Archive

Reuters blog archive

from The Great Debate:

Joining Islamic State is about ‘sex and aggression,’ not religion

Militant Islamist fighter waving a flag, cheers as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province

It is easy to look to religion for an explanation of why young men -- and some women -- become radicalized. But it is psychology, not theology, that offers the best tools for understanding radicalization -- and how best to undo it.

The appeal of Islamic State rests on individuals’ quest for what psychologists call “personal significance,” which the militant group’s extremist propaganda cleverly exploits. The quest for significance is the desire to matter, to be respected, to be somebody in one's own eyes and in the eyes of others.

A person’s sense of significance may be lost for many reasons, such as a personal failure or a stigma that comes from transgressing the norms of one's society. We are reminded of this when we examine the backgrounds of female suicide-bombers in Israel. The first female suicide-bomber in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was divorced by her husband after she was found to be infertile. Another would-be bomber had been disfigured by burns, believed to have been caused by her family, after she had an affair. These women suffered from personal stigma and went on to volunteer for suicidal missions against the Israelis.

Loss of significance can also be caused by hopeless economic conditions. It can grow out of a sense of disparagement and discrimination, a not uncommon experience of many immigrants. And it can come from a sense that one's brethren in faith are being humiliated and disgraced around the world.

from The Great Debate:

Revoking passports isn’t the way to stop American jihadists from returning home

Undated handout picture of a passport of a man identified as Ramy Zamzam

As the Western world confronts the threat posed by the Islamic State, many officials are pushing for stricter measures to be put in place to protect the United States from home-bound jihadists carrying U.S. passports.

"For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons," said Michigan Republican Candice Miller, chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime. "We need to reduce their ability to travel to the United States, and I think we need to consider what it will take to strip passports from those who provide support to or fight with terrorists."

from Expert Zone:

The Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and its fallout on India

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The Islamic State has invigorated jihadi establishments in South and Southeast Asia. It has shaken up the al Qaeda, so far occupying the spiritual pedestal of Islamist Jihad, spurring it to announce the formation of a branch in the Indian subcontinent. Apparently, the Indian subcontinent won't remain unscathed with the contesting constituents of Islamist jihad locked in a battle of dominance.

Conventional assaults like in Iraq and Syria are, of course, inconceivable. However, something like the 2008 attack in Mumbai could definitely be attempted. A few basic requirements need to be met before any of these players think of enhancing their scale of operations in India. Boots available for deployment is one of them.

from The Great Debate:

We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an ‘anti-jihad’?

Human rights activist holds a placard during an anti-Talibanisation protest in LahoreAs the UN Security Council tackles the entity claiming to be “Islamic State,” and President Barack Obama invokes global Muslim responsibility, many ask whether people of Muslim heritage do enough to counter extremism.

The fact is, away from the media spotlight, thousands wage daily battles in their own countries against what President Obama called a “network of death.”

from The Great Debate:

Air strikes won’t disrupt Islamic State’s real safe haven: social media

jihad tweet President Barack Obama has pledged to destroy Islamic State and ensure fighters “find no safe haven.” But even as U.S.-led airstrikes are underway in Iraq and Syria, it is clear that bombs alone will not do the job. For Islamic State hides out in the most perfect haven: the World Wide Web.

In June 2014, the militant group that Obama refers to as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, grabbed the world’s attention after it took over much of northern Iraq in roughly four days. Islamic State accomplished this by building a massive, sophisticated virtual network of fighters in addition to those on the ground. Indeed, its expansion online has been as swift as its territorial gains. It is this virtual power grab that will be most difficult to combat.

The Internet has largely sustained the jihadist movement since 9/11. With this powerful tool, jihadists coordinate actions, share information, recruit new members and propagate their ideology.

from The Great Debate:

What’s between the covers of al Qaeda’s ‘Inspire’ magazine

binladen-828x1024

Inspire is an English-language online magazine published since 2010 by al Qaeda. I just read the latest issue and found a lot of what I expected, and some things I didn’t.

Aimed primarily at radicalizing young audiences in the United States and Britain, the English language magazine appears semi-regularly (there have been 12 issues so far). Graphically well-done, the editorial parts of the magazine are a mix of religious and jihadi-inspirational pieces, reporting and bomb-making instructions.

from The Great Debate:

How to prevent Westerners from fighting for the Islamic State and al Qaeda

RTR2MT83.jpg

One of the most troubling aspects of the slaying of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff is that a well-spoken man with a British accent appears to have been the killer. The fact that an educated Westerner slaughtered other educated Westerners and then put their murder tapes on the Web was enough to dominate the news cycle.

But this violent Westerner in black is not alone. Some 500 British citizens have joined the fight in the Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, alongside thousands of other foreigners. Some 250 have since returned to the UK. Most have joined hardcore jihadist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (now renamed the ‘Islamic State’) and al Qaeda-proxy, Jabhat al-Nusra. Many have killed and have been killed; it was only earlier this summer that an American attacker, Florida native Moner Mohammad Abusalha, struck a restaurant with an explosive-laden truck—and with him at the wheel.

from FaithWorld:

Beyond bin Laden – Britain’s fight against violent Islamist radicalism

(Muslims hold placards as they march towards the U.S. embassy in London May 6, 2011/Suzanne Plunkett)

In a community centre in the British Midlands, 12 teenage boys -- all of south Asian descent -- watch intently as Jahan Mahmood unzips a canvas bag and pulls out the dark, angular shape of a World War Two machine gun. He unfolds the tripod, places the unloaded weapon on a table and pulls back the cocking handle. The boys crane forward. Mahmood pulls the trigger; a sharp snap rings out.

from FaithWorld:

Even without bin Laden, Pakistan’s Islamist militants strike fear

(Supporters of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta May 2, 2011/Naseer Ahmed)

The death of Osama bin Laden has robbed Islamist militants of their biggest inspiration and al Qaeda itself has dwindled to a few hundred fighters in the region, but Pakistan remains a haven for militants with both ambition and means to strike overseas. Worse, there are signs that groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), nurtured by Pakistan's spy agency to advance strategic interests in India and Afghanistan, are no longer entirely under the agency's control.

from FaithWorld:

Islamist militants hold prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan

(A supporter of the banned Islamic organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa clears tears while taking part in a symbolic funeral prayer for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Karachi on May 3, 2011/Athar Hussain)

The founder one of Pakistan's most violent Islamist militant groups has told Muslims to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his "martyrdom" would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday.

  •