Tag Archives: Boko Haram

ISIS EXTENDS ITS GLOBAL REACH

boko-haram1

When I heard the news over the weekend that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), I decided to watch one of the network news programs at 6.30pm to see what they had to say on this development.

As it turns out, nothing was said.   The news program I watched led on Selma (again) and Ferguson (again, again) and Hillary Clinton’s emails (surprise! surprise!  Corruption from a Clinton!   Y.A.W.N.).   Following those three stories, there was a brief segment on Jeb Bush running for president.

Arguably, Boko Haram’s signing up to the Islamic State will have greater impact than any of the other news items.

A few weeks ago, IS was confined to Iraq and Syria.   Then the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan opted to join the caliphate.   Libya was the next addition, not the whole country but the extremists operating there.   Now, with Boko Haram in Nigeria, Niger and Chad, they are rapidly becoming a major global force.

It’s not surprising the West is still asleep when our media focus is so myopic.

The media is also manipulative.   A great deal of attention is now being given to a young African-American teenager who was shot by police in Madison, Wisconsin.

The death of any young person is a tragedy, no matter what the circumstances.   Ten days ago, a 17-year-old male was shot dead by police a few miles from our home.   It did not make the national news, likely because he was white.   The media sure likes to stir things up, especially when it comes to race.

Perhaps this is why little attention is given to the growing threat from ISIS.   As we are constantly being assured that Islam is a religion of peace, little attention will be given to news that brings this into question.

Yet the fact remains, while we obsess about our own internal problems, there is a growing external threat that we ignore at our peril.

 

 

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ISIS IS THE TRUE FACE OF ISLAM

Job cartoonGraeme Wood graduated from Harvard University in 2001 and speaks fluent Russian and some Arabic.   He is a Canadian journalist.

Mr. Wood has written an in-depth, thought-provoking article in the March issue of The Atlantic, on “What ISIS really wants.”

It’s likely to be the most discussed article on the subject for some time.

The article stands in complete contrast to statements made by western leaders, who claim that ISIS does not represent Islam and that terrorism is not Islamic.

Mr. Wood delves deep into Islamic history and shows that, in fact, the opposite is the case, that ISIS is the real face of Islam and represents the true face of the religion.   He makes such a convincing case to support his argument that I doubt anybody will sit down and argue with him.   The facts fit.   The question is:   what are we going to do about it?

Today, the BBC World Service revealed that the number of Christians abducted by ISIS fighters on Monday from villages in North-East Syria is between 370 – 500, not the 70 originally thought to have been kidnapped.   To say that fears are growing for their safety is an understatement.   They may be used as hostages and traded for ISIS fighters taken as prisoners.   According to Mr. Wood:   “Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government.   Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation.   The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.”

It has also been confirmed that three teenage girls who left England last week for Turkey crossed the border into Syria to join ISIS.   The fact that they all went to an exclusive private school is further proof that joblessness and poverty do not cause terrorism, as the US Administration claims.

Earlier today, three Americans were charged with trying to leave the country to join ISIS.   One of them even promised to kill the President of the United States if asked to do so.

Others, in both countries, have already gone to Syria to join the organization.   ISIS is said to be attracting hundreds of new fighters each day.

“Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State.   Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places.   Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.”   (Wood, What ISIS Really Wants)

Meanwhile, as the threat from ISIS increases, the US and UK are continuing to reduce the size of their militaries, according to reports on today’s Fox News website and in last week’s Economist.   The report on Fox News was based on the Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of US Military Strength,” which concluded that, for the first time in decades, the US can no longer fight and win two wars at the same time.   During the last decade, the country and its allies fought two simultaneous wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably losing both wars.   There is a very real possibility that wars against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram may have to be fought in three different regions while, at the same time, there is also a very real prospect of a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine or maybe even the Baltic states.

A few days ago, I posted an article to my blog, titled “What If The President Is Wrong?”   This was just after his claim that terrorism is caused by joblessness.

A few days later, I read Mr. Wood’s article in The Atlantic.   Joblessness is not the problem.   Rather, we have here a fundamentalist movement that is returning Islam to its 1400-year-old roots and copying Muhammed in the way he dealt with infidels and those in conquered lands.

Monday’s Chicago Tribune put it well:   “What motivates these people?   Why do so many of them, Westerners included, eagerly come to the desert to fight and die?

