Is­lamist threat ‘evolv­ing’

Lesotho Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON — Euro­pean se­cu­rity of­fi­cials are scram­bling to meet a chang­ing and more com­plex threat from ji­hadists — both from sleeper cells and fight­ers re­turn­ing from Mid­dle East­ern bat­tle­grounds — made clear in the deadly Paris at­tacks.

Euro­pean po­lice agency chief Rob Wain­wright said the se­cu­rity land­scape is “more dif­fi­cult, more chal­leng­ing” than at any time since the 11 Septem­ber 2001 at­tacks.

It is an ex­tremely dan­ger­ous time, stressed Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, as he spoke of a “se­vere” threat in which an at­tack is “highly likely”.

The three days of vi­o­lence that left 17 dead in Paris, France last week –– start­ing when gun­men stormed into the of­fices of satir­i­cal news­pa­per Char­lie Hebdo 7 Jan­uary — have left the world reel­ing, with ques­tions raised about how the per­pe­tra­tors slipped through the cracks.

Hu­man rights and free­doms Some in Europe have called for tighter bor­der con­trols and stricter im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures.

French far-right leader Ma­rine Le Pen went fur­ther, call­ing for strip­ping “ji­hadists” of their French cit­i­zen­ship and urg­ing Paris to de­nounce the at­tack­ers as “Is­lamists”.

“Let us call things by their right­ful names, since the French gov­ern­ment seems re­luc­tant to do so,” she wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

“France, land of hu­man rights and free­doms, was at­tacked on its own soil by a to­tal­i­tar­ian ide­ol­ogy: Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism.”

Work­ing in­de­pen­dently? The two Char­lie Hebdo at­tack­ers, broth­ers Said and Cherif Kouachi, had ties to ji­hadist groups in Ye­men and Syria.

Cherif and a third gun­man, Am­edy Coulibaly, who killed four hostages at a Jewish su­per­mar­ket, had each spent time in jail where they were fur­ther rad­i­calised.

But the three men had not been ac­tive in ji­hadist cir­cles for nearly a decade be­fore the Paris at­tacks, so po­lice fo­cused their at­ten­tion else­where, Europol chief Mr Wain­wright said.

The chal­lenge has shifted since al-qaeda’s hey­day under Osama Bin Laden, Mr Wain­wright stressed. Po­lice are see­ing “a lot of in­de­pen­dent or semi-in­de­pen­dent peo­ple” who have been rad­i­cal­ized through the In­ter­net or through ex­pe­ri­ence fight­ing in Syria and Iraq, he told ABC’S “This Week” in an in­ter­view that aired Sun­day.

“Of course, that makes it much more dan­ger­ous. That’s the chal­lenge the po­lice face,” he said.

“It’s much looser than we have seen be­fore. It’s not the same as in the days of 9/11, when we had an iden­ti­fi­able com­mand and con­trol struc­ture.”

US Sen­a­tor Richard Burr said the Paris as­sault means au­thor­i­ties should re-eval­u­ate how they mon­i­tor pos­si­ble threats.

“Ev­ery coun­try in the world today is prob­a­bly look­ing back at the poli­cies that they’ve got on sur­veil­lance for known fight­ers,” the Repub­li­can law­maker told CNN’S “State of the Union”.

‘Per­se­ver­ance’ But Mr Cameron spoke of a “very long” strug­gle against ex­trem­ists.

“We’ll have to show real per­se­ver­ance,” he said in an in­ter­view with CBS “Face the Na­tion” taped on Fri­day af­ter his meet­ing with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

And the fight goes beyond just po­lice and mil­i­tary action.

“We’ve also got to demon­strate that our val­ues, that the things we stand for and care about in our so­ci­eties — of democ­racy and free speech and rights and the abil­ity to have peace­ful and pro­gres­sive so­ci­eties –– that those things are stronger” than the ex­trem­ists’ “poi­sonous death cult nar­ra­tive,” Mr Cameron said.

“We can­not do this on our own as Western coun­tries. We need func­tion­ing gov­ern­ment in Iraq, func­tion­ing gov­ern­ment in Syria, to be the le­git­i­mate au­thor­i­ties that with us, help to stand back this per­ver­sion of the Is­lamic re­li­gion.

“I think in a free so­ci­ety, there is a right to cause of­fense about some­one’s re­li­gion,” Cameron added.

He noted that as a Chris­tian, he might be of­fended by some­body’s re­marks about Je­sus, “but in a free so­ci­ety I don’t have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them.”

Char­lie Hebdo’s new edi­tor-in­chief, mean­while, de­fended the car­i­ca­tures in an in­ter­view with NBC’S “Meet the Press.”

“Ev­ery time we draw a car­toon of Mo­hammed, ev­ery time we draw a car­toon of prophets, ev­ery time we draw a car­toon of God, we de­fend free­dom of re­li­gion,” Ger­ard Biard said.

“If God be­comes en­tan­gled in pol­i­tics, then democ­racy is in dan­ger.”

— AFP

CHECHEN Mus­lims protest in the cap­i­tal of Grozny on Mon­day against the French satir­i­cal mag­a­zine killed by gun­men early this month.

where 12 peo­ple were

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