HANNITY: Why are so many people though, why are there so many radical Islamists? What is the attraction to this way of life? What is the attraction to this extremism?
YOUNUS: First of all Sean, I disagree. I think this is sort of McCarthyism. These guys, I don’t consider them Muslims. I mean you can call a rotten tomato a strawberry but that doesn’t make it a strawberry. These people…
HANNITY: Excuse me, this is not McCarthyism, sir, with all due respect, If somebody is killing in the name of Allah and in the name of Islam, that views everybody else as apostates and infidels… Hang on, let me finish. If they’re quoting the Quaran, they’re doing it. I would agree it is a perversion, a hijacking of a religion, but there are an awful lot of them buying into this ideology and I would also add that those that say that they’re moderate Muslims, while there are some very outspoken people, their numbers are few.
YOUNUS: Well that’s the point. First of all, I would ask you not to legitimize their distorted version of Islam. That is exactly why I’m saying these are rotten tomatoes.
YOUNUS: You’ve made a lot of charges here. You’ve called out my Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who said loyalty to the country where you live is part of your faith. It’s because of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that the Muslim community joins Americans all across the country, we join we call it Muslims for Loyalty. There are 40 such rallies last year on the 4th of July. I’m going to ask you after I finish, how many of those Muslims came on your show? And how many times did you talk about that on your show? I also have to say that these are the reasons, this is Islam. It’s not in spite of Islam it’s because of Islam that members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community are cops, they’re serving as marines, and military. And when you say our laws, excuse me sir, I am also an American. This is also my country. These are also my laws. So stop othering three to seven million people because when you do that you only allow radicals to go out and recruit more.
YOUNUS: And see, I ask David one quick question. This is Faheem again. When we come out in the mass, thousands of us joining these Fourth of July parades, people like David don’t want to talk about that on their radio shows.
WEBB: Yes I do. I talk about it, and what I’m talking about is when you don’t come out. And I use the example of Miami, the same place where literally 10 or 12 years where the radicals come out and you can see the videos, the Clarion Project puts them out, I don’t see surrounding them peaceful Muslims. I don’t see surrounding them Muslims like yourself that want to go out and say this isn’t us. You have to confront your own problem, because it is a problem for the world.
YOUNUS: I completely agree with you, David. I’ve written over 100 articles and that is the reason that I’m on this show. I completely agree that we need to work together to root out extremists because they are just as much a danger to me and my family as they are to you. So I’m fully in line there, but I think that the idea that somehow Prophet Muhammad is tobe blamed, or the faith, or the Quran has to be blamed, it’s almost like I believe that in the brain of Islam today there is a tumor. But thank god people like you are not neurosurgeons because you’d be taking an ax and chopping off that head. And that is exactly what scares me, because we need to use kind polite language to distinguish between what these people are doing.
(AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)
Since 9/11, Muslim-Americans have struggled to overcome the suspicions of their non-Muslim neighbors. These doubts have often manifested themselves in outright discrimination, and Muslims have been targeted by bigots in hate crimes across the country. In my own hometown in southern West Virginia, the mosque has been repeatedly vandalized, and local students report being subjected to routine racist bullying from their peers, as I reported for Al Jazeera America earlier this year.
This is not atypical. According to a survey conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, half of Muslim-American students in California schools report being bullied for their religious beliefs. The FBI has also catalogued a sustained increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims since 9/11. These crimes are occasionally violent, and they often target non-Muslims whose only crime is fitting the description of what a bigot thinks a Muslim looks like.
The anti-Islamic sentiment that fuels these ugly incidents is exacerbated when negative stories pertaining to Islam dominate the media cycle. Whether it’s a terrorist attack or a contentious debate involving Muslims, such as the proposal for the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” there is typically in uptick in anti-Muslim bigotry following these events. It is for this reason that every time news of a mass violent crime breaks, we in the Muslim-American community collectively hold our breath in the hope that the perpetrator is not a Muslim.
With the rise of ISIS and its beheading of many Westerners, we are currently experiencing another one of these events that accentuate Islamophobia in America. This time around, comedian and political provocateur Bill Maher has been at the center of this discussion. For weeks, Maher has advanced the argument that Western liberals are soft on Islam, which he says poses a distinct threat to “liberal principles.” This is not necessarily a new position for Maher, who has long criticized Islam. What inspired his latest series of denunciations of the religion was President Obama’s repeated assertions that “ISIL is not Islamic.” For Maher, Islam “is not like other religions.” It is “like the mafia that will fucking kill you” if you cross it, and there is “connecting tissue” that binds the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to ISIS (also known as ISIL, or IS) and its savage practices. In the hours following a shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead, Maher had this to say: “Turns out the attacker was Islamic—what are the odds, huh? Its almost like there’s an elephant in the room.”
