Haram Month #9 – The convicting of Anjem Choudary

When I heard that Anjem Choudary had been convicted yesterday (or rather it was revealed that he had been convicted last month, it struck me at first as an issue that I have actually had to wrestle with and needed some clarification on.

For those who don’t know who Anjem Choudarey is, he is a notorious British Salafist Muslim preacher and activist known for his advocacy of the implementation of sharia law in the UK and his demonstrations against Western civilization. He, along with Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, founded such radical Islamic organizations as Al-Muhajiroun, Al Ghurabaa and Islam4UK, and was a prominent and divisive figure in the Islamic world who made many TV appearances. He was known to have spoken out in support of jihad as an obligation for Muslims to fulfill, and in 2014 he went so far as to pledge allegiance to ISIL and encourage others to do so – the latter of which to lead to him being arrested. He is seen as a hate preacher, and I don’t doubt that many people (especially people who are of a socially conservative disposition) wanted him banned. I also have no doubt there were and still are a lot of Muslims who distance themselves from Choudary and claim this man is an enemy of Islam – to which Choudary would probably respond by saying that it is in fact they who are the enemies of Islam.

What annoyed me was how the much of the mainstream media and Ella Whelan from Spiked looked at Choudary’s conviction and seemed to paint this as a free speech issue – that the man was arrested solely because of inciting and preaching “hate”. Him being a hate preacher, one who spews “bile and hate”, and the prospect of him being “gagged” and “shut up” is the primary focus of it for much of the media, to the point that is makes me think that the man was being convicted solely for hate speech. Don’t get me started on The Independent, which their “free speech has its limits” shit. That mantra almost had me defending Choudary. Ella Whelan from Spiked was just as bad, because on the day Choudary was convicted she talked about how censoring Choudary’s views was a bad thing, and the next day she appeared on a Sky News debate to talk about this from a pro-free speech lens.

But let me tell you what I have come to understand: this is not a free speech issue. Both the people who support freedom of speech and the people who thinking it should be curtailed are looking at the issue the wrong way. From what I have read, Choudary actually has a history of recruiting people and indoctrinating them. He recruited people to fight for Osama bin Laden. Al-Muhajiroun, one of his organizations, had been known to actually radicalize individuals who would then go out to commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist attacks. Examples include the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the dirty bomber Dhiren Barot, the 7/7 bombers, the Transatlantic Bomb plotter and the men who murdered Lee Rigby. Choudary also taught six of the nine men who planned to send mail bombs to various targets, radicalized a young man named Brustroth Ziamani  and he had been in contact with a teenager in Australia who was planning to carry out an attack on Anzac Day last year. To my mind, him protesting and talking about Islamism wasn’t the only thing he was doing. He had indeed been in contact with individuals who would then go on to carry out attacks, and he had been recruiting and helping to radicalize individuals so that they can carry out terrorist attacks and murders in the name of Allah. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that when he contacts potential radicals he is teaching, instructing and radicalizing them giving that he actually supports the spread of Islamism by force. Really, the term “hate preacher” simply doesn’t do him justice, for he was more than that – he was a recruiter. I wish the media would use the term “terror recruiter” or “jihad recruiter” more often than they use the term “hate preacher”.

Put simply, this is not a free speech issue. It’s a terrorism issue. If all Choudary had been doing was organizing protests and appearing on TV to preach his views, I would have no major issue other than with his views. But it’s not as simple as that. He was actively recruiting, radicalizing and training people to fight and wage jihad. So anyone who thinks this is about freedom of speech, whether from a pro or anti perspective, is simply in the wrong. While I do feel that Choudary’s conviction should not be used to justify an increase in censorship no matter how abhorrent your views are, there can be no doubt that Choudary crossed the line by directing people to commit violence let alone encourage support for ISIL. Not to mention the fact that the organization he founded is a jihadist organization with the intent of spreading sharia law through, well, encouraging jihad.

