The Forest Jihad Is Here

Nov. 29 2016

Prime Minister Netanyahu has now stated formally that some of the fires ravaging the country over the past week were caused by deliberate acts of terrorism. Although officials are still investigating specific incidents and determining the extent of possible coordination, a number of suspects have already been detained. Ariel Koch explains the origins of this tactic and its consequences:

[A]rson has served Palestinians as a weapon at least since the beginning of the 20th century. It was used primarily during the intifadas, with individuals and groups going out to set alight forests in Israel with the aim of causing economic and psychological harm. [And] it’s not just the Palestinians who have used this weapon—so has Hizballah, which deliberately fired Katyusha rockets during the Second Lebanon War at forests in the Galilee.

In November 2007, members of an online forum linked to al-Qaeda published messages promoting the idea of burning forests to wage jihad. Years later, reports kept popping up of jihadist involvement in huge blazes in Russia, Spain, and other countries. . . . The tenth issue of [al-Qaeda’s magazine] Inspire explained how someone can pull of catastrophic terror attacks (“operations”) with just a small matchbox. This way one can harm the “hotels, commercial businesses, wood houses, forests, and orchards of infidels.” . . . Perpetrators [in Israel] have honed their craft by learning when the weather is ideal for a fire—dry air and easterly winds—and what is needed to start a lethal blaze. . . .

However, it may be that the fires achieved the opposite effect. . . . The fires left no room for political or religious debate. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and others from all walks of Israeli society showed solidarity and enlisted to aid the evacuated residents. States along the Mediterranean came to Israel’s aid to put out the blaze, and the Palestinian Authority also chipped in. It seems that a wide range of parties oppose the fires, who will join in an uncompromising struggle against the jihadists who set them.

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The Forest Jihad Is Here

This piece was first published on the Hebrew-language website Mida on November 25, 2016, rendered into English by Avi Woolf, and republished here with permission.

In contrast to talk about a “new form of terror,” the weapon of arson has served radical Islam for years around the world, with the aim of causing damage and “sowing fear into the hearts of infidels.”

 

A wave of fires is raging throughout Israel, causing great damage and leading to furious debates and rumor mills regarding their cause. Is this deliberate, negligence, or just a matter of the weather? The answer, so it seems, is a combination of the three. Some of the fires may indeed be the result of negligence, but such a large number of them in so many places suggests deliberate intent, helped by changes in the weather.

Indeed, police officials spoke this week of a “wave of arson,” and even arrested some suspects. At a press conference convened in burning Haifa by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, the fires were described as “terror,” and Minister Erdan even defined the “arson terror” as a new phenomenon which Israel is now coping with. But in fact, this isn’t the first time terrorists have made use of the arson weapon, and the idea has been widespread on the internet for years. The main party spreading it is al-Qaeda.

While Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership hid in the Afghan-Pakistani hills, Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, the organization’s ideologue and strategist, published a two-volume book entitled A Call for Global Islamic Resistance. In his book, al-Suri calls on supporters of global jihad to hurt the West via urban combat and terror, individually and in groups. He provided inspiration for the terrorists who bombed Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. Marc Sageman, a former psychiatrist working for American intelligence called this approach “leaderless jihad.” After the attack by terrorist Mohammad Merah on the Jewish Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse, the head of Europol called it “the new jihad.”

 

DIY Terrorism

The new jihad is embodied more than anything by the online terror magazine Inspire, produced by the Yemenite branch of al-Qaeda. It first came out in the summer of 2010 and is aimed at a young audience, with the goal of enlisting Muslims to engage in hostile activity against Israel, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other countries seen either as enemies of Islam or as occupying Islamic territory. When we speak of “lone-wolf” terrorism, we cannot ignore this magazine, which provides inspiration and direction for potential terrorists, including tips “from al-Qaeda’s chef” on how to build bombs “in your mother’s kitchen.”

The various issues include instructions for a variety of terror attacks including burning parked vehicles, pouring oil or nails at dangerous points in the road, turning an all-terrain vehicle into a “human lawnmower” with the help of sharpened blades put on the front of the vehicle, blowing up buildings with gas balloons, as well as burning forests, orchards, and wooden structures. By the way, the magazine also published a “hit list” including Stéphane Charbonnier, editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He was indeed murdered in a January 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices.

