Monday, May 23, 2011

The European Islamist labyrinth, by Ioannis Michaletos

The Pan-European web of Islamist organizations, linked either with extremist rhetoric or actions, is not only a nexus between organizations, NGO’s and individuals based in several countries and adhering to a common set of beliefs, but also an international complex structure that requires constant monitoring and analysis before it is possible to pin point the exact nature of its activities.
The following brief will summarize a few aspects of the aforementioned, in order to provide clues for a more detailed research and to emphasize the complexity of the issue.
According to sources from the Jihad Watch service, the Islamic movement in Spain for instance, is largely powered by a group of approx 1000-1500 native Spanish converts who know how to work the system better and are more organised than the immigrant Muslims.

t is these converts, mainly based in Granada, who push for more mosque-building and state support for their ‘culture’ and who had their greatest success when the Granada mosque was finally opened in 2003 – financed by Islamic capital from the Middle East.
Some snippets from the inauguration speeches:
“With the building of the new mosque, Paris, Rome and Madrid, like Beirut, Cairo and Istanbul are part of the Islamic world, in which three cities, diversity and mutual respect have prevailed for centuries” [!] – Representative of the Turkish PM.
“A new, fascinating stage in the expansion of Islam has begun” – President of the mosque foundation (convert).
“Islam is more than a religion. It is an anti-materialistic philosophy of life. Its victory is unstoppable.” – Director of the Murabit Centre (convert).
The director then handed over to the young Spaniard Ismail Perez, who recited the Koran in clear Arabic, a demonstrating that the new generations of Spanish Muslims are the heirs of the pioneers who began ushering in the return of Islam to Andalusia in the 80s.
These converts call themselves Sufis, or members of the ‘Murabitun’ sect, one that is mainly founded by one Ian Dallas (aka Sheikh Abdalqadir al-Murabit as-Sufi), a Scot who joined a mystical Sufi order in Morocco at the end of the 60s.
The sect wants to establish a totalitarian Caliphate, but not through military means. They want to bring down capitalism and democracy by getting rid of paper money and introducing an Islamic currency, based on the Gold Dinar. These dinars were first minted in 2001 and a Spanish convert travels the world propagating them. More about this currency can be read at Abdulqadir’s site. They also have a base in Norwich, UK.
The Murabitun sees itself as the representatives of the oppressed – the poor, debtors, anti-globalisation activists etc. They can be basically classified as a “Radical Dawah group”. According to a very interesting report published by the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in 2007 radical Dawah “refers to the activities of Islamic missionary organizations, mosques and preachers imparting a radical, ultra-orthodox message. These movements are described as ultra-orthodox because they are highly rigid in their theological interpretations and resist all forms of religious modernity. Their radicalism lies in the fact that they want to fundamentally reform society and in doing so they reject the Western democratic legal order.”
As it is stated above, it was these converts who started the push for the reconquista of Granada as a first step with the help of certain Arab governments, the Partido Communista of Spain and the Izquierda Unita (United Leftists). These latter two mourn with the Muslims every 2nd January, the date Christendom celebrates the Reconquista. Similar findings can be found nowadays in Italy, France and increasingly in Greece where leftists are actively collaborating with Islamists not in an ad hoc basis, but by establishing common political platforms and exchanging information, resources and ideological arguments.
The Murabitun are also active in Germany, again the leader is a convert, Andreas Abu Bakr Rieger, who associates openly with the Turkish Islamist organization Milli Goros and is active in the Association of Muslim Lawyers which attacks the perceived by them as ‘corrupt financial systems’.
The Turkish MILLI GOROS, has its headquarters in Germany and has approximately 29,000 active members, but its overall reach is around 250,000 people, mostly Turkish immigrants in the country, but also German converts and some Arab Sunnis residing in Germany, as well as Central Asians and immigrants from Caucasus. It has influence either direct or indirect in some 2,500 local immigrant groups, associations and foundations in Europe and in about 500 Mosques.
