Archive for the 'Charlie Hebdo' Category

Syria is Charlie Hebdo without the world’s focus

French cartoonists aren’t the only one’s having problems with Islamo-fascists. Cartoonist and anti-Assad activist, Raed Fares is finding it difficult to stay away from the ‘justice’ of thugs when he is in Kafranbel, a town in Syria’s Idlib province. He narrowly survived a shower of bullets on Jan. 28th 2014 after leaving his office around midnight to travel home. His car and the brick wall close by were reportedly riddled with bullets luckily most missed and he survived after being shot twice in the back.

Meanwhile, a year later on January 17th 2015 Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN) soldiers behaved like thugs when they occupied the community offices of the Mazaya women’s centre in response to a wild rumour. It’s a training centre for tailors, hairdressers and nurses, which also houses a Free Syria radio station and office for a publication. Workers and activists were beaten and forced to leave and threatened with beheading if any returned. A pregnant woman was beaten and there were fears for the unborn child but thankfully mother and child have stabilised.

This cowardly attack was prompted by nothing more than false rumours that the publication of ‘mocking and insulting pictures of the Prophet Mohammad’ was ‘imminent’. So it appears that wild and false rumours are all that is needed to disrupt national coalition processes and have these bullies invade the women’s space, where they were uninvited by the unveiled women and where they then beat them and abused them further calling them whores. These thugs were REALLY ‘mocking and insulting’ their own code.

Although real free speech allows for the right to offend, and say what others do not want to hear – in this case in Syria building a united front requires that this not occur just as it requires that atheists have the right to exist and promote their beliefs. Offending each other is not productive and serves the enemy whatever that enemy believes about the after life.

JAN occupiers have now withdrawn from the offices and JAN officials have claimed that the incident was unauthorised and that they will rectify this error.

Banners from Kafranbel have consistently caught the attention of English readers since the outbreak of the fighting in Syria now roughly 4 years ago, and with a death toll over 200,000. It is difficult to concisely convey messages especially in a second language but the Kafranbel activists have poignantly portrayed the demands and hardships of life in Syria and their humour and courage seems to know no limits. It appears that JAN is the only authority at present in Kafranbel as it was necessary to lodge a complaint against these crimes with JAN itself.

Some examples of messages from Kafranbel.
Syria inactivity

to die on the feet Syria

Obama waits people die

For further examples

For background Raed Fares and Kafranbel activists

Al-Qaeda challenges Islamic State with Paris attack

An early summary prior to the death of the perpetrators.(And escape to Syria by the wife of Coulibaly – Hayat Bemoudienne)

From Al Monitor

Summary Al-Qaeda’s deadly terror attack in Paris may have been an attempt to restate its relevance and effectiveness in its global jihadist struggle with the Islamic State.

by Antoun Issa Posted January 8, 2015

The deadly attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was the realization of a long-expected nightmare — a planned homegrown terrorist attack. The two prime suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, are French-born Muslims of North African descent. The brothers allegedly went on a killing spree that claimed 12 lives, while a third, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, provided the getaway car. Mourad, who has been unemployed and according to reports homeless, has since surrendered, while the brothers, at time of writing, remain at large, having reportedly robbed a service station in the north of France.

From the information available, it seems clear the Paris attack was well-planned and executed by an established terror network, or sleeper cell. The two men were well-armed with Kalashnikovs, carried out a military-style assassination of its prime target, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, and had devised an exit strategy that has so far succeeded in evading French police. Seven people connected to the suspects have already been arrested, suggesting a wider network could have helped facilitate the attack.

This differs substantially from the Sydney cafe siege in December, which was the action of a single man who, despite his professed radical Islamist leanings, appeared to be mentally unstable. According to eyewitnesses, the French brothers claimed to be members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has for years maintained a foothold in parts of Yemen. Charbonnier was publicly identified as an assassination target by al-Qaeda in 2013.

