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“To the brothers, supporters of the Islamic State in Russia and Ukraine: Seize the opportunity, brothers, and collect weapons, which have been widely distributed to civilians, then attack the Crusaders. This war among the infidels is a good opportunity to incinerate the effeminate [people] of Europe who burned our brothers in al-Baghuz [ISIS’ final enclave in Syria] with white phosphorus.”— Pro-ISIS Rocketchat

“Having the oppressors annihilate each other” is “in the interest of Islam”. Abu al-Fatah al-Farghali

“Sometimes it seems to me that certain European leaders want to be more Muslim than the Prophet Muhammad.” Vladimir Putin

“Smart people learn from their mistakes. Really smart people learn from others’ mistakes.” Michael Hyatt

This week in More than Meets the Eye we will take a hard right turn back to the world of islamist Jihadism. As you may have figured out by now, I am much more comfortable in this world of islamist Jihadism, with years of personal experience and advanced degrees in terrorism/counter-terrorism studies. 

With the escalation of the War in the Ukraine, it would be easy to think that global islamist Jihadists are simply taking some time off. This is just not true. Just because we do not hear about it does not mean that it is not happening. My thesis this week is that there is as much terrorist activity happening in the world today as ever, and the stage is being set for it to increase with the continued fighting happening in the Ukraine.

The most recent ReliefWeb Terrorism brief covers several aspects relating to the current Ukrainian war, including the frequency of past acts of terrorism in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, as well as likely future scenarios. The main finding is that terrorism increases globally with the intensity of nation-on-nation conflict. The Georgian conflict in 2008, the Syrian conflict, Yemen, the Ukrainian conflict of 2014, and even the conflicts between Iran and Israel/US saw substantial spikes in terrorist activity around the wars, and as the current war intensifies, increased terrorist activity should be expected.

What we will look at is why terrorist attacks increase during these seasons of nation-on-nation conflict. We will also look at the Ukraine War and how these potential resultant terrorist attacks will impact global economies, tourism, energy, and future opportunities for peace.

Review. 

The jihadist and Islamic fundamentalist galaxy—with the sole, though notable, exception of the Taliban—is enthusiastically celebrating the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Two “nations of unbelievers” and a “war between crusaders”, they are openly rejoicing over the victims on both sides. The militia groups show no particular sympathy or enmity for Kiev or Moscow, celebrating every single “Christian” victim in this war that most of them cannot even understand. The Chaldean Patriarch himself, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, told AsiaNews in an interview that Iraqi Muslims do not understand the reasons behind the conflict and are surprised that the followers of Christ can go to war with each other.

“The global and media interest in Ukraine”, concludes Damien Ferré, founder of the Jihad Analytics agency, “allows Isis to relaunch military operations, ambushes, and attacks on the ground, and even intensifying them, because “there is less attention” towards these groups. Proof of this is the fact that the day after the publication of the commentary on the war at the gates of Europe, the IS struck with a suicide attack in Pakistan that caused the death of at least 64 worshippers in a Shiite mosque. 

Generally Muslims are being encouraged by ISIS and al Qaeda leadership to not get involved in what they call the crusader-on-crusader conflict.  However, an unofficial pro-Al Qaeda magazine urged Muslims in Europe to capitalize on the war in Ukraine by offering ways to do so—a call which perfectly matches an ISIS supporter’s advice to Muslim youth in the West to exploit Ukraine’s open borders and available arms to carry out attacks on “Crusaders.” 

In a March 3 editorial, “Crusader-Crusader Wars,” featured in the group’s weekly newspaper Al-Naba #328, ISIS argued the ongoing conflict is a “direct bloody war between the Orthodox Crusaders of Russia and Ukraine,” deeming the war a divine punishment inflicted on these two countries due to their own disbelief.

Writers from ISIS websites are calling on Muslims to collect weapons off the battlefield to be used against “infidels” (non-muslims) at a later time. Some are even advocating that these same Muslims participate in the training so that they will learn new soldiering skills for a later date against the infidels.

What are some of the other reasons for the renewed activity in light of the fighting in Ukraine? I will keep my analysis short, but you are welcome to look at the sources I have listed below for a clearer understanding of each point.

  1. Billions of dollars in weapons and ammunition are being shipped into Ukraine by the boatload. They are being handed out to civilians indiscriminately to repel the Russian onslaught within their country. These weapons and ammunition are being taken by Jihadist fighters to use in their next fight. According to the report, both military analysts and US officials acknowledge that the massive quantity of arms being supplied by more than twenty governments could, in the long term, “wind up in the hands of other militaries and militias that the US did not intend to arm.”
  2. Non-Muslim nations are killing each other, and this is generally perceived as a good thing, resulting in one less non-Muslim that needs to be killed. The ISIS group this past week avowed “revenge” over the killing of its former leader, calling on supporters to take advantage of war in Ukraine to stage attacks in Europe. In an audio message attributed to the group and circulated on the Telegram messaging app, they state, “We announce, relying on God, a blessed campaign to take revenge” over the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi and the group’s former spokesman. The group’s new spokesman, Abu-Omar al-Muhajjir, also called on supporters to resume attacks in Europe, taking advantage of the “available opportunity” of “the crusaders fighting each other”—in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  3. Russia is having to pull forces from places such as Syria and Mali, especially the Wagner Group fighters. This gives organizations such as ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab one less thing to worry about. With the withdrawal of the competent Wagner Group fighters and their redeployment to Ukraine, Russia is leaving a gaping whole in the combatant landscape. 
  4. The War in Ukraine is providing a window of opportunity for Islamist Jihadist organizations to regroup after a series of setbacks over the past few years. They are having time out of the limelight to establish a new prioritization for operational targets, conduct necessary mission reconnaissance, and train and resupply logistically for the next wave of attacks.

