How Islamic Terrorism Was Born

This post is based on a great article by Tyler Durden via Zerohedge

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President Ronald Reagan gestures while talking to Burhaneddin Rabbani, a spokesman for the Afghan Resistance Alliance, at the White House in Washington, June 16, 1986. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

Where did violent Islamic extremism come from?

In the wake of the terrorist Paris attacks on Friday, November the 13, this is the question no one is asking — yet it is the most important one of all. If one doesn’t know why a problem emerged, if one cannot find its root, one will never be able to solve and uproot it. 

History takes no prisoners. It shows, with absolute lucidity, that the Islamic extremism ravaging the world today was born out of the Western foreign policy of yesteryear.

In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida; in order to wrap our minds around their terrorist attacks on civilians in the U.S., France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan and many, many more countries, we must recover this historical memory

Where did militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida come from? The answer is not as complicated as many make it out to be — but, to understand, we must delve into the history of the Cold War, the historical period lied about in the West perhaps more than any other.

Osama bin Laden

We needn’t reach back far into history. Just a few decades.

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Article about Bin Laden the 'freedom fighter" on the UK newspaper The Independent

A photo of an article published in British newspaper the Independent in 1993 exemplifies “warrior puts his army on the road to peace.” It features a large photo of Osama bin Laden, who, at the time, was a close Western ally.

The newspaper noted that bin Laden organized a militia of thousands of foreign fighters from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and “supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment” in their fight against the USSR in the 1980s. “We beat the Soviet Union,” . bin Laden boasted.

The mujahedin, this international Islamic extremist militia organized and headed by bin Laden, is what eventually morphed into both al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Portraying bin Laden in a positive light, less than eight years before he would help mastermind the largest terrorist attack on American soil in decades, the British publication claimed that the “Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan.” In reality, bin Laden was setting the stages for what would be become al-Qaida.

In Islamic history, jihad as an international violent phenomenon had disappeared in the last 400 years, for all practical purposes. It was revived suddenly with American help in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Zia ul-Haq, the [U.S.-backed] military dictator of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, saw an opportunity and launched a jihad there against godless communism. The U.S. saw a God-sent opportunity to mobilize one billion Muslims against what Reagan called the ‘Evil Empire.’

Money started pouring in. CIA agents starting going all over the Muslim world recruiting people to fight in the great jihad. Bin Laden was one of the early prize recruits. He was not only an Arab. He was also a Saudi. He was not only a Saudi. He was also a multimillionaire, willing to put his own money into the matter. Bin Laden went around recruiting people for the jihad against communism.

Extremist “Freedom Fighters”

In the 1950s and ’60s, Afghanistan was a somewhat secular country in which women were granted relatively equal rights. What turned Afghanistan into the hotbed for extremism it is today? Decades of Western meddling.

Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. government supported and armed bin Laden and his mujahedin in Afghanistan, in their fight against the Soviet Union. President Ronald Reagan famously met with the mujahedin in the Oval Office in 1983. “To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom,” Regan said.

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Those “freedom fighters” are the forefathers of ISIS and al-Qaida. When the last Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1989, the mujahedin did not simply leave; a civil war of sorts followed, with various Islamist militant groups fighting for control in the power vacuum. The Taliban came out on top, and established a medieval theocratic regime to replace the former “godless” socialist government.

The Cold War

There are extremists in every religion, but they tend to be few in number, weak and isolated. Salafism, in its modern militarized form, has its origins in the 1920s, and even before. For decades, this movement remained weak and isolated. Yet, in the 1970s and ’80s, Western capitalist governments, particularly the U.S., came up with a new Cold War strategy: supporting these fringe Islamic extremist groups as a bulwark against socialism.

This Cold War strategy ended up being successful: After the fall of the USSR, the secular socialist groups that dominated the resistance movements of the Middle East were replaced by Islamic extremists ones that had previously been supported by the West.

It is not a coincidence that most of the secular countries in the history of the Middle East have been socialist of some sort. In contrast, the most reactionary countries — the countries where women are not granted equal rights and where the rule of law is based on Sharia — have frequently tended to be close Western allies. Why? The West was much, much more interested in preserving capitalism than it was in allowing secularism, gender equality and relative economic equality to flourish under socialism.

Many have argued that the Middle East, North Africa and Muslim-majority parts of South Asia are presently going through their parallel to the West’s Dark Age, a bloody period of religious extremism. They blame the rise of extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida on Islam itself, or on the Middle East’s supposedly “backward” culture, yet conveniently gloss over their own countries’ histories and policies.