This, thus, dispels early suspicions on Twitter that the attack might have been a spontaneous response by supporters of the Islamic State (IS) after Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon yesterday of IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This would be extremely unlikely, given that al-Qaeda’s core in Afghanistan would prefer nothing more than the elimination of its jihadist archenemy Baghdadi. Indeed, there is a strong possibility that the Paris attack might be more about IS than fighting a holy war against the West.

Al-Qaeda and IS have been engaged in a fierce competition for primacy in the jihadist world since al-Qaeda disavowed IS in February 2014. The result has been an ongoing bloody war between IS and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. Since IS’ spectacular offensive in Iraq and Syria last summer, al-Qaeda has been on its back foot playing catch-up as IS steals the world headlines. The main jihadist movement suddenly found itself in second place while IS was drawing the scorn of the West and winning the praise of would-be jihadists.

Jabhat al-Nusra was becoming increasingly concerned that IS’ new fame made it a more attractive destination for new recruits, and thus countered IS’ caliphate with its own declaration of an Islamic emirate in Syria’s northern Idlib province in November. Additionally, there have been reports of splinters in al-Qaeda franchises and defections to IS, most notably in North Africa.

The rise of IS has placed significant pressure on al-Qaeda to respond to demonstrate its relevance and effectiveness in the jihadist world. There is no better way to demonstrate to would-be jihadists worldwide that al-Qaeda is still the don at the table than a terrorist attack in a major Western city. Indeed, the United States has been on alert for such a headline-grabbing attack by al-Qaeda for some time, given its repeated strikes on the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group in Syria, which US officials said was planning attacks in the West similar to the Charlie Hebdo raid.

By killing a dozen in Paris, al-Qaeda is throwing down the gauntlet to IS. Of the two, only al-Qaeda can claim to have carried out terrorist attacks in the West, since IS has confined its operations thus far to the Middle East and to contiguous territorial expansion. Despite the jihadist glamour of IS’ caliphate, the ability to carry out major attacks in the West remains a drawing card for al-Qaeda. The frightful question is whether IS will respond to al-Qaeda’s challenge and seek its own headlines with a terror attack in the West.

Until now, there have been few indications that IS was planning to expand its operations beyond the areas where it maintains a physical presence. Unlike al-Qaeda, it has not sought a global franchise network to destabilize the international system, but rather sought to consolidate territory to replicate a nation-state model, and thus conform to the international system. Out of the dozens of small grassroots jihadist factions pledging allegiance to Baghdadi, IS has only endorsed one such pledge outside of Iraq and Syria — Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula.

According to Al-Monitor, IS enlisted Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis — renamed Wilayat Sinai — precisely to carry out terror attacks against Western targets in Egypt in retaliation for the US-led airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria. This threat, which was reportedly conveyed by Israeli intelligence, prompted the closure of the British and Canadian embassies in Cairo in December. But there appears little information to demonstrate — or at least there has been nothing disclosed by Western intelligence agencies — that IS is planning revenge attacks in the West.

But IS’ calculations may change following the successful terror operation in Paris by its rival in al-Qaeda. Should IS choose to match al-Qaeda’s terror prowess, the West could be facing more regular terror attacks. Such a feat wouldn’t be insurmountable for IS, given the thousands of Western jihadists fighting in its ranks, and the thousands more who discreetly support it in Western cities.

As demonstrated by the Paris attack, the fear now is not whether al-Qaeda and IS can establish sleeper cells in Western cities, but how many and in which cities, and whether the West becomes a new battleground for the growing jihadist feud.

Who Failed the Test of #JeSuisCharlie?

As I repost this article the terrorists are no longer at large but have been killed after taking hostages at a commercial Printer on the outskirts of Paris.

From Not George Sabra.

Which side are you on?

It’s the most basic question in politics.

After three Al-Qaeda gunmen burst into the editorial board meeting of Charlie Hebdo magazine and executed six of its staffers as well as two policemen guarding them, figuring out which side to take could not be any easier. Cartoonists the world over took up their pens to slam terrorism and masked murderers while the French people poured into the streets with signs proclaiming” we are not afraid” and “we are all Charlie.”

