Thought of the Week – Apostasy
Terrorist groups which are at least in part motivated by religion tend to adhere to an interpretation of that religion in which they consider themselves more ‘pure’ or ‘righteous’ than others who practice the faith (this was discussed at length in my 2019 book When Religions Kill).
Not only do these extremists believe they are somehow superior when it comes to their religion but they tend to describe co-religionists as ‘apostates’. Somalia’s Al Shabaab (AS) provided a good example this week.
In a 30-minute video released through its Al-Kataib propaganda outlet titled “No Doubt, Allaah’s Promise is True” an AS spokesman noted in a statement wishing fighters well that:
- “their goals of raising high the Book of Allaah, implementing the Shari’ah, safeguarding the Muslims and their resources and fighting the enemy crusaders and their apostate allies who have waged war against the religion, country, and the Muslims…we hereby call on all the Muslims who live, work, park their cars or seek leisure near the vicinities of the crusader and apostate bases, offices or headquarters of the crusader invaders and their apostate allies, to stay away and be extremely cautious from these areas.”
The “apostate allies” is a clear reference to the Somali government and the Somali National Army (SNA) which, one could reasonably assume, are good Muslims. Not to AS though: they are “apostates” (which the Oxford dictionary defines as someone who abandons or renounces his faith). I am fairly certain the SNA soldiers did no such thing!
To terrorists none of this matters: nor does the truth. They are content with condemning and rejecting anything that disagrees with their non-normative view of their belief system.
Which makes it easy for everyone else to ‘abandon and renounce’ them!
This week by the numbers
- Countries which suffered attacks: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Thailand
- Approximate number of casualties: 51 dead, 98 wounded, 30 terrorists killed
- Ideology of attackers: Islamist (100%)
- Attacks/casualties tied to RWE: 0
- An explosion in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul on September 21 killed at least three people and wounded 13 others: local police were uncertain whether the blast, which occurred in a restaurant in the city’s western Dehmazang neighborhood, was an accident or the result of an attack by Islamic State (ISIS) in Khorasan (ISK).
- A blast near a Kabul mosque after Friday prayers on September 23 caused an unknown number of casualties. Later information noted that seven had been killed and 41 injured.
- A Vienna court ruled on September 19 that six men with alleged links to a sympathiser of ISIS who carried out a deadly shooting in Vienna in 2020 (4 dead, 20 wounded) will go on trial next month. The terrorist, Kujtim Fejzulai, a dual national of Austria and North Macedonia, had a previous conviction for trying to join ISIS in Syria.
- At least two soldiers and two civilian auxiliaries died in a terrorist attack on a patrol in eastern Burkina Faso on September 25.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo announced on September 22 an extension of their joint military cooperation that saw the two countries’ armies launch an offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) jihadis.
- A teenager accused of planning an Islamist-motivated attack in Germany was arrested on September 22. The dual German-Kosovar citizen detained in the western town of Iserlohn allegedly was under the influence of an ISIS follower who posted propaganda on online messaging services: the suspect worried his alleged bombing plans would be foiled and therefore decided to attack police officers with a knife instead but was arrested before before doing so.
- India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested more than 100 members of an alleged Islamist organisation on September 22 during a nationwide clampdown on the group over allegations of terror funding and radicalising people. The NIA raided the offices and homes of senior members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) across 10 states. These included Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the south. In 2017, six members of the group were identified as having joined ISIS.
- Iraqi security forces killed eight ISIS terrorists in the country’s north on September 18-19. Two members of the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilisation Forces also died.
- On September 21 Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces (SDF)-linked forces prevented an attack on the al-Hol camp by an ISIS cell. One of the vehicles exploded prematurely about 12 miles northeast of the camp, which alerted the nearby SDF: when the forces arrived at the scene, two men got out of the second vehicle, one detonated a suicide vest while the second was shot and killed by SDF forces. Another ISIS militant was in SDF custody.
- A Palestinian man was reportedly killed during a protest after two members of the Hamas terror group were arrested by Palestinian security services, allegedly at Israel’s request, in the West Bank city of Nablus on September 20.
- Two Palestinian residents of Jerusalem were convicted in a Jerusalem District Court on September 19 of terrorist offences and other charges for throwing stones at a Jewish family’s car in East Jerusalem last year.
- Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) offered to pay Palestinians to post videos of terrorist attacks on September 19.
- Public Security Ministry Omer Barlev warned on September 22 that high alert levels in the country over concerns of potential terror attacks could continue for weeks.
- Shin Bet arrested a Gaza-directed Hamas cell allegedly behind West Bank shooting attacks on September 23.
- Eight Israelis were lightly hurt in a suspected terror stabbing attack near the central Israeli city of Modiin on September 22. The assailant stopped his vehicle at a traffic light and began to open car doors and attack people with a knife and pepper spray: two men in separate cars were treated for minor stab wounds to their hands. The attacker was shot dead by an off-duty Border Police officer who was in the area. The incident came hours after a suspected car-ramming attack against Israeli troops in the northern West Bank in which a Palestinian man hit a soldier stationed near Huwara with his car, lightly injuring him.
- Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian motorist who allegedly tried to ram his car into a group of soldiers patrolling in the occupied West Bank on September 24.
