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Quietly Developing Threat

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Threats against western media gathering events, particularly events like World Cup 2006, which can be recognized by studying the news media are not so much the London or Madrid bus and train bombing type as the quiet trigger responsive action seen during the Autumn 2005 Paris riots.  Current security measures and public focus on the terrorist threat against media gathering events like World Cup 2006 would naturally inhibit the ability of extremist elements within closed communities to execute plans for a mass casualty event; however, a trigger responsive operation in the form of sustained rioting in Muslim[1] enclaves could  affect security measures in place for such activities.  This has the potential to allow Islamists[2] use of sympathetic media attention to draw security away from staged events and open targets of opportunity against entertainment, transportation, security and financial facilities.

 

Background:  

 

Definitions

Definitions are annotated in footnotes as needed.  The terminology used is not intended to be offensive to any practiced religion.  It is recognized that the majority of Muslims are moderate and do not support the violent overthrow of any government.  Additionally, the use of the term Islamist is not to associate Islam with violence but to differentiate between the peace practicing majority of Muslims and the criminal extremist attempting to hijack the religion.

 

Closed Communities

 

Western nations have long been a safe haven for political dissidents and criminals from the Americas to Asia.  These dissidents and criminals have used the prejudice, cultural ignorance and xenophobia of their western hosts to plan and execute horrific crimes against humanity and coup d’etats in their homelands.  Ayatollah Sayed Ruholla Khomeini, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez-Carlos the Jackal, Saloth Sar-Pol Pot are just a few.  Around the turn of the century, this planning and execution was turned in greater force than previously seen toward the western hosts ushering in an age of terror responsive security action. Closed communities of disenfranchised populations provide an area for ideological and physical training as well as a base of operations for Islamist groups who desire the violent establishment of a restored Islamic Caliphate. 

 

Closed communities within many western nations breed a threat to the stability of governments on a local, national and international level.  This threat is primarily political and against the liberties of individuals supported by free democracies and republics.  Closed communities lend a certain amount of protection to criminal elements against justice for crimes executed outside the confines of the closed community and limit the guarantee of justice to non-community complainants and community complainants desiring an objective arbiter.  The closed community shields, whether by accident or design, the development of plans by extremists against the discovery of intelligence and law enforcement elements.

 

A multi-nation sponsored drive for immigration from the end of World War II forward to the sixties to increase the European workforce in support of economic recovery coupled with ill-conceived integration/return plan for the influx of migrant workers developed communities in which the inhabitants are not accepted by host nation citizens as “European” or valid participants in host nation affairs.  These communities consist of generational Muslim immigrants looking for integration of their customs and beliefs into wider governmental and community acceptance.  The majority of these communities are poor and economically stagnant and influential control of this disaffected population falls into the hands of local and sometimes Islamist mullahs[3].  This disenfranchised population is referred to in this paper as the closed Muslim community. 

 

Many closed Muslim communities currently enjoy protection from investigation and collection under the defensive umbrella of religious freedom.  While the majority of Muslims in any given community are moderate, the protection afforded these communities allows freedom of movement for the Islamist and criminal networks.  Western commitment to freedom of expression and religious practice offers a chink through which the Islamist and criminal networks can exploit and impose their ideology and influence on these communities holding the law abiding citizens and immigrants hostage by forcing adherence to an extremist and sometimes violent interpretation of Islam.  This has been instrumental to creating the environment in which a restoration of the Islamic caliphate from North Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean into former eastern bloc countries to Indonesia can be planned, executed and even funded by western taxpayers from western soil.

 

Trigger Operation Model

 

Using a conspiracy blogger[4] dynamic of an Islamist attack, a trigger event from outside the organization and over which the organization may have little or no control initiates the execution of previously laid plans.  This trigger catalyzes the activity of a sleeper cell.  The activity includes final training and preparation for the execution of their mission.  The trigger can take place within days to months prior to the operation.

 

This model can be effectively overlaid on such terror attacks from the 1988 attack on a commercial flight over Locherbie, Scotland to the 2005 Autumn Paris riots and potentially a 2006 World Cup attack.  The difficulty in predicting and interdicting trigger responsive operations is in the identification of triggers with responsive operations and locations.  In hope of interdiction the following questions must be answered:  Who is involved in the operation, what is the trigger and what is the operation propelled by the trigger? 

 

A well-laid network of surveillance can identify potential cell members; however, once a cell is in place it is likely members already have their operational plans, support and orders.  If the investigator is unaware of potential operations or specific threats, post trigger/pre-op arrest will yield only Islamist rhetoric and innumerable associate contacts that may or may not be a part of the cell.  This is insufficient to lead the interdiction of the rest of the cell prior to execution.

