Massenbach-Letter: NEWS II – 29.07.16

Massenbach-Letter. News blog:

· George Friedman:The Problem with Fighting Islamist Terrorism

· West Point: The Islamic State Threat to Germany: Evidence from the Investigations

· NYT: Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack

· A Brexit post-mortem: 17 takeaways for a fallen David Cameron * Central Europe: Taking up Where the U.K. Left off

· The Campaign – U.S. Election * Posener: Dem Westen droht ein Aufstand der Abgehängten

Massenbach*The Problem with Fighting Islamist Terrorism

Geopolitical Futures logoJuly 26, 2016 Radical Islamism is a movement, not an organization, which makes it much harder to defeat.

By George Friedman

The United States has been at war for nearly 15 years. The primary purpose of the war was to end the threat of terrorism posed by jihadists. The war has taken various twists and turns, and many of the operational choices have been questioned and are questionable. It can be said, however, that regardless of views on Iraq or Afghanistan, the fundamental strategic goal has not been achieved. Islamist terrorism remains active in Europe and shows its hand occasionally in the United States. The shift to Europe from the United States might have been the result of U.S. operations, but it might also be a shift in terrorist strategy for the moment.

At its heart, the United States’ strategy was to identify terrorist groups and destroy them. The assumption was that terrorism required an organization. Progress in this strategy meant identifying an organization or a cell planning terror operations and disrupting or destroying it. Since terrorist organizations are relatively small at the operational level, the strategy has resembled police work: the first step is to identify the person active in the organization. Having identified him, send drones or SEALs to capture or kill him.

Operationally, the strategy worked. Terrorists were identified and killed. As the organizations were degraded and broken, terrorism declined – but then surged. These endless intelligence and special forces operations may have been brilliantly carried out, but the strategic goal of the United States has not been achieved. The war is not being won and a stalemate is equivalent to a loss for the United States.

The essential problem has been a persistent misunderstanding of radical Islamism. It is a movement, not an organization. Or to be more precise, radical Islamism is a strand of Islam. How large or small it is has become the subject of a fairly pointless debate. Its size is sufficient to send American forces halfway around the world and it is capable of carrying out attacks in Europe and the U.S. Whether it is a small strand or a giant strand doesn’t matter. What matters is that it cannot be suppressed, or at least has not yet been suppressed.

One of the problems in American thinking is that it still draws from the U.S.’ experience with European and Palestinian terrorism prior to 1991. These groups were heavily influenced by the Soviet model and created organizations that were to a great extent hermetically sealed. The organizations had three characteristics. First, although sympathizers might be recruited with a careful vetting process, membership in the organizations was formal in the sense that you either were a member or you weren’t. Second, the organizations protected themselves by staying, to the extent possible, at arm’s length from any movement. They were obsessed with preventing penetration. Finally, they were heavily compartmentalized so that members and operations were known only on a need-to-know basis.
These organizations were intended to be sustainable over an extended period of time. But they had a flaw. If they could be penetrated (however difficult it might be) by informants or electronic monitoring, the entire organization could unravel. Either it would be completely destroyed through operations or the sheer paranoia of knowing it was penetrated somewhere would cause internal conflict or lead it to become inert.
In some cases, these organizations had no movement supporting them or the movement was so thin that it was not an issue. This was particularly true with European terrorists. The Palestinians had a substantial movement, but it was so fragmented and penetrated that the organizations distanced themselves from the movements. These organizations were over time broken by Western security services and bitterly factionalized to the point that the different factions could be used against each other.
For 15 years, the operational focus for the U.S. has been the destruction of terrorist organizations. The reason for this is that destroying a particular group creates the illusion of progress. However, as one group is destroyed, another group arises in its name. For example, al-Qaida is being replaced by
the Islamic State. The real strength of Islamist terrorism is the movement that the organization draws itself from and that feeds it. So long as the movement is intact, any success at destroying an organization is, at best, temporary and, in reality, an illusion.

In addition, because there is a movement, the main organization can organize terror attacks by sending individuals who know little of the details of the organization to carry out operations. But because the movement consists of individuals who understand what needs to be done, jihadist organizations do not have to recruit people to carry out attacks or teach them how to do so. The complexity of 9/11 was never repeated and the level of simplicity has increased over time. That means that members of the movement who have never had contact with the organization can carry out attacks. From the point of view of the organization, these are ideal attackers. They cannot be traced back to the organization, they are not under surveillance and there are sufficient models for them to draw on without needing to ask for advice.
In the old model, all attacks were coordinated by the central organization. In the new model, most organizations have no contact with the people organizing operations and attacking the center will not diminish the attacks. Of late, there have been absurd discussions about whether particular terrorists had contact with other terrorists, or whether they had been “radicalized.” I assume this means the person was persuaded to become a terrorist. In a movement, you are aware that there are others like you and who think like you. You do not need formal attachments to respond to the ideology of the movement.
However, the idea of jihadism has permeated the movement and Muslims are aware of this.
Most may reject it but others embrace it. You don’t need a training program to absorb what is all around you. If an individual doesn’t know anyone who is part of this ongoing movement, there is enough on the internet, or enough speculation in the media to draw a map for anyone who wants a map drawn. The idea that if a Muslim shoots 20 people, but has had no contact with a terrorist organization, he might not have done it for ideological reasons might be true. But it forgets that he does not need contact with a mentor to plan an attack, especially a relatively simple one. The movement and the atmosphere is filled with the idea.

The movement is not an organization any more than conservatism or liberalism is. There may be organizations attached to it, but it is more of a social tendency. However, its members still communicate with each other. There are leaders in all these movements, although there may not be managers.
This tendency in Islam makes the movement difficult to defeat. It cannot be surgically removed. Some members of the movement don’t wear a uniform. It is also impossible to attack the movement without attacking Islam as a whole. And attacking Islam as a whole is difficult. There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world and any of them can believe in radical jihadism. And the believers in jihadism are serious people, moved by their own fate. We would like to dismiss them as fools. If they were, they would be easy to defeat.
It is obvious that the conventional special operations approach hasn’t worked and won’t work. It is also obvious that a general war on Islam is impossible. What is left is difficult but the only option. It is to bring pressure on Muslim states to make war on the jihadists and on other strands of Islam to do so as well. The pressure must be intense and the rewards substantial. The likelihood of it working is low. But the only way to eliminate this movement is for Muslims to do it. They may not want to, and they may fail if they try. But more drone strikes and announcements that another leader of some group has been killed won’t work. Our options are down to having to “live with it” or fomenting a civil war in the Islamic world. In the end, we might wind up with “live with it” anyway.

The Growing Islamic State Threat in Turkey: Recruitment and Incitement

Suleyman Ozeren and Halil Ibrahim Canbegi

July 26, 2016

Even at a time of political upheaval, Turkish authorities need to focus on the critical role that social media and other tools play in sustaining the group’s recruitment, propaganda, and terrorist activities.

Prior to the attempted coup against Turkey’s democratically elected government, the security establishment and the country as a whole were already dealing with another major crisis: serial mass-casualty attacks by Islamic State (IS) terrorists. This crisis was reiterated by the June 28 Istanbul airport attack, in which 45 people were killed and over 250 others injured. The perpetrators were IS members of Russian and Central Asian origin, highlighting the manner in which Turkey has become not just a target country for the group, but also a source country for jihadists and terrorists. The three operatives had been in Turkey since long before the attack: they entered the country at the Syrian border, then traveled 750 miles to Istanbul, where they rented an apartment for a month in order to assemble bombs. All of this activity went undetected because the men were able to blend in, showing the urgency of an internal security problem that Turkey needs to tackle now, even as the full repercussions of the failed coup continue to resound.


Given its 530-mile border with Syria, Turkey has been an entry point for foreign fighters and an exit door for local IS operatives for a number of years. At the same time, the country’s ever-mounting religious populism has created an environment in which IS ideology and activism can flourish — a fact seemingly confirmed by the most recent nationwide polling available on Turkish attitudes toward extremism.

According to the annual "Turkey’s Social Trends Survey" conducted by the GLOBAL Policy and Strategy Institute in November 2015, 83.5% of respondents defined IS as a terrorist organization, but a full 9.3% did not. Moreover, while 59.9% stated that IS does not represent Islam, 21% disagreed. Even more tellingly, 5.4% believe that the Islamic State "is right about its activities," and 2.6% believe that it fights for Muslims. Such findings should be taken very seriously because they reveal the potentially large number of IS sympathizers and recruits.


Different categories of Turkish citizens have gone to Syria to join IS. One category includes extremists who were already involved in jihadist activity in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and elsewhere. A second category includes individuals who had established networks with extremist groups before the rise of IS. Once the Syria war erupted, these people joined the conflict either independently or after slight prodding from their networks.

The third and perhaps most troubling category comprises those who have been radicalized since the war began. In many cases, individuals in this camp are recruited by jihadists who have already been to conflict zones, or by people with connections to IS and other extremist groups. Such recruiting often occurs through traditional networks (e.g., neighborhood acquaintances; cafes).

