Category Archives: Islam

Watch out – that engineer could be a terrorist!

WHO becomes a terrorist? An MI5 report leaked to London newspaper The Guardian in August 2008 concluded that there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism in the UK because there is “no single pathway to violent extremism” and that “it is not possible to draw up a typical profile of the ‘British terrorist’ as most are ‘demographically unremarkable'”.

The extraordinary lengths the German authorities went to after 9/11 to track down potential terrorists are a stark example of how useless profiling can be. They collected and analysed data on over 8 million individuals living in Germany. These people were categorised by demographic characteristics: male, aged 18 to 40; current or former student; Muslim; legally resident in Germany; and originating from one of 26 Islamic countries. Then they were sorted into three further categories: potential to carry out a terrorist attack (such as a pilot’s licence); familiarity with locations that could be targets (such as working in airports, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, the rail service, labs and other research institutes); and studying the German language at the Goethe Institute.

With the help of these categories authorities whittled the 8 million down to just 1689 individuals, who were then investigated, one by one. Giovanni Capoccia, an Oxford-based political scientist who analysed this case, reported that not one of them turned out to be a threat. All the real Islamic terrorists arrested in Germany through other investigations were not on the official “shortlist” and did not fit the profile.

Does it follow, as some scholars now think, that anyone, given the right conditions and the wrong friendships, can end up joining a terrorist group? Not entirely. We found that engineers are three to four times as likely as other graduates to be present among the members of violent Islamic groups in the Muslim world since the 1970s. Using a sample of 404 Islamic militants worldwide (with a median birth date in 1966), we tracked down the education of 284. Of these, 26 had less than secondary education, 62 completed secondary education (including madrasas), and 196 had higher education, whether completed or not. Even if none of the cases where we lack data had higher education, the share of those with higher education would be a hefty 48.5 per cent.

The next move was to find out what they had studied – and we tracked down 178 of our 196 cases. The largest single group were engineers, with 78 out of 178, followed by 34 taking Islamic studies, 14 studying medicine, 12 economics and business studies, and 7 natural sciences. The over-representation of engineers applies to all 13 militant groups in the sample and to all 17 nationalities, with the exception of Saudi Arabia.

Our finding holds up quite well in another sample of 259 Islamic extremists who are citizens or residents of 14 western, mostly European, countries, and who have recently come to the attention of the authorities for carrying out or plotting a terrorist attack in the west. Although this sample contains far fewer people with higher education than the older members of the first group, nearly 6 out of 10 of those with higher education are engineers.

We also collected data on non-Muslim extremists. We found that engineers are almost completely absent from violent left-wing groups, while they are present among violent right-wing groups in different countries. Out of seven right-wing leaders in the US whose degrees we were able to establish, four were engineers: for example, Richard Butler, the founder of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, was an aeronautical engineer, and Wilhelm Schmitt, leader of the right-wing, extreme anti-government, pro-localism group known as the Sheriff’s Posse Comitatus, was an engineer with Lockheed Martin. Among the total membership of the Islamic groups, however, the over-representation is still much higher.

This could be a coincidence: if the group founders are engineers they would also be more likely to recruit other engineers via their educational or professional networks. This explanation only works up to a point. It does not explain why engineers are over-represented in groups in which the founders were not engineers, or why the founders of groups that were not in contact with each other were often engineers.

Why engineers? Everybody’s first reaction is that they are recruited for their technical proficiency in bomb-making and communications technology, but there is no evidence for this. A tiny elite tends to do the technical work in these groups, and jihadist recruitment manuals focus on a personality profile rather than technical skills.

So we are left with two hypotheses: either certain social conditions impinge more on engineers than on other graduates, or engineers are more likely to have certain personality traits that make radical Islamism more attractive to them. Our best guess is that the phenomenon derives from a combination of these two factors.

With engineers in the Middle East we have very intelligent, ambitious students who have found it difficult to find professional satisfaction, both individually and collectively in their desire to help their countries develop. Graduates of very selective degree programmes, they may have endured relatively greater frustration in a stagnant and authoritarian environment.

The fact that engineers are not over-represented in Saudi Arabia offers some support for this, for, alone among the countries of origin of terrorists, Saudi Arabia has had a shortage of engineers and has thus offered better employment opportunities. However, even in western countries and south-east Asia, where labour market opportunities are better for all graduates, engineers appear relatively more attracted to violent Islamist groups than other graduates. Why is this?