There is much more than a tinge of racism in this orientalist idea that, for some reason, Muslims in the Middle East are centuries behind the englightened Christian West. This ludicrous claim does not stand up to even the most superficial historical scrutiny.

For one, never mentioned is the fact that, only decades ago, most Middle Eastern countries were Western colonies. Their civilian populations were terrorized and brutalized by Western colonial powers.

And, again, what were the most secular and modern governments in the history of the Middle East? It was almost always the Soviet-aligned or non-aligned leftist governments that were either enemies of the West or non-allies in the Cold War.

Regardless of the critiques of these governments’ many problems, which is a separate issue, the reality is the Middle East was significantly more progressive and secular during the height of the Cold War than it is today. That’s not a coincidence. The U.S. and its allies destroyed secularism as part of their larger Cold War strategy.

The Cold War bites back

This Cold War strategy continues to bite back today, and hard. Because of this policy, we have now ended up with capitalist dystopias like those in Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the UAE — filthy rich oil states where businessmen are drowning in money while the migrant modern-day slaves upon which their economies are built die in droves, and theocratic monarchies imprison or even behead anyone who challenges the regime.

The Gulf states remain some of the most reactionary and extremist countries on the planet, and they happen to be close Western allies. Saudi Arabia, in particular, is the fountainhead of militant Sunni Islamism — and yet the Obama administration has done more than $100 billion in arms deals with the Saudi monarchy in just five years. In fact, less than three days after the Paris attacks, the U.S. sold another $1.3 billion of bombs to Saudi Arabia — bombs it will likely use to drop on Yemen, where human rights organizations say it is committing egregious war crimes, and where the chaos created by the Saudi-led coalition is helping al-Qaida and ISIS expand into Yemen.

Ideologies are not devoid from material reality. Yes, there are extremists in every religion, but why do they not have the same power in other faiths? There is no such thing as an ideology independent of the material conditions and social forces that assert that ideology materially — that is to say, politically — in reality. Islamic extremism was violently imposed upon the Middle East through a mixture of imperial machinations and individual radicalization under tyranny and extreme poverty.

Ending Terrorism

Up until the 1990 Gulf War, throughout the Iran-Iraq War that consumed the 1980s, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein — the very same dictator it would violently depose in 2003.

Fast-forwarding two decades later, it is now widely acknowledged that the illegal U.S.-led war in Iraq — a catastrophic occupation that led to the deaths of at least 1 million people — destabilized the entire Middle East, creating the extreme conditions in which militant groups like al-Qaida spread like wildfire, eventually leading to the emergence of ISIS.

Saddam Hussein was the first Frankenstein’s monster U.S. policy created in Iraq, al-Qaida was the second, and now ISIS is the third.

If we truly want to end the abominable acts of violence perpetrated by extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida, we should take to heart the simple yet profoundcounsel of Noam Chomsky, another modern-day Cassandra: “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”

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The World in 2050

A great Infographic by Raconteur  shows where the world is headed in the next 30 years.

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Countries like Nigeria, India and Indonesia will dominate the world economy. The Asian middle class will dwarf the rest of the world in aggregate spending.

Job Vacancy – Perpetrator of Retribution – 5 Figure Salary and Benefits

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Looking for a career move?

We like to keep our global readers informed of the employment opportunities that are openening up around the world.

If you are struggling to find a decent, well paid job in your own country,  or you belong to the Lost Generation of Greeks and Spaniards who suffer from 50% youth unemployment,  you might consider joining Saudi Arabia’s Ministry Of Civil Service as a Perpetrator Of Retribution.

The New York Times reports today that the Government of Saudi Arabia is hiring 8 executioners to behead sentenced drug offenders and thieves.

Candidates should be:

…particularly adept at wielding a sword and believe strongly that stiff penalties for crime play an important role in deterring future misdeeds…

Should you consider that your professional experience and academic background fit the requirements of the advertised position, you can apply online by following this link.

A Booming Sector

The Capital Punishment sector is well placed to benefit from a sustained boom over the next 10 years: executioner’s skills are in high demand.

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As The Economist reports, China is by far the most prolific executioner and, although numbers are shrouded in secrecy, around 8% of judicial killings in 2014 were for drug crimes.

In Iran, almost half of the 278 people executed in 2014 were for drug offences. But this year alone, 241 traffickers have been put to death.

The Most Expensive Woman of Algiers

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Picasso's Woman of Algiers

The Women of Algiers, a vibrant, multi-hued painting from Pablo Picasso became moments ago  the world’s most expensive artwork, selling for $179,365,000,  in a Christie’s auction.

