The Jihad on the Christian Cross

The Jihad on the Christian Cross

06/07/2019 by Raymond Ibrahim 3 Comments

Cover story photo of the 15th issue of Islamic State magazine, Dabiq, titled “Break the Cross.”

A 37-year-old Muslim migrant in Rome was recently arrested for homicide after he stabbed a Christian man in the throat for wearing a crucifix around his neck.  “Religious hate” is cited as an “aggravating factor” in the crime.

This is hardly the first “religious hate” crime to occur in the context of the cross in Italy.  Among others,

  • A Muslim boy of African origin picked on, insulted, and eventually beat a 12-year-old girl during school because she too was wearing a crucifix
  • A Muslim migrant invaded an old church in Venice and attacked its large, 300-year-old cross, breaking off one of its arms, while shouting, “All that is in a church is false!”
  • After a crucifix was destroyed in close proximity to a populated mosque, the area’s mayor said concerning the identity of the culprit(s): “Before we put a show of unity with Muslims, let’s have them begin by respecting our civilization and our culture.”

The fact is, Islamic hostility to the cross is an unwavering phenomenon—one that crosses continents and centuries; one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity.

For starters, not only is the cross the quintessential symbol of Christianity—for all denominations, including most forms of otherwise iconoclastic Protestantism—but it symbolizes the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims.   As Professor Sidney Griffith explains, “The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Koran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross.”  Accordingly, “the Christian practice of venerating the cross … often aroused the disdain of Muslims,” so that from the start of the Muslim conquests of Christian lands there was an ongoing “campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity, especially the previously ubiquitous sign of the cross.”

This “campaign” traces back to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He reportedly “had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into his house with its figure upon it,” wrote one historian (Sword and Scimitar, p. 10).  Muhammad also claimed that at the end times Jesus (the Muslim ‘Isa) himself would make it a point to “break the cross.”

Modern day Muslim clerics confirm this.  When asked about Islam’s ruling on whether any person—in this case, Christians—is permitted to wear or pray before the cross, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Tarifi, a Saudi expert on Islamic law, said, “Under no circumstances is a human permitted to wear the cross” nor “is anyone permitted to pray to the cross.”  Why?  “Because the prophet—peace and blessings on him—commanded the breaking of it [the cross].” 

Islamic history is a reflection of these sentiments.  For instance, the aforementioned Sheikh al-Tarifi also explained that if it is too difficult to break the cross—for instance, a large concrete statue—Muslims should at least try to disfigure one of its four arms “so that it no longer resembles a cross.”  Historic and numismatic evidence confirms that, after the Umayyad caliphate seized the Byzantine treasury in the late seventh century, it ordered that one or two arms of the cross on the coins be effaced so that the image no longer resembled a crucifix (Sword and Scimitar, p. 54).

Testimonies from the very earliest invasions into Christian Syria and Egypt of Muslims systematically breaking every crucifix they encountered abound.  According to Anastasius of Sinai, who lived during the seventh century Arab conquests, “the demons name the Saracens [Arabs/Muslims] as their companions.  And it is with reason.  The latter are perhaps even worse than the demons,” for  whereas “the demons are frequently much afraid of the mysteries of Christ,” among which he mentions the cross, “these demons of flesh trample all that under their feet, mock it, set fire to it, destroy it” (Sword and Scimitar, p. 27).

Reminiscent of the recent drawing of a cross in fecal matter on a French church, in 1147 in Portugal, Muslims displayed “with much derision the symbol of the cross. They spat upon it and wiped the feces from their posteriors with it.” Decades earlier in Jerusalem, Muslims “spat on them [crucifixes] and did not even refrain from urinating on them in the sight of all.” Even that supposedly “magnanimous” sultan, Saladin, commanded “whoever saw that the outside of a church was white, to cover it with black dirt,” and ordered “the removal of every cross from atop the dome of every church in the provinces of Egypt” (Sword and Scimitar, pp. 171, 145, 162).

Lest Muslim hostility to the cross still seem aberrant—limited to some obscure saying of Muhammad or “ancient history”—below is a very partial list of examples of how the crucifix continues to throw even “everyday” Muslims into paroxysms:

Egypt: A young Coptic Christian woman named Mary was mauled to death when her cross identified her as a Christian to Muslim Brotherhood rioters.  Similarly, 17-year-old Ayman, a Coptic student, was strangled and beaten to death by his Muslim teacher and fellow students for refusing to obey the teacher’s orders to cover his cross.

Pakistan: When a Muslim man saw Julie Aftab, a Christian woman, wearing a cross around her neck, he attacked her, forced battery acid down her throat, and splashed it on her face—permanently damaging her esophagus, blinding her in one eye, and causing her to lose both eyelids and most of her teeth.

Turkey: A 12-year-old boy in Turkey wearing a silver cross necklace in class was spit on and beaten regularly by Muslim classmates and teachers.

Malaysia: A Christian cemetery was attacked and desecrated in the middle of the night by unknown persons in the Muslim-majority nation.  Several crosses were destroyed, including by the use of “a heavy tool to do the damage.”  Separately, a Muslim mob rioted against a small Protestant church due to the visible cross atop the building of worship.  It was quickly removed.

Maldives: Authorities had to rescue a female Christian teacher after Muslim “parents threatened to tie and drag her off of the island” for “preaching Christianity.”  Her crime was to draw a compass—which was mistakenly taken for a cross—as part of a geography lesson in class. 

As Islam’s presence continues to grow in Europe, it should come as no surprise that attacks on crosses are also on the rise.  Aside from the aforementioned attacks in Italy, the following occurred either in France and Germany, where attacks on churches and crosses have become endemic:

  • A Muslim man committed major acts of vandalism at two churches, including by twisting a massive bronze cross.  (Click for images.)
  • Christian crosses and gravestones in a cemetery were damaged and desecrated by a Muslim (see his handiwork).
  • A Muslim man who checked himself into a hospital for treatment went into a sudden frenzy because there were “too many crosses on the wall.”  He called the nurse a “bitch” and “fascist” and became physically aggressive. 
  • After Muslims were granted their own section at a cemetery, and after being allowed to conduct distinctly Islamic ceremonies, these same Muslims began demanding that Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up during Islamic funerals.
  • A German language report from notes that in the Alps and in Bavaria alone, some 200 churches have been attacked and many crosses broken: “The perpetrators are often youthful rioters with a migration background.” 

In light of the above, it should come as no surprise that groups such as the Islamic State also make hostile references to the cross in their communiqués to the West: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah[.] … [We will cast] fear into the hearts of the cross-worshipers[.]”  The Islamic State even once disseminated a video showing its members smashing crosses in and atop several churches in territories under its sway (since taken down by YouTube); it beheaded and stabbed a man with his own crucifix; and it published pictures of its members destroying Christian crosses and tombstones in cemeteries under its jurisdiction.

