More On Abu Hafs Al Masri

The Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino has just stated that he considers threats against Italy by the Islamic militant group Abu Hafs Al Masri Brigade to be credible.

OBL expert and former US government adviser Michael Scheur also takes them seriously (and confirms the el mundo story indirectly):

On the tactical and strategic levels, the London attacks were quintessentially al-Qaeda operations. At the tactical level, the attacks were preceded by the usual al-Qaeda warning that an operation in Europe was near. On 29 May 2005, the AHMB’s “European General” posted a statement on the Internet that foreshadowed the events of 7 July. In part, the statement said:

“We direct a message to America and all its allies around the world that the desecration of the Holy Qur’an will not go by without a response. In fact, the retaliation will come soon in the near future, God willing.

All this, of course, if confirmed would bring us back to the Madrid bombings, and the Van Gogh killing in the Netherlands.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Terrorism and tagged by Edward Hugh. Bookmark the permalink.

About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

13 thoughts on “More On Abu Hafs Al Masri

  1. We all need to wake up in the west and stop agonizing over what WE have done wrong. The simple fact is that Islam and the culture it promotes, cannot be assimilated into western democratic societies without some major concessions on the part of the host democracies. The naivety of liberals who think it can demonstrates the degree to which some people are prepared to turn themselves into pretzels in order make the unworkable … work.

    A recent poll in the U.K. has 1/4 of all British Muslims (at least those prepared to admit it on a phone line), saying they sympathize with the actions of the London bombers. There is a subterranean consensus that exists among many Muslims that is “code” to the rest of us – cryptic and indecipherable – which lends tacit support to a world view that is inimical to our western values; even to our survival. Yet the starry eyed dreamers among us, the Marxists and humanists and do-gooding altruists, insist on overlooking the deep seated polarization that exists amd somehow imagine it can all be resolved with goodwill and charity lol! It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

    The Theo van Gogh killing is – in micro form – an example of the consequences of this cultural cleavage. The grotesque murder of the fifteen year old Scots lad Kriss Donald by a gang of Pakistani thugs is another. The hatred and antagonism is deeper than life itself for many, and no amount of altruism will ever change that in this lifetime.

    On a visceral level, this is indeed a clash of civilizations … a clash of ideologies … a clash of value systems.

    Many in the Islamic communities in Germany, the UK, France, Holland … have aspirations to “take over” the societies in which they live by outbirthing the indigenous – getting sharia law provisions included in governmental decision making – influencing the culture and popular thought by subverting everything in western culture they consider decadent and venal. Such a mind-set is not conducive to compromise or mutual understanding.

    We need to stop descending down this slippery slope blindfolded and take a look around. This rush to embrace “the other” since the unfortunate excesses of the Nazis, has become almost a psychological disorder. Europeans have reached a degree of personal alienation from their own roots, that simple talk of heritage and traditional values fills them with strange loathing. I find all of this very weird and disturbing, especially given the fact that Europe has introduced an Islamic culture that feels none of this self loathing about its own heritage and its own traditions.

    Time to wake up!

  2. “On a visceral level, this is indeed a clash of civilizations … a clash of ideologies … a clash of value systems.”

    Well ours certainly seem to be clashing alex.

    “unfortunate excesses of the Nazis”

    I’m afraid Alex we draw the line here at defending the holocaust. Bye bye.

  3. I was actually going to ask for that poll, as the only poll I had heard of gave it as 2%, but then I saw the “unfortunate excesses of the nazis” bit and I’ll be damned if I’ll go in for that sort of homophobic bashing of an entire people’s camp fashion sensibilities.

  4. “I was actually going to ask for that poll,”

    Actually Bryan I saw the 2% one as well, there have in fact been others with higher numbers knocking about in the press in recent days, but I haven’t seen any anywhere near as high as suggested above.

