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Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

(DEUTSCHE WELLE) — Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

Panelists at the Munich Security Conference about how to stop a post-caliphate jihad unanimously agreed that the terror group “Islamic State” remains a threat, even though it may have lost its “territory.”

It has been just 3 1/2 years since the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the founding of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) at the mosque of the freshly captured city of Mosul in Iraq.

Now, after a long and bloody military campaign, the group has been wholly driven out of the country. And in neighboring Syria, only isolated pockets of IS fighters remain in the former IS stronghold of Raqqa. At its zenith, some 40,000 people took up arms for IS. Now 3,000 of them are hiding in the desert – or are seeking new areas of operation.

Although the terror group has been thwarted in its efforts to create a sovereign state, it nevertheless lives on. It still has its propaganda division — albeit greatly weakened. It also lives on in the hearts of its blind adherents and as the dream of a Salafist “utopia” for which thousands were willing to die. More than 5,000 people traveled to the “caliphate” from Western Europe alone.

Above all, “jihad” as such lives on. And the demise of IS could encourage other terror groups such as al-Qaida to launch new attacks, as Dan Coats told participants at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. As the US director of national intelligence, Coats has a good overview of the threat posed by terrorism. The “Global Threat Assessment” that the US intelligence community released on Tuesday emphasized that the largest terror threats still emanate from “violent Sunni extremists,” above all from Islamic State and al-Qaida.

One thing participants at the Munich Security Conference unanimously agreed upon is that the fight against jihadism is far from over. Many spoke of the stamina that would still be required to achieve ultimate victory. The primary importance of exchanging information among intelligence services was also stressed.

Germany’s federal interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, emphasized the importance of international intelligence services’ cooperation in tracking down German jihadists who have fought for IS in Iraq and Syria: “Especially with America, but also with other agencies in the region that often give us tips. Those agencies are key to helping us protect German citizens,” he told DW.

Nevertheless, during the panel discussion on “Post-Caliphate Jihad,”he spoke of the many technical and legal hurdles impeding data exchange within the European Union itself. EU security commissioner Julian King assured the audience that the EU was dealing with such impediments effectively. He pointed out that the exchange of information among national anti-terror agencies had grown by 40 percent since 2015.

It was conspicuous that Thomas de Maiziere, much like Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen before him, spoke in support of the concept of “networked security” – albeit, without calling it by name. De Maiziere did not limit himself to addressing the importance of police and intelligence cooperation; he also spoke extensively about prevention and the necessity of denying terrorism any kind of platform.

This issue was also addressed in a separate panel discussion called “Making the Sahel Safe.” A number of African leaders, the president of the World Bank and the secretary-general of the UN Climate Secretariat spoke frankly about the connections between development, climate change and terrorism. Lack of opportunity, poor governance and a lack of education, they said, all provide fertile ground for terrorism.

Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union (AU), illustrated the threat posed by a lack of education with an anecdote about a woman living near Lake Chad. She decided to become a suicide bomber because she was told she would be able to choose her own husband when she got to paradise.

Tunisia’s foreign minister explained that many Tunisians join terror groups for financial reasons. A disproportionate number of Tunisians traveled to the caliphate because IS offered them good pay, he said.

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How badly is the U.S. Government penetrated by terrorists?

(UNDERSTANDING THE THREAT) — A reminder of the serious penetration of our system by suit-wearing jihadis. Remember this is much more a counterintelligence and espionage problem than merely a “terrorism” issue.

[ CLICK HERE FOR A SERIES OF DISTURBING REMINDERS]

The Islamic State has left a toxic farewell of environmental sabotage and chronic disease

(POST-GAZETTE) — Iraq – Like any typical 15-year-old, Ahmed Jassim stays glued to his smartphone, watching music videos and playing games. In his family’s modest living room with dark concrete walls, the light from the phone’s screen illuminates his handsome but gaunt face.

But unlike his peers, Ahmed doesn’t go outside to play soccer or fly kites. Simple activities tire him out quickly because his heart is permanently damaged, the result of inhaling the smoke that blanketed this town of farmers and shepherds after Islamic State militants ignited nearby oil wells.