Similarly, in post “Arab Spring” Libya, a video of a Muslim mob attacking a commonwealth cemetery near Benghazi appeared on the internet.  As the Muslims kicked down and destroyed headstones with crosses on them, the man videotaping them urged them to “break the cross of the dogs!” while he and others cried “Allahu akbar!”  Toward the end of the video, the mob congregated around the huge Cross of Sacrifice, the cemetery’s cenotaph monument, and started to hammer at it, to more cries of “Allahu akbar.”  Other Christian cemeteries in Libya have suffered similarly.

In Iraq, pictures emerged from a Christian cemetery that was vandalized by the Islamic State.  Broken and scattered crosses appear.  In one picture, the jihadis broke into a coffin, snapped off the head of the withered corpse, and threw the crucifixes surrounding it on the ground.

Such is the history and continuity of Islamic hate for the cross—that symbol which represents the heart of the Christian faith, namely the death and resurrection of Christ, two events Islam vehemently denies. 

The jihad on the cross began with Muhammad, was carried out by early caliphs, and continues to this day by the jihadis of the world, not to mention the occasional “everyday” Muslim.

Note: For more on the long history of jihad on the Christian cross, see author’s recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.

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Sri Lanka expels 600 Foreign Nationals Including 200 Islamic Clerics

Sri Lanka expels 600 Foreign Nationals Including 200 Islamic Clerics

MAY 7, 2019 7:00 AM BY CHRISTINE DOUGLASS-WILLIAMS26 COMMENTS

“Sri Lanka has expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics, since the Easter suicide bombings blamed on a local terror group, a minister told AFP Sunday….Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said …’we have reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers’”.

Kudos to Sri Lankan authorities. In less than a month Sri Lanka learned fast, moving from appeasement to a no-nonsense strategy in protecting its people from jihadists. Its leaders did not fold in the face of Islamic supremacist loudmouths.

While Sri Lanka was still in a state of shock following the deadly Easter Sunday jihad bombings, the country looked like it was doomed in the midst of a sudden, deadly jihadist onslaught.  Churches were shut down  while the country deployed thousands of security forces to protect mosques.  This disappointing news followed earlier dispiriting news that “Indian intelligence officials had warned their Sri Lankan counterparts of the attack just hours before the first bomb was detonated, but the Sri Lankans failed to act.”  To add to the blow,  its own archbishop Malcolm Ranjith met with Muslim envoys from jihad sponsoring states who assured him that the jihad bombings had “no connection to Islam,” and he shamefully and shamelessly believed them.

But then appeared a sudden ray of hope: Sri Lanka banned the burqa on security grounds, and ignored the reactive outrage of Muslim leaders. Hilmy Ahmed, vice-president of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema organisation, which represents Muslim clerics, in the face of the ban, accused Sri Lanka of “interfering with the religion without consulting the religious leadership”. Then, in a followup sweep, Sri Lankan authorities raided the headquarters of jihadist group National Thawheed Jammath–suspected of involvement in the Easter bombings, and discovered the existence of another suspected jihadist group. The two groups called for a jihadist “war against non-Muslims.”

Sri Lanka moved impressively amid its jihad crisis. It has now “expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics” in a tough stance that should be noted and similarly replicated in all Western countries when jihadists are discovered to be spreading their doctrine of hate and murder against infidels.

“Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics After Easter Attacks”, Agence France-Presse, may 5, 2019:

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics, since the Easter suicide bombings blamed on a local terror group, a minister told AFP Sunday.

Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the clerics had entered the country legally, but amid a security crackdown after the attacks were found to have overstayed their visas, for which fines were imposed and they were expelled from the island.

“Considering the current situation in the country, we have reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers,” Abeywardena said.

“Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers.”

The Easter Sunday bombings that killed 257 people and wounded nearly 500 were led by a local cleric who is known to have travelled to India and had made contact with terrorists there.

The minister did not give the nationalities of those who have been expelled, but police have said many foreigners who have overstayed their visas since the Easter attacks were from Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan.

“There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades,” Abeywardena said. “We have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently. We will pay more attention to them.”

The minister said the government was overhauling the country’s visa policy following fears that foreign clerics could radicalise locals for a repeat of the April 21 suicide bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels….

Sri Lanka: Muslim Preacher Who Masterminded Easter Jihad Massacre Preached that Idolaters “Need to be Slaughtered”

Sri Lanka: Muslim Preacher Who Masterminded Easter Jihad Massacre Preached that Idolaters “Need to be Slaughtered”

APR 26, 2019 5:00 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER34 COMMENTS

“Idolaters, he added, ‘need to be slaughtered wherever you see them.’”

Where did he get that idea? “Kill them wherever you find them” (Qur’an 2:191, 4:89); “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them” (Qur’an 9:5).

“Sri Lankan Accused of Leading Attacks Preached Slaughter. Many Dismissed Him.,” by Hannah Beech, New York Times, April 25, 2019:

KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka — Zaharan Hashim, a radical Muslim preacher accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, never hid his hatred.

He railed against a local performance in which Muslim girls dared to dance. When a Muslim politician held a 50th birthday party, he raged about how Western infidel traditions were poisoning his hometown, Kattankudy.

There were, Mr. Zaharan said in one of his online sermons, three types of people: Muslims, those who had reached an accord with Muslims, and “people who need to be killed.”

Idolaters, he added, “need to be slaughtered wherever you see them.”

Mr. Zaharan has been described by Sri Lankan officials as having founded an obscure group with inchoate aims: a defacement of a Buddha statue, a diatribe against Sufi mystics.

But in his hometown, and later in the online world of radical Islam where his sermons were popular with a segment of Sri Lankan youth, it was clear for years that Mr. Zaharan’s hateful cadences were designed to lure a new generation of militants.

“He was influential, very attractive, very smart in his speeches, even though what he was saying about jihad was crazy,” said Marzook Ahamed Lebbe, a former Kattankudy politician and member of a local Islamic federation. “We all underestimated him. We never thought he would do what he said.”…

Muslims in Kattankudy said they had repeatedly contacted the police to warn that Mr. Zaharan was dangerous, but that the authorities played down the threat. Adding to questions about the government’s competence, the Sri Lankan authorities on Thursday vastly revised their earlier count of fatalities, saying that about 250 people had been killed as a result of the bombings, not 359.

One of the targeted churches — where more than 20 people were killed, many of them children — was in Batticaloa, a religiously mixed city just to the north of Kattankudy.

“I cannot digest this, even if it was done by my own brother,” said Madaniya, Mr. Zaharan’s sister, who lives in Kattankudy and who goes by one name. “I strongly condemn this.”