  5. Edward: I didn’t read Alex’s comment on the ‘unfortunate excesses of the Nazis’ as in any way intended to defend them – it seems to me bizzare that you would, for the simple fact is that what the Nazis did was a catastrophic misfortune to befall the people of Europe and the wider world. That is how I read the comment. I also find it distaseful that Alex’s post was treated with immediate derision, at what is otherwise a blog I do occassionally check up on.

    Of course I think Alex has a point. Europe is monstrously overgoverned – such that there is less and less room for the individual to govern herself. We now have a situation in Europe where we are becoming accustomed to our parliaments legislating on any area of domestic life the ruling majority feels like. If this situation continues, it cannot be too many years ahead when we could be bartering in our parliaments for the ‘right’ to eat something that may give offence to the ruling majority. What is important is not public rights and responsibilites and publicly sanctioned moral contracts between
    cultural groups – what is important is the freedom of each and every individual to be left alone to run her own life as much as possible, and it is precisely this that is being eroded day by day by the worrying over ‘inclusivity’.

    Why is it our friends on the political left can never get the idea of the individual’s freedom from the state through their heads? I for one do not want to live in a tyranny of the majority – which is what we heading toward.

  6. ‘unfortunate excesses of the Nazis’

    It’s the phrase itself Mike. This is what the apologists for the holocaust have been arguing for years, so if you don’t want to be confused with them, I think it better not to use it.

    How about:

    ‘unfortunate excesses of….

    Saddam Hussein,
    Hamas suicide bombers

    Wouldn’t you read people who said this as being some way apologists? I would.

    “Why is it our friends on the political left”

    Whose friends are these, and what has this got to do with Abu Hafs Al Masri? Frankly I’m lost.

    Btw. This blog is impartial between right and left. If you look around you’ll notice that extreme left poster Helmut Holzer was banned on the same day, and for the same sort of reason (in this case explicit anti-semitism). My take is that the extreme left and the extreme right are more or less the same bundle of works: intolerant.

    “what is important is the freedom of each and every individual to be left alone to run her own life ”

    Well the problem arises Mike when allowing that freedom to the extent that leaving one person alone to run their own life produces a situation where another person can’t ride the underground for fear of being blown up. We need some sense of balance. If it helps stop this, I personally don’t mind that someone somewhere is reading my e-mails, or going over my posts and comment here for that matter.

  7. @ everyone

    One thing I can’t help noticing is how extremists generally try to conceal their real views with more reasonable arguments. There is considerable evidence of this here in Europe, from the vocal members of Londistan to the new generation neo-fascists, in Italy, Austria, France etc. Now the curious thing is that if they ‘moderate’ their views too much, they just sound like anyone else. This means they are effectively wasting their time, so they get frustrated, and every once in a while a more revealing opinion comes out.

  8. “what has this got to do with Abu Hafs Al Masri?”

    Fair cop, I suppose it was a little off-topic.

    “I personally don’t mind that someone somewhere is reading my e-mails”

    Yet intelligence operations were not quite what I had in mind when talking about freedom from the state. I was responding to what I took to be the intended thrust of Alex’s comment – the influence of Islam in Europe. The more our parliaments are pushed into passing legislation to ‘protect’ or ‘include’ different groups in society, then the less liberty is left over for the individual.

    How is this relevant to the topic?! Well one might argue that the threat to our way of life in Europe comes not only from outright terrorism from groups like the Abu Hafs Al Masri Brigade, but from the increasing politicisation of society – i.e. the increasing ability of special interest groups to demand on legislation to protect their ‘rights’. The whole point of living in a free country is that you are obliged to meet life’s challenges through your own effort and intelligence, and not by petulently demanding that someone else serve your ‘rights’. And it seems to me that it is precisely through the increasing politicisation of society that lefties would like to solve the problem of home-grown terrorism. And I think this is a mistake.

  9. “Well one might argue that the threat to our way of life in Europe comes not only from outright terrorism from groups like the Abu Hafs Al Masri Brigade, but from the increasing politicisation of society…”

    One might, I think its a legitimate point of view, if a bit strongly put, but I personally wouldn’t go for it.