The price for the Picasso surpasses the $142.4 million paid two years ago for Francis Bacon’s triptych, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” as well as earlier record of $120 million for Edvard Munch’s tortured “Scream.”

The price discovery, according to the WSJ, was described as a “dogged contest at Christie’s New York salesroom, with the bidding starting at $100 million and shot up quickly, with four telephone bidders competing for the jewel-tone scene of Cubist-style women lounging at odd angles in a room festooned with lush, striped décor.”

But as the price topped $145 million, the bidding war winnowed to a pair of telephone bidders and the room watched, hushed, a few pulling out their cellphones to capture the moment. After 11 minutes, the gavel fell and Brett Gorvy, global head of postwar art, fielded the anonymous winning bid. The real buyer is unknown.

The WSJ describes the painting as “a riot of colors and focuses mainly on a scantily dressed woman whose face evokes Picasso’s former lover, Françoise Gilot. She is joined by a disconnected tumble of other, smaller nudes who each seem to conjure other modern masterworks. The obvious muse is Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 scene of Algerian women in a fantasy interior. But Picasso also painted the work as a homage to his artistic hero and sometime rival Henri Matisse, who had died the year before.”

Why the high price?

The Picasso was considered a trophy as much for its ownership pedigree as its artistic merits. The work last changed hands 18 years ago when the estate of U.S. collectors Victor and Sally Ganz sold it through the auction house to a London dealer for $31.9 million. Its seller on Monday remains anonymous.
However, considering that the estimate price for the painting was nearly $40 million lower than the gavel price, one also has to thank the record $150 billion in global QE injecting stock market liquidity (and removing bond market liquidity) courtesy of the ECB and BOJ each and every month.

Picasso’s record price on Monday reflects the trophy-hunting atmosphere dominating the global art marketplace now, as billionaires compete for the handful of masterpieces that come up for sale in any given season. Bragging rights are part of the works’ allure, but the collective bidding is also ratcheting price levels for dozens of the world’s top artists.

This is not the end of it.

The Lost Generation: Youth Unemployment in Greece and Spain Still Over 50%

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Greek and Spanish under 30 years old are doomed to be a lost generation.

It is a generation that, in general statistical terms, is left with the only prospect of living off their parents until they can live off their children.

A stark economic divide has opened in Europe. The core of Europe is enjoying record low unemployment, while peripheral Mediterranean countries suffer from some of the highest unemployment rates in recorded history.

European unemployment broken down by country:

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But the scariest data, once again, is revealed in the table of European youth unemployment. Here we see that both Spain and Greece now share the same youth unemployment figure above 50 %, while Italy has recently reversed its improving trend, and is now at 40 % and rising.

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For anyone asking why Europe’s politicians are terrified at the anti “austerity” wave that is just over the horizon, the table above should have all the answers.

Why Europe Lets Thousands of People Drown

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That Europe let almost 1000 people die in the Mediterranean in one night shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, at least not to those who are still occasionally awake.

The Club Med migrant crisis has been going on for a long time, and the EU’s only reaction to it has been to slash its budget and operations in the area, not to expand them.

So when the New York Times opens with “European leaders were confronted on Monday with a humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean..”, they’re a mile and a half less than honest. Brussels has known what was going on for years, and decided to do less than nothing.

The onus was put on Italy, Malta, Greece and a handful of private compassionate activists to handle the situation, as if it was some sort of local, or even tourist, issue, while Europe’s finest went back to festive gala openings of their €1 billion+ new head quarter of the Eueopean Central Bank, from where they can efficiently keep forcing more austerity on member nations. Somebody has to pay for those buildings.

The EU took over rescue operations from Italy late last year and promptly cut the budget by two-thirds. Saving migrant lives was deemed just too expensive.

To its south, the EU faces perhaps its most shameful -or should that be ‘shameless’? – problem, because it doesn’t do anything about it: the thousands of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe but far too often perish in the process. The Italians spend themselves poor, trying to save as many migrants as they can (170,000 last year!), and there are private citizens – Americans even – pouring in millions of dollars, but the EU itself has zero comprehensive policy as people keep dying on its doorstep all the time.

The official line out of Brussels is that the EU polices only the European coastline, but the drownings mostly take place off the Lybian coast. At least Italy and others do sail there to alleviate the human misery.

Via The Automatic Earth blog

What Every European Country Needs to Improve

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The European Union has 28 member countries and they make for a pretty great place to live.

But that doesn’t mean each country is without its flaws.

Here’s some statistics about what every European country is the worst at.