Growing up in Kattankudy, an oasis of Islam on a majority Buddhist island with significant Hindu and Christian minorities, Mr. Zaharan’s religiosity was unremarkable. Most houses here have a picture of Mecca on their wall, and road intersections are decorated with golden monuments in Arabic.

Mr. Zaharan and his brothers were sent by their father, a small-time seed and spice seller, to a madrasa, where teachings adhered to a strict interpretation of Islam. But even as he impressed with the fluency of his Quranic recitation and easily made friends, Mr. Zaharan confronted his teachers and accused them of failing to adhere to true Islam.

Like other Kattankudy youth lured by new overseas fashions, he had come under the spell of foreign preachers whose sermons were being passed around town by DVD, said M.B.M. Fahim, one of his classmates and now a lecturer at the same madrasa.

“He spread misinformation about us,” Mr. Fahim said. “He said the school should close because it was teaching the wrong way. He was just a student and he was saying like this.”

Mr. Zaharan was kicked out of school. He enrolled at another Islamic college but never graduated, his acquaintances said. Still, by listening to the sermons of charismatic but extremist preachers based in India and Malaysia, Mr. Zaharan was honing his oratory.

“He was a very good talker and a good researcher of how Islam was developing worldwide,” said M.L.M. Nassar, an administrator of a Kattankudy mosque federation.

Mr. Zaharan was unafraid of taking on the powerful, a rarity in a society bound by respect for those richer or older.

“He would criticize big shots, he would criticize anybody,” said Mr. Marzook, the former politician. “People were attracted to his lack of fear.”

After getting ejected from serving as imam of one mosque for his extremist views, Mr. Zaharan started a group in 2014 called National Thowheeth Jama’ath, which drew from the austere Wahhabi tradition that claims to follow the faith as practiced in the age of its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

Mr. Zaharan preached that the Sri Lankan national flag was a worthless piece of cloth, and that the country should be ruled by Shariah law — an unlikely outcome in a country where only about 10 percent of the population is Muslim….

Still, an Islamic school dropout with an unlicensed mosque was gaining followers in Sri Lanka and beyond. Last year, Indian security officials investigating what they said was an Islamic State cell in southern India reported that one of the suspects they had arrested said he had been inspired to join the group after watching Mr. Zaharan’s videos.

But another of the ISIS suspects in southern India, Ashiq, 25, is out on bail and rejects the notion that Mr. Zaharan’s sermons were anything more than a guide to the Quran and Islamic law. “They preach that Islam is good,” he said. “What is wrong with that?”…

What Makes a Jihadi?

What Makes a Jihadi?

APR 25, 2019 9:00 AM BY MATEEN ELASS16 COMMENTS

Secular Western analysts of Islamic militancy typically miss the boat when seeking the root causes spurring Muslims to engage in violent jihad. Since the analysts themselves have no galvanizing religious faith upon which they build their lives, they can’t imagine that religious faith could be a serious motivator for anyone else — they are blinded by their own bias.

Hence, we often hear in the mainstream media that what really motivates new recruits joining ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, etc. is not religious conviction but rather a desire to flee poverty and disenfranchisement (as John Kerry argued in 2014), to topple politically corrupt regimes, to escape the dreariness of a meaningless future, or to combat other social injustices. Only motivations as powerful as these could compel a terrorist to face death willingly. Religious motivations, as everybody knows (in the world of secularism), are silly and groundless, so they cannot provide an adequate foundation to explain the terrorist’s mindset. Their dismissal amounts to this: “Since I cannot conceive of the possibility that religious faith might be of ultimate importance, to the point of sacrificing my life in its pursuit, it must not be possible for anyone else (except, of course, for those who are mentally unbalanced).

As a result, we find that though militant Muslims ascribe their actions to their religion (quoting copiously from the Qur’an, reciting authoritative martial accounts of their peerless prophet, slavering over the sensual delights of paradise promised to those who kill and are killed for Allah (Qur’an 9:111), our elite analysts know better. “Islam,” they say, “has nothing to do with terrorism and militancy and conquest. It is a religion of peace. These militants have hijacked Islam and perverted it — they don’t really believe it, but are using it as a front for their real agendas — economic advancement, destruction of political enemies, and so on.

However, when one gets a chance to listen to militants who describe how they were originally recruited, it becomes clear that our secular analysts haven’t got a clue. Time and again, seasoned jihadis recount that clear teachings from the Qur’an and Sunna (authoritative accounts of the actions and declarations of Muhammad) convinced them that jihad for the sake of Allah was the only acceptable path for one seeking to be a true Muslim.

One such recruit, 38 year-old “Alex” ( a pseudonym used for his protection now that he has been captured by government forces), belonged to the Maute Group, a local terrorist group on Mindanao Island in the Philippines that gave its allegiance to ISIS and carried out a five month siege of Marawi City, effectively leveling the city center and killing over a thousand residents in the process. Alex said of his recruiters, “They said ‘they’re the ones fighting for the true jihad. We’re going to fight to the death to defend our religion and we will reap our rewards in the afterlife,”  Most influential in his decision to join the Maute Group along with his 13 year-old son (who died in battle) was the terrorist group’s charismatic leader Abu Dar. Alex recalls that “Abu Dar was a great speaker, even better than Omar Maute [one of the founders of the terror group]. He was very knowledgeable about the Qur’an. You will really believe him.” 

Still fresh in our minds today are the suicide bomb attacks Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, carried out by nine local Muslims (with the support of some 60 other Sri Lankans now under arrest and the apparent help of a larger Islamic terror network, perhaps ISIS). Authorities are now reporting concerning the nine suicide bombers that they were all “well-heeled” and “well-educated,” from middle- to upper-middle-class families, once again putting the lie to the claims of John Kerry and expert Western analysts that terrorists are made primarily by poverty and social victimization.

Sadly, the culprit turns out to be the religion of Muhammad as taught in the Qur’an, Hadith literature and the early histories of Islam, all revered Muslim documents. Historical Islam is inherently jihadi, and the more seriously a Muslim entertains patterning his/her life after that of Muhammad, the more he/she is drawn to totalitarian violence against all who resist submission to Islam. Its capacity to woo willing pawns eager to kill and be killed for the sake of Allah so that they may earn a ticket to paradise must not be underestimated.

Read the rest here.

Texas Teen Convicted for Jihadi Plot at Local Mall

Texas Teen Convicted for Jihadi Plot at Local Mall


UTT Matin Azizi-Yarand, a muslim jihadi from Plano, Texas, pled guilty this week and received a concurrent sentence of 20 years for the Solicitation of Capital Murder, and 10 years for Terrorist Threats for plotting an attack at the Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco, Texas.

Matin was arrested May 1st, 2018 for threats to commit mass shootings under Texas statue 22.07 (1), (3), (4), (5), (6).   

