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Found 10 results

  1. U.S.-led coalition aircraft destroyed an estimated $11 million worth of oil and trucks over the weekend in the largest single airstrike this year against the Islamic State’s black market oil trade in Syria. “You’re going to have multiple effects from this one strike,” Air Force Lt. Gen, Jeffrey Harrigian, commander in the Middle East, said Tuesday. “We’ll have to see what this does to their ability to generate fighters.” Waves of aircraft destroyed 83 oil tankers sitting in the open in Sunday’s attack. The attacks were ordered after a pilot spotted some vehicles gathering in Deir ez-Zorprovince, a key oil-producing region in Syria controlled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The coalition command sent a surveillance aircraft over the area. The command then quickly directed A-10 attack planes, F-16s and two coalition aircraft, which together launched more than 80 weapons, including bombing and strafing runs, at the vehicles. After the coalition bombing campaign began two years ago, militants have since learned to avoid concentrating their forces or supplies in the open to avoid airstrikes. “This is a very good indication that they’re having trouble commanding and controlling their forces,” Harrigian told USA TODAY in a telephone interview from his headquarters in Qatar. The strikes follow a similar miscalculation made by the militants in June, when several convoys of fighters and weapons attempted to flee the Iraqi city ofFallujah. Coalition airstrikes killed more than 300 militants and destroyed at least 200 vehicles. Last year, the U.S.-led coalition launched a campaign, called Tidal Wave II, aimed at crippling the Islamic State’s ability to generate revenue from selling black market oil. The campaign is named after a World War II operation to bomb refineries that were fueling the Nazi war machine. Airstrikes aimed at the Islamic State's oil operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 600 oil tanker trucks and other infrastructure. The strike this past weekend was the third largest on oil tanker trucks during the two-year air campaign in Iraq and Syria. The State Department estimated that the Islamic State had generated more than $1 million in oil revenue per day at its peak. In the initial Tidal Wave II strikes last year, the coalition dropped leaflets on oil tankers before launching attacks, encouraging the drivers to flee their vehicles. New military rules don’t require leaflets to be dropped, but pilots fire warning shots, typically consisting of bombs or rockets that are not aimed directly at the convoy. “We’ll do that ... to give them a chance to run,” Harrigian said. Progress, methinks! / D4D
  2. BAGHDAD — The Islamic State, pushed off more than half the Iraqi territory it seized in 2014, has suffered a near collapse in revenue from oil smuggling, officials say, forcing it to cut fighters' pay, levy new taxes, and raise fines for breaking its religious code. The jihadist group has lost control of a series of oil fields and is having to sell its remaining production at steep discounts to persuade truck drivers to collect it and run the gauntlet of US-led airstrikes. Alongside taxes, ransoms, and antiquities trading, oil has been a major fund-raiser for Islamic State operations. At one point it made millions of dollars a month in sales to neighboring Syria and Iran or to makeshift local refineries. But advances by Iraqi government and Kurdish forces plus Shi'ite Muslim militias have left the militant group, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, with partial access to just two of the five Iraqi oil fields it once controlled. This has cut smuggling by at least 90%, according to security and municipal officials. The Islamic State used to sell at least 50 tanker truckloads a day from the Qayara and Najma oil fields, south of the group's Mosul stronghold. This crude was mostly shipped to Syria to barter for automobile fuel, said Mosul provincial councilman Abdul Rahman al-Wagga, who moved to the Kurdish capital Erbil after the fall of Mosul. "Now with Iraqi forces getting closer and stepping up airstrikes, Daesh can hardly sell five small tankers," he said. Gasoline containers at a roadside shop in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq. Getty Images/Anadolu Agency Precise figures on how much Islamic State raises from oil are hard to come by. Luay Al-Khatteeb, the executive director of the Iraq Energy Institute who has done extensive research into the Islamic State's oil smuggling, said revenues fluctuated even during their peak in the second half of 2014 when "on its best days" the group made nearly $700,000 a day from Iraqi fields. In May the US estimated that its revenue had been roughly halved to $250 million a year from