Milli Goros has smaller branches in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. In all, 214 mosques in the Benelux countries, France, Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland are claimed by the association as their own.
Furthermore, according to a 2010 report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, some leading Muslim groups in Europe are loosely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, including the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), Muslim Association of Britain, Islamic Community in Germany and Intercultural Islamic League of Belgium, the Turkish group Milli Goros and the Pakistan-based Jamaat-i-Islami have similar Islamist roots.
In quite a few public occasions members and officials from Milli Goros have been criticised for extremist rhetoric and the German counterintelligence is researching their connections for the past 15 years at least. It is no secret that this particular organization is strongly linked with the current Islamist government of Turkey and the apparatus of the Turkish premier Erdogan.
Another organization of Turkish origin in Germany loosely linked to Milli Goros, is the Islami Haraket, based in Berlin with several branches in other cities such as Cologne, and according to several journalist sources, is related to extremists from Algeria for quite some time.
Continuing, Ronald Sandee of the American Foreign Policy Councli, reporting on the situation in the Netherlands, reveals that: “The Kaplan or Tebliğ movement is an offshoot of Milli Görüs. In the Netherlands, it controls three mosques and is headquartered in the southeastern town of Oss. The movement is also called the Kalifat movement—a reflection of its aim to restore the old Ottoman Caliphate. Its tone is far more radical than that of Milli Görüs. The group is known to have received money from Middle Eastern sources, specifically from radical Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, who has long been connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Moreover, in July 2010, Germany has outlawed the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V. (IHH Germany), saying it has used donations to support Hamas, which is considered by the European Union and Germany to be a terrorist organization, while presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian help. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, “Donations to so-called social welfare groups belonging to Hamas, such as the millions given by IHH, actually support the terror organization Hamas as a whole.” IHH e.V. was believed by the German Authorities to have collected money in mosques and to have sent $8.3 million to organizations related to Hamas.
The IHH mother branch in Turkey (Although themselves deny the link with the “German IHH”), is the one that organized the infamous flotilla venturing to Gaza strip in late May 2010, where the vast majority of the persons aboard where related with the web of the organizations in Europe that are linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, along with, a variety of leftist groups that are now openly collaborate with them, as it was mentioned earlier.
According to the parliamentary initiative by Italian MP’s during the summer 2010, İHH is tied to Hamas and to the Union of God, an organization designated by the US Treasury has as a financial supporter of terrorism. The Coordinating Council of German Nongovernmental Organizations against Anti-Semitism also called on the German government to place İHH on the EU list of terrorist organizations, because “like Hamas the İHH is an anti-Semitic organization that promotes terrorism”.
The Turkish İHH places great pride in its charity work. It is the organizer of Africa Cataract Project which aims to fight against blindness in Africa. The project aims at performing 100.000 free cataract surgery operations in ten African countries: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, Niger, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso. The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) is now present in 41 African countries, and has spent many millions of dollars on humanitarian operations.
The charity work seems to be related closely, with the direction of the Turkish foreign policy and the Islamic movement in that country and beyond. In a recent interview for the news and analysis service, Christopher Deliso interviewed Turkish experts on the role of Ankara into Africa, and interesting features of it were made known.
In November 2006 in Istanbul, the Turkish government organized a historic “Religious Leaders Meeting of African Continent Muslim Countries and Societies”. In 2009 the government invited through its embassies 300 African Islamic students to study theology in Turkey. A major new trade organization in Turkey, the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON), was founded in 2005, and it apparently represents 11,500 businessmen and has organized (among its other trade conferences) three sessions with Africa, in which thousands of Turkish businessmen have been informed of opportunities in Africa.
Recently, the Oxford Business Group, announced around the 1st Gabon-Turkey Forum which is organised by the Gabonese Ministry of Economy, Trade, Industry and Tourism that will be held on 25 March 2011 at the City of Democracy in Libreville, capital of Gabon. Over 500 participants are expected and the Gabonese business community will attend this event: National agencies, representatives of ministries, companies … More than 120 Turkish businessmen, members of the Turkish Confederation of Industrialists and Businessmen (TUSKON), and representing companies in areas as diverse as food, energy, automotive, tourism, textile, construction and infrastructure development, health products and hygiene and safety equipment will be present.
