As the United States and countries across Europe struggle with a resurgence of unexamined fear and antagonism, often directed against their own citizens, the imperative for better understanding could not be greater. Crusade 2. John Feffer discusses the influence of three "unfinished wars"--the Crusades, the Cold War, and the current "war on terror. This accessible and informative book shows how fear-mongering, when married to ignorance and selfish political agendas, not only threatens to marginalize entire communities of innocent people but also undermine the core values of pluralism, tolerance and fairness that define America.
Add in the injection of fear of Islam directly into the American bloodstream and the rise of Islamophobia as domestic political red meat, and you have a truly American nightmare. Feffer is its Homer and this is our sad Odyssey. John Feffer. Praise for Crusade 2. The Myths of Crusade 1 0. Hide Footnote — no organised resistance to the group manifested itself until ISIS secured control of the city and began to implement more drastic measures.
In one case, a young man was executed by being thrown from the roof of the highest building in Ben Jawwad after being accused of homosexuality; residents were forced to watch this and most other executions. Crisis Group interviews, Ben Jawwad residents, October Officials from the competing governments of the east and west for the most part failed to do anything about the situation in Sirte until it was too late. There were ISIS militants but they did not control the whole city because some Misratans were still there.
After that, they began targeting anybody who was a policeman, a lawyer or military — these had to be killed. Crisis Group interview, member of Sirte local council, Misrata, October Misrata, the military force closest to Sirte, knew of the changes in the area in late and early — at the time they had launched an offensive to take control of oil facilities in the Gulf of Sirte whose operation centre was only a few kilometres from an ISIS base in Nawfiliyya — but had other priorities.
Besides, Misrata had withdrawn from Sirte partly based on the assessment that it should not confront ISIS unless the Government of National Salvation it backed secured international recognition. This is unconvincing: while members of local tribes associated with Qadhafi joined the group, as did some Qadhafi-era officials, many also resisted it and many recruits appear to have come from anti-Qadhafi groups. Crisis Group interview, member of Sirte municipal council, Misrata, October Moreover, in the towns they controlled ISIS affiliates also persecuted many relatives of Qadhafi-era military officers because of their affiliation to the old regime, which they considered apostate.
But so did other ultraconservative groups that are less radical and now on the ascent, such as Madkhali Salafis followers of an influential Saudi strand of Salafism. The comparison with Iraq, where former Baathists provided ISIS with local knowledge and networks, remains superficial, particularly, according to Libyan and international security officials, as the bulk of the rank-and-file and key leaders of ISIS in Libya were non-Libyan. Once firmly established in Sirte after the suppression of the August insurrection against its rule , ISIS focused on three modes of operation.
First, it expanded slowly in the Gulf of Sirte, eventually controlling over km of the coastline to the east of the city and extending its control over major crossroads to the west, toward Misrata, and targeting infrastructure such as power and water stations. Hide Footnote Having established this safe zone in which to operate, ISIS increased its membership in Libya, which skyrocketed to some , by according to Western intelligence estimates, which now appear inflated.
David M. Department of Defense, April Crisis Group warned about a tendency toward number inflation at that time, estimating that a lower figure — , fighters — was more realistic. Second, it continued attacks in western Libya aimed at destabilising political and military actors there — especially Misrata — and also continued fighting the LNA in Benghazi. The most significant was against barracks used by Misratan forces in Zliten on 7 January , in which at least 50 soldiers were killed.
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ISIS also carried out a series of smaller attacks on checkpoints in western Libya, ostensibly to weaken Misratan control of roads leading to Sirte. Hide Footnote It also extended its influence in Sabratha, in the west, at least until the U. Department of Defence News, 19 February Third, benefiting from its polished propaganda machine, ISIS sought new recruits by depicting itself as a military force superior to militias and condemning both Libyan governments as apostates or agents of the West.
Its overall plan, aside from strengthening its military capacity, appeared to have been to weaken the rival governments and more generally sow chaos — in other words, causing disorder it could later exploit.
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That the rival governments and the main military coalitions aligned with each viewed each other as a graver threat than ISIS, allowed ISIS to continue unhindered for some eighteen months between early and mid, during which time only targeted U. Although there was insufficient Libyan consensus behind the agreement, many hoped that it would enable a united government to take the lead in combating ISIS and call for broader international support.
