Since the terrorism wave in Europe started with Charlie Hebdo and the Paris attacks in November, Brussels has been presented as the crib of foreign fighters in Europe. The attacks of yesterday morning in the city, which is the heart of the European Institutions, have demonstrated that Brussels is not just the nest where the eggs are brooded, on the contrary it could be the vulnerable theatre of terrorism and fear.
The Islamic State (IS, or ISIS or ISIL) in Libya controls the coastal strip around the central city, Sirte, from Bu’ayrat al Hasun to Bin Jawad and down south to the vicinity of the Jufra oasis. In Benghazi the battle-hardened jihadists are part of the backbone of the resistance against General Heftar’s Operation Dignity. The group is also present in training camps to the south of Sabratha. Several smaller cells exist in Tripoli, Khoms and other coastal cities of Tripolitania.
Pope Francis will be in the Central African Republic (CAR) at the end of November.
Belgium is the main center of homegrown jihadism in Europe. Having been the base of the terrorist cell Sharia4Belgium, it witnesses a constant growth of foreign fighters coming back from Syria with strong and extremist ideology. It is not a case that this phenomenon regards mostly the 3rd generation of migrants: there are concrete problems of unemployment, discrimination and housing, that concern many neighbourhoods of the main cities in Belgium.
Police infiltration of political groups posing a threat to the British State and society has been the subject of intensive coverage by national media outlets for the past four years. Central to media stories have been some unethical techniques employed, and several controversial activities carried out, by two units working for the Metropolitan Police Service, namely the Special Demonstration Squad (1968-2008) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (1999-2011).
Social media, videos, online magazines, local radios, pamphlets and posters: ISIS has proven capable of adapting its communication strategy to strengthen its power locally, recruit new fighters or influence public opinion in Western and Arab nations. Not just images of war and summary executions but also constant propaganda to show that it controls its territory and is able to provide for its inhabitants’ needs.
This book analyzes the propaganda of the Islamic State, thanks to articles by researchers, communication experts and journalists. The purpose is to paint an exhaustive picture of the subject, combining meticulous examination of the historical and symbolic references in ISIS videos with careful analysis of editing and post-production techniques.
In addition, the book contains materials coming from the territories controlled by the so-called caliphate. These documents provide a better understanding of the internal propaganda of the Islamic State and the strategy it uses to create a narrative of the enemy serving its ideological designs.
At this year's Security Conference in Munich, the European Union's High Representative Federica Mogherini named Ukraine and Libya as her top priorities. She explained, "In Libya there is the perfect mix ready to explode and in case it explodes, it will explode just at the gates of Europe. […] The combination of elements present there is extremely dangerous for us and for the security of the region"(1).
As the dust and emotions still settle over the attacks by jihadists in Paris, there has been a great deal of commentary on the lessons we should derive from this tragedy. The focus has largely been on free speech, integration, intelligence failures, and the competing claims of responsibility by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). So what lessons should we draw?
A Matter of Integration?
13 years after the tragic events of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida can count on as many regional nodes as never before as well as on a still significant influence over the wider jihadi galaxy, thus showing the strenght of its message and of its modus operandi.
However, the past few years were marked by the surge of a number of factions that, while sharing several features with the group founded by Osama bin Laden, developed new and often competing political views. Such new actors pose a threat to al-Qa‘ida’s supremacy over the whole jihadi community.
In this context, the e-book "New (and old) patterns of jihadism: al-Qa'ida, the Islamic State and beyond" will adrees the following questions: how did the Islamic State emerge in Iraq and Syria? How serious is the challenge it poses to the international community and to al-Qa‘ida? What impact is to be expected on the Tunisian and Libyan Ansar al-Shariah branches operating throughout North Africa and beyond? Can Sinai become the next frontier of jihadism, and how is it affected by instability in Libya and Palestine? Who are the European jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq? How do security agencies perceive the threat of transnational extremist networks, and which strategies do they implement to face them?
Jihadism in Italy has followed a route that differs somewhat from the paths it has taken in most Western European countries. Italy was one of the first countries on the Continent to witness jihadist activities on a relatively large scale: as early as the first part of the 1990s, various Italian-based North African networks were playing a prominent role in the nascent global jihadist movement. Yet, in the early and mid-2000s, when most Western European countries were confronted by various challenges coming from both traditional and home-grown jihadist networks, the situation in Italy was relatively quiet.
This was the result of two factors. First, the pressure put by Italian authorities on structured networks either disrupted them or forced them to decrease the intensity of their activities. At the same time, this diminished role did not correspond to a growth of home-grown networks. Throughout the early and mid-2000s, Italian authorities did not detect any sign of the forms of home-grown radicalisation that were increasingly spotted throughout Europe.