Maher is not alone among Americans in his distrust of Islam and its adherents (they’re called Muslims, not “Islamics,” Bill), as illustrated by a recent Zogby poll. This survey found that a plurality of Americans—45 percent—hold an “unfavorable view” of Muslims, while only 27 percent espouse a “favorable view.” This data undermines the preposterous notion that Maher is somehow taking a courageous stand by expressing his negative opinions of Islam. Richard Dawkins, another prominent critic of Islam, tweeted that Maher’s latest stand exemplifies his “typical bravery.” What is brave about expressing an opinion that is already held by a plurality of Americans?
With powerful media personalities like Maher perpetuating the notion that Americans should associate the horrible atrocities committed by ISIS with their Muslim-American neighbors, it shouldn’t be surprising if anti-Islamic sentiment continues to grow. That possibility alone is enough reason to condemn Maher’s fear-mongering. When one delves deeper and uncovers the simplistic, reductionist nature of Maher’s argument, it is clear he is also guilty of intellectual laziness, if not dishonesty.
First of all, one has to wonder which Islam Maher is talking about here. As Reza Aslan eloquently described in his recent essay in The New York Times, religions take on different flavors in different cultural, ethnic and geographic contexts. As a religion that spans the entire globe, Islam encompasses a tremendous diversity. The Islam of President Barack Obama’s Malaysian stepfather, which he describes in Dreams from my Father as an “Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths,” is not the same as the Sufi-brand of Syrian Islam I grew up with. Nor is the Islam that inspired the historic advances in science, mathematics, medicine and philosophy that precipitated the Western Enlightenment the same as the Islam of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. We are talking about over 1.5 billion people here. The notion that there is a single, unified Muslim world that has the same problems and requires the same solutions is beyond absurd.
In addition to utter lack of nuance when it comes to his generalizations about the Islamic world and its perceived backwardness, it is worth paying particular attention to Maher’s attempts at emphasizing the supposedly Islamic roots of ISIS. Incredibly, in none of his discussions on this topic has Maher or any of his panelists pointed out the role American foreign policy has played in creating this monster. As Tom Engelhardt recently argued in The Nation, “Thirteen years of regional war, occupation and intervention played a major role in clearing the ground for [ISIS].” The Obama administration has repeatedly pointed out that ISIS traces its origins to Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that did not exist until the Bush administration’s ill-conceived 2003 invasion. Instead of blaming Islam for ISIS, it might behoove Maher and his proponents to consider the complicity of their own government in its rise.
There is no denying that many Muslim communities across the world have a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights, minority rights and freedom of expression. We can have an honest, nuanced discussion on how to approach these problems, which vary from community to community, without reducing it to a simplistic attack on Islam as a whole. The fact that many of the countries where these problems are the worst are governed by politically repressive dictatorships should not be absent from this debate. Nor should the negative impact of American foreign policy in particular, and the legacy of Western colonialism in general, be ignored. Just in the span of President Obama’s presidency, the US military has bombed seven Muslim-majority countries. It has also continued to prop up several authoritarian regimes across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, the chief exporter of the fundamentalist Wahhabism that serves as the ideological foundation to many extremist militant groups, including ISIS.
Since 9/11, Muslims in America have been subject to discrimination, hate crimes and racial profiling. Their own government has illegally spied on them, arbitrarily detained and in some cases tortured members of their communities. A disturbingly large portion of their fellow Americans view them with suspicion and associate their religion with violence. There is nothing courageous about a white, wealthy male with a privileged position in the media utilizing his platform to perpetuate the negative stereotypes that encourage mistreatment of a vulnerable minority group. Maher’s fixation with Islam is not constructive, and it certainly isn’t brave—it’s bigotry, plain and simple.
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JIHAD IN AMERICA: WHERE WAS BARACK OBAMA?
10-24-2014 7:24 pm – Michelle Malkin
President Obama says he’s “shaken” by this week’s violent attacks on three soldiers in Ottawa by an Islamic jihadist. He immediately phoned Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer support and “solidarity.” He vowed to “remain vigilant.”
Too bad Obama didn’t show the same resolve after multiple attacks and plots against our troops by Muslim terrorists on our soil. And I’m not just talking about the “workplace violence” of jihadist Nidal Hasan, whose Koran-inspired Fort Hood rampage took the lives of 13 American servicemen and servicewomen and one unborn baby.
