Cherif Kouachi: verurteilter Islamist ist „Charlie Hebdo“ Verdächtiger

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Einer der mutmaßlichen „Charlie Hebdo“ Attentäter, Cherif Kouachi, wurde 2008 vor einem Pariser Gericht wegen Unterstützung einer Terrororganisation zu drei Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt. Kouachi und sechs weitere Männer sollen Kämpfer in den Irak geschleust haben. Als Motivation für seine Radikalisierung benannte Kouachi 2008 seine Empörung über die TV-Bilder der Folter Opfer im US-Gefängnis Abu Ghuraib. Said Kouachi, Chérif Kouachi und Hamid Mourad werden aktuell als Verdächtige im Fall des Attentats auf das Pariser Satiremagazin Charlie Hebdo gesucht. Gegen 11.30 Uhr eröffneten vermummte, komplett schwarz gekleidete Attentäter das Feuer in den Redaktionsräumen des Satiremagazins.12 Menschen starben, mehrere wurden schwer verletzt. Sollten die Verdächtigen tatsächlich die Täter sein, hätte das Attentat womöglich verhindert werden können. Warum ein verurteilter Islamist/Terrorunterstützer, trotz aktueller Warnungen vor Terrorattacken, am helligten Tag, einen Anschlag auf eine unter Polizeischutz stehende Redaktion verüben konnte, wird sicher in den kommenden Tagen diskutiert werden. Vielleicht wird auch die Frage aufkommen warum die anlasslose, flächendeckende Überwachung unserer Kommunikation durch Geheimdienste mal wieder einen Terroranschlag nicht verhindern konnte, obwohl die mutmaßlichen Terroristen, wie im Fall von Kouachi, sogar im Visier der Behörden standen.

„One of the two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at a satirical newspaper in Paris traveled to Yemen in 2011 and received terrorist training from Al Qaeda’s affiliate there before returning to France, a senior American official said on Thursday. A United States intelligence official said on Thursday that both brothers were in the United States database of known or suspected terrorists, and were on an American no-fly list for years.The Kouachi brothers have been under scrutiny for years by French and American officials. Saïd Kouachi’s younger brother, Chérif, first came to the attention of the French authorities as a possible terrorist a decade ago, when he was in his early 20s. He was detained in 2005 as he prepared to leave for Syria, the first leg of a trip he hoped would take him to Iraq.“ (NYT 8.1.2015)

„Seven men were convicted on terror charges Wednesday in Paris for helping funnel fighters to Iraq — a case that exposed how the war has sucked in radical youths from Europe. The judge handed down sentences of up to seven years in prison. The suspects — five Frenchmen, a Moroccan and an Algerian — were convicted of „criminal association with a terrorist enterprise,“ a blanket charge used in many French terrorist cases that carries a maximum 10-year prison term. Most acknowledged going to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, or planning to go, but all denied involvement in a cell accused of recruiting French fighters for Iraq’s insurgency. The men went on trial in March after years of investigation by French authorities. The case struck a nerve because it demonstrated how young devout Muslim Frenchmen were abandoning what they saw as bleak prospects in secular France for Iraqi battlefields. It also raised fears that French fighters could use those battlefield skills in terror attacks back home in Europe. France strongly opposed the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq but has struggled to fight homegrown terrorism. France is home to western Europe’s largest Muslim population: about 5 million people. Investigators said the alleged network funneled about a dozen French fighters to camps linked to the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They say the network sought to send more recruits before al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006. At least seven French insurgents have died in Iraq, some in suicide bombings, police said. The man accused of being the cell’s ringleader, 27-year-old Farid Benyettou, was sentenced to six years in prison. Judge Jacqueline Rebeyrotte’s ruling called Benyettou „the ideologue and one of the organizers of a group whose objective was to send young people from the 19th arrondissement of Paris to fight in Iraq.“ The men were accused of links to the „19th Arrondissement Network,“ named for the Paris district where it was based. The district is a diverse, working-class neighborhood, home to many Muslim families with roots in former French colonies in North Africa. The judge said Benyettou recruited young men for jihad, or holy war, through his religious teachings and by arranging weapons training and travel through Syria to get to Iraq. Boubakeur el-Hakim, whose brother was killed in Iraq and who urged his Paris neighbors to go to Iraq in a French radio interview from Baghdad in 2003, was given a seven-year sentence, as was Moroccan Said Abdellah. The judge sentenced Algerian Nacer Mettai, accused of forging documents for potential fighters, to four years in prison. The three others — Mohammed el-Ayouni, Thamer Bouchnak and Cherif Kouachi — were given three-year sentences, 18 months of which were suspended. El-Ayouni lost an arm and an eye in Iraq’s battlefields, while Bouchnak and Kouachi were arrested days before they planned to travel to Syria in January 2005, allegedly to train for Iraq. (USA Today 2008)

