Friday, 2 October 2015


Various items looking at PREVENT .


MEND comment on how the language used by the media is different for Muslims vs non-Mulims
How Non Muslims are labelled

How Muslims are labelled


Article quoting terrorism expert and The newly-appointed vice-chancellor at the University of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson:

"..if you look at reality, 20, 30 years ago, we had … the threat of nuclear war between the Eastern block and Nato [which has now] has dramatically reduced"

"Part of the genius of terrorism is for the psychological impact to be greater than the actual physical act. So if an attack is random - like the attack in Jakarta or Paris - if nobody is targeted, then nobody is safe. So it spreads the fear and terror...So I think people feel less safe, but I think people are actually a lot safer than they feel."


Spiegel article on the structure of ISIS and how it gained territory in Syria.

The article tells the story of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, known as "Haji Bakr" was one of a clique of former Iraqi army commanders who waged a guerilla war against the post-invasion Iraqi government and then used the rebellion against Assed to move into Syria. Spiegel have been able to access many of Haji Bakr's documents after he was killed in 2014.

Haji Bakr meticulously planned out the security and power structures to be implemented in Iraq, beginning with the opening,in 2013, of innocuous looking "Dawah offices" in Syrian towns. The people at these offices were under instruction to find out who the powerful families were, their sources of income and how they might be blackmailed.

According to the article, in 2010 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was made the official leader of the Islamic State in order to give the group a religious face.

And SPEIGEL describes how IS took over Raqqa in 2013:

"... the phase of infiltration was followed by the elimination of every person who might have been a potential leader or opponent. The first person hit was the head of the city council, who was kidnapped in mid-May 2013 by masked men. The next person to disappear was the brother of a prominent novelist. Two days later, the man who had led the group that painted a revolutionary flag on the city walls vanished..."

"Starting in July, first dozens and then hundreds of people disappeared. Sometimes their bodies were found, but they usually disappeared without a trace."

Following the execution of, Muhannad Habayebna, a well known civil rights activist and journalist, pictures of his dead body were sent to his friends and, within hours, around 20 leading members of the opposition fled to Turkey. "The revolution in Raqqa had come to an end."

The article also describes how, fearing a US invasion in 2003, Assad had funnelled fighters (via former Iraqi army officers like Haji Bakr) to Iraq to attack the US there. Later, in 2013, Assad wanted a force like IS in Syria as a way of selling himself as a moderate leader. The article comments that :

"IS leaders had no problem receiving assistance from Assad's air force, despite all of the group's pledges to annihilate the apostate Shiites. Starting in January 2014, Syrian jets would regularly -- and exclusively -- bomb rebel positions and headquarters during battles between IS and rebel groups..."

"IS threw its entire arsenal at the rebels, sending more suicide bombers into their ranks in just a few weeks than it deployed during the entire previous year against the Syrian army."


Article on the story of Sophie Kasiki, one of the few women who escape from Raqqa:
"While employed as a social worker helping mainly immigrant families in the Paris suburbs, Kasiki decided to convert to Islam, without telling her fervently atheist husband, believing it would fill the gap in her life. Her new faith brought only temporary psychological comfort, but introduced her to three Muslim men, 10 years her junior, whom she nicknamed Les Petits (the little ones) and teased like younger brothers.

In September 2014, the three disappeared, later turning up in Syria, from where they maintained daily contact with Kasiki. She saw herself as a conduit between three lost boys, who simply needed to know their mothers were missing them to catch the next plane home, and their distraught families. Slowly the roles reversed. “I thought I was in control of the situation, but I realise now they were probably trained to recruit people like me,” she said. “Little by little they played on my weaknesses. They knew I was an orphan and I had converted to Islam, they knew I was insecure …”


Nov 2015
One way of challenging the narrative of ISIS and similar groups is to point out that they spend a lot of their time attacking each other rather than, say, Assad's forces. Muslim rebels killing other Muslim rebels - its not a good look.

Nov 2015 : Jabhat Al Nusra kill ISIL leaders with suicide bombers (link).

Jan 2014 : ISIL recaptures Raqqa from Syria’s rebels(link)

"Eight fighters from Islamist and other rebel brigades died after a huge bombing carried out by ISIL fighters..."