An entire parade of infidel-hating fanatics targeted U.S. soldiers long before Islamic State barbarians issued threats against our military personnel and their families this fall. What happened in Canada — what ISIS wants worldwide — has been happening here for years under Barry-come-lately’s watch.
Where was President Obama when Muslim convert Muhammad Hussain was arrested in Maryland in 2010 after scheming to blow up an Army recruitment office to avenge his “Muslim brothers and sisters”? Hussain’s message: “Whoever joins the military, they will be killed.” He planned to “blow one recruiting center up … then we hit another … and just keep it movin’ … Insha’ Allah. … Insha’ Allah. … Do it for jihad.” Next, Hussain told informants he would take on Andrews Air Force Base, blow it up and then take over the homes of military personnel.
Where was President Obama when Ethiopian-born Muslim Marine reservist Jonathan Melaku — shouting “Allahu Akbar” — fired shots at the Marine Corps Museum in D.C., the Pentagon, a vacant Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Va., and a Coast Guard recruiting station in Woodbridge, Va., during a months-long jihad campaign in 2010-2011?
Where was President Obama when Muslim Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo, who went AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., was arrested in 2011 with explosives, a gun and jihadi propaganda? Abdo, who shouted, “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009!” after his arrest, planned to attack soldiers at a restaurant near the base.
Where was President Obama when a gang of Islamic thugs in Newburgh, N.Y., was arrested plotting to “bring death to Jews” at nearby synagogues and “commit jihad” by shooting planes at the local Air National Guard base with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles?
Where was President Obama in June 2011 when Seattle jihadists Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., were busted after plotting to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle in a shooting and grenade spree. “Imagine how many young Muslims, if we’re successful, will try to hit these kinds of centers,” Abdul-Latif (an admirer of Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan) exulted. “Imagine how fearful America will be, and they’ll know they can’t push the Muslims around.” His bloodthirsty agenda: “Hopefully there will be more soldiers who come out of the woodwork to serve Allah.”
Where was President Obama when Muslim convert Muhammad Yusuf (a.k.a. Jose Pimentel) was caught by New York City police in 2011 building a pipe bomb he planned to use to kill police and U.S. soldiers returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yusuf declared that he would wage holy war in the Big Apple to show that “there (were) mujahideen in the city ready to fight jihad here.”
Where was President Obama when Rezwan Matin Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, Mass., in 2011 while planning an attack on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with explosives-packed model airplanes, automatic weapons and grenades? Ferdaus declared his intent to “disable their military center,” “cut off the military” and then “take care of the politicians.”
Where was President Obama after an Islamic terrorist ring in Raleigh, N.C., got busted in 2009 plotting to bomb military installations and die “as martyrs in furtherance of violent jihad”? They received overseas training, conducted surveillance of the Quantico, Va., Marine base and conspired to kidnap, maim and kill American targets abroad, as well.
And where was President Obama in June 2009 when Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad walked into an Arkansas Army recruiting center, murdered 24-year-old Pvt. William Long and gravely wounded 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula?
The Little Rock jihadist had planned on killing many more “infidel forces” in the name of Allah. “The U.S. has to pay for the rape, murder, bloodshed, blasphemy it has done and still doing to the Muslims and Islam,” Muhammad warned. “So consider this a small retaliation the best is to come Allah willing. This is not the first attack and won’t be the last.”
It took three days for the White House to issue a pathetic politically correct statement expressing “sadness” over the attack, which Obama opaquely described as a “senseless act of violence” (instead of the intentional, systematic act of Islamic terrorism that it was). In the same week, the Obama administration issued an immediate condemnation and statement of “outrage” over the shooting death of late-term abortionist George Tiller.
Where was Obama? Sabotaging our borders, restricting our gun rights, working to free Gitmo jihadists, decrying Islamophobia, demonizing conservatives, welcoming jihad sympathizers to the White House and putting politics over national security.
Now “shaken” over the death of a Canadian soldier killed by a jihadist, our president has barely stirred in response to the homegrown Islamic terror campaign against our men and women in uniform under his own aloof nose.
Article source: http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_36441.php
OKLAHOMA CITY -
Moore Police revealed Friday the man accused of beheading a female coworker at a food distribution plant had recently converted to Islam.
The local Muslim community said they are sickened over the tragedy and want to clarify any misrepresentations about their faith.
“If he believed in his sick and twisted mind that the faith was a motivator, then he’s absolutely wrong,” said Adam Soltani, the executive director of Oklahoma’s Council on American Islamic Relations or CAIR.
