Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Al-Qaeda: The monster that won’t die

Al-Qaeda is making yet another appalling comeback

Al-Qaeda-affiliated members of the Islamic State in Iraq pose next to their trademark banners proclaiming "There is no god but God"

Every time it seems as if it’s about to finally outlive its viability, al-Qaeda and its affiliates astonishingly spring back to life. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, the organization was virtually wiped out. But the war in Iraq brought it back from the brink of oblivion, giving it a new battleground, recruiting tool, training field, and rationale. Following the “Awakening” in Sunni areas of Iraq, al-Qaeda again appeared to be a thing of the past, or at least relegated to permanent irrelevancy.


Yet the Syrian conflict and other “Arab uprising” environments have once again reanimated this monstrous corpse. Its malignancy has been the single biggest contributor in saving the Syrian dictatorship from what had appeared to be a looming defeat. And al-Qaeda in Iraq has also made a huge comeback in the context of the Syrian conflict, with the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq” killing an average of almost 1,000 Iraqis per month in the last quarter of 2013.


There was a time when people using the term “al-Qaeda” thought that they had a more-or-less clear sense of what they were talking about: an organization led by Osama bin Laden that grew out of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union and engaging in or inspiring extreme violence in much of the Middle East, other parts of the Islamic world, and, occasionally but dramatically, the West. It was informed by a paranoid and chauvinistic ideology that held that the Muslims of the world, and indeed Islam itself, were under siege by all non-Muslim powers and even by many Muslims. It sought to obliterate all of the Muslim-majority nation states and replace them with a new “caliphate” running from at least Morocco to Indonesia.


But even in the heyday of its most formalized hierarchy, there was always a wild, disparate, and fly-by-night quality to al-Qaeda. And now the term has become little more than a symbolic marker for the political ideology that usually calls itself “salafi-jihadism.”


There have always been differences within al-Qaeda, those who have either successfully seized or been granted permission to use the name as a kind of franchise, and other salafi-jihadi or “takfiri” groups. But while the parent organization based in Pakistan and Afghanistan seems to be increasingly irrelevant, the political ideology and program of mass murder that are now synonymous with al-Qaeda seem at least as robust as ever, if not more so. It is the monster that, for the past decade, simply will not die.


Indeed, while al-Qaeda and similar groups can only function in a condition of anarchy as no government would willingly permit such uncontrollable fanatics to operate within their own territory, not only are they continuing to find space in which to operate: they are proliferating.


In Syria, there are at least two competing versions of al-Qaeda: Jabhat al-Nusra and the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS). A similar situation exists in North Africa, as such groups have proliferated in the northern Sahel region. In the areas immediately south of Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia, there are at least two separate organizations battling over the al-Qaeda brand, and many more that adhere to some version or other of the salafi-jihadi ideology.


The revival of al-Qaeda in Iraq is in some ways the most terrifying. The so-called “Islamic State of Iraq” has been carrying out an average of almost 1,000 murders per month, mainly by suicide bombings. This means that the group is able to dispatch at least one or two suicidal lunatics bent on the mass murder of Shiites every day. The fact that they probably come from all over the Muslim world is beside the point: the salient issue is the seemingly endless supply of suicidal/homicidal maniacs imbued with this ideology who are willing to kill and die for it without any clear or rational strategy.


Given the horrifying breath, diversity, and adaptability of al-Qaeda-style political extremism in the Middle East – and the fact that every time it appears on the brink of oblivion, it reemerges, not only in one form or another, but increasingly in competing manifestations in the same place – several disturbing conclusions are strongly suggested.


First, the various narratives driving this extremism, which are embraced by far larger circles than are sympathetic to al-Qaeda and its offshoots, are the single greatest factor in its persistence. As long as a critical mass of angry young men can be convinced that everything they hold dear is being besieged by “infidels” of one form or another, they will continue to kill and die in the most ruthless manner possible.


Second, there is a consistent – and, as demonstrated by the Iraq and Syria conflicts, also at times periodically and noticeably surging – funding base for these activities. The original al-Qaeda, it was always suspected and has now become even more evident, has significant ties to factions within Pakistan’s intelligence services. But many different, subsequent, manifestations of this ideology appear to be funded mainly from the Gulf, and by private individuals. The extent to which governments are aware of these activities, and choose to ignore or condone them, is not clear. But at the very least, there sometimes seems to be a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude towards money for such efforts, particularly when they are cast as an element, or even a vanguard, of a broader regional strategic and sectarian battle. And as long as someone is paying the bills, the show can go on and on.