the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria. While the militants have suffered further losses since then in Iraq, they still control several oil fields in eastern Syria, where US-backed rebels have had less success in ejecting them. Luring local traders The Islamic State took the Iraqi oil fields, with a total capacity of nearly 60,000 barrels a day, when they swept through the north and west two years ago. This prompted the airstrikes from the US-led coalition that have targeted financial infrastructure as well as fighters and leaders. The group has been losing production for some time. Kurdish peshmerga forces took the Ain Zala oil field, northwest of Mosul, in late 2014. Khatteeb's estimates are at the conservative end of the range. Security officials and an oil ministry adviser say the Islamic State's revenue fell by $1 million a day in April 2015 alone when it lost the Ajil and Himreen oil fields near the city of Tikrit, which lies about 95 miles north of Baghdad. Reuters Now Iraqi forces pushing toward Mosul for a planned year-end offensive are close enough to Qayara and Najma fields, about 40 miles south of the city, to reduce their operations substantially, security and local officials said. The danger smugglers face from coalition airstrikes to collect the oil has forced the Islamic State to slash prices. "Daesh is luring local traders in Mosul to buy its crude from Qayara and Najma by cutting the price from $6,000 per tanker to just $2,000," Wagga said. An oil-ministry spokesman said the militants had been using primitive mechanisms such as water-irrigation pumps to extract oil from these fields. Most of Iraq's oil fields, which provide nearly all government revenues, are in the south, far from Islamic State areas of control. Combating smuggling Qayara and Najma were once operated by the Angolan state energy group Sonangol, which pulled out in 2013 because of rising development costs and security concerns. Qayara, with estimated reserves of 800 million barrels, had been producing 7,000 barrels a day of heavy crude before Islamic State seized the field and a nearby refinery with a 16,000-barrel-a-day capacity. The refinery and a smaller plant at Kasak, northwest of Mosul, stopped operating when employees fled the takeover. Najma, mainly a gas field, used to produce around 5,000 barrels a day. A member of Iraqi counterterrorism forces in Fallujah. Thomson Reuters Advances this month have helped Iraqi forces to control Qayara air base, which they will use for an assault on Mosul that could start within months. The gains include nearby areas adjacent to the Qayara and Najma fields. "We have destroyed almost all facilities and storage depots used by Daesh to smuggle oil in areas near Mosul," said Sabah al-Numan, the spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism service, which led the latest advances. "We obtained all the coordinates from the Oil Ministry, and airstrikes have pursued every single oil-smuggling truck," he said, estimating that the bombardment had helped to cut smuggling by 95%. Pay cuts, shaving fines The loss of oil revenues has forced the militants to cut salaries by a third, said Muthana Jbara, a senior security official in Salahuddin province, where Ajil and Himreen are located, citing sources in Islamic State-held areas. They have also imposed more taxes on farmers, truckers, and traders and increased fines for minor violations of religious bans on smoking and shaving beards, he said. Abu Abdulla, a Mosul-based shipper, said most traders stopped buying crude from the Islamic State after hundreds of trucks were destroyed by airstrikes over the past six months or so. "At least 100 drivers were killed trying to smuggle crude into Syria. Drivers are refusing to go because the smuggling route between Mosul and Syria has became a death trap," Abu Abdulla told Reuters in an internet call. Smoke rising after airstrikes from the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants in a village east of Mosul on May 29. Reuters/Azad Lashkari The US-led coalition intensified its targeting of tanker trucks in the past year after previously avoiding such strikes for fear of killing drivers who were not clearly militants. Abu Abdulla and four other traders and truck drivers said the trip back and forth to Syria became more difficult after Iraqi Kurdish forces retook Sinjar in November, forcing them to take a road south of Mosul to the Syrian border. Drivers tried to evade airstrikes by painting "drinking water" on the side of their tankers, but without success, Abu Abdulla said. "It's an open desert road that leaves us easily targeted by airstrikes," a driver who gave his name only as Muamar said. "I saw my brother get killed by an airstrike while sitting inside his truck. Other trucks were blown up like in a video game."