According to an article published by retired Colonel Jonathan Fighel of the International Institute for Counterterrorism at the IDC in Herzliya, arson has served Palestinians as a weapon at least since the beginning of the 20th century. It was used primarily during the intifadas, with individuals and groups going out to set alight forests in Israel, with the aim of causing economic and psychological harm. According to the article, it’s not just the Palestinians which have used this weapon—so has Hizballah, which deliberately fired Katyusha rockets during the Second Lebanon War at forests in the Galilee.

In November 2007, members of an online forum linked to al-Qaeda published messages promoting the idea of burning forests to wage jihad. Years later, reports kept popping up of jihadist involvement in huge blazes in Russia, Spain, and other countries. reports kept popping up of jihadist involvement in huge blazes in Russia, Spain, and other countries. Then, in the wake of a lethal blaze which took place in Russia, the following was written by jihad supporters: “Praise be to Allah, there is now blessed weather, and now everyone of us has a golden opportunity to deal great damage to the infidels, to sow fear in their hearts and weaken them, and all this with just a few matches.” That fire took the lives of dozens and left thousands homeless.

In January 2012, a group identified with al-Qaeda announced that its members were “declaring war on America.” The statement included the taking of responsibility for a fire in the forests of Nevada, and a call on Muslims to do everything they can to harm the state of Israel and its allies until the end of the Israeli occupation and the expulsion of the foreign presence on Islamic soil. Four months later, a similar group took responsibility for a number of arsons in Israel (Ashkelon, Umm el-Fahm, Haifa).

 

Taking the War to the Enemy

The tenth issue of [al-Qaeda’s magazine] Inspire explained how someone can pull of catastrophic terror attacks (“operations”) with just a small matchbox. This way one can harm the “hotels, commercial businesses, wood houses, forests, and orchards of infidels.” This way one can harm “hotels, commercial businesses, wood houses, forests, and orchards of infidels.” According to Inspire‘s editors, hitting these targets “takes the war to the enemy’s territory” and causes them to “re-examine their aggressive anti-Muslim policy.”

They explain that these are simple actions which can be carried out hit-and-run style and can even be done a few times in one day, which will lead to “the spreading of a feeling of insecurity among the population” and affect broad swathes of society. The idea of forest jihad was also promoted in the twelfth issue of Inspire.

It would seem that arson has become a particularly popular weapon against Israel in recent years, thanks primarily to its destructive potential and effect on Israel’s citizens. Perpetrators have honed their craft by learning when the weather is ideal for a fire—dry air and easterly winds—and what is needed to start a lethal blaze. In recent years attempts have been made which have now paid off. However, it may be that the fires achieved the opposite effect.

The recent fire wave has drawn the attention of the public, the media, and decision makers to the phenomenon of forest jihad. The fires left no room for political or religious debate. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and others from all walks of Israeli society showed solidarity and enlisted to aid the evacuated residents. States along the Mediterranean came to Israel’s aid to put out the blaze, and the Palestinian Authority also chipped in. It seems that a wide range of parties oppose the fires, who will join in an uncompromising struggle against the jihadists who set them.

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More about: Al Qaeda, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror, Terrorism

 

Nikki Haley Succeeded at the UN Because She Saw It for What It Is

Oct. 15 2018

Last week, Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. When President Trump appointed her to the position, she had behind her a successful tenure as governor of South Carolina, but no prior experience in foreign policy. This, writes Seth Lispky, turned out to have been her greatest asset:

What a contrast [Haley provided] to the string of ambassadors who fell on their faces in the swamp of Turtle Bay. That’s particularly true of the two envoys under President Barack Obama. [The] “experienced” hands who came before her proceeded to fail. Their key misconception was the notion that the United Nations is part of the solution to the world’s thorniest problems. Its charter was a vast treaty designed by diplomats to achieve “peace,” “security,” and “harmony.”

What hogwash.

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience—but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows that they’re in a viper pit—that the UN is itself the problem. And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference, [in which she said of the UN’s obsessive fixation on condemning the Jewish state]: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. . . . I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

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More about: Nikki Haley, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations, US-Israel relations