We reckon that something else is going on, something at the individual level, that is, relating to cognitive traits. According to polling data, engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics, and similar biases apply to students. In 16 other countries we investigated, engineers seem to be no more right-wing or religious than the rest of the population, but the number of engineers combining both traits is unusually high. A lot of piecemeal evidence suggests that characteristics such as greater intolerance of ambiguity, a belief that society can be made to work like clockwork, and dislike of democratic politics which involves compromise, are more common among engineers.
US engineering professors are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious

So the bottom line is that while the probability of a Muslim engineer becoming a violent Islamist is minuscule, it is still be between three and four times that for other graduates.

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£48,000 Goes to the Muslim Brotherhood

BY ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS

The Tax Payer’s Alliance (TPA) has released figures today on every local authority that has received Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) funding and what organisations have benefited from it.  The PVE fund has so far given out £12 million in tax payer money to projects aimed at preventing radicalisation.

One organisation, the Muslim Welfare House (MWH), has received just under £50,000 in PVE funds over the last two years.  The MWH is a member of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), which represents the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Europe.  The FIOE has very close ties with Holocaust promoter and leading MB scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and his European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) was founded by the FIOE.  This year, the FOIE commissioned Qaradawi to author a report entitled ‘The Nation and Citizenship in Light of the Origins of Islamic Doctrine and the Intentions of Shari’ah’.   On their website, the FIOE claims that it wishes to ensure ‘an accurate introduction of Islam’ in Europe.  That the FIOE consider Qaradawi as the best candidate to represent an accurate picture of Islam is a testament to how the organisation itself sees the religion.

The MB connections with the MWH are strong and up until 2007, of the 5 registered owners of the MWH, 3 were also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the Brotherhood’s main presence in the United Kingdom.  Among them was Mohammed Sawalha, described by IslamOnline’s Arabic site as the “UK head of the Political Committee of the International Muslim Brotherhood organisation”, identified by the BBC as a “fugitive Hamas commander” and signatory to the now infamous Istanbul statement which called for continued support for Hamas and indirectly sanctioned attacks on the Royal Navy in the eastern Mediterranean.  Joining Sawalha at the MWH until 2007 was Abdel Shaheed el-Ashaal, who is referred to by the pro-Brotherhood magazine Islamism Digest as a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and who until 2000 was the company secretary for a company called the Hassan el-Banna [MB founder] Foundation. One of the stated aims of the Foundation was “to give a correct image of the thoughts, ideology and life of Imam Shaheed Hassan el-Banna.”

Since 2007, the MWH has undergone something of a clean-up, with all of its MB connected trustees and owners replaced with ‘clean slates’.  However, its connection with the FIOE means that it continues to carry out the work of the MB in the UK.  Although the MB does not present a direct terrorist threat, it promotes an ideology which helped create modern jihadist terrorism and is fundamentally incompatible with western notions of statehood.  French MB expert and author of ‘The Muslim Brothers in Europe:  Roots and Discourses’, Brigitte Marechal, has written how the MB in Europe continues to promote Islam not simply as a religion, but an all-encompassing framework which “suggests that Islam should be understood as a complete system that concerns state and nation, beliefs and legislation, cult and behaviour, and the social, political and historical.”  This all-encompassing ideology, which MB founder Hasan al-Banna referred to as shumuliyyat al-Islam and 1 of the 10 pillars of the MB project, is one of the driving forces for the jihadist terrorists who are currently trying to enforce sharia in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia and numerous other fronts.  However, the problem with the MB ideology does not lie only in its deep connections with jihadism, but also in its subversive promotion of Islam as an actual alternative system of governance.

The intention of the MB in Europe, and particular in the UK, is not to recruit suicide bombers, but rather to peacefully promote the shumuliyyat al-Islam in the hope that it will gradually initiate a reform of society along Islamist lines.  Using front groups like the MWH and MAB, they disseminate their ideology among British Muslims by organising events and lectures, and have seen some success in creating ‘ummah centric’ mindsets, whereby young Muslims feel a greater affinity with fellow Muslims around the globe than with their non-Muslim next door neighbour.

Those who may still insist that promoting the ‘soft’ Islamists of the MB is the only effective way to counter the violence of al-Qaeda should ask themselves how a band of reactionaries who either deny the existence of the threat, or openly praise bin Laden, could possibly be of any use:

  • The Egyptian MB’s General Guide, Mahdi Akef, only last year refused to label bin Laden a terrorist, instead opting for the more cordial “jihad fighter” who battles against “oppression and corruption.”
  • In 2004, Ahmed al-Rawi, former president of the MAB and president of the FIOE until 2007, signed a declaration supporting jihad in Iraq.
  • Yusuf al-Qaradawi co-signed a letter earlier this year which claims “the events of the 11th of September 2001 were nothing but fabricated drama by some influential forces in America in co-ordination with Israeli Mossad.”
  • Upon the arrest of the recently convicted transatlantic terrorists, former MAB spokesman and Hamas cheerleader Azzam Tamimi (who was given an MWH platform last January) could only offer the pathetic suggestion that the entire episode was invented by the government so as to “smear the image of Islam and the Muslims”.

