Category Archives: Terrorism

Sayid Qutb: Father of Takfiri Jihadism.

For all its austerity and fundamentalism Saudi Arabia did not give birth to the ideology of modern Islamism, rather its modern origins are to be found in Egypt, within the Muslim Brotherhood whose most able son Sayid Qutb, would transcend his teachers and conceive the ideology that gave birth to al-Qaeda.

Today the Muslim Brotherhood is denounced as an apostate organization by ISIS and other hardline Islamist movements, yet a careful study of Islamist history, will prove that their ideological father is the Muslim Brotherhood. Lawrence Wright in his book; ―The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda And The Road To 911, gave a comprehensive view into Qutb‘s influences, his American sojourn, his imprisonment, torture and eventual execution at the hands of the Egyptian authorities at the time. Wright described Qutb and the Egyptian reality at the time in the following: ―Like many of his compatriots he was radicalized by the British occupation and was contemptuous of the jaded king Farouk‘s complicity. Egypt was racked by anti-British protests and seditous political factions bent on running the forign troops out of the country-and perhaps the king as well. What made this unimposing midlevel government clerk particularly dangerous was his blunt and potent commentary. He was western in so many ways –his dress, his love of classical music and Hollywood movies. He had read, in translation, the works of Darwin and Einstein, Byron and Shelley, and had immersed himself in French literature, especially Victor Hugo. Qutb like many Arabs, felt shocked and betrayed by the support that the US government had given to the Zionist cause after the war. Qutb wrote: I hate those westerners and despise them . All of them without any exception: the English, the French, the Dutch, and finally the Americans, who have been trusted by many.

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Luke Lobada a recipient of the 2004 Charles E. Parton award, wrote in an Ashbrook Statesmanship Thesis the following concerning Qutb, I think it would be highly constructive to include the portion on Qutb‘s, earlier background and his academic standing and achivements at that time.

―Sayyid Qutb was born in 1906 in the province of Asyut, which is located in southern Egypt. His parents were both deeply religious people who were wellknown in the area. From his years as a young child until the age of 27, he experienced a rigorous education. Qutb‘s evident desire for knowledge continued throughout his life. He began his elementary education in a religious school located in his hometown village. By the age of 10, he had already committed the entire text of the Qur‘an to memory. After transferring to a more modern government-sponsored school, Qutb graduated primary school in 1918. Due to his interests in education and teaching, Qutb enrolled into a teacher‘s college and graduated in 1928. Next, he was admitted into Dar al-Ulum, a Western-style university which was also attended by Hasan al-Banna, an Aab-Islamic leader who Qutb would later join in the Muslim Brotherhood. After his graduation from Dar al- Ulum in 1933, Qutb began his teaching career and eventually became involved in Egypt‘s Ministry of Education. The Ministry sent rhim abroad to the United States to research Western methods of teaching. He spent a total of two years in the United States from 1948 to 1950. During that time, Qutb studied at Wilson‘s Teachers‘College on the east coast before moving west and earning a M.A. in education at the University of Northern Colorado. Qutb‘s strong conviction that Islam was superior to all other systems was made clear in his work Social Justice in Islam, which was written prior to his trip. Nevertheless, many scholars believe that it was during his trip to the United States that Qutb became convinced of the West‘s spiritual and moral bankruptcy.