 

Triggers can be:  arrests, assassinations, elections or campaign timeframes, demonstrations leading to spontaneous riots, trials, western military operations and possibly international reporting of coordinated attacks.  Operations associated with triggers may be attacks against financial symbols, attacks against military symbols, attacks against entertainment centers, attacks against transportation facilities/vehicles and attacks against religious centers.

 

Islamist Propaganda

Islamist propaganda focuses on the victimization of Muslims as justification for violent response to perceived grievances.  The most common theme of Islamist propaganda is the victimization of Muslim people and land.  Events dating back to the Christian Crusades are used to raise an emotional response in order to recruit and justify the actions of terrorists.  This campaign is effective not only in the aims of recruitment but also in seducing western media to present a sympathetic vignette of recruiting grounds in the closed Muslim communities, a basis of understanding the violent response and highlighting terrorism to expand fear.  The vignette validates terrorism as an effective tool to gain political and military advantage.

 

The Islamist propaganda campaign receives the benefit of disinformation propagated by western public and private media.  Disinformation that builds the theme “all Muslims are a threat” is prevalent in weblogs[5], email chains, quasi-religious sites and news reports.  This disinformation consists of errant definitions of Islamic terms and religious beliefs.  The disinformation is so effective a piece of disinformation was reported as fact during the Muhammad cartoon response of the international Muslim community in January 2006; several international news agencies reported that the Islamic community was upset because Muhammad cannot be depicted.  A few news agencies stated that this restriction was outlined in the Koran[6].   Not only is this erroneous, no Koranic or fiqh[7] reference was given in support of the statement and no mullah or Muslim demonstrator was publicly asked if this was true further propagating the unknown and misunderstood precepts of the religion in turn furthering the victimization theme of Islamist propaganda.

 

A February 2006 off the street interview by a CNN correspondent in the US highlights the confusion of a US citizen over President Bush’s support of terminal operation of six US ports by a global shipping company owned by United Arab Emirates after the company bought a British-based shipping company.  The everyman states, “He’s been telling us for five years these people are the enemy…”  The CNN correspondent and anchor fail to make any clarification of the statement.  The implication is that the owners of the company, the people of UAE, or people from predominantly Muslim countries are “the enemy”.  In fact, at the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, the President declared terrorism and those who support terrorism are the enemy.  Islamist press had a field day with the statement and US response to the ports deal using it to cement the racist and by extension anti-Islamic portrayal of the US and President Bush.

 

Elitism is another common theme used by Islamist propagandists and seen in the cartoon demonstrations.  Saving the best for last, Muhammad as the last so most loved prophet, the scientific advances made during the Islamic golden age, all are elements of Islamic culture highlighted by Islamist propaganda to negate tangent views from non-Islamic media.  The cartoon demonstrations were held to speak out against governments who would not censure the newspapers publishing the Danish political cartoon depicting Muhammad with a bomb on his head instead of a turban.  It was inconceivable to interviewed demonstrators that anyone should have the right to freely express their view if the view was offensive to those who practice Islam.  Anti-Jewish and anti-Christian cartoons prevalent in Islamist press were glossed over or explained as attacks on the symbols not the principle leaders of the religion; however, the offense taken by Jews and Christians to Islamist antagonism was not addressed.

 

An underlying theme of Islamist propaganda is the Zionist, or anti-Israel, thread.  This underlying theme supports the victimization and elitist campaigns.  This theme is so effective in campaign that other minority religious adherents in predominantly Muslim regions respond in agreement to this message.  A large number of Arab Christians blame Israel and the Jewish people, for Christian and Jewish victimization and direct attacks from Islamists.  Disinformation about Jewish practice and views is circulated by Islamist media.  One Lebanese Christian, in a discussion about Islamic terrorists, stated that Islamic terrorists are really Jews who did not truly convert to Islam and practiced blood sacrifice using Muslim children.  As fantastic as it sounds, the use of urban legend type stories shows the efficacy of this assignation of evil and fear.

 

Between the Islamist victimization and elitism campaigns, all actions are justifiable or deniable.  Arab press agencies such as al Jazeera spin and propagate the campaigns.  The following statements are paraphrased news synopses from Al Jazeera.   A suicide bomb in an Israeli pizza parlor during peak business hours was an understandable retaliation for the Israeli assassination of a key Palestinian militia leader.  The Christian church bombings from August to October 2004 in Baghdad and Mosul were conducted by Iraqi Christians seeking sponsorship to move out of the predominantly Muslim country.  Every Coalition military strike in Iraq from 2003 forward has been conducted on wedding celebrations, private residences of women and children or an orphanage.  Western media discounts Al Jazeera reporting as sensational journalism on par with check out aisle magazines like Star or Globe; however, the Arab and Islamic world looks to Al Jazeera on the level of sensational journalism produced by Time or CNN.  Al Jazeera is an invaluable resource in identifying Islamist propaganda themes and potential areas of conflict.

