Category Archives: Islam

Is Rome next on the Islamic State terror target list? #ISIS

Rome has not been attacked, at least not yet. Such solidarity as the Romans feel is against the Mafia Capitale hoods on trial at the moment, or the recently convicted managers of the bus company, fined massive sums for giving lucrative posts to their unqualified friends and relatives. But is an attack likely?


Paris and Rome have roughly the same population, just over 2 million people. Both cities are internationally famous and attract high levels  of tourism as well as being business and administrative centres. Paris has a further ten million people in its suburbs, whereas Rome has only a further 2 million.

Rome has many more priceless monuments and the Vatican City, which can seem like a jewel in the crown or a weight round the city’s neck. Both cities are attractive targets for terrorists.

Paris, of course, has had its attack; two,in fact, this year. The city is wounded, the people defiant: the message on social media ‘je suis en terrasse’, a declaration that they will sit outside bars and restaurants, defying the terrorists. It is the same sort of solidarity exemplified by ‘je suis Charlie’ at the start of the year.

It is an introverted, personal, Parisien thing; I found the same on a visit to Hungerford after the massacre in the late ’80s.

French politicians, from President Hollande down, have made rousing speeches. The Marseilleise, surely the most militaristic of anthems in the western world, has been sung repeatedly. Hollande, without waiting for his allies, has despatched bombing missions over the Syrian town of Raqqa.

Rome has not been attacked, at least not yet. Such solidarity as the Romans feel is against the Mafia Capitale hoods on trial at the moment, or the recently convicted managers of the bus company, fined massive sums for giving lucrative posts to their unqualified friends and relatives. Roman solidarity consists of the unfathomable Italian paradox of loathing the state whilst never questioning its importance or relevance to their lives.

So if Rome were attacked, would the reaction be the same as in Paris? Probably not. Italians have had this before, during the Anni di Piombo, or “years of lead” in the 1970s, when after a long list of shootings by the Red Brigades, former Prime Minister Aldo Moro was assassinated and 85 killed by a bomb at Bologna station.

Second, Italy does not have the military might of France and could not indulge in the sort of punishment bombings that President Hollande has ordered. Nor does it have the militaristic world view of France, or for that matter Britain. Prime Minister Renzi has already said that he does not believe that bombing Syria is the answer to ISIS and no serious politician has disagreed.

So is an attack likely? Romans are asking ‘Are we next?’ Italy does not have the numbers of first, second and third generation north African Muslims, nor the huddled, unhappy masses of the banlieu. But even if Schengen were cancelled and its land borders closed, they are to the north, whilst the southern coasts are the first port of call for migrants. And it only takes two or three.

ISIS does not target monuments, but people, although the Vatican would be a priceless PR coup. But Rome has as many people sitting in bars and restaurants, going to football matches, as Paris does. More, given the jubilee which starts on 8th December.

The State has been busy, though. Extra troops have been deployed to the capital, particularly to the Vatican and the Ghetto area (there are fewer than 50,000 Jews left). Interior minister Alfano has said the intelligence services will keep the nation safe. The Italians, forewarned and thus forearmed, have been getting in their preventative medicine. Will it be enough?

Whatever happens, the tourist industry will suffer and perhaps the Pope’s Jubilee will be poorly attended. Many hotels are offering discounts — always a reliable sign — of 20 percent and more for the start of the Jubilee, although the celebrity favourite Hotel de Russie only offers a €19 reduction to the cost of its basic room — €675.

So George Clooney and Posh Spice aren’t worried. But the rest of us? We have to carry on: go to our usual bar for morning cappuccino, our usual place for evening aperitivo and hope, and wait. That’s all you can do, hope and wait.

Tim HedgesThe Commentator‘s Italy Correspondent, had a career in corporate finance before moving to Rome where he works as a freelance writer, novelist, and farmer. You can read more of his articles about Italy here

Saudi Arabia and the spread of Wahhabism (and the West’s responsibility to the world)


In 2013, the European Union declared Wahhabism the main source of global terrorism. But it’s not just a “Middle East problem”; it is our problem, too.

François Hollande’s declaration of war against Isis (also known as Islamic State) was, perhaps, a natural reaction to the carnage in Paris but the situation is now so grave that we cannot merely react; we also need sustained, informed and objective reflection. The French president has unwittingly played into the hands of Isis leaders, who have long claimed to be at war with the West and can now present themselves as noble ­resistance fighters. Instead of bombing Isis targets and, in the process, killing hapless civilians, western forces could more profitably strengthen the Turkish borders with Syria, since Turkey has become by far the most important strategic base of Isis jihadis.

We cannot afford to allow our grief and outrage to segue into self-righteousness. This is not just the “Middle East problem”; it is our problem, too. Our colonial arrangements, the inherent instability of the states we created and our support of authoritarian leaders have all contributed to the terrifying disintegration of social order in the region today. Many of the western leaders (including our own Prime Minister) who marched for liberté in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre were heads of countries that, for decades, have backed regimes in Muslim-majority countries that denied their subjects any freedom of expression – often with disastrous results.

One of these regimes is Saudi Arabia. Despite its dismal human rights record, the kingdom has been central to western foreign policy in the Middle East since the 1970s and western governments have therefore tacitly condoned its “Wahhabisation” of the Muslim world. Wahhabism originated in the Arabian peninsula during the 18th century as an attempt to return to the pristine Islam of the Prophet Muhammad. Hence, Wahhabis came to denounce all later developments – such as Sufism and Shia Islam – as heretical innovations.

