Monday, December 21, 2015

Hidden Jihadist Threat in Syria?

Hidden Jihadist Threat in Syria?

by Stephen Lendman

What motivates thousands of young men and some women to leave peaceful environs for conflict zones where the risk of death or serious injury is high?

Certainly not hoped for monetary gain for most. Is it mainly ideology? Yet religious extremism doesn’t automatically indicate a predisposition to violence. Most often it’s expressed peacefully. 

Perhaps it’s anger at political systems doing nothing to help them. So they’re willing to fight and die for something better.

French economist Thomas Piketty believes extreme Middle East and European social inequality is the key driver. Maybe youths vulnerable to mind manipulation is a factor. The Internet is an effective recruiting tool to attract people to a cause - for good or ill.

Why aren’t there comparable groups among members of the other major religions - attracting large numbers of recruits? 

Whatever the factors, many thousands of Muslim youths choose war under harsh conditions in foreign countries for whatever personal reward they hope to gain. Disillusion affects many along the way, yet new recruits keep coming.

On Sunday, London’s Guardian discussed a UK think tank saying radical Islam leading to terrorism goes way beyond ISIS. Its backer leaves its credibility in doubt.

The Tony Blair Foundation runs the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics (CRG). It claims most anti-Assad “rebels” hold views similar to ISIS, implying they’re mostly Syrians. Therefore, defeating Daesh alone won’t eliminate jihadist terrorism, it claims.

Fact: No one knows how many Muslim youths are prone to becoming terrorists.

Fact: The vast majority of anti-Assad fighters are imported from scores of regional, European and other countries. They’re all terrorists whatever name they assume - no moderates among them or enough to matter.

CGR claims at least 15 groups other than ISIS have around 65,000 fighters in Syria. “The west risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on IS. Defeating it militarily will not end global jihadism. We cannot bomb an ideology, but our war is ideological,” CGR said.

“If Isis is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place.”

“The greatest danger to the international community are the groups that share the ideology of Isis, but are being ignored in the battle to defeat the group.”

“While military efforts against Isis are necessary, policy makers must recognise that its defeat will not end the threat of Salafi-jihadism unless it is accompanied by an intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it.”

Putin’s anti-terrorism campaign goes way beyond combating ISIS. Moscow lists 160 terrorist organizations operating in Syria. Many are splinter groups - offshoots from ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and other larger groups.

New ones can arise any time. Key is less what motivates them - more where they get support, their foreign backers. 

Without it, they’re no more threatening than Western street gangs, societal rebels, operating extrajudicially through illicit drug sales and other activities - with no power to oust or dramatically change governments in countries where they live.

Defeating terrorism in Syria and elsewhere requires ending their foreign support. As long as Washington, its NATO partners, Israel and rogue Arab states provide training, weapons, and funding, combating terrorism could become an endless struggle - in one country after another.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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