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The ‘Salafists’

Salafists are frequently refered to in relation to Islamist terror. It is a slippery descriptor that is sometimes used in contradictory ways.
Mideast Jordan Salafi Protest

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Germany yesterday (Wednesday) banned three Salafist Muslim groups which the Interior Ministry said wanted to overturn democracy and install a system based on sharia, or Islamic law. [Source: Reuters]. It’s the latest step taken by German authorities

who have increased surveillance of Salafists who espouse a radical version of Islam. The ministry said it has banned the organizations “DawaFFM” and “Islamische Audios”, as well as “An-Nussrah”, which is part of the “Millatu Ibrahim” group that was outlawed in June. [Reuters]

At the same time, German prosecutors said:

Police have foiled an attempted attack by Islamists against far-right targets… Police made four arrests on Wednesday after making raids in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Prosecutors in Dortmund said that a raid in Bonn, carried out by special police force commandos, had uncovered a firearm and a kilogram of possible explosives. Arrests also took place in Leverkusen and Essen. Authorities said they believed “imminent” terrorist activities were in the pipeline. A specific attack had reportedly been planned against the leader of the far-right Pro-NRW political party, Markus Beisicht. In addition, said the prosecutors, a ticked list of Pro-NRW party officials and journalists was found. The arrests came in the wake of raids across the states of NRW and Hesse, with computer equipment, propaganda material, cell phones and over 10,000 euros ($13,000) in cash seized… [Deutsche Welle]

Analysts of events in the Arab world and those parts of the world impacted by Arabs, Moslems and Islamist terror frequently refer to the Salafists. It is a slippery descriptor that is sometimes used in contradictory ways.

Wikipedia’s definition of Salafist Jihadism includes these elements:

* The term Salafist jihadism describes the beliefs of Salafi Moslems who, starting in the mid-1990s, became interested in violent jihad. * The Salafis distinguish themselves from those they call the “sheikists,” so named because… the “sheikists” had forsaken adoration of God for adoration of “the oil sheiks of the Arabian peninsula, with the Al Saud family at their head”… * Even more dangerous [according to the Salafists] was the Muslim Brotherhood, who [are] excessively moderate and lacking in literal interpretation of holy texts. * The number of Salafi jihadists in the world is less than one percent of the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims [source] meaning fewer than 20 million people. (What’s the fuss, right?)

What’s much less slippery is the way the Salafists are affecting the places where they live and operate. Here’s an extract from a hair-raising piece on the Al-Monitor site, called “Exclusive: Gaza Salafists Take Fight To Syria“, datelined yesterday. The writer, Asmaa al-Ghoul, is described as a journalist and writer from the Rafah refugee camp based in Gaza:

In a coffee shop in Gaza, Muhammad Hijazi, an expert on Islamic and Salafist groups, explained that Salafist jihadism is a global phenomenon, not a local one. It moves from certain regions of tension to others. It moved from Afghanistan to Iraq, then to Libya. He noted that its mission, at the beginning of the ’80s, was to fight the Soviet Union. However, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Salafist jihadism took its mission to the socialist South Yemen. After the region fell to North Yemen, the Salafist jihadists moved to Chechnya, Caucasia and Sudan, then to Algeria,Iraq and Libya and now Syria. Hijazi said the members are getting to Syria through Iraq and Turkey, since the border is open. Many of them are currently involved in Jabhat al-Nusra. Salafists in Jordan constitute around half of the total number of militants in Syria, amounting approximately to 4,000 fighters and residing in rural areas. Moreover, he noted that they are financed by Gulf and Islamic charities, especially in Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabi ideology intrinsically supports this dogma, while some countries, like Qatar, are using Salafists for political ends and jihadist purposes. Hijazi considered unofficial political oil money to be the biggest sponsor for such movements. Hijazi added that Salafists in Gaza are supported by an international network of small associations, whose mission is to offer logistical support. Those provide individuals with money and means to move to regions of tension. Through them, Salafists get salaries, visas and tickets and are directed to the conflict regions, where there is a political vacuum. The associations make sure to help them move around easily, and often, the countries that are the source of financing are aware of that. He said he considered Syria a favorable environment, where this trend that opposes the revolution’s principles of liberalism can constantly grow, as long as money and weapons are available. [Source: Al-Monitor]

Notice how frequently money plays a key role in the way Islamist terror groups operate. It’s fundamental to their ability to live and fight. And despite the claims in the Wikipedia article, the Salafists have no problem at all turning to Saudi Arabia and Qatar for their oxygen. If this Gaza writer is to be believed, that information comes directly from the source.

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About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at thisoingoingwar@gmail.com .


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2 Responses to “The ‘Salafists’”

  1. Lloyd Bergner says:

    Just like a stupid muslim-arab…bringing a knife to a gunfight.

  2. Tim Upham says:

    The Salafists in Egypt have been greatly challenging the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood Government there. Egyptian military and police personnel have been killed by them. Egypt has declared a state of emergency in Sinai, because of them. So what type of Islam are the Salafists practicing, if they are challenging the Muslim Brotherhood. which is also threatening Hamas in Gaza? The same type of Judaism, the Jewish Defense League practices? Extremism by anybody only hurts, especially themselves.

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