Matin Azizi-Yarand 

Azizi-Yarand, thinking he was speaking to an ally but was actually snared in an FBI undercover operation, said his plan was inspired by ISIS (now called the “Islamic State”), and had been actively soliciting other individuals to assist him in the attack, which he planned to execute during Ramadan to insure fewer muslims would be injured.

Azizi-Yarand, a muslim, said, “I swear I want to achieve Allah’s pleasure and kill the kuffar.”

Azizi-Yarand said he had “been reading ISIS magazine guides for performing operations and making bombs.” He told an online FBI source he wanted to make hijrah or conduct a terrorist attack in the United States, and “It’s not about the numbers, it’s about getting the message across.”

Azizi-Yarand explained to an FBI source, “In their magazines they have claimed it is not about how many you kill but how much money you will make these countries spend in security just for a simple attack, although having a high  number (of casualties) will get their attention. The two agreed there needed to be a plan B.  Azizi-Yarand advised he, “Played some scenarios in my head…Yes, I want to put America in the state that Europe is in which is to have soldiers deployed on the streets.”

Magazines published by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are available on-line to everyone who wants to read them, and are often cited as operational guides for such attacks.

Al Qaeda’s Inspire can be found here.

The Islamic State’s Dabiq can be found here.

On 12/16/17, Azizi-Yarand sent the FBI source an image of the ISIS flag and a firearm, and text beneath the photo states “Jihad…NO negotiations, NO conferences and NO dialogue.”  

A few weeks later, Azizi-Yarand told the FBI source, “ I read article from ISIS…speaking on matters of civilians. They say its better to attack them here and make them scared so it disgraces them.”

Azizi-Yarand later told an FBI source his ISIS contact said they should attack America even thought they have not had training.

“Guns are simple, just open fire…Paris attackers had no experience….how hard can it be to spray down a big crowd of people…Las Vegas the dude was just blind firing…and got 100.”

Azizi-Yarand also told the FBI source he wanted to stay in Texas and attack, and decided on Stonebriar Centre Mall. 

He reminded the FBI source to “make sure you pay off any personal debts…I’m not getting martyred without you.”

Azizi-Yarand explained to the FBI source he did not want to kill muslims, “that’s why I said Ramadan…iftar time. No Muslims are going to be at a mall when its time to be breaking your fast.”

Azizi-Yarand prepared  a statement before the planned attack stating, in part, “We target your people as revenge for ours who were slaughtered…you can move to another county that is not fighting the muslims but of course you want your easy lives in America so we will cast terror into your hearts as Allah commanded us. We will spill your blood as you have spilled ours more believers like us will answer the call to that which gives them life which is Jihad.”

“Only glory and returning of honor for Islam, this is surely the only way and best thing we can do as our situation is…and ultimately it will make kuffar wonder why these things happen. And will point their fingers at their government…they promised to keep them safe from terrorism but they will fail once again Inshallah.”Azizi-Yarand

“God revealed His will to the angels, saying: ‘I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers.’” (Koran 8:12)

Matin Azizi-Yarand has read the Koran and is following what Allah has commanded him. He planned a mass killing because he believed he would in favor with Allah since the Koran also says, “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads.” (Koran 47:4)  

Anywhere you have a muslim community you have sharia.

Where there is sharia you have jihad.

Where you have jihad, you have a danger to the community.

Learn the threat and know the threat.

Understanding the Threat (UTT) is the ONLY organization in America:  (1) training citizens and local police how to identify and map out the jihadi network at the local level; (2) giving police aggressive investigative techniques to go after the jihadis and their network; and (3) giving state leaders a strategy to dismantle the jihadi network at the state level.

UTT has a long record of success. Bring UTT to your town and get your community energized to be educated, trained, and prepared to take the fight to the enemy, expose collaborators, and win this war.

Contact UTT via email at Info@UnderstandingtheThreat.com or go to http://www.UnderstandingtheThreat.com and contact us via our website.
Stephanie AmeissAllahattack planningBombingsCivilization JihadCounterintelligenceDying in IslamHomegrown JihadInformation WarfareIslamIslam-USAIslamic LawIslamismjihadJihadi AttacksLaw EnforcementMediamohammadMosqueMuslimRadical IslamshariaTerrorismUTTMatin Azizi-Yarand

Houston’s Terrorist Islamic Education Center Untouched by Authorities

Houston’s Terrorist Islamic Education Center Untouched by Authorities


UTTThe Alavi Foundation was set up by the Iranian government and claims its goal is to promote harmony. In reality, Alavi’s role is to funnel money to Bank Melli, an institution which has been designated for its role in funding terrorism and nuclear proliferation by providing direct monetary support for Irans nuclear program.

The Alavi foundation owns multiple properties in the United States and four Islamic Education Centers which are located in; Potomac (Maryland), Queens (New York), Carmichael (California), and Houston (Texas). 

On November 12, 2009, the Justice Department filed an amended civil forfeiture complaint against the Alavi foundation. The lawsuit claimed forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets including the Islamic Center of Houston in Texas and the Alavi-owned Islamic Education Center of Houston.  

The Alavi foundation has funded and hundreds of grants to mosques, Islamic schools and education systems, including colleges; Harvard, the Catholic University of America, the University of Wisconsin and Columbia. 

Retired FBI counter-terrorism chief Oliver “Buck” Revell said the bureau has long believed Alavi is “a front organization for the Iranian regime that is engaged in covert intelligence activity on the part of a hostile foreign government.” 

On March 28, 2014, Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled several properties and bank accounts linked to the Alavi Foundation were subject to forfeiture, to include the Islamic Education Center of Houston, which was used for religious and educational purposes without merit.

But on July 20, 2016 the 2nd US Circuit Court ofAppeals in New York City reversed the lower court’s ruling that had ordered forfeiture of Iranian assets in the US.  They determined the buildings do not qualify as being owned by Iran under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act: “Given the lack of evidence demonstrating Iran’s day-to-day control of Alavi, we conclude, as a matter of law, that defendants cannot be deemed Iran’s alter egos.”

On February 20, 2019, the Islamic Education Center of Houston, Texas uploaded to its YouTube channel a video of a February 17 ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. In this video, a tenth grader said the United States continues to sanction Iran because it is scared of it, and that America’s two goals in the Middle East are to support Israel and Saudi Arabia. The crowd chanted: “Away with the humiliation… Allah Akbar! Khamenei is our Leader!”

In Houston, Texas, as in all of America, President Trump is actually our leader.  

In the video students sang, “We are your followers, you are our Leader… We are your soldiers, and together we can all be your power… May Allah always keep your hand upon us…A warrior just like  Battle of Khaybar… May you always be the light to our guidance.