Nov 2015
Powerful testimony from some women (nicknamed Aws, Dua and who lived under ISIS and joined the all-women Khansaa Brigade of morality police.

From Aws, who was married to an ISIS fighter:
"The Organization[ISIS] also cast a long shadow over her marriage. Though Aws had always wanted a baby, Abu Muhammad asked her to take birth control pills, still available at Raqqa’s pharmacies. When she pressed him, he said his commanders had advised fighters to avoid getting their wives pregnant. New fathers would be less inclined to volunteer to carry out suicide missions.This was one of the early, devastating moments when Aws saw that there would be no normalcy or choice; the Islamic State was a third partner in her marriage, there in the bedroom. “At first, I used to keep bringing it up, but it really upset him, so I stopped,” she said."

Regarding Aws and Dua:
"At night, Aws and Dua heard attempts at self-justification from the husbands they had waited up for and would go to bed with. They had to be savage when taking a town to minimize casualties later, the men insisted. Mr. Assad’s forces were targeting civilians, sweeping into homes in the middle of the night and brutalizing men in front of their wives; the fighters had no choice but to respond with equal brutality, they said."

On the death of Dua's husband, in a suicide mission":
"she learnt that her husband had died fighting not against the hated Syrian Army, but against a competing rebel group that the Islamic State was trying to wipe out."I cried for days,” she said. “He died fighting other Muslims.”. Just 10 days later, another man from her husband’s unit came to the house. He told Dua she could not stay home alone and would need to marry again, immediately."
[Under nearly universal interpretations of Islam, a woman must wait three months before remarrying]

The article states that
"That was the moment that broke her.The Organization had made her a widow and wanted to do so again and again, turning her into a perpetual temporary distraction for suicidal fighters. There was no choice left, no dignity, just the service demanded by the Islamic State’s need to feed men to its front lines."

The women eventually escaped to Turkey and the article describes how they support themselves by living with families they have ties with, whilst learning English and Turkish using funds they managed to bring with them from Syria.

BFTF suggested to some local mosques that testimonies like this might be useful in showing youngsters what life under ISIS is really like.


Nov 2015
A Guardian article reports on MI5 research that violent extremists are:
- most are "demographically unremarkable" and simply reflect the communities in which they live.
- mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants.
- mostly in their mix 20s when they become radicalised.
The research also says that the influence of extremist clerics has become less of a factor in recent years.

In addition, the article states that many of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly, and are religiously illiterate. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households.

According to the report, there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation."


July 2015
Sent the following to BFTF's local MP, the PCC and Notts Conservatives
Just wanted to make sure you were aware of two facts regarding the media and "Prevent"

Fact 1 : The work being done by the Prevent team is being hugely undermined by the constant corrosive drip-drip action of biased media reporting, particularly by the likes of the MailOnline (which is one of the worlds biggest on-line news sites, incidentally). This reporting is making it easy for those who are against the Prevent message to say to young Muslims "Look, the media is demonising you every day, you will NEVER be accepted here. All the government wants to do is turn you away from your faith".

An example of the way some sections of the media are working is shown in the link below.

Fact 2 : Although the constant stream of anti-Muslim articles has a very real effect on me and my family (both emotionally and in practical aspects increased hate crime and making it harder for my kids to get a job) the joke of a press regulator, IPSO, requires me to get the support of a "representative organisation" before they will even consider a complaint. This is an outrageous hurdle to put in front of a citizen wishing to hold the media to account and is, I believe, specifically designed to make it difficult for people to challenge the press.

I have two questions:

i) Why has the government allowed the press to get away with having a regulatory process that is designed to prevent people complaining?

ii) When is IPSO going to get fixed so that individuals CAN hold the press to account?

Received the following from the PCC:

"...I agree with the points you make and, with Nottinghamshire Police, work hard to give a positive image for all sections of our community.

Some of the comments in the national press are unhelpful and counterproductive"

Received the following from local MP:

"I share your concerns about the stigmatisation of young Muslims and believe that the Government should be making more of an effort to understand the concerns faced by Muslim communities.

I have written to IPSO's Chief Executive....[and] will write back to you once again once I have received a reply."

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