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Global Islamism Monitor - No. 41

Edited by Ilan Berman and Rebekah Burgweger
July 19, 2017


ASTANA'S ANSWER TO RADICALIZATION
The government of Nursultan Nazerbayev in Kazakhstan is taking a page from the counterterrorism playbook of countries like Australia. Nazerbayev has just signed into law a new legislative measure that would allow Kazakh authorities to strip citizenship from nationals who are convicted of certain types of crimes - in particular, those relating to terrorism or threats to state security. Pursuant to the bill's language, a revocation of citizenship might be warranted if a person is convicted of a crime that is deemed to pose a threat to the “vitally important interests if Kazakhstan” - a broad term that human rights activists worry could be used by Astana to target political opponents as well as radicals. (
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 11, 2017)

EUROPE BRACES FOR ISIS RETURNEES

The recent strategic setbacks faced by the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria have seen a partial reversal of the foreign fighter flow of recent years. While European countries "haven't seen yet the sort of flood of returnees that we were possibly expecting over the last year," Rob Wainwright, the director of EUROPOL, has told reporters, there are nonetheless estimated to be some 2,500 "battle-hardened" fighters that are now in "various stages of returning" to their home countries on the continent.

This trendline, Wainwright notes, is directly affected by the terrorist group's declining fortunes in the Middle East. "We’re concerned that the squeeze in the territory held by [the Islamic State] will partly result at least in a relocation to North Africa and then back to Europe," he notes. That, in turn, adds complexity - and urgency - to Europe's existing challenge of domestic radicalization. According to Wainwright, there is already "such a large number of largely disconnected radicalized people" in Europe that they pose a danger "when touched by the terrorist group's sophisticated online propaganda outreach." (
Washington Times, July 12, 2017)

TURKEY DRAWS A RED LINE

One of the biggest casualties of the current fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been the U.S.-Turkish relationship. Ties between Washington and Ankara have deteriorated significantly in recent months, due in part to the U.S. government's provision of arms and aid to Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas now fighting ISIS — a constellation of forces that including elements, like the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), that Turkey considers terrorist actors. Now, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued an ultimatum with potentially far-reaching implications for the country's future role in the Syria conflict - and for its relations with the United States.

In a formal statement issued on July 17th, Turkey's National Security Council, the MGK, resolved that the country would never allow the creation of a "terrorist state" on its border. "The fact that arms and ammunition provided to the PYD by some allies are being seized in the hands of the PKK [Kurdish Workers Party, a terrorist group] has once again confirmed Turkey's rightfulness in its warnings and objections to the fact that the two are the same organization," the statement outlined. "Without leaving double standards on terror organizations, regional peace and security are impossible." The ultimatum effectively announces that Ankara will not accept any outcome in Syria that results in the empowerment of the PYD or its political allies, something that U.S. policy has countenanced. (Istanbul
Hurriyet, July 17, 2017)

CHINA'S SOCIAL MEDIA CLAMPDOWN

Citing fears of terrorism, the Chinese government is tightening its already-extensive control over mobile phone and social media usage in its majority-Muslim western region of Xinjiang. Local authorities have reportedly ordered residents to install an application on their mobile phones that will actively monitor their social media usage for what the government deems to be "terrorist" content.

"In order to achieve city-wide coverage in the antiterrorist video and audio clean-up, and to target people, materials and thinking for clean-up work, management and crackdowns, a technology company affiliated with the municipal police department has developed an app for Android smartphones that can filter out terrorist video and audio content," authorities in the regional capital, Urumqi, have confirmed. "Once operational, it will automatically pinpoint the location of video or audio containing terrorist content or illegal religious content, images, e-books or documents, and delete them automatically." (
Radio Free Asia
, July 14, 2017)


Related Categories: Latin America; Europe; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Turkey; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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