Qutb left America and returned to Cairo on a TWA flight, the date was August 20, 1950. While Qutb‘s beloved Egypt wallowed in record levels of corruption, assassination, poverty, illiteracy and disease, the Turkish holdout from the Ottoman empire king Farouk , Egypt‘s Britain backed king jetted around in private jet‘s, drove around Cairo in one of many of his cars, or went gambling on the Rivera. This was Qutb‘s Egypt. When Gamal Abdul Nasser then a young army colonel, seized power in Egypt, the old Ottoman tyrant fell replaced by an Egyptian one, Qutb would prove to be his staunchest enemy and would usher in the ―New Vangaurd. The army officers who were principals in the successful takeover of the government, closely coordinated with the Muslim Brotherhood, several of the officers even Anwar Saddat, Nasser‘s successor, were closely allied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb returned to his job at the Ministry of Education, returning to his home in the suburbs of Helmand. Qutb published an open letter, to the revolutions leaders,, stressing that the only way to curb moral corruption was to impose a ―just dictatorship‖, that would grant political legitimacy to only ―the virtuous‖. Nasser‘s government and the Brotherhood were mismatched from the beginning, The Islamist‘s wanted a society ruled by Sharia, Nasser wanted to expand the role of his authoritarian, secular, nationalist government. Qutb was imprisoned by Nasser in 1954, three months later he was released. Upon his release he became the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s magazine of the same name. On October 26, 1954. An Egyptian Brotherhood acolyte attempted an assassination on Nasser, he fired eight shot‘s wounding one of Nasser‘s bodyguards and missing Nasser entirely. Nasser reacted swiftly and brutally, six Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested then hanged, while thousands of others were placed in concentration camps. Qutb‘s turn soon came, suffering from a high fever he was arrested; he was handcuffed and frog marched to prison. Several times he fainted along the way. He was held in a cell with vicious dogs and mercilessly beaten. In court Qutb said: ―The principles of the revolution have indeed been applied to us ―, as he raised his shirt to reveal the marks of torture. Some of the imprisoned Muslim Brothers staged a strike refusing to leave their cells; they were summarily shot to death.

Twenty three of them died in the assault, and forty six injured. Qutb saw the wounded being brought in since he was in the prison‘s hospital.

Qutb reasoned that true Muislims could never treat fellow Muslims in such a manner, resultantly they were not Muslims, the concept of takfir (excommunication), was revived by Qutb . He wrote his manifesto ―Milestones‖ (Ma‘alim fi al-Tariq), while in prison. Through the aid of family and friends, his book circulated for many years underground, in the form of letters to his brothers and sisters, who were also active Islamist‘s. The book saw its first printing in 1964 and was promptly banned, anyone caught with a copy could be charged with sedition. Qutb wrote: ―Mankind today is on the brink of a precipice. Humanity is threatened not only by nuclear annihilation but also by the absence of values. The West has lost its vitality and Marxism has failed. At this crucial and bewildering juncture the turn of Islam and the Muslim community has arrived‖. Qutb wrote that the Muslim community was: ―crushed under the weight of those false laws and teachings which are not even remotely related to the Islamic teachings. We need to initiate the revival of the Islamic movement in some Muslim country‖. Qutb‘s writings posited that some Islamic country needed to serve as a visible example, of Islam‘s forward march to world domination. ―There should be a vanguard which sets out with this determination and keeps walking the path. I have written Milestones for this vangaurd, which I consider to be a waiting reality about to be materialized‖. Sayyid Qutb was hanged on August 29, 1966.

English translation of the latest fatwa by Hayy’at Tahrīr as-Shām.

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English translation by al-Maqalaat dd May 10, 2017

 

English translation of the recent statement by Hay’at Tahrir Shaam concerning the Astana deal.

“The legal position concerning the latest events and developments facing the Syrian revolution.

 

All praises are due to Allah Who said: “We will, without doubt, help our apostles and those who believe, (both) in this world’s life and on the Day when the Witnesses will stand forth.”

 

And the Exalted Who said: “Permission is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged, and Allah is indeed able to give them victory.”

 

And the most complete peace and blessings for always be upon our master and leader the Messenger of Allah, and his family and companions and those who adhere to them. As for what comes forth;

 

The series of plots against the Jihad of the people of Shaam and their blessed revolution is still ongoing and the latest chapter and most evil one is the Astana agreement. The sacrifices of the people of Shaam and their revolution and Jihad and blood and prisoners are sold on the market of regional and international bargains. As a contract was signed which achieves the interest of the international parties except the interest of the Syrian revolution and Shaam and its people.

 

The change of names does not change the realities, and the Muslims of Shaam will not be fooled by flashy slogans which try to fool them that they seek to bring an end to the bombings, while in reality, it is an attempt to deviate their revolution and a theft of their sacrifices with the excuse of protecting them. And they seek to break the backbone of the Mujahideen who are defending them in a way which prevents the regime from re-establishing its authority over them. And if the Muslims in Shaam would accept the equation: sacrificing the revolution to stop the bombing in return. Then they would not have revolted against the tyrant of Shaam in the first place and they would have accepted the tyrant himself similarly to these offers.