CAIR said it condemns Alton Nolen in the strongest terms and that their faith does not support his alleged actions.
“Anyone can interpret things as they will, but our faith is clear and Islam stands clearly opposed to violence in any kind and in no way could or faith ever support the actions of this man,” Soltani told News 9.
Soltani said his organization views Nolen as an extremist and pointed out that he has a criminal past that demonstrates violence.
“It’s tragic that somebody who claims to be Muslim would commit such an inhumane and barbaric action, but the actions of one person do not represent the whole and definitely the actions of this man do not represent the faith teachings of Islam at all,” Soltani said.
CAIR leaders said the actions of one person should not reflect the 40,000 Muslims who live peacefully in Oklahoma.
“Definitely, there is no way the faith itself could have been a motivator for this man’s actions,” Soltani explained.
Soltani said his organization does not know Nolen and currently, they are not sure where he learned about his Islamic beliefs.
- Paula Kassig pleaded in English and Arabic for her son’s life on Twitter
- Militant known as ‘Jihadi John’ threatened to behead Kassig in ISIS video
- Peter Kassig converted to Islam and is now known as Abdul Rahman Kassig
- He was abducted in Syria in October 2013 while working for an aid agency
- He appeared a the end of the murder video of British victim Alan Henning
Darren Boyle for MailOnline
The mother of a US citizen who converted to Islam after he was kidnapped by the terror group has pleaded with its leaders not to behead her sone.
Paula Kassig Tweeted a message intended for the ISIS leadership asking what her family can do to prevent the murder of her son Peter, who is now known as Abdul Rahman.
Yesterday, a prominent member of a group affiliated to Al Qaeda called on ISIS to release the humanitarian aid worker as Kassig had treated the Nusra Front man’s injuries in Syria.
Scroll down for video
Paula Kassig, right, pictured with her husband Ed, pleaded with ISIS to spare the life of her son
Peter Kassig, who is now known as Abdul Rahman after he converted to Islam was abducted in October 2013
Kassig, pictured, appeared at the end of the video showing the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning
Mrs Kassig worte: ‘We have tried to contact you directly to plea for the life of our only son, Abdul Rahman Kassig, and have not received any response. Please tell us what more we can do that Abdul Rahman may continue to serve and live his life in accordance with the teachings of Islam.’
Kassig, 26, from Indiana was captured in Syria in October 2013 while working as a humanitarian aid worker. His abduction became public after he appeared at the end of the video showing the brutal murder of fellow aid worker Alan Henning.
A senior member of an Al Qaeda-affiliated terror group has spoken out in support of Peter Kassig – the American aid worker threatened by the Islamic State following the murder of Alan Henning.
Abu Omar Aqidi – a prominent member of the Syria-based Nusra Front – pleaded with ISIS to spare Kassig’s life after he identified the Muslim convert as a medic who helped treat his shrapnel wounds.
Kassig is a former Methodist who converted to Islam after being captured and taken prisoner by ISIS in October last year and now calls himself Abdul Rahman.
His life was threatened by the militant known as ‘Jihadi John’ earlier this month following the sickening filmed beheading of Henning – with ISIS sympathisers last night claiming the terrorists plan to murder Kassig in the coming days after a Wednesday ‘deadline’ for the U.S. to stop bombing them passed.
Paula Kassig released her latest plea to ISIS leadership on Twitter yesterday stressing her son’s religion
Mrs Kassig released the document in both English and Arabic in a bid to negotiate with the terror group
Aqidi’s unexpected intervention came in a series of messages posted on Twitter, in which he identified Kassig as an aid worker who ‘performed a successful operation under bombardment by the regime’. He later explained this operation was to remove shrapnel from his leg.
He also suggested that Kassig had treated a number of other fighters linked to the Nusra Front – including ‘Abu Dujana’, who is understood to be one of the regional leaders of the terror group.
Aqidi went on to suggest that the senior Nusra Front fighters had later asked after Kassig and were surprised when ‘he showed up in the video where ISIS threatened the United States’ as they had wrongly assumed him to be a Western jihadist who had joined their ranks.
‘It later became clear to me that he’s an humanitarian activist that served in Deir Al-Zour for more than a year and was then kidnapped by ISIS,’ the militant said.
Kassig’s case has exposed deep divisions among supporters of the Islamic State, many of whom have said it would be a great sin to murder a recent Muslim convert.
Both extremists who met Kassig before he embraced Islam and former prisoners who were held alongside him have argued that the aid worker’s conversion is without doubt sincere.
