Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sam Westrop on the London Terror Attack

Sam Westrop on the London Terror Attack

Al-Jazeera and i24 News
March 23-24, 2017

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Sam Westrop, the director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch project, was interviewed by Al-Jazeera TV and twice by i24 News TV following the terrorist attack in London that left four people dead and at least 50 injured last week. The transcripts of all three appearances are below.

Sam Westrop: London Attack 'Fast Becoming the Norm'

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... What do you make of this attack? Are there links to other similar attacks we've seen throughout Europe recently?
Oh, of course. And the number of truck attacks, knife attacks we're seeing across mainland Europe. Britain hadn't escaped these attacks; it had merely been lucky. Islamists had been trying to do this and now they've succeeded.
This is fast becoming the norm. It was back in 2010 that Al-Qaeda, in Yemen encouraged its followers to use vehicles as a weapon, describe them as "ultimate mowing machines." Then ISIS picked up on this in 2014. Now it's becoming standard operating procedure for these terrorists.
"These attacks require no preparation, no resources, no money."
And the real nightmare about this attack, this method of murder, is that it requires ... no preparation, no resources, no money. They don't need to make or buy illegal substances. They just get in their car, they pick up their kitchen knife, and the mayhem begins.
Now the problem with this is, of course, is this lack of a network, this lack of resources, this lack of planning, means it's going to be incredibly hard for law enforcement to detect the plot before it happens. Who knows how long they even spend planning these attacks? Now in the case of London, we just don't know enough to say exactly what happened.
Now you say that this is a pretty easy attack, and I hear what you're saying, the fact that you can just get into the car and just plow through people, but what's going though that person's head? What drives them and motivates them to do something so horrific?
Well, quite clearly, Islamism. ... [A]nd if radical Islam is the problem, then moderate Islam is the solution.
Bystanders assist a victim of the attack on Westminster Bridge in London.
The government, law enforcement, and civic society need to work with moderate Muslims to identify and challenge Islamism that has taken root in so many Muslim communities around the world. And London is obviously no exception.
There is no mystery as to why this is happening. Islamism, an international ideology, funded by particular countries in the Middle East and around the world, that is encouraging young Muslims to hate non-Muslims, to work towards a caliphate, and to kill in their attempts to do so. That is the problem. We know what it is. Now we have to find a way to challenge it.
You know, there's been an outpouring of sympathy, obviously as you can imagine. The White House spokesman Sean Spicer says U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken to the British Prime Minister Theresa May ... [to pledge "the full support of the U.S. government in responding to the attack and bringing those to justice who are responsible."]. Sam, obviously that indicates what a global problem this is and how much focus there is on fighting these so-called terrorist groups. Does that sort of comment help? How does this feed into Trump's rhetoric?
Well, look, the Middle East Forum, for which I work, is an apolitical organization. We certainly don't agree with everything Trump says, but we are pleased that finally there is a president who is prepared, at the very least, to name the threat – Islamism – that is hijacking Muslim communities, attacking moderate Muslims, attacking non-Muslims. That pleases us. We don't quite know what his solutions are. Little detail has been given by the Trump Administration, so we'll wait and see.
"It's important that the West stands together against this global menace."
As for the expressions of sorrow and platitudes coming forth, they're always welcome. it's important that the West stands together against this global menace. It's important that West stands with moderate Muslims against this global menace.
But real action is needed here and that's something we're not hearing from many governments. We need an international effort to identify those Islamist networks and sects that are radicalizing entire Western communities.
For the man, the woman, on the street, going about their business, just be vigilant? Is that key right now?
Well, of course, and especially Muslim communities, the more cooperation between them and law enforcement, the better. Everyone should be vigilant. We should be worried because this isn't an abstract threat. There are possibly thousands of supporters in the West who are prepared to carry out these attacks. Everyone should be worried. This is our life. This is the future of the West for the next many years, possibly decades to come. This is the new model.
Ominous warning there. Sam Westrop, thank you.
Thank you.