 

And in front of this reality which we pass through we have received news from multiple sources of unprecedented movements by some remnants of previous corrupt factions. And these movements seek to force and enter at the border and from there to the heartland of the liberated territories in Idlib and elsewhere. In a new conspiracy to achieve that which the disbelieving forces like the Russians and the Rawafid and the Nusayriyah were unable to achieve in all of these passed years; in terms of breaking the motivations of the Mujahideen and defeating them or taking over the territories, the Sunni Mujahideen liberated. These movements are carried out by a group of remnants of corrupt factions of whom the leadership were satisfied with loyalty to covert projects at the expense of the revolution of the people of Shaam and their Jihad. As they are preparing to assault the remaining territories of the revolution and Jihad in concordance with the resolutions of Astana.

 

And in accordance to these suspicious movements and sudden preparations the Fatwa council in Hay’at Tahrir Shaam has decided the following:

 

Firstly: agreeing to the Astane deal and accepting it is a betrayal to Allah, his messenger and the believers, also [ a betrayal ] to the blood spilt and efforts put forth in liberating the Muslims in Shaam from the shackles of the Nusayri [ sect ] , and a conspiracy to eliminate the Jihad and revolution in Shaam, and preparation to assign authority to the Nusayris again, and submitting the country and people to the disbelieving occupiers, by exercising the methods of guardianship over the Muslims of Shaam. So it is obligatory upon every Muslim to work on breaching this deal, oppose it, expose its reality and uncover those behind it.

 

Secondly: these gatherings and remnants are groups of corruption, agents, and mercenaries, despite their different names the factor that unites them is corruption in the lands, there isn’t a major sin that they haven’t committed in the lands they land upon, such as plunder of wealth, properties, dishonoring the Muslims and terrorizing those who are safe.

 

Due to this, repelling whoever intends to corrupt the revolution and Jihad from these people or other than them is a type of Jihad in which the aggressor who corrupts the religion and worldly matters is repelled, and it is obligatory upon every Muslim. They should rather fight deadly than to let them occupy the areas liberated by the blood of the Mujahideen. And if Allah writes death for one of us in those situations then what a blessed martyrdom it is in the sake of Allah and striving against his enemies. And it is obligatory upon the masses to fight those criminal remnants, and sacrifice the valuable than to allow those corrupters to advance towards any area under any pretext or banner.

 

And this ruling includes these remnants and also those who cooperate with them or allow them to work under their banner, all of them are the same in the ruling of the obligation to repel and fight them.

 

Finally: to our honored people in the guarded Shaam and land of resurrection and gathering, and to our soldiers and soldiers of all the Sunni factions we say, seek help from Allah Almighty in striving against your enemies until Allah judges between us and them, and do not enfeeble, sorrow, weaken or despair. Fight in defense of your religion, border, honor, land, revolution and Jihad.

 

“And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.”

 

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.”

 

And praises are due to Allah the Lord of the worlds.

Hay’at Tahrir Shaam

 

Fatwa Council

 

 

Islamic State executes Russian Intelligence Officer and Russian ‘spies’ .

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The terrorist group known as Islamic State executed what it described in a video, by its Furat Media as a ‘Russian Intelligence Officer’.

Furat Media released a 12:17 wherein several Russian-speaking men were executed; some were executed by a young Russian boy. The footage of the boy is actually from a previously released video. What the video is essentially claiming is, the Russian government attempted to infiltrate the groups’ ranks with its spies, who were captured and executed. The intelligence officer clothed in black and wearing a black cap is shown in the video naming several Russians as spies within the ranks of IS. The man is beheaded later in the video by a Russian-speaking man dressed identically to the young Russian boy in the video.  The Kremlin is denying the capture and execution of any of its officers by IS.

The man in the video is said to have been captured by IS fighters in Syria.

New statement from the Teḥrīk-ī-Ṭālibān Pākistān’s Muḥammad al-Khurāsānī: “Claiming Responsibility For Assaulting the Pākistānī Army Camp In Retaliation For the Drone Attack in North Wazīristān”.

May 2, 2017

 

Falcon character Mujahideen of TTP attacked Pakistani Army camp and many posts in Shawal area of North Waziristan on 1st May at 7 pm.

