Four more Jihadi attacks - how many more will it take before Europe helps its Muslims tackle the ideology inspiring the violence?
Less than two weeks ago I wrote about the savage beheading of a teacher in a French suburb. Why did he die? For doing his job, simply teaching children about freedom of speech.
Days later we see worse in two other French towns; innocent Catholics massacred as they attend church, one once again having their heads hacked off in public. Meanwhile leaders of regimes favouring hard-line interpretations of the Quran and Sunnah criticise France for daring to say that they want a secular society, separating religion from politics. The critics of President Macron are mercilessly fanning the flames of hostility and violence amongst those who blindly follow the teachings of their intolerant religious leaders.Also on rt.com Charlie Hebdo publishes provocative cover of beheaded cancan dancers in response to recent terror attacks in France
Europe seems to be becoming complacent about, or inured to, what is going on. Earlier this week four people were shot dead and a dozen wounded in Vienna, yet rather than being met with horror, it is met with a sense of macabre inevitability.
Let us think about what it means for a high velocity 7.62/34-millimetre round to crash through your body. It hits with tremendous force, smashing any bones it hits and ripping arteries, organs and nerves apart. If you survive, the damage is virtually irreparable, leaving you with a lifetime of pain and disability. The reality of getting shot by a terrorist’s Kalashnikov is not like in the movies; it maims you forever.
So, as we hear the evidence at the inquest of the Manchester bombing when 34 people, mostly kids, were torn to pieces and hundreds badly hurt, what are we learning? If you ask me, not a lot.
All I see is a steadily growing resentment of Muslims amongst wider Western society. It is understandable, but politicians, the media and those who should know better in our counter terror agencies do nothing to really disabuse popular opinion of who it thinks is responsible. This broad-brush Islamophobia is a false narrative, and in liberal societies, is morally wrong. We should not countenance it.
On top of this, in the medium to long term it is a strategic mistake that is steadily creating dangerous consequences for Western societies and for reasonable and decent people of whatever religion or race.
We are fighting an insurgency driven by an ideology; its fighters are hiding amongst us. They exploit our liberal values and game our criminal justice systems that rightly require strong evidence to prosecute and imprison. The Vienna attacker, a recently imprisoned terrorist and wannabe ISIS fighter, was only recently released from prison, as were the London Bridge and Streatham attackers who carried out murderous attacks in late 2019 and February this year .
It can be tempting to think we should act more robustly against such people by giving them much longer sentences. Maybe this is right. But if we are to do so, we must make sure we convict the right people and win the information battle to ensure others are not impressed and recruited by the perceived personal and pious sacrifice of such terrible people.
Fundamental to this is understanding how you defeat an insurgency; the human terrain - hearts and minds, the people, are the vital ground. This is because military or security methods are never by themselves decisive. Look at anywhere in the World where the West has fought against such ideologies, and the proof is there in the pudding, we always lose. The evidence is clear from Iraq, by way of Afghanistan to the French in Algeria: you cannot defeat hard-line Jihadists by using a blunt instrument approach.
If you demonise the wrong people or drive ill informed, poorly educated, criminal, vulnerable or plain stupid supporters into their ranks, you only make things worse.Also on rt.com Danish paper, first to publish Mohammed cartoons in 2005, refuses to print Prophet caricatures over safety concerns
What is needed is absolute precision in knowing who is presenting the threat and then all efforts being directed to winkeling them out from amongst those who give them succour or unthinking support.
In this case that is why we must at all costs resist saying this is a problem created by the Muslim community, it is not. Like Christians, Hindus or Jews there are many forms of the Muslim religion.
The people who are attacking us are not Shia Muslims, nor are they Ahmadian. More importantly, they are not what we might call mainstream Sunni Muslims who follow more reasonable and moderate approaches to their religion. There have been Sunni Muslims in Britain for centuries, and hundreds of thousands of Sunnis fought for the UK in the First and Second World Wars.
There are now more than three million Sunni Muslims in the country and even the most pessimistic members of our security services and police do not think that there are more than a few thousand amongst them who are of serious concern. The reality is that perhaps less than a few dozen actively engage in some terrorist plots a year, with only very few killing anyone.
So, even if you are extremely poor at maths, it is not the three million Muslims who are here that are the threat. The reality is far from that, most just want to live their lives, raise their families and work like the rest of the population. To make it clear: STOP BLAMING ALL MUSLIMS, if that is how you are so inclined.
The attackers are a tiny offshoot element of the Sunni community; they belong to one of three principle groupings of Salafist believers who support violent Jihad against anyone who does not see the world in their warped way. That is why the massacres in mosques in Pakistan or Afghanistan that we see periodically are against Shia, Ahmadian or even other Sunni Muslims who do not follow the almost nihilistic principles of hard-line Salafism. It is not the Shias, Ahmadis or Sunnis calling for Sharia law, beheadings, amputations, misogynistic treatment of women and girls and slaughter of the unbelievers in the West. It is Salafist Jihadists.
The Salafist Jihadists are the ones who throw gays off the top of tall buildings, want to stop women being educated and living full lives. They want to stop singing and dancing and allow men the right to beat their wives.
So how do we stop them?
There are two approaches. The first is accepting the fact that for the past thirty years Saudi Petro dollars, along with money from some Emiratis and Qataris, have been funding the establishment of thousands of hard-line mosques following Wahabis or Salafist doctrine across the World. You can find them in Minneapolis, Marseilles, Melbourne or Middlesex.
The intent behind this money is simple: spread this belief system and indoctrinate Sunni Muslims anywhere, whether they like it or not and, if necessary, deal with the unbelievers or members of Shia and Ahmadian Islam by way of death.
At a base level, we need to look at where the funding is coming from to set up such extremist mosques and do whatever is needed to stop it. On a practical level, stopping planning permission is a start.
Meanwhile, at a global political level we need to confront those countries that spend billions on spreading their repressive religious views. With the reduction in the need for hydrocarbon fuels, the time is ripe for this now.
However, the second and most important thing we must do is to reach out to Sunni Muslims everywhere and help them in their battle to resist the Salafists taking over their mosques. We need to understand that most Sunnis fear them, and they need our help.
How we create the conditions whereby Sunnis will turn to their fellow country folk and seek this support is a big question.Also on rt.com ‘These filthy teachers will pay’: French police arrest man suspected of threatening school staff while on morning walks
One thing is certain, a hard-line law enforcement approach that results in marginalising Muslims will make things worse, as will any blaming of all Muslims by the wider society, the media and politicians.
Remember you cannot defeat an insurgency if you do not win the ‘human terrain’. In this case, that terrain is the three million decent, law abiding and religious Sunni people who are now a welcome part of our country.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.