‘Revoking European passports solution to jihadist issue’
Jihadists released a video of the beheading of a foreign hostage, US aid worker Peter Kassig, on the weekend. The footage also shows at least 14 Syrian soldiers beheaded by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters. It revealed that several of the executioners which appear on the video were Europeans: a former UK medical student and 22-year-old Frenchman Maxime Hauchardt.
Allegedly, there were more British, French and German militants, but no names have yet emerged. Kassig is the fifth foreign hostage to be executed this way. He was captured a year ago in Syria while he was helping war causalities.
RT:What reaction do you expect from foreign governments after their citizens were recognized as jihadist killers?
Moeen Raoof: [Foreign governments] will have the normal reaction of discussed and appalling statements made by leaders. But they are the same countries [which are] allowing its citizens to travel into Turkey and then into Syria to carry out these atrocious crimes. I believe that the European governments hold a lot of responsibility for the actions of what is taking place in Syria and Iraq today.
RT:What makes young Europeans like Maxime Hauchard convert to Islam, head to Syria and become cold-blooded jihad warriors?
MR: Let’s remember Europeans have been anti-Assad for a long time. So there is this rhetoric that Arabs are bad and they are harming each other, or dictators are harming their own citizens. And you got these recent converts who are not really well-versed in Islamic teachings. They listen to very extremist preachers. We have seen many of them on TV on many occasions. They believe that is a true Islam.
I think the converts are more at risk from these imams than anyone else. We have to revoke their passports. This is what the European governments need to do. And this is entirely different from revoking citizenship - that is illegal. They cannot revoke citizenship, but they need to revoke the travel documents, which is a passport in this case, to ensure they don’t travel out.
RT:Islamic State has managed to recruit thousands in Iraq and Syria. Are people joining them out of fear or is their cause actually supported in the Arab world?
MR: Their cause is not supported by anyone other than maybe Mossad and CIA. We know that Mossad have been hitting…Kurdish Iraq since 1991. They set up training bases and they are providing a lot of training there, including in Turkey and Jordan.
RT:How has ISIS managed to become such a huge force in such a short time?
MR: They are not a huge force at all. This is a grossly exaggerated figure. They are no more than 6,000, 7,000 or 8,000 in terms of personnel. But these exaggerated figures of 30,000 to 200,000 are clearly made up. And I assure you we will know the truth very shortly. These are made up figures. They are probably counting citizens in towns that have been captures as members of this so-called IS, but they are not members of IS.
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