The Children sang: Allah Akbar! Khamenei is our Leader! A little later in the video a tenth grader  said, ”America and its allies decided that they had enough of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They continued to place harsh sanctions on the country and deemed it as a terrorism state. But my question to you, brothers and sisters, is would you put sanctions on a country that you are not fearful of? Would you not put sanctions on a country that you are not fearful of? Because in the end of the day, what this message of sanctions on the country of Iran is, is the idea that it continues to remain as an enemy towards America and all of its allies. Because America has two end games in the whole Middle East region: to support Israel and to support Saudi Arabia.”

The reference to Khaybar at the Islamic Education Center of Houston, as in the above photo, references the surprise raid by Islam’s prohet Mohammad  in which muslims eradicated Jews from the Arabian peninsula.

To jihadi’s, Khaybar means the destruction of the Jews and the seizure of their property, and they are openly chanting about it in Houston, Texas.

The evidence and the behavior of those attending clearly reveals there are significant and bold jihadi (read “terrorist) mosques in Houston. What will the mayor, police, and citizens do.

UTT has a solution if the people of Houston are willing to address this threat.

UTT encourages Texas, and all Americans to remember to speak truth boldly in love, and push their police to enforce the law and dismantle these grave dangers in your communities.Stephanie AmeissAllahattack planningCivilization JihadHezbollahIslamIslam-USAIslamic Education Center of HoustonIslamic LawIslamismjihadmohammadMosquemosquesNuclear IranSubversionUmmahUTTAlaviBank MelliBuck RevellcaliphateCarmichaelCatholic UniversityColumbiaHarvardHoustonIranIslamislamic lawislamic StatejihadKatherine B. ForeestKhameneiKhaybarMohammadMuslimPotomacQueensshariaterrorismWisconsin

UK: Muslims Steal $10,500,000,000 From Taxpayers in Fraud Schemes to Fund Jihad Terror

UK: Muslims Steal $10,500,000,000 From Taxpayers in Fraud Schemes to Fund Jihad Terror

APR 2, 2019 8:00 AM BY ROBERT SPENCER29 COMMENTS

Non-Muslims paying for the upkeep of Muslims is a Qur’anic dictate:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).

The caliph Umar said the jizya payments from the dhimmis were the source of the Muslims’ livelihood:

“Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama at-Tamimi: We said to `Umar bin Al-Khattab, ‘O Chief of the believers! Advise us.’ He said, ‘I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)’” (Bukhari 4.53.388)

Anjem Choudary said in February 2013:

“We are on Jihad Seekers Allowance, We take the Jizya (protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims) which is ours anyway. The normal situation is to take money from the Kafir (non-Muslim), isn’t it? So this is normal situation. They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money. Hopefully there is no one from the DSS (Department of Social Security) listening. Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the Kuffar (non-Muslim) So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”

“Gangsters with links to the 7/7 London bombings stole £8billion from British taxpayers in 20-year fraud before funnelling cash to Pakistan to support Osama Bin Laden,” by Joel Adams, Mailonline, March 31, 2019 (thanks to Mick):

A network of fraudsters stole billions of pounds from taxpayers in a 20-year crime spree on an industrial scale, funneling tens of millions to terrorists including Osama Bin Laden, according to police and intelligence files.

An investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed how a sprawling gang of British Asians infiltrated government departments, associated with Abu Hamza and one of the 7/7 bombers, bought Ferraris with personalised plates and cosied up to politicians including Tony Blair – all while keeping their operations so secretive investigators had to resort to tying a camera to a dog to glean intelligence from inside one of their factories.

The files show four HMRC investigators pleaded with bosses to prosecute the crimelords but were rebuffed – and one claims he was prevented from sharing HMRC data with MI5 because the Revenue wanted to maintain the confidentiality of the terror suspects’ tax records.

HMRC told MailOnline it ‘can, has always, and does’ pass information on to intelligence agencies ‘within minutes if necessary’ and that confidentiality ‘doesn’t come into it’.

An estimated £8bn was stolen from the taxpayer through scams including benefit fraud and a massive VAT swindle. The sum, equivalent to the GDP of Kyrgystan or Kosovo, is three times as much as the Government spends on MI5, MI6 and GCHQ each year.

The gang is alleged to have sent one per cent of the money – £80 million – to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it was spent on madrasas and terrorist training camps. MI5 sources say prior to his death in 2011 some of the money had reached Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The true scale of the gang’s profits, augmented by mortgage fraud, credit card fraud, and investments of the stolen cash, is unknown.

Some members of the syndicate have received and in some cases even finished jail terms – of a combined 100 years for frauds worth £100m – since the crimes first came to light in 1995, but the public has been prevented from hearing about the case or the identities of the wrongdoers by court orders.

The Crown Prosecution Service insists reporting might prejudice potential trials of the gang’s ringleaders – despite the fact the kingpins fled the country years ago and are believed to be in hiding in the Middle East.

A four-year investigation by the Inland Revenue pooled intelligence from tax, customs, police, immigration and trading standards and put suspects under surveillance.

It concluded that the gang was using a network of factories and companies and exploiting their workers for identity and benefit frauds, the sale of counterfeit goods, car crash scams and mortgage and credit card frauds.

HMRC found the gang used ‘hijacked or altered national insurance numbers to create false records’ and exploited ‘illegal immigrant labour’ before laundering the cash ‘through bogus offshore companies’.

An undercover HMRC officer reported that hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza recruited young Muslims to work for the crime syndicate in the late 1990s, years before he became infamous as an al-Qaeda recruiter.

A source said the factories which employed those workers Hamza recruited had extra staff who ‘were ghosts claiming benefits and having car crashes’.

The source added: ‘A factory of 180 workers only had 120 physical workers. The rest were identity frauds with all proceeds going back to the owners of the companies. This generated around £20,000 a week in benefit claims alone.’

But the gang proved extremely difficult to penetrate, the report says. Undercover agents eventually resorted to attaching a camera to a dog and encouraging it to run around inside one of the network’s factories just to find out how many people actually worked there.

The gang’s biggest money-maker was so-called ‘carousel fraud’, a complex and industrial-scale swindle in which four companies, two in the UK and two in the EU, ‘sell’ goods to each other with some of the firms ‘reclaiming’ VAT from the British government, while others never pay the VAT bill they rack up (see box).

This fraud was prolonged and well-financed, and included real factories employing hundreds of staff making thousands of real products.

1. Real factories obtain contracts to make clothes for famous brands

2. They produce perhaps 200,000 garments for the client plus an extra 40,000 to sell in markets at half price

3. Family members then visit stores with half-price items, and exchange them for other full-price goods.

Investigators concluded the gang had gained more than £1 billion from illegitimate VAT rebates in a single postcode area….

Nigeria: Muslims burn four churches and 28 homes, rape and murder Christian woman in raids on Christian villages

Nigeria: Muslims burn four churches and 28 homes, rape and murder Christian woman in raids on Christian villages

MAR 29, 2019 6:13 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER18 COMMENTS

In New Zealand, a man just got fired for calling Islam “violent and destructive.” No notice is taken in such cases of incidents such as this one, as common as they are.