Aquidi’s remarks on Twitter came as ISIS supporters said a deadline for the U.S. to stop bombing the terror group in Syria and Iraq had expired.
They claimed American citizen Kassig would now be murdered as a result – a statement that led to a number of arguments among the jihadists and their sympathisers on social media.
Kassig was working for aid agency Sera when he was abducted by ISIS in eastern Syria 12 months ago
The 26-year-old is said to be haunted by a brief spell as a US army ranger in Iraq in 2007 and first travelled to the Middle East to ‘give back’ to the Muslim community there.
In late 2012, shortly after leaving university, he founded SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance) – a non-governmental organisation providing humanitarian aid to those in desperate need – and moved to southern Turkey to oversee the project first hand.
With funds dwindling, Kassig continued to make risky ventures into Syria by himself – even after a large number of Westerners were kidnapped by the brutal Islamic State. He was said to have specialised in providing medical aid to fighters and civilians injured during clashes with regime forces.
He was eventually seized by the jihadists on 1 October, 2013 while delivering medical supplies to Deir al-Zour.
Jihadi John’s promise to murder Kassig if the U.S. doesn’t end its airstrikes has illuminated deep divisions within the jihadist community over how the terror group should have dealt with the situation.
Numerous ISIS sympathisers have claimed they would no longer support the terror group if they killed Kassig – a man they consider to be a pious Muslim.
Although radical clerics from around the world had pleaded for Briton Alan Henning’s life to be spared due to his aid work, the calls failed to pick up much support within the online jihadist community as he was not as Muslim himself.
Yesterday Norwegian-born journalist Salah ad-Din Refsdal – who was born Paul Refsdal but converted to Islam while a prisoner of the Taliban in Afghanistan – made a direct plea to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to ‘do the only right thing’ and stop his followers killing Kassig.
Citing a rule condemning the killing of converts, Resdal said: ‘People have suggested that Caliph Ibrahim is not informed that some of his followers are planning to murder Abdul Rahman Kassig.’
‘That must clearly be the case. Having studied Islam extensively he for sure is aware of how enormous of a sin it would be to murder a brother who just converted to Islam.’
In an earlier message to ISIS Paula Kassig said her son ‘only seeks to serve God and the teachings of Islam’
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DUHOK, Iraq – Attacks by the Islamic State (IS) and rumoured American pressure have led the Syrian Kurds to set aside their differences, penning an agreement to share power in Duhok, in Northern Iraq.
After nine days of tough negotiations, the Kurdish National Council (KNC), a group close to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), signed an agreement on Wednesday under the supervision of KRG president, Massoud Barzani.
“It is very important in this stage [to reach an agreement], since we as Kurds are going through a difficult stage, when the [IS] is attacking Kurds all over Kurdistan,” said Sinem Mohammed, a prominent PYD politician.
The agreement contains three points which include the formation of a temporary 30-member committee that will jointly administrate the Kurdish areas, elections after an interim period of two months, and a joint delegation to talk with the People’s Defence Unit (YPG) – the main Kurdish armed group in Syria – on how to cooperate militarily to beat back IS. The deal was announced in a press conference in the town of Rabia by KRG president Massoud Barzani late on Wednesday in hopes that it will put an end to long-held divisions between the region’s various Kurdish factions.
“This is a right answer to the plan of Kurdish enemies,” said Kurdish leader Barzani in a statement read after the signed agreement.
The KRG have long been at odds with the PKK and have wrangled for influence over Kurdish-majority regions covering parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
The PKK – a formerly Marxist-Leninst group which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU – have fought a bloody decades-long conflict with Turkey for independence. Conversely, the Turkish government has maintained strong diplomatic and trade relations with the more conservative KRG, which rose to prominence in the power vacuum following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are the largest political party in the KRG parliament. Politically conservative and strongly backed the by US, their leader is current KRG President Barzani.
The development of autonomous governance by the PYD – the Syrian affiliate of the PKK – and its military wing the YPG, has worried both the KRG and Turkey who fear the expansion of the PKK’s power over Kurdistan. While Barzani and the KNC have accused the PYD of imposing itself on its rivals through military force and cooperation with the Syrian government, the PYD has blamed the KRG for not recognising their administrations and imposing an embargo in cooperation with neighbouring Turkey.
The Kurdish National Council, created under the auspices of KRG leader Barzani in 2011, comprises various non-PKK affiliated Kurdish parties who support the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria.
