French Soldier Killed In Clash With Islamist Militants In Mali

From Reuters:
France said on Wednesday a French soldier was killed during a fierce clash between its forces and Islamist militants in northern Mali earlier in the day.

The offices of President Francois Hollande and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian both confirmed the death on Wednesday of Thomas Dupuy, a sergeant from a commando parachutist unit in the air force.

His death raised to 10 the number of French soldiers killed since France intervened militarily in Mali in January 2013 to help drive out Islamist insurgents who had seized control of the former French colony's north.

Le Drian's office said in a statement that French forces had battled a militant group of some 30 fighters in the Tigharghar valley, part of the mountainous Adrar des Ifoghas area.

"Particularly violent combat took place. Our soldier was mortally hurt and two of his comrades were wounded." Operations will continue in the coming hours, the statement said.

A defense ministry source said French forces had launched an operation at the weekend against dozens of militants who had returned to the region after being driven out last year.

Addressing a parliamentary hearing earlier in the day, Le Drian said the militants might be linked to al Qaeda's North African wing, AQIM, which has thrived in a largely lawless and sparsely populated desert region.

France's intervention in Mali was designed to retake control of northern towns that had been overrun by separatists and rebels linked to al Qaeda in 2012 after a coup in the capital Bamako. It has since evolved into a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism mission stretching from Mauritania to southern Libya.

Le Drian on Monday criticized the slow deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in Mali's volatile northern region and said he would send more troops to the area while the United Nations builds up its presence there.

Former Guantanamo Detainees Suspected Of Joining ISIS, Other Groups In Syria

From Fox News:
As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees -- some of whom were released within the last three years -- are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria, Fox News has learned.

The development has cemented fears that the U.S. military would once again encounter militants taken off the battlefield.

The intelligence offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria.

A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns.

Sources who spoke to Fox News were not able to provide the identities of the fighters.

Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don't return to the fight -- and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria.

Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.

Of those 180, sources say 20 to 30 have either joined ISIS or other militants groups in Syria, or are participating with these groups from outside countries. Officials say most of those 20 to 30 are operating inside Syria.

Top military officials on Thursday acknowledged such recidivism but insisted most do not return to the battlefield.

"We know that some of the detainees that have come out of Guantanamo have gone back to the fight, the battlefield. We're aware of that and we think that overall the policy of getting to close Guantanamo is clearly in the interest of the United States, as the president has articulated," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "We believe that the recidivism is a relatively small fraction of those detainees which have been placed into conditions where the risk of recidivism is mitigated. But even one would not make someone wearing the uniform very content."

The development underscores just one of many long-running complications for efforts to shutter Guantanamo Bay, a promise President Obama made within hours of taking the oath of office in 2009.

Nearly six years later, that effort has run aground, complicated by problems with relocating prisoners, by concerns about fighters returning to the battlefield and by Congress' resistance to allowing any to be detained on the U.S. mainland.

Asked if he's concerned about more Guantanamo prisoners being released, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told Fox News this has been a concern for a while.

"The majority have remained there, but there was always, if you will, a certain seepage," he said. "These people are ideologically and essentially religiously committed to their evil cause, and it is very hard to sort out who are going to stay at home and who are going to return to the battlefield."

A majority of the jihadists released to their home countries tend to stay and fight locally. Afghans who return to the battlefield, for instance, tend to stay in Afghanistan.

But these officials said the former detainees who have joined ISIS in Syria have migrated from the European and African countries which agreed to receive them from the United States. 
Egypt and Tunisia, as well as six European countries, are among them.

According to a source, there are 149 detainees still at Guantanamo Bay, almost 90 of them from Yemen. Eighty detainees currently are eligible for transfer.

Former US Ambassador To Iraq: Obama Administration Was Warned About Rise Of The Islamic State

From Jihad Watch:
The last thing that the Obama Administration wanted to do was acknowledge that there was another Islamic jihad group that was not al-Qaeda, but that shared the same beliefs and goals as al-Qaeda. Nor did Obama want to acknowledge that there were Islamic jihadists among the Syrian “rebels” that he was so anxious to support militarily. 

