Wednesday, November 27, 2013

27-Nov-13: Enter the Salafists

Salafist making a doctrinal point in Jordan
[Image Source: AP/BBC]
Wikipedia defines Salafism as "the fastest growing" Islamic movement, but for those inclined to see this as connected to acts of jihadist murder, it says Salafist
groups and individuals that carry out terrorist attacks are regarded as being out of the fold of the methodology of the Salaf, misguided and deviant... [Wikipedia]
If only the world worked like Wikipedia describes it.

Numerous other sources take a considerably more robust view of the connection between murderous jihadism and the Salafists. A major PBS Special Report for instance, "The Salafist Movement: An examination of the ideology that has inspired the global jihad and the emergence of its most dangerous incarnation" by Bruce Livesey [online here]. An extract:
  • Salafism is an ideology that posits that Islam has strayed from its origins. The word "salaf" is Arabic for "ancient one" and refers to the companions of the Prophet Mohammed. Arguing that the faith has become decadent over the centuries, Salafists call for the restoration of authentic Islam as expressed by an adherence to its original teachings and texts. "Salafists originally are supposedly not violent," [Prof. Gilles Kepel, chair of Middle East Studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris] explains. "They are not advocating the revolt against one who holds power, against the powers that be. They are calling for re-Islamization at the daily level."
  • By the mid-'90s, Kepel saw an alarming change among Europe's Muslims. Increasingly he was coming across Salafists who had embraced jihad -- in other words, who felt violence and terrorism were justified to realize their political objectives. Kepel explains that when Salafists, who tend to be alienated from mainstream European society, meet and mingle with jihadists, it fuses into a volatile mixture. "When you're in the state of such alienation you become easy prey to the jihadi guys who will feed you more savory propaganda than the old propaganda of the Salafists who tell you to pray, fast and who are not taking action," he says. "And this is why the [Islamist terrorists] who had been arrested were often good Salafists in the beginning."
  • Kepel labeled these Muslim fundamentalists "Salafist jihadists", a term that he extends to include the followers of Al Qaeda. Salafist jihadists are now a burgeoning presence in Europe, having attempted more than 30 terrorist attacks among E.U. countries since 2001.
Tonight (Wednesday night), while most of us Israelis are home taking care of our Hannukah candles and enjoying traditional doughnuts and potato latkes, our neighbours the Palestinian Arabs - in their thousands - have their minds on matters of a far less congenial but arguably no-less-traditional nature. An Associated Press report that went to air in the past hour sets the scene, pointing out that this particular brand of terror has been unknown in our area until now.
Thousands of mourners attended the funerals Wednesday of three suspected Palestinian militants who were killed in an Israeli army raid in the West Bank the day before. The three were jihadi Salafis, or followers of a militant stream of puritanical Islam, and had planned attacks on Israelis and on the Palestinian Authority... said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman. Lerner said... the cell was the "first substantial indication" of violent activity by jihadi Salafis in the West Bank... Jihadi Salafis believe in a global jihad, or holy war. The ideology is linked to that of al-Qaida. Many have flocked to Syria to fight alongside the rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad... A Palestinian security official said jihadi Salafis in the West Bank are a cause of concern, but declined to give an estimate on how many there are. Jihadi Salafis are on the rise in the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Islamic militant Hamas... Palestinians identified the three killed as Mohammed Nairouh, 29, Mahmoud al-Najjar, 23, and Moussa Makhamreh, 22. Palestinian security forces previously had attempted to arrest the three, but they escaped... [Associated Press report published tonight]
Ma'an News Agency (established, by the way, with funding from the Danish and Dutch governments and sustained by ongoing injections of millions of dollars from foreign donors) manages to report on today's Salafi funerals without even once mentioning the word Salafi. (Aid money well spent, no?)

Israelis understand that they are likely to start hearing more about the Salafists. Over at the IDF Blog, they say the three terrorists killed during Tuesday's operation
"were carrying explosive devices and two hand guns... [and were planning] terror attacks against Israeli targets and against the Palestinian Authority. Over the past few months, the members of the terrorist network acted to organize an expanded terror infrastructure, which included preparing and manufacturing explosives, purchasing weapons and arranging an apartment for hiding."
On the jihadism-advocacy website of Hamas' Al Qassam wing, they name the dead killers as
Mahmoud Khaled Najjar and Mohammad Mousa Fansha, both from Yatta, and Mohammad Fuad Nairoukh from Al Khalil. 
Concerning the third deceased terrorist, probably the one AP called Nairouh, they issued a tweet from their official Al Qassam Twitter account [here] late yesterday in which they call him Nyrook and say
When did Nyrook/Nairouh/Nairoukh become a "freed prisoner" and by whom? We don't know but we're making enquiries.

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