„I really believed in the idea,“ said one of his students, defendant Cherif Kouachi, 25. He said he was motivated by his outrage at television images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the US prison at Abu Ghraib. Another alleged member of the group, Peter Cherif, was arrested by US authorities and his mother says he was held in Abu Ghraib. He faces a separate trial in France. Another, 25-year-old Mohammed El Ayouni, who lost an arm and an eye in 2004 in a US tank shelling near Fallujah, described administering IVs and shots to injured fighters and keeping watch for US troops. He said Iraqi families welcomed the French fighters, preparing their meals and laundering their clothes.The fighters said they traveled through Syria first, taking Arabic lessons and getting basic weapons training.“ (Taipei 2008)

„The men were accused of links to the so-called 19th arrondissement network, named for the Paris district where it was based. The district is a multi-national, working-class neighborhood including many Muslim families with roots in one-time French colonies in North Africa. After years of investigation by French authorities, the men went on trial in March. The case raised fears that the fighters could use Iraqi battlefield skills in terror attacks back in France. (NBC 2008)

„The so-called 19th arrondissement network is named for the Paris district where it was based, a multi-national neighborhood where families with roots in one-time French colonies in North Africa crowd into housing projects that rise above street markets offering Moroccan melons and pungent French cheese. Frustration among youth of immigrant backgrounds over discrimination and bleak job prospects helped fuel riots in suburban housing projects around France in 2005. That same frustration, defense lawyer Dominique Many said, pushes some toward Islamic extremism. (USA Today 2008)

„After the Paris police smashed a cell suspected of sending insurgents to Iraq early in 2005, the French authorities predicted a new and dangerous threat: would-be fighters lured to the Iraqi battlefields who would return to use their newfound battlefield skills in terrorist acts inside France. Dominique de Villepin, as interior minister, singled out the cell in a speech two months later as proof of a risk that Iraqi-trained jihadists would „come back to France, armed with their experience, to carry out attacks.“ Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, then France’s senior counterterrorism magistrate, later warned that Iraq was a „black hole sucking up all the elements located in Europe.“ Some of them were coming back to Europe, he added, and some of those were armed with chemical and biological weapons training. Now, as members of the cell are awaiting a verdict in their case, French and other European intelligence and law enforcement officials are adjusting their analysis. They say their fears of young would-be fighters from Europe traveling to Iraq and returning more radicalized and better trained were overblown.“ (NYT 2008)

„Current and former members of Congress, joined by relatives of 9/11 victims, rallied on Capitol Hill Wednesday and urged President Barack Obama to declassify 28 pages of a congressional report on the 2001 terrorist attacks that they say point a damning finger at Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration classified the pages in 2003, preventing their release and prompting years of congressional pushback that thus far has gone nowhere. Three House members introduced legislation this week demanding that Obama declassify the pages. A similar bill was not successful in the last session of Congress. Retired Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who helped prepare the report, spoke forcefully in favor of disclosure, saying the pages reveal an „evil union of extremism and a very powerful nation-state.” The pages, he said, address the financial role Saudi Arabia played ahead of 9/11, when 19 mostly Saudi extremists hijacked and crashed commercial airplanes. He said a lack of accountability has allowed the Saudis to continue funding terrorism. “There’s a threat to national security in nondisclosure and we saw another chapter of that today in Paris,” said Graham, referencing Wednesday’s attack on a French satirical publication that published cartoons of Islam’s central figure. “It may seem stale to some, but it’s as current as the headlines we will read today,” he said. The Paris attackers had not been identified at the time of Graham’s remarks, but as the respected middle-of-the-road politician sees it, Islamic extremism is fueled by Saudi Arabia, which for too long has been given a free pass to fund religion-motivated murder. The Islamic State group – also known as ISIS – which has conquered much of Syria and Iraq “is a consequence of the spread of extremism largely by Saudi Arabia,” Graham said. “Al-Qaida was a creature of Saudi Arabia … and now ISIS is the latest creature. (USA Today 7.1.2015)

„Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.“ (Truth Out/Nafeez Ahmed September 2014)

„It’s widely believed that ISIS’ finances are entirely self-generated through oil sales. This is only partly true. Sadly, the US-UK led coalition appears to be doing little to shut down ISIS financial networks once and for all. In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She, however, “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times”. How could this be? As of January last year, Islamist extremists had “seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources” according to the New York Times, bolstering “the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of al-Qaeda.” This included government oil fields in Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Hasaka. Three months later, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda and ISIS controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, with transactions being approved by the Syrian National Coalition. Due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located.(…) “The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda,” said Joshua Landis at the time, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. (…) It is now an open secret that Turkey, supposedly an ally in the US-led coalition, is directly sponsoring ISIS as part of a geopolitical gambit to crush Kurdish opposition groups. Just last week, Claudia Roth, deputy speaker of the German parliament, expressed her shock that NATO had done nothing about Turkey’s harbouring of an ISIS camp in Istanbul, facilitation of weapons transfers to the militants through its borders, and support for ISIS oil sales. But it’s not just Turkey. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait have all been heavily implicated in the past – according to the CIA’s own classified assessments – in financing the most virulent extremist elements of the Islamist rebel groups in Syria. Yet they did this under a covert operations programme to destabilise the Assad regime that was coordinated primarily by the US and UK. This terror finance funnel has been conceded by many officials, including US vice president Joe Biden, General Jonathan Shaw, former assistant Chief of the UK Defence Staff, and former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove. But US government experts on terrorism financing have highlighted the ongoing role of both Qatar and Kuwait as particularly “permissive jurisdictions” where laws against fundraising for extremists are not enforced. Indeed, informed sources in the region have told me that fundraising for ISIS is still being done openly across the Gulf monarchies at state-run mosques. So the coalition that is currently supposed to be annihilating ISIS are the very same countries that essentially created ISIS, and some of them continue to support the network. Yet the US and UK have refused to exert any meaningful diplomatic or financial pressure whatsoever on these countries to change course.“ (Nafeez Ahmed am 16.12.2014: Why the war on ISIS will fail)

„If the world learned one thing from George W Bush, it was that it is a terrible mistake to confuse a crime, however monstrous, for war. After 9/11, the belligerent rhetoric of the war on terror fostered deluded ideas of a “victory”, legitimised the torture that still stains America’s moral standing and licensed ruinous misadventures overseas. In this difficult hour for France, and Europe more widely, a calmer fury must prevail.In the wake of the devastating assault on Charlie Hebdo, some voices, not only on the right, are claiming that France is in a state of “war”. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, said that faced with barbarity, civilisation must defend itself. These are difficult and dangerous times. Extremists of all strands may be tempted to resort to violence in a logic of revenge against Muslims at large: within 24 hours of the attack, there had been reports of at least five anti-Muslim attacks in France. Populist far-right sentiment may channel anger against the country’s 6-million-strong Muslim population, the largest in Europe, in an attempt at collective scapegoating. They will only be further provoked by some fanatical voices that are using social media to express satisfaction that the prophet Muhammad has been “avenged”, the very word used by the terrorists themselves as they unleashed their attack. These are worrying trends, to be condemned as much as the attack itself.“ (The Guardian am 8.1.2015:The Guardian view on the response to terror: the attack on Charlie Hebdo was a crime, not an act of war)

Nafeez Ahmed 8.1.2015: Blowback in Paris #CharlieHebdo

The Guardian/Nesrine Malik 8.1.2015: Charlie Hebdo: The ‘them and us’ narrative is a dangerous downward spiral