Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Al Qaeda recruiters target Europe
In the years since 9/11, government officials say Al Qaeda has undeniably been hurt. The Taliban government in Afghanistan was crushed. Without the Taliban's protection, the leaders of Al Qaeda were put on the run, and the terror group's cells all over the world became isolated, no longer able to communicate or coordinate their attacks without serious danger of discovery.

But by almost all accounts, Al Qaeda is trying hard to recover, and security analysts say that effort involves intense recruiting in Europe.

Here is how it works: Terror leaders, who continue to operate largely out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, know that anyone traveling directly to the Western nations from any predominantly Muslim country will be scrutinized. So they are reaching out through personal connections and the internet to frustrated young Muslims in countries such as Britain and France, selling a message of Muslim victimization.

Once a recruit is found, he can be matched with a team, trained, and hardly raise on eyebrow when he hits the immigration line at a U.S. airport carrying the passport of the friendly nation in which he was born. At least, that is what terrorism analysts say.

Here is what I wonder: How can western nations bridge the gap to these disaffected Muslim minority populations and effectively innoculate them against these recruiting strategies? Or should the Muslim community in the West be doing more to help?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 2:40 PM ET
  32 Comments
You have to change perspective. People don't hate people. It is only autocratic leadership that indoctrinates their citizens with hatred.
The Despots of the Middle East, confronted with the fledgling Israeli Democracy in their midst, conspired to prevent the encrachment of Democracy by financing hatred in the madrasses and training and arming their deluded youths to eradicate Israel.
Abetted by FundamentalistImams they terrorize their own disranchised, exploited and intimidated subjects into eliminating Democracy from the MidEast and perpetuating their regimes.
It's simple - wher there is no financing there is no Terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Menachem Chazan, Deerfield Beach, Fl : 2:59 PM ET
Hi Tom,
In my opinion, I think the Muslim community in the West and in the Middle East should do more..Nothing stops terrible, hateful behavior quicker than making it something all societies will not tolerate..ALL societies...How can we ever sit down and have a discussion, if hate is allowed to be a big granite wall between us..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 3:04 PM ET
I certainly don't have all the answers, but all 'religious communities' have a responsibility to cut the religious rhetoric. We can not change others, but we can change ourselves. US politics have become a religious war that has colored US foreign policy with the stain of The Crusades. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The bombs and destruction just get bigger.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 3:08 PM ET
Hey Tom: There is no easy answer to this one that's for sure.There is automatically going to be resentment on the part of Muslim communities in the western countries by the mere suggestion that they could become involved in terrorism, especially the younger people. On the other hand, you can hardly blame people for being afraid to trust their automatic denial of any such actions. I doubt there's any one single answer. A combination of the two getting closer and finding out more about each other maybe. Educate the younger people on both counts.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Scarboro, Ontario, Canada : 3:12 PM ET
Al Qaeda is in a rather tough position and they shall try their level best to recoup. What we should do is scrutinize the person in question, not just his race, religion, or passport. In this issue racism is not a bad thing, all muslims shall have to be suspects as a result of the many radicals.
Posted By Anonymous Kokulan, Toronto, Ontario : 3:15 PM ET
Definitely, the muslim community in the west should be doing more to help.
They should provide all support to the security agencies in tackling terror.
They should develop a sense of patriotism to the countries in which they live and work.
Posted By Anonymous Rakesh, Bellevue, WA : 3:31 PM ET
As I understand it (and I could be wrong), being Moslem means having it control all aspects of your life. A rather notorious moslem in England just indicated that he is a moslem in England, not a British subject. The British passport is just a travel document to him. Religion trumps nationality.

It may be a bigger question as to whether Western nations can keep moslems contained or away from us. Can we build big enough fences? Will we end up like Lebanon, with Hezbollah-like groups making their own pseudo-governments in their neighborhoods?

And, of course, maybe it is only the fanatic or extremists that this applies to. But I'm not exactly sure how you spot one.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Vernal, UT : 3:33 PM ET
Hey Tom,

I do believe that the Muslims community of the West should be involved in educating the younger ones. But I think that our governments should make a step forward and discuss with them also. They are in our countries, citizens of our countries, we should stay on top of it. Listen to their concerns. When those young men decide to turn on their motherland, something push them to that. And there are those ruthless people just waiting for that breaking point. We, as nations, should open the lines of communications with them. Before it is to late. Communication, understanding, that's my answer. For what its worth.

