Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Daily Times (Pak) - Islamist extremism in Europe greatest danger

Daily Times - Site Edition

Islamist extremism in Europe greatest danger

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: The greatest danger to the West from Islamist extremists is now centred in Europe, not the Middle East, according to two experts.

A panel discussion held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which featured Martin Walker, chief editor of UPI, and Marc Ginsberg, a former US ambassador, was moderated by Arnaud de Borchgrave, who frequently writes on the subject of Islamist extremism.

Ginsberg said that extremist Islamist “sleeper cells” were “rampant” not only in Europe but the US as well. Funds were not a problem. Money came not only from the Saudis but through the mosque network. These cells moved from country to country as the Hamburg cell that did the final planning for the 9/11 attacks had shown. However, there was a lack of coordination between European governments; their joint efforts could best be described as “tepid”. He said the three suspects in the Madrid train bombings had been known to the European police for many years and yet they had been able to mount the attack. There had been 10 terrorist attacks in Europe since 9/11, he stated. There was a new breed of Islamist terrorist abroad. He spoke about the Takfeeri Movement in Morocco and how it has joined hands with al Qaeda. These people believed in all-out jihad. Mohammad Ata, he said, was a Takfeeri, a cult that was very strong in Northern Morocco. It had since spread its tentacles in Europe and beyond. Its operatives did not wear beards and derived a good deal of their finances from petty crime, including the use of women. They were hard to locate as they had made deep penetration into Western life. The Takfeeri and the Salafi movements had linked up in Europe, he disclosed.

Martin Walker, formerly of the Guardian, London, said if Turkey got admitted to the European Union, the number of Muslims in Europe would jump from three percent to 20 percent which would have a dramatic political and social impact on the Continent. While most European Muslims were reasonable people, he said, and “EuroIslam” was liberal and democratic, the extremist elements had a very different worldview and a very different agenda. He said the increase in Muslim populations in Europe had serious implications. For instance, even today there were 72 Labour Party seats in Britain that were dependent on the Pakistani and Bangladeshi vote. In France, the French Socialist Party was out to woo the Muslim vote in order to win seats. The number of conversions to Islam in European prisons was on the rise and in Holland there was a “state of incipient civil war,” as one Dutch writer had put it. It was clear, he said, that the ideal of multicultural Europe had come unstuck. It was a policy failure. He said Muslim customs, such as “honour killings,” had been reported from different European countries, a large percentage of them from Britain. In the last 10 years, there had been 110 “honour killings” in Britain, according to British authorities. He said the Tableeghi Jamaat was active in Europe.

The two presentations were followed by a question-answer session in the course of which Ginsberg said that Iraq was now seen by the jihadis as the “second Afghanistan”. The flow of money into Europe for these elements was “staggering.” According to his count, 55 new terrorist cells had come up in the Middle East and Europe since the invasion of Iraq. He said another area of concern was “cyber-terrorism”. He was also afraid that the “Takfeeri model” would be adopted in Europe and it would ultimately be carried to the United States. Walker agreed and called the situation “serious.” He said there were “no-go areas” in European cities where Islamic mafias ruled. He said the “challenge” of Islam should be met by the West in the same way as it had met the challenge of communism during the Cold War. The struggle should also be taken to the cultural and economic front with the help of moderate Muslims, but there should be no “clash of civilisations.” He said that there had been a 30 to 50 percent increase in Muslim populations in Europe and the most popular name for newborn babies in Europe now was Muhammad. By 2030 or 2040, the number of Muslims in Europe would be formidable and the “underclass” would have taken over by outbreeding white Europeans. He said Muslims had not assimilated well in European society and few of them, for instance, cared to join the police or the armed forces of their countries of adoption.


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