UNWRA Schoolbooks Stress Jihad, Martyrdom

From Jihad Watch:
And the schoolbooks are just one small part of the UNRWA/Hamas symbiosis in Gaza.

“As usual, the question is – is anyone listening?” Apparently not Malala Yousafzai.

“UNRWA-Hamas Symbiosis Detailed in New Film,” Arutz Sheva, October 29, 2014 (thanks to Inexion):
In a new documentary video entitled UNRWA Goes to War, journalist David Bedein builds a seemingly incontestable case against UNRWA, showing the close symbiotic relations between it and the terror group Hamas.

The video shows that not only did UNRWA schools serve as repositories for rockets in the last Gaza war, and not only were rockets launched from places adjacent to UNRWA institutions – the students at the schools are themselves educated to hate Israel and aspire to destroy it.

Bedein launched a scathing attack on UNRWA in a video he produced and published three years ago, earning a furious rebuttal from the UN group.

“While the UNRWA slogan is ‘Peace Starts Here,’ a more appropriate slogan would be ‘War Starts with UNRWA,’” the film charges. It shows footage of what it says are UNRWA elementary school students participating in military-style displays in plain sight of their teachers, in afterschool activities organized by Hamas.

As usual, the question is – is anyone listening?

Marine Dad Banned From School After Complaining About Islam Assignment

From Fox News:
A Marine Corps father has been banned from his daughter’s school after he complained about her homework assignment on Islam.

Kevin Wood said his 11th grade daughter was asked to write a three-page essay about Islam’s five pillars, Mecca and Mohammed at La Plata High School in Maryland.

He argued that students can’t study Christianity in schools “but we can force-feed our kids Islam.”

Wood asked the school to give his daughter an alternate assignment, but officials refused and defended the subject matter.

“We’re not teaching religion, we’re teaching world history,” school spokesperson Katie O’Malley-Simpson said. She also alleges that Wood was threatening to cause a disruption, which is why they banned him from school property.

Wood’s wife Melissa said her husband was simply trying to make a point.

“The people do not understand what he endured when he was over in Iraq,” she said through tears. “And he lost friends, and he lost brothers and sisters to these people.”

The Wood family is trying to work out an agreement with the school board. If they can’t, they say their daughter won’t do the assignment and will take the ‘F.’

N.Y., Canada Attacks Appear Inspired By Islamic State Exhortation

From the LA Times:
Kathy Cirillo is comforted in front of the coffin of her son Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the war memorial in Ottawa when he was shot to death on Oct. 22. (Nathan Denette / Canadian Press) 
A spate of terrorist attacks in Canada and New York City last week appears to have been inspired by calls from Islamic State and other militants to launch lone-wolf attacks that could signal the rise of a kind of DIY terrorism, sowing fear on a smaller but more pervasive scale.

Last month a spokesman for Islamic State urged followers to attack Western and Arab targets "from your place wherever you may be." Eschewing the large and organized attacks that have characterized terrorism of the recent past, he instead recommended killing by any means.

"If you are not able to find an IED [improvised explosive device] or a bullet … smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him," said the spokesman, Abu Muhammad Adnani. "If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car or business. Or destroy his crops."

That directive appears to have been underscored by the weapons used in last week's attacks.

On Oct. 20 in Quebec, Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over two soldiers with his car, killing one. Two days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot a soldier standing guard at the war memorial in Ottawa, using what police described as "an old and uncommon gun," then drove to Parliament, where he was able to enter the building. The next day in New York City, Queens resident Zale Thompson attacked four police officers with an 18-inch hatchet, striking one in the arm and another in the head.

All three men were shot and killed during the attacks or soon after. Law enforcement and security officials have said the men acted alone and appeared to be self-radicalized.

"In many respects, this is the hardest terrorist threat to detect and the one I worry most about," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said last month in written testimony for a congressional hearing.