The IS members who carried out recent attacks in Diyarbakir, Suruc, and Ankara could be considered part of this third wave. Their backgrounds are almost identical. All of them were from southeastern Anatolia, specifically Gaziantep and Adiyaman provinces. They all came from poor families with frequently absent or delinquent father figures. And they all seemed to grow up under the influence of religious propaganda by local recruiters, though this does not mean they possessed much in the way of actual religious knowledge — a not uncommon phenomenon in these religiously sensitive areas. Moreover, the Suruc and Ankara attacks were carried out by brothers allegedly recruited via the same ring, the Dokumacilar cell in Adiyaman.


IS has engaged in a wide range of propaganda and recruitment activities in Turkey, using websites, publications, videos, face-to-face interactions at cafes and mosques in various cities, and other methods. Yet aside from traditional recruitment networks, social media platforms such as Twitter have become the group’s main tools for attracting sympathizers.

To get a better sense of this trend, the GLOBAL Policy and Strategy Institute’s February 2016 report "ISIS in Cyberspace: Findings From Social Media Research" analyzed 25,403 Twitter messages posted by 290 pro-IS Turkish-language accounts in July 2015. Based on the data collected — which included account demographics, gender distribution, number of friends/followers, tweeting patterns, frequently mentioned terms, popular hashtags, and shared websites, among other details — the authors found several notable patterns.

First, Turkish pro-IS tweets emphasized the same "us vs. them" dichotomy that often drives radicalization in other countries. Language expressing antagonism and alienation was quite popular — the Turkish or Arabic words for excommunication, idolatry, assault, kill, weapon, army, and jihad were collectively repeated a total of more than 30,000 times in only a month’s worth of tweets.

Second, these users applied the term kuffar (infidels) not only to believers of other faiths, but also to other Muslims whom they deemed inimical to IS ideology. Thus, Islamic factions and governments in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kurdish-held territories, and Turkey itself were often lumped in with enemies like the United States and Israel.

Third, the tweeting patterns indicate that different Turkish pro-IS accounts tend to fill different roles, whether spontaneously or as part of a deliberate task-sharing plan. These roles can be roughly divided into five categories: "frontline messengers," "political analysts," "moral supporters," "contact persons," and "religious propagandists."

The "frontline messengers" frequently share instant updates and detailed descriptions from the battlefield, suggesting that they may be Turkish-speaking operatives fighting with IS units in Syria and Iraq. In general, pro-IS users on Twitter do not trust other media sources, so these firsthand reporters fill the need to inform sympathizers about the war while also calling for material, financial, moral, and operational support on specific fronts.

The "political analysts" tend to post their views on the Syria war and related issues, including Turkey’s role in the fight. Such tweets provide an inside glimpse into IS perceptions of the Turkish people, government, and army, Turkish operations against IS, Ankara’s strategies in the Middle East, and Turkish foreign relations, particularly with the West. The overarching goal of such discourse is to criticize Western countries and institutions, particularly U.S. policies and the concept of democracy.

The "religious propagandists" try to mobilize Turkish followers via misinterpretations and distortions of Quran verses and hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad). Their main aim is to manipulate ambiguous terms and concepts from Islamic literature in order to justify the Islamic State’s actions.

The "moral supporters" work to integrate Turkish sympathizers, build a sense of belonging, and boost morale within pro-IS networks. This meets the group’s need to mobilize followers in the same direction by making sure they are advocating the same arguments and sharing the same sentiments. The "moral supporters" differ from the "religious propagandists" because they do not emphasize theological arguments in their posts — instead, they tend to use more psychological mechanisms such as pictures, nashids (Islamic songs), and heroic tales.

"Contact persons," the last group, generally signal their capability to transfer people in Turkey to and from Syria, whether through short messages or pictures. Their tweets also describe the actual experience of transporting fighters from different countries to the battlefield. Although this practice entails significant risk of detection, it helps IS further encourage Turkish followers who may be inclined to join the fight directly but are not sure how.


In a letter sent to Taliban leader Mullah Omar in 2002, Osama bin Laden wrote, "It is obvious that the media war in this century is one of the strongest methods; in fact, its ratio may reach 90 percent of the total preparation for battles." Indeed, the role of media — especially social media — in the recruitment and propaganda activities of terrorist groups has greatly expanded since then.

The Islamic State is no exception — given the group’s ability to mix traditional methods with very robust social media activities, Turkey needs to adopt a multifaceted approach to confront the challenge. This means developing preventive approaches that focus more on preempting radicalization before it takes root. To this end, Ankara should devote more attention to the critical role that cyberspace, particularly social media, plays in sustaining IS recruitment and propaganda activities

Suleyman Ozeren is president of the GLOBAL Policy and Strategy Institute, based in Turkey. Halil Ibrahim Canbegi is a researcher in the Institute’s Center for Regional Studies.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Posener: Dem Westen droht ein Aufstand der Abgehängten

Soll niemand sagen, er sei nicht gewarnt worden. Den heutigen Aufstand gegen die Eliten hat der britische Soziologe Michael Dunlop Young vor etwas mehr als 50 Jahren vorhergesagt – freilich erst für das Jahr 2034. Young nannte seinen Roman "The Rise of the Meritocracy" – der Aufstieg der Meritokratie.

Seiner Meinung nach würde die Zuteilung von Lebenschancen einzig auf der Grundlage von "merit" – also Intelligenz und Kompetenz – zur Herrschaft einer selbstgerechten Elite führen, die gerade deshalb unerträglich wäre, weil sie mit gutem Gewissen ausgeübt würde.

Die neue Klasse wäre – anders als in früheren Herrschaftsformen – nachweislich intelligenter und leistungsfähiger als die Unterschichten. Den Abgehängten aber bliebe eine Waffe gegen die Leistungsträger: die Demokratie.

Unsere meritokratische Gesellschaft, so Young, ist die erste, die dank allgemeiner Schulpflicht – und erst recht mit Gemeinschafts- und Gesamtschulen – jedem Einzelnen vor Augen führt, wo er in der Hierarchie des Könnens und Leistens steht. Wer trotz "Kuschelpädagogik" und Förderprogrammen das Klassenziel verfehlt, bekommt als Kind und Jugendlicher tagtäglich bescheinigt, dass sein Platz unten ist.

Du bist selbst schuld, wenn du es nicht schaffst

Nicht, weil er kein Aristokrat ist oder Bourgeois; nicht, weil sein Dialekt oder sein Geschlecht, seine Religion oder Rasse gegen ihn sprechen. Sondern weil ihm die Intelligenz oder der Leistungswille fehlen, die, so suggerieren es Hollywood, die Politik und die Lehrer, die Schlüssel seien, die ihm die Welt seiner Träume aufschließen, und die ja anderen Menschen diese Welt tatsächlich aufschließen. Jede Aufstiegsgeschichte zeigt ihm: Du bist ja selber schuld, dass du unten bist.

Diese deprimierende Erkenntnis trifft besonders jene, die keine Ausrede für ihr Versagen vorweisen können, die keine Zugewanderten, keine Schwarzen, keine Behinderten, keine Frauen sind. Solche Gruppen können eine Geschichte der Benachteiligung vorweisen und einen Anspruch auf Förderung – "affirmative action" – anmelden.

Weiße Männer aus der Unterschicht, die immer seltener aus ihrem Klassenbewusstsein, ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu Gewerkschaft oder Partei, der Solidarität der Arbeiterquartiere ihr Selbstbewusstsein, ihr Selbstgefühl ziehen können: Sie sind die Vorhut der Revolution gegen die Leistungsträger. Sie wählen Donald Trump.

Sie haben für den Brexit gestimmt. Sie marschieren gegen Zuwanderung. Nicht, weil die Eliten versagt hätten; sondern weil die Elite das Versagen der Masse zum Programm erhoben hat. Wie sonst könnte sie ihr Elitendasein rechtfertigen?

Aus der Meritokratie wird eine neue Aristokratie

Es entbehrt nicht der Ironie, dass ein Mann wie Thilo Sarrazin zum Helden der Anti-Meritokraten avancierten konnte. Denn Sarrazin ist im Gegenteil Ideologe der Leistungsträger. "Deutschland schafft sich ab", weil die Akademikerinnen und Managerfrauen zu wenige Kinder bekommen, so dass sich der Genpool der Intelligenten dann nicht durchsetzen könne gegen die Gene der Faulen, der Dummen und der "kleinen Kopftuchmädchen" aus Anatolien.

Tatsächlich ist es so, dass Akademiker heute viel eher Akademikerinnen heiraten, Manager Managerinnen, kurzum Erfolgreiche Erfolgreiche. Sie lernen sich beim Studium oder der Arbeit kennen, schicken ihre Kinder auf private Kitas und Schulen und entziehen sie so auch den staatlichen Erziehungsanstalten, die einige wenige für die neue Klasse rekrutieren und der Mehrheit bescheinigen, für sie reiche es leider nicht. So wird aus der Meritokratie eine neue Aristokratie, gerechtfertigt nicht durch Abstammung, sondern durch IQ.

