May 22, 2003
Dutch AEL leader arrested

One of the leaders-designate of the Dutch branch of the AEL, the Islamist Arab-European League has been arrested, together with his brother. He is accused of theft and extortion after an incident last November. At a McDonald's restaurant in the eastern town of Hengelo, he and his brother allegedly had arranged a meeting with an entrepreneur from the nearby town of Enschede in order to transact a deal involving laptop computers. When they met, the two brothers are said to have to threatened their victim with a firearm and forced him to hand over his money to them.

Dutch media can't give the full names of those who are being investigated, so the AEL guy is only known as "Nabil M." It's not as though his past is entirely squeaky clean. He used to deal in stolen laptops and had a website offering to remove passwords from laptops. He actually admits to all this, but calls these activities "youthful indiscretions." Apparently the tail end of his exuberant youthful behavior was still in evidence last November.

We'll see whether the prosecution can get a conviction in this case.

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April 29, 2003
Terrorism, the AEL and porn

The Dutch secret service AIVD presented its annual report for 2002, spending considerable time on the threat of Islamic terrorism and the recruiting of terrorists in the Netherlands:

Despite recent successes in the battle against terrorism, Islamic terror networks are still capable of carrying out attacks all over the world, according to the 2002 annual report of the Dutch secret service AIVD.

Caretaker Interior Minister Johan Remkes presented the report to Parliament on Tuesday. The AIVD said radical Islamic networks are also active in the Netherlands and the groups generally play a supporting, rather than a front-line terrorist, role by giving financial, material and logistical assistance to terror cells.

The Dutch groups also recruit young men for the holy war, or jihad, against the "enemies of Islam," the AIVD alleged. This is a repeat of its claim, made in December 2002, that dozens of young Muslim men were in training.

But Dutch security authorities have not brought any alleged terrorists to justice since the September 11 attacks in the US.

This is nothing particularly new, but it underscores the activities of Islamofascist organization in the Netherlands. The Saudis have been financing a lot of this, even to the point where Dutch politicians are now calling for the government to take action against Saudi Arabia. But at the same time, the AIVD's report also shows that while awareness of surveillance of various extremist Islamist groups has increased, there has been little tangible progress. The arrests that were made last year evaporated in the increasingly risible Dutch justice system.

One of the groups mentioned in the report is the Arab-European League, founded in Belgium and now establishing itself firmly in the Netherlands:

The AIVD emphasised that groups — such as the Arab European League (AEL) in the Netherlands and Belgium — which play on creating a Muslim identity and religious or ethnic sentiment, are a security risk.

The leader of the Dutch AEL has not formally been instated yet, but it's likely to be Mohammed Cheppih, who is known to be funded by the Saudis in role as chairman of the Muslim World League in the southern Dutch town of Tilburg:
Islamic centres in Amsterdam and Eindhoven have been singled out as particular hotbeds of Muslim extremists and a report in newspaper Het Parool said two hijackers involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, including Mohammed Atta, possibly received ideological training at the El Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam.

Wilders and VVD colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali have demanded the mosque's closure.

The Islamic conference was organised by a foundation which the intended chairman of the Arab European League in the Netherlands, Mohammed Cheppih, is involved with and Atta and another hijacker possibly attended at Eindhoven or Amsterdam.

The AEL is a profoundly dangerous organization because its founder Abu Jahjah knows how to play the democratic game. He's not just another ranting zealot, but he's proving adept at using the rhetoric and paraphernalia of a bona fide democratic movement as a cover for his radical Islamism. But he does conform to one of the more culturally invariant features of shady populist leaders in that he does not really practice what he preaches. Abu Jahjah was under investigation in Belgium last year for his role in rioting in Antwerp, and as part of that investigation several of his computers were seized. The latest information to trickle out of that investigation is that Belgian police are taking a closer look at the porn on Jahjah's computer to determine whether any of it is illegal. He claims he's being set up of course, because even the possession of legal porn would rather undermine his Islamically Pure image amongst the Arab immigrant masses. In a few weeks' time the Belgians go to the polls, where the AEL is participating in an alliance with an extreme left-wing party. The revelations certainly come at an awkward time for Jahjah.