On Tuesday, Johnson announced enhanced security at various government buildings across the U.S. He directed state and local governments and law enforcement "to be equally vigilant, particularly in guarding against potential small-scale attacks by a lone offender or a small group of individuals."

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has said that the threat of such attacks keeps him up at night.

On Monday, Canadian lawmakers introduced legislation that, if passed, would expand the global surveillance capabilities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, akin to the CIA, as well as allow the government to more quickly implement rules for revoking citizenship of dual citizens who have been convicted of terrorism and other crimes...
Read it all here.

1,800 Radical German Muslims Now In Syria, Iraq

From the J-Post via the Assyrian International News Agency:
Germany's domestic intelligence agency severely underestimated the number of radical German Muslims who are fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, a Frankfurt-based newspaper reported.

The previous estimate of 450 combatants fighting for the Islamic State should be increased to 1,800, an unnamed agent of the domestic intelligence agency (Verfassungsschutz) told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ) newspaper in Sunday's report. "We have to multiply the official number by four, in order to get a realistic number," the agent said.

Nearly 40 women and a 13-year-old boy are among those who left to join the fight in Syria, German media reported.

The Germans who left for Syria and Iraq were identified as Sunnis who adhere to the strict fundamentalist school of Salafism. As many as 200 German Muslim departed North Rhine-Westphalia state to fight in the Middle East, according to FAZ.

The lack of credible tracking of radical Islamists on their way to Syria and Iraq was attributed to staffing shortages at the Verfassungsschutz (the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) -- the equivalent of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). Staff was redeployed to work on neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground murder cases.

A spokeswoman for the Verfassungsschutz told The Jerusalem Post earlier this year that the agency cannot track all radical Islamists who travel to Syria, because many arrive in Turkey, which does not require a visa, and manage to cross the border to fight in the civil war.

At least 150 German Islamists have returned from the war zone in Syria.

The FAZ report confirmed the Post article that the real number of German Muslims fighting in Syria cannot be verified.

"Every week that police and Verfassungsschutz on the Federal and State levels learned about scores of person who traveled to Syria and did not know about their intentions before..."

Verfassungsschutz head Hans-Georg Maassen said on Saturday there could be as many as 7,000 Salafists in Germany by the end of the year.

Maassen described the targets of Salafist recruiters as men, Muslims, those of immigrant background, and failures in life, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported. Membership in the Salafist movement in Germany transmits a feeling of belonging to an avant-garde group, he said.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, from the Christian Social Union party, called for the deportation of violent Salafists. The head of Germany's police union, Oliver Malchow, called for a stronger observation of mosque groups and Islamic associations.

In addition to such radical Sunni groups, there are 950 active Hezbollah members in the Federal Republic.

Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to Berlin, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, warned in a Sunday interview with the WAZ paper that "Germany's society should be concerned.

Today extremists agitate against Jews, tomorrow against Yezidis and Kurds, and perhaps the day after against Christians. Germany's democracy is in danger."

Malaysia: School Incurs Wrath Of Muslim Groups, Refuses To Abort Halloween Activities

From The Star (Malaysia):
Muslim groups in Malaysia have hit out at an international school in Negri Sembilan for promoting and organising Halloween activities that will take place on Oct 31, urging the Government to pull the plug on the event.

However, brushing aside calls to abort the event, the international school has said it will go ahead with its Halloween celebration, a Chinese-language newspaper reported on Sunday.

Ikatan Guru Muslim Malaysia (IGMM) deputy president Mohd Azizee Hassan said the celebration of Halloween is inappropriate as it clashes with Malaysian culture and traditions, according to a news portal.

Another news portal quoted Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman as saying that Halloween celebrations were intended to spread atheism.

"We notice that such events are held to test moral limits or religion, and they are usually done by groups which are not religion-based,” Abdullah Zaik was quoted as saying by the website.

Halloween, which is celebrated on Oct 31 every year, has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. It was believed that the deceased would return to life on this day and cause havoc to the world.