 

Light and heavy weapons were used freely in this attack, and it continued for one hour. One hundred and twenty Mujahideen participated in this attack and they continued firing at camp for one hour, in which more than 10 apostates were sent to hell and several were wounded and those who survived this attack fled away leaving their posts. Our 6 companions were also injured in this attack.

 

The camp took fire due to this attack and continued burning for hour.

 

It should be in mind that this attack was in retaliation for the drone attack which targeted Akhtar Muhammad Khaleel’s (May Allah safeguard him) companions.

 

Our attacks will continue until the elimination of deluding system of democracy and up to the implementation of Islamic System in Pakistan. Insha’ALLAH (If ALLAH wills)

 

Mohammad Khurasani

Central Spokesman TTP

New statement from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: “Regarding the Inauguration of the Spring Offensive ‘Operation Manṣūrī’” on April 28, 2017.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

(قال الله تبارک و تعالی : إنهم لهم المنصورون، وإن جندنا لهم الغالبون. الصافات (۱۷۱ – ۱۷۲

Translation: “[That] indeed, they would be made triumphant (Mansuroon). And verily, our soldiers will be the victors.” (171-172:37).

 

 

Although over the course of the 15-year Jihad the foreign occupiers have suffered heavy casualties and a large number of the coalition have withdrawn from our lands yet under American leadership some unjust countries insist on the continued occupation of Afghanistan. They prioritize war over peace, increasing their troop numbers and dropping ever larger bombs on our territory. They employ numerous tactics and strategies in order to prolong the occupation and keep our faithful and independent nation under their vassalage. The Islamic Emirate therefore has determined that with the advantageous weather we once again launch our yearly spring offensive against the foreign forces and their internal allies named Operation Mansouri.

 

The fact that under the leadership of Shaheed Amir ul Mu’mineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour the Mujahideen gained various decisive victories, annihilated highway robbers and impious people, foiled various seditions and intrigues, leaped forward in the political and social arenas, humiliated various foreign powers compelling them to leave our land, and achieve copious other proud milestones, thus we supplicate to Allah Almighty that through the martyr’s blessed name – Operation Mansouri – the Almighty consecrate this Operation so that throughout its duration our sacred land is cleansed from the remaining foreign aggressors and other impious and corrupt elements.

 

With the help of Allah Almighty and the infinite sacrifices of our Mujahid nation the foreign forces have suffered a historic defeat having been forced to admit that the Mujahideen control more than half of Afghanistan. Hence, keeping the evolving situation in mind, this year’s Mansouri Operations will differ from previous ones in nature and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach.

 

In the political sphere:

In those areas that have been cleansed from the enemy and under the full control of the Mujahideen, particular attention will be paid to establishing mechanisms for social justice and development so that our people can live a secure and prosperous life.

In cleansed districts and areas state-building will earnestly proceed and institutions will be erected to secure the social, security, and legal rights of the citizens.

In all the conquered areas special dawah and propagation apparatus will be set up to help those deceived by the enemy see the truth of our struggle, relinquish their opposition and return back to their villages and their people.

 

In the military sphere:

In those areas where the Mujahideen do not have full control, the enemy will be targeted, harassed, killed, or captured until they are compelled to abandon their few remaining posts.

The main focus of Operation Mansouri will be on foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure and in eliminating their internal mercenary apparatus.

These operations will involve conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom attacks, insider attacks, and use of IEDs to achieve their objectives. With the help of Allah Almighty.

During these operations the Mujahideen will be required to scrutinize their targets and places so as to minimize civilian casualties paying heed to the principles of necessity and proportionality.

In the spirit that the eighth of Saur has become a historic day in our annals against Warsaw Pact and the Red Army, so Operation Mansouri will also be launched on 8th Saur 1396 of the Solar Hijri calendar; corresponding with first of Sha’ban 1438 and 28th April 2017 in the Lunar Hijri and Gregorian calendars respectively; in all the nation’s provinces. They will be initiated at 5 am local time with the cries of Allah is Great, targeting the foreign forces and their bases. We request from civilians – in order to minimize collateral damage – that they avoid enemy bases and their military and intelligence personnel and to assist their Mujahideen brothers by all means possible.