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Qubec : 3:34 PM ET
How has the assimilation rate for the Muslim minorities as compare to other groups (nationalities, religions, etc.)in various western nations?
Posted By Anonymous Rejenia Austin, Texas : 3:44 PM ET
I think it is false to just look at the Muslim community. Wasn't the American Taliban someone from a non-Muslim community and household?

We make it soooo very easy for anyone in any social group to be recruited. There are scores of disaffected and disenfranchised that are recruited by racists groups, street gangs, and now Al Qaeda. Young people fall under the spell of supremists and religious groups alike.

Think of the Oklahoma and Atlanta bombings. These were "homegrown" terrorists. What forces created them. And what ever happened to the person who was sending Anthrax in the mail? Or the unabomber? No Muslim or even Al Qaeda component needed in the ingredients there.

The ingredients are disenfranchised, disaffected, no hope. Address those issues and you make it difficult to recruit.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Davis, CA : 4:07 PM ET
Are you serious about the Taliban being "crushed" by our invasion? You obviously do not understand war. Why are we being smashed in Helmand, Uruzgan, and Kandahar? This Afghan campaign was one of the sloppiest in American history, have you noticed our enclave is EXACTLY the same as the old Soviet encalve inside the country. Where is Mullah Omar? Where is Laden? We are being ambushed in the same exact locations as the Muj attacked Soviet columns, with the same result. The British are getting punked in Helmand, as their commander admitted last week. Read "AFGHAN GUERRILLA WARFARE" by Ali Ahmad Jalali and Lester W. Grau and tell me again that we "crushed" the Taliban. You have no idea about the operational, strtegic, and tactical aspects of warfare, and it is clear you do not wish to learn. When faced by a conventional force, the guerrila melts away, allowing the invader to occupy positions to their likeing. Then the old pin prick strikes begin, which after a while become fatal. Tell the public the truth; or do you not even know it? You guys do not even cover Afghanistan, which in itself should be a clear indicator to the public that something is going wrong.
Posted By Anonymous tom,bettendorf,ia : 4:15 PM ET
If Al Qaeda is inundating discontented Muslims with propaganda in Britain, France, etc... might there be a chance that Muslim operatives (from the U.S. or otherwise) are aware of any new developments?
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 4:23 PM ET
Hi Tom,
Ya know, the only way to completely stop such acts is to be a isolated country. Like China, you dont hear many chinese joining al qaeda or anything, why? Because their government doesnt allow them the freedom to even think for themselves. Being a free country comes with risks, risks we all take everyday. They wont stop no matter how much security this country has. From my point of view, security is already straddling the line of almost ridiculous. Iam just waiting for background checks and complete tox screens n crap, they way things are going, its not that far away.

