Schlagwort-Archive: Switzerland

Gastbeitrag – „Thanks to God, I hit almost every shot“

by Guy Van Vlierden

„Two years ago I published an article in ‚Het Laatste Nieuws‘, the largest daily newspaper in Belgium, based upon an e-mail conversation with the Tunisian born Moez Garsallaoui. He is married to the well known Belgian-Moroccan ‚passionaria of internet jihad‘ Malika El-Aroud, and he left Brussels in 2007 to join the Taliban in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because my article only was published in Dutch, and Garsallaoui apparently grew in importance since then, I thought it could be useful for a broader audience to learn what he told.

It was in the summer of 2009 I managed to get in touch with Garsallaoui through the French speaking internet forum ‚Ansar Al-Haqq‘. It took a few months and several messages back and forth via two different e-mail addresses – one bearing his own name, the other pretending to be that of a spokesman, calling himself ‚Seif Allah Ibn Haritha‘ – to obtain a full interview. Before that, Garsallaoui already wrote me that he had also Dutch speaking people around him – quite interesting for me, but he didn’t want to give more details – and that he had not met his Belgian-Moroccan comrade Hicham Bouhali Zriouil, a former taxi driver from Brussels who also went fighting with the Taliban, for more than a year and a half. „But according to my information he is well“, I was told at that point. He also sent me a picture – „an old one“, he wrote – of himself in combat. Later, he put that same picture on his profile at ‚Ansar Al-Haqq‘. Garsallaoui’s final response in Arabic was signed: „The servant of the Jihad and the Mujahideen, Al-Kayrawani Moezeddine“. What follows is a rough translation to English of my questions and his answers – as litterally as possible.

Is it true that you are living in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Currently I am staying in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. I can’t give the exact location for security reasons. Inside Pakistan, in the rugged mountain regions, the Pashtun tribes are all on the side of the Jihad in Afghanistan. And support for the Jihad does not only come from them, but also from other regions of Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan, and many countries in Asia. Even the Chinese muslims are fighting the forces of NATO in that area.

Can you describe what you are doing there?

I left my home and family for the sake of Jihad for God. What I’m currently doing in Afghanistan, is fighting the forces of NATO alongside my brothers, the taliban. We offer them the help they demand us, and together with them we organize offensive operations against the centers of the US armed forces, their allies, and the collaborationist Afghan army. Previously, the military operations more or less ceased during winter. But now, with the grace of God, thanks to the growing popular support for the Jihad, the military activity of the taliban has become much easier in the towns and villages. So nowadays we are very busy in this time of year too.

Is it correct that you have already killed American soldiers and you’re proud of that?

As I have said, I left my home just for the sake of Jihad, and that means killing the enemy. During the execution of military operations it is logical to kill and injure your enemies, just as there are brothers who have already become martyrs. This is confirmed by what the high and mighty God says in His book: „God hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs is the garden. They fight in His cause, and slay and are slain.“

The killing of American soldiers, or others who have come to the countries of Islam to colonize, is not a moral crime for which we are ashamed. On the contrary, by killing them we come closer to God and that makes us proud. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are our models. I praise God because thanks to Him I hit almost every shot. Very often we got the message that some of them were slain or wounded. This made or fighters and the majority of the population happy.

What do you think about the arrest of your like-mindeds in Belgium and other European countries, included your wife Malika El-Aroud?

The arrest of a number of Muslims in Europe – some of which I previously knew, and others not – is not an amazing act from the European countries. They are afraid. The reason is that they are partners of America in it’s crimes against Muslims. But what me struck in these arrests is the degree to which they were accompanied by lies and forgery. In Belgium, for example, some security officers said that there were preparations for a suicide operation. Some of them talked about the possibility that European leaders were targeted on the day their summit began. I think that is an exaggeration and a deliberate inflation of the facts by the known intelligence services. The aim is to scare the public in order to mobilize support for the continuation of the organized killing of our sons and brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many people from Europe and other places come to this territory. Some are staying and are steadfast in the struggle and endure the harsh conditions. Others cannot and return to whence they came. I myself was not aware that the brothers had returned to Europe and I do not know why they did. But I am sure that their arrest was accompanied by a campaign of lies and fabrications that implied me too. CNN was the forerunner in spreading these lies. The station claims that I was involved in a terrorist plot that aimed in 2006 to blow up seven aircraft in the air. That’s just laughable.

The arrest of my wife is one of the great crimes of the Belgian government. Especially because my wife has nothing to do with this case, except that she is my wife. I’ve never allowed her to participate in actions that could endanger her. It is true that she is a courageous woman who likes to read and write and spread her opinion, but that is her legal right since you claim it is the right of every citizen in your country. Why then these false allegations?

