating on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq that threatens Western democracies will likely decline. The need to take up the challenge will be postponed to a time when the leaders of Western countries have no choice but to deal with it directly, on a broad scale, and perhaps violently. Presumably only a chain of exceptional events, i.e., showcase terrorist attacks that cause a large number of casualties, will unequivocally highlight the risk incurred in not stepping up the military struggle against the challenge to the West posed by the Islamic State organization.

The coordinated attacks by an Islamic terrorist cell against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in the heart of Paris, which caused the death of 17 people, realized one of the horror scenarios haunting the security services in Europe in recent years. The threat of a wave of terrorism has been looming in the continent since the attack by a salafi jihadist terrorist organization in Mumbai in late 2008 that claimed the lives of 166 victims; since then there have been warnings about terrorist attacks along the same lines in Germany, France, and the UK. The threat of a renewal of terrorist activity in Europe has grown in the past year, in light of the return from Syria of hundreds of Muslims and European converts to Islam to their countries of origin, primed to continue their struggle and inspired by the call for militant jihad. In the framework of their participation in the civil war in Syria, these volunteers have trained, gained combat experience, and undergone radical indoctrination that defines the West as an enemy that must be attacked. This phenomenon has sent a warning signal to security agencies in Europe about the immediate concrete danger that terrorism will be exported from the Middle East to European cities.

The murder of members of the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff – mostly caricaturists who according to the attackers’ beliefs had desecrated the image of the Prophet Muhammad – was deliberately aimed against a fundamental value of Western democracy, i.e., freedom of expression. This was followed by an attack against a Jewish site, with the attacker appropriating the roles of judge, prosecutor, and executioner. Regardless of the identity of the jihad organization with which the attackers were affiliated – al-Qaeda in Hejaz or the Islamic State/ISIS – the terrorists embodied the same world view and radical ideology endorsed by these organizations.

As part of the recent wave of Islamic terrorist attacks in Western Europe, a number of attacks were carried out by “lone wolves” in French cities, while the Jewish Museum in Brussels was targeted seven months ago. A key question is thus whether this is merely the tip of a terrorist iceberg that can be expected to increase. Or, is it a passing episode that despite its horrific nature will not change the policy in France or elsewhere in Europe against Islamic terrorism, because the trauma and outrage it evoked will fade with time.

Terrorist attacks by cells and “lone wolves” that identify with global jihad pose a security challenge for intelligence and law enforcement agencies. A failure to stem the outbreak of a wave of jihadi terrorism in European countries is also liable to spark a violent response against Muslims by extreme rightist groups, who can be expected to exploit the fear of radical Islam to justify their own terrorist activity, motivated by hatred of foreigners, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. For these groups, terrorist attacks carried out by extreme jihadi groups constitute grounds for violent action, which will bring about a cycle of violence in European countries that the security forces will be hard pressed to contain. In addition, the existing challenge posed by growing tension between the various communities in different countries will be greatly exacerbated.

For nearly a decade, the security services in Western Europe have foiled more than a few attempted showcase terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and its affiliates, demonstrating that efforts by terrorist groups to disrupt the democratic way of life could be met effectively on an operational level. The recent attacks in Paris, however, raise the possibility that there were intelligence failures. Advance information about the perpetrators delivered to the French security services did not receive adequate attention – even though the intelligence services throughout the West cannot possibly completely eliminate the occurrence of terrorist attacks.

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Yet in any event, Europe is clearly hesitant to act firmly against provocative action by separatist minorities, including violence and terrorism by belligerent minority groups in many European cities. This may reflect concern that a direct confrontation with these groups will develop into large scale riots like those that took place in Paris in 2005, when the outlying sections of the city became a war zone in which the French security forces were pitted against minorities, primarily from North Africa. There is also concern that launching a multi-faceted campaign against minorities on legal, policy, and cultural levels will be regarded by many, certainly by the minorities themselves, as a violation of individual rights. Europe is already experiencing a rising wave of xenophobia, and political parties espousing such ideology scored considerable success in last year’s elections to the European Parliament. At the same time, the minorities in Europe, including refugees who arrived in recent years from economically depressed regions and Middle Eastern battlefields, are not only a burden on welfare services; they also constitute a source of cheap labor. For this reason, their presence in the continent, where the population is aging, has positive economic value.