Während die Leistungsträger international denken und handeln, Freihandel und Bewegungsfreiheit befürworten, Zuwanderung als Chance – auch für die Rekrutierung in die neue Klasse – begreifen und den technischen Fortschritt begrüßen, weil er ihre spezifischen Fähigkeiten noch wertvoller macht, wollen die Abgehängten zurück zu Hierarchien: wir gegen sie.

Sie flüchten sich in Hassbilder und Verschwörungstheorien

"Americanism, not Globalism", wie Donald Trump verkündete. Einheimische gegen "Raum- und Kulturfremde", wie Alexander Gauland die Familie Boateng nannte. Abendländer gegen Muslime. Echte Männer gegen Schwule. "Gutmenschen" und emanzipierte Frauen. Familien gegen Singles. "Werte" gegen Intelligenz.

Gefühl gegen "Experten", die der Brexit-Befürworter Boris Johnson regelmäßig angriff, ehrliche Arbeit gegen "große Handelsbanken", die der Ukip-Chef Nigel Farage als eifrigste Verfechter des britischen Verbleibs in der EU brandmarkte.

Im Kampf gegen "McWorld", die einheitliche Welt der Business Lounges und Luxushotels, Bürohochhäuser und Villenviertel, in der sich die Meritokraten wohlfühlen, entstehen in den muslimischen Gesellschaften Dschihadisten, in den westlichen Gesellschaften Populisten.

Ist die schiere Existenz der westlichen Welt oder eines Staates wie Israel für Teile der islamischen Welt eine Beleidigung, so ist für Teile der westlichen Welt die Existenz der Meritokratie eine Zumutung.

Beide, Islamisten wie Populisten, flüchten sich in Vorstellungen einer besseren Vergangenheit, in Fantasien eigener Überlegenheit, in Hassbilder und Verschwörungstheorien, um vor sich selbst die Erkenntnis zu verbergen, dass sie in einer Welt der Leistungsträger nicht bestehen können.

Die Abgehängten sind in der Mehrheit

Freilich kann keine Gesellschaft auf Dauer bestehen, die der Mehrheit oder auch nur einer großen Minderheit ihrer Bürger das Gefühl vermittelt, nicht dazuzugehören. Noch vor wenigen Jahren gehörte es zum Mantra europäischer Apologeten der Meritokratie, auf Amerika zu zeigen, wo man angeblich die Ungleichheit nicht nur akzeptiere, sondern begrüße.

Und nun gibt es Donald Trump, der einen Kreuzzug für "die vergessenen Männer und Frauen Amerikas" führt. Noch vor wenigen Jahren benutzte Tony Blair das Wort "Meritokratie", um seine Vision eines neuen Großbritannien – und Europa – zu kennzeichnen. Nun verspricht Theresa May "ein Großbritannien, das für alle funktioniert", nicht nur für die Reichen und Schönen, Klugen und Tüchtigen.

Und während EU-Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker meinte, es sei ihm "schnurzegal", wer das Freihandelsabkommen mit Kanada unterschreibt, Hauptsache, es tritt in Kraft, hat immerhin Angela Merkel die Zeichen der Zeit erkannt und eine Mitsprache der nationalen Parlamente eingefordert.

Denn die Abgehängten haben nichts auf ihrer Seite außer der Tatsache, dass sie die Mehrheit sind. In ihren Händen kann die Demokratie zu einer gefährlichen Waffe werden. Sie haben Großbritannien aus der EU katapultiert. Sie haben in vielen Ländern Europas den politischen Prozess lahmgelegt. Die Meritokratie funktioniert nicht mehr.

Wir müssen die Grundlage der Demokratie überdenken

Dabei wissen wir nicht, was sie ersetzen könnte. Niemand glaubt ernsthaft, zu den staatlich regulierten Nationalstaaten der 1970er-Jahre zurückkehren zu können, wo jedem Arbeiter ein Job garantiert wurde, mit dem er seine Familie ernähren konnte. So funktioniert die Arbeitswelt nicht mehr, in der Roboter den Fließbandarbeiter und Computer die Sekretärin ersetzen.

So funktioniert eine Welt nicht mehr, in der China und Indien die Vorherrschaft des Westens in Frage stellen: Länder, in denen eine rücksichtslose Auslese die Entstehung einer Meritokratie fördert, die schon viele Topmanagerposten im Westen besetzt hat. Es ist vielleicht kein Zufall, dass China keine Demokratie ist und dass in Indien das Kastensystem herrscht.

Wenn sich unsere wichtigste Errungenschaft, die Demokratie, nicht gegen uns kehren soll, müssen wir die Grundlage dieser Demokratie überdenken. Und diese Grundlage ist die Schule. Es ist Zeit, die Kriterien für den Schulerfolg zu überdenken. Nicht nur Mathe und Deutsch sind wichtig, auch nicht allein Computerfähigkeiten und IQ.

Wissen bleibt Macht

Musik und Kunst, Kochen und Werken, Fußball und Boxen, soziale Arbeit und Gartenarbeit müssen genauso wichtig werden wie die akademischen Fächer.

Schulversagen muss ein Ding der Vergangenheit werden. Gleichzeitig muss viel mehr getan werden, um die intellektuellen Fähigkeiten im frühkindlichen Alter, in Kita und Schule zu fördern; denn natürlich ist Wissen Macht.

Dass überdies die neue Aristokratie kritisch betrachtet werden muss, kommt hinzu. Sozialneid ist etwas Schreckliches, aber ererbte Privilegien sind noch schlimmer. Dass irgendwo am Anfang dieser Privilegien Leistung stand, ist eine Sache; dass es himmelschreiende Ungleichheiten gibt, die mit Leistung nichts zu tun haben, eine andere.

Leistung muss sich wieder lohnen; und unser Begriff dessen, was Leistung ist, muss sich ändern. Nur wenn sich die Meritokratie ändert, kann die Leistungsgesellschaft gerettet werden. Bis 2034 haben wir Zeit.

(Anmerkung UvM: Eine durchaus richtige Beschreibung der Problemlage von Bevölkerungsschichten. Nur: von „Abgehängten“ zu sprechen, wenn der sog. akademische Abschluss fehlt? Posener bemerkt die Sackgasse und fordert einen anderen Begriff von „Leistung“ ein.

Posener „Kochen, Fußball und Werken“. Kochen und Werken als Bestandteil von gesellschaftlicher Reproduktion? Warum nicht einfach „Gleichheit von allgemeiner und beruflicher Bildung“? Dann brauchen wir nicht von „Schulversagen“ zu sprechen, wenn kein akademischer Abschluss vorliegt. Dann bekommen die „Abgehängten“ die Wertigkeit, die die „Meritokratie“ nicht zu bewerten weiß – höchstens dann, wenn die Handwerkerrechnung vorgelegt wird, aber nur, weil sie zu hoch/maßlos erscheint.

Hoffentlich hat Herr Posener mehr als ein B.A.)


****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Russia in Europe: Rapprochement or Isolation?

Results of a representative survey conducted by TNS Infratest Politikforschung in Germany and Russia on behalf of the Koerber Foundation

Relations between Russia and most of its European neighbors are currently characterized by a profound crisis. A deep lack of trust exists on the political level. But do the people of Russia and its neighboring countries also harbor growing levels of mutual distrust?

In order to answer these questions, the Koerber Foundation commissioned representative surveys in February/March 2016 in Germany and Russia on the issue of “Russia in Europe”. The survey was conducted among 1000 individuals in Germany and 1024 people in Russia, all eligible to vote and over 18.

The results of the survey can be found on this website for download.

Summary of the results (PDF)

Overall results (PDF)

Background on the Körber Foundation´s focus “Russia in Europe”
in the field of “International Dialogue”

NYT: Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack.

CLEVELAND — Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, said Wednesday that if he were elected, he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties. The United States, he said, has to “fix our own mess” before trying to alter the behavior of other nations.

“I don’t think we have a right to lecture,” Mr. Trump said in a wide-ranging interview in his suite in a downtown hotel here while keeping an eye on television broadcasts from the Republican National Convention. “Look at what is happening in our country,” he said. “How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?”

During a 45-minute conversation, he explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance. Mr. Trump re-emphasized the hard-line nationalist approach that has marked his improbable candidacy, describing how he would force allies to shoulder defense costs that the United States has borne for decades, cancel longstanding treaties he views as unfavorable, and redefine what it means to be a partner of the United States.

He said the rest of the world would learn to adjust to his approach. “I would prefer to be able to continue” existing agreements, he said, but only if allies stopped taking advantage of what he called an era of American largess that was no longer affordable.

Giving a preview of his address to the convention on Thursday night, he said that he would press the theme of “America First,” his rallying cry for the past four months, and that he was prepared to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada if he could not negotiate radically better terms.

He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

He added, “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”

Mr. Trump said he was pleased that the controversy over similarities between passages in a speech by his wife, Melania, to the convention on Monday night and one that Michelle Obama gave eight years ago appeared to be subsiding. “In retrospect,” he said, it would have been better to explain what had happened — that an aide had incorporated the comments — a day earlier.

When asked what he hoped people would take away from the convention, Mr. Trump said, “The fact that I’m very well liked.”

