Can you separate Muslims from ISIS?

ChristiansKKK

Are all Muslims complicit with wars in the Middle East?

Are all Christians complicit with the KKK?

Are all Christians responsible for the terrible act done by James Alex Fields Jr. in Charlottesville?

Are all Christians Nazi sympathisers like Fields?

Are all white male Americans white supremacists? All white Americans?

Are all white males Nazi sympathisers?

Some people blame everyone who they think aren’t like them, or all of a group they don’t like.

Are all Muslims responsible for ISIS terrorist acts?

All 1.6 billion Muslims? Why not all 3.75 billion males? Or all 7.5 billion humans?

Afghan attack, and arms supply

At about the same time a huge terrorist bomb went off in Kabul a top US general has confirmed that Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban.

Newshub: Kabul in mourning after fatal bomb blast

Kabul is mourning the victims of a truck bomb that killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds amid growing public anger at the government’s failure to prevent yet another deadly attack in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Wednesday’s blast, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ripped through a traffic-clogged street packed with people on their way to school or work during the morning rush hour, causing hundreds of casualties in an instant and sending a tower of black smoke into the sky.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a televised address late on Wednesday, calling for national unity in the face of the attack, which his National Directorate for Security blamed on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, but he faces an increasingly angry public.

“For God’s sake, what is happening to this country?” said Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast.

“People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family.”

There has been no claim of responsibility but Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security blamed the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate directly integrated into the militant movement, and said it had been helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service.

The Taliban have denied involvement.

Regardless of whether the Taliban were responsible the murkiness of the perpetual civil war in Afghanistan was highlighted by this from the Washington Post: Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms

The general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan appeared to confirm Monday that Russia is sending weapons to the Taliban, an intervention that will probably further complicate the 15-year-old war here and the Kremlin’s relations with the United States.

When asked by reporters, Gen. John Nicholson did not dispute claims that the Taliban is receiving weapons and other supplies from the Russians.

“We continue to get reports of this assistance,” Nicholson said, speaking to reporters alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “We support anyone who wants to help us advance the reconciliation process, but anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw two days ago in Mazar-e Sharif is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.”

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

“Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, speaking during his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary. He added that it would have to be dealt with as such.

In the past, Nicholson has criticized Russia’s contact with the Taliban, saying that it has given “legitimacy” to a group that has undermined the elected government in Kabul.

New American: Kabul Bomb Blast Could Be Used to Justify Increase in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb hidden inside a sewage tanker truck exploded during the morning rush hour in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on May 31, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds more, and damaging nearby embassy buildings.

Some have speculated that this bomb attack might influence U.S. policy on increasing troop strength in Afghanistan.

A few days agoGovernment considering sending more troops to Afghanistan at request of US

A decision on whether to send more Kiwi troops to Afghanistan at the request of the United States will be made in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Bill English confirmed at his weekly media briefing on Monday that the US on behalf of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has asked that New Zealand send an additional two personnel – taking the total team to 12 in the region.

A 20% increase in NZ troops! Only two more, not many, but one has to wonder if Afghanistan can ever be fixed. Peace is unlikely to to be able to be imposed by outside countries.

Manchester bomber identified

The Manchester bomber has been identified, and ISIS have claimed responsibility.

The bomber has been named as a 22 year old British born Libyan Salman Abedi, who comes from South Manchester (thanks Missy).

The Telegraph: Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber – what we know about him

The suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens more at the Manchester Arena has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.

His parents were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, just yards from the local girl’s high school, which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and grade A pupils, Zahra and Salma Halane, who were both aspiring medical students, left their homes and moved to Isil controlled Syria.

There were unconfirmed reports in Manchester that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.

PDB says:

If true it shows the difficulty one faces in stopping terrorism when the terrorists are home grown 2nd or third generation immigrants.

It shows that terrorism is not just a Middle East problem, nor just a recent immigration problem.

Abedi was named by Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins on Tuesday.

“As you would expect the police response to this across Greater Manchester has been significant as we support people to go about their daily business.

“Part of this response has seen us arrest a 23-year-old man in connection with the attack and we have also carried out two warrants, one in Whalley Range and one in Fallowfield that included a controlled explosion to enable safe entry.

“We understand that feelings are very raw right now and people are bound to be looking for answers. However, now, more than ever, it is vital that our diverse communities in Greater Manchester stand together and do not tolerate hate.”

I doubt that generating more hate has ever been a successful response to hateful crimes.