Many countries in Europe will likely prefer to have European Union institutions initiate legal and other action against certain aspects of immigration, certainly illegal immigration, and that means be taken through the EU to reduce the economic burden related to immigrants and minorities, even though the countries themselves would still be responsible for much of the problematic aspects of immigration. Due to the sensitivity of the issue, particularly in Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken against the political and social movements opposed to minorities. For the same reason, Germany will likely prefer action in the EU framework.

The questions that must be asked, however, are: what action, and against whom? The frameworks for the war against terrorism have existed in the EU for years. These include a European Council resolution dated November 28, 2008 defining what constitutes a terrorist act (which revised a previous resolution from 2002), and the 2005 European plan for a war against radicalization and recruitment of terrorists. An anti-terrorist group has also been founded among the European institutions in Brussels. What, then can be added to this, other than declarations of intentions? Will the EU dare make decisions about restricting immigration, including legal immigration, and will the authorities in various European countries decide to take forceful action against minorities that have taken control of areas in major cities and have taken the law into their own hands?

Another key question concerns the possibility that the events on European soil will bring about a change in the policy of France and other leading European countries on the character and extent of their involvement in the campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. At this stage, despite the sharp condemnation by leaders in France, Germany, the UK, and the US following the terrorist attacks in Paris, it is difficult to find any signs that the firm rhetoric will lead to the dispatch of ground reinforcements in Iraq or a change in the policy of the countries in the coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria. Another challenge shared by heads of state and public leaders in the West and their partners in the Muslim world is an effective ideological/value-based counter campaign with the aim of eliminating the ideology represented by the global jihad groups. Key Muslim community leaders and religious figures in the West should play an important role in leading a systematic, continuous, and public campaign denouncing the violent interpretation of the religion of Islam, and calling for a boycott of those bearing the jihad banner. Only a comprehensive rejection of the system of religious argumentation and justification motivating young people to join and support Islamic terrorist action will help reduce the number of volunteers in the ranks of the global jihad organizations.

The shock that has gripped France will probably wane as time passes, as will the urgency assigned to effective handling of the danger originating on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq that threatens Western democracies. The need to take up the challenge will be postponed to a time when the leaders of Western countries have no choice but to deal with it directly, on a broad scale, and perhaps violently. Presumably only a chain of exceptional events, i.e., showcase terrorist attacks that cause a large number of victims, will unequivocally highlight the risk incurred in not stepping up the military struggle against the challenge to the West posed by the Islamic State organization. The terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaeda on US soil in 2001 was an event that changed the threshold criteria and led to decisive action against the organization. This is probably what will happen in the struggle against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates in the West, unless operational, constitutional, legal, and value-related steps are taken against these organizations before then. 

Wtitten by: Yoram Schweitzer, Oded Eran

De Double Nucleaire dreiging van ISIS


The “Double Nuclear threat” posed by ISIS

Dirty Bomb or Nuclear suitcase? These are according to experts the options ISIS seeks now for performing huge attacks in the west.

Last year, an ISIS militant has claimed that the group is now in possession of a nuclear weapon. A British ISIS member now based in Syria, claimed on social media that the group obtained the uranium from Mosul University and now possesses a “dirty bomb” that it is now considering detonating in a public area.

Such a device is aimed at spreading radioactive material in a big area.

But in recent days another threat has been studied by intelligence bodies. This threat is in the form of “suitcase nuke”

This is the experts say is a very compact and portable nuclear weapon and could have the dimensions of 60 x 40 x 20 centimeters or 24 x 16 x 8 inches. The smallest possible bomb-like object would be a single critical mass of plutonium (or U-233) at maximum density under normal conditions.

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The warhead of a suitcase nuke or suitcase bomb consists of a tube with two pieces of uranium, which, when rammed together, would cause a blast. Some sort of firing unit and a device that would need to be decoded to cause detonation may be included in the “suitcase.”