Mr. Trump conceded that his approach to dealing with the United States’ allies and adversaries was radically different from the traditions of the Republican Party — whose candidates, since the end of World War II, have almost all pressed for an internationalist approach in which the United States is the keeper of the peace, the “indispensable nation.”

“This is not 40 years ago,” Mr. Trump said, rejecting comparisons of his approaches to law-and-order issues and global affairs to Richard Nixon’s. Reiterating his threat to pull back United States troops deployed around the world, he said, “We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion,” citing what he called America’s trade losses. “That doesn’t sound very smart to me.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms. Its roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders were each quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States.

No presidential candidate in modern times has ordered American priorities that way, and even here, several speakers have called for a far more interventionist policy, more reminiscent of George W. Bush’s party than of Mr. Trump’s.

But Mr. Trump gave no ground, whether the subject was countering North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats or dealing with China in the South China Sea. The forward deployment of American troops abroad, he said, while preferable, was not necessary.

“If we decide we have to defend the United States, we can always deploy” from American soil, Mr. Trump said, “and it will be a lot less expensive.”

Many military experts dispute that view, saying the best place to keep missile defenses against North Korea is in Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Maintaining such bases only in the United States can be more expensive because of the financial support provided by Asian nations.

Mr. Trump’s discussion of the crisis in Turkey was telling, because it unfolded at a moment in which he could plainly imagine himself in the White House, handling an uprising that could threaten a crucial ally in the Middle East. The United States has a major air base at Incirlik in Turkey, where it carries out attacks on the Islamic State and keeps a force of drones and about 50 nuclear weapons.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s increasingly authoritarian but democratically elected leader. “I give great credit to him for being able to turn that around,” Mr. Trump said of the coup attempt on Friday night. “Some people say that it was staged, you know that,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

Asked if Mr. Erdogan was exploiting the coup attempt to purge his political enemies, Mr. Trump did not call for the Turkish leader to observe the rule of law, or Western standards of justice. “When the world sees how bad the United States is and we start talking about civil liberties, I don’t think we are a very good messenger,” he said.

The Obama administration has refrained from any concrete measures to pressure Turkey, fearing for the stability of a crucial ally in a volatile region. But Secretary of State John F. Kerry has issued several statements urging Mr. Erdogan to follow the rule of law.

Mr. Trump offered no such caution for restraint to Turkey and nations like it. However, his argument about America’s moral authority is not a new one: Russia, China, North Korea and other autocratic nations frequently cite violence and disorder on American streets to justify their own practices, and to make the case that the United States has no standing to criticize them.

Mr. Trump said he was convinced that he could persuade Mr. Erdogan to put more effort into fighting the Islamic State. But the Obama administration has run up, daily, against the reality that the Kurds — among the most effective forces the United States is supporting against the Islamic State — are being attacked by Turkey, which fears they will create a breakaway nation.

Asked how he would solve that problem, Mr. Trump paused, then said: “Meetings.”

Ousting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, he said, was a far lower priority than fighting the Islamic State — a conclusion the White House has also reached, but has not voiced publicly.

“Assad is a bad man,” Mr. Trump said. “He has done horrible things.” But the Islamic State, he said, poses a far greater threat to the United States.

He said he had consulted two former Republican secretaries of state, James A. Baker III and Henry Kissinger, saying he had gained “a lot of knowledge,” but did not describe any new ideas about national security that they had encouraged him to explore.

Mr. Trump emphatically underscored his willingness to drop out of Nafta unless Mexico and Canada agreed to negotiate new terms that would discourage American companies from moving manufacturing out of the United States. “I would pull out of Nafta in a split second,” he said.

He talked of funding a major military buildup, starting with a modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal. “We have a lot of obsolete weapons,” he said. “We have nuclear that we don’t even know if it works.”

The Obama administration has a major modernization program underway, focused on making the nuclear arsenal more reliable, though it has begun to confront the huge cost of upgrading bombers and submarines. That staggering bill, estimated at $500 billion or more, will land on the desk of the next president.

Mr. Trump used the “America First” slogan in an earlier interview with The New York Times, but on Wednesday he insisted he did not mean it in the way that Charles A. Lindbergh and other isolationists used it before World War II.

“To me, ‘America First’ is a brand-new, modern term,” he said. “I never related it to the past.”

He paused a moment when asked what it meant to him.

“We are going to take care of this country first,” he said, “before we worry about everyone else in the world.”


Middle East

The Islamic State Threat to Germany: Evidence from the Investigations

July 27, 2016

Author(s): Florian Flade

Abstract: Security officials are concerned Germany is increasingly in the crosshairs of the Islamic State. German Islamic State recruits interrogated on their return home have made clear the group is seeking to launch attacks on German soil, but their testimonies suggest it has proven difficult for the group to enlist German nationals and residents to hit their home country. German officials are concerned the group is trying to exploit migrant flows to infiltrate non-European operatives into Germany, but so far there is little evidence of such operatives being involved in attack plans on German soil.

When Harry Sarfo arrived in Bremen on a Turkish Airlines flight from Izmir on July 20, 2015, the police were already waiting to arrest him. The son of Ghanaian immigrants who grew up in the Bremen neighborhood of Osterholz-Tenever, Sarfo had left Germany three months earlier. He had traveled through Bulgaria and Romania and then to Turkey, where he crossed into Syria and joined the Islamic State.

Back in Germany, Sarfo refused at first to talk to investigators about his time in Syria. Then, in October, he finally agreed to tell his story. He was visited three times in prison by the German domestic intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz.[a] The transcript of the interrogations and several court documents, reviewed by the author, fill several hundred pages.

Sarfo recalled in detail how he was registered as an Islamic State fighter at a safe house of the terrorist group in the city of Tal Abyad in northern Syria.[b] By his own account, he was then sent to Raqqa where he received the usual four-week, military-style training on AK-47 and various other weapons, which was followed by a “special course” training at a camp near At-Thawra and on an island in the Euphrates River.[1] The main goal of this training, which included swimming and diving courses as well as camouflaging exercises, was to prepare to serve in a special Islamic State unit tasked to support fighting forces in “difficult terrain” like Kobane.

Sarfo described how he was then sent on missions in Syria and Iraq and even witnessed executions of captured Assad soldiers in the ancient city of Palmyra. He also appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video carrying the flag of the terrorist group before he was diagnosed with hepatitis and allegedly fled the so-called caliphate after hospital treatment, crossed into Turkey, and returned to Germany.[2]

What most worried the Verfassungsschutz agents was what Sarfo told them happened on the second day he was in Syria. A black SUV stopped next to him, he said. Masked French fighters from the Islamic State’s internal security service Amniyat approached him and asked him if he would be willing to carry out an attack in Europe. Sarfo refused, he told the interrogators. “They wanted to know if I knew anyone in Germany who would be willing to carry out an attack. I also declined.”[3] The previous German recruits tasked with carrying out attacks “had gotten cold feet,”[4] the Islamic State members told him. Now there was a lack of willing candidates from among the German Islamic State contingent, but there were many Frenchmen and Belgians committed to attack, they said.

One month after Sarfo told the intelligence agency about the Islamic State’s plans for Europe attacks, Islamic State operatives did indeed strike at the heart of the continent. A terrorist cell led by Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud killed 130 people in Paris. Carnage had come to the streets of Europe—planned in Syria and organized by terrorists who had been able to build up a sophisticated network of support.

In Germany the security agencies watched with great concern the attack in Paris. The question immediately arose—how big is the Islamic State threat to Germany? Were there any Islamic State terrorists in the country ready to strike? What was the role of German jihadis within the terrorist organization? Was there a terrorist cell on its way to Germany?[5] This article examines the Islamic State threat to Germany by drawing on hundreds of pages of interrogation reports and court documents, German government studies on German foreign fighters, and interviews with German counterterrorism officials.

Target: Germany
According to security officials, Germany is in the crosshairs of the Islamic State, even though the country is not involved in the bombing campaign against terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq. This has been evidenced by several propaganda videos calling for attacks in Germany and even threatening Chancellor Angela Merkel. Numerous German militants have been trained in terrorist camps of the so-called caliphate.[6]

Around 820 Islamists from Germany have traveled to Syria and Iraq in recent years. Most of them have joined the Islamic State. At least 140 are said to have been killed; about 14 of them carried out suicide bombings. Of those who went to the war zone around a third have already returned to Germany, with some in custody while others are under intense surveillance.[7]

The German Federal Police (Bundeskriminalamt BKA) has analyzed the biography of 677 of these jihadist travelers.[8] The results show that 79 percent of those who traveled to Syria and Iraq were males and 21 percent female. The youngest traveler was 15 years old, the oldest was 62. The vast majority were between 22 and 25 years old. Sixty-one percent of the jihadis were born in Germany, 6 percent in Turkey, 5 percent in Syria, 5 percent in Russia, and 3 percent in Afghanistan. In total, 64 percent had German citizenship, followed by Turkish, Moroccan, Russian, Syrian, Tunisian, and Afghan nationality. One-hundred and nineteen of the 677 jihadis analyzed by the BKA were converts to Islam. All except 22 were seen as followers of salafism. Two out of three jihadist travelers had ties to known Islamist extremists. Before their departure, many took part in salafist missionary work like the nationwide Qur’an distribution campaign entitled “Lies!” (read).

