More evidence of the absence of a dividing line within Islamic communities in the West between peaceful Muslims and jihadists — and of the dangerous implications of that absence. Note that the burqa-clad women identified themselves as the “only true believers of the Koran.” Yet official Washington, Western European authorities, and the media worldwide continue to ignore such assertions, and to pretend — and call upon all people to pretend — that within Islamic communities worldwide there is a clear and prevailing understanding that such people are not “true believers,” but in fact heretics, excoriated by the majority of Muslims. We hear all the time how “Wahhabism” is a newly-minted, anti-traditional form of Islam. But where is the evidence for these assertions? The only thing untraditional about the Wahhabis is their extravagant taste for takfir, or the declaration of other Muslims as heretics and apostates. What no one wants to face is the fact that Wahhabism shares with all other Muslim groups the idea that Muslims must wage war against non-Muslims in order to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. This is not a tenet of “radical” Islam, but of traditional Islam.
“How a Town Became a Terror Hub: Belgian Haven Seen At Heart of Network,” from the Washington Post, with thanks to Jerry Gordon:
MAASEIK, Belgium — The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears.
It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas, garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office.
“I said, ‘Ladies, you can be dressed all in Armani black for all I care, but please do not cover your faces,’ ” Creemers recalled. “I tried to talk to them about it, but it was impossible. They said, ‘We are the only true believers of the Koran.’ ”
What the city elders did not know at the time was that the women came from households in which several men had embraced radical Islam and joined a terrorist network that was setting up sleeper cells across Europe, according to Belgian federal prosecutors and court documents from Italy, Spain and France.
Over the next nine months, Belgian federal police arrested five men in Maaseik, a town of 24,000 people tucked in the northeast corner of Belgium. Each was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a fast-growing network known by its French initials, GICM.
With each arrest, investigators uncovered fresh evidence that placed small-town Maaseik at the center of a terrorist network stretching across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The town had served as a haven for suspects in the Madrid train explosions that killed 191 people in March 2004, for instance, as well as an important meeting place for the GICM’s European leadership.
Read it all.