The Belgian Government had enough of the opinions that my wife wrote down in her book and spreaded over the Internet. It could not prosecute her for her opinions and her ideas, nor change the laws that protect freedom of expression. For that would be in contradiction with the principles on which the state is based. It found nothing else than to invent things and false accusations. I challenge them to show a valid proof that my wife is guilty of any terrorist act, as they claim. She is currently a full year in prison. That is very long and a great injustice. Every extra day that she in imprisoned, I feel more humiliated. This is not only my feeling, but what countless people feel. My wife is my queen. Every day, no every hour that she spends in prison, I find nothing that can replace her, how expensive it might be or how valuable it might be for the people.

Do you have feelings of hate and revenge towards the Belgian people, and do you support violent actions on Belgian soil?

As I have said, my feeling is one of injustice. Those who are unjustly treated, need to free themselves from the injustice in order to return to their natural state. I urge no action against the Belgians. Here in Afghanistan we are under the direct guidance of a Taliban commander, and it is only with his consent we may fight somebody or reconcile us with someone, because he is responsible for this. But the Belgian involvement in provocative acts against Muslims can lead to reactions. Just as the presence of the NATO headquarters on Belgian territory is considered sufficient reason by some to consider an attack.

Therefore it would be better that Belgium and the western countries in general make an end to the unjust treatment of Muslims on their soil, and that they forbid to provoke Islam, the shrines and prophets of the Muslims. Therefore it would also be better that they take the intiative to stop their unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, so that they will get full security and do not have to fear actions on their territories.

Is your participation in Jihad not a proof that European authorities are right in their assertion that you and your wife used your internet forums to recruit young European muslims to fight?

My participation in Jihad is not a crime and should not be considered as such. Since the beginning of history it is a legitimate right in human morality. And in our religion it is even a duty. If we do not comply to this, we are regarded as guilty and disobedient. The actions related to this, such as calling and encouraging people to fulfill this duty, are not bad things we have to hide of fear to carry them out.

About the Internet sites, I managed two sites. A site in Arabic that was closed several times by the Swiss authorities and another site in French that I closed myself a few months ago. Both sites were visited by people with Jihadi ideas. We exchanged news and intelligence about the subject. In Switzerland, me and my wife were tried because of these two sites. I would like to point out that it was me who runned the websites and had direct responsibility for it. My wife only posted her opinions like other users did. She was not aware of my preparations to go to Afghanistan, nor other details on this topic. She only knew a few days in advance that I would leave to Turkey. Hence it is madness to connect my wife with recruitment operations or organizing the fight. Her arrest and conviction for acts she did not commit and had no complicity in, is a serious offense.

Would you like to return some day to Belgium or another European country, or do you prefer to stay were you are?

I lived in Switzerland, but I do not want to return to that country, nor elsewhere in Europe. I hope I will never be forced to do that.

Do you have a message for the people in Belgium and Europe, whether they are muslim or not?

We always hope that other nations – including Belgium – will study Islam and convert. It is always our duty to remind them to that. But if it would be too difficult for some to convert to Islam, we say to them: stop harming Muslims and stop with treating them unfair. And do not help the ones who inflict unjustice. Because injustice is bringing the downfall of he who commits it. For example, within a few days there will be a meeting in Brussels, where European countries will decide to send thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to cover the shortage of NATO troops here. The European people should counter this and express a strong opposition to this if they are really peaceful. Even if the peoples of Europe do not care about the safety of the oppressed people, then they should at least spare the blood and souls of their own sons. Because when they come to us, they can only expect to manslaughter. Increasing the number of troops of the alliance will give us a greater chance of taking a greater number of them.

My advice to Muslims in Belgium and other countries would be to leave. I remind them that we are in a state of war with them. Because they sent their soldiers to kill our brothers and sisters here. I also remind them that the Mujahidin do not carry any responsibility for what may happen to them in those countries.

Guy Van Vlierden is a journalist for the Belgian newspaper ‚Het Laatste Nieuws‘

World´s Most Dangerous Vacation

by Florian Flade

Planning a Christmas holiday trip? You have already been to Egypt? India is not exotic enough? Safari in Botswana is not a real adventure? How about Iraq for a change, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, Darfur or Communist North Korea? A Swiss travel agency is offering the probably most dangerous vacation experience to some wealthy clients. Babel Travel started its Swiss based business some weeks ago and is now looking for the first clients to book a trip to a war and conflict zone. In co-operation with US-Journalist Robert Young Pelton (author of „The World´s Most Dangerous Places“), Babel Travel organizes 11-45 day trips to several countries tourists usually avoid – for a good reason. The Foreign Ministries of almost every Western nation tells Western tourists not to travel to these regions as the danger of getting kidnapped, killed by bombs, mines or ambushes is high and unnecessary risks are taken.