“The best examination we’ve seen appears in the current issue of the The Atlantic.   “What ISIS Really Wants,” by Graeme Wood, argues that Islamic State is not a death cult that distorts Islam in a bid to gain political power.   Rather, it is a fanatically rigid religious movement based on specific teachings and traditions of seventh century Islam, which it implements to a dangerously literal        degree . . .”

“In the view of Islamic State leaders, there is only one extremely narrow belief path to follow – its own puritanical Salafist branch of Sunni Islam.   The rest of us, even practicing Muslims, are infidels to be subjugated or killed . . . ”  (Knowing Islamic State and Its Vision)

What is particularly interesting in Graeme Wood’s article is the conviction that ISIS has, that they are to play a significant role in world history leading up to the apocalypse.   Christians will see in part a distortion of their own beliefs regarding end-time events.

“These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.”

This paragraph alone should tell us one thing – that ISIS is here to stay and will remain with us until the end-time events that Christians believe will see the return of Jesus Christ.

“What ISIS Really Wants” gives us a clear understanding of the beliefs and goals of ISIS.   The question now is how is the West going to react?

 

WHAT IF THE PRESIDENT IS WRONG?

Obama Islam not the enemy

US President Barack Obama says the US is “not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam.”   (BBC website, February 18th)

The President continued to explain that socio-economic factors are behind extremist terrorism.   If more could be done to help young people in the Mideast find jobs, it would lessen the terror threat.   However, this conveniently overlooks the fact that major terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by affluent jihadists.   The idea that it’s all due to poverty and unemployment is a throwback to sixties liberalism.   Unfortunately, millions of people still think that way, endangering the rest of us.

This comes at a time when ISIS is wiping out Christians across the Middle East, determined to establish “Christian free zones.”

For an alternative view, let’s do something few politicians ever seem to do – look at history.

Muhammed died in 632 AD.   At the time of his death, the new religion he started was confined to the Arabian Peninsula.   By the end of the seventh century it had conquered the whole of North Africa and a great deal of the Middle East, including Jerusalem, Damascus and Antioch, pushing back the Byzantine and Persian empires.   Of course, it’s always possible that the young soldiers of Allah went far afield simply looking for jobs, but that’s not a conclusion you will find in the history books.

Once they had conquered North Africa, they crossed over into Europe, taking over the Iberian Peninsula and remaining there for a few hundred years, ruling what are now Spain and Portugal.   In 732 they reached the gates of Paris but were halted in their tracks by a military force led by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne.   If this decisive victory had not taken place, there would be no problem between the West and Islam today, as we would all be Muslims!

Move forward 350 years.   By the end of the eleventh century, the Turks were a serious threat to the Byzantine Empire.   In 1065, the Turks took control of Jerusalem and massacred 3,000 Christians. Prior to the Turkish invasion, the Saracens controlled the area.   They had allowed Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land.   But the Turks made it impossible.   In 1095, Pope Urban II called on the countries of Catholic Europe to launch a Crusade against the Muslim Turks.   A series of crusades followed until 1291, when the Christians gave up on the idea of ruling the region.   It wasn’t until 1917 that a Christian power, Great Britain, would once again dominate the Middle East.

Islam continued its expansionist course, gradually taking more and more territory from what was left of the Eastern Roman Empire.   In 1453, its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Muslim Turks.   They have controlled it since.

Having conquered the Balkans, the Ottoman Turks twice reached the gates of Vienna at the very center of Europe.   Central European nations and the Catholic

Church defeated the Muslims, saving Europe from Islam.

This is not to say there has been peace between the West and Islam ever since.   During the period of global British domination, the British fought Islamic extremists in the Sudan in the 1880’s and 90’s, culminating in the battle of Omdurman in September, 1898.

For much of the twentieth century, Islam was kept at bay.  Until World War II, most Islamic territory was under European colonial rule.   By 1960 this had come to an end.   Iran, modern Persia, was the first country to see its government overthrown by radical Islam, in 1979.   From that date until the present, the West has been under constant threat from Islam, both Shia Islam (Iran) and Sunni Islam (al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram to name just three).

With such a long history of Islamic imperialism, how can the president claim that the religion has been perverted by violent extremists?   Islam has been a constant threat to the West since its birth in the early part of the seventh century.  If anything, the first part of the twentieth century was an aberration, a brief interlude during which Islam was not pushing against the West.