Then again, it would not surprise me in the least to see Jahjah partaking of the carnal pleasures of the decadent West. Not that this would even be too out of step with my own insight into the Saudi mind. I am getting quite a few hits via search engines to my blog from Saudi Arabia, looking for various things like "Saudi girl sex," as well as search strings in Arabic. I touched upon this earlier, but that particular blog entry keeps getting the search engine hits. The string "??ا?ع س?س" alone netted me 182 hits this month (it's part of a comment in Arabic). I wish I could read Arabic though, but it does seem that my blog has become a Saudi porn magnet. I've had 842 hits from the .sa domain this month.

I'm not sure whether to be encouraged by this or not. On the one hand, it does show the universal appeal of sex and porn. The "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" meme coming from Iraq would support this. On the other hand, the strict puritanism of the Islam, and especially Wahhabi Islam is in stark contrast to this desire for sex and porn. In that sense, it's another manifestation of the fantasy world, the dream palace of the Arabs. They've been very good at lying to themselves, about their own importance and the sorry state of Arab society. The liberation of Iraq has made these lies, both official and self-inflicted, painfully obvious. Reality does come crashing through in the end. As they say, reality is that which is you stop believing in it, does not go away. And it's not going to go away for the backward Arab societies either.

Nor is the reality going away that Europe too is threatened by the Saudi-funded Islamofascism. That's the reality politicians here will have to confront.

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March 10, 2003
The AEL opens up shop

it comes as no surprise, but now it's official: the AEL has opened its Dutch subsidiary. The AEL is the Arab-European League, an organization which had its roots in Belgium and claims to represent (and probably does) the muslim immigrants in the Netherlands. It claims to be a democratic and Islamic party. There is little doubt that it is Islamic, but the democratic bit seems to be more difficult to find. At the inaugural meeting, the interim leader Jamil Jawad immediately called for the destruction of Israel, claiming that it has no right to exist. The quote is for "the State of Israel to be dismantled." That's great way to start a new democratic party, by calling for the desctruction of the only democratic state in the Middle East.

But what of the citizens of Israel? Do they only want the state destroyed, or the people as well? The press officer of the Dutch AEL, Naima Elmaslouhi, is quoted in the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad as saying that she did not disapprove of Moroccan youths chanting "Hamas, Hamas, gas the Jews" during a protest march last year in Amsterdam. Of course, she now denies making the remark. Speaking of democratic credentials, the interim leader Jawad also said he understoof why Moroccan youths are keen to see body bags with US soldiers to be sent back to the US. He said, "Those kids see war against Iraq as a war against Islam." Keep this up and it'll become one.

February 15, 2003
Combating the enemy within

One of the more controversial figures in Dutch politics has been Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant who abandoned Islam and became an atheist. In combination with her high-profile remarks about Islam and the oppression of Muslim immigrant women in the Netherlands, this has earned her numerous death threats, and she even had to leave the country for a while as a result. She's still under increased protection. She used to work as a researcher at the Wiardi Beckmann Foundation, the think tank of the left-of-center Labor Party. She defected over to the right-of-center Liberal Party (VVD) and got an electable position on the party list. Since the last election, she's been a member of parliament for the VVD.

A few days before I went off on my vacation, Hirsi Ali gave an interview to the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw which really set the cat amongst the pigeons. The theme of the interview were the ten commandments, and religion played a major role in her observations. Some of the stories she told were about her childhood in Somalia, such as the time when she was beaten unconscious and had her skull fractured by an imam. She and her sister had been taunting him previously, not wanting to learn about the Koran.

I don't have the patience to translate the whole thing, but here are some of the highlights of the interview. She started off by saying that the current Christian Democrat prime minister Balkenende is not a Christian:

[Balkenende] is always talking about biblical values, but never about the things God asks us to do. Balkenende, the scientist who had to learn to refute in order to arrive at certain truths, believes that the world was created in six days? That Eve was made from Adam's rib? That's impossible. Scientists don't believe. I am convinced that Balkenende is not a Christian.