The Germans of the Islamic State
Of those jihadis who have returned from Syria and Iraq, only a few have been willing to speak about their time with the Islamic State.[9] Nevertheless, over the years, more and more information about the role of German jihadis within the Islamic State has been accumulated, and some of this was revealed during the first trials of returnees from Syria. It became clear that Germans have served in the Islamic State’s media wing, in its internal intelligence agency, and even in special forces groups tasked to carry out difficult missions.

German intelligence now knows of “German villages” in northern Syria, towns or neighborhoods where foreign fighters and their families have settled. Some of them were located near the cities of al-Bab, others in Minbij or Jarabulus.[10] Investigations also uncovered that many former members of the salafist group “Millatu Ibrahim,” which was banned by the German interior ministry in 2012, ended up with the Islamic State. Their number included former rap musician Denis Cuspert (“Deso Dogg”), who took on the jihadist name “Abu Talha al-Almani,” Michael Noack from Gladbeck, and Silvio Koblitz from Essen.[11]

Reda Seyam, a German-Egyptian labeled by some investigators as a “veteran of jihad,” is most likely the highest-ranking German member of the Islamic State.[12] He was present in Bosnia during the civil war there and later was arrested in Indonesia where he was suspected of having played a key role in the al-Qa`ida Bali nightclub bombing in October 2002. Later, Seyam was sent back to Germany and became an influential figure within the salafist community before he left for Syria.

Today, Seyam is said to be the “emir for education” in the “Wilayat Nineveh,” the Islamic State governance in northern Iraq where he allegedly is responsible for “education reform” in the region.[13] Also known as “Dhul al-Qarnain,” Seyam has appeared in propaganda videos (titled “Education in the Shadows of the Caliphate”) and in pictures taken inside Islamic State-occupied Mosul University.[14]

While most German jihadis seem to play a rather low-level role in the organization, serving as guards and supplying fighters with food, weapons, and ammunition, a few apparently took up the position as “commanders.”[15] One of them is a German convert to Islam named Konrad Schmitz (kunya: Abdulwahid al-Almani) who was known as “Konny” back in his hometown of Mönchengladbach and is allegedly still operating with the Islamic State. According to the account of an Islamic State defector, he served as the “emir” of a German Islamic State brigade.[16]

Another German Islamic State member, Samy W. from Walshut-Tiengen,[17] ended up with the Islamic State’s “Anwar al-Awlaki Brigade,”[18] a unit of English-speaking foreign fighters,[19] some of whom are allegedly tasked to plan operations in Europe and North America.[20]

At least two jihadis from Germany worked in the media sector of the Islamic State, translating statements, video files, and audio tapes. One of them, Usman Altaf (kunya: Abu Jandal al-Almani), was a salafi of Pakistani origin from the city of Mannheim. The Islamic State hailed his death in Iraq with a poem that described him as an important figure in propaganda work.[21] The other, Christian Emde, is a convert to Islam from Solingen and is described by German intelligence as an important recruiter responsible for media work who communicated with salafis in Germany via WhatsApp chat groups.[22] He was even interviewed on camera in Mosul by German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who was allowed to travel through Islamic State territory to shoot a documentary.

According to intelligence sources, numerous Islamic State jihadis from Germany have taken part in active fighting in Syria or Iraq.[23] Most have done this as “foot soldiers” or suicide bombers. Others served as guards in Islamic State prisons or questioned newly arrived recruits. The German Federal Prosecution Office (Bundesanwaltschaft) has also started investigations against some foreign fighters for crimes beyond joining a terrorist group or attending a terrorist training camp. Some like German-Algerian Fared Saal (kunya: Abu Luqman al-Almani) from Bonn are being investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.[24]

But only one German Islamic State recruit has ever appeared on camera committing an execution. Yamin Abou-Zand, aka “Abu Omar al-Almani” from Königswinter and a former employee at the Telekom company, is seen in a Wilayat Hims clip entitled “Der Tourismus dieser Ummah” (“The Tourism of this Ummah”) next to Austrian Islamic State recruit Mohamed Mahmoud (kunya: Abu Usamah al-Gharib) shooting two alleged Syrian soldiers in Palmyra. In the video, released in August 2015, Abou-Zand also called on Muslims in Germany to join the Islamic State or carry out terrorist attacks in their homeland.[25]

Just a few days after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015, Nils Donath,[26] a former Islamic State member from Dinslaken in North Rhine-Westphalia, was arrested by German police.[c] After he came back from Syria, Donath had been under constant surveillance. His car had been wiretapped, and police were listening when he told a friend that while in Syria he had been part of an Islamic State unit responsible for hunting down, torturing, and executing alleged spies and traitors. During around 40 interrogations, Donath, who had been an Islamic State member from October 2013 to November 2014 and whose cousin had carried out a suicide bombing for the group, outlined how he had joined the Amniyat, which the prosecution described as the Sturmtrupp or “Gestapo of the IS.”[27] He had been given a car, a special permit to travel around Islamic State territory, an AK-47, and a golden Browning pistol.[28]

Donath told interrogators not only about horrific torture methods and public executions by the Islamic State but also that foreign fighters have the option of enlisting themselves for “external operations,” meaning terrorist attacks in Europe or North America.[29] And he claimed that he met Belgian and French jihadis, including Abaaoud.[30]

Donath’s account and those of Harry Sarfo and other Islamic State defectors create a threat picture that remains very concerning to German security services, one in which the Islamic State is apparently working extensively on trying to set in motion attacks in the West, including Germany.[31] “They want something that happens on several locations simultaneously,” Sarfo stated during his interrogation.[32]

After the Paris attacks in November 2015, German counterterrorism officials wanted to find out if there were any connections between the cell commanded by Abaaoud and German jihadis or if there were any helpers or supporters in Germany. They looked particularly at the situation in Syria itself. Was there any information about a Belgian-French-German connection?

The BKA came to the conclusion that German jihadis, especially a group of salafis from Lohberg (District of Dinslaken in Northrhine-Westphalia) that became known as the “Lohberger Brigade,” had most likely befriended several Belgians and French terrorists.[33]They even shared housing—at least for some time in 2013 and 2014—in the Syrian villages of Kafr Hamra or Azaz.[34] Pictures obtained by German intelligence show French jihadi Salahuddin Ghaitun alongside Hassan Diler, a Turkish national from Dinslaken, and David Gäble, a convert from Kempten. One picture most likely taken in Raqqa even shows Abaaoud next to Hüseyn Diler, Hassan’s 43-year-old brother, also from Dinslaken.[35] Despite these linkages, German security officials have found it difficult to ascertain whether jihadis from Germany were also involved in terrorist plots. Nevertheless, Hüseyn Diler was put on a most wanted list.[36]

Hüseyn Diler, an Islamic State recruit from North Rhine-Westphalia (right), with Paris attack team leader Abdelhamid Abaaoud in Syria in 2015. (Retrieved by Guy Van Vlierden from Islamic State social media)

Infiltration by Foreign Operatives
While it seems the Islamic State has not been able to successfully recruit German nationals or jihadis from Germany to carry out attacks in Europe, the security services are on high alert regarding another potential threat—non-European terrorists being smuggled into Europe hidden among refugees, a tactic already used by the Islamic State in the Paris attacks. With hundreds of thousands of refugees coming to Germany from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other regions since 2015, the concern is that the Islamic State might have already moved terrorists into the country. The BKA has received hundreds of tips regarding possible jihadis hiding in refugee shelters in Germany. In a few cases, arrests have been made. In Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, two terror suspects, Syrian Shaas E. M.[37] and Tajik national Mukhamadsaid S.,[38] were arrested in recent months. In another case, Farid A., an Algerian Islamic State member, lied when he applied for asylum. He pretended to be a Syrian refugee and was living in a shelter in Attendorn. Pictures allegedly taken in Syria and obtained by German police show him in military gear holding weapons.[39]

Another possible case of an Islamic State operative smuggled into Germany is that of 20-year-old Algerian Bilal C., who was arrested in Aachen in April for petty crimes. While in custody, German security services received information that he had been a member of Islamic State before he came to Germany as a refugee in the summer of 2015. Further investigation revealed that Bilal C. had scouted the Balkan route and other ways of entering Europe and had been tasked with that mission by Abaaoud. Bilal C. allegedly also helped Thalys train attacker Ayoub el-Khazzani secretly enter Europe.[40]

In February, a Syrian refugee named Saleh A. traveled from Düsseldorf to Paris and walked into a police station. There he told investigators about an Islamic State terror plot to carry out attacks in Düsseldorf using suicide bombers and assault rifles. Saleh A. said he had been tasked by the Islamic State leadership in Raqqa to form a terror cell. While being questioned by French police, he named three co-conspirators living as refugees in Germany.[41] After several months of investigation, German prosecution decided to move in. The three Syrians that Saleh A. had named were arrested in June.[42] Despite the case attracting significant global media attention, there is no proof of any real terrorist plot. No weapons or explosives were found, and no charges have been filed yet. German security sources say the case could very likely turn out to be a false alarm.[43]

Islamic State-Inspired Attacks
Even though the Islamic State has set its sights on Germany as a potential target, the terrorist group has not been able to cary out a sophisticated attack in the country. German security officials meanwhile see a high-threat level for the country, especially coming from lone attackers inspired or motivated by the Islamic State. Such cases already exist. In February, 15-year-old Safia S. attacked a policeman at the main train station in Hanover with a kitchen knife. Prior to the attack, the teenage girl had traveled to Turkey possibly to cross into Syria and join the Islamic State. The general prosecutor has labeled the knife attack a “terrorist act” and has confirmed that Safia S. had been in contact with people close to Islamic State.[44] Just two months later, two 16-year-old salafis, Yusuf T. and Mohamed B., attacked a Sikh temple in Essen using a homemade explosive device they had built. Both had been active members of a WhatsApp chat group named “Ansaar Al Khalifat Al Islamiyya” in which at least a dozen young salafis of Turkish-German origin communicated about jihadism.