Haram Month #8 – The cold hard truth about Europe

I have recently come across a Politico article in which it is reported that German intelligence services believe that hit squads and sleeper cells from ISIL have infiltrated Germany by hiding among the refugee/migrant population which flooded into Germany last year after Angela Merkel declared that everyone heading to the country can come in, without discriminating based on whether anyone coming into the country was actually fleeing war. According to Manfred Hauser, the vice president of Bavaria’s intelligence gathering agency BayLfV:

We have substantial reports that among the refugees there are hit squads. There are hundreds of these reports, some from refugees themselves. We are still following up on these, and we haven’t investigated all of them fully.

If that’s true, then I think it would explain a lot. It would likely explain why Germany has been seeing more terror attacks than usual, to the point that Germany is considering abolishing dual citizenship, banning the burkha and deploying more police. I can imagine that ISIL agents, or any radical Islamist element for that matter, would surely be able to infiltrate a mass influx of people coming from countries that might be home to radical Islamists, especially if no vetting was applied and there was no discerning process determining who among the migrants were war refugees, economic migrants, criminals or terrorists (or potential terrorists). I can also imagine some of these Islamists may have either helped people radicalize, or inspired them to radicalize themselves. That these people are effectively being protected by the political class in Germany, and Europe in general, is probably something that enables them to continue unchallenged. There is not a doubt in my mind that this is likely the case for other European countries like France, Belgium and Sweden which have all seen numerous reports of violent crimes committed by members of the migrant populations. Of course not all of Europe’s woes come from ISIL, and in fact a lot of the spike in crimes seems to be driven by cultural attitudes found within the migrant populations, which stem from a culture that is not only predominantly Islamic but also generally backwards in the face of modern Western social norms, values and customs. And since you often find the attitude among European Muslims that sharia law is preferable to European law, I think it’s possible that you’d have quite the few Muslims who think this can and should be achieved by force, Muslims who can be radicalized by Islamists who share the same idea or especially by ISIL or ISIL-affiliated agents.

The reality of the matter is that the European migration crisis, and the willingness of much of the European political class to just blindly except the massive influx without thinking of the consequences, has created an opportunity for Islamism and radical Islam to infiltrate the continent. And that same political class is not particularly willing to change its mind. When the Nice attack occurred, the French government’s response was that the French should learn to “get used to terrorism”, which in plain terms means they said France should do nothing. Germany’s Angela Merkel is still defending the open borders policy, despite not just more terror attacks but also numerous crimes that occurred including sex crimes and assaults (I’m not just talking about Cologne, though that event did significantly decrease the public support for further immigration). Sweden is trying to get its natives to give their homes to migrants and a Swedish professor is claiming that Sweden’s status of the rape capital of Europe is caused by hot weather rather than the increase in sexual assaults committed by Middle Eastern and North African migrants, which in turn was brought on by Sweden opening the gates for its own influx of migrants (which is essentially the same as Bill Nye blaming the Bataclan massacre on climate change). And the European Union believes that it is best to simply continue pushing for open borders, regardless of the consequences. In the words of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Comission:

No matter how bad terrorism or the migrant crisis gets, the European Union will never give up on open borders.

This attitude exhibits a stark denial of reality: Europe has seen an increasing number of terrorist attacks, European nations are struggling to cope with the influx of migrants, and in Germany’s case there are actually people willing to leave the country because of there are simply too many, and the EU’s response is to keep borders open regardless. Which is also why it is necessary for the UK to trigger Article 50 and leave the European Union before it joins the rest of Europe in its decline. At the moment, I fear that the same thing that happened to Germany and other European countries might happen to the UK if it joins the rest of the continent in its collective virtue-signal, and we already have insular Islamic communities that the authorities often seem to treat as a protected class even when they commit crimes. Frankly, the European Union’s attitude is dangerous, driven purely by idealism, and as long as the UK remains attached to the EU it too may suffer the consequences of such blindfolded idealism – so thank gods we voted Leave. I believe other European countries will have to follow the Brexit lead as well, particularly the ones most affected by an increase in terror attacks and violent crime brought on by mass immigration, and the discourse surrounding the issue (in other words, “do not question mass immigration or you’re a racist”) means that it is inevitable that more and more people in Europe will turn to the far-right unless something changes.