- The German military announced on September 19 that it has had to again suspend its reconnaissance patrols in eastern Mali that are part of a UN peacekeeping/anti-jihadi mission (MINUSMA) after failing to get flyover rights.
- Niger announced on September 21 that it had received new military equipment worth $13 million from Washington to support its fight against jihadists plaguing the west and southeast of the country.
- Suspected Boko Haram jihadis shot dead 11 farmers who had gone to cut wood, nine from Niger and two Nigerians, in southeastern Niger on September 21. The terrorists also sent a message through the channel of one of the released woodcutters to warn residents to “no longer frequent” the area where they operate.
- Niger’s president warned in an interview on September 23 that the ‘jihadist flag is likely to fly’ over Malian town of Ménaka in the wake of France’s military withdrawal.
- Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists claimed on September 23 that they had killed two Nigerian soldiers during an attack on a military checkpoint.
- ISWAP terrorists abducted a Nigerian policeman and seven other security personnel in Borno State on September 24.
- ISWAP claimed responsibility for the killing of two Igbo traders in Nigeria’s Kano State on September 24.
- Norwegian police said on September 26 that two men had been arrested on September 25 on suspicion of involvement in a mass shooting that killed two people and wounded 21 in and around an Oslo gay bar in June. Police last week said its hypothesis that the shooting was an act of terrorism had been strengthened during its investigation.
- Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Malakand Region foiled a major terror bid and killed a ‘wanted’ terrorist of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat on September 23. Earlier in the day, the CTD killed two alleged terrorists said to be associated with a proscribed outfit in Balochistan’s Khuzdar.
- Two Pakistani soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in North Waziristan on September 24: there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
- A Manila trial court ruled on September 21 that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) are not terrorist organisations.
- Al Shabaab (AS) terrorists were pictured in ‘graduation’ ceremony at which a spokesperson warned of more attacks and claimed that the Somali president is latest ‘apostate client’ selected by a ‘foreign conspiracy’.
- A clan elder from Hiiraan wsa shot dead in Mogadishu on September 20. According to another clan elder: “The assassination of Nabadon Abdullahi Nur Garad Seefle, one of Hawadle’s clan peacekeepers, is the work of Al-Shabaab, which has already stated that they will kill the scholars and elders of clans that rise against them.”
- Somali troops announced on September 20 that they had recaptured a key town in Hiran held by Al-Shabaab for 13 years.
- The Somali National Army (SNA) killed 15 al-Shabaab terrorists in a fierce fighting on September 22 in Galmudug State.
- An AS suicide bomber killed 15 and wounded 20 in an attack on a Somali military training base in Mogadishu on September 25.
- The SNA’s logistics commander for the 5th battalion of the 27th division based in the Hiraan region, Colonel Barre Ceyrow, was killed in a landmine explosion in the Hiiraan region on September 25: Al Shabaab is suspected of having laid the mine.
- Somalia’s intelligence agency announced the arrest of ten people suspected of being linked to Al Shabaab on September 25.
- On September 19 a Swiss court handed down a nine-year sentence to a female jihadi who wounded two people in a knife attack in an upscale store near the border with Italy on November 24, 2020. She slit the throats of the two victims while yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ and “I will avenge the Prophet Muhammad’: the attack was in the name of ISIS.
- Kurdish forces stated on September 21 that they had foiled two ISIS car bomb attack plots on the al-Hol camp. Intelligence received led to the subsequent ambush of the suspects near a village close to the camp: three were killed and one of the car bombs was detonated (the second car bomb contained 300 kilograms of explosives and was dismantled).
- Four civilians were injured when an explosive-laden motorcycle detonated in a crowded market in Afrin, northern Syria, on September 24.
- Kurdish SDF set reinforcements to Deir ez-Zor due to the ISIS threat: several SDF military personnel were injured when their patrol was attacked by gunmen on motorbikes in al-Kabr town on September 23.
- SDF counter-terrorism units arrested three ISIS suspects at the al-Jala’a Farm, in the northern countryside of Raqqa on September 23: the arrested terrorist cell was responsible for manufacturing IEDs.
- ISIS terrorists killed two civilians in Deir ez-Zor on September 24.
- A Thai policeman was killed, and four others injured when a roadside bomb detonated as their vehicles passed near a hospital in the southern Pattani province on September 20. Police believe the bomb was planted in a rubbish bin in front of the hospital and that it was detonated remotely, most likely by Islamist terrorists who have been active for decades. Last month, a wave of at least 17 coordinated arson attacks and explosions targeted convenience stores at petrol stations in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat leaving seven people suffering minor injuries.
- Tunisia’s anti-terrorism police detained Ali Laarayedh, a former prime minister and senior official in the Islamist opposition Ennahda party, on September 20 after an investigation into suspicions of sending jihadists to Syria.
- Turkish security forces arrested 10 ISIS terrorist suspects on September 20 in Ankara-based operations against the group in four different provinces.
- The Turkish military announced on September 20 that it had ‘neutralised’ 17 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists and demolished nearly 80 hideouts have been demolished in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.
- The Turkish MIT captured 2 PKK terrorists, 1 with Red Notice, on September 23.