In parallel the Islamic element in the Turkish administration created more umbrella organizations. The Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (UNIW) is based in Istanbul and was inaugurated in 2005 having the full back-up of the Erdogan administration in the country. Nowadays it includes dozens of NGO’s from many Islamic countries, including Seychelles, Somalia, Bahrain and others. Amongst its senior members one can find persons of influence from the UK Muslim community, the American one, and countries in the Balkans, in Morocco, Sudan and Iran.
It is the quintessential soft-power NGO umbrella organization that runs in parallel with the rest of the labyrinth of organizations that were established in Turkey over the past decade and aim into amalgamating the web of Islamists across the world into a thorough structure, able of lobbying effectively and to a grand scale. The presence of African states in the UNIW is illuminating of the trial by the Turkish Islamists of creating a triangle structure Europe-Africa-Middle East, with Istanbul in the epicentre of such action hence the motives are also closely linked with the ambitions of the Turkish foreign policy establishment, regardless of the religious element.
The above multitude of newly-established Islamist connections, seemingly evolved from circles within Turkey, is by coincidence revolving with the mass transfer of illegal immigrants from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa into Europe, which accelerated especially after 2004.
Presently, Turkey has lifted travel restrictions with countries such as Morocco and with air travel prices as cheap as 40 Euros (One way), young prospective immigrants travel from Rabat to Istanbul and thereafter they are being transported to the Turkish-Greek or Turkish-Bulgarian borders where they cross illegally into their way for the EU. Security forces from those countries, have numerously informed the press, that the new wave of North African illegal immigrants, has been in contact with members of the Turkish organized crime that transport them up to the borders and provide them with information, even how to apply for an asylum, so as to make use of the lax laws and bureaucracy that allow temporarily stay until the clearance of the asylum process.
Lastly, a Greek security analyst, Omiros Fotiadis in a series of researches for Greek and American editions, pointed out in great length of the nexus between Turkish and Albanian Islamic linkages in Europe and provided a list of organizations such as: “DOMOVINA ZOVE”, “KLUB RUGOVA”, “KLUBDIPOWA”, “KLUB U GALENU”, “KLUB PRARIMI”, “KLUB FAIKKOWFCA, that operate as cells of influence for the Albanian radical networks in the Balkans and as means of assisting Turkish operations in Europe. It is not of coincidence that since 1982 and in the height of the Cold War, in Smyrna-Turkey, the Albanian organization “ADJ” was established under the control of the Turkish intelligence that proved to be the nucleus of the Kosovo Liberation Army that became well-known some 15 years later in the Balkans.
The issue of international Islamic terrorism, extremism and the role of state interests and translational organized crime, is by essence a holistic perspective that has to be researched and analyzed in a conclusive fashion and not in a compartmentalize manner. From the urban centres of Morocco, to the converts of Spain and to the German metropolises, a web of relations characterized by the prevalence of Islam as a political force is emerging in a fast mode. There are already substantial evidence, that the Turkish state is pursuing its perceived national interests by exploiting and increasing the depth of these Islamic linkages.
To all the above, the recent upheaval in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and other Muslim countries should be taken into account, because they may actually prove to be a catalyst for the emergence of a single-entity Islamic political force in the European countries that will not be able to be controlled by semi-official agreements by leaders such as Kadaffi who were eager to exploit the Islamic element for purely personal political reasons.
In short, the present state political geography in Europe is at stake of major tremors in the coming months and years. The present brief is merely a snap-shot of the situation which needs all-conclusive measures and above all policy initiatives, before it proves to be catastrophic for the unity of the European Union and the stability of many states within it.
Lastly, terrorist action, extremism, organized crime and initiatives of “soft-power” nature by Islamic centres, is best to be looked upon in a holistic approach, since the perils associated with are of grave nature to be overlooked.