Austria: Most youth smokers
Every day, 29.4% of Austrians age 15-24 inhale cigarette smoke. And smoking is rising alarmingly in Austria: the Eurobarometer found an increase of smoking prevalence in Austria from 31% (2006) to 33% (2012).

Belgium: Worst traffic congestion
In the time it takes to drive through a Belgian city, you could probably eat a dozen waffles. According to the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, the two most traffic-congested cities in the world, Brussels and Antwerp, are both in Belgium.

Bulgaria: Least freedom of the press
According to Reporters without Borders, and although closely challenged by Greece, Bulgaria has the least freedom of the press in the European Union, and it ranked 87th on a list of 179 countries in the world. The country with the most freedom of the press in the world? Finland.

Finland: Highest depression rate
Finland is really good at a lot of things–like freedom of the press and education. But depression is pretty prevalent. According to the EU Mental Health Report, it is the highest in Europe. Fortunately, Finland’s suicide rate is no where near Lithuania’s.

France: Lowest English proficiency
According to the EF English Language Proficiency Index, French people rank as the lowest in Europe for their English language skills. The countries where English is moat wiedly and proficiently spoken are Denmark and the Netherlands. Somewhere, a guy eating soft cheese and a baguette is saying, “I don’t care” in French.

Italy: Most tax evasion
Death may be certain in Italy, but taxes are another matter: the official Italian Government tax collector, Agenzia delle Entrate, estimated €285 billion remained unpaid last year, about 18% of GDP. Italy has the highest percentage of unreported economic activity of any European Union country.

Latvia: Highest percentage of prisoners
Eurostat Crime Statistics tracks the number of homicides and inprisoned population throughout the European Union. Latvia has the highest percentage of its population in prison, with 305 per 100,000 inhabitants locked up. And yet, despite that mind-boggling figure, it’s only half of the rate in the United States, which sits at 716 per 100,000.

Lithuania: Highest suicide rate
According to data from the World Health Organization, in which a country’s rank is determined by its total rate deaths officially recorded as suicides in the most recent available year, 65 of every 100 thousands Lithuanians commit sucide every year. Lithuania’s suicide rate is so high, it’s nearly ten times higher than Greece’s.

Luxembourg: Lowest education spending
In 2007 Luxembourg spent only 3.15% of its GDP to fund public education.

Malta: Hardest country to open a business
On a list of 189 countries compiled by the World Bank, Malta improves but remains the most difficult place to start a business in the EU. It ranked no. 161. It even outranked other countries notorious for disorganization like China, the West Bank, and Spain.

Netherlands: Highest percentage of cyclists killed in road accidents
It’s really hard to find anything wrong with the Netherlands.  Despite the stereotypes, though, the Dutch are far from the highest consumers of marijuana (that would be Denmark). But on the off chance you get into a car accident in any EU country, the odds of killing a cyclist are highest in the Netherlands.

Portugal: Lowest crude birth rate
Portugal has just 7.9 births per 1,000 inhabitants. That’s almost half of Ireland’s 15.0 births per 1,000 inhabitants. So basically, 21st century Europe is going to be populated by a lot of Irish people and not very many Portuguese people.

Romania: Fewest cinemas per capita
Romania has only 3.8 cinemas per million inhabitants. On the other end of the spectrum, the Czech Republic has the most cinemas per capita, with 49.2 cinemas per million inhabitants.

Slovakia: Lowest voter turnout
Who votes in Slovakia? Almost nobody. Actually, it’s 13.05% of the population, but that’s a very low turnout. Voter turnout was the highest in Belgium, with 89.64% of the population showing up to vote.

Slovenia: Most alcoholism deaths
It is definitely is a sad record.

Spain: Highest school dropout rate
For any Spaniard reading this, a dropout rate is the percentage of students who do not complete schooling. In Spain’s case, 23.5% of students in the country do not complete mandatory education.

Sweden: Fewest hospital beds per capita
Maybe Sweden has fewer sick people than other countries. Or maybe Swedish hospitals prefer patients bring their own sleeping bags.

UK: Highest cocaine usage
Here are three other drugs the United Kingdom uses more of than any other country in the EU: amphetamines, ecstasy, and LSD.

Continue reading about:

Croatia – Least Erasmus participation
Cyprus – Fewer 18 year old in School
Denmark – Fewest Zaras per capita
Germany – Lowest homeownership rate
Greece – Highest foreign debt
Hungary: Highest VAT (value added tax)
Ireland – Highest rate of cystic fibrosis
Poland -Fewest doctors per capita

On Thrillist.com