And on July 18, a 17-year-old refugee named Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, who allegedly was born in Afghanistan, carried out an attack on a train near Würzburg in Bavaria, Southern Germany. Ahmadzai attacked train passengers, including a group of Chinese tourists with a cleaver and a knife, seriously injuring at least four people. After the train was stopped, he left the wagon and attacked a nearby woman walking her dog. The victim was also seriously wounded. The attacker was finally shot by the police.[45]Only a few hours after his attack, the Islamic State-linked Amaq Agency released a video message Ahmadzai had recorded in Pashto in which he said he wanted to carry out a martyrdom operation on behalf of the Islamic State and threatened that “IS will attack you anywhere.” Police later found a hand-written farewell letter to his father and a drawing of an Islamic State flag.[46] On July 24, Germany suffered its first ever jihadist suicide bombing. In the Bavarian town of Ansbach, 27-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad Daleel detonated a homemade bomb close to a music festival. Fifteen people were injured in the attack. In a video message later released by Islamic State-linked Amaq news agency, Daleel said he was renewing his pledge of allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and wanted to carry out a “martyrdom operation in Ansbach” as revenge for the killing of Muslims by Germans.[47]

Whether the source is a lone attacker such as Ahmadzai or Safia S. or a potential large-scale plot, the terrorist threat to Germany remains high. Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Verfassungsschutz, said in May that the threat is “higher than it ever was” with around 260 Islamic State fighters who have returned to Germany and around 90 radical mosques under surveillance.[48] According to German security sources, Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq are increasingly reaching out directly to supporters in Germany and Europe to urge them to carry out attacks.[49] It is possible this is because the Islamic State is finding it more difficult to send operatives back to Western Europe after governments there took steps to seal off the Turkey-Greece-Balkan migrant corridor, sharply reducing travel flows and making it more difficult for Islamic State operatives to pose as Syrian refugees.[50]

As jihadist defectors Donath and Sarfo told police and intelligence services, the Islamic State is probably still on the lookout for German terrorist recruits. The Bundeswehr deployment to northern Iraq, the training and support for Kurdish peshmerga forces, and the German Air Force reconnaissance missions over Syria mean that Germany is regarded by the Islamic State as just another “crusader nation”[51] that has to be attacked.

Florian Flade is an investigative journalist for Die Welt and Die Welt am Sonntag. He is based in Berlin and blogs about jihadism at Follow @FlorianFlade

Substantive Notes
[a] Sarfo was interrogated by the Bremen branch of the Verfassungsschutz, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

[b] The details on Harry Sarfo’s time in Syria are from the transcript of his interrogation seen by the author.

[c] At first there was not enough evidence to arrest him, but after the Charlie Hebdo attack, the decision was made to take him into custody. “Festnahme eines mutmaßlichen Mitglieds der ausländischen terroristischen Vereinigung Islamischer Staat Irak und Großsyrien,” Bundesanwaltschaft, January 10, 2015.

[1] Court documents in the case of Harry Sarfo, obtained by the author.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Florian Flade, “Ich will kein Blut an meinen Händen haben,” Die Welt, June 26, 2016.

[4] Interview of Harry Sarfo on “Frontal 21,” Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), June 16, 2016.

[5] Author interview, German security source, February 2016.

[6] Florian Flade, “Islamist droht in Terrorvideo Angela Merkel,” Die Welt, October 15, 2014.

[7] “Jeder zweite Gefährder aus Deutschland im Ausland,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 23, 2016.

[8] “Analyse der Radikalisierungshintergründe und -verläufe der Personen, die aus islamistischer Motivation aus Deutschland in Richtung Syrien oder Irak ausgereist sind,” Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), December 2015.

[9] Author interview, German security source, February 2016.

[10] Author interview, German security source, April 2016.

[11] Court documents on legal ban of Millatu Ibrahim Organization, obtained by the author.

[12] Author interview, German security source, April 2016.

[13] “IS-Video präsentiert Terrorverdächtigen Reda SEYAM als wichtigen Funktionär,” Verfassungsschutz Baden-Württemberg, June 2016.

[14] Florian Flade, “Reda Seyam: Totgeglaubte leben länger,”, March 6, 2015.

[15] Author interview, German security source, February 2016.

[16] Court documents in the case of jihadi Sebastian S., obtained by the author.

[17] Florian Flade, “Dschihad-Rückkehrer Teil 8 – Bin im Kalifat,”, April 15, 2016.

[18] Colonel Steve Warren, Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman, press briefing, April 7, 2016.

[19] Court documents in the case of jihadi Samy W., obtained by the author.

[20] “ISIS Creates English-Speaking Foreign Fighter ‘Anwar al-Awlaki’ Brigade For Attacks On The West: Report,” International Business Times, January 22, 2016.

[21] “Medienfunktionär des „Islamischen Staats“ stirbt bei Kämpfen im Irak,” Verfassungsschutz Baden-Württemberg, May 2015.

[22] Author interview, German security source, April 2016.

[23] Author interview, German security source, January 2016.

[24] Florian Flade, “Kriegsverbrechen: Ermittlungen gegen deutsche IS-Dschihadisten,”Die Welt, February 8, 2015.

[25] Florian Flade, “Behörden identifizieren deutschen IS-Mörder,” Die Welt, August 13, 2015.

[26] Court documents in the case of Nils Donath, obtained by the author.

[27] Jorg Diehl and Fidelius Schmid, “IS-Kronzeuge Nils D. vor Gericht: Gescheitert, erweckt und abgehauen,” Spiegel Online, January 20, 2016.

[28] Florian Flade, “Dschihad-Rückkehrer Teil 6 – Der Jäger,”, August 18, 2015.

[29] “Nils D. beschreibt IS-Folterpraktiken,” N-TV, January 22, 2016.

[30] Lena Kampf, Andreas Spinnrath, and Boris Baumholt, “Wussten deutsche Islamisten von Pariser Anschlagsplänen?” WDR, January 14, 2016.

[31] Author interviews, German security officials, 2016.

[32] Court documents in the case of Harry Sarfo, obtained by the author.

[33] Author interview, German security source, February 2016.

[34] Author interview, German security source, April 2016.

[35] Author interview, German security source, April 2016.

[36] Police search warrant for Hüseyn Diler, obtained by the author.

[37] “Haftbefehl wegen Mitgliedschaft in der ausländischen terroristischen Vereinigung Islamischer Staat Irak und Großsyrien (ISIG),” Bundesanwaltschaft, March 24, 2016.

[38] “Festnahme eines mutmaßlichen Mitglieds der ausländischen terroristischen Vereinigung Islamischer Staat Irak und Großsyrien (ISIG),” Bundesanwaltschaft, June 22, 2016.

[39] Florian Flade, “Terrorpläne in der Frühphase?”, February 5, 2016.

[40] “Festnahme eines mutmaßlichen Mitglieds der ausländischen terroristischen Vereinigung ‘Islamischer Staat’ (IS),” Bundesanwaltschaft, July 7, 2016.

[41] “Düsseldorfer IS-Anschlagsplan: Drei Verdächtige in U-Haft genommen” Deutsche Welle, June 3, 2016

[42] “Festnahme dreier mutmaßlicher Mitglieder der ausländischen terroristischen Vereinigung Islamischer Staat Irak und Großsyrien,” Bundesanwaltschaft, June 2, 2016.

[43] Author interview with German security source, July 2016.

[44] “Haftbefehl gegen Safia S. wegen des Angriffs auf einen Beamten der Bundespolizei erwirkt,” Bundesanwaltschaft, April 15, 2016.

[45] Police document on the attack, obtained by the author.

[46] Bayerischer Rundfunk, “Attentäter von Würzburg – Klassisches Abschiedsvideo,” July 20, 2016.

[47] Video message by Mohammad Daleel, released by Amaq via Telegram, July 26, 2016.

[48] “Maaßen: Terrorgefahr so hoch wie nie,” MDR, May 2, 2016.

