World View: Jihadists from New York to Uzbekistan Flock to Syria to Fight

This morning's key headlines from

  • 'Catastrophic' bombing in Jos Nigeria kills 118
  • FBI says that Americans are going to Syria for jihad
  • Militants from Russia, Central Asia join Jamaat Sabiri to fight in Syria
  • Use of social media to recruit jihadists

'Catastrophic' bombing in Jos Nigeria kills 118

Two car bombs exploded in a busy market in Jos, a city in central Nigeria. The first explosion went off at 3:28 pm in the center of the market, and the second followed about 14 minutes later. The attack was meant to cause as many casualties as possible. The victims were ordinary people, both Christians and Muslims.

The terrorist group Boko Haram has not yet claimed responsibility, but they are believed to be responsible. Boko Haram appears to have declared total war against Nigeria -- abducting hundreds of schoolgirls and exploding one car bomb after another in different parts of the country. Nigeria's government and president Goodluck Jonathan appear to be helpless to stop the attacks. PM News Nigeria and CNN

FBI says that Americans are going to Syria for jihad

New research indicates that some 11,000 foreign fighters from around the world have traveled to Syria to join al-Qaeda-linked Sunni terrorists fighting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a war of extermination against his own Sunni Muslim population. About 3,000 have come from Western Europe, and on Tuesday the FBI indicated that more than 100 of them are Americans. Furthermore, the problem has been "metastasizing rapidly," as more and more young, disaffected Sunni Muslims go to the "jihadist magnet" for training and experience. 

I've been writing about this for well over a year, and it's been a bit of a puzzle about why this very serious problem has been ignored by the mainstream media. Probably the simple answer is that much of the media acts as a mouthpiece for President Obama, who has declared that the war against terrorism is over, and so mentioning Americans going to Syria for jihad training would make Obama look bad. As far as Europe is concerned, one analyst says, 

"[T]hat’s because some on the left in Britain and elsewhere have been busy downplaying the conflict or romanticizing it as something akin to the international brigades during the Spanish Civil War that attracted George Orwell and other idealists. But unlike Orwell in the 1930s, these fighters on their way to Syria are not traveling to fight against fascists. Many are young Western Muslims rushing to join a fascist group that is too extreme even for al-Qaeda: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Members have been known to behead even fellow fighters. And it’s not much consolation that the more 'moderate' volunteers are joining, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria."

American intelligence officials believe that among the dozens of Americans who have gone to Syria to fight, six to twelve or more have already returned to America and may be planning terrorist attacks here. In addition, European citizens from countries that have visa waivers can easily travel to the United States. Daily Beast and ICSR, King's College London and Daily Beast (4/27)

Militants from Russia, Central Asia join Jamaat Sabiri to fight in Syria

A new militant jihadist group, Jamaat Sabiri, is raising concern in Uzbekistan in Central Asia because it's recruiting central Asians to fight alongside al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria. The group's core is made up of jihadists from countries in Central Asia, as well as Russians from Chechnya and Dagestan. An Uzbek government official points out that militants seeking to join the Syrian war have been streaming into Syria by different routes, including via Pakistan and Turkey: 

"[Transporting militants into Syria] isn't a simple operation, so there are some major players who work out the details and provide funding and protection... 
We've been seeking to find out via our channels what Uzbeks are fighting on the terrorists' side. New reinforcements mostly consist of ethnic Uzbeks born in Osh Oblast, Kyrgyzstan, where recruiters are active and where there's an extensive network of informal and unregistered Islamic groups ostensibly studying the Koran. We actively co-operate with our Kyrgyz colleagues on that issue."

This is a new direction for Uzbek militants, made possible by the war in Syria. In 2009 ("Islamist Uzbeks lead terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan"), I wrote about the growth of al-Qaeda0linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), centered in the Fergana Valley, where Osh is located, and its plan for global jihadism. At that time, the IMU was linked with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

My 2009 article included a brief generational history of Uzbekistan, with a focus on the ancient conflicts along the fault line separating ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Russians. Now that fault line is flaring again, as jihadist Central Asians and jihadist Russians are joining forces in Syria, in the form of a new jihadist group, Jamaat Sabiri. 

And all of these jihadists have a common enemy: ethnic Russians. A prime motivator of Jamaat Sabiri would be the fact that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is providing an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad to be used in his war crimes against Sunni Muslim women and children. They're undoubtedly already planning massive terrorist attacks in Moscow and other large Russian cities. 

It's too late for the West to do anything about Syria now, even if it had the will. Syria is already too far down the road to be helped or to keep it from triggering the massive sectarian war that will encompass the entire Mideast. I believe that the West could have taken out al-Assad in 2011 and done the world a big favor.

But there's no excuse for the actions of Putin. Putin has single-handedly created the what is currently the greatest disaster in the world and has no desire to stop. 

Putin appears to me a man with the worst nihilistic impulses, and at times like this I like to quote Edith Hamilton's book The Greek Way and her translation of the speech of Aeschylus's tragic character Prometheus: 

"There is no torture and no cunning trick,
There is no force that can compel my speech. ...
So let [Zeus] hurl his blazing thunderbolt,
And with the white wings of snow,
With lightning and with earthquake,
Confound the reeling world.
None of this will bend my will. ...
Seek to persuade the sea wave not to break.
You will persuade me no more easily."

Prometheus refuses to listen, and the universe crashes around him. Central Asia Online

Use of social media to recruit jihadists

A new report entitled "Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter It" describes the role that extremist materials online play in the radicalization process that's sued to recruit jihadists. According to the report: 

  • The vast majority of radicalized individuals come into contact with extremist ideology through offline socialization prior to being indoctrinated online. This challenges popular discourse about 'lone wolf' actors radicalized solely through the Internet.
  • Although governments are increasingly relying on censorship and filtering methods to counter online extremism, this report found that negative measures, or censorship in general, was not only ineffective and costly but also potentially counter-productive.

The report recommends developing "counter-extremist" materials and publishing them online to challenge extremist ideologies. Quilliam Foundation

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Jos, Nigeria, Boko Haram, Goodluck Jonathan, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Jamaat Sabiri, Uzbekistan, Dagestan, Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Osh, Fergana Valley, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Edith Hamilton, Aeschylus, Prometheus, Quilliam 

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