“He hates life. He just hates life,” his mother, Rehab Fayad, said wistfully. “It’s affected him not just physically, but psychologically.”

The militants detonated 25 oil wells in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful effort to defend their terrain against Iraqi security forces in 2016 and wreck a prized national asset. For nine months, a thick, blinding cloud of smoke engulfed Qayyarah and the villages that surround it, turning people’s skin and sheep’s coats black from soot.

The Islamic State footprint on Iraq’s environment may be unprecedented and permanent, with a toxic legacy that includes wide-scale cattle deaths, fields that no longer yield edible crops and chronic breathing complications in children and the elderly, doctors and experts said.

Up to 2 million barrels of oil were lost, either burned or spilled, between June 2016 and March 2017, when firefighters put out the final blaze, according to a United Nations report citing Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Environmental experts worry that much of the oil has seeped into the groundwater and the nearby Tigris River – a lifeline for millions of Iraqis stretching more than 1,000 miles to Baghdad and beyond.

The militants also torched a sulfur plant north of Qayyarah, spewing 35,000 tons of the stinging substance into the air, the United Nations said. Reportedly containing one of the largest sulfur stockpiles in the world, the plant was set ablaze in part to help hold off Iraqi security forces, according to human rights and environmental experts.

Still unknown is the full extent of the impact. Studies into the long-term health effects have been halting, with Iraq’s government putting greater urgency on rebuilding, resettling displaced people and the clearing of explosives.

“The effect of what happened here will be felt for many years and decades, and the worst of it hasn’t even shown up yet,” said Abdelmeneim Tabbour, the head of Qayyarah’s health department. “The government has other priorities.”

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Dutch MEP: The future of Europe is the caliphate. Unless the citizens rise and defend their culture

(VOICE OF EUROPE) — Speaking before the European Parliament in Strassbourg, Marcel de Graaff a Dutch member of parliament, attacked the EU for its “criminal” migration policy that has allowed millions of Muslims into Europe, ensuring that it will eventually come under the rule of Islam.

De Graaff is a member of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party and the co-chair of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group in the European Parliament.

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US State Department hints at Iran overthrow: Are we witnessing the early stages of regime change?

(ZERO HEDGE) — by Tyler Durden

The US State Department has issued a formal condemnation of the Iranian government following two days of economic protests centering in a handful of cities, calling the regime “a rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos” while announcing support for protesters.

It fits a familiar script which seems to roll out when anyone protests for any reason in a country considered an enemy of the United States (whether over economic grievances or full on calling for government overthrow).

The statement by spokesperson Heather Nauert, released late on Friday, further comes very close to calling for regime change in Iran when it asserts the following:

On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.” The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.

U.S. strongly condemns arrest of peaceful protestors in #Iran, urges all nations to publicly support Iranian people. As @POTUS said, longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people. #Iranprotests pic.twitter.com/mUTObTeHft
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) December 29, 2017

Though most current reports strongly suggest protests are being driven fundamentally by economic grievances, the US has already framed this week’s events inside Iran as revolutionary in nature and as aiming for “transition of government”. On Friday evening White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted the following statement:

Reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.

The media is already promoting a regime change narrative

As we noted during our initial coverage of Thursday’s protests, Israeli as well as Iranian opposition media commentators (and of course pundits in the US mainstream) have generally appeared giddy with excitement at the prospect that protests could spread inside Iran, potentially culminating in society-wide resistance and possible change in government. It goes without saying that Iran has been enemy #1 for the United States and Israel since the Islamic Revolution and embassy hostage crisis beginning in 1979.