Last week, a dog-petting event at the Central Park in Bandar Utama, Selangor, to encourage Muslims to touch a dog - which is considered unclean in Islam - led to threats made to the participants.

Syed Azmi Alhabshi, the organiser of the event, had to apologise on Saturday for the "trouble and insensitivities" that the programme had caused.

Earlier this month, Muslims in Selangor tried to get the authorities to cancel the annual beer festival Oktoberfest held at the One Utama shopping centre in Petaling Jaya. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam.

Democracy Is For 'Infidels' Islamic State Recruiter Tells Media

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Flag waving: Islamic State fighters waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. Photo: Raqqa Media Centre of the Islamic State 
A recruiter for the Islamic State militant group has described democracy as for "infidels" and asserted that a "real Muslim" is interested only in "what Islam says", in a rare interview with a German publication.

A 30-year-old man identified as Abu Sattar told Germany's Der Spiegel online: "Democracy is a hegemonic tool of the West and contrary to Islam. Why do you act as though the entire world needs democracy?"

Abu Sattar, based in Turkey, was recommended for the interview by a number of IS members, according to the German publication, which says the man was responsible for "several dozen" young men joining Islamic State, with men who had battlefield experience from conflicts such as Chechnya or Afghanistan who were "particularly highly valued".

"Democracy is for infidels," said the man, who identified himself as Arab but spoke with a British accent. "A real Muslim is not a democrat because he doesn't care about the opinions of majorities and minorities don't interest him. He is only interested in what Islam says," the publication reported.

Asked if the typical recruit tended to be people who felt like they didn't belong and finally see an opportunity to live out their fantasies of power, the recruiter answered: "It is not true that only those people come to us who have experienced no success in life. Among them are many people who have university degrees, people who were well-established. But they all see the inequities that we Muslims have long experienced and want to fight against them."

The radical views expressed on democracy come days after a rally of thousands of right-wing German football hooligans against Islamic extremism in Cologne left 44 riot police injured. The rally, organised through social media, drew together skinheads and far-right football fans. Germany, Europe's largest democracy, has long been home to a large Turkish community. Earlier in October, German-based Kurds and radical Muslims clashed during protests in Hamburg.

Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, has dominated news in recent months after its military victories in central and northern Iraq and eastern Syria. The Sunni group combines terror tactics and military battlefield discipline with the stated goal of establishing a global caliphate, or state under Islamic rule headed by a "commander of the faithful".

When confronted with the notion that IS's extreme views on democracy and human rights were casting suspicion on "all Muslims" worldwide, Abu Sattar laughed and asked: "So? Are they speaking out against us? I think we enjoy much more support than you would like to believe."

The militant recruiter endorsed the idea that all Muslims should take sides and added: "We go even a step further: All people should disclose whether they submit to Allah or not. Those who are against us are our enemies and must be fought. That includes people who call themselves Muslims but who don't lead their lives as such - people who drink, who don't pray, who don't fast, who have constantly changing partners and who are unable to recite the Koran."

Mat Hardy, Geelong-based lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University, said democracy is incompatible with the beliefs of Muslim extremists - but by no means do they hold mainstream views on the world.

"It's a completely narrow and fundamentalist mindset," he said.

Dr Hardy said that in the wake of the Arab Spring, there has been a bit of rejection of democracy in places like egypt because they fear a takeover by Islamists.

Worldwide research conducted by Pew Research summed up findings on the topic in 2013 by saying that "most Muslims around the world express support for democracy, and most say it is a good thing when others are very free to practice their religion."

Picture of the Week: Corporal Nathan Cirillo

From The Religion Of Peace:
Corporal Nathan Ciriillo's dogs don't know that he won't be coming home after being gunned down while serving in Ottawa.  The shooting punctured the fantasy that Canadians were trying to create for themselves with TV shows like "Little Mosque on the Prairie." Islam is a reality show that rarely sticks to the preferred script.