Another portable weapon is a “backpack” bomb. The Soviet nuclear backpack system was made in the 1960s for use against NATO targets in time of war and consists of three “coffee can-sized” aluminum canisters in a bag. All three must be connected to make a single unit in order to explode. The detonator is about 6 inches long. It has a 3-to-5 kiloton yield, depending on the efficiency of the explosion. It’s kept powered during storage by a battery line connected to the canisters.

After the Soviet Union was disassembled, there were reports that some “Suitcase Nukes” were stolen and are offered on the international black market. ISIS, according to the experts, is an organization that will not hesitate to use such a device.

Zelfmoordaanslagen in 2014 The Global Picture

Suicide Attacks in 2014: The Global Picture

 Since the start of the millennium, suicide attacks have become a common mode of operation for many terrorist groups around the world, particularly Sunni Salafist jihadi organizations affiliated with global jihad. For them, suicide attacks are not only an effective tactic for causing death and destruction and sowing terror; they are also a trademark and proof of the willingness of their operatives to sacrifice themselves for the sake of God (fi sabil Allah). As in previous years, in 2014 these organizations were responsible for most of the suicide attacks around the world. These attacks disproved (once again) the claim that most suicide attacks are perpetrated against foreign occupiers. In fact, only about 3 percent of all suicide attacks were aimed at foreign armies. Most were directed against governmental or military targets or local security forces, or were perpetrated in the context of religious and sectarian rivalry.

In 2014 there were 592 suicide attacks, a 94 percent increase over the previous year, which caused the deaths of approximately 4,400 people (compared to some 3,200 in 2013).1 This trend was influenced by three main factors: The turmoil in the Middle East, which causes governmental instability and allows non-state organizations to grow stronger; the meteoric rise of the Islamic State (IS) as an influential player in the region and the world; and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The figures for 2014 include some noteworthy trends:

  1. In the Middle East, there was an increase in the number of suicide attacks over 2013. There were about 370 attacks with a death toll of about 2,750 (compared to 163 attacks in 2013 and a death toll of some 1,950). The increase was especially evident in Iraq (271 in 2014 vs. 98 in 2013), Yemen (29 vs. 10), Lebanon (13 vs. 3), and Libya (11 vs. 1). The number of attacks carried out in Syria (41) remained the same.  In Egypt, there were 4 suicide attacks (compared with 6 the previous year).
  2. There was also an increase in the number of suicide attacks in the non-Arab Muslim world and in Africa. For several years, Afghanistan has been at the top of the list (124 suicide attacks in 2014 compared to 65 the previous year). In Pakistan, where suicide attacks are also common, the figures for 2014 and 2013 were similar (36 vs. 35). The number of attacks in Africa increased, particularly in Nigeria (32 in 2014 as opposed to 3 the previous year) and Somalia (19 vs. 14).
  3. There was an increase in suicide attacks by women (15 in 2014 vs. 5 the previous year). Most were in Nigeria (16 blew themselves up in 13 attacks, and another 4 were caught before carrying out the attack). There were also other female suicide bombers, one in Djibouti and one in Kobane in Syria.

The turmoil that has gripped the Middle East since the Arab Spring began in late 2010 continues to fuel instability in many countries in the region, chief among them Iraq, Syria (where the turbulence is spilling over into Lebanon), Libya, and Yemen. IS conquests in Iraq and Syria, followed by the mid-2014 declaration of the Islamic caliphate by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, led to an escalation in violence, including the widespread use of suicide attacks by the group; some 382 suicide bombers participated in these attacks. Indeed, many of the suicide bombers operating in Iraq were foreign IS volunteers. The organization rarely took responsibility for suicide attacks, but presumably it was responsible for the vast majority of the attacks carried out in Iraq.

Seventy-one percent of the attacks in Iraq were directed against the security forces – military checkpoints, bases, police stations, and soldiers. Seventeen percent were aimed at civilian targets. Six percent of all targets were political – government buildings and polling stations – while 3 percent of the attacks were against targets of a religious nature, namely, mosques and mourner tents. The number of suicide attacks in Iraq in 2014 was the highest since 2008 and accounted for 45 percent of all such attacks in the world that year.