[49] Author interview, German security sources, summer 2016.

[50] Ioannis Mantzikos, “The Greek Gateway to Jihad,” CTC Sentinel 9:6 (2016); author interview, German security source, July 2016.

[51] Interview with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Dabiq, issue 7, p. 74.


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

A Brexit post-mortem: 17 takeaways for a fallen David Cameron

In an open memo to the outgoing British Prime Minister, former Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, Jeremy Kinsman, describes in detail just how badly the Remain campaign failed.

Spoiler alert: Brexiteers who now permit themselves to read only positive articles about the project to leave the European Union, should cease reading immediately.

1. Referenda are the nuclear weapons of democracy. In parliamentary systems they are redundant. Seeking a simplistic binary yes/no answer to complex questions, they succumb to emotion and run amok. Their destructive aftermath lasts for generations.

2. Never call a referendum without being sure of the outcome. You called this one primarily for reasons of tactical political positioning, mainly to appease anxiety in the English Conservative Party (and I mean “English”) that the United Kingdom Independence Party was gaining strength with your party’s voters. The pledge to hold a referendum helped win you an unexpected majority. It also ended your career and seriously compromised your country’s interests.

3. You should have been sure you had a high-performance team before you leapt. Ambitious defectors from your cabinet and untrustworthy political rivals undermined you. Jeremy Corbyn was the worst possible ally. His inactivity was an eloquent put-down of the case for remaining. He hates the EU for reasons opposite to those of the Tory backbenches – he views the EU as a surrogate of a capitalist system he wants to overthrow.

4. In any referendum over separation, the “independence” side appeals to the patriotic heart. The thinking of the Leave side is magical. It plucks at a dimly remembered but glorified past (that was never as good as nostalgia makes it), and offers a future that is imaginary. The Brexiteers are the dog that caught the bus: they hadn’t thought what to do next. Coping with impending difficulties is for another day. Liam Fox, one of the ideologues now seeking your job, airily told the BBC that follow-on policies toward EU workers in the UK, crisis budgets, and negotiations with the EU weren’t part of the campaign agenda – they’re for the next (unelected) government to think about.

5. Your appeals to the nation’s head didn’t get through. In a post-factual political age, reasoning doesn’t reach the heart. To win, you needed to mobilize convincing passion behind the case that the status quo is both preferable and improvable. You could have said that despite its struggles and seeming faults, the European Union aims to be a force for good; that it has brought, and will bring, decisive benefits to Britain, and to all European peoples. Implying only that the EU is a mess but that leaving would be worse was bound to lose the campaign. Raining fears about the material costs of leaving, supported by experts and authorities, had no impact on the growing cult of “ordinary people” who took cues only from each other, animated by their populist rain men.

6. Arguing for the benefits and necessity of interdependence doesn’t diminish Britain and its tradition of proud, self-confidence. Churchill could lecture de Gaulle that Britain would “choose the sea” over Europe because when he said it, Britain still had an Empire. Since England no longer rules the waves, EU membership adds enormous leverage to the British role, influence and voice. But voters in rural England, who are used to hearing about your EU partners in disparaging terms, were indifferent.

7. You needed to be candid that Britain would be at a disadvantage in a negotiation to leave the EU because the EU has the trump of being less dependent on the UK than vice-versa. You avoided saying so, perhaps because it could sound wimpy or “defeatist” about British stature and weight. You let the Leave side get away with claiming that the EU would negotiate as an equal partner with equal stakes as the UK because the volume of trade was roughly equal. The reality is that respective stakes are starkly unequal. On trade, the UK is dependent on the EU market for 45 percent of its exports. The EU is dependent on the UK for only 8 percent of EU exports. Foreign investment into the UK has stopped because of uncertainty that UK exports will still get to the EU market. The Confederation of British Industries therefore judged that Brexit will cost 4-5 percent of GDP. The Economist Intelligence Unit is even more harsh.

8. You seemingly didn’t want to single out specific sectors in your warnings that there would be big costs to Britain. Was it because it would be talking them down in the markets? The Leave side pretends that manufacturers on both sides will find ways to come to equitable sectoral deals, that even with some new tariffs, British industry will do OK. But the financial services sector will definitely not do OK. The EU “passport” of regulatory equivalency that EU institutions grant to banks to operate under UK financial regulations will be withdrawn when the UK leaves the single market. This will be a lethal blow to the most rewarding sector of the UK economy (11 percent of Treasury revenues) that accounts for 10.2 percent of GDP and 3.3 percent of employment, mostly very high end. The migration of high-paying City of London financial jobs to a new financial center in Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam or Paris will seriously downgrade London’s status. Why didn’t you say so?

9. Why didn’t the Remain campaign say more about non-industrial benefits from the EU? Is it because of a visceral inability to praise its merit after years of denouncing it? The contribution to the EU budget by the UK has been exaggerated beyond belief. It only accounts for 1.3 percent of the UK’s budget. On the other hand, British farmers love the 55 percent of their income coming from the Common Agricultural Policy. The cultural and arts community needed its 230 EU grants. The one third of university students hoping for Erasmus support for study in Europe will be stuck at home. Britain’s rank as fifth in the world in scientific papers despite being only twentieth in science spending owes a lot to the additional US $11.6 billion in EU competitive research grants (2006-15). All of these sectors have constituencies. Leave courted the wistful retirees in the shires and marginalized “victims of globalization” in the once-industrial North – did Remain sufficiently target the younger generations whose futures were being bound by a senile chase after a receding past?

10. Many who voted Leave say it was because they are unhappy over Britain’s “domination” by the EU. Why didn’t you demystify this toxic fable? Have you, as prime minister, felt “dominated” in the EU Council? Do you think British (I mean “English”) identity has been eroded? Whose is the de facto working language of the EU institutions? Britain opted out of the Euro and border-free travel — in what real and convincing way is it nonetheless compromised in its sovereign capacities by “faceless bureaucrats in Brussels?” Sure, the European Court of Justice rules against Britain in cases of adherence to EU regulations. (It rules more often against France.) Does this really erode the British Parliament and courts?

11. Immigration is the issue people say they care about most. The EU is again the popular scapegoat, though it’s not responsible, obviously, for the millions of people and their children, now British, who came from the old multi-coloured Empire back in the day. You surely don’t share the fear that Syrian refugees — that the UK isn’t taking because it’s not in Schengen and doesn’t have to — will rush to take British jobs the moment they qualify as German citizens. Do EU workers actually replace British workers? Sixty percent have jobs lined up before they arrive because UK employers need them. Unemployment across Britain is only 5 percent. The UK has a minimum wage – does a Pole accepting it “undercut” a Brit who thinks he would get more if the Poles weren’t around? Could the NHS do without the 10-20 percent of its professional staff that is from the EU?

12. What if you had told the English they are not being “overrun?” 2015 was said to be disastrous because net immigration was 333,000 (half from the EU) despite your promise several years ago to limit it to 100,000. They represented nine in 1,000 persons in the UK, an intake less than Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Norway. “How would you cope in Canada?” a correspondent asked sarcastically. Well that’s about how many we aim to take this year. Foreign-born residents of the UK are 11.3 percent of the population, smack in the middle of the range for EU countries. By comparison, the four “settlement immigration” countries which seek qualified immigrants register the percentage of foreign-born as follows: U.S.: 14.3 percent; Canada: 20.7 percent; New Zealand: 25.1 percent; and Australia: 27.7 percent. We’re all coping pretty well.

13. Britain is over-crowded, not “overrun.” Of the 64.1 million who clog your roads and services, only 2 million are EU citizens. Nonetheless, public opinion argues for a temporary brake on EU workers who come seeking jobs, as opposed to those who are coming to fill one. But you must accept the principle that the free movement of labour is fundamental to being a member of the EU’s single market. It’s delusional or deliberately misleading to have gone along with the notion that Britain can deny this essential principle and still have full access.

14. Your European colleagues liked you. They know the pressures of highest office. They didn’t want the UK to leave the EU. In their guts, they know that the British lift the EU game in many ways. But they will not reward England’s nativists because you and their many British colleagues are pleasant and professional. They were never going to give the UK a break in negotiations to unravel 43 years of gradual integration and institutionalized accommodation. They have identity-driven nativist adversaries baying at them in their own capitals.

15. Allow me to observe that partisan politics is all you have ever done. It’s a handicap. Professional politicians over-react to tribal voices and noises from their camp. In your case, it’s against the continuous drumbeat of jingoistic anti-EU right-wing journalism (oddly promoted for years by non-EU status-seeking owners of the Times and the Express), two of whose exponents led the Leave campaign.

16. The referendum shouldn’t have been a response to party politics. Its significance is existential. It can’t be undone. But people can’t be expected just to absorb the pain and stay calm and carry on. There is real disbelief those about to take charge know what they are doing. Public antipathy and division will increase. The elected Parliament is against Brexit. Your friends abroad are aghast.