“I can confirm that the man suspected of carrying out last night’s atrocity has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. However, he has not yet been formally identified and I wouldn’t wish, therefore, to comment further.

“The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.”

On Tuesday, it was reported that the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Difficult times for Manchester and for Britain. Just like they couldn’t remove all people of Irish descent from England during the Troubles, they can’t wave a wand to erase everything Muslim from the country.

If led well the majority of people will rise together against terrorism and against hate, and stand against the divisive aims of the terrorists.

ISIS ‘caliphate’ crumbling?

The Guardian reports that as military pressure continues against ISIS in Syria foreign fighters are trying to get out of the caliphate.

Isis faces exodus of foreign fighters as its ‘caliphate’ crumbles

Large numbers of foreign fighters and sympathisers are abandoning Islamic Stateand trying to enter Turkey, with at least two British nationals and a US citizen joining an exodus that is depleting the ranks of the terror group.

Sources within Isis have confirmed that the group’s ranks in its last redoubt in Syria have rapidly shrunk as a ground offensive has edged towards Raqqa and Tabqa in the country’s north-east, where foreign fighters had been extensively deployed over the past four years.

Officials in Turkey and Europe say an increasing number of Isis operatives who have joined the group since 2013 have contacted their embassies looking to return. Other, more ideologically committed members are thought to be intent on using the exodus to infiltrate Turkey and then travel onwards to Europe to seek vengeance for the crumbling caliphate, raising renewed fears of strikes on the continent.

Among them, western intelligence agencies believe, are prominent members of the group’s external operations arm, who joined Isis from numerous European countries including Britain, France and Belgium, as well as Australia. At least 250 ideologically driven foreigners are thought to have been smuggled to Europe from late 2014 until mid-2016, with nearly all travelling through Turkey after crossing a now rigidly enforced border.

So good news perhaps for Syria, but potentially bad news for Europe and elsewhere.

Masrour Barzani, chancellor of security for the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, said: “The nature of the fight against Isis will change into an intelligence war. Defeating Isis militarily deprives them of territory and prevents them attracting and recruiting foreign fighters. This in turn discourages foreign fighters from staying in the so-called Islamic State and they will eventually try to escape or surrender.

“However, the threat foreign fighters can still pose upon returning to their countries should not be underestimated.”

That’s likely to be difficult to deal with.

Up to 30,000 foreign fighters are thought to have crossed into Syria to fight with Isis. The US government estimates that as many as 25,000 of them have since been killed. Around 850 British fighters have joined Isis or other jihadi groups such al-Nusra Front and in some cases the war against the regime of the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad. It is believed around half of these fighters have returned to the UK and around 200 have died.

Maher said a military defeat of Isis would cripple the group’s recruitment ability. “Islamic State has projected a narrative of momentum and success,” he said. “Their slogan has been ‘remaining and expanding’, and a lot of young people bought into that. As the caliphate begins to crumble, that same appeal simply isn’t there any more. It’s potency and relevance has been diminished.

“What you will now see is the most hardened and committed members of the group retreat to the desert as Islamic State prepares for its next phase, as an aggressive insurgency in Syria and Iraq. However, a significant proportion of its recruits from Europe and the west will lose confidence in the group and defect or surrender.”

So they are losing a lot of soldiers and their support looks like crumbling, but it doesn’t take many to cause problems if they spread out around the world.

Westminster attack: “clearly an interest in jihad”

London’s metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner “Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ, there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

In a statement Khalid Masood’s mother says she is “deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken” and “I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity”.

Guardian: Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had interest in jihad – police

Khalid Masood, who killed four people in the Westminster attack, had a clear interest in jihad and his method echoed the rhetoric of Islamic State leaders, Scotland Yard has said.

Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for UK counter-terrorism policing, said on Monday there was no evidence yet that Kent-born Masood, 52, had discussed his plans with others.

“His attack method appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks, and echo the rhetoric of IS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians, but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others.

“There is no evidence that Masood was radicalised in prison in 2003, as has been suggested; this is pure speculation at this time. Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ [al-Qaida], there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

There does appear to be at least an interest in the methods and aims of ISIS and Al Qaida, even if there was no direct association.

Masood’s mother, Janet Ajao, released a statement:

“I am so deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken that have killed and injured innocent people in Westminster. Since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident.

“I wish to make it absolutely clear, so there can be no doubt, I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity. I wish to thank my friends, family and community from the bottom of my heart for the love and support given to us.”

It would be a terrible thing for a parent to have their child involved in this sort of despicable attack. She has lost a son in one of the worst possible ways, and has to live with the stigma of the attack.