Some 420 people died in suicide attacks in Syria, most of which (78 percent) were aimed at security targets. IS took responsibility for 11 attacks in Syria, and Jabhat al-Nusra for 4 (a total of some 36.5 percent of the attacks). There were no claims of responsibility for the other 26 attacks. The conflict continued to spill over from Syria into Lebanon, where 13 suicide attacks took place (as opposed to 3 the year before). Jabhat al-Nusra took responsibility for 7 of the attacks, IS for 2, the Free Sunnis of Baalbek for 2, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades for one. There was one attack for which no organization claimed responsibility.

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In Yemen, 20 of the attacks were against security forces. The other 9, which were carried out against the backdrop of political rivalry and the ethnic-religious divide in the country, were directed against the Shiite population, and in particular, the Houthi community. Most of the attacks in Libya were against security targets, while one was directed at the Parliament and another, in the center of town, was aimed at civilians. In the background is the fighting between Islamists and government forces for control of the state, which has been disintegrating since the fall of the Muammar Qaddafi regime.

In 2014, the number of suicide attacks in Egypt remained relatively small, even though there was a large increase in terrorist activity in the country in general and the Sinai Peninsula in particular, which claimed many victims in the Egyptian security forces. During Operation Protective Edge the Egyptians thwarted an attempt by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis to send a suicide bomber from Sinai to the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Israel as an expression of the group’s support for the Palestinians in Gaza. There were also reports in the Israeli media, unconfirmed by Israeli military sources, that Hamas made use of a number of suicide bombers during the fighting against the IDF in the Gaza Strip.

Against the backdrop of the withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan in late 2014, fighting continues between the Taliban and its partners on the one hand, and the army and NATO forces on the other. Most of the attacks in Afghanistan were directed at local security targets (about 53 percent), foreign security targets (some 14 percent), and civilian targets (about 15 percent). In Pakistan too, most of the suicide attacks were aimed at security targets (some 58 percent), while about 25 percent were directed at civilian targets. These attacks were part of the fierce battle that is raging between the Pakistani government on one side, and the Pakistani Taliban and its affiliates from the Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda on the other.

In Africa, attacks by Boko Haram, which declared an Islamic emirate in Nigeria, were especially prominent. (The group was responsible for the abduction of more than 200 school girls who were forced to convert to Islam and are still being held hostage.) The 32 suicide attacks carried out by the group in 2014 accounted for about half of all such attacks it has perpetrated since it had recourse to this method in 2011. About 500 people were killed in Boko Haram suicide attacks in 2014; the female suicide bombers who operated in Nigeria were sent by the organization. The suicide attacks were aimed mainly at civilian targets (59 percent), security targets (25 percent), and Shiite religious targets (12.5 percent).

In 2014, all the suicide attacks in Somali were carried out by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the vast majority. Most of the attacks were against security targets (52 percent) and political targets (42 percent). Al-Shabab also used a female suicide bomber to carry out an attack in Djibouti. According to the group, the attack was in response to Djibouti’s participation in the forces of the African Union.

In 2013, the military campaign in Mali, which included African Union forces aided by French forces, was the background to a wave of suicide attacks. However, in 2014, there was a marked decline in Mali in suicide attacks.

In conclusion, suicide attacks will likely continue in 2015 and beyond, given the ongoing instability in various countries; the large number of ethnic-religious conflicts; and the strengthening of global jihadi elements, primarily IS and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, which see suicide attacks as a proven means of struggle and an article of faith. Terrorist organizations affiliated with global jihad that use suicide bombers now have a stronger presence in the countries bordering Israel, and Israel must prepare for the possibility that some of their attacks will be directed against it. Such a development could spur Israel’s traditional enemies, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other local groups inspired by global jihad and Islamic State, to join in the growing suicide attack phenomenon.

Written by: Yoram Schweitzer, Ariel Levin, Einav Yogev

Cruciaal, zei Johnson, de regering om een ​​concurrerende bericht te bieden aan de jonge mannen die anders misschien in worden getrokken door de extremistische retoriek die ze online te zien heeft. Dit als groepen zoals ISIS ontwikkelen steeds meer geavanceerde social media en propaganda armen die er naar streven om de westerse jihadisten te werven.

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