Sam Westrop: London-Style Attacks 'Almost Impossible' to Stop

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Sam, is it fair to say that it's a lot less likely that something like this would happen in the United States, simply because the Muslim community is far better integrated here than in Europe. Also [given] that we keep better track, in terms of intelligence, of these communities than they do in Europe, and simply because of the distance?
Hi. Just firstly, to correct your intro, I work at the Middle East Forum, rather than what you said.
Regarding the question, yes, American Muslims are a little better integrated, and that comes down to the way that society is organized in Europe compared to how it's organized in the US. Europe has used something called a state multiculturalism policy in which you divide communities according to their religious, racial, or ethnic groups. Now when you do that, you need an intermediary to run the community and European governments turn, almost all the time, to Islamists or nonviolent Islamists.
Muslim communities in Europe have been "hijacked almost completely by extremists."
As you can imagine, having Islamists in charge of community means that the Muslim community itself is exposed to radical extremist ideas and this is one of the reasons that Europe's are in such worse states compared to America – because the Muslim community there has been hijacked almost completely by extremists, from the Muslim Brotherhood, to Wahhabis, to the Deobandis in South Asia. It's an enormous problem.
America isn't totally free from this worry. There are very dangerous groups active here in the United States, both violent and nonviolent Islamists, and attacks like London have happened in the US, and they will continue to happen. It may not be as bad as Europe, but there are decades of this to come and we should all be very worried.
And then Sam, would [the fact that Europeans are frightened] therefore be a [terrorist] success? Everybody who is scared in London or anywhere else around the world tonight, that's a success for them?
Oh, well, I think it would be very much in accordance with the British spirit – this is the stiff upper lip – to carry on with our lives as normal and not let these people dictate how we live our lives.
"It is almost impossible, unless authorities are already monitoring the suspect, to stop these sort of attacks."
The one other thing I'll add is that you can't protect against this type of terror attack, for the very simple reason that they're using things – tools, vehicles, knives – things that everyone owns. Big explosions, the old form of terrorist attacks, took planning, resources, money, suspicious material. They opened themselves up to exposure by law enforcements.
This new lone wolf [tactic] – go in your truck, mow over a number of people – was invented by Al-Qaeda in Yemen, it was picked up by ISIS, and it's going to be the norm. It is almost impossible, unless authorities are already monitoring the suspect, to stop these sort of attacks ... [W]e can try to carry on with life as we want to live it, but it's going to become increasingly hard.

Sam Westrop: Europe Must 'Wake Up' to to 'New Norm' after London Attack

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The act of using simple, everyday items like a knife or a vehicle to kill people has unfortunately become increasingly popular. Less than 24 hours after the London attack, a man was arrested in Antwerp, Belgium after trying to run over people with his car near a busy shopping area. ...
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in London. The group has encouraged its supporters to kill Westerners in any way possible and has specifically advised using knives and cars. Turning us to talk about these types of terror methods, we welcome Sam Westrop, counter-terrorism expert with the Middle East Forum. Sam, is this just sort of the era that we're in now, that it's going to be cars and knives if that's all somebody can get their hands on?
I'm afraid it is. Al-Qaeda in Yemen first came up with this proposal back in 2010. They told people to get into their pickup trucks, which they referred to as the "ultimate mowing machine," and mow down the "enemies" of Allah. And since then, too, ISIS picked it up in 2014, and now, as we've seen across mainland Europe, it's becoming increasingly common. I think Europe has to wake up to the fact that this is the new norm.
And is the new norm then having to put sidewalks away from streets and putting up even more barriers to separate roadways from where pedestrians might walk?
I'm sure, as well as increased armed police, something France and Germany have already seen, especially around Jewish communities.
"Europe has to wake up to the fact that this is the new norm."
But also in Britain, where police traditionally are unarmed, I think we're going to start seeing more armed police on the streets. We're frightened. Europe is frightened and for all the talk of the stiff British upper lip and keeping calm and carrying on, undoubtedly this has shaken people, because such a low tech method of murder leaves everyone vulnerable. Anyone, any Islamist, any radicalized individual, can get into their car, they can pick up a knife, and they can go out and cause mayhem.
Any particular frustration or fear because the perpetrator, in this case, wasn't a young guy, he wasn't in his twenties, he was 52 years old?
The perpetrator of the London attack, Khalid Masood (born Adrian Elms), was much older than the typical ISIS jihadi.
Yeah, he doesn't fit the usual profile of radicalized Islamists, who are usually a violent Islamist who is usually between 18 and 35. There are, of course, exceptions, and here is one of them, but I think this is a testament to the severe radicalization problem within Western Muslim communities. Some reports suggest he's a convert, his birth name being Adrian Elms, adopting Khalid Masood later. But this is all early reports, this could be changed later.
But the converts, of course, have a choice when they enter the Muslim community - what kind of Islam they going to follow. And given the extraordinary proportion of British Islam controlled by hard-line Islamist sects increasingly, converts, when they are embracing Islam, they are embracing Islamism as well.
Sam Westrop of the Middle East Forum. Sam, thank you.


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