“The rise and expansion of Islam was one of the most significant and far-reaching events in modern history and its impact continues to reverberate in our own times.”  (“The spread of Islam from 632,” Collins Atlas of World History, 2003)

Echoing down the centuries, the following statement remains true today.  “This expansion owed much to the enthusiasm and religious conviction of the conquerors but it was also facilitated by the war-weariness of the empires of Persia and Byzantium.”  (“The Spread of Islam”)   Today’s zealots are equally motivated, while the nations of the West, after more than a decade of wars in Islamic lands, are war-weary and clearly in denial about the serious threat to western civilization.

When you look back at history, the threat is clear.   In fact, it’s a greater threat now than it’s ever been, simply because there are so many millions of Muslims in our midst already.   Which brings us back to our politicians.   President Obama is not the only western leader saying that Islam has been perverted by extremists. Following the attacks in Denmark last weekend, the Danish prime minister said much the same thing.   The British, German and French leaders have expressed similar sentiments.

Because there are so many Muslims living amongst us today, politicians dare not risk upsetting them.   They need their votes.   A significant number of constituencies in the United Kingdom, for example, have very large Muslim populations, which could determine the outcome of the election scheduled in May.

The threat should be clear to anyone.   Western nations are asleep. But sleep does not last forever.   Eventually, it will be time to wake up.

Islam has been pushing against the West for centuries.   In modern times, the push of radical Islam has been going on since the fall of the Shah in 1979, half a lifetime ago.   When will the “King of the North” arise to fight back?

TERROR GROUPS GLOBAL REACH

Jan. 27, 2015:  In this image made from video posted by a Libyan blogger, the Cortinthia Hotel is seen under attack in Tripoli. (AP)
Jan. 27, 2015:   In this image made from video posted by a Libyan blogger, the Corinthia Hotel is seen under attack in Tripoli. (AP)

ISIS has claimed it was behind the attack on a leading hotel in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, earlier this week.   The hotel was one of the few remaining western hotels, catering to foreign nationals. An American and a Frenchman were amongst the nine who were killed.

The attack shows that ISIS is now operating in Libya, a long way from home.

The three major terror threats right now are ISIS, AQAP and Boko Haram.

ISIS, having established a rudimentary caliphate over parts of Syria and Iraq, now calls itself IS (Islamic State) reflecting its new status as a country.   It is even negotiating with Jordan, a neighboring country, over the fate of a Jordanian prisoner and a Jordanian pilot captured by IS.   There is the possibility of a proposed exchange of prisoners.   They also hold a Japanese journalist and are threatening to behead him at the time of writing.

AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) staged the Paris attacks. Some terror experts say this is the most dangerous group and the biggest threat to the West, including the United States.   The terror group emanates from Yemen, home of Osama bin Laden.   Yemen’s pro-American government has just fallen, replaced by a group loyal to Iran, a Shi’ite theocratic republic.   This strengthens Iran at the expense of the US.   AQAP is Sunni and will likely continue uninterrupted, safe in its own territory in the splintered nation.

Boko Haram may seem disconnected but operates over an increasingly wide area.   It has the same aims as the other two, the downfall of the West and a rejection of all things western.

In addition to the three groups mentioned, there is also the Taliban, which continues to stage terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.   A Taliban attack on a school in December killed 148, mostly students.

Smaller groups like the Nusra Front also operate.

The Economist magazine (page 26, January 17th issue) showed there were 17 significant terrorist attacks by these groups in a one-month period (December 15th – January 13th).   The total number of deaths is hard to determine as statistics from some areas, especially Nigeria, are unreliable.   But a low estimate for the period totaled 528. During this one-month period there were terror attacks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.   They included suicide bombings and gun attacks.

This is a global conflict, which will affect every nation on earth.

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS SPREADS

Young Islam on Trek

President Erdogan of Turkey used the term “clash of civilizations” to describe the growing divide between Islamic nations and the West, following the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket in Paris.

NBC’s Richard Engel used the same term Monday evening in a news report focused on the ten Muslim countries that witnessed demonstrations and riots over the weekend.   They were angry over Charlie Hebdo’s caricature of the prophet Mohammed on its cover this week.

In the West, people are showing their support for freedom of speech and of the press.   Muslims, on the other hand, are opposed to any image of their prophet, as this is considered a sin and an insult to Islam.   There is no narrowing the gap!