Third, this ideology and the terrorism it inspires is having a much greater longevity and broader applicability than most had feared. When I was a teenager in the mid-1970s, such ideas were, at most, a faded twinkle in the eye of long-dead hardline ideologues, most notably Sayyid Qutb. And because this extremism has a clear ideological lineage based on historically contingent events and decisions that doesn’t date back much further than the late 1970s, it will clearly also have a limited lifespan.


But that lifespan keeps getting extended despite the fact that salafi-jihadism hasn’t made any progress whatsoever in achieving any of its stated goals, and certainly hasn’t come close to taking power in any state, overthrowing any governments, or driving the West out of the Middle East. One can only conclude that, however wild-eyed and naïvely vicious its acolytes may be, for its behind-the-scenes funders and promoters, al-Qaeda and its ideology is an end in itself.


It serves a purpose, but not the one its followers, and possibly most of its leaders, believe it does. After its uninterrupted series of failures, no rational person could expect al-Qaeda or similar organizations to actually achieve anything. Instead, they are only useful as a blunt instrument of raw destruction and as convenient and extremely efficient proxies for wreaking havoc when that is desired.


Even its shadow can be potent. In Syria, for example, the specter of al-Qaeda was invoked by the cynical and ruthless President Bashar al-Assad not only before it had any real presence in the country, but even while the opposition was almost entirely engaged in peaceful protests. For the Damascus dictatorship, it was an indispensable strategic goal to steer the uprising towards an armed conflict and ensure that it was as sectarian as possible, with the maximal amount of al-Qaeda influence within the opposition.


The minute the uprising began to become armed, the specter of al-Qaeda also served as a convenient excuse for those in the United States and the rest of the West who wanted nothing to do with any involvement in Syria. And now, it has emerged as a rationalization for some Americans, including within the policy establishment, and others to actually begin to publicly declare that the continuation of the savage dictatorship is the “least-bad outcome” facing Western interests in Syria.


This has been a disaster for the Syrian opposition and all of its regional and international supporters, and also perhaps the single greatest strategic asset in the hands of Assad. The Syrian dictator, moreover, has long-established links to al-Qaeda and similar groups that fought in Iraq, having offered them years of laissez-passer in order to fight against the Americans and their allies. Theoretically, Assad and al-Qaeda are the bitterest of sectarian and ideological enemies. But they have a well-established track record of knowing how to make each other useful, first in Iraq, and now again in Syria.


It’s impossible to know to what extent these organizations, their fighters, leaders and, most significantly, regional backers intended to provide, or even understand, the invaluable boon they have been for Assad and his regime. But it’s also very possible that many if not most of them just don’t care. What is clear is that al-Qaeda has found yet another stronghold, training ground, and recruiting tool in Syria, and that this will not be easily reversed as long as large parts of the country remain contested and the fog of war obscures governance, stability, order, and reason.


Syria is only the most dramatic instance of the recent resurgence of al-Qaeda. Iraq, too, for all of its carnage, only begins to hint at the proliferation of such groups. They are spreading and gaining traction in ungoverned, remote or contested areas in much of southern North Africa, in border areas, across the Sahel, in rural Yemen, the Sinai Peninsula, and many places where no government’s writ runs and all other Sunni Muslim ideologies and organizing principles seem pallid by comparison.


Given that many parts of the Arab world appear to be in the throes – and perhaps even still the beginning stages – of a lengthy, messy, and unpredictable transformation, opportunities for the monster that won’t die to continue to thrive seem disturbingly strong.


As long as states in the region continue to experience turmoil, drift towards anarchy, or contain significant ungoverned areas, al-Qaeda and its ilk will find spaces in which to operate. As long as wealthy individuals or others are willing to fund them, they can move beyond organized crime and become serious players in conflagrations such as the war in Syria.


And, perhaps most importantly, as long as the irrational and narcissistic, but powerful and alluring, narrative of an Arab and Muslim world under siege by hostile forces from within and without continues to be embraced by significant constituencies within the Sunni Arab world – even if most who subscribe to some version of this narrative reject al-Qaeda’s ideology, goals, and methods – it will continue to be able to draw upon a fringe of a fringe of a very large population.