I suppose it depends on the definition of Christian that one employs. But this was not what caused all the excitement. It were her comments about Islam and Mohammed that led to the ire of Muslim organizations. In the following she refers back to a comment she'd made earlier about Muslim being "backward" or "retarded" (depending on how you want to translate the word), she said the following about the second commandment:
With the first commandment Mohammed tried to imprison common sense and with the second commandment the beautiful, romantic side of mankind was enslaved. I really think it's horrendous that so many people are left bereft of art. In that sense Islam is an outlived culture. Which is to say: unchangeable, set in stone. Everything has been written up in the Koran and there's no tinkering with it. Personally I still think that Mohammed's teachings are obsolete, but because in my new role as a politician I could not go into debate with people who'd hold it against me that I'd called them backward, I have retracted that statement. Or actually I should say that I have qualified my words: I think that Islam - the submission to the will of Allah - is a backward principle, but that does not mean that I think that the practitioners of the religion are backward too. They're behind the times. That's different. They can still move forward.

Traditional political weaseling here, but she goes on about the third commandment:
Insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death. This the prophet heard himself from God, just like he heard other convenient things from time to time. Read about it in the Koran: he stole Zayned, the wife of one of his students by saying it was Allah's will. And what's worse, he fell in love with Aisha, the nine-year-old daughter of his best friend. Her father said, "Please wait until she reaches puberty," but Mohammed did not want to wait that long. So what happens? He gets the message from Allah that Aisha has to prepare herself for Mohammed. That's apparently Mohammed's teaching: it's OK to take the child of your best friend. Mohammed is, by our western standards, a perverse man. A tyrant. He's against freedom of speech. If you don't do as he says, you'll have an unhappy ending. Makes me think of all the megalomaniac rulers in the Middle East: Bin Laden, Khomeini, Saddam. Do you it's strange to have a Saddam Hussein? Mohammed is his example. Mohammed is the example for all Muslim men. Does it surprise you that so many Muslim men are violent? You're scared by the things I am saying, but you make the same mistake that most native Dutchmen make. You forget where I come from. I've been a Muslim, I know what I'm talking about. I think it's terrible that I, living now in a democratic country where freedom of expression is our greatest good, am still confronted with the posthumous blackmail of the prophet Mohammed. In the Netherlands mister Aboutaleb can read to Koran and think, "that Mohammed is great." And I can think, "that Mohammed as an individual is despicable." Mohammed says that women have to stay indoors, have to wear a veil, can't do certain jobs, don't have the same inheritance rights as men, have to be stoned if they commit adultery. I want to show there is another truth besides the "truth" that is spread with Saudi money all over the world. I realize that the women who call themselves Muslims won't understand me yet, but one day they'll remove their blinkers. We have to employ all channels of socialization - family, education, media - to make Muslim women self-sufficient and independent financially. That's going to take many years, but one day that women will realize like I did: I don't want my mother's life.

These comments about Mohammed caused a massive storm of protest from Muslim organizations in the Netherlands, including some veiled threats. Prosecutions under various laws have been threatened but nothing has come of these thus far. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's stated aim is to liberate Muslim women living in the Netherlands who are currently living under the fairly repressive conditions. I wonder whether this is the right way of going about these things. Her approach of open confrontation, indeed open attack on Islam makes sense if you think that there is no hope for reform possible without a dislodging the religion of Islam. Such open confrontation is not going persuade any moderate or secularized Muslims who might be allies in the fight against the Islamofascists. Instead, it's only going to antagonize them.

The problem is that thus far there has been little evidence of any pro-western, secular or moderate movement within Islam, certainly here in the Netherlands. The organizations purporting to speak for the Muslim immigrant populations have been very much along the mould of CAIR in the US. They show little affinitiy with the secular, western values which form the bedrock of our society. Instead they're not quite openly supportive of outright Islamofascism, but it's clear their sympathies are a lot closer to Bin Laden than the constitution of the Netherlands. Yet within the second or third generation immigrants there must surely be a significant number of those who're more attracted to our western secular lifestyle than the stultifying backwardness of fundamentalist Islam. But unless they make themselves known and their voices heard, the only signal we'll be getting from the Muslim immigrant community is that of adherence to a primitive, medieval religion and sympathy for those who seek to destroy our society and civilization. This in turn will vindicate Hirsi Ali's stance to seek frontal confrontation with Islam. It may become necessary, but to think that you'll be able to convert a significant portion of them to atheism is fanciful and not realistic. Even then the best you can hope for is to convert them to a more modern version of Islam, one which does not live in the glorious past of 1,200 years ago but at least tries to come to terms with the modern world of the 21st century. The best hope is the Turkish model, which combines a secular state with a somewhat more modern version of Islam. It's far from perfect as a model, but it's the best we have. And since there is a large Turkish immigrant community here in the Netherlands which is at least somewhat imbued with secularized thought, it's from within this group that any moderate and reasonable Muslim strand is most likely to emerge. That's why it's counterproductive at this stage to go for a full confrontation with Islam as Hirsi Ali is doing. It may yet become necessary, and perhaps I am too optimistic or naive to think that we have not yet reached that point. The alternative is worse.