Amongst the countries that witnessed demonstrations over the weekend were Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya (ruled by Russia), Pakistan and Niger, north of Nigeria.   In the latter, churches were set alight with people in them.

It was university professor Samuel P. Huntington who first popularized the term “clash of civilizations” in his book on the subject, published in 1996.   Prior to that the term had been used by Huntington in a lecture to the American Enterprise Institute and earlier by Middle East expert Bernard Lewis.   In fact, usage goes back as far as 1926, when Basil Matthews wrote “Young Islam on trek: a study in the clash of civilizations.”

When we consider the term goes back almost a century, we can realize that the concept is not a new one.   What makes it more urgent and serious is that the number of Muslims in the world is increasing rapidly while the number of Christians isn’t.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, roughly 25 % of the total number of people.   Of greater significance is that 62% are under the age of 30.   This is the recruiting pool for ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist factions.   The problem of Islamic terrorism is only going to worsen.

The clash of civilizations is partly due to ignorance. People in the West are lacking in knowledge when it comes to Islam but Muslims are ignorant of Western history and culture and do not understand how long it took to gain freedom of speech and how it is a fundamental component of western culture.

Leaders of western countries seem bewildered and do not understand how to tackle this problem.   Most leaders are of the 60’s generation that believed religion was something in the past, of little relevance today.   They have been proved wrong – but don’t know how to adjust their thinking.

Ordinary citizens seem to have a better grasp on reality, experiencing the clash of civilizations first hand with their neighbors, colleagues at work, people in stores and on the streets.   There is a widening gap between the elites and the people, which could presage dramatic changes this year as elections are held in a number of European countries.   Populist parties are gaining strength and will likely continue to do so with each terrorist attack.

Although the Bible does not use the term “clash of civilizations,” a coming clash between two major powers is prophesied in Daniel 11:40.   These powers are called “the king of the south” and the “king of the north,” two powers who are situated south and north of Jerusalem.   Conflict arises when the “king of the south” attacks the “king of the north.”   One translation uses the term “pushes”.   What we are seeing now with repeated terror attacks by Muslims in Europe could just be the beginning of this clash.   The question is: at what point will the European nations hit back?

 

 

PARISIAN AFTERMATH

hebdo

It really is a dialog of the deaf!

I’ve just been listening to a discussion on the World Service of the BBC.   The program was Newshour, one hour of serious world news, the best available.

The discussion was about the cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo satirical paper.   Only last week ten members of staff, including four cartoonists and the managing editor, were all killed when terrorists invaded their office. Their motive was revenge, to kill those who had insulted the prophet Mohammed by depicting him in their paper.

In defiance, the paper’s staff, now temporarily housed in the offices of Liberation, refusing to be intimidated, have again depicted the prophet on their front page, holding up a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).   Interestingly, not one of the 200 members of staff of Liberation disagreed with the decision to house those from Charlie Hebdo, even though they clearly endanger themselves.

The BBC presenter was interviewing two female journalists, one a practicing Muslim of Algerian origin and the other a journalist with Liberation.

The Muslim explained to the BBC’s worldwide audience how deeply offensive the cartoon is, that it is, in Islam, blasphemy.   The other journalist countered by explaining that France has freedom of speech and that they are expressing their highly valued freedom.

What was particularly interesting to me was the Muslim saying she is deeply committed to freedom of speech but that does not extend to insulting somebody else’s religion.

It reminded me of a segment on the same program two or three years ago following the Arab Spring, a period of time when western countries thought they were witnessing the flowering of western style freedom in the Arab world. The interviewer then was talking to Tunisians who were anticipating democracy in their country.   They were asked a number of questions and gave the same responses as most people in the West would give.

That is, until the interviewer asked if their vision of democracy extended to allowing people to choose their own religion.

That was a definite no-no.   Nobody could ever renounce Islam

A huge gulf separates western thinking, which is based on individual freedom, and Islam, which means “submission.” They are two opposites.

This is not only a dialog of the deaf; it is also a clash of civilizations.

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The clash between these two worlds is going to be the defining conflict of our age, just as the Cold War was for over forty years.

Tom Rogan, a writer for National Review and an expert on Islamic terror groups, said on the latest McLaughlin Group that there are three types of terrorists now operating in the West.

One group is the al-Qaeda operatives, who have been around for about twenty years.