“Christian Woman Raped, Killed as Herdsmen Attack Two Villages in Nigeria,” Morning Star News, March 28, 2019:

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked two predominantly Christian villages in north-central Nigeria after beating, raping and killing a 19-year-old Christian woman in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday (March 23), her father said.

Danlami Mante told Morning Star News that armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed Joy Danlami and her two younger siblings as they were returning to Mante village, Nasarawa state, at about 2 a.m. after the Christians attended a community feast in Katanza village, Akwanga County. His younger daughter, 16-year-old Patience Danlami, and 14-year-old son, Aboy Danlami, escaped with gunshot and machete wounds, he said.

“The armed herdsmen chased them with dangerous weapons,” Mante told Morning Star News. “Joy’s nose and face was battered, and then she was sexually assaulted by the herdsmen before being killed. She was shot.”

After the ambush, the herdsmen proceeded to the family’s native Mante village, where they burned down 17 houses, he said. They then rampaged through Nidan village, burning another 11 homes. They also burned two Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) buildings and two belonging to the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) in the two villages, Mante said. His family belongs to the local ERCC congregation.

Hundreds of Christians displaced in the attacks have taken refuge in Akwanga town….

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Muslim cleric: “Allah has ordered Muslims to take up weapons and has ordered the use of weapons against unbelievers”

Muslim cleric: “Allah has ordered Muslims to take up weapons and has ordered the use of weapons against unbelievers”

MAR 29, 2019 3:16 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER32 COMMENTS

In the West, we’re constantly told that only greasy Islamophobes believe that Allah has issued any such order. Has Khabeebur Rehman Qazi been listening to greasy Islamophobes? How is it that he came to misunderstand his peaceful religion so drastically? Will Pope Francis fly to Pakistan to explain to him how “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran reject any form of violence”?

“Pakistani Cleric Khabeebur Rehman Qazi Says: ‘Allah Has Ordered Muslims To Take Up Weapons And Has Ordered The Use Of Weapons Against Unbelievers,’” MEMRI, March 12, 2019 (thanks to the Geller Report):

Maulana Mufti Khabeebur Rehman Qazi, preacher in the Department of Preaching of Pakistani jihadi organization Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), addressed a series of religious gatherings in the city of Sahiwal in Pakistan’s Punjab province….

“Allah has ordered Muslims to take up weapons and has ordered the use of weapons against unbelievers. However, only that Muslim whose heart has the strength of faith can raise a weapon against an unbeliever,” he said, adding: “The sword is raised due to the strength of faith.”

Qazi said: “Our Prophet [Muhammad] has taught us that the sword should be raised against kafirs, for the defense of Muslims, for the defense of our religion, and for the enforcement of the religion of Islam on this earth. All praise be to Allah, the mujahideen are fully performing this duty.”

Massacre in Mali: How the ‘war on terror’ fuels tribal violence in the Sahel

Massacre in Mali: How the ‘war on terror’ fuels tribal violence in the Sahel

Amandla Thomas-Johnson28 March 2019 15:02 UTC | Last update: 5 hours 38 min ago    193On Saturday, an attack on a Fulani village left over 160 dead and shone a light on a serious and ongoing crisis in the region

A 10-days-old baby killed with its mother. People thrown into a ditch of burning oil before being fired upon. A village chief captured and summarily executed in front of his own mother.

Hamadoun Dicko, a Fulani leader from Mali, is speaking to Middle East Eye about the latest devastating attack on members of his ethnic group.  

On Saturday, 160 people were massacred in the village of Ogossagou, in the Mopti region of central Mali. An armed militia of men belonging to the Dogon ethnic group came to inflict their terrible toll, razing huts and leaving behind the charred remains of Fulani women and children.

‘There is a genocide taking place against the Fulani community in Mali’

– Hamadoun Dicko, Fulani leader from Mali

Dicko told MEE that he had lost nine members of his family at the hands of the Dan Na Ambassagou militant group, and that he is now unable to return to his village for fear of death.

The attacks, UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said, were “horrific”. 

Dicko and fellow Fulani leaders in Mali say this massacre is part of a “genocide” being waged against their community, which numbers almost three million in the African state.

It is the latest in a cycle of violence that has beset the region in recent years, increasingly focused on Fulanis, who are targeted partly because they are seen as being tied to militant groups operating in the region.

“Fulanis could be massacred everywhere in Mali,” Dicko, a spokesperson for the Mali chapter of Tabitaal Pulaaku, which represents Fulanis across the world, said. 

“There is a genocide taking place against the Fulani community in Mali. The Malian nation is in danger and there is a strong probability that Fulanis could be massacred everywhere. They are no longer in security.”

The violence comes as Mali’s internationally backed military campaign against militant groups increasingly becomes a war on the Fulani, according to analysts.

The seriousness of the situation is underscored by a perfect storm of al-Qaeda linked groups vying for influence, army-backed militia with tribal scores to settle, and by a desperate struggle for water and land amid a looming climate catastrophe.

Tribes of the Sahel

There are some 40 million Fulani living across Africa, mainly in the Sahel, a semi-arid landscape that runs from East to West Africa – from the Red Sea to the Atlantic – and which lies at the southern edge of the Sahara desert.

While some occupy positions of power and privilege, many are poor and retain an age-old pastoralist tradition, roving with herds of horned cattle in search of fresh pasture and clean water.

The Dogon, a much smaller group, are concentrated in central Mali, where their elaborate mud homes can be seen perched high on a landscape of cliffs and sandy plateaux.

Fulani are overwhelmingly Muslim, while the Dogon mostly adhere to traditional belief systems, with a significant minority also practising Islam.

In recent years, Dogons have formed armed militias, made up of bands of traditional hunters called Dozo, to protect themselves from attacks by al-Qaeda-linked militants, which have attracted Fulanis in large numbers.

According to Ibrahim Yahaya from the International Crisis Group, Dogons now perceive Fulanis as “being in bed with the jihadists” and have attacked their villages indiscriminately.

Ogossagou
A woman stands outside a house at the site of an attack by gunmen on Fulani herders in Ogossagou, Mali (Malian Presidency handout)

“The fact that these groups have recruited more Fulani than everyone else have given them a Fulani identity,” Ibrahim said.

“Sometimes the jihadists attack individuals who are Dogon and the Dogons reply by attacking Fulani villages.”

While there have historically been tensions between herders, generally from the Fulani tribe, and Dogon farmers, violence has been rare. The situation has taken a marked turn with the ascendancy in 2015 of militants inspired by jihadist ideology in the region.