 

Wassalam

Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

01/08/1438 Lunar Hijri 08/02/1396 Solar Hijri 28/04/2017 Gregorian

 

New statement from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: “Regarding The Latest U.S. Barbarity In Nangarhar Province”

April 17, 2017

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On 13 April 2017 at approximately 7:30 pm local time in Nangarhar’s Achin district, in the area of Mamund valley, American forces dropped – according to their statement – the largest non-nuclear bomb known as the ‘mother of all bombs’. This barbarity was followed with much fanfare with the Americans proudly boasting about it in the media thus showcasing the increasing barbarity of the foreign occupation.
The use and experimentation of such destructive weapons by foreign occupiers on our war-weary people and in every corner of our war-ravaged country is inexcusable. The Islamic Emirate condemns such barbarity in the strongest of terms and considers its perpetrators as war criminals. Such over-proportionate use of destruction poses long-term detriments for the environment and the development of our nation.
The repression of Daesh plots inside Afghanistan is the obligation of Afghans and not of foreigners. If the Americans fear for their security they should foil such plots at their own borders. The use of Daesh as a ploy to kill Afghans, bombard our lands, experiment novel weapons, and extend the illegitimate occupation is unacceptable. On the contrary, it is a historical wrong and a blatant aggression.
Through such actions the Americans hope to portray itself as a force against Daesh while at the same time giving this group visibility and legitimacy and therefore practically strengthening it. In recent months the Islamic Emirate carried out three separate operations against Daesh in Nangarhar yet every time the Mujahideen came close to completely eradicating this group, American aircraft would start bombarding the Mujahideen and forcing them to retreat.
The fact that the Americans claim that their presence in Afghanistan is limited only to a train and assist role while dropping 10 kiloton bombs on our lands only strengthens the voices of independence and Jihad in our land. Such barbarity illustrates that all freedom-loving Afghans ought to adopt a clear stance against the ongoing oppression of our country and no longer be fooled by American extenuations.
We believe that the use of heavy weaponry and destructive bombs in our country is not the answer to the current dilemma. Rather such irresponsible actions only light the flames of vengeance and show the ugly face of foreign occupation.
Zabihullah Mujahid
Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
17/07/1438 Lunar Hijri
26/01/1396 Solar Hijri

Francis voices terrorism concerns.

 

In a move unheard of in previous years, the National Security Minister of St Lucia, voiced concerns concerning the terrorist threat to the region.

I will quote here from the St Lucia Times: “National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has voiced concerns about terrorism  and the possible effect on tourism in an address to members of the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

 

Addressing private sector representatives on Wednesday, Francis disclosed that he has discussed the issue of terrorism with the Director of the Regional Security System (RSS) and the threat it poses to the Caribbean.

 

“We do not have the exact number of ISIS fighters returning to their countries but we know that between 150 to 400 of these individuals, especially from Trinidad and Tobago, have returned,” the former Deputy Police Commissioner who is currently Chairman of the RSS said.

 

He asserted that the situation was very problematic for the Caribbean.

 

“Imagine, most of the Islands are depending on tourism and we have an incident with one of our tourist ships – maybe in Aruba, Martinique, Saint Vincent – you could imagine the sort of catastrophic reaction that is going to happen to our main export,” the minister stated.

 

Francis said that Saint Lucia will be addressing the issue by going to the primary schools to ensure that young children are not radicalised.

 

According to Francis, all the evidence indicates that children are radicalised from a very early age.

 

“That is one of the techniques that the ISIS movement uses,” he observed.

 

“We are going to make sure, with the help of our minister of education, to put in place programmes so that those young children – vulnerable children, can be taught how to deal with radicalisation,” Francis told members of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

 

 

REGIONAL GUIDES TO LIFE AFTER ISLAMIC STATE.

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JOAS WAGEMAKERS

JORDAN

IF THE ISLAMIC STATE (IS) IS DEFEATED AS A TERRITORIAL ENTITY, THE MAIN ASPECT THAT SETS

IT APART FROM AL-QAEDA – ITS CLAIM TO BE A STATE WITH ACTUAL TERRITORY – WILL BE GONE.