Of course, there should be no attempts at censoring or criminalising MB members, activists and supporters – giving them the right to speak freely and organise themselves is a price worth paying to preserve our liberal society.  However, this does not mean that people should ignore the detrimental effects that the MB belief system can have on national unity, integration, citizenship and security.  Rather than paying for its promotion, the government should be providing more robust arguments against the politicised Islam of the MB.


Curriculum losing out to prayers

THE amount of time spent on prayers and religion means there is less time available for the rest of the curriculum at the North Dublin Muslim School, the school inspection report found.

The report says that external personnel are employed by the school to teach religion. They work in all classrooms for 45 minutes each day, teaching the Koran and Arabic — in other national schools the normal period is 30 minutes a day.

Pupils in middle and senior classes also attend prayers for 20 minutes each day with additional time required for preparation, the report says.

However, the report says all of this eats into the delivery time for the national school curriculum.

The inspectors say it is imperative that the integrity of the school day be maintained and that the suggested minimum timeframe be adhered to for delivery of the six curricular areas as advocated in the Primary School Curriculum.

It notes that some of the teachers absent themselves from class during these times.

They say it is essential that the pupils are supervised at all times by qualified and recognised teaching staff and that class teachers continue to have teaching contact with pupils throughout the school day.

The board has been told it must ensure that pupils are adequately supervised at all times by qualified teachers.

– John Walshe


Muslims angry at school’s sex education plans

Muslims angry at school’s sex education plansBritish Muslims have reacted in anger at plans by a school in London to teach children about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.

Muslim leaders are now calling on the council in Leytonstone, east London, not to prosecute parents for withdrawing their children from the lessons.

A spokesman said that up to 30 parents may face prosecution for withdrawing their children from school, disobeying the teachers in the school, “simply to secure a decent moral upbringing for their children.”

As part of the school’s plans for the lessons, they included a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet retitled Romeo and Julian as well as fairytales and stories changed to show men falling in love with men.

“Rather than filling the heads of impressionable boys and girls with fatuous drivel about gay penguins, schools should be ashamed of the fact that they are sending children out into the world barely able to read, write and add up properly,” said Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics.

He accused teachers of promoting tolerance, but did not tolerate the parents’ views that their children were too young to be taught about gay relationships.

“This isn’t education, its cultural fascism,” said Mr Ahmad.

He added: “ If the local council does decide to go through with a prosecution, it would be in line with the government’s approach to the Muslim community. Muslims who believe homosexuality is a sin would be labelled as extremists.

“Liberal totalitarianism is a growing phenomenon in Britain and the west in general but many people will be shocked that the school can override a parent’s view of what’s appropriate or inappropriate to teach their children.”

He said that the only solution was state-funded Muslim schools with bi-lingual Muslim teachers as role models.


Christian Murdered for Drinking Tea from a Muslim Cup

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Muslims running a tea stall beat a Christian man to death for using a cup designated for Muslims on May 9. The young man, Ishtiaq Masih, had ordered tea at a roadside stall in Machharkay village, Punjab, Pakistan, after his bus stopped to allow passengers to relieve themselves.

When Ishtiaq went to pay for his tea, the owner noticed that he was wearing a necklace with a cross and grabbed him, calling for his employees to bring anything available to beat him for violating a sign posted on the stall warning non-Muslims to declare their religion before being served. Ishtiaq had not noticed the warning sign before ordering his tea, as he ordered with a group of his fellow passengers.

The owner and 14 of his employees beat Ishtiaq with stones, iron rods and clubs, and stabbed him multiple times with kitchen knives as Ishtiaq pleaded for mercy.

The other bus passengers and other passers-by finally intervened and took Ishtiaq to the Rural Health Center in the village. There Ishtiaq died as a result of spinal, head, and chest injuries. The doctor who took Ishtiaq’s case said that Ishtiaq had excessive internal and external bleeding, a fractured skull, and brain injuries.

Makah Tea Stall is located on the Sukheki-Lahore highway and is owned by Mubarak Ali, a 42-year-old Muslim. A correspondent visited the tea stall and observed that a large red warning sign with a death’s head symbol was posted which read, “All non-Muslims should introduce their faith prior to ordering tea. This tea stall serves Muslims only.” The warning also threatened anyone who violated the rule with “dire consequences.”