Rest assured that there is another spate of attacks coming. They will be strategic and they will be violent. The conflict in Ukraine is fanning the flames of these future Jihadist operations. 

Why.

The German philosopher Georg Hegel famously said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” This is a worrying thought because there is so much that went wrong when we look at world history. As we are often told, history repeats itself. It almost feels as if history is repeating itself today.

US officials have judged that while the risks of heavily arming Ukraine are very real, they’re outweighed by the risks that would be run if Ukraine lacked sufficient arms to defend itself against Russia’s aggression. But this raises the question of US/EU intentions. Is the purpose of the arms shipments to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in reaching a negotiated settlement to the conflict—a process by which the Biden administration and EU leadership have so far held themselves aloof? Or is it, as some US and British officials have suggested, to turn Ukraine into an Afghanistan-like quagmire for Russia, weakening it and perhaps even triggering regime change, while sending a message to China in the process?

There’s more than a passing resemblance between US officials’ statements today and the words of Jimmy Carter National Security advisor, Zbigniew Brzeziński, the architect of the policy of US support for the anti-Soviet mujahideen, who asked an interviewer in the 1990s: “What is most important to the history of the world? . . . Some stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” A few years later, these “stirred up Muslims” carried out the worst foreign attack on US soil, and thwarting them became the impetus for a destructive and impossibly wasteful “war on terror” that destabilized the Middle East and ramped up domestic authoritarianism.

The decisions having to be made today are extremely complex. How do leaders and diplomats watch the ball that is in their court today while looking down the road to see where these catastrophes are headed? It is extremely important for us to understand. It will not be understood with a scant investigation. Find sources of information that will help you gain a deeper level of insight. It will keep you from adopting opinions of misinformed pundits and news aficionados.

Action.

Let me encourage you to take a small step. Set aside an evening from TV and instead choose a topic to study. It may be terrorism, local political issues, global security matters, religious/spiritual subjects, or something to do with history. I know I have been beating this drum for years now, but I believe that gaining better knowledge is important to understanding the issues being carried by our local/state/national leadership.

We can do our part by being better informed and by using the weight of our knowledge to make a positive impact on our local and national personal footprint.

The follow-up.

The Slippery Slope of Intelligence Sharing with Ukraine...https://www.thecipherbrief.com/column/opinion/the-slippery-slope-of-intelligence-sharing-with-ukraine?utm_source=Join+the+Community+Subscribers&utm_campaign=6612c17f87-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_05_09_01_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_02cbee778d-6612c17f87-122487553&mc_cid=6612c17f87&mc_eid=5c234a7378

Is Russia’s Demographic Decline Irreversible?… https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/is-russias-demographic-decline-irreversible/

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:  david@morethanmeets.co

Resources.

ISIS and Al-Qaeda Condemn Muslims Fighting in Russo-Ukrainian War… https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/isis-and-al-qaeda-condemn-muslims-fighting-russo-ukrainian-war-201845

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/04/18/ISIS-vows-revenge-for-ex-leader-s-death-calls-for-taking-advantage-of-Ukraine-war

https://jihadanalytics.com

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-erdogan-russia-regional-power/31828327.html

https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/03/russias-invasion-ukraine-helps-taliban-and-makes-afghans-worse

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2022/02/25/around-the-halls-implications-of-russias-invasion-of-ukraine/

https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/middle-east-responses-ukraine-crisis

https://www.eui.eu/news-hub?id=ukraine-and-the-clash-of-civilisation-theory-an-interview-with-oliver-roy

https://naijaonpoint.com.ng/islam-is-the-only-winner-in-the-ukraine-war/

https://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Ukraine-Russia-Crisis-Terrorism-Briefing-1.pdf

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/3258270-russias-war-in-ukraine-means-the-end-of-counterterrorism-consensus/

https://reliefweb.int/report/ukraine/ukraine-russia-crisis-terrorism-briefing

https://www.mei.edu/blog/special-briefing-middle-east-and-russian-invasion-ukraine

https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/02/24/russia-ukraine-terrorism-jihad/

https://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/en/commentaries/the-overlooked-terrorist-component-of-the-hybrid-threat-posed-by-putins-russia/

https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/spotlight-on-global-jihad-march-31-april-6-2022/

https://jacobinmag.com/2022/04/united-states-military-aid-ukraine-war-weapons

 

 

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