THIS MEANS IS WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO INVITE MUSLIMS TO JOIN ITS PROJECT IN SYRIA OR

IRAQ, BUT WILL BE FORCED TO RELY ON TERRORIST ATTACKS AROUND THE WORLD.

This shift in IS’s policies can already be seen, but is likely to increase as the

organisation loses more territory. From that point on, several scenarios

are possible. One scenario is that IS continues to operate as an alternative to al-Qaeda, with its local branches in countries such as Libya and Nigeria.

Given that both organisations will have roughly the same goals, they are likely to merge. Another scenario is that IS will dwindle and al-Qaeda will rise again.

Still another option is that they will continue to be rivals, with IS continuing to try to set up a state.

Any of these scenarios, and potentially others, are possible.

Given the tensions between al-Qaeda and IS and the inhibitions that some IS- supporters are likely to have had about IS’s increasingly violent policies, any future efforts to set up an Islamic state are likely to be slightly different.

There is a strong sentiment among many Jihadi-Salafi scholars and leaders that an Islamic state is a very good thing in principle, but that it should not be executed the way IS did it.

This analysis of the situation may result in more careful ways of going about

establishing an Islamic state the next time an opportunity arises.

In other words: for Jihadi-Salafi critics of IS, the collapse of the latter has the potential to be a major ‘I told you so’ moment.

In Jordan, there is the additional difficulty of intra-Jihadi-Salafi rivalry.

The two main Jihadi-Salafi scholars in the country (and probably in the

world) – Abu Qatada al-Filastini and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi – have been strongly against IS from the beginning.

A large number of Jihadi-Salafi activists, however, disagree with them and still have fresh memories of the rivalry between their local hero – Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi – and al-Maqdisi.

While they see the former as a brave fighter who was willing to walk the talk, the latter is seen by them as an armchair jihadi who, when push came to shove, was not willing to support the jihad in Iraq.

Moreover, al-Maqdisi often stressed the need to set up an Islamic state, rather than just engaging in attacks without lasting results.

When IS came along, it seemed that a sustained effort to do what al-Maqdisi had always wanted – setting up an Islamic state – was finally being made, yet al-Maqdisi again refused to support it because he saw IS as the epitome of the “extremist” policies that he had always rejected.

To some supporters of al-Zarqawi, this was proof that al-Maqdisi was hypocritical and not supportive of Jihadi- Salafism.

To al-Maqdisi himself, however, the fall of IS is likely to be seen as proof that he was right all along.

Due to the extent of support for both positions, neither of these narratives is going to become entirely dominant in Jordan, with both co-existing uneasily for some years to come.

Dr Wagemakers’ research, at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, concentrates on Salafi ideology and groups, especially in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories.

Speech International Conference on Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

Dutch AIVD Director of Intelligence Jack Twiss, 15 February 2017

Today I would like to tell you about a family that went to Syria. A mother and father, inspired by the proclamation of the ISIS caliphate. Perhaps they believe that it would be wonderful to raise their children in an Islamic utopia. They take their two children, close the door behind them, and leave.

After a long and arduous journey the family arrives in Syria. The father is immediately sent off to a training camp where he is trained in the use of weapons and combat.

After his training he is regularly sent to the front lines to fight. The mother and the two young children quickly find out that daily life with ISIS is tough. They find it hard to adjust to the bombing raids, to sharing a house with other families, to only a few hours of electricity a day. The mother finds herself pregnant and soon discovers that prenatal care is abominable. She wants to return to the Netherlands and she manages to convince her husband that they ought to flee. So, shortly before the father is sent to the front again they make their escape, cross the border into Turkey and eventually return to the Netherlands.

Upon their arrival the father and mother are arrested on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organization. The children are taken to live with relatives. The father and mother are interrogated separately and they categorically deny having been members of ISIS. After a month the public prosecution service decides to release them for lack of evidence.

The family returns to their old neighbourhood.

This is one example of some of the stories that I deal with as director of intelligence with the General intelligence and security service – the AIVD. At this point in our story the AIVD faces a dilemma: the mother and father are disillusioned, yes, but have they also renounced their jihadist beliefs? Or will they continue to support the jihad in Syria but now from the Netherlands?

These are the questions that one of the teams of my service sets out to answer. As an intelligence and security service we are able to, and allowed to do a lot. We have a range of investigatory powers at our disposal, such as observation, house searches, wire taps, all under strict conditions.