Steering towards a full-blown confrontation is the Arab-European League, the AEL. The organization has its roots in Belgium and has been spreading its wings to the Netherlands as well as other European countries. Follow the links to read about the AEL and its founder, Abu Jahjah. Apparently there was a TV or radio debate with him a week or so ago here in the Netherlands. I have not seen or heard it, so I can only report what I heard about that debate third-hand. He was pitted in the debate against a number of pretty sharp Dutch debaters, such as the former GreenLeft leader Paul Rosenmuller. I generally disagree with him, but he's pretty good at debating. The general consensus about that debate is that Jahjah swept the floor with the Dutch politicians. In Dutch, a language he only learned relatively late in his life (20s?). Abu Jahjah adeptly used the very concepts of liberal democracy to defend himself against all accusations. He calls on the values enshrined in our constitution (however imperfectly defined they may be at times) such as freedom of expression and freedom of religion to justify what he's doing. He knows exactly which lines he cannot cross publicly; whereas he says he's only exercising his rights under the constitution, it's also clear that the AEL is working towards undermining it. It's the old Sinn Fein trick, building a semi-respectable facade for the world to see, while still being allied with dark forces.

Abu Jahjah is an extremely intelligent man. He can argue his case and defend himself using the vocabulary of liberal democracy while we works to undermine it. His sympathies lie clearly with the Islamofascists, but he's toned the public rhetoric down to a level where he's just another voice in the cacophony of our liberal democracy. He's perfectly aware of the weaknesses of liberal democracy and is detemined to exploit these to further his own Islamofascist aims. Combined with his intelligence, this makes him an extremely dangerous man.

The best way of dealing with idiotic and repugnant points of view (such as those espoused by the AEL and Jahjah) is to expose them for what they are. A well-informed population will be able to sift through them, consider them and reject them. The frightening scenario here is that it might not work that way. The immigrant community in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe has never made any attempt to integrate into wider society, nor has there been any effort by the governments to force them to. There's no melting pot here. There are multiple pots bubbling and boiling next to one another. Many of the immigrants from countries such as Morocco and Turkey (who form the bulk of Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands) have been living within their little parallel world in the Netherlands for decades. There is a bit more integration with second and third generation immigrants, but overall there is an astonishing degree of separation between the immigrants and the native population. And their numbers are large enough that they can't be ignored either. Within a few years, about 10% of the Dutch population will be Muslim. Another problem is that the immigrants are very different from the kinds of (Muslim) immigrants the US gets. What we have here is the bottom of the barrel, people who were at the bottom end of society even back home in Morocco. They're the worst educated of the bunch. The ruling elites in Morocco consider them utter barbarians and are just as glad to be rid of them.

Exposing them to the fresh winds of vigorous debate is going to be hard. Many don't speak Dutch, and living on the margins of Dutch society they're easy prey for the power-hungry predators of the AEL. If traditional methods of persuasion (or dissuasion in this case) do not work, what alternatives are left? A massive propaganda campaign could have an impact, but I am skeptical it can break into the majority within the group. The AEL will always have an advantage. Stopping government handouts to might increase pressure on them to learn Dutch and try to become more connected to society, but that too will not be enough.

This leaves the depressing prospect that we are very likely to end up with a substantial portion of the Dutch population under the sway of a brutal, primitive, fascist ideology. It certainly won't be the 10% of the population, but even if the AEL can muster the support of 5% it'll have the critical mass to disrupt wider society. You don't need a huge percentage to create a big problem, especially if they're willing to employ violent means to underscore their demands. This is the nightmare scenario. Accede to the demands of the Islamofascists or you'll be faced with widespread violence. Suddenly the poll over at LGF about which European country will first introduce Sharia is no longer so far-fetched. Will we accept the introduction of a parallel system of governance for Muslims, as is happening in Nigeria? It's too absurd to imagine.