What to do about terrorism?

Terrorist attacks like yesterday’s vehicle and knife attack in London (in countries we have an affinity with, as opposed to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria) provoke understandable reactions around the world – fear, anger, sometimes hate. This is a primary aim of the attacks.

This is despite the relatively infinitesimal risk to any of us individually. We are at much greater risk of death by murder (about one a week in New Zealand), by vehicle (about one a day in New Zealand), by suicide (more than one a day). In an unknown number of cases vehicle deaths are suicides and sometimes suicide attacks.

One person’s terrorist can be another person’s ‘freedom fighter’ or allied military force. More innocent people are killed by drone attack than by the vehicle attacks that have occurred in Europe. This is a scattered asymmetric warfare.

It makes a difference if we have been where the attack has occurred. I haven’t been to London but I have been to a city in Germany that had an attack last year.

In most publicised terrorist attacks in the Western world the perpetrators turn out to be associated with Islam, and currently usually associated with ISIS.

The aim of ISIS and their followers is to spread fear as widely as possible, to create division and build hate between the Islam world and the Western world.

So far (fortunately) in New Zealand most of us have been only by perceptions, how we react feel about distant atrocities. We may fear being a victim, and we may fear what ISIS and others are trying to do in the world.

Some in New Zealand have more to contend with – they can become collateral victims.

Muslims in New Zealand must dread ISIS attacks, because it is common for people to blame not only the terrorists but also to blame all Muslims throughout the world, including New Zealand.

So New Zealand Muslims sometimes become the targets of abuse (which is contemptible), and must feel stares of unease in the streets and especially in buses and planes. This is unfortunate but it is a natural human instinct, no matter how unfounded the actual risk. And female Muslims in particular stand out by the way they dress (at least the ones that stand out do).

Not that long ago the UK had a reign of terror inflicted by close neighbours, the Irish. While they looked much the same as many others an Irish accent could cause unease.

Communists have been victimised not for being terrorists but for having a different political ideology – and perhaps for stirring up union unrest.

People of German and Japanese were ostracised and incarcerated during the Second World War.

Muslims (a very small minority of them) just happen to be the current perpetrators of terrorism.

We have to somehow deal with our feelings about terror attacks and our unease about risks to us here.

Blaming many for the actions of a few is common but doesn’t help. Driving division between all Muslims, stirring up hate and fear, this is what the terrorists are trying to achieve. They know it victimises many innocent people, that is part of their method.

We can and should condemn the sum who carry out and encourage terrorist acts.

But we have to understand smearing many innocent people is a reactive boost to what terrorists want – and it’s not fair on the targets of unfounded criticism.

If a black car crosses a white line and kills innocent travellers we don’t condemn all drivers of black cars, not all passengers in black vehicles.

If a P addict murders someone we don’t blame all pot smokers.

It makes no sense blaming a Muslim from Fiji for the actions of an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan or from Birmingham.

Terrorists aim to make many victims out of a single attack. We should resist adding to this by accusing innocent Muslims for something they have nothing to do with.

We have to hope our security and policing is vigilant and will prevent most if not all potential terrorists from attacking in New Zealand. We are lucky that the risks are relatively very small here.

We need to exercise tolerance and understanding as much as we can. We should avoid ostracising innocent people to avoid the risk of provoking one into a violent attack in reaction.

As in London we have to go about our lives as normally as possible – and allow all New Zealanders to do the same.

We have to be better than terrorists, much better, and avoid being drawn into playing their game for them. That’s our best way of winning against them.

ISIS try to capitalise off Trump

This isn’t surprising – ISIS and Al Qaeda are trying to capitalise off the actions of Donald Trump in immigration and refugee restrictions targeting Muslim countries.

There was always going to be a risk of escalation.

The Independent: Isis hails Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration restrictions as a ‘blessed ban’

Al Qaeda, Isis and other jihadi groups are thrilled with US President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration targeting Muslim countries, describing it as proof that the US is at war with Islam.

The new legislation signed by Mr Trump on Friday temporarily suspends the US’ refugee programme and bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) from entering the country on the grounds of national security.

Isis-friendly channels on the Telegram messaging service described the ban as “blessed”, echoing how the US 2003 invasion of Iraq was called a “blessed invasion” for reinvigorating anti-US sentiment in the region.

One user greeted the news of the “Muslim ban” as “the best caller to Islam”, hoping it will draw Muslim Americans to their cause.