But we are no mind readers. People who have something to hide are often highly security-conscious, and they try to deceive us. For example, what is it exactly that two returnees are talking about when one of them asks the other: “when does the game start?” Does this mean they are going to a football match together, or is it an attack plot they are discussing? We hear remarks such as these every day, and for every remark we have to assess if it constitutes a threat or not.

Similarly, for the family of four I described just now we have to take great care to see if they constitute a risk. Then we decide if it is necessary to keep a close watch on these persons, or whether they can reintegrate into our society.

In our publication ‘Focus on Returnees’, published today, we describe the threat. All returnees are reviewed by the AIVD to assess their potential threat. One of the criteria we look at is the length of stay in the conflict zone. Nearly all returnees coming back now have spent at least a year in the conflict zone. Many of them have gained combat experience and are deeply integrated into jihadist networks. Which means that they pose potentially a greater threat than the earlier returnees that spent less time in the conflict zone.

The reason why someone decides to return to the Netherlands also plays a role. This is not always clear: medical problems, homesickness or pressure from relatives, but also a sense of disillusion with life in the caliphate could be important. Being disillusioned, however, does not mean that radical ideas and violence have been renounced. For the most part disappointment with life in the conflict zone does not mean that people turn their backs on jihadist ideology.

Where there is no information on why someone returned, or there are indications that the returnees have been allowed to leave by ISIS, the AIVD will take into account these returnees may have been sent back to Europe with a specific assignment.

While the experiences of life in the caliphate are certainly part of the assessment of

the potential threat of returnees, even more important are our up-to-date knowledge

of and insight into their behaviour, beliefs and intentions.

Let’s go back to our recently returned family of four. They were in the conflict zone only a couple of months. Their main motivation for returning was the dire quality of life in the caliphate. But what does that imply in terms of their jihadist intentions? The mother has turned her back on ISIS, but the father still appears to be radicalised and to support the jihad, only now he is in the Netherlands.

It is not necessary, nor feasible for us to monitor each and every returnee twentyfour- seven. Fortunately the AIVD partners with a whole chain of organizations that play a part where returnees are concerned.

We strive to share our information on foreign fighters with the public prosecution service so that they can start their criminal investigation at an early stage. Returnees will initially be arrested and where possible prosecuted.

Returnees that are released are taken on by the social services of the local authorities in their place of residence. Signals coming from these municipal agencies and organizations are of great value to the AIVD in assessing whether someone is still harbouring radical ideas. Because, as I mentioned before, we cannot monitor each and every returnee day and night. The police also keep a watchful eye: local police officers know the local situation, know who is friendly with whom and who the jihadist instigators are.

 

 

They are in a perfect position to pick up signals at a local level and if necessary inform us. The AIVD then has the difficult task to assess in time if someone presents an actual danger or not.

The AIVD expects the number of returning jihadist to increase little by little in the future. Together they constitute a group that requires the close attention of all of us, because they are ideologically hardened, because they have combat experience and because they have become a part of a jihadist network. The AIVD does not expect all Dutch foreign fighters to return to our country. Some of them will remain in the region, and some will be killed in action. We should take care not to focus too much on returnees alone. If we look at the most recent attacks in Berlin and Nice the perpetrators weren’t returnees that had been trained in Syria or Iraq. There are homegrown jihadists that pursue the fight in their own country, often inspired by ISIS’ propaganda. Some individuals are actively, incited and facilitated by ISIS to spring into action. So we have several different scenarios to deal with.

Today’s publication discusses the threat posed by returnees. Unfortunately it does not offer any ready-made answers. The case of the family of returnees I used as an example today, shows that what is needed is the long-term investment of different agencies and organizations. Hopefully our publication offers you help, insight and suggestions. In addition to this publication I would like to leave you with these three points.

(1) Returnees are not all alike. Threat assessment has been and always will be ‘made-to-measure’. (2) We should work together to remain alert regarding the group of future returnees. Only by cooperating can we resist the potential threat they pose.

(3) The jihadist threat is a complicated matter. Homegrown jihadists are inspired or incited on by ISIS, and the risk they pose is as great as that of returnees.