The LNA ultimately claimed to have driven most Shura Council combatants out of the city in early , with some external support. These operations — labelled Operation Dignity — came at great civilian cost, and human rights groups allege the LNA committed war crimes against members of the Shura Council. In partnership with allies in western Libya, including supporters of the UN-backed Government of National Accord, the BDB, which the pro-Haftar eastern government accuses of jihadist sympathies, conducted multiple attacks on the LNA in central and southern Libya as part of its effort to return east.
On 20 May , it participated in an attack on an LNA-controlled airbase at Brak Shati, in the south, in which over 80 persons were killed, including civilians. Crisis Group interview, Mohammed Dayri, foreign minister of the interim government based in al-Bayda, Brussels, February In the centre of the country, a coalition of militias mostly from Misrata led Operation Bunyan Marsous to liberate Sirte. Western officials, especially from the U. Crisis Group interview, U.
Hide Footnote While both the Dignity and Bunyan Marsous forces combatted ISIS in part because they felt directly threatened by the group, gaining international support was a critical motivation too: each side presented itself as a privileged counter-terrorism partner. Bunyan Marsous — which lasted from June to December — succeeded at great cost to the forces involved: fighters died and over 4, were wounded. Casualties mostly were from Misrata, whose units conducted most of the ground fighting.
Hide Footnote U. Half of the Bunyan Marsous fighters who died were killed by IEDs and suicide attacks that caused deaths at a time. Crisis Group interview, Misratan brigade commander, Misrata, October How sustainable is the situation in Sirte is another question. Misrata is not building a state.
Crisis Group interview, member of Sirte local council and Sirte crisis committee, Misrata, October Hide Footnote the Misratan forces that took part in Bunyan Marsous also are being drawn elsewhere and they themselves are divided in their loyalties; [fn] Crisis Group interviews, Bunyan Marsous commanders and officials, October March Prior to Operation Bunyan Marsous, an estimated 6, ISIS members were thought to be in the Sirte area, half of them fighters and the other half in charge of logistics.
Yet less than 2, of its members are estimated to have been killed, suggesting that either these estimates were inflated or many managed to escape. At the time, only bodies were expected to be processed. Many sub-Saharan African members likely were mercenaries; in this respect ISIS is no different than many Libyan militias in making generous use of hired guns.
Among those who escaped, many are believed to still be in Libya, moving in small groups and concentrating in the desert south-west of Sirte, near towns that also were Qadhafist strongholds such as Bani Walid, near Uweinat in the south east, and in Sabratha in the west, as well as across the south. Hide Footnote Some foreigners have headed toward their country of origin.
This is very worrying for the Tunisians and Algerians. The Sudanese went back toward Sudan. Crisis Group interview, senior European intelligence official, location withheld, May Crisis Group interview, army officer, Sebha, March The assessment of a senior European intelligence official concurs with this view:. The Libyans have melted into the background, into their communities and are laying low.
We were surprised to have only picked up signs of very small numbers headed toward Niger and Mali. And they have no particular attachment to Malian causes and rivals in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who might not welcome them. The regional context was defined by two developments that resonated strongly in the country: on the one hand, the rise of ISIS and its violent, revolutionary message; on the other, Islamist-secular polarisation and — in the jihadist narrative — failure of the strategy of pragmatic Islamists to participate in electoral politics, as demonstrated by the July coup against the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt.
Videos produced by ISIS as well as al-Qaeda aligned jihadist groups such as Oqba Ibn Nafa Brigade, operating in the west of the country and composed in part of the more hard-line elements of Ansar Sharia in make this clear, condemning Essebsi as an agent of Western interests and An-Nahda leader Rached Ghannouchi as an infidel. They advocated violent overthrow of the democratic institutions put in place since and challenged the consensus being crafted by political elites.
Crisis Group interview, researcher, Tunis, February Building on a theme pioneered by Ansar Sharia, ISIS emphasised feelings of injustice shared by large spans of the population — particularly those from marginalised regions and poor urban peripheries that most often encounter state brutality, corruption and social exclusion. Hide Footnote It frequently cited cases of police abuse — especially of Islamists and their families — as well as of the ill-treatment of Ansar Sharia members in prison.
While attacks by both ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups have taken place since the August crackdown on Ansar Sharia some of whose members joined one or the other , ISIS has focused on spectacular operations targeting civilians and state symbols. It marked a turning point, prompting a strong response from the security services.