    Not that I’m in favour of big government, in fact quite the contrary. And I don’t think we will defeat terrorism by passing a lot of new laws. I think a very specific law directed to incitement to terrorism might be useful, since this would seem to follow the line of ‘criminalisation’ of the immediate terrorist environment which the judge Garzon has pursued so successfully with Eta in Spain.

    I said I don’t mind people reading my mails, if it would help catch terrorists, but actually I don’t think this kind of mass screening is particularly useful. What we need to do is penetrate the immediate host environment. This means ‘turning’ existing terrorists in custody and members of the petty criminal fringe, and it also means close collaboration with the security services of key muslim countries like Pakistan and Egypt. Possibly not ‘demonising’ Syria so much might be useful, since they seem to be fighting the Zarqawi people themselves, and doubtless have lots of useful information.

    On the Maalouf contract idea, and other changes in our attitudes I think we do need to make, I don’t especially envisage legislation here. The kind of contract I would have in mind isn’t a written formal one, backed by law, but an implicit moral one, adhered to by freely choosing individuals. Let’s put it like this. I live on the coast. Is there any law which forbids me to walk out into the sea to see how far I can go till I drown? I’m no lawyer, but I doubt it. So why don’t I do so. Because I can see it’s not in my interest so to do. Well, these are the kind of ‘waking up’ attitude changes I’d like to see, ones were people are capable of seeing what is in their best interest without anyone having to tell them it is. But from here to there…. well, there is a long road to travel.

    In general, I certainly wouldn’t want to see us living in democracies which had become a tyrrany of a majority over a minority. This was once the case in the North of Ireland, and I fear we may be in the process of facilitating the same in Iraq, and in neither case is the result to my liking.

  10. Funnily enough Mike, after writing the above I happened to browse the EUPolitix site, and I found what follows, which seems to conform with what I was saying. This is the only real change in legislation I would like to see right now:

    http://www.eupolitix.com/EN/News/200507/0c7fb0f8-7429-44cd-985f-525621017e3a.htm

    “The EU is to propose bans on indirect incitement, glorification or apology for terrorism following bomb attacks in London. The European Commission and national governments are to consider measures to tackle ?radicalisation? this autumn. Concern has grown over the potential rise of extremism among young Muslim men after it emerged that London suicide bombers were UK-born or British nationals. New EU measures could see European-wide action to take action against extremist preachers, websites, or others, sending out a public message condoning or apologising for acts of terror. ?Proposals will include the issue of incitement to terrorism,? said an EU official. ?Questions of broader definitions of incitement such as apology or vindication of terrorism will be on the table.? Measures are likely to build upon proposals already raised at the EU level and among the G5 group of UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. One definition from the non-EU Council of Europe may also find favour in Brussels, say officials close to the drafting process. ?Public provocation to commit an act of terrorism’ means? including [a public] message, although not directly advocating such acts, would be reasonably interpreted to have that effect, inter alia, by presenting an act of terrorism as necessary and justified,? states the COE convention on terrorism.”

    Clearly, as the article says, some of this conflicts with traditional UK notions of freedom of speech, but my experience in Spain convinces me that it is a logical step which really poses no significant threat to our fundamental freedom of speech.

  11. “One might, I think its a legitimate point of view, if a bit strongly put, but I personally wouldn’t go for it.”

    Why not, might I ask?

    “I don’t think we will defeat terrorism by passing a lot of new laws. I think a very specific law directed to incitement to terrorism might be useful, since this would seem to follow the line of ‘criminalisation’ of the immediate terrorist environment which the judge Garzon has pursued so successfully with Eta in Spain….I said I don’t mind people reading my mails, if it would help catch terrorists, but actually I don’t think this kind of mass screening is particularly useful. What we need to do is penetrate the immediate host environment. This means ‘turning’ existing terrorists in custody and members of the petty criminal fringe, and it also means close collaboration with the security services of key muslim countries like Pakistan and Egypt.”

    Agreed.

