BLOG 238 February 2, 2015
Of course, the terrorist spill over in France and Belgium continues to create concern. The beheading of a Japanese journalist on Saturday conveys how ruthless and tyrannical the ISIS group and other jihadists truly are. After these attacks, one jihadist said, “Is there anything better than jihad or martyr?”
The attacks in France have backfired in Belgium. Terrorist are being identified and rounded-up. Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a Belgian researcher said the actual number of jihadists in Belgium is around 450, less that half of what France had to deal with. On the other hand, that is still a large number in a country of only 11 million people. The large Muslim population amounts to 5 percent of the population. For example, in the Molenbeek district that are 22 known mosques and that is four times the number of churches in the same area. It is suspected there are other secret mosques in the area and the police are hot on their trail.
The reason for this large number of mosques can be found in the unemployment statistics in the Molenbeek district. The unemployment rate is 40 percent and the district is the second poorest area in Beligum. Within this area are groups like Sharia4Belgium that are actively recruiting for fighter in Syria. This group’s leader Fouad Belkacem has a long arrest record for crimes like theft and assault.
The mayor Francoise Schepman believes that the “social networking” on the streets produces these jihadists. She notes that they could have just as easily tumbled into criminality. The recruiting approach is an appeal to their exclusion from the larger society. Of course, Muslims are well known for not amalgamating with the local society. Unemployment and social struggles are a more significant factors that religious conviction she believes.
On the other side of the world, the government of Yemen has undergone a violent change through the attacks of the Houthis group. It would appear the United States is a big loser. Signs proclaim, “Death to American, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” The Houthis wear these mottos on their arm bands, paint them on buildings and walls.
Their political convictions appear to be obvious.
However, on the scene political observers suggest it may not be as bad as it first appeared. They note Houthis is not Hezbollah. Charles Schmitz, an expert on the group and professor at Towson University, says the group has deep roots in Yemen, going back thousands of years. While they do have an alliance with Iran, it is believed they will not do the bidding of Iran. Houthis are also bitter opponents of Al Qaeda who consider all Shiite Muslims to be apostates. Others note there is more common ground between Houthis and America than might be expected at first glance. It is hoped that now that they are in power, the Houthis will seek some form of relationship with the United States.
The world of jihadists terrorism and revolution continues to evolve. It is always a challenge to stay up with the players.
Stay tuned. More to come.