Previous attempts at a deal to end divisions between the KNC and the PYD have failed, and negotiations in Erbil in 2012 came to nothing. In January 2013, the Iraqi Kurdish president denounced the PYD-created administrations and the KRG banned PYD-head Salih Muslim from entering the KRG in October last year.
“But now the conditions have changed,” a KRG spokesperson said.
One year later after his ban, Muslim was received in Erbil on 13 October. Moreover, on 16 October, the Kurdish representation in Erbil parliament recognised the canton administrations in Syria and last Wednesday decided to send the Peshmerga to Kobane – the troubled border town that has been besieged by IS for more than a month.
The KRG had previously refused to acknowledge the validity of the autonymous PYD cantons in northern Syria that appeared as a result of the power vacuum created by the country’s bloody civil war, but prompted concern from Erbil that regional power was shifting toward its long-standing rival, the more radical PKK.
The warming relations between various Kurdish factions can be traced back to this summer when IS attacks in Iraq prompted Iraqi Kurdish authorities to cooperate more closely with PKK forces fighting IS in parts of north-west Iraq. In August, President Barzani even thanked the PKK for their support in Maxmur, a town in the south of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan that fell to IS but was recaptured on 19 August.
US and Kurds
The rapid IS advance across Iraq and Syria this year caught the Kurds, like most other groups in the region, unprepared. In August, IS militants almost overran the Kurds in Iraq, and then moved in across Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria, coming close to capturing the Kurdish city of Kobane in September. The intervention of US airstrikes, however, which began pounding IS positions in Iraq in August and in Syria in September have since helped turned the tide for the Kurds.
The US previously shunned contacts with the PYD for being affiliated to the PKK, but the Kurds are increasingly being seen as one of the few remaining partners on the ground for the US administration in its fight against IS. Some EU lawmakers are trying to remove the PKK from the list of organisations that are considered to be terrorists.
“Because we Kurds were able to stand against terror and defeat them, our interests matched those of US and Europe against [IS],” Aldar Xelil, a PYD-official told MEE.
The converging interests have sparked rumours that the US has gone as far as to openly coordinating with the PYD, and last Sunday the US dropped weapons in Kobane. The guns, grenades and medical supplies were provided by the Kurdish government in Iraq and were delivered despite opposition from Turkey, which fears that the weapons may one day be turned on them.
However, despite growing US support, PYD and KNC officials denied there has been Western pressure on both sides to reach an agreement. “We never faced pressure on us,” said Saud Mullah, one of the leaders of the KNC. “But we are very proud the US is helping us.”
Nevertheless, US Deputy National Security Advisor, Antony Blinked and US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Brett McGurk, had a three-hour meeting with Barzani in Duhok on 16 October, as negotiations continued between the Kurdish factions. This has prompted rumours that pressure was applied by Washington, although PYD leader Muslim denied Kurdish media reports that he also held a meeting with the US delegation.
For the PYD, having a deal with the Barzani-backed KNC might make it easier for the West to support the Kurds in Syria, especially as the KNC is part of the Western-backed opposition, the Syrian National Coalition. In the past, the West has accused the PYD of having ties with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad because of its refusal to join the Western-backed Syrian opposition.
“It is very important for the PYD. If they unite with the KNC, they can do more. That’s why we support this unity,” said Iraqi Kurdish official, Hemin Hawrami.
The KRG already played a role in getting Western support for the city of Kobane, and a Syrian Kurdish general was allowed in a US joint operations centre in Erbil.
The KPG also stands to benefit from Wednesday’s deal.
Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London based think-tank, pointed out that Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has suffered a blow to their image after failing to defend the Yezidi minority in the town of Sinjar that fell in August.
“The KDP has suffered a bit since their defeat in Sinjar. In contrast, the PKK and the YPG are now seen as the tip of the spear against IS. The battle for Kobane has added to the PKK and PYD’s appeal,” he said.
“Therefore, the KRG might need the PYD for cross-border cooperation to capture back Shingal [a Kurdish town on the Syria-Iraq border.] Moreover, it would allow pro-Barzani politicians to work in Syria.
In spite of past tensions, the KDP now also recognises the role of YPG and PKK fighters in Kobane. “YPG is doing a great job in defending Kobane, and we appreciate their role,” said Kurdish official, Hemin Hawrami.
Joint operations by the Peshmerga, the YPG, and PKK, supported by US airstrikes, led to the capturing of the Iraqi border town of Rabia, which is strategically important if Kurdish forces want to recapture the Yezidi town of Shingal.
Despite the need to cooperate, analysts still warn of many hurdles ahead. There is still a Syrian government presence in some Kurdish areas, and it will be difficult to carry out elections during war time, which could prompt divisions down the line.