Several posts suggested that the prediction of Anwar al-Awlaki – a US-born al Qaeda leader killed in Yemen in 2011 – that “the West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens” was coming true.

Of course this may be exactly what Trump wants – here’s a real risk he will use this as justification for strengthening his restrictions and perhaps increasing US military attacks in the Middle East.

Some in the US, and ISIS and Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups, seem to want an all out war between the West and Muslim countries.

This is a high risk game. If it does blow up big the only certainty is there will be unintended consequences, and it could get very ugly for many parts of the world.

When the threat is exaggerated beyond reason

From Time These 5 Facts Show Things in the U.S. Aren’t as Bad as They Seem

The United States is doomed. Americans have never been at greater risk of terrorist attack.

Based on history that’s debatable. There’s  as much risk in US from lightning strikes.

Killers either claimed by or who claim allegiance to ISIS have certainly added to the death toll from gun violence in the U.S. Fourteen people were murdered in San Bernardino, California last fall, and 49 more died during the assault on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Those 63 murders are 63 too many.

But if you’re a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, you’re as likely to be killed by a lightning strike than a terrorist attack.

With the horrible exceptions of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by domestic terrorists, and the attacks of September 11, 2001, there haven’t been more than 50 terrorist deaths in any year since 1970.

What about American tourists in Europe? Even after the recent terror attacks in Paris, Nice, Brussels and elsewhere, terrorist attacks killed more Europeans in the 1970s and 80s than they do today.

Defense against terrorism demands constant vigilance. Fighting ISIS requires both military action and state-of-the-art law enforcement.

But voters aren’t well served when the threat is exaggerated beyond reason.

The threat of terrorism to New Zealand and New Zealanders is even less. Much less. Based on history it is close to zero.

Terrorists aim to instil fear in populations, but their threats usually far exceed their capabilities.

We aren’t well served when the threat is exaggerated beyond reason.

Shearer on Syria and Turkey etc

David Shearer posted on Facebook:

Overnight, Turkey crossed the border into Syria: that’s a major escalation.

New York Times: Turkey, Sending More Tanks Into Syria, Steps Up Pressure on Kurds

BBC: Turkey warns Syrian Kurds to withdraw east of Euphrates

CNN: Why Turkey sending tanks into Syria is significantTurkish authorities have been pressed into taking action against ISIS by the surge of suicide bombings in Turkey, as well as the terror group’s use of safe houses and “informal” financial services on Turkish soil. But Turkey is anxious that ISIS’ vulnerability could provide an opportunity for their “other” enemy in northern Syria — the Kurdish YPG militia — who have taken several villages near Jarablus recently.

Syria, Iraq, Turkey, ISIS, the Kurds, Russia, USA, France – it’s very complicated.

Shearer:

The conflict in Syria is complicated, it’s horrific – almost daily there are serious breaches of humanitarian law including the bombing of hospitals. It’s something NZ is trying to lead on in the UN Security Council, sadly without much success.

Given the conflict has gone on for such a long time it can sometimes be hard to remember how it began. I’d recommend this backgrounder from the BBC:


Syria: The story of the conflict

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from so-called Islamic State. This is the story of the civil war so far, in eight short chapters.

North Korea: Trump a wise choice

Reuters reports that a North Korea website praises Donald Trump as “a prescient presidential candidate.

North Korea says Trump isn’t screwy at all, a wise choice for president

North Korea has backed presumptive U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump, with a propaganda website praising him as “a prescient presidential candidate” who can liberate Americans living under daily fear of nuclear attack by the North.

A column carried on Tuesday by DPRK Today, one of the reclusive and dynastic state’s mouthpieces, described Trump as a “wise politician” and the right choice for U.S. voters in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

DPRK Today also said Trump’s suggestion that the United States should pull its troops from South Korea until Seoul pays more was the way to achieve Korean unification.

“It turns out that Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate,” said the column, written by a China-based Korean scholar identified as Han Yong Muk.

I double checked – this is from Reuters, not the Onion.

In the crazy world of modern politics North Korea is not so keen on Hillary Clinton.

It described his most likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as “thick-headed Hillary” over her proposal to apply the Iran model of wide sanctions to resolve the nuclear weapons issue on the Korean peninsula.

With North Korea and ISIS appearing to be keen on a Trump success and praise of Russia’s Putin from Trump there could be some interesting international relations should Trump become President.

How will Trump see New Zealand? He is totally against the Trans Pacific Partnership so the Kiwi far left may applaud him for that. I wonder what he thinks of us allowing US Navy ship visits on our terms.