ISIL, Medina and the apocalypse

As I’m sure you’ve heard it in the news recently, ISIL has attacked Medina – a major site of pilgrimage and the second holiest city in the Islamic faith. One thing I notice on social media is how people have used this event to say “see? these guys have nothing to do with Islam!”. After all, what sincerely believing Muslim would think to attack Medina of all places? Of course I’m sure you know that ISIL has attacked other Muslims before. In fact, other Muslims seem to be very frequent targets of attacks by ISIL. Their attack on Medina isn’t even the first time they’ve attacked a mosque. Remember when they attacked a mosque in Kuwait, and during last year’s Ramadan no less?

Here’s the thing the people who say “they’re not Muslims” are missing: ISIL don’t consider their Muslim victims as fellow Muslims. They follow a particularly extreme version of the Islamic faith, which in the end is still an extension of Islam in the same way that fundamentalist Christians practice a hardcore belief system that is still an extension of the Christian faith. Specifically, they are proponents of a branch of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which today is the sponsored belief system of the state of Saudi Arabia – the same state that is believed to be supporting ISIL. Wahhabism emphasizes strict adherence to Islamic law, believes in an absolute monotheism and rejects any heterodoxy, debate or more modern or liberal interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith. Wahhabists view themselves as following the true path laid out by Allah based on the teachings of the Quran through a very conservative and literal interpretation of Islamic teachings, and naturally they believe everyone else to be following heterodox teachings. This is exactly why ISIL is willing to kill other Muslims. In their eyes anyone, literally anyone, who does not follow their particular interpretation of Islam is an infidel and a non-believer, and they believe that non-believers are to be killed. To them a moderate Muslim is just another infidel. I mean fuck, these people actually view the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party of Egypt, as a cancer and they think of their belief system as pagan. That’s like how fundamentalist Christians view other Christians celebrating Christmas and Easter as practicing pagan tradition. I cannot believe this is lost on people.

Then you have the eschatological element. It’s important to remember that ISIL wants the West to wage war against them. They await the day when the armies of Rome will face them in the small town of Dabiq, which is located in Syria. Why Dabiq, you ask? Because apparently in the Hadith it is stated that, during the “last hour”, the armies of Rome will come to Dabiq to fight Muslim armies, at which point the armies of Rome would be defeated, which begins the countdown to the arrival of a being known as Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (better known simply as Dajjal) and the beginning of the apocalypse. Since the Hadith are considered to be recordings of the thoughts, words and actions of the prophet Muhammad, the central figure of the Islamic faith (being the messenger of Allah and all), it is safe to infer that ISIL consider what the Hadith says about the end of days to be, literally, the word of Muhammad.  And in the absence of an actual Roman empire or an army commanded by the Pope, it’s not unreasonable to assume that ISIL have chosen to interpret Rome as meaning the Western world or the armies of NATO. They literally believe that by defeating the Western armies in Dabiq, it will trigger the end times. They want to make this happen, for the same reasons that Christians await the arrival of Judgement Day (or in some cases the Rapture). And for this to happen, the West has to declare war on ISIL. To that end, this is why they go about committing such horrible acts of violence and destruction upon innocent people (Muslim or not) and upon the land that they, and why they have agents committing terror attacks and massacres in Europe and more recently in America. By creating havoc and inflicting pain upon our world, they are clearly intending to provoke a violent response in order to get us to declare war on them so that eventually we would fight them in Dabiq. And again, they literally believe that the apocalypse will occur if this happens, because they believe that what is said in the Quran and the Hadiths is literally 100% true, because they are religious as fuck. Violently so too. Those who try to divorce them from Islam by referring to them as thugs simply do not understand this. Even if they are chiefly psychotic warmongers, it is impossible to ignore that they are very much religiously motivated.