A small number of determined individuals can do an extraordinary amount of damage, in every possible sense of the term. The daily suicide bombings in Iraq, the proliferation of competing al-Qaeda factions in Syria and North Africa, the drift towards ever-greater levels of extremism within such fanatical circles, and the likelihood of continued regional instability and persistence of large, ungoverned areas all suggest that the hydra which already should have died many times over is alive and well. Indeed, there is nothing on the immediate horizon that points to its imminent demise.


This is contrary to the interests of all parties that cling to any degree of rationality. The ideal scenario would involve a concerted regional and international effort to push back against these key factors: dry up the funding, restore local, state, and regional stability, and, above all, begin to firmly reject the popular narratives whose fringes feed this kind of extremism.


The Syrian experience demonstrates that any effort to “use” such fanatics to serve even the narrowest, most sectarian, and least worthy goals will, perforce, backfire. But the Syrian experience also shows that this lesson has not yet been learned. The more moderate Syrian rebel forces remain relatively neglected. Assad is increasingly presented in the West as, if not vindicated, then at least “not as bad as the alternative.” And, thanks in good measure to al-Qaeda, the tide of the conflict has drifted, at least for now, in favor of the dictatorship.


The monster of al-Qaeda not only keeps springing up from the grave, but the elements are in place for it to remain relevant in numerous parts of the Arab world for the foreseeable future. Eventually it will go away, as all such extremist movements do. But this will require either much more time than most observers, until now, had feared would be needed. Or it would necessitate the kind of concerted international and regional effort that in the meantime remains disastrously as much of an implausibility as it is an urgent necessity.

by Hussein Ibish

How Islam’s Drug Trade is Destroying Cities and Countries



Iran has a serious drug problem. Afghanistan is a serious drug problem. What happens when they overlap? Hell on earth.

The number of drug users in Afghanistan is estimated to be as high as 1.6 million, or about 5.3 percent of the population, among the highest rates in the world. Nationwide, one in 10 urban households has at least one drug user, according to a recent report from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. In the city of Herat, it is one in five.

From 2005 to 2009, the use of opiates doubled, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, putting Afghanistan on par with Russia and Iran, and the number of heroin users jumped more than 140 percent. Most drug experts think the rate of drug use has only increased since then.

“This is a tsunami for our country,” said Dr. Ahmad Fawad Osmani, the director of drug demand reduction for the Ministry of Public Health. “The only thing our drug production has brought us is one million drug users.”

In rural areas, the problem is expected to be worse. In some villages, the rate of drug use is as high as 30 percent of the population, based on hair, urine and saliva samples taken by the authors of the urban study. And drugs not traditionally in wide use here, including crystal methamphetamine, are now figuring in the problem as well.

The head of the counternarcotics ministry in Herat says there are 60,000 to 70,000 addicts in the province, though some health officials figure the number is closer to 100,000. In the capital, roughly 8 percent of the population uses drugs, the new international report found.

Long a staging area for men who work as day laborers in Iran, Islam Qala is now also a frequent waypoint for addicts returning to Herat. Most of the men say they picked up their habits while in Iran. The authorities there, struggling to deal with a widespread drug crisis of their own, are quick to banish Afghan addicts back across the border by the thousands, and the deported people stream back into Islam Qala six days a week.

In Herat’s capital, addicts fill the streets and parks, begging from pedestrians and motorists with relentless persistence. Pockets of the city have been transformed into junkie ghettos, like Kamar Kulagh, a roadside slum of sandbags, rocks and rags.

On a recent day, the faint outline of figures crawled through the bleached landscape, situated to the side of a highway on the northern edge of the city. Broken glass covered the hillside leading down to the encampment.

Azim Niazi, 30, shuffled through the village clutching two bags bulging with empty bottles, recycling them to pay for a drug habit that he said he had picked up as a laborer in Iran.

Wahid Ahmad, 27, who said he had been living there since he was deported from Iran two years ago, joined him.

Though many of the addicts in Herat came by way of Iran and Islam Qala, others decided to stay nearer the border — or are simply unable to make their own way anymore.

“His friend will die tomorrow,” said Mr. Niazi, pointing to a man, a skeleton cloaked in skin, lying in a sliver of shade nearby.

Left unmentioned in the New York Times story is that Afghanistan was an Islamic country and Iran is an Islamic country and their rulers found the drug trade convenient.