“History suggests that this agreement will break down over disagreements about power sharing,” said Stein.
Moreover, the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the key issue of sharing military power.
“If the KNC wants to have a role in defending, which is their duty, they have to meet with YPG,” said PYD’s Xelil.
This may prove hard, even in light of the ongoing IS threat. In May 2013, the PYD rejected the entry of Syrian Kurdish fighters, trained by Barzani, into Syria in May 2013, fearing a second military force may spark a Kurdish civil war and enflame long-held tensions between the region’s Kurdish factions.
“I would be surprised if they manage to form a real united military force,” said Thomas Schmidinger, a political scientist and lecturer at Vienna Univeristy, who recently wrote a book on Syrian Kurds.
In the space of less than one week, two Canadian citizens described as Muslim coverts attacked sources of government authority. In two separate attacks, radicalized Muslim men using low-tech weaponry claimed the lives of two Canadian soldiers.
Sensitivity to the threat posed by homegrown radical Islam is a familiar condition across the Western world.
In late August, the United Kingdom urgently raised the terrorism threat level as the West prepared to go to war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The threat, Prime Minister David Cameron explained in a televised speech to British citizens, that the threat to U.K. security came not only from abroad but from radicalized citizens as well.
“Now people are rightly concerned about so-called foreign fighters who’ve travelled from Britain to Syria and Iraq, taken part in terrorist acts and now come back to threaten our security here at home and the scale of this threat is growing,” Cameron waned.
“We are stopping suspects from traveling by seizing passports, we’re barring foreign nationals from reentering the U.K., we’re depriving people of citizenship and we are legislating so we can prosecute people for all terrorist activity even where that activity takes place overseas,” the British Prime Minister continued.
In an emotional speech to the Canadian parliament on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, too, addressed the threat posed by homegrown radicalism. “We’re all aware and deeply troubled that both of this week’s terrorist attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens, by young men born and raised in this peaceful country,” he said.
These leaders in nations with political cultures far more attuned to the sensibilities of the politically correct than are American elected officials are making a stunning admission: Their countries can no longer abide by a laissez-faire which allows radicalization to fester in sequestered communities which refuse to assimilate into the larger society around them.
Some Canadian voices are beginning to call for a broader conversation about homegrown terrorism. The Globe and Mail called the attacks on parliament a “turning point” and the likely start of a conversation about the nature of domestic Islamic terrorism.
“Canada, it seems, is under siege from within,” The Toronto Sun’s Michele Mandel wrote. She noted that despite heightened terror warnings, despite the shock of a deadly attack on uniformed Canadian soldiers just days prior, the government could not prevent this horrific assault on parliament.
It proves the startling and terrifying truth we now must face — no matter how vigilant we may be, it will be incredibly difficult to protect ourselves from the radicals hidden among our own countrymen.
Now an innocent man’s blood stains the granite Cenotaph, spilled not by a foreign enemy, but by an enemy within.
The United States is slightly better positioned than other Western nations to tamp down the threat posed by homegrown radical Islamic extremism. America’s history of valuing and promoting assimilation, and facilitating Americanization via societal integration, has reduced – though not entirely alleviated – the domestic threat posed by homegrown Islamic radicals. Pew Research Center polling in 2007 and again in 2011 found the majority of Muslim-Americans do not feel alienated are generally not predisposed to view Islamic fundamentalism in a positive light. But, as is the case in Canada, it is those who are possessed of the convert’s zeal that likely present the most danger.
As CNN reported, three Denver schoolgirls reportedly attempted to join the Islamic State but were detained in Germany on their way to the porous southern Turkish border. They might have become more of the “handful” of Americans the FBI estimates are fighting alongside Islamist militias in the Middle East.
Washington would be advised to get as serious about homegrown radicalism as are Canadian and British authorities. American has been lucky to avoid a low-tech ISIS-inspired attack on the homeland via a radicalized citizen, but the government cannot rely on luck forever.
- Video: Who’s up for another lecture from Shep Smith about how to properly react to a crisis?
- Video: Canada shooter was in contact with “individuals in Syria”
- Quotes of the day
“City Councilman Randomly Asks Muslim-American Constituent If She Will Condemn Sharia Law“
A city councilman in Green Bay, Wisconsin is under fire for responding to a question about local buses from a Muslim-American woman by quizzing her about whether or not she condemns Islamic terrorism.
Heba Mohammad, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and founder of the school’s Muslim Student Association (MSA), recently learned that her city’s bus system would not offer free travel on Election Day. Concerned, she sent an email to all 12 of Green Bay’s aldermen earlier this week asking if the city could provide complimentary transpiration to help poorer voters get to the polls.