  3. Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:41 Sources: Rifts Widening among ISIL Ranks in Iraq's Baiji TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi security sources revealed that differences are growing among ISIL ranks and groups in the Northeastern town of Baiji, in Salahuddin province. "The Iraqi popular forces' intelligence leaders have been informed that after ISIL's numerous defeats in repeated offensives on the town of Baiji, serious gaps have surfaced among ISIL branches in that region," an Iraqi security source told FNA on Wednesday. The source said that among these groups mention can be made to al-Ansar. The Chechnian group has threatened to withdraw from regions near Baiji to return to Syria. The Iraqi forces started operations to purge Baiji of terrorists few months ago, and later took full control of the city, its refinery and its surrounding areas. But in early September reports said that the Takfiri terrorists took back some parts of Baiji after two weeks of heavy attacks on the region. In a relevant development on Tuesday, Iraqi security forces backed by volunteer troops thwarted an ISIL attack on the outskirts of Baiji. "The ISIL terrorists launched an offensive on al-Siniyah town of Baiji, but the Iraqi forces foiled the attack," a statement by the Iraqi volunteer forces said. Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and a large number of their vehicle destroyed in the Iraqi forces' counterattack. Also, on Sunday, informed sources said that the Iraqi Army and popular forces of Hashed al-Shaabi had started fresh round of massive operations to re-seize control over Baiji. The sources said that the Iraqi forces and Hashed Al-Shaabi, launched their latest offensive to recapture their lost territory in Baiji and to weaken the terrorist group’s influence over the town of Al-Siniyah. Following the offensive’s announcement by the Iraqi defense minister, the Iraqi forces and popular committees stormed the Al-Tamim Neighborhood in Baiji, capturing it from the terrorist group after killing 19 militants.
  4. Anbar announces the liberalization of 70% of Saqlawiyah area north of Fallujah By Abdelhak Mamoun - Jul 9, 2015 ( Anbar – Political adviser to the governor of Anbar Hikmat Sleiman announced on Thursday the liberalization of 70% of Saqlawiyah area north of Fallujah, indicating that the security forces and al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia took control of several government institutions of the city center. Suleiman said in an interview for, “The security forces launched a military operation participated by the forces of the Iraqi army, al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia and Saqlawiyah tribal fighters backed by army aviation,” explaining that, “these forces managed to liberate 70% of Saqlawiyah area north of Fallujah.” Suleiman added, “The troops were able to liberate the local council building, the police station, the health center and Saqlawiyah mosque,” noting that “they took control of all of those departments.”
  5. 'ISIL fighters' given death sentences for Iraq massacre Two dozen suspected fighters sentenced to be hanged for role in killing of 1,700 troops at Camp Speicher in 2014. 09 Jul 2015 04:18 GMT | War & Conflict, Middle East, Iraq A Baghdad court has sentenced to death 24 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), for their role in the killing of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers during their rapid advance in 2014. The defendants, who were sentenced by hanging on Wednesday, were charged with the killings at Camp Speicher, and membership of a terror group. All pleaded not guilty, insisting that they had not taken part in the massacre and telling the court that their confessions were coerced under torture by Iraqi officers. "Today the Iraqi central criminal court issued a death sentence against 24 people convicted of the Speicher massacre," said Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council. The case stems from the killings of 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, who were captured after ISIL overran Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in June 2014. At the time, the soldiers were trying to flee from Camp Speicher, a nearby army base. After Tikrit was captured, ISIL posted graphic images and videos that showed its gunmen killing scores of the soldiers, after loading the captives onto flatbed trucks and then forcing them to lay face-down in a shallow ditch. Iraqi forces, assisted by air strikes from a US-led coalition, retook Tikrit in April, and arrested dozens of suspects said to be linked to the massacre. Forensic teams exhumed many of the bodies from mass graves believed to contain some of the hundreds of soldiers killed by ISIL fighters. Tears and chants The trial in Baghdad was attended by several families of the killed soldiers, many of whom had filed claims against the defendants. Some of the families told the judge that a day after the fall of Tikrit, they received calls from their relatives in Speicher, telling them that some Sunni tribal chiefs had arrived at the gate of the air base, and told the soldiers that they could go home safely on lorries waiting for them outside the base. Hours later, all contact was lost with the soldiers. At one point in the trial, while the chief judge was questioning the defendants, several relatives of the slain soldiers stormed the courtroom and started throwing shoes and water bottles at the defendants, who were inside a cage, which is customary in many Arab courtrooms. The judge who issued the 24 death sentences also acquitted four other defendants for lack of evidence. After the sentencing, the victims' relatives raised up pictures of their loved ones. Some burst into tears and others chanted "Allahu Akbar," which means "God is Great" in Arabic, and "Oh, Hussein," a reference to a revered Shia imam and Prophet Muhammad's grandson. Ali Abdul-Hamza, whose brother was among the victims, said "Justice is done" as he was leaving the courtroom. "We are relieved to see these criminals receiving the maximum punishment," he told the AP news agency. Ahead of the trial, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, the spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, promised that "the trial will be transparent and fair". He added that about 604 other fighters, believed to have taken part in the killing, were still at large.