There are no good alternatives. The AEL under Jahjah is going to become a powerful disruptive force, and any options for dealing with them are problematic. Will we have to destroy the village in order to save it? The best bet is still some combined education/propaganda campaign with the stick of loss of government subsidies (which I think should happen anyhow, regardless of religion). But the vast majority of these immigrants have now obtained Dutch citizenship. Sending them back would be very problematic in any case, but deporting Dutch citizen to a foreign country will raise insuperable constitutional hurdles. Using repression or outlawing certain kinds of speech or opinion are equally unconstitutional and very likely to be counterproductive anyway. The reality is that we have a large section of the population who can easily fall under the sway of the AEL and there's not too much we can do about it. The result will be increasing polarization between the growing group of immigrant who'll support the Islamofascists and the wider population. This guarantees an ugly outcome.

There might still be a chance to avert such an ugly outcome, but it will require strong and determined action. The flow of Saudi money has to be stopped; mosques cannot be allowed to spread anti-western propaganda any longer. We have to get a grip on the incubating Islamofascism within the immigrant community, and encourage the moderate. secular strands to come forward and denounce the Islamofascists. We might still be able to pull it off, but time is running out. And while I strongly defend Hirsi Ali's right to say the things she has said, I think they're counterproductive at this point. Only if and when we come to the conclusion that all Muslims are beyond rhyme or reason does it make sense to open up a full frontal assault on Islam. I hope it does not come to that.

There is another aspect that would help: a big crushing defeat for the various dictators in the Middle East. Starting with Saddam is a good beginning, but getting rid of the Saudis (who're funding much of the anti-western forces in Europe) will have to come next. Removing the external support for the enemy within has to be part and parcel of the strategy of defending the West against the threat of Islamofascism.

UPDATE: I have written a follow-up here.

December 10, 2002
The AEL spreads its wings

The Arab-European League (AEL) is an organization of radical Arab immigrants of the second generation, which found its origin in Belgium. Its leader has recently been arrested and freed again there; the entire chronology can be found on Live From Brussels. Now the organization is spreading to the Netherlands, led by 32 year old M'Hamed Zaghoubi, who has lived in Amsterdam since the age of four. He dropped out of the "HBO," a vocational training course and is now unemployed. The NRC Handelsbald newspaper had an interview with him. Here are some translated highlights. He says, There's an inequality in society. Moroccan youths are being disadvantaged." Then when asked about the high crime rate amongst Moroccans:

That surprises you? Since the 80's [Moroccan] youngsters have been educated to succeed their fathers on the factory floors. The Dutch educational system has failed. A difference is being made between immigrant and native youngsters. These are allowed to go to university, while most of the immigrants are sent to lower-level technical schools. Immigrants are being treated as a kind of Untermensch."

I am not a particularly big fan of the Dutch educational system (and my colleagues who have children in school are telling me it's getting worse), but it's not quite that bad. The complete refusal to accept any kind of responsibility for their own behavior and (lack of) achievements shows how thoroughly they've assimilated one part of Western culture: the vocabulary of victimhood. The gratuitous reference to the Nazis is deeply revolting. When Zaghoubi and his family get shipped off in cargo trains to be exterminated in concentration camps, then he'd have the right to complain of being treated as an Untermensch. He continues:
Dutch society is to blame for the societal problems caused by immigrant youngsters. That's why we have to increase awareness amonsgt Moroccan youngsters.

Again the well-rehearsed language of victimhood. The criminal is the victim. Society is to blame. Above all, don't accept responsibility for your actions, but try to get others to feel guilty instead. Disgusting. Zaghoubi is also dismissive of the established immgrant organizations. As an example he says that when he wanted to organize an anti-American demonstration shortly September 11th (!), these organizations came out against him, because he was too radical, too militant. Thank heaven for that brief glimmer of sanity (or was it pragmatism?). The interview ends with the question why Moroccans in the Netherlands, who're mostly Berbers rather than Arabs, would want to join an Arab organization. He says: "Islam unites us all, all youngsters from North-Africa."

Ah yes, this is sure to ease tensions. The multicultural future is now.

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