In my opinion, this may also partly explain why some Muslims in the Western world go and join ISIL. It’s important to stress that not all Muslims are religious fanatics. In fact, much of the Muslim world is perfectly willing to condemn ISIL. And I certainly don’t believe that most Muslims are inclined to join ISIL or any other militant Islamist movement, just as I don’t believe most Christians are going to join the KKK our go out and kill homosexuals. But it is also important to remember that there are large numbers of Muslims who want Sharia law implemented in the Western world. I don’t feel inclined to doubt that for every “cultural” Muslim who isn’t actually particularly religious, you have Muslims (not necessarily radicals I might add) who are sincerely religious. The concept of all Islamic countries being united under a single caliphate is, from what I hear, a concept that appeals to some Muslims, and apparently there have been at least four historical caliphates, the last one having been established in the Ottoman Empire. So when ISIL marches across the Middle East promising to create a new caliphate based on Islamic law, I am not surprised that groups like ISIL can recruit Muslims in the Western world.

Ruins of the Sulayman Bin-Abd-al-Malik shrine in Dabiq, Syria

What are they thinking?

There’s an issue I’ve been hearing about that’s been dividing the government in the UK: the issue of whether or not to conduct air strikes in Syria to fight ISIL. This has resulted in the Labour party being divided by their leader’s refusal to support air strikes, even as much of his cabinet wants to agree with the prime minister David Cameron and the French president Francois Hollande. At first I thought it was more of the same old war issue, bickering over whether or not we should keep fighting even while ISIL was gunning for our heads no matter what we think of them, but I learned that it’s all just bickering over whether or not we should strike them from the air.

My question to the leaders of the Western world is this: why are you still thinking of dropping bombs on Syria?

Surely we are already familiar with the devastation in Syria that was caused by previous air strikes against the country in hopes of flushing out ISIL. Not only has ISIL not been significantly pushed back by these air strikes, but innocent people have been injured or killed by those strikes, and have undoubtedly had their lives shattered by the whole affair, and our air strikes against Syria have exacerbated the migrant crisis. Our leaders just have to be aware of all this, yet I still here them suggesting a continuation of dropping bombs in Syria as though nothing had happened.

Pictured: Devastation in Syria caused by air strikes

If the West is serious about fighting ISIL, why don’t they just stop dropping bombs on Syria and just start fighting on the ground? And with a plan no less? Because seriously, I am convinced that just dropping bombs on a country in order to get rid of the likes of ISIL is just not a viable plan. Not when it results in innocent casualties and the while ISIL has not been held back by it. That we don’t realize this and still intend on just dropping bombs on a country thinking that will solve the problem worries me because it bespeaks a kind of laziness and shortsightedness, and it even makes me wonder if these world leaders even want to fight at all.

Another time of tragedy and another time of war

The aftermath of the savage attack on the city of Paris, which has been attributed to IS and a Belgian extremist who affiliates himself with ISIL, makes me think of two things. One thing is how utterly familiar violence associated with Islamic terrorism is in this day and age, and the other pertains to war.

I honestly have spoken very little about what has happened in Paris. At first I was thinking “what the fuck is going on here?”, and eventually I learned of how apparently the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists, and then I realized “so we’re going through this again are we?”. I don’t know if many people still remember, but I haven’t at all forgotten that Islamic extremists have attacked Paris only as recently as 10 months ago. That’s just barely old news to me, so much that it feels like an almost dispiriting repeat, one that probably has me thinking “why France?”. And while we’re all reeling from the news, the politicians are offering their condolences like they’re expected to, and people return to reduce themselves to dehumanizing the Muslim community as a whole. Even in LHP circles I have found people who think of the attack on Paris and think “fucking Muslims!”. And if I don’t see people using the attack to justify their belief that all Muslims are evil, I see the traditional atheist bland gloat in another example of how religion inspires terror and violence and proclaim “see, the problem is religion”, all while people like ISIL represent neither Muslims nor religion as a whole. It’s just all so lamentable, and it’s all so familiar.

