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

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 centralNigeria. The first explosion went off at 3:28 pm in the center of themarket, and the second followed about 14 minutes later. The attackwas meant to cause as many casualties as possible. The victims wereordinary people, both Christians and Muslims.

The terrorist group Boko Haram has not yet claimed responsibility, butthey are believed to be responsible. Boko Haram appears to havedeclared total war against Nigeria — abducting hundreds ofschoolgirls and exploding one car bomb after another in differentparts of the country. Nigeria’s government and president GoodluckJonathan 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 aroundthe world have traveled to Syria to join al-Qaeda-linked Sunniterrorists fighting the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad,who is fighting a war of extermination against his own Sunni Muslimpopulation. About 3,000 have come from Western Europe, and on Tuesdaythe FBI indicated that more than 100 of them are Americans.Furthermore, the problem has been “metastasizing rapidly,” as more andmore young, disaffected Sunni Muslims go to the “jihadist magnet” fortraining and experience. 

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

“[T]hat’s because some on the left in Britain andelsewhere have been busy downplaying the conflict or romanticizingit as something akin to the international brigades during theSpanish Civil War that attracted George Orwell and otheridealists. But unlike Orwell in the 1930s, these fighters on theirway to Syria are not traveling to fight against fascists. Many areyoung Western Muslims rushing to join a fascist group that is tooextreme even for al-Qaeda: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham(ISIS). Members have been known to behead even fellowfighters. And it’s not much consolation that the more ‘moderate’volunteers are joining, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the officialAl-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.”

American intelligence officials believe that among the dozens ofAmericans who have gone to Syria to fight, six to twelve or more havealready returned to America and may be planning terrorist attackshere. In addition, European citizens from countries that have visa waiverscan 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 inUzbekistan in Central Asia because it’s recruiting central Asians tofight alongside al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria. The group’s coreis made up of jihadists from countries in Central Asia, as wellas Russians from Chechnya and Dagestan. An Uzbek government officialpoints out that militants seeking to join the Syrian war have beenstreaming into Syria by different routes, including via Pakistan andTurkey: 

“[Transporting militants into Syria] isn’t a simpleoperation, so there are some major players who work out thedetails and provide funding and protection… 

We’ve been seeking to find out via our channels what Uzbeks arefighting on the terrorists’ side. New reinforcements mostlyconsist of ethnic Uzbeks born in Osh Oblast, Kyrgyzstan, whererecruiters are active and where there’s an extensive network ofinformal and unregistered Islamic groups ostensibly studying theKoran. We actively co-operate with our Kyrgyz colleagues on thatissue.”

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

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

And all of these jihadists have a common enemy: ethnic Russians. Aprime motivator of Jamaat Sabiri would be the fact that Russia’spresident Vladimir Putin is providing an unlimited supply of heavyweapons to genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad to be used in his warcrimes against Sunni Muslim women and children. They’re undoubtedlyalready planning massive terrorist attacks in Moscow and other largeRussian cities. 

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

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

Putin appears to me a man with the worst nihilistic impulses, and attimes like this I like to quote Edith Hamilton’s book The GreekWay and her translation of the speech of Aeschylus’s tragiccharacter 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 ofOnline Extremism and How to Counter It” describes the role thatextremist materials online play in the radicalization process that’ssued 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 andpublishing 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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