Kevin Pollard, head of Babel Travel which opened its office in Zug, Switzerland, told me, that there was a high demand from clients to offer vacation trips to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan or Yemen. „We’ve had a lot of interest so far“, Pollard says, „Many travel companies have been offering trips to Afghanistan and Iraq over the years so travel to these countries is improving.“ From all the countries available at Babel Travel, „Iraq would be the most dangerous“, Kevin Pollard told me, „Afghanistan 2nd. Countries that have experience war and serious conflict (Lebanon, Cambodia, Rwanda, Algeria, Colombia, Bosnia, Iran) have all opened up for tourists over the last 5-10 years. We hope/expect the same to happen in the countries we’re running trips to.“

In Afghanistan, Babel Travel, has a „Afghanistan Uncovered“ package available for booking. The 15-day trip will take you from capital Kabul to Mazar i-Sharif, Bagram, Herat and hiking in the Panjshir and Bamiyan Valley. A stay in a Pashtun village with locals is also included. „This trip will give you an insight into the new conflict that continues to tear the country apart“, the brochure reads. Price per person is US $9,500.

A XXL-package (45-days), including a trip from the Iraqi cities Baghdad to Najaf, Karbala, Babylon and Ur, through Iranian Persepolis, Esfahan and Shiraz, to Afghanistan, will cost you US $26,000. Babel Travel also offers an 15-day Iraq journey, taking a group of tourists from Baghdad to the Kurdish North and Shiite South for US $8,500.

In war-torn Somalia, tourists are able to experience living with tribesmen and nomads in the northern break-away region of Somaliland. The US $6,500 trip includes „speak with jailed pirates, go on an anti-piracy patrol, discuss politics with the Somaliland President and various tribal elders“.

Ever wanted to experience a slow genocide first-hand? No problem, the Swiss travel operator takes you to Darfur, South Sudan for US $12,000, which will take you on a 22-day travel from Khartoum to South Sudan.

If you are scared off by these destinations where a bomb blast or a bullet hitting is not that unlikely, Babel Travel has another country on its list which might interest you: the most isolated country on the planet, Communist Jurassic Park – North Korea. „Experience how Koreans spend their Day-to-Day life“, the Babel brochure for 15-day „Eternal North Korea“ trip reads, „Learn about the North Korean Juche („military first“) idea and how Koreans perceive the world.“

I asked Babel Director Pollard how his agency is able to organize these travels to the most remote and closed Communist dictatorship. “ The local travel company we´ve gone into partnership with has been running tours to North Korea for westerners since 1993″, Pollard explained, „Our trips are the only trips that stay in local Korean homestay (meeting and staying with real Korean families).“

Asked about how the risks taken by the tourists are dealt with and how Babel can assure maximum safety in these dangerous countries, Pollard answered: „We use Robert Young Pelton´s 30 years of local travel experience, careful planning, impressive local networks and excellent risk management.“ One of the key factors why Babel has started business in this field is to „Provide open minded and adventurous travellers the opportunity to understand political and environmental factors behind conflicts“ and to „Introduce to the world certain countries that have seen troubles but are now working through their issues and have become stable and safe.“

However in case of emergency, Pollard said, „We have an emergency telephone number in Switzerland, Australia as well the in the local country that the trips are in.“ Most of the clients of Babel are from the US, UK, EU, Australia and Canada, he tells. In January, the company will organize their first trips to Iraq, Somaliland and Afghanistan for invited clients and journalists only.

Up to today, Babel Travel has not arranged a tourist trip to the war and conflict zones, but is already planning on expanding the range of destinations. Myanmar, Liberia, Yemen and Colombia are expected to be added to the brochures soon.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq – „Knights Of Martyrdom 8“

by Florian Flade

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Al-Qaeda in Iraq, under the label of the umbrella organization „Islamic State of Iraq“ recently released the 8th part of its propaganda video series „Knights Of Martyrdom“ featuring suicide bombings in Iraq.

This time, al-Qaeda seems to have dedicated the propaganda piece in support of the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram which was victim of a government´s crackdown in 2009. Hundreds of Islamist activists, including Boko Haram leader, were killed by government troops after violent clashes broke out between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria´s North. Boko Haram, a organization described by some as the „Taliban of Nigeria“, were not entirely defeated by the Nigerian government and a resurge in their militant activities can be observed in recent weeks as an increasing number of Nigerian policemen were shot dead by Boko Haram militants.

Al Jazeera footage of Nigerian troops executing alleged Boko Haram members is included in the new al-Qaeda in Iraq video as well as a mention of the Swiss ban on minarets imposed in November 2009.

Three suicide bombers are featured in the newest „Knight Of Martyrdom“ tape, two of them are Saudis Arabs (Abu Habeeb and Abu Nassir), one militant (Abu al-Baraa) is an Iraqi.