  6. Security forces kill ISIS most prominent explosives expert in tactical operation east of Ramadi By Amre Sarhan - Jul 9, 2015 ( Diyali – On Wednesday, an official within al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia in Diyali province announced the killing of one of the most prominent explosives expert in the ranks of the ISIS during a tactical operation in east of Ramadi. Jabbar Mamouri, an official of al-Hashed al-Sha’bi, stated for, “A special security force backed by al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia conducted a tactical operation in the western part of the area of al-Karm, located 53 km east of Ramadi,” pointing out that, “The force succeeded in killing the so-called Abu Obeida al-Qairawani, a Tunisian national, along with three of his companions, in addition to destroying a workshop for manufacturing explosives and mines.” “Qairawani is considered as one of the most prominent explosives experts in ISIS,” he added.
  7. ISIS executes 6 Iraqi former officers by firing squad in Mosul By Abdelhak Mamoun - Jul 8, 2015 ( According to a local source in Nineveh province, the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) executed six officers of the former Iraqi army after detaining them in the city of Mosul (405 km north of Baghdad). The source said in an interview for “ISIS has executed at noon today six former officers of the Second Division of the Iraqi army, after a year of their arrest in the city of Mosul,” indicating that, “the execution process took place in a public square by firing squad to the head and chest.” The source, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “The officers had been arrested from their homes in the city of Mosul in July of last year, and had remained in detention until today.” TAGSBAGHDADMOSULNINEVEHSYRIA
  8. Iraqi forces kill 36 militants, repel ISIS attack on al-Fatha in northern Tikrit By Amre Sarhan - Jul 8, 2015 ( Salahuddin – The War Media Cell belonging to the Joint Operations Command announced on Tuesday the killing of 36 ISIS militants as well as the destruction of three vehicles and a boat during an ISIS attack on al-Fatha area in northern Tikrit. The cell said in a press statement obtained by, “A force from the federal police repelled an attack by ISIS on the defensive line in the area of al-Fatha, located in northern Tikrit,” noting that, “The clashes between the two sides resulted in killing 20 terrorists and the destruction of three vehicles and a boat that was carrying 16 ISIS militants with their weapons.” “Our sacrifices amounted to one martyr and 9 injured,” the statement added.
  9. Fight against ISIL is helping the Kurds win their battle for independence. Photo: AP Fight against ISIL is helping with a different battle Jesse Rosenfeld February 11, 2015 Updated: February 11, 2015 06:30 PM The international community has, on occasion, been shocked by atrocities committed against the Kurds, but it has generally treated them as localised acts of oppression against a minority community in Iraq, Syria, Turkey or Iran. For years, the world turned a blind eye to Kurdish aspirations for self-determination. However, their centrality in the battle against ISIL and the unity forged by the Kurds as they fight a common enemy is forcing the world to see Kurdish demands for political and cultural rights in a new light. “The Kurdish people have been fighting for their existence for 40 years,” Ayse Efendi, recently told me in Suruc, the Turkish border town next to Kobani. “But since the war [with ISIL] the world is starting to understand what we are fighting for.” As a leader of the Kurdish Syrian refugee community, Ms Efendi, 55, plays a central role in organising the return of refugees to fight on the Syrian front. She is also the wife of Salih Muslim, leader of the political wing of the Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG). With one son killed in the Syrian civil war and another fighting as a guerrilla in the armed wing of Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Ms Efendi’s life exemplifies the tightening cross-border ties between Kurds. Labelled a terrorist organisation across most of the West for its 29-year-old armed uprising against Nato member, Turkey, the PKK has become an essential fighting force against ISIL in northern Iraq. The PKK bolstered the US-backed Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces and trained Yazidi volunteer units on Mount Sinjar. And heavy artillery brought by the peshmerga to bolster the YPG, a PKK sister organisation, was essential to Kobani’s liberation. The Kurds are now in a very different political situation from the 1990s. At the time, the international community turned a blind eye to Turkey’s brutal repression of them and to the Kurdish civil war in Iraq. Now, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq is a major oil supplier to Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is the first to begin peace talks with the PKK. Iraqi Kurdistan’s economy is doing well and political autonomy has strengthened in the past few years. Meanwhile, there’s been some easing of restrictions on the Kurdish language in Turkey. Even so, any attempt to mobilise Kurdish nationalists in Turkey’s south-east is often firmly repressed by state security forces and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan remains in a Turkish prison. And Turkey actively blocked attempts by Turkish Kurds to bolster their Syrian compatriots who were fighting ISIL around Kobani. As a result, the cross-border response to ISIL is both a fight for survival