Consider for example this major Israeli international broadcast network, which in an English language interview segment covering the very beginnings of (relatively small and limited) protests Thursday quickly linked the Tehran government with use of chemical weapons in Syria, supporting the “biggest butcher in this region Bashar al-Assad”, and facilitating the killing of civilians:

#Iran protests: this might be #Rouhani’s chance to force the economic reform he’s been long clamoring for, @MeirJa tells @talexander_i24 pic.twitter.com/Pog57xkKKU
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 28, 2017

Simultaneously the resident “expert” presents the protesters as condemning these things while yearning for freedom and democracy. He can barely contain himself while repeating “It’s spontaneous! It’s spontaneous!… and could be more spontaneous! …it inspires people to go out more! …Because it’s spontaneous these two are combustible mixtures”:

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‘Time for REVOLUTION’ Iran regime is ‘doomed’ as riots erupt after warning from Trump

(DAILY STAR) — By Henry Holloway

Tear gas, water cannons and riot cops armed with clubs have been deployed today to streets of the Iranian capital as thousands of protests took to the streets.

Protests over unemployment and food prices quickly spiraled into widespread calls for the collapse of the ruling Islamic regime.

Videos and pictures erupted on social media from the tightly controlled state showing protests and violence amid chants of “death to the dictator”.

And now the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) has outright called for revolution while speaking to Daily Star Online.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group, told this website: “Their regime has no future, it is doomed to failure, and it is time for the international community to recognize the Iranian people’s resistance to overthrow that regime.”

US President Donald Trump has also waded into the protests, warning Iran “the world is watching”.

Mr Gobadi said: “People have been on the streets in large numbers across Iran for three days despite huge risks and the regime’s total mobilization of its suppressive forces

“This clearly indicates the pervasive sentiment of the Iranians. In a nutshell, the Iranian people have shown their desire for regime change.”

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Egyptian Christians living in fear for the future

(BBC) — At the ancient Monastery of St Mina in the desert sands of Egypt, a low concrete tomb holds the remains of Christians slaughtered for their faith – not in Roman times, but earlier this month.

They were among almost 50 people killed in coordinated attacks at two churches. The bombings – on Palm Sunday – were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Priests at the monastery say persecution is as old as the faith.

“The history of the Christians is like this,” said Father Elijah Ava Mina, his flowing white beard contrasting with his black robes. “Jesus told us ‘narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way’.”

The burial chamber now holds seven coffins but there is space for more. Future attacks look all but guaranteed. The Egyptian branch of IS has said Christians are its “favorite prey”.

The beleaguered minority accounts for an estimated 10% of the country’s population of 90m, which is predominantly Muslim.

Most Christians here belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which traces its roots to the Apostle Mark. IS struck at the historic heart of the faith. One of its targets was the oldest church in Egypt – St Mark’s Cathedral in the port of Alexandria.

When the bomber came to the wrought iron gates of the cathedral, Gergis Bakhoom had just left. Back at his tiny tailor’s shop the 82-year old got word of the explosion.

He rushed to hospital in time to witness his oldest son, Ibrahim, take his last breath.

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Thailand: Some 235 people died in 2017 as bloody Islamic insurgency continues in Muslim-majority southern provinces

(CREEPING SHARIA) — The death toll this year from an insurgency in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces was the lowest since the conflict began 13 years ago, monitors said Wednesday, as security improves under the ruling junta.

Thailand’s southernmost provinces abutting Malaysia have been in the grip of a low-level but bloody insurgency since 2004 and nearly 7,000 people have died.

The majority of the victims are civilians — both Muslim and Buddhist — caught up in near-daily bomb attacks and shootings.

Some 235 people died in 2017 as a result of clashes between the Muslim-Malay insurgents and Thai troops and police, according to figures collected by conflict analysts Deep South Watch.

That compares to 309 in 2016, continuing a downward trend since 2014 and a sharp drop on the peak of 892 deaths in 2007.

“We have seen the incidents going down for the past three years. And this year’s death toll is the lowest ever if no significant incidents happen in the coming days,” a Deep South Watch spokeswoman told AFP.

Thailand, which colonized the culturally distinct south roughly a century ago, has for decades been confronted by ethnic Malay fighters seeking more autonomy, but the conflict flared up into its bloodiest phase in 2004.

Rights groups have accused both the insurgents and security forces of widespread human rights abuses.

The junta which seized power in 2014 has continued peace talks but they appear to have made little headway.