A neighboring shopkeeper said on condition of anonymity that Ali is a fundamentalist Muslim and all his employees are former students of radical Muslim madrassas (seminaries). Ali kept separate sets of cooking-ware for Muslims and non-Muslims at his stall.

Ishtiaq’s family said that they immediately reported the incident to the police and filed a case against Ali. Though the police registered their case, no action has been taken to apprehend Ali or his employees.

When asked the Pindi Bhatian Saddar police station about the murder, the police chief said that investigations were underway and they are treating it as a faith-based murder by biased Muslims. When asked about Ali’s warning sign, police chief Muhammad Iftikhar Bajwa claimed that he could not take it down.

However, the constitution of Pakistan explicitly prohibits such discrimination, and the police could take strong action against the warning sign. But because the police are also Muslim, Ishtiaq’s father claims that they are being derelict in their duties to prosecute the murderers who are still freely operating the tea stall.


Parents choose religion over their child’s life

OREGON CITY, Oregon (AP) – An Oregon judge has rejected defense claims of selective and vindictive prosecution in the manslaughter trial of a couple whose 15-month-old daughter died of pneumonia while they prayed for her recovery.

Clackamas County Judge Steven Maurer told lawyers for Carl and Raylene Worthington that the couple had a duty to seek medical care for their daughter, Ava, despite their religious beliefs. A state medical examiner has said the toddler, who died in March 2008, could have been treated with antibiotics.

The Worthingtons are members of the Followers of Christ — a small Oregon City church that advocates spiritual healing instead of medical care.

If convicted, the couple faces up to 10 years in prison.


Muslim faith school fails to meet standards

A TEAM of experts will be sent in to monitor the overhaul of a primary school which has been strongly criticised in the most damning inspection report ever issued by the Department of Education.

The unprecedented move follows a litany of shocking revelations contained in an inspection report into the North Dublin Muslim School in Cabra, which is housed in the former School for the Deaf.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe last night said the standards of management, teaching and learning at the school were “unacceptable” and that child protection policies were “inadequate”.

The findings — the most critical of nearly 3,000 inspection reports issued by the department — are set to cause alarm within Ireland‘s 32,000-strong Muslim community.

The report — seen by the Irish Independent — will be officially published tomorrow. It reveals:

  • Taxpayers’ money given to the school in the form of grants since it opened in 2001 is unaccounted for;
  • The quality of teaching of English, Irish and maths is “poor” or “very poor“, with teacher morale “very poor“;
  • Sanitary facilities are “inadequate;
  • The school is in breach of several pieces of legislation;
  • The school refuses to implement the music curriculum.

Separate correspondence, also seen by the Irish Independent, reveals that the school failed to pay around €37,000 it owed to the department.

To recover some of the money, the department withheld payment of the capitation grant in June 2008 and threatened to do so again recently.

Critical

The patron of the school, Imam Yahya Al-Hussein, said the report was too critical and a bit “over the top”.

He said the current board of management, appointed last November, inherited the problems and was trying to solve them. The former board chairperson Shahzad Ahmed was unavailable for comment last night.

The draft inspection report says that no financial accounts are available since the school opened and there is little physical evidence of where state grants have been spent.

The current acting principal (the fourth since it opened) has still not completed the probationary process. All the mainstream teaching staff resigned last June and the board made 12 new appointments. No member of the teaching staff had completed the probationary period at the time of the inspection on November 28 — only four of them are fully qualified within the Irish system.

The report says that the school is unable to provide support for newly qualified teachers or those experiencing professional difficulties.

Several policies that relate to the care, welfare and protection of children have not been drawn up. The school is in breach of the Education Welfare Act (2000) and of the Rules for National Schools.

The report says there are no policies on attendance; child protection; social personal and health education and on the duties of special needs assistants. The Relationships and Sexuality Education programme has not been implemented. There are no plans for assessment; for English as an additional language; for visual arts, physical education; drama and music.

The North Dublin school is one of two schools catering for the Muslim community. Pupil numbers there have fallen significantly since 2006, the report says. However, the report found inconsistencies between class roll books, the attendance book and the register of pupils.

Since 2006 almost 3,000 inspection reports have been published by the department on its website. There are two kinds of reports: single subjects; and Whole School Evaluation (WSE) such as that prepared for the North Dublin Muslim National School.

The inspectors review the quality of school management, school planning and the quality of learning and teaching. There have been a few very critical reports, mainly at post-primary level, but none come anywhere near this one in terms of the directness of the language and the criticism.

It represents a significant step change in the approach taken by the department whose lawyers checked and double checked the report before agreeing to its publication.

– John Walshe Education Editor