against a new and bloody threat and a means to overcome long-standing injustices. Suruc, a town of Turkish Kurds, is an example of the changes under way in Kurdish society. In September, the town became flanked by refugee camps that housed many of the 200,000 people who fled Kobani and the surrounding areas and came across the border into Turkey. This has drawn Kurds from around Turkey and as far away as Iran to volunteer in Suruc’s poorly equipped camps. Meanwhile, hospitals run by the Kurdish municipality covertly treat YPG fighters who would be arrested if they went to Turkish government hospitals. The refugee camps and Suruc town are united in a general sense of political admiration for Mr Ocalan and his left wing, secular, nationalist movement. Mr Ocalan has shaped the Kurdish struggle for decades, from the founding of the PKK- inspired Kurdish Iranian guerrilla group, PJAK, to the creation of autonomous Kurdish cantons in Syria in 2014. Last year, when he declared from his prison cell that the Kurdish struggle should be directed at creating a federation of locally driven democratic and autonomous communities, it was a shift away from the aspirations to statehood. But this seems to have been about realist concerns – how best to tell the West and Turkey that a resolution with Ankara was possible without creating a separate state? It also addressed a key problem for the Kurds – how to assert sovereignty across so many borders. Even so, in Suruc, Mr Ocalan is seen as a symbol of sacrifice and commitment to the cause of the Kurdish peoples. Inside the thin plastic refugee tents, he is revered for leading a struggle to put Kurds on the map or at least to get them to the point where they can live freely and speak their own language. The advance of ISIL and the Kurdish resistance campaign to the extremist group is redrawing the borders of Syria and Iraq. While ISIL has accelerated the sectarian splintering in both countries, the Kurds have more territory in their control than at any time in recent history. The political shift away from statehood has made the Kurds’ goals of greater autonomy and self-determination in Kurdish areas more possible. Amid the carnage, Kurdish national aspirations are strengthening. Jesse Rosenfeld is a Canadian journalist based in Turkey. He has lived in the Middle East since 2007 On Twitter: @jrosyfield
  10. Islamic War Erupts in Hamburg, Germany By Soeren Kern Gatestone Institute Posted 2014-10-16 04:26 GMT German police in riot gear, accompanied by armored vehicles and water cannons, charge into a street battle between Kurds and radical Islamists in Hamburg, Oct. 8, 2014. (Image source: N24 video screenshot). Parts of downtown Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, resembled a war zone after hundreds of supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State [iS] engaged in bloody street clashes with ethnic Kurds. The violence--which police say was as ferocious as anything seen in Germany in recent memory--is fuelling a sense of foreboding about the spillover effects of the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some analysts believe that rival Muslim groups in Germany are deliberately exploiting the ethnic and religious tensions in the Middle East to stir up trouble on the streets of Europe. The unrest began on the evening of October 7, when around 400 Kurds gathered outside the Al-Nour mosque near the central train station in Hamburg's St. George district to protest against IS attacks on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. According to police, the initially peaceful protest turned violent when the Kurds were confronted by a rival group of around 400 Salafists armed with baseball bats, brass knuckles, knives, machetes and metal rods used to hold meat in kebab restaurants. In the melee that followed, more than a dozen people were injured, including one person who nearly had his leg chopped off by someone wielding a machete, and another person who was stabbed in the stomach with a kebab rod. Some 1,300 police officers, brandishing batons and accompanied by water cannons, were deployed to halt the clashes, which lasted into the early morning hours of October 8. In the final tally, hundreds of weapons were seized and 22 people were arrested. "I had the feeling that we are living in Hamburgistan," the imam of the Al-Nour mosque, Daniel Abdin, told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. "The atmosphere was very, very explosive." Police said they were shocked by what they described as an unprecedented level of violence. In an interview with the newspaper Passau Neue Presse, the chairman of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, reported that police in Hamburg "experienced life-threatening brute force" by perpetrators who were armed "to the teeth." Wendt warned that the IS-Kurdish conflict is "threatening to unleash a proxy war on German soil." A police official in Hamburg, Gerhard Kirsch, said the level of the violence points to a new "dangerous dimension" that "we have so far not seen at other demonstrations." The chairman of the German Police Union in Hamburg, Joachim Lenders, described the viciousness as unprecedented. "The violence in the early hours of Wednesday was of a ruthless and inhuman brutality as I have rarely experienced," he said, adding that without the timely deployment of the police there would almost certainly have been fatalities. Lenders added: "If in the middle of Hamburg 800 hostile people are fighting each other with machetes, knives and iron rods, there must be consequences for