Yet this represented a radical departure from the Quran, which insists emphatically that there must be “no coercion in matters of faith” (2:256) and that religious pluralism is God’s will (5:48). After the Iranian Revolution, the Saudis used their immense wealth to counter the power of Shia Islam by funding the building of mosques with Wahhabi preachers and establishing madrasas that provided free education to the poor. Thus, to the intense dismay of many in the Muslim world, an entire generation has grown up with this maverick form of Islam – in Europe and the US, as well as in Pakistan, Jordan and Malaysia.

In 2013, the European Union declared that Wahhabism was the main source of global terrorism. It is probably more accurate, however, to say that the narrowness of the Wahhabi vision is a fertile soil in which extremism can flourish. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Wahhabi chieftains did indeed conduct violent military expeditions against the Shia but, during the 1930s, the Saudi kingdom abandoned military jihad and Wahhabism became a religiously conservative movement. Today, some members of the Saudi ruling class support Isis but the Grand Mufti has condemned it in the strongest terms. Like Osama Bin Laden, Isis leaders aim to overthrow the Saudi regime and see their movement as a rebellion against modern Wahhabism.

Military action in Syria will not extirpate Islamist extremism elsewhere. In order to be fully successful, President Hollande’s campaign must also include a review of domestic policy. France has signally failed to integrate its Muslim population. Most of the terrorists responsible for the atrocities of 13 November appear to have been disaffected French nationals. So, too, were the Kouachi brothers, who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and Amedy Coulibaly, who hijacked the Jewish supermarket in January. All three lived in notoriously deprived suburbs of Paris and – evoking France’s colonial past – were of Algerian and Malian descent. Psychiatrists who have investigated people involved in the 9/11 plot and in subsequent attacks have found that these terrorists were not chiefly motivated by religion. Far more pressing has been the desire to escape a ­stifling sense of insignificance. Powerless at home, many of them alienated by the host culture, young Muslim men in the West are attracted by the strong masculine figure of the jihadi and the prospect of living in a like-minded community, convinced that a heroic death will give their lives meaning.

As they debate the feasibility of British air strikes in Syria, some MPs have insisted that they must be accompanied by negotiation and diplomacy. Again, these cannot be conducted in a spirit of superior righteousness. There must be a recognition that the West is not the only victim of Muslim extremism. We seem curiously blind to this. Far more Muslims than non-Muslims have been killed by Isis, yet this is rarely mentioned. Two weeks before the Charlie Hebdo atrocities in January, the Taliban murdered 145 Pakistanis, most of them children; two days after it, Boko Haram slaughtered as many as 2,000 villagers in Nigeria. Yet, compared with the Paris attack, the media coverage in the West was perfunctory. There has been little acknowledgment that the refugees whom many would seek to exclude from Europe have experienced the horrors we saw in Paris on a regular basis in Syria or Iraq. Already we seem to have forgotten that more than 40 people in Beirut were killed by two Isis suicide bombers on 12 November.

This heedlessness – a form, perhaps, of denial – does not go unnoticed in the Muslim world. The Iraq War showed that a military campaign cannot succeed if it fails to respect the sensibilities of the local people. Western governments must understand that their ­nations bear considerable responsibility for the present crisis – Isis is, after all, the product of the ill-considered Iraq War. And, as long as we mourn only our own dead, we cannot escape the accusation – frequently heard in the developing world – that the West has created a global hierarchy in which some lives are more valuable than others.

Karen Armstrong is the author of “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence” (Vintage)

ACT! for America outlines 3 quick and easy must-do tasks against Islamic Terror

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ACT! for America is an exceptional organization on the front lines in the war against Islamic terror and the advance of sharia law. ACT is worthy of our support. (For those not familiar with the organization, see here for a bit of background.)

ACT has just sent out an action alert that is informative and gives patriots 3 simple tasks to perform. Citizen Warrior reports (edited version below):

We are gathering tens of thousands of signatures on an Open Letter to the leadership in the House and Senate voicing strong opposition to the Obama Administration’s plans to bring  to the U.S. The letter will be hand-delivered to the U.S. Congress by our Director of Government Relations. If you haven’t yet added your name, please click HERE to do so.

We are actively supporting H.R. 3314, the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015 introduced by Rep Brian Babin (R-TX). The bill would immediately suspend the U.N.-run refugee program to provide Congress time to fully assess the national security risks and investigate its financial burden on federal, state and local taxpayers. As of this writing, the bill has 78 cosponsors. Is your House Representative one of them? Click HERE to find out. If not, please send your House Representative an e-mail asking for cosponsorship, by clicking HERE. If your Representative HAS cosponsored the bill, please send a quick note to say thank you. It goes a long way.

We are actively registering our opposition to any federal funding for U.S. Refugee resettlement actions to be included in the U.S. Congress’s end of year spending bill. This is our most time-sensitive activity right now! Please click HERE to e-mail or call your federal legislators TODAY to express your opposition to any federal funding going to refugee resettlement.

Readers often ask, “What can I do?” This is something meaningful all of us can and should do. ACT has made our job as easy as it gets. Addressing these three action items will take all of five minutes. Who among us is so cynical as to be unwilling to spend five minutes sitting in a chair making a call and adding our name to a letter?

Hat tip: Counterjihad Report