Discussions to set up so-called “safety zones” have been held with an umbrella group that claims to represent the rebels, but no agreement has been made public.

Deep South Watch said the reduced death toll may be linked to continuing talks and government development schemes.

Don Pathan, a Thailand-based independent analyst, speculated the reduction was likely a combination of factors, including more government informants on the ground, a tighter security operation and more targeted strikes by insurgents.

“The bombs are bigger and more intense,” he said, adding that militants were essentially being told to “make it count” and be more careful to avoid collateral damage.

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Turkey’s Erdogan has eye on becoming global caliph

(WND) — By Bob Unruh

There are increasing signs that Turkey’s dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, aims to turn his nation into the dominant component of a new Islamic caliphate, controlling even more territory than the Ottoman Empire.

Islam expert and author Joel Richardson wrote shortly after Turkey’s controversial election in which Erdogan was given virtually unrestricted power that analysts in recent years tried “to shout down warnings that Erdogan has a desire to return to the Ottoman era.”

“Today those same critics are taking a fresh look at the man they once made excuses for and even championed,” he wrote.

On the day Erdogan won the referendum allowing him to rewrite the Turkish constitution, effectively ending the secular democratic Republic of Turkey as envisioned by Ataturk, he made “a very symbolic statement,” Richardson wrote.

“Not only did he specifically avoid visiting the tomb of Ataturk (who turned Turkey into a secular government), but instead, he visited the tomb of Sultan Selim I.”

Richardson explained that Selim the Grim ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520 and was most remembered for his expansionist conquest over Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“Erdogan was sending a very clear message. The era of Ataturk is over. There is a new Sultan Selim the Grim in power,” Richardson wrote.

Erdogan’s intentions are becoming clearer. He told an interviewer during a recent trip to Africa, for example, his nation now has 39 embassies on the continent, up from 13.

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French mayors panic as migrants overwhelm cities, beg Macron for help

(ZERO HEDGE) — Mayors from seven major French cities overwhelmed by the flow of migrants, have written a joint letter to Paris published in LeMonde on Saturday, begging the government to step in and help.

According to the letter, the cities of Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes are taking in “several thousand” refugees per month, which the mayors say is causing a social emergency as they are “backed up against a wall” and “completely saturated” by a seemingly endless flood of asylum seekers.

The year 2017 ends with a massive rise in the demand for asylum and the arrival of newcomers puts extreme tension – particularly with the onset of the cold wave – of the classic public and institutional policies. In a proportion never before known, the mechanisms allocated to housing asylum seekers, led by the State, often with the support of our communities, are indeed completely saturated, despite the steady increase the number of places … The evidence is there, before our eyes, in our streets, in homes and shelters: there is urgency.

Every month, several thousand people arrive in our cities. Integrating those recognized as refugees and helping those who have lost their right of asylum who still remain in our territory is a major issue. -Le Monde (translated)

The mayors point to a lack of shelters, and call on Paris to establish a “solidarity network” between the cities of France dedicated to addressing the flow of migrants, as well as an “enlarged meeting with the state at the highest level,” which the mayors say must act quickly by assuming its sovereign powers to “finance these developed actions and propose a clarified framework of work with the communities for a real plan of reception of the migrants.”

In other words – Paris needs to step up and dedicate more money and housing towards the migrant crisis.

In response to the letter, the French Interior Ministry proposed a resettlement scheme which would result in the relocation of some 20,000 housing units, “broken down regionally” to ensure “distribution balanced” refugees and mobilization of donors. reports AFP.

in addition, the authorities asked the prefects to establish “mobile teams” responsible for the identification of migrants in emergency accommodation, much to the chagrin of the associations. (Midecins du Monde, Emmaus, …) who denounce a logic of “census, labeling and triage”. -AFP (translated)

As anyone who listened to the French Presidential debates gathered, France knows it’s got a massive problem with migrants. In October, after a 29 year old undocumented Tunisian man stabbed two women to death in the Southern city of Marseille, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed a new policy whereby illegal immigrants who commit crimes in France will face deportation.

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