Sunday, August 7, 2016

“Americans are Dumb”

ISIS’ internal security, called “Emni” in Arabic, is charged with screening/vetting new recruits, assessing their commitment and sincerity and deciding what to do with them. For a long time, the emphasis had been to generate foreign fighters for their Iraqi-Syrian territorial holdings – defending and expanding. Recently, however, foreign fighters who are resident in Western or border countries are recruited for a very different application: terrorist attacks outside of ISIS’ “homeland” battles in their own countries of residence.
One such recruit – a Harry Harry Sarfo, now serving time – who lived in Germany explained from his prison cell how the system changed: “‘They told me that there aren’t many people in Germany who are willing to do the job,’ Mr. Sarfo said soon after his arrest last year, according to the transcript of his interrogation by German officials, which runs more than 500 pages. ‘They said they had some in the beginning. But one after another, you could say, they chickened out, because they got scared — cold feet. Same in England.’
“By contrast, the group had more than enough volunteers for France. ‘My friend asked them about France,’ Mr. Sarfo said. ‘And they started laughing. But really serious laughing, with tears in their eyes. They said, ‘Don’t worry about France.’ ‘Mafi mushkilah’ — in Arabic, it means ‘no problem.’’ That conversation took place in April 2015, seven months before the coordinated killings in Paris in November, the worst terrorist attack in Europe in over a decade…
“‘It’s the Emni that ensures the internal security inside Dawla’ — the Arabic word for state — ‘and oversees external security by sending abroad people they recruited, or else sending individuals to carry out violent acts, like what happened in Tunisia inside the museum in Tunis, or else the aborted plot in Belgium,’ said Nicolas Moreau, 32, a French citizen who was arrested last year after leaving the Islamic State in Syria, according to his statement to France’s domestic intelligence agency.
“Mr. Moreau explained that he had run a restaurant in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of the group’s territory, where he had served meals to key members of the Emni — including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the on-the-ground commander of the Paris attacks, who was killed in a standoff with the police days later.
“Other interrogations, as well as Mr. Sarfo’s account, have led investigators to conclude that the Emni also trained and dispatched the gunman who opened fire on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, in June, and the man who prepared the Brussels airport bombs.
“Records from French, Austrian and Belgian intelligence agencies show that at least 28 operatives recruited by the Emni succeeded in deploying to countries outside of the Islamic State’s core territory, mounting both successful attacks and plots that were foiled. Officials say that dozens of other operatives have slipped through and formed sleeper cells.” New York Times, August 3rd.
It’s not even as much about those long-standing Muslims being drawn into that web of violent jihadism as you might think. Many aren’t even ethnically from the Middle East or any other region where Islam prevails. “Mr. Sarfo explained that the Emni keeps many of its operatives underground in Europe. They act as nodes that can remotely activate potential suicide attackers who have been drawn in by propaganda. Linking them are what Mr. Sarfo called ‘clean men,’ new converts to Islam with no established ties to radical groups… ‘These people are not in direct contact with these guys who are doing the attacks, because they know if these people start talking, they will get caught,’ he said of the underground operatives.
“They mostly use people who are new Muslims, who are converts,’ he said. Those ‘clean’ converts ‘get in contact with the people, and they give them the message.’ And in the case of some videotaped pledges of allegiance, the go-between can then send the video on to the handler in Europe, who uploads it for use by the Islamic State’s propaganda channels.” NY Times.
Poor Europeans, with all those nasty refugees, but the number of recruits here in the United States have to be truly minimal. Right? Ah, that may not be particularly comforting, given how much recruitment takes place in American prisons within the criminal community. While ISIS would cut off the hand of a thief, having a criminal background adds needed skills that ISIS wants, like where to get powerful weapons, fake IDs and build relationships with organized crime. They can even identify those budding criminal wannabees who don’t have a criminal record, a valuable asset.
“The intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo agree that the Islamic State has made the most of its recruits’ nationalities by sending them back to plot attacks at home. Yet one important region where the Emni is not thought to have succeeded in sending trained attackers is North America, Mr. Sarfo said, recalling what the members of the branch told him…. Though dozens of Americans have become members of the Islamic State, and some have been recruited into the external operations wing, ‘they know it’s hard for them to get Americans into America’ once they have traveled to Syria, he said.
“‘For America and Canada, it’s much easier for them to get them over the social network, because they say the Americans are dumb — they have open gun policies,’ he said. ‘They say we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don’t need to have no contact man who has to provide guns for them.’” NY Times. Good to know that the NRA is helping to make sure these American terrorist recruits/sympathizers have the latest and best assault rifles, lots of bullets and oversized magazines to inflict the most damage.
I’m Peter Dekom, and just understanding the above structures and their extreme flexibility tells you how completely inadequate simplistic “slogan solutions” to this problem really are.

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