Secondly, we have those returning to the countries of their birth, from Syria and Iraq.   They have been trained for conflict and encouraged to stage terror attacks in their home countries similar to what we saw in Paris last week.   All western countries should expect to see a surge in such attacks in the foreseeable future.

The third group is made up of those influenced by “YouTube.”   These are often the lone wolfs we saw recently in Ottawa, Sydney, and New York. They keep an eye on terrorist websites, which encourage them to stage terror attacks, especially on police, security personnel, and government buildings.

Mr. Rogan predicted that we will see more attacks this year.

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While we are on the subject of terrorism, it should be noted that while the world’s attention was on the 17 deaths in Paris, an estimated 2,000 died in NE Nigeria when Boko Haram attacked a small town. Most of those killed were women, children and the elderly who could not run fast enough to escape from the terrorists.

The BBC has not been able to verify the figure because it is impossible for anybody to get nearer than 200 kilometers to the area. Boko Haram also destroyed the cell phone tower in the town, so that nobody living there has been able to communicate.

People who escaped ran to the nearest big city of Maiduguri. All told the same story of countless numbers of dead within and outside of the town.

A few days later, in the same region of Nigeria, a ten-year old girl, used by Boko Haram as a suicide bomber, blew up a market, killing twenty people.

It’s not surprising that the local archbishop has called on the US and other western countries to intervene to save the people from the Islamic onslaught.

The Nigerian army seems to be doing very little.   Neighboring Cameroon claimed today that is has killed 150 terrorists belonging to the organization.

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FOOTNOTE:   Sky News has just said that 5,000 EU citizens are now fighting in Iraq and Syria with ISIS.   What will they do when they return to their home countries in Europe?

Clearly, President Obama was wrong when he said a few months ago that the War on Terror was over. It seems more likely that it’s just starting.

WESTERN EDUCATION IS FORBIDDEN

 

Boko Haram

“Western education is forbidden.” Roughly translated that’s the meaning of Boko Haram, words in the Hausa language, which refer to the Nigerian Islamist terror group.

A few months ago, the group kidnapped over 200 teenage girls from one school. They have not been seen since. A leader of the group stated last week that the girls have all been married off. ISIS was selling kidnapped women in Iraq for $1,000 each. It seems likely Boko Haram gave the girls away to terrorists fighting in their group.

Yesterday came news that 46 teenage boys have been killed in another school in Nigeria by Boko Haram.

The number 46 reminded me of a community where we once lived, the city of Bath, in Michigan, just outside of Lansing.

In the spring of 1927 the local school was blown up and 46 people, mostly youngsters at the school, eventually died as a result of that day’s carnage. It remained the worst terrorist attack in US history until Oklahoma City in April 1995, which also claimed many young lives in a daycare facility.

On a website devoted to the Bath disaster are the following introductory words:

“On a cool Spring morning in May of 1927 the Treasurer of the Bath, Michigan, Consolidated School District fire/dynamite bombed his home and farm and collapsed the North half of the school building (having intended to destroy all of it). Within the hour he had committed additional murders in the middle of the village by the suicidal detonation of shrapnel-shrouded explosives that he had packed into his vehicle. Over the following year a total of 46 people would be dead as a result of that day’s mayhem and many, many more would be counted among the injured & maimed. After 86 years this incident still ranks as the worst instance of school violence in U.S. history.”

Like Oklahoma City, this particular incident was an example of homegrown terrorism.

We lived in Bath when 9/11 happened, the worst terror attack in American history. So far. I fear others lie ahead that will be worse in terms of numbers of deaths. 9/11 was perpetrated by Islamist terrorists who hated the West. ISIS is made up of people who feel the same way. Boko Haram reflects a great deal of anger directed at Western education.

Hatred of the West is not going away.

Will ISIS or Boko Haram be defeated? Not likely. Certainly not in the short-term.

Nigeria’s police and military are a joke. That is true right across West Africa. The police are less a force to capture criminals, than people who extort money out of innocent members of the public. The military in most countries is not well disciplined and will run away when confronted by armed insurgents, such as Boko Haram.

Terrorism threatens all of us, even children in school. It’s the scourge of the age. Although the vast majority of terror attacks are perpetrated by Islamists, adherents of all religions are capable of extremely violent acts.

These awful acts should inspire Christians to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10). Only when Jesus Christ returns and it’s clear which religion really is the truth will terrorism come to an end.