This spontaneous and unmistakably progressive reaction is worlds away from the Islamophobic ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ campaign that erupted in response to Comedy Central censoring an episode of South Park in 2010. When someone ripped a Qu’ran at one of the Paris demonstrations, the crowd turned ugly and booed the provocation, a clear sign that the incendiary polarization strategy Al-Qaeda was counting on to gain recruits and prestige among Western Muslims has failed miserably. Others exploited the popularity of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag on social media by promoting an alternative hashtag, #JeSuisAhmed, referring to the French Muslim policeman who gave his life defending a magazine that mercilessly mocked Islam.
And yet there were a few who refused to join the broad masses in their mourning, outrage, and solidarity, who failed the test of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. They opted for victim blaming or exploited the tragedy to push their political hobby-horses.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, openly blamed Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier for his own death, writing “had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.”

Stop the War Coalition leader Lindsey German argued, “The one effective response to such attacks would be to change foreign policy, which has helped to create precisely the terrorism that it now abhors.” In the Lindsey German universe, France helped U.S. president George W. Bush invade and occupy Iraq and should have never, ever done so! Or perhaps she is arguing that France should change its foreign policy of avoiding unjust and unnecessary wars waged on false pretexts?

Patrick Cockburn writing in the Independent responded by arguing that making peace with Bashar al-Assad — a murderous tyrant who sponsored, fostered, and funneled Al-Qaeda into Iraq during the American occupation — would help tamp down terrorism, somehow, some way. Cockburn is becoming more Fisk-like with every new article.

Ali Abuminah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, echoed Bill Donohue’s victim-blaming in the Tweet below (apparently in his view Al-Qaeda is an anti-racist organization or attracts anti-racists).ali

In a blogpost republished on the wretched Jacobin, Richard Seymour managed to write something that brings to mind the old adage “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” First, he questioned the use of the term terrorism in what was unquestionably a terrorist attack. Second, he decried the “enormous pressure” to stand in “solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication” and predicted an “inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized ‘secularism,’ or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.” When he got the intense internet blowback that this nonsense deserved, he defensively posted a Charlie Hebdo cartoon as an example of the publication’s racism. He claimed the drawing was about the “Muslamic demographic threat” (a favorite topic of Islamophobes) when it was actually mocking the indignation of the privileged and well-off in France who decried the government’s decision to end benefits for children of the rich, thereby revealing the author’s ignorance and zeal for self-justification.

Mixing up two unrelated issues — Boko Haram’s sex slaves and budget cuts aiming at the 1% in France, using the suffering of the former to ridicule the latter — is one of Charlie Hebdo’s signature methods of being obnoxious, controversial, offensive, and yes, racist. But dwelling on the reactionary aspects of the trash Charlie Hebdo published in the context of today’s political moment does the following:

Enables victim-blaming (he/they ‘deserved’ it).

Ignores how the broad masses have rushed to the defense of Charlie Hebdo without embracing its reactionary aspects or falling into jingoism, racism, or militarism. Their reaction has isolated and minimized the retaliatory violence directed at Muslims and Arabs in France to the political fringes.

Most dangerously, it distracts from the main enemy here — Al Qaeda and its cousin, ISIS.

The three killers are still on the loose in France, wreaking havoc and taking hostages and no amount of useless bleating from (pseudo) left ideologues that Al-Qaeda’s assassination of Charlie Hebdo’s staff is the “bitter fruit of racism and imperialism” is going to stop or slow their crime spree in France, Yemen, Iraq, or Syria.

France’s Left Front (Front de gauche) led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon got it exactly right by calling for “respond[ing] with more democracy, more fraternity and tolerance” and for unity among all democrats (which means excluding the likes of the National Front). Almost one year after ISIS nearly assassinated the Syrian revolution’s top cartoonist, Raed Fares, that is exactly what is needed in France, Syria, Yemen, and everywhere else, both within and between all nations.