The drug trade helps fund Islamic terrorism and spreads its dealers/agents around the world. But it also backfires, spreading around at home and making a mockery of Islamic values.

Islamic terrorist groups need easy drug money, but dealers are often the first to get addicted to their own product and even when the fighters don’t come down with addictions, the production leads to local sales.

The Soviet Union dreamed of using drugs to subvert Western societies. It had some success, but Russian drug use rates are horrifying. Drug use has been traditionally widespread in Muslim societies anyway as a consequence of banning alcohol, but their role in the international drug trade has made things that much worse.

Factor in Islamic terrorist groups whom it’s sometimes hard to tell if they’re drug dealers occasionally playing terrorists or terrorists playing drug dealers, and things get truly nasty.

”The entire region is addicted, whole villages,” Islam Qala elder Arbah Shahabuddin says.

At one home, a woman answers the door and runs to get her husband, Dad Mohammad, who was getting high. Mr Mohammad, 35, says he has been using heroin for seven years.

His wife, Bibi Gul, complains that her husband beats her every day and takes money from their children to feed his addiction.

Mr Mohammad just stares into the distance, smiling.

This is your country. This is your country on Islam.

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Mahmoud Abbas

Get to know Israel’s “peace partner” – he is worse than you think.

by Victor Sharpe

Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s Palestinian peace partner, (an oxymoron if ever there was one) just announced that: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” And this was uttered by Abbas even as the farcical but perilous peace talks in Washington, DC., had hardly begun.


According to Arab affairs expert, Dalit Halevy, writing on Arutz Sheva, “ … when Abbas talks about Israelis, he means Jews” and that spells Arab apartheid in its most naked form. It also exposes what sort of peace will exist between Israel and the territory the Palestinian Authority currently occupies and hopes to further gain. It is no different from the German Nazi policy of “Judenrein” which was the chilling word for ethnic cleansing and genocide of European Jewry, as A7 columnist Giulio Meotti incisively observed.

And, as Gil Ronen, also writing on A7, points out, “… of course, within Israel the Arabs continue to live enjoying full equal rights, elect representatives to the Knesset, are allowed to openly demonize the state in whose parliament they serve, support terrorists and issue calls to their fellow Arabs to rise up against the Jewish State.” And the morally compromised BDS sewer rats accuse Israel of apartheid?

It would be instructive to reveal more about Mahmoud Abbas. Who, for instance, among you would ever shake hands with a Holocaust denier or give your money to one? If you answered no to both question then why would you respect such a one as Mahmoud Abbas whose terror nom de guerre is Abu Mazen? Indeed, Abbas is the archetypal wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In 1983, Abbas wrote a dissertation for his doctorate degree at a university in the Soviet Union. Remember, the Soviet Union at that time supported the PLO and provided it with ideas, lavish funds and diplomatic support.

His hate filled topic was: “The Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.” A translation was provided by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and some of the main claims are as follows:

Abbas claimed that Jews artificially raised the number of Holocaust victims in order to gain world sympathy. He even parroted the Holocaust deniers who have suggested that the number of Jews murdered by the Germans was less than 100,000. He ridiculed the fact that six million Jews were murdered or that a war of extermination was aimed primarily at the Jews; claiming that no one can either confirm or deny this figure.

Despite the overwhelming documentary evidence that six million Jews were indeed systematically targeted and murdered by the German Nazi regime, Mahmoud Abbas chose to echo the mendacious words of the malevolent denial industry, thus consigning six million Jewish ghosts to suffer yet again and the remaining survivors to unbearable agony.

Yet Abbas is the darling of the U.S. State Department, as well as not a few in the administration of President Obama and the president himself. Israeli Prime Ministers are seemingly quite prepared to shake the hand of Abbas and trust him as a viable “peace partner.” They had even made the same colossal error with the arch terrorist, Yasser Arafat.

That Mahmoud Abbas still demonizes the Zionist movement, refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state, is a Holocaust denier and is quite happy to accept that the figure of Jewish victims of the Holocaust could be below one million, did not even seem to outrage past Israeli Prime Ministers. It is, perhaps, a sad indication of how low the level of moral outrage has sunk. And now Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has agreed to new peace talks even as Abbas spews more poison.