17. I understand why you walked away abruptly. But given that your decisions ultimately enabled this crack-up, you can’t leave for good without being clear about the size of the casualty ward to expect. Pasting it together will require the skill of the ages and the thoughtfulness of good and honest people to commit to a workable solution that is going to have to involve compromise. You delivered a majority to your party, one it would not win today. Conservatives owe it to you to listen if you now have something to say. You do. Take it on.


Jeremy Kinsman
Former High Commissioner of Canada to the United Kingdom and former Ambassador to the European Union

Reuters: Britain should deliver ‚full Brexit‘ soon, lawmaker says

Britain should leave the European Union quickly and not be drawn into a discussion about watering down the voters‘ clearly expressed wish for limits on immigration, senior Conservative lawmaker John Redwood said.


EU leaders are refusing to countenance a "Europe a la carte" by letting London select the parts of its future relationship that it likes while dispensing with EU principles such as the free movement of people.

Merkel says Britain needs time to put together a negotiating stance before triggering the formal divorce. But she has also cautioned that Britain cannot cherry-pick the parts of the EU that it wants to keep.

French President Francois Hollande and other EU leaders, have urged May to deliver Brexit soon and say Britain should not have full access to the European Single Market of 500 million consumers without accepting freedom of movement.

May has said British voters made it clear they want controls over freedom of movement.

But Redwood, who supports May, said there should be no negotiation over whether to limit freedom of movement.

"We shouldn’t negotiate over freedom of movement, or getting our money back or having our own laws: We are quite happy with the current tariff-free trading arrangements," he said.

"We voted to take back control. That means control of our laws, control of our borders, control of our money, and those things are not going to be negotiated – they cannot be. It said on the ballot paper "Leave" and that is what people voted to do."

Redwood said that after Brexit, Britain was likely to keep tariff-free trade with the other 27 members of the EU as they would face tariffs on exports to Britain if they did try to erect barriers.


The best option, Redwood said, would be to keep the current tariff-free trading relationship including so called passporting — which allows financial services firms in London to do business in Europe — without getting into a discussion over controls on freedom of movement.

"Ideally we just keep tariff-free trade and passporting and all the other arrangements we have at the moment and I think it is very likely we will keep that because I think they want them as much as we want them," he said.

"I would suggest they take what I would hope is our very generous offer of having tariff-free trade and carry on with no interruption," he said.

He said that if the EU refused to agree to tariff-free trade then Britain would have to impose tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules, which he said limit such tariffs to an average of 3.5 percent.

"It is up to the other 27 to sit down and see whether they can agree on what barriers they wish to impose on their trade with us. And I’d be a bit surprised if they came up with a set of barriers but if they did they would have to be WTO-compliant and we would then obviously retaliate under WTO rules."

Redwood said talk of a potential emergency brake that would allow Britain to limit immigration for seven years and keep access to the single market was ridiculous.

"Taking back control over the borders is not negotiable," he said. "That isn’t leaving."

"We didn’t vote to have another negotiation to try to improve on Mr Cameron’s negotiation," Redwood said, referring to former Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to win concessions from EU leaders ahead of the referendum.

Redwood said that under a reform of EU securities law known as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), financial services companies based in the UK would get passporting back anyway.

"If by any chance they make us go through the WTO route you get the passports back through the MiFID II doctrine of equivalence anyway," he said.

Some bankers agree with Redwood, though they note that it is up to the EU whether equivalence is granted in a process that has no set timetable and is prone to political horse trading. And any EU changes to MiFID II rules in the future would have to be implemented by London to ensure equivalence.


Serbien / The Balcans / Central-/East Europe

moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

Central Europe: Taking up Where the U.K. Left off

The prime ministers of the Visegrad countries are working together to make their desires for the European Union a reality.


  • The Central European states of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — known as the Visegrad Group — will become increasingly vocal and active in shaping the post-Brexit EU reform process.
  • The four countries will advocate the repatriation of powers from Brussels to national parliaments and will push for an "intergovernmental Europe" rather than a "supranational Europe."
  • Because of their relatively small size and peripheral location, the Visegrad Group countries will look for allies within the European Union to advance their goals, aided by the growing Euroskepticism in the region.


Four Central European countries see the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union as their opportunity to shape the future of the bloc. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary met in Warsaw on July 22 to discuss the issue for the second time in two months. Out of the first meeting on June 29, just days after the United Kingdom voted to leave the union, came a collective call for "dramatic reforms" of the bloc and its institutions. The sentiment was reiterated during the latest meeting, where the four Central European premiers once again called for major changes to the European Union.

It is not surprising that some of the European Union’s 28 member states are speaking out against the nature of the bloc. It is surprising that these four countries, which joined the bloc together and have become known as the Visegrad Group, are joining the chorus of criticism. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have generally strongly supported the European Union, which helped in their transition away from communism following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed, the name Visegrad harkens back to this shared communist past and refers to the Hungarian town where the leaders of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia met in early 1991 to establish the economic and political format of joint cooperation needed to integrate with Europe. Over the years, the countries met often within the Visegrad format (the Czech Republic and Slovakia peacefully divided into separate states in 1993) to advise and consult each other about reform efforts, until all eventually joined the bloc in 2004.

The Visegrad Group has gained from its membership in the European Union. Its members are among the main beneficiaries of EU development and agricultural funds, and they experienced high economic growth rates in the decade leading up to their accession to the bloc and in the years directly after joining. Recent years, however, have proved more difficult for the Visegrad states. The mounting pressures caused by the 2008 European financial crisis and the more recent migrant crisis have widened the divisions within the bloc; each of the Visegrad countries has experienced an economic slowdown, and border fences have been erected to mitigate refugee flows. In the meantime, political tension between the European Union and some of its member states over domestic policies such as media freedom and constitutional changes has grown.

Brexit: The Last Straw

The Brexit vote has shaken the foundations of the European Union and is causing member states to re-evaluate their positions within the bloc — the Visegrad states are no exception. Slovakia is the only Visegrad country in the eurozone, and all had looked to the United Kingdom, which also fell outside of the shared currency zone, to help defend their positions. Though in general the Visegrad countries are happy with their membership in the European Union, they have also long been wary of moves to transform the bloc into a sort of federal superstate. For them, the European Union should be a conduit for political, economic and security cooperation but should not infringe on the sovereignty of national governments. Thus, all four Visegrad states supported the calls of former British Prime Minister David Cameron to repatriate power from the European Union and to allow national parliaments more authority to veto EU decisions. Now that the United Kingdom will be leaving the union, the Visegrad states are likely to take over for Cameron in making similar demands.

In fact, just a day after the Brexit vote, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said Poland would work on a new EU treaty that would reduce the powers exercised by Brussels and give them back to national parliaments. Kaczynski did not specify what terms a new treaty would include, but he did say the Polish government would present one to the European Union in the coming months. Given the recent show of solidarity among the Visegrad Group, it would seem as if the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary may support Poland’s proposal, or at least parts of it.

Stepping Into the U.K.’s Shoes

In theory, at least, the Brexit vote has created space for the Visegrad states to make the demands that the United Kingdom used to make, under the threat of holding their own referendums. If held, these votes would probably not concern actual EU membership, given that the countries depend on EU funding and that public support for the bloc is high. But the Visegrad countries could threaten to hold referendums on specific EU issues as a means to gain leverage. Hungary, for instance, has already announced that it will hold a vote on the controversial EU plan to redistribute asylum seekers across the Continent.

The Visegrad countries want the European Union to continue working as a protective umbrella and as a source of funding, but they do not want it to interfere in their domestic affairs. The countries are relatively small, however, and even if they coordinate their demands, the Visegrad Group does not have the political heft to actually stop new EU regulations from passing.

This means that the Visegrad Group will have to look for more partners to push for an "intergovernmental Europe," rather than a "supranational Europe." Rising Euroskepticism will broaden the pool of potential partners — given that Euroskeptics also criticize supranationalism in their bid to empower nations. Depending on the kind of measures they propose, the Visegrad countries could find support in Denmark, Sweden, or even the Netherlands and Austria for measures to weaken the European Commission. And depending on political developments, the Visegrad vision for the European Union could become mainstream. Therefore, while the Visegrad countries are in many respects considered peripheral members of the European Union, they could shape its future in important ways.

Also worth noting: The CBS poll of only 11 swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) now shows Trump edging Clinton 42-41. Before the convention, Clinton led 41-40.

Trump Wants to Paint the Town Red: Over the last 25 years, Pennsylvania has voted Democrat, but current polling suggests that with a few strategy changes Donald Trump could win the state over in what would be an important victory. (Brandon Finnigan, National Review) –

Can Latinos Swing Arizona?: The organization Promise Arizona is using Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric to motivate Latinos to vote. But will their work be enough to register their goal of 75,000 voters before the election? (Hector Tobar, The New Yorker)

It Shouldn’t Have Been Clinton: The Democratic party chose Hillary Clinton as its candidate long before the primaries had even begun, Megan McArdle argues, and if Donald Trump wins the presidency, it will be because the party chose wrong. (Bloomberg)-

Gallup: For First Time, Trump’s Image on Par With Clinton’s –



see our letter on:

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*



07-27-16 CTC-SENTINEL_Vol9Iss7.pdf