I also don’t quite know what to think when I see people express their sadness and their shock of what has happened, while I don’t know what to think other than that things like this have lost their power to shock me because it’s all so inanely familiar. When I observe I feel like I have found myself above it all, but not necessarily in a positive sense. I mean, to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2, I know why they cry but it’s something that I just can’t do. I feel very little sadness compared to contempt for the fact that it’s all basically the same. Can you blame me for feeling that way, living in this day and age and knowing about what’s going on in the world?

What I have found interesting, however, is how the French president Francois Hollande, and even the likes of Anonymous, people who I think of peaceniks, begin proclaiming war (though in the case of Anonymous it’s probably just hacktivism rather than actual warfare).  Honestly, I let out a hammy evil laugh when my brother informed me of this because to me it proved only that no one has escaped the desire for war. Over the weekend, I had become convinced that we are living in a time of war, and I feel that we are no closer to the “peace” that most people imagine than we may have been only five years ago. We can deny it all we like, but I see the human race as still being drawn into warfare. I swear I am mostly alone in my belief that this year seems to be one of the most violent so far from what I’ve been hearing about, and I feel like we’re only going to see an increase violent activity from those who wish to tear down that which we hold dear and replace it with a realization of their own hate-filled dreams. In the face of all that, I would say it is a miracle that people would even think that peace will win the day. Well, not so much a miracle, rather an exercise in nonsense.

Why? Because when people like ISIL show up to destroy, kill, rape, and enslave, our desire is to answer them with violence, destruction, and hatred or contempt. In this situation, war is what we want and peace can take a backseat. I’m not saying that humans don’t want peace at all, or that humans want only violence, though I can’t deny that violence is one of our predilections as a species. But I think that we deep down want to answer force with force. We have this guilty conscience about our history or war and violence and I can’t say I blame anyone entirely, after all there can be few people who honestly appreciate the bloodshed seen particularly in modern wars, but when it all comes down to it, when there are those who seek our conquest and our destruction, when there are those who cannot be compromised with or reasoned with, the only answer is war is against those people. People like ISIL cannot be compromised with, they don’t observe the niceties that much the world takes for granted, and the whole “don’t give in to fear or they win” doesn’t work, because unlike common terrorists whose prime directive is to spread fear, ISIL would lay waste to our civilization and kill, rape, and enslave its inhabitants no matter what we think of them, and the only reason they wouldn’t is because our civilization fights back, just as it naturally would.

Even without ISIL, I suspect there is a desire for conflict somewhere, waiting to be ignited, even if it’s not clearly for the right reasons. And in general when I look at the UN and how a chunk of the world’s leaders barely hide their hatred or contempt for each other, it feels like if it weren’t for the UN, they’d be at military conflict with each other without a whole lot of effort because that’s secretly what they want.

So if anyone’s hoping that peace will prevail, I say that it’s your right to hope for that peace, but the way things are going it might be precisely that right to hope that may wind up having to be fought for more than usual. Or, if I don’t put it that way, I’d smirk.

Is ISIL still a threat?

Since last year, ISIL has been busy establishing itself as a clear and present danger to the Western world and beyond. I’m sure we have all become familiar with their beheading of non-believers and showing it on the Internet, their campaign of the destruction of the remnants of pre-Islamic civilization (along with actual Islamic mosques), their invasions of various settlements in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, and the phenomenon of young Muslims migrating to the Middle East in order to join ISIL. Not to mention their militant form of Islamic teachings. It’s little wonder that they have been feared as a credible fighting force in the modern world, or how many people in the world may feel they could only watch and see if ISIL will advance far enough to be able to encroach on their lives.

On the other hand, I feel this is set to change. While I admit it may be too early to say for sure, I have a strange feeling that ISIL are proving themselves to not necessarily be the nigh-unstoppable force of destruction and terror that they may have come off as.

For starters, given the way they apparently abuse those who join their cause, and the rumors that even Jihadi John is fleeing ISIL for fears that they will kill him the moment they deem him useless to their cause, it seems to me that ISIL is incapable of inspiring any real loyalty from its recruits, and when that happens it’s only a matter of time before more and more people who once joined start fleeing the group. A fighting force that cannot inspire loyalty in its members, and serves only to inspire fear and loathing, is a fighting force that’s doomed to grow weaker as it sees less people willing to fight for it, until it consists of only the few who are fanatical or stupid enough to stay on and meet their demise.