Indeed, Binyamin Netanyahu is now again forced to offer a brutally painful sop to the very same Abbas by releasing Arab thugs with blood on their hands in a “gesture” to the Palestinian leader and to the latest Secretary of State, John Kerry. This is an appalling surrender to pressure from the Obama regime, and one which is tearing apart the surviving families of those Israelis so horribly butchered by Palestinian monsters.

There is another baleful outcome to this grotesque tragedy, namely that Jewish lives have no worth and that men, women and children can be slaughtered with no price to pay. And Mahmoud Abbas takes careful note of this oh so base reality.

But let’s also look at the immense con-trick Abbas continues to play on the European Union, the United Nations, the Quartet, the U.S. Administration and successive Israeli leaders.

According to Yoram Ettinger, the highly respected Israeli commentator and demographer, Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, is a serial terrorist whose roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood and who was part of the inner circle of Yasser Arafat.

Ettinger reminds us that Abbas was expelled from Egypt in the 1950s for subversion. He was expelled from Syria in 1966 for subversion. He was expelled from Jordan in 1970 for subversion. He was part of Yasser Arafat’s leadership, which caused havoc in Lebanon and he and Arafat were expelled in 1980 from that ravaged and once predominately Christian country. Sadly, the U.S. provided him and his terror cronies with safe passage to Tunis. Another error, which has led to untold thousands of more deaths and misery.

Abbas was part and parcel of the betrayal by the PLO of Kuwait in1990 when the Palestinian terror machine spearheaded the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. He institutes hate education inside the Palestinian Authority schools, mosques and state controlled media. This has inevitably led to such atrocities as that committed by Palestinian “youths” who slit the throats of the Israeli Fogel family, including a toddler and a three month baby girl. These Palestinian brutes are lauded as “heroes” by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority media; as will their fiendish and blood soaked cronies who may soon be released.

Let us again remember that while under his control as President of the Palestinian Authority, the Gaza territory was handed over to Mahmoud Abbas by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the “disengagement” plan.

In addition, James Wolfensohn urged wealthy liberal Jewish Americans to purchase at great cost the existing Israeli green houses and gift them to the Palestinian Arabs to help them create an independent economy. Instead, Abbas allowed mobs of Arabs to destroy the once highly productive greenhouses and permitted the police to simply stand by and watch. None of the Arabs were punished. This took place while under the watch of Mahmoud Abbas.

While Abbas controlled all aspects of the PA, millions of charity dollars were siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts or to Palestinian suicide bombers. None, or very little, of the cash ever reached the ordinary civilian population in order to improve their lives. The U.S. and EU donors simply turned a blind eye to Abbas’s connivance with this corruption on a grand scale.

Much of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is now Fatahland and controlled by Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile CIA training of Palestinians continues and yet more “aid packages” are sent to Abbas and his Fatah party. A Palestinian policeman recently murdered a Jewish worshipper at the biblical Joseph’s tomb in Nablus. This was one of the CIA’s trainees: A scandal that continues to exist.

The American taxpayer is being forced to hand over millions of dollars to Abbas and his “security apparatus.” Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently sent $500 million to the PA. According to Patrick Deveny, “Training our enemies,” in a report as far back as October 18, 2005, many of the Palestinians trained in various U.S. military installations simply joined the terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah itself, and committed atrocities against Israeli civilians. Abbas simply shrugged.

The farcical policy of endlessly throwing money at Mahmoud Abbas and holding him up as the great hope for a true and lasting peace by the Palestinian Arabs with Israel continues, notwithstanding his history of corruption, ineffectiveness, mendacity, Holocaust denial, introducing hate education in schools, and his sickening embrace of Arab apartheid.

It is vital to keep the spotlight on terrorists like Abbas even if a world, guilty of moral equivalence, ignores the Palestinians’ ultimate goal of genocide against a member state of the United Nations: Israel.

Abbas and his cronies always receive a free pass because most of the world has little or no interest in Jewish victims, especially no interest at all in the survival of the besieged and embattled Jewish state.

Indeed I am increasingly of the opinion that support for Abbas and the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians has little to do with genuine support for them but rather as a convenient way to express the corrosive anti-Jewish hatred that never dies.

Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer with articles and essays published in FrontPageMag.com, Outpost, American Thinker, Renew America, Family Security Matters, Canada Free Press, Page One Daily, The Jerusalem Connection, Israel National News, and many other publications. He is also the author of the trilogy Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state, as well as a book of short stories titled, The Blue Hour.