 

 

Autumn 2005 Paris Riots

 

 The Autumn 2005 Paris riots were initially a spontaneous response to the deaths of two teenagers.  The riots were then fueled by the comments of French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy; however, the sustained riots for three weeks and international expansion strongly indicates the spontaneous riots were a trigger for a sustained riot operation by Islamists for the purposes of garnering sympathetic media attention.

 

            The riots began on Thursday, October 27, 2005, after the deaths of two teenagers in Clichy-sous-Bois, a poor primarily Muslim commune in an eastern suburb of Paris.  Initially confined to the Paris area, the riots subsequently spread to other areas of the Ile-de-France region and through the outskirts of France’s urban areas.  After November 3, 2005 it spread to other cities in France affecting all 15 of the large urban areas in the country. 

 

            Though the rioters were Muslim second generation immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, the governmental response was careful not to imply Islamic influence as a cause for continued rioting.  The Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UIOF) issued a fatwa[8] calling for an end to the riots; however, this edict was countered by comments from the mufti[9] of the great Mosque in Paris and a mufti in Marseilles.  The muftis’ justification for this counter was that the UIOF did not have the authority to intervene.

 

 

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy was the focus of anger from Muslim communities across Europe.  His statement that the housing projects youth were "rabble" with his pre-riots call for the suburbs to be "Karcherised" - a reference to a common brand of high-pressure industrial cleaner - were said by rioters to be one of the main reasons for the civil unrest.  The ironic point of this ire is that Sarkozy, a christened Roman Catholic of Jewish descent, championed the proposed change to the French 1905 separation of church and state law in order to allow Muslim communities greater French autonomy in the practice of their faith.  This effort included the state-sponsored building of mosques and centers for study and prayer, representation of the Muslim faith in the government, and the incorporation of representation in the UIOF.

 

This effort by Sarkozy was not without a vision of political leverage.  He has long tried to stem the conditions being set for a poor Muslim uprising that could create great instability within France.  His thinking has been echoed in several European and other western nations.  The prevalent idea is the host government assists the Muslim community in the construction of their facilities so the extreme influences from other countries would be limited.  Unfortunately, many countries are recognizing this is not the case in practice. 

 

The first three nights of rioting were contained within the suburb in which the teenagers had lived and died.  The next three nights the rioting spread throughout the Iles de France region.  Over the next two weeks the violence spread to all areas in France and seven countries that have significant Muslim populations.

 

By November 6, 2005 the riots had possible ties to activity in Belgium, Germany, and Spain.  By November 13, 2005 it had possible ties to activity in Denmark, Greece, Netherlands and Switzerland.

 

The riots lasted 20 nights, caused damage in 274 cities throughout France equally monetary damages of 200,000,000 Euros.  Property damage included 8,793 vehicles burned; an accurate account of building damage is not currently available.  The riots also led to 2,888 arrests and injury of 126 police and firemen.  Annotated but not included as a direct result of the riots is the death of one man, Jean-Jacques Le Chenedec, who received a blow to the head while trying to extinguish a trashcan fire outside his apartment building as rioters swept through his neighborhood.

 

Within France and internationally, cell phones, text messaging and weblogs passed information about police locations and possible security containment operations.  This indicates at least a minimal level of coordination between disparate groups with the most common denominators being gender, age range, economic status, religious affiliation and citizenship status:  male, 17-35, poor, Muslim, and second generation immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, respectively.  In spite of this and several statements through out the riot time frame, French government representatives denied an Islamic influence on the sustenance and spread of the riots.

 

 Civil unrest, especially extensive rioting, is not unusual in areas of economic depression and the international  incidents, according to several governmental law enforcement elements of the other countries affected, were isolated.  The specific references to France, Sarkozy, attacks on French citizens and facilities at riot sites outside France across this timeframe as well as the graffiti epithets found at the scenes of the extra-national riots: “the fire is extending” and “Paris is burning” link the vandalism and riots in the seven countries to the riots in France.

 

 A number of arson attacks and other acts of vandalism, possibly inspired by the riots in France, were committed in Germany. Ten cars were set ablaze in Bremen, Berlin and Cologne during the night of November 6, 2005. In the Moabit neighborhood of Berlin, five cars were set on fire. In Bremen, a camper burned. In Cologne, four cars were set afire. All three cities affected have tightly closed Muslim communities.  German police neither committed to any theory that these acts were related to those in France nor did they deny the influence of the French riots in the German criminal activity. 