“I hate to think that those who cannot afford an extra bus ticket will be unable to vote because of their income status,” Mohammad’s email read in part. “It’s even more frustrating when you add to the equation that all bus routes are free on Packers game days, even routes that do not go to Lambeau Field … What I am asking of you is to help fix this oversight. Full, easy, and free access to polling locations is vital to a successful and democratic Election Day.”
Mohammad received responses from several City Council members about the issue, but an email from Alderman Chris Wery, who is in his 6th term in office, caught her off guard. After saying that her question about voting “deserves further research,” Wery proceeded to question Mohammad, who is Muslim-American, about whether or not she and UW-Green Bay’s MSA would condemn Hamas, Sharia law, and “militant Islamic ideology.”
“Thank you for the email,” Wery’s response read. “You pose an interesting question that deserves some further research. UWGB is my alma mater. I am just curious, you are the founder of the Muslim Student Association at UWGB? Across the country there seem to be some problems here and there with some MSA’s. I just want to be assured that your group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology or Sharia law. Do you and the MSA condemn both of those as well as terrorist groups such as HAMAS?”
An image of Wery’s email, posted to Facebook by Mohammad, is below:
“My initial reaction was shock, then anger,” Mohammad told ThinkProgress in an email. “I was completely blindsided by [Wery’s] questions … It was worse in that he didn’t respond to my transportation inquiry in a sufficient manner, simply saying it deserved further research and not committing to doing that research. The part about denouncing terrorism was especially shocking because he was clearly making an assumption based on stereotypes.”
Mohammad said that after she posted images of the email exchange online, Wery quickly called to apologize. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Wery said he was a supporter of religious freedom, and noted that he had previously voted in favor of a resolution to erect Green Bay’s first mosque, something that he said “was the right thing to do.”
But Wery still defends his line of questioning to Mohammad, telling Press-Gazette Media that his inquiries were “legitimate.” He reiterated this position ThinkProgress.
“Being a UWGB alumni, having received alumni publications etc, I knew that Heba was the founder of the the local chapter of SMA (sic),” Wery told ThinkProgress. “As the founder [of the MSA], [Mohammad] is the perfect person to ask about her goals for the group she founded and what their views were.”
When asked, Wery also would not name any specific “problems” about MSAs that he referenced in his email, saying, “I always advise people not to take my word for it. Search online for MSA problems at college campuses.”
Since the emails were made public, many locals have called for Wery to resign from City Council, with some sharing an image on social media with the slogan “Step down, Chris Weary. Green Bay doesn’t want your bigotry or ignorance.” But Tom DeWane, President of the City Council, told Press-Gazette Media on Wednesday that while Wery’s email was “unfortunate,” he had no plans to discipline the councilman or ask him to step down.
Meanwhile, Mohammad is hoping the controversy will turn into an opportunity for interfaith dialogue. She said that the UW-Green Bay MSA has invited her to attend an upcoming event that aims to “help people understand what they are all about.”
“The positive side to have a more personal exchange is that it opens up doors to communication,” she said. “Green Bay has a growing Muslim population, and I’m hopeful this situation will allow for more dialogue between all multi-cultural populations and their elected officials.”
“In the end, I want people to understand the importance of voting, to work to make voting accessible, and to acknowledge that education on racial, ethnic, and religious topics is still needed in this country,” she said.
NMR should be doing some kooky little touchdown dance after correctly declaring that the Muslim harassment video by TrueStoryASA was a fake. But instead, we understand the frustration with which this video was created.
Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar revealed that the video they posted on their YouTube channel, of an NYPD police officer harassing them in their traditional Muslim attire, was staged. The duo’s video has reached over 200,000 views and brought cries for justice after the police officer threw the two young men up against a wall and searched them just for being Muslim. The footage was even retweeted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations who according to RT.com is now outraged:
“Muslims are already under the microscope, and to do this just to gain some cheap publicity is totally unacceptable,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director, said to RT.com. “There should be no attempt to justify it; they should just apologize and ask people to forgive them for their irresponsible actions.”
The duo, who is not commenting at the moment, have since updated their video’s description to clarify that it was a “dramatic reenactment of past events.”
Unfortunately, this video has indeed cast shade on racial profiling instead of bringing progressive attention to it, which cheapens authentic video and/or future complaints. There is enough racial profiling going on in the world without people having to manufacture and exploit fake incidents. Be smarter than this, YouTubers.