the perpetrators. Politically motivated extremists and religious fanatics have brought a conflict to Hamburg that cannot be solved here." On the same day of the unrest in Hamburg, dozens of mostly Chechen Muslim immigrants clashed with Kurdish Yazidis--a non-Arab and non-Muslim minority that has been persecuted by IS--in Celle, a town in Lower Saxony that is home to more than 7,000 Yazidis. Police said the violence, in which nine people were injured, was fuelled via social media after radical Muslim preachers sent out a call to Islamists to confront the Yazidis. The conflict in Celle was reminiscent of--but far more violent than--the Muslim-Yazidi clashes that occurred in the eastern Westphalian town of Herford in August. "Solidarity with Kobani" demonstrations have also taken place in Munich--where protestors waving large Kurdish flags occupied the offices of the Christian Social Union [CSU], the Bavaria-based sister party to Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union party [CDU]--as well as in the western German cities of Berlin, Bremen, Göttingen, Hamm, Hannover, Kiel, Oldenburg and Stuttgart. Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, one million Kurds and 60,000 Yazidis. According to the 2013 annual report (published in June 2014) of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz [bfV], Germany is also home to 30 active Islamist groups and 43,000 Islamists, including 950 members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, 1,300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and 5,500 Salafists. Salafism is a radically anti-Western ideology that openly seeks to replace democracy in Germany (and in other parts of the West) with an Islamic government based on Sharia law. Although Salafists make up only a fraction of the Muslims in Germany, authorities are increasingly concerned that many of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are susceptible to perpetrating terrorist acts in the name of Islam. German authorities have faced criticism for being overly complacent concerning the rise of Salafism in the country. On October 2, for example, the German public broadcaster ARD revealed that German officials have for many years pursued a secret policy of encouraging German Islamists to travel abroad rather than to invest in counter-radicalization efforts. According to ARD, the general idea was that if German jihadists were intent on committing terrorist acts, it would be better that they do so somewhere else than inside Germany. The overall aim was to "protect our population" by exporting the problem, the head of counter-terrorism for Bavarian Police, Ludwig Schierghofer, told ARD. The reasoning was "to bring those persons who pose a risk that they will commit terrorist attacks outside of the country," he said. "If someone had become radicalized and wanted to leave, then the policy was to allow them to leave or even accelerate their departure by various means." An estimated 450 German Muslims have traveled to Syria and Iraq, and at least 100 are now believed to have returned to Germany. Meanwhile, a growing number of German politicians are receiving death threats from German Salafists. One such politician, Tobias Huch of the (classical liberal) Free Democratic Party [FDP], has been repeatedly threatened with beheading as the price to pay for leading a fundraising campaign to provide food and water for Kurds in northern Iraq. "I am not afraid, but I have become more careful," says Huch, who now receives police protection. He says he has altered his daily comings and goings in order to be less predictable. Among other lifestyle changes, he has cut out regular visits to restaurants, pubs and other public venues. Another politician, Ismail Tipi of the ruling CDU, is paying the price for criticizing the rise of Salafism in Germany. "I receive threats almost every day," Tipi says. "The death threats against me have no limits. The Salafists want to behead me, shoot me, stone me, execute me and they have many other death wishes for me." According to CDU official Wolfgang Bosbach, politicians who receive death threats should not allow themselves to be intimidated. "Under no circumstances should they give in and change their stance, otherwise the extremists will have achieved their objectives." The head of the FDP, Christian Lindner agrees. "It is unacceptable for Liberals to allow religious extremists to take an ax to the central values of our constitution. We will not give in to threats and intimidation, rather we will demand the determined reaction of the rule of law." By contrast, the Vice President of the German Parliament, Claudia Roth of the Green Party, believes the growing radicalization of Muslims in Germany points to problems in German society. In an interview with the newspaper Die Welt, Roth said: "The violent clashes between Kurdish and Islamist groups in German cities and on German streets refer more to internal German problems than the situation in northern Syria and northern Iraq. "As a society we must ask ourselves: how can it be that people who live in Germany and in large part are born and raised here, are supporters of a brutal, inhuman and fundamentalist terror group such as the IS and attack peaceful protestors with knives, sticks and machetes. Here in Germany, the IS threatens to become a refuge for frustrated young people who lack future prospects." While politicians debate causes and solutions to the problem of radical Islam, police throughout Germany remain on alert for more violence.
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