Thursday, November 28, 2013

The More the Merrier? Enter the Salafists

Lerner said... the cell was the "first substantial indication" of violent activity by jihadi Salafis in the West Bank... Jihadi Salafis believe in a global jihad, or holy war. The ideology is linked to that of al-Qaida. Many have flocked to Syria to fight alongside the rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad... A Palestinian security official said jihadi Salafis in the West Bank are a cause of concern, but declined to give an estimate on how many there are.

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
27 November '13

Wikipedia defines Salafism as "the fastest growing" Islamic movement, but for those inclined to see this as connected to acts of jihadist murder, it says Salafist

groups and individuals that carry out terrorist attacks are regarded as being out of the fold of the methodology of the Salaf, misguided and deviant... [Wikipedia]

If only the world worked like Wikipedia describes it.

Numerous other sources take a considerably more robust view of the connection between murderous jihadism and the Salafists. A major PBS Special Report for instance, "The Salafist Movement: An examination of the ideology that has inspired the global jihad and the emergence of its most dangerous incarnation" by Bruce Livesey [online here]. An extract:

Salafism is an ideology that posits that Islam has strayed from its origins. The word "salaf" is Arabic for "ancient one" and refers to the companions of the Prophet Mohammed. Arguing that the faith has become decadent over the centuries, Salafists call for the restoration of authentic Islam as expressed by an adherence to its original teachings and texts. "Salafists originally are supposedly not violent," [Prof. Gilles Kepel, chair of Middle East Studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris] explains. "They are not advocating the revolt against one who holds power, against the powers that be. They are calling for re-Islamization at the daily level."

By the mid-'90s, Kepel saw an alarming change among Europe's Muslims. Increasingly he was coming across Salafists who had embraced jihad -- in other words, who felt violence and terrorism were justified to realize their political objectives. Kepel explains that when Salafists, who tend to be alienated from mainstream European society, meet and mingle with jihadists, it fuses into a volatile mixture. "When you're in the state of such alienation you become easy prey to the jihadi guys who will feed you more savory propaganda than the old propaganda of the Salafists who tell you to pray, fast and who are not taking action," he says. "And this is why the [Islamist terrorists] who had been arrested were often good Salafists in the beginning."

Kepel labeled these Muslim fundamentalists "Salafist jihadists", a term that he extends to include the followers of Al Qaeda. Salafist jihadists are now a burgeoning presence in Europe, having attempted more than 30 terrorist attacks among E.U. countries since 2001.

Tonight (Wednesday night), while most of us Israelis are home taking care of our Hannukah candles and enjoying traditional doughnuts and potato latkes, our neighbours the Palestinian Arabs - in their thousands - have their minds on matters of a far less congenial but arguably no-less-traditional nature. An Associated Press report that went to air in the past hour sets the scene, pointing out that this particular brand of terror has been unknown in our area until now.


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