I also think the forces fighting against ISIL have proven capable of doing major damage to the group. In fact, American forces managed to kill a senior member over two months ago, one Abu Sayyaf to be precise. And apparently, Sayyaf had been the one who oversaw ISIL’s financial operations and helped them direct their illicit oil and gas, which is seen as a key source of revenue for ISIL that would enable them to carry out their military operations.

And more recently, I think ISIL may well have proven themselves to be far stupider than we all thought, as two of ISIL’s chiefs manage to blow themselves up with their own explosives. Call me crazy, but if they’re dumb enough to get themselves blown up by one of their own explosives, then it’s going to be difficult to convince me of their intelligence as a fighting force. In fact, if I hear of a lot more of incidents like that, coupled with ISIL’s monstrous treatment of its own members, then I will seriously entertain the possibility that ISIL might end up destroying themselves before any army gets closer to destroying them.

As I said, it’s still far too early to say, and there’s plenty I probably don’t understand about what’s going on in the Middle East, but I have a feeling that it shouldn’t be too long before ISIL is no longer feared by the world. In any case, I think the army fighting against ISIL has a much better chance of defeating ISIL than ISIL has of defeating it. All the coalition may have to do about ISIL is press on and crush them. But I guess that much remains to be seen.

Something I find laughable

I happened to chance upon a news story today about young Muslims in the UK who are going to Syria in order to participate in what has been called jihad, presumably with the likes of ISIL, and I heard the reporter say that people are still trying to understand why young people feel the urge to go out and join Islamic extremists. I found that kind of laughable. The older people really don’t get why young people are deciding to go to the Middle East to join with Islamic extremists?

The answer is almost staring us in the face! You only have to look ISIL themselves: they’re a vicious Islamic terrorist group who goes around killing (well not merely killing so much as executing) anyone they can who doesn’t believe the same as they are, and upload footage on the Internet of hostages being killed, they destroy historical architecture from far into the history of human civilization because they believe it’s idolatrous, not to mention other mosques, they’ve threatened to nuke Rome, they want to curbstomp the Middle East and likely the world and establish a state of shariah law under a single ruler, and they’ll go to any lengths of outrage and terror to do it. Not only that, but even as ISIL is being opposed in the Middle East, they make it seem like they’re practically winning. ISIL’s actions have likely already given confidence to other Islamic extremists wanting to fill the rest of the world with fear, and anyone who’s interested in extremist activity (whether because they really believed in it or because they were just unstable people looking for a palpable excuse for violence) are also likely to be inspired. And the thing you have to remember about adolescent people is that they’re likely to be interested in anything that seems radical to them, but they can also be pretty gullible.

It’s probably not unreasonable to say that most of us want to put some action in our lives when we’re young, and I myself have felt the same way and still do (although I never felt inclined to join a terrorist organization at all and still don’t). We want exciting possibilities to open up in our lives, no matter how extreme they are. So, when a radical and militant organization does what they do and claim a righteous cause for their actions, or when an extreme organization proclaims that the beliefs of the majority are false and offer up something totally different, even if it’s all full of crap in both morals and sense, there’s a chance young people will fall for it. And no wonder they do, because they don’t believe it when older people tell them why they shouldn’t. They won’t listen, because to them the older people just don’t get it.

That’s why I find the idea that older people still don’t understand why the young can be drawn to terrorism laughable. Because the answer is so obvious. And in the case of British young Muslims, they are probably excited by the prospect of going out to fight for what they think is going to be a war for Allah and their faith. They see all this and it captures their interest, but they have no idea of the reality of what they’re doing. I think that all people have to do is convince them that people like ISIL offers no true salvation, particularly by telling of the reality of what happens to those who do decide to join, and of what has happened to those who tried to leave.