Bill Dietz
Erie, PA
Posted By Anonymous Bill Dietz, Erie, PA : 4:46 PM ET
How can we innoculate youths against Muslim terrorist propaganda? Eliminate the terrorists-- there is no other way.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago, IL : 4:51 PM ET
Definitely the Muslim community should do more to help, who better to find and bring these Muslim extremists back to the way that Muslim is supposed to be peaceful.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 5:19 PM ET
We must force Pakistan to assist us in rooting out bin Laden and his associates. Warn them once that we are coming in with or without their help. Send a message to all terrorists and the governments that harbor them. Sounds like the promise the President made right after 9/11. Bush needs to finally keep it. Recruitment will slow down when symbolic leaders are destroyed.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin S. - St Louis, MO : 5:45 PM ET
It is written their Koran, they will try to kill off all the non-muslims, unless they convert. They need to revise the Koran to modern times, then we may have some peace. Otherwise we have no hope.
Posted By Anonymous E, Winnipeg, Canada : 8:59 PM ET
as an international student from Kuwait, i came here to the US to learn but what i see on tv is that your lives and your childerns lives are valued more than our lives and our childerns lives. i am moderate in my beleifs but when you switch on the tv it makes my blood boil. YOur very president called muslims facists. this is oppresion and terrorism and as soon as that stops and the US is more fair to arabs and muslims in the middle east less people will join crazy organisations like alqaeda, if not you will force people to choose sides due to the injustices and muslims tend to be extremely loyal even if they do not fully agree. God bless humanity and the good people in the world
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Al-Rukhais, Tempe, Arizona : 10:34 PM ET
Hey Tom!
I think people are kidding themselves if they think they can succeed in any "open discussion" with the muslim community. A few years back, we had a problem with one family in that a muslim father objected to his daughter being subjected to morning prayer in a public school and threatened to sue the schoolboard if that did not change. To expect them to assimilate to their host country would be I think like expecting a lion to become a house pet!! Now, How can western nations bridge the gap to these disaffected Muslim minority populations and effectively innoculate them against these recruiting strategies? Simple - like the Prime Minister of Australia said a while back, we have our own set of rules here. If you don't like it, find another country that will let you have your own set of rules. Doesn't mean that I'll keep my kids from befriending muslims in school but to assimilate into their culture, I think not.
Posted By Anonymous Lyne Geddes, Laval, Qc CANADA : 11:15 PM ET
Attack Attack Attack the terrorists.
Not just look for more and better defense to every new and imaginative development of the terrorist's repertoire- but go out and Attack them at their base, as Bush and Blair have been proposing for years.
Its the sane world we are trying to defend not the questionable rights of terrorists
Posted By Anonymous BEAE, Upper Galilee, Israel : 1:44 AM ET
It is so easy to blame much of the problems that we are facing on terrorists. Yes, they are part of the problem which all societies are dealing with today. Yet, one must wonder why such individuals and groups take such a dangerous path? Is there more to terrorism than just the need to destroy property and take lives?

Not too long ago, Northern Ireland and England were suffering through a long and violent period of terror caused by the IRA. Yet, through negotiation and understanding, the British government brought that to an end. Maybe not completely, but people on both sides of the conflict feel much safer these days then they did some time ago.

In Spain, there was the Basque Seperatist movement which had caused a great deal of greaf in that country. That too seems to have been brought to a halt through negotiation, understanding, and a bit of give by both sides of the conflict.

In the case of the Muslim World, our leaders (here in the West) continue to refuse to deal with organizations that do not see things the way they do. These organizations are labelled as terrorist in nature.

In a way, it serves a purpose, for it keeps those in power from having to do any real job at solving the problems which face their nations. You always need an enemy to create cohesion in one's country! At least that is the way some of our Western leaders think, I would say!
Posted By Anonymous Carm Caruana, Toronto, Canada : 5:07 AM ET
Hi Tom,
I believe that there is some truth to the claim that American policies in the Middle East have been more geared toward furthering Western goals than creating win win situations vis a vis the States and the Middle East. Whether through ignorance or malicious intent, many of our policies have been harmful or at the very least disrespectful to the Middle East. I don't have warm fuzzy feelings toward Iran, but what if their nuclear ambitions are simply to provide their people with energy independance in this era of diminishing oil reserves? Will we wage another pre-emptive war to prevent a nation from acting in the best interests of it's people? The fact that Iran has vowed the death of Israel chills me to the bone, but perhaps we as a country need to look at increasing our own nuclear energy production, repairing our own cities, working to insure the health, education and well being of our own people, and get out of the business of being the policeman to the world. Lets start looking out for the best interest of Americans in this country before we start trying to re-shape the rest of the world in our image!
Posted By Anonymous Kay, Central California : 5:56 AM ET
Europe has been fertile ground for terrorist recruitment for a decade or more, this isn't a recent development, CNN. Khosrokhavar examines disenfranchised European youth in his Book 'Allah's New Martyrs' - and FTO's like Al Qaeda have been working with radical Nazi and Aryan supremacy groups for quite some time. If I recall correctly, Playboy even addressed this in the late 90's.
Posted By Anonymous Grey, Austin Texas : 8:30 AM ET
Al Queda will recruit anyone they can who can be easily influenced into thinking they have been victimized because they are Muslim. And to top it all off, they prey on those that are easily influenced like young teenagers who do not know any better.
Posted By Anonymous F. Berg, Del Rio, Texas : 8:47 AM ET
These is a major flaw in Tom's reporting here. He has failed to mention that many of the Islamic Terrorists involved in major incidents of the last five years were highly educated and solely motivated to pursue a religious agenda, not a economic one.