Among these groups is the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), led by Amadou Koufa, a local Fulani preacher who has travelled to the Middle East and Afghanistan, and who emerged unscathed earlier this month after reportedly being killed by French forces last year.

The MLF takes its name from the Macina Empire, anchored in central Mali, one of several Fulani Jihad states to dominate West Africa in the 19th century.

Responsible for attacks on government and army positions as well as on civilians from across the ethnic divide, the MLF seeks to overthrow the Malian state and establish rule according to an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

It fights under the banner of Nusrat al-Islam, the official branch of al-Qaeda in Mali, which brings together several like-minded militant groups operating in West Africa and the Maghreb.

Groups linked to the Islamic State group are also known to operate in the region. 

‘They tap into grievances’

Religious rhetoric featured little in MLF’s initial call to arms, broadcast via radio, often in the Fulani language, to remote communities.

Instead, Koufa tapped into the long-held grievances of local populations, many of whom were poor Fulani herders who felt marginalised by a government they saw as corrupt and exploitative.

“They tap into grievances to make their case that the government is corrupt, that communities are marginalised,” said Ibrahim. “Once they capture people this way they then move onto the religious side.”

A link between sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world, Mali has long served as a crossroads of culture and trade. Ancient gold deposits have given rise to vast kingdoms. Timbuktu was once a great city of Islamic learning.

Major settlements, including Bamako and Segou, straddle the banks of the Niger, the principal river of West Africa, which cuts a crescent-like course through the landlocked country, providing a lifeline for millions.

Once a land of fabled riches, the country now ranks among the poorest in the world, coming in at 183 out of 187 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index.

Living conditions in central Mali lag well behind national averages, fuelling grievances. The poverty rate there is estimated at around 60 percent, compared to 11 percent in the capital Bamako.

Mali map

In response to the Mopti attack, the Malian government has fired military top brass and disbanded the Dan Na Ambassagou, a collection of Dogon self-defence groups made up of traditional hunters, which has been blamed for the attack.

These groups began to appear in 2016, as Dogons began to organise themselves in response to MLF attacks.

“Some Dogons became very weary of the Fulani and some militias started appearing asking for eviction of Fulanis from the whole region,” said Dougoukolo Alpha Oumar Ba-Konare, a Paris-based analyst and teacher of Fulani societies at the French National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations.

Tit-for-tat attacks left scores dead.

Two alleged Fulani militants killed two men suspected of being informants for the Malian armed forces in 2016. Retaliatory attacks left 30 people dead on both sides.

In 2017, alleged Fulani armed assailants killed a prominent member of a Dogon hunting society, sparking retaliatory attacks by armed Dogons against Fulani villages. Thirty-five were left dead, forcing the evacuation of several thousand civilians.

‘There were pregnant women and elders killed and they cut some people’s throats and they burned alive others’

– Dougoukolo Alpha Oumar Ba-Konare, Fulani analyst

In 2018, the violence escalated. Human Rights Watch documented 42 incidents of communal violence in Mopti last year. A total of 202 civilians were killed, with 156 of them Fulani.

Villages burnt to the ground, the cutting of hands, feet and reproductive organs have become part of a cycle of gratuitous violence which culminated in last weekend’s attack, described by Ba-Konare as “the biggest and most nefarious”.

“There were pregnant women and elders killed and they cut some people’s throats and they burned alive others. It’s heart-rending, you can see people being set in stone because of the way they were burnt. They burnt all the animals in that village.”

On Friday, a Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility for a recent attack on a military base that left more than 20 soldiers dead.

The militants said it was revenge for attacks against Fulani herders.

One Ogossagou resident told the Reuters news agency that Saturday’s violence appeared to be in retaliation for the attack on the soldiers.

And so it goes on.

Heavy arms

Ba-Konare says that violence has been fuelled by a glut of arms Dogon militia groups have been receiving from their tribal kin in neighbouring Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

“They possess heavy arms, rocket launchers, grenades, bulletproof vests. It’s different from the warfare technology you can find in the region for the past two years,” he said.

The country as a whole has become increasingly militarised as international actors establish themselves, seeking to stem the flow of migrants to Europe, amid growing fears over militant attacks.

The United Nations retains about 15,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali, which ranks as its most dangerous peacekeeping mission. The country hosts two European Union peacekeeping missions which provide military training to Malian forces.

UN in Mali
A UN peacekeeper in Gao, eastern Mali, in 2018. The Mali mission is considered the UN’s most dangerous (AFP)

The G5 Sahel – a partnership between Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger – launched a Joint Force in 2017 to “combat violent extremism.”

General Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US forces in Africa, has described the G5 as “African-led, French-assisted, and US-supported”.

The French also have 3,000 troops spread throughout the G5 countries, its former colonies, as part of Operation Barkhane, a counter-insurgency operation.

Covert American drones

Armed American drones, based at a sprawling base in Niger, are expected to take to the skies above the Sahel shortly, part of a covert US war being waged against suspected militants across the continent.

The regional troop surge comes amid fierce competition for raw materials – among them gold and uranium – attracting interest from the likes of Russia and China.

Yet these missions are often “heavily security focused” and fail to deal with the root causes of violence, according to Nadia Ahidjo from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), a project funded by Hungarian-American investor George Soros.

‘It’s a military response to a problem that is not a military problem’

– Nadia Ahidjo, Open Society Initiative for West Africa

“Many of these groups are actually set up to combat terrorism and so they do not see community conflict or social cohesion as an issue that they should target.”

“You find that their mission is heavily security focused. It’s a military response to a problem that is not a military problem.”

Ba-Konare points out that counter-terrorism forces have a mandate to only track down “jihadist terrorist groups”, allowing ethnic-based militias to act with impunity against the Fulani.

“In my opinion the militias are also terrorists, the way they fight and bring fear, they qualify as a terrorist group, but no one is treating them as such.”

Rights groups have implicated the Malian army in a string of human rights abuses, including, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, as they go after alleged militants.

According to Ibrahim, the army has conducted counter-terrorism operations alongside the Dan Na Ambassagou, turning a blind eye and sometimes collaborating with their attacks on Fulani communities.

This has served to reinforce Fulani grievances and the anti-government arguments of Jihad-inspired militants who seek to recruit them, according to Ibrahim.

“The violence of the Malian army has reinforced the jihadist position that they are the ones protecting the Fulani.”

Ba-Konare said that the Malian army had arrested hundreds of innocent people and have committed extrajudicial killing as they seek to burnish their credentials as part of a “war on terror”.

“In the name of the war on terror they’re trying to show an image of themselves of being really strong,” he said.

“So you have an environment where anything can be justified in the name of the war on terror when in fact the militias have killed more people than the jihadists have, many more people”.