    On the idea of moral contracts: the notion of an implicit accord between people to cooperate for mutual self-interest is as old as the sun. The problem with it is that self-interests change – and that is why I prefer the term ‘experiment’ to ‘contract’.

    On the proposed EU legislation: I suppose this is reasonably justified, but it is hardly getting to the rub of the problem. The prroblem is not speeches from mad preachers, the problem is that they find so many listeners eager to act on what they hear.

    To be honest, I think that swift and efficient police and intelligence operations are the key to solving the problem – the foiling of terrorist plots can only discourage them in the long term – as will the recent capture and arrest of the July 21st lot. If and when the current generation of terrorists runs out of steam, the next generation will be having different ideas – hopefully that the capitalist west is not so bad after all.

    But what I am worried about is, as I said, the growth of government and the swathes of tivial domestic legislation – recent bans on smoking for example seem to be just daft, but then what is to stop the floodgates once they are open? The more legislation, the less liberty is left over for the individual – and liberty of the individual is what the west is historically all about.

  12. “Why not, might I ask?”

    Oh, the answers simple, even if the thinking behind it may not be: I think the two greatest threats to our present way of life are international terrorism and the demographic changes which are in the process of taking place. This would be my set of priorities. After that climatic change maybe.

    This doesn’t mean that I don’t think some of the issues you would want to raise aren’t important, but just that I would rate them down the list.

    Obviously if terrorism in Europe remains on the level it is now, it is mangeable without too many drastic changes, but the ‘if’ here is a big one.

    Look at the history of the Ira or Eta. The generational degeneration into more and more barbarity isn’t incidental in my view, it is one part of the dynamic. So with each change of guard on the ‘al qaeda’ type command the problem can increase. I don’t think this should be taken lightly.

    “the foiling of terrorist plots can only discourage them in the long term”

    Well yes, but the long haul here is going to be a very very long one I fear.

    “as will the recent capture and arrest of the July 21st lot.”

    Well obviously we are all very happy about this. But unfortunately it may be a pyrrhic victory. These guys really were ‘exendable’ (they should have already been dead remember) for the main organisation, and it may be that the investigation goes a certain distance and then hits another blank wall. It s a bit like one of those frustrating computer games unfortunately.

    “hopefully that the capitalist west is not so bad after all.”

    Hopefully by this time there won’t just be a capitalist west (in fact looking at Asia there already isn’t), but rather an increasingly successful capitalist north, south, east and west, as seen from whichever part of the globe you happen to be looking.

    Leaving terrorism, I said demographic changes since these are provoking all kinds of problems across Europe and the ex-US OECD world in general. We badly need to reform to be able to pay for things like pensions, health systems etc. If we don’t reform then things will get critical, that’s when the threat to democracy could come IMHO. You need to nose around some of my posts on all this for what I am saying to make sense.

    Climatic change again I would have thought was obvious. In Northern Europe the problem may not be so pressing, but the outlook over the medium term for Southern Europe between impossibly high temperatures, water shortages, and forest fires is not to be taken lighly. You mention smoking, well you obviously cannot smoke in any rural open area in Spain right now, many mountain and country tracks are closed to visitors, there are no open air barbecues. Maybe all this seems trivial, but this is just the begining, and these are ‘ways of life’ questions. Even sunbathing on the beach is now hardly the harmless activity it was when I was a child.

    Well, you asked me for my priorities, and you got them :). Neither you, nor anyone else need agree. Here I think you and I would agree, liberty is to do with deciding for yourself what you think is important.

    The area I guess where we would also find some common ground would be on ‘big government’ Brussels style. Obviously this issue is in summer hibernation at the moment, but come September I imagine it will be back with us bigtime. I also imagine we will be debating what kind of European Union we actually want to see in the future (assuming that is that you want to see one at all). When this happens your point of view will be more than welcome. I’m closing this down now, as I really am off for the summer, and I don’t want mindless spam clogging up the works. So have a nice summer youself, and hasta septiembre.

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