In fact name one terrorists of the last five years who was pursuing an economic agenda. These are not poverty striken disillusioned kids doing this stuff.
Posted By Anonymous Richey, Oceanside, CA : 11:43 AM ET
This is a problem that has existed since the formation of more than one religious belief. As long as we have organized religious groups that proclaim themselves the only true faith and attempt to impose their will on others we will see violence of this type in one form or another. We have seen it within the Christain community as well as the Islamic Community.

We need a open disscussion between the faiths and for that matter within the faiths with emphasis on what they have in common rather than the differences. We also need to place religion where it belongs, in the home, in the places of worship, and not in the halls of government, any government.

While ones religious beliefs may effect their views, and they may be deeply religious, it is the obligation of political leaders not to tarnish their offices with their personnal religious views as it is not for the religious leaders to tarnish their religious teachings with their politcal views. This is why our founding fathers while being religious, maintained a separation of church and state.

While it is important that we defend ourselves against those that wish to harm us, because of our differences, their destruction will not answer the question that was possed here. The reason is simple violent acts result in violent acts. While we must defend ourselves, we must extend forth the olive branch of peace to those of diffrent religious views and share with them what we have in common and how we can live side by side without disrespecting each others beliefs.

If we can not do this, which it appears at this time we can not, then we will simply continue doing what we have done for the past 2000 years, killing each other and committing some on the most horrific and unspeakable acts humanity has wittnessed, all in the name of God.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Cook Topeka, Kansas : 3:02 PM ET
THis is in responce to E, Winnipeg, Canada
Have you read Quraan, do you know what's written in there. This is not a man mad book to be revised every where, this is an ultimate message and no one can make any changes in it. It's have been more than 1400 years and even a dot is not changed in this holy book.
NOw what is in Quran, there is nothing written like to kill any body. Quran even doesn't permit to kill all even at war. It allows you to kill the one who points weapon on you.
I'll suggest you to go and read yourself, don't make conclusions by just listening to the media. THere are so many websites of Quran with english translation.
Posted By Anonymous Asiya Gul, Tempe, AZ : 3:49 PM ET
NO muslim, moderate or not, from whatever natinality, will EVER turn their back on another muslim.

The best answer you will get is the cryptical "muslims are against violence".

This ball is rolling, this clock is ticking, it is amongst us and we know where it originates from...
Posted By Anonymous hendrik, netherlands : 5:08 PM ET
Muslim Communities throughout the world need to do more to demonstrate they are part of the solution in reducing terrorism and NOT a part of the problem.
Posted By Anonymous Craig Dionne, San Diego, Ca : 5:08 PM ET
Hi Tom,

One of the problems is that many Muslims in the West do not believe and have convinced themselves that other Muslims were responsible for 9/11, etc. or at the very least it was planned and supported by the governments here in the West for financial gain. If the muslim community here in the West (or even in the MiddleEast) do not believe there is a problem, then this mistrust of Western media and government policies is a hurdle that must be overcome for them to be part of the solution.
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, American Living in Hamburg, Germany : 5:51 PM ET
Here! Here! Jim Cook. Your response is as exact as exact can get. If only more people could understand this and make this reality.
Posted By Anonymous Scott Viall, Troy, MI : 6:01 PM ET
As an American who spent much time in the past decade living, studying, and working in Europe, I can say that Europe's large Muslim community will be its biggest obstacle this century. Though I met and became friends with many Muslims while living there, I also encountered many who hated me and the West, despite being European citzens who had never even visited their ancestral countries and couldn't read a lick of Arabic. One 12 year-old I knew personally was even involved in a bombing which resulted in multiple terrible injuries to other innocent children. I wish there were a solution, but until the issues of poverty and fundamentalism are addressed, I still fear the worst.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, Cleveland, OH : 1:39 PM ET
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