Winning: Meanwhile, In The Nooks and Crannies


November 14, 2007: The war on terror is being fought in lots of places you never hear about. There have been lots of victories. But since success does not attract as much attention as failure, you rarely hear about the wins. There have been a lot of them.

Al Qaeda has been trying to establish itself in northern Nigeria, where most of the people are Moslem. Sharia (Islamic) law has been established in some parts of the north. This was done to deal with the rampant corruption, but has not worked. Mainly it has inflamed the already testy relations between Moslems and Christians. There has been some Islamic radicalism in the north, but more like the Taliban than al Qaeda. The police (local and national) have been quick to crack down on any outbreaks of Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda has talked about establishing operations in northern Nigeria, but so far has had little success.

In Iran's northern neighbor, Azerbaijan, about twenty percent of the population is Sunni Moslem, with the Shia (like most of Iran) in the majority. Moreover, Azerbaijan actually extends into Iran, where about a quarter of the population are Azeri Turks, like most Azerbaijanis. The two countries have had good relations, even though Azerbaijan has shown little interest in establishing their own Islamic Republic. One thing the two countries do agree on is that al Qaeda is bad for Shia Moslems. Al Qaeda believes Shia are heretics, and has killed many for that reason. In the last decade, Saudi Arabia has sent Islamic radical preachers in to cater for the Sunni minority in Azerbaijan. This has led to the formation of some Islamic radical groups. This year, the government began cracking down on these groups, and is not inclined to let up.

Bosnia had several thousand Islamic radicals move in, most during the 1990s. That's when the Bosnian Moslems were fighting a civil war against local Serb and Croat Christians. Any help was appreciated. Many of these foreign Moslems married local women and settled down. But some remained involved in Islamic radicalism, while others got involved in criminal activities. Some did both. Saudi Arabia contributed by sending Islamic radical preachers, and money for new Mosques and Islamic schools. Saudi Arabia has been doing this world wide for over two decades, and has been reluctant to give it up. That's because it gives the Saudis a good way to get rid of many Islamic radicals. Otherwise these hotheads would have to be jailed or killed, which would just turn them into martyrs for other Islamic radicals. Most Bosnians tried to be tolerant about this growing Islamic radicalism in their midst, but now the Islamic radicals are getting aggressive, and physical, and the hospitality is running out. This year Bosnia decided to revoke the citizenship of 620 foreign Moslems and deport them. This was denounced by Islamic radicals at home and abroad. But threats of Islamic violence have come to nothing and the deportations are proceeding. Some of the Islamic radicals are trying to move their operations to Austria, where the government has been tolerant of such activities. But the Austrians are getting a little nervous about how their community of Islamic radicals is growing. What al Qaeda wants to do in Bosnia and Austria is use the two countries as a base for attacks on more hostile (to Islamic radicals) nations, like France, Spain, Germany and Britain. The Bosnians are fed up with the Islamic radicals, and the Austrians are nearly as exasperated.

Right now, the most hospitable European country for Islamic radicals is Belgium, where leftist politicians shield the Moslem community from too much scrutiny, in return for votes. This is turning out to be a dangerous game, as one would expect. The growing Islamic radical activity in Belgium is causing the majority of Belgians to question the way counter-terrorism operations are being conducted.


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