 

Late March 2006 civil unrest in France consisted of large scale demonstrations that covered a wide demographic of participants.  These demonstrations were in response to a labor law aimed at increasing economic growth by reducing employment security restrictions of the age demographic 15-26 year old employees.  The demonstrators were largely within this age demographic and included a wide representation of members within the demographic: male and female, French citizens and immigrants, various trades.  In spite of the increased numbers and global inspection by the media, the demonstrations were well contained within security cordons and exhibited minimal violence.  The majority of violence demonstrated was perpetrated by masked youths attacking and robbing the demonstrators themselves.  The improvement of the security situation of these demonstrations over the Autumn riots were certainly a combination of factors but less likely an improved action plan by French authorities than the inability of any specific group within the wide-range demographic to turn focus to their special interest and  the dislocation of the labor demonstrations from the Autumn 2005 riot locales.

 

Current Issues:  

 

Italian fascists’ threatened Jews, Muslims, North Africans, Turks, Kurds and Arabs.

 

Open threats toward the Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany have been issued by an Italian fascist organization that claims unification with all European fascists to attack Jews and Muslims, specifically Turks, in Germany during the World Cup 2006. An attack against Muslim communities and individuals would reinforce the victimization theme of Islamist propaganda.  This would also lend credence to the right to defense call to jihad by Islamist propagandists.  Reports of anti-Jewish attacks would be dismissed by Islamists as an attempt by a Jewish-influenced western media to detract from the “real” victims, Muslims.  A fascist attack against Muslims in Germany during World Cup 2006 may trigger a sustained riot operation in communities across Germany with a significant Muslim population.  Because the threat is against ethnic demographics that are primarily Muslim, a spontaneous international response to an attack would escalate any Islamist pre-planned trigger-responsive operation in German Muslim communities.  Sustained riots in areas away from World Cup 2006 events would require reallocation of security resources drawing security from highlighted areas, or areas identified as needing additional security, which leaves reduced security measures that may not interdict mass casualty attack plans by either Islamists or other extremist organizations.

 

Demonstrations

 

Deutsche Bahn labor workers threaten to strike during World Cup 2006.  German railway workers may strike over plans by the German government to split up the state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn according to Klaus-Dieter Hommel, the head of one of two unions representing German railway workers.   According to German transportation statistics, more passengers travel by rail in Germany than by buses or planes.  Deutsche Bahn is an official sponsor of World Cup 2006 and a member of the organizing committee.  It has committed to running extra trains during the tournament.  Norbert Hansen, a representative from another rail union committed to strikes, if necessary in the effort to resist privatization.  He strongly indicated the strikes were inevitable and stated the timing for the strikes would be up to the politicians. 

 

            A transportation strike by laborers in the most utilized form of transport during the timeframe of an international sporting event could lead to a chaotic environment in which residents, visitors, and security personnel are vulnerable to any action in the range from civil unrest to a mass casualty attack. Knowing the necessity of and dependence on their labor, it is likely the transportation unions will use the threat of strike during the World Cup 2006 timeframe to negotiate terms for sustained employment and better contracts and severance for employees losing their positions in the split.

Soccer hooligans are planning to disrupt World Cup 2006.  Soccer hooliganism is a European term for zealous fans belonging to various soccer clubs.  These fans go beyond dedicated support to their local team.  They participate in criminal activity to draw attention to their wins and avenge their losses.  The activity includes rioting, vandalism, arson and murder.  Hooliganism was at its peak during the eighties and was reined in during the nineties through security technology break-throughs and concerted law enforcement efforts.  Hooliganism is yet a viable threat to sport gatherings.  British police, German military and police are preparing responsive action in the event of a hooligan assault.

 

Conclusion:  

 

A confluence of factors have set the conditions for  trigger-responsive action by Islamists that may precipitate a direct mass casualty attack during media gathering events, possibly the soccer championship, World Cup 2006.  The closed Muslim communities in areas vulnerable to attack must be opened and integrated into their respective host regions.  The intense ongoing Islamist propaganda campaign fed by inaccurate or incomplete western media reports should be stemmed by dispelling misinformation through direct dialogue and recruitment of goodwill ambassadors among moderate Muslim clerics.  Security planning should take into consideration confluent events and potential spontaneous actions. In order to mitigate the conditions and interdict an attack, a multi-pronged approach is necessary.  Long-term efforts through information, community outreach and security measures can prevent furtherance of the Islamist effort. 



[1] Muslim-a follower of Islam either by conversion or birth

[2] Islamist-a Muslim who under a strict interpretation of Islam believes, supports and considers it a personal mission to bring about the violent restoration of an Islamic Caliphate

[3] Mullah-religious leader in the Islamic faith

[4] Blogger-a weblog author or commentator

[5] Weblog- web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles

[6] Koran-sacred text believed by Muslims to have been revealed to the last prophet of God, Muhammad

[7] Fiqh-Islamic school of thought.  The primary fiqh are Jafari, Sha’afi, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Maliki

[8] Fatwa-a Muslim religious judgment or edict

[9] Mufti-religious leader in the Islamic faith