UN a ‘witness to massacres’

The United Nations reacted quickly to the attacks: UNICEF provided medicine and first aid supplies; the refugee agency UNHCR handed out “dignity kits”; beds and water sanitation items were offered by the World Food Programme. A team of the UN’s own police force were sent to investigate the attack.

This ample response is reflective of the UN’s vast footprint across Mali, which includes one of its largest peacekeeping forces anywhere.

Yet Malian human rights groups say it is failing to protect civilians.

‘International forces are failing in their primary mission, which is to protect civilian populations’

– Drissa Traore, National Coordinator of the Malian Association for Human Rights

“They are helplessly witnessing all these massacres,” said Drissa Traore, national coordinator of the Malian Association for Human Rights, a group which documents abuses. “International forces are failing in their primary mission, which is to protect civilian populations,” he added.

Hamadoun Dicko, who described the attack on Ogossagou, said that Fulanis have been trying to raise the issue of inter-communal violence only to be told by the UN that they do not have the mandate to act. “We don’t know why the UN is here because they are doing nothing and state that they have not got an order to act,” Dicko said.

“It is strange to see how numerous they are here without any reaction,” he added. “They are not taking our problem seriously enough.”

Abou Dieng, officer-in charge at the Office of the United Nations Special Adviser for the Sahel, told Middle East Eye that the root causes of the situation needed to be addressed.

“Yes, there are some groups which are very violent, but we need to address the root cause of this crisis, and that has to do with economic activities, it has to do with access to food and water and access to education.”

His office is tasked with implementing the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel, tackling climate change, cross-border cooperation and empowering young people and women to achieve “shared prosperity and lasting peace” in the region.

He was not able to comment on concerns about UN peacekeeping operations, which is dealt with by a different department.

Scarcity of resources owing to climate change is an underlying factor in the conflict, he said. “Climate change has affected this part of the world, this is why the Sahel is prone to food insecurity. Now there is tension on the scarcity of resources,” he said.

Herders and farmers

Dieng said that conflict between herders and settled farmers is a feature of the region. “There is huge tension in the Sahel between the two groups,” he said.

As resources dwindle, Mali continues to experience exponential population growth. The country’s population has more than doubled to 18.5 million in the last 30 years and today almost 50 percent of Malians are under the age of 15.

Droughts, increasing in frequency and intensity, have devastated the country in recent decades, killing thousands of people and millions of cattle.

Fulani herders
A livestock market in Mali – many Fulani are herders (Wikicommons)

This has been source of grave conflict in a country where almost 60 percent of people live in rural areas.

Fulani herders have been caught up in the competition for grazing spots and clean water, explains Nadia Ahidjo.

“Fulanis take their cattle from one end to the other based on grazing routes, and with climate change you have more and more arid areas,” she said.

Added to this are disputes between settled farmers and herders, and conflicting narratives over land ownership and disputes which refer back to land arrangements made centuries ago between groups.

Separatist Tuareg

A rebellion by Tuareg separatists in 2012 inflamed ethnic tensions, driving Fulani herders into the hands of militants.

A nomadic people inhabiting the Sahara, Tuareg political leaders had long sought their own homeland free from marginalisation in Mali and neighbouring countries.

The Western-backed removal of Libya’s Muammar Gadafi in 2011 was a turning point. With his demise Tuareg who had fought on his side as mercenaries returned home across the Sahara, bringing with them heavy weapons looted from Libya’s armouries.

A year later, Tuareg separatists declared war against the Malian government, setting their sights on attaining independence for the northern region of Mali, known as Azawad.

The Malian government was promptly overthrown by mutinying soldiers vexed at its sluggish response.

Ansar Dine, a Jihadist-inspired group, began to wage war against the authorities, allying with the Tuareg-led separatists for a few months before both groups turned their guns on each other.

Ibrahim says that Fulani herders living in central regions adjoining the north now began to feel ill at ease by an emboldened Tuareg.

“They became vulnerable to acts by the separatist Tuareg who came to plunder their villages and steal their cows.”

Seeking training and arms to protect their villages and cattles, some Fulani herders joined jihadist-inspired groups, like Ansar Dine, which was mainly made up of Arabs and Tuareg, and did battle against government forces and separatist Tuareg, sometimes committing atrocities.

Troops from central Mali and other regions rushed North to quash the rebellion, leaving a power vacuum in their wake.

‘People started killing each other’

A turning point for central Mali came in 2012, according to Ba-Konaré, when “pent up hatred” over a failing government, marauding rebel groups and an absent army finally boiled over into inter-communal violence.

Malian forces were able to regain a foothold in the country thanks to a French-led intervention in 2013 that saw rebels – both separatist Tuareg and jihadist inspired – expelled from their northern strongholds.

Separatists vanished into the Sahara’s desert sands, beyond the reach of state forces, explains Ibrahim. But when Fulanis returned to their villages in central Mali, a vengeful army followed in hot pursuit.

“When the Malian army started to go back to regain control of territories they had lost to the jihadists they persecuted those Fulanis who had joined those jihadist groups,“ Ibrahim said.

French soldier
A French soldier from the Barkhane mission in Africa’s Sahel region points his gun from a helicopter on 21 March, 2019 (AFP)

“The Fulani had initally joined the jihadists because they wanted to protect their communities. But the government considered them as jihadists.”

Anxious for protection once again, some Fulanis in central Mali now flocked to jihad-inspired militants, giving rise to groups like the Masina Liberation Front. 

Peace agreements signed in 2015 now brought former Tuareg separatists in from the cold and onto the side of the state, legitimising them as allies in the war against terror.

As part of its counter-terrorism mission Operation Barkhane, France turned to these legitimised separatists to identify targets in missions along an increasingly restive Mali-Niger border.

”Historically you have animosity between Tuareg and Fulani groups. When the French came they aligned themselves with Tuaregs to fight Fulanis. The Tuareg have taken advantage of this position to commit violence against their historical rivals,” Ibrahim said.

Warnings and echoes

The Fulani leadership in Mali now fear their suffering has become normalised in the face of a powerful alliance of well-equipped militia and government forces, backed by international actors, united in the name of fighting terror, but in reality fighting against them.

Fary Silate, a veteran academic and president of the Senegal chapter of Tabital pulaku, which fosters solidarity between Fulani communities, has warned in a voice note message posted in a WhatsApp group, that the Rwandan genocide and clan conflicts in Somalia provide telling example of where inter-ethnic violence can lead. 

“It is dangerous to point out an ethnicity as a terrorist one,” he said. “Rwanda and Somalia are examples that can show how these kinds of conflicts are dangerous.”

Hamadoun Dicko says that Dan Na Ambassagou leaders move freely through the country and appear on television.

“If someone was not supporting them they would not disappear and reappear as they want and when they want,” he told MEE. Dicko has asked for accountability for the attacks and has called on the international community for support.

“All that we want is justice,” he said. “The international community must know that the Fulani community is not safe.”