Senior officials from the Ben Ali era were appointed to key positions and the government put in place far more draconian policing methods, including imposing a state of emergency. The degree of coordination among the various attacks — and whether they served a coherent strategy — remains unclear, even if hostility to the consensus between An-Nahda and its secular rival Nida Tounes was a recurrent message of ISIS in its propaganda. The most spectacular operation was still to come, however. The attack appeared to have been planned in Libya as a response to the U.
These non-Touazines rose through the ranks of the smuggling networks in the s, and especially after Most come from the foothills at the limit of Beni Gedeche province.
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Hide Footnote Over 60, mostly Tunisian jihadists — a mix of returnees from Libya and sympathetic locals — took control of major thoroughfares, attempting to get residents to join them and distributing weapons before storming the local police and national guard compounds. Hide Footnote They failed after security forces sent reinforcements; 36 jihadists, eleven members of security forces and seven civilians were killed.
The assault on Ben Guerdane was a shock, but the fact that security forces quickly took control of the situation boosted their confidence. It was well-prepared. They had support throughout the city. Crisis Group interview, European intelligence official, location withheld, March Hide Footnote Subsequent investigations into the attacks also contributed to dismantling other ISIS cells in Tunisia, contributing to making Ben Guerdane a turning point: although ISIS has claimed many small-scale attacks, mostly targeting security forces, there has been no major attack since then.
The strong security measures taken by the government in the aftermath of the attacks also raised longer-term questions that Tunisia will need to address as part of its democratic transition. In particular, they rekindled both polarisation between Islamists and anti-Islamists, especially regarding control of the religious space and debate about the kind of security sector reform that still must be implemented.
Crisis Group interview, regional counter-terrorism official, Algiers, September Hide Footnote very few individuals in Algeria itself — most probably less than — [fn] Crisis Group interviews, Algerian officials, foreign diplomats, Algiers, September-October To an extent, this reflects steps Algeria took after a January wake-up call, when al-Murabitoun, an Algerian-led jihadist group led by former members of AQIM, attacked the In Amenas natural gas complex in Tiguentourine, near the Libyan border. This eventually led to a restructuring of the intelligence agency chiefly responsible for counter-terrorism.
Since Tiguentourine, measures have been taken, especially with surveillance of borders. We are not in a situation where local populations are helping terrorists, unlike in neighbouring countries. Algeria learned the lessons of the s. We have built up our immune defences against radicalisation. All of the security services — police, gendarmes, intelligence — have improved their coordination, working together to identify places — mosques, prisons, etc.
The prisons are also much better managed. Another group, Katiba al-Ghuraba, announced its formation in July in the eastern towns of Constantine and Skikda.
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Composed in part of a previously AQIM-aligned group, Katiba al-Ittissam, it has carried out relatively small-scale attacks in the region which in turn prompted extensive military responses. Neither ISIS affiliate poses a serious threat to the Algerian state, even if those from the east have the possibility of gaining influence over contraband trade with Tunisia or seek refuge there.
Hide Footnote They nonetheless were met by a zero-tolerance response from the authorities, which stood in contrast to their prior stance of leaving open the possibility of amnesty for groups that lay down their arms. The orders were to kill, no prisoners. So if you want to surrender you still can, but the focus now is on force. Crisis Group interview, counter-terrorism researcher, Algiers, September Generally speaking, Algeria has put into practice a three-part strategy: massive force deployment against militant groups; pervasive security presence the ranks of the police, in particular, have expanded considerably over the last decade ; and, notably through the Civil Concord, a policy of national reconciliation that provided an amnesty to Islamist insurgents and, in exchange for leaving politics, allowed them to engage in conservative social activism.
Those who came down from the maquis imposed their laws. Crisis Group interview, political analyst, Algiers, September Such sentiment is common among educated elites across the francophone Maghreb. Overall, the feeling among officials and many analysts is that this strategy — however imperfect and often-criticised for its eschewing of accountability for the killings and kidnappings committed by militants and security forces in the s — has worked.
That said, the high costs of maintaining such an imposing security posture — in particular the deployment of thousands of troops at the borders with Libya, Niger and Mali — could prove prohibitive, especially given falling oil prices. Another concern revolves around a potential battle to succeed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been seriously ill for many years. This in turn could provoke infighting within the security establishment, although many analysts believe that any turmoil will be temporary and the army will remain firmly in charge.
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