Interview on Syria and Censorship in the US Media

Posted by John Rosenthal

The Brics Post was kind enough to ask me to do an interview on, among other things, the Syrian War and the Western media. It includes some insider details on how my own efforts to report conflicting information on the war in the US media was met not only with censorship, but even blacklisting. As I note, “Once Washington and its European allies had established the terms of the politically ‘correct’ narrative of the Syrian crisis, facts that failed to jibe with that narrative were unwanted and anyone who tried to report them was inevitably attacked as ‘pro-Assad.’”

For the full interview, see here.

Merah: The “Untold Story” of a French Jihadist Icon

Posted by John Rosenthal

The last year has witnessed an unprecedented wave of Islamic terror attacks in France. With just one exception, all the known perpetrators of the attacks were French citizens and the great majority were born and raised in France. The precipitate identification of the neophyte Belgian jihadist, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as the “mastermind” behind the November 13th Paris attacks has somewhat obscured their French authorship. But just as with previous attacks, all the known perpetrators, including those who had been living in Belgium, were in fact French citizens, and all the perpetrators of the deadliest attack (on the Bataclan theatre) were French born-and-bred.

The undisputed icon and role model for this new generation of French jihadists is Mohamed Merah. In March 2012, the 23-year-old Merah went on a killing spree in and around his native Toulouse, assassinating three French paratroopers in two separate incidents before pulling up in front of a Jewish school on his signature T-Max motorbike and executing three small children and a teacher at point-blank range. He died in a shootout with police three days later.

For my reflections on an important French exposé on Merah’s life and crimes, see my new review essay in World Affairs here.

Blame Belgium! How France Avoids Its Problem with Homegrown Terror

Posted by John Rosenthal

Three months after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that took 130 lives, the world’s media appears to be more convinced than ever that the root of the evil that struck the French capital on that day is to be located some 300 kilometers to the north in the Belgian capital of Brussels. The idea that the Paris attacks were a “Belgian” operation has indeed become so ubiquitous and ingrained that Belgian authorities have felt compelled to mount a campaign to defend the country’s reputation and the mother of one of the victims who died at Paris’s Bataclan theater has even threatened to file suit against Belgium.

But the problem with this assumption of the “Belgian” character of the attacks is that it does not hold up to scrutiny…

For the details, see my new article at Geopolitical Monitor here.

France: Has Sunday’s Defeat Dashed Le Pen’s Presidential Hopes?

Posted by John Rosenthal

Following its strong showing in the first round of France’s regional elections on December 6, The National Front and party leader Marine Le Pen came crashing back to earth last Sunday in the second round of elections. Having gone down to defeat in a region where the National Front is especially strong, can it now be assumed that Le Pen will likewise fall short on the national level in France’s 2017 presidential elections? The answer is: No.

For the reasons, see my new article on Geopolitical Monitor here.

The Dubious “Mastermind”: Abdelhamid Abaaoud and the Paris Attacks

Posted by John Rosenthal

Parts of the mainstream media appear now to be having their doubts that the Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud was the “mastermind” behind the November 13 Paris attacks, as initially claimed. In fact, Abaaoud, a neophyte jihadist who gained notoriety entirely by accident, had nothing like the makings of a terror “mastermind.” Indeed, there are strong reasons to doubt that he played any role, even a subordinate one, in the plot or that he could even have been in Paris to do so.

For the details – including revelations from the Belgian press that have hitherto gone unreported in English – see my new article at Geopolitical Monitor here.

WaPo Gives Forum to Group that “Freed” Recruiter of German 9/11 Cell

Posted by John Rosenthal

The Washington Post’s decision to publish an op-ed piece by a representative of the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham has raised numerous eyebrows and elicited a number of incredulous responses. But perhaps the most salient and telling point about Ahrar al-Sham from an American perspective has thus far gone largely overlooked: namely, the fact that the jihadist group sought and obtained the liberation from a Syrian prison of none other than Mohammed Haydar Zammar, the al-Qaeda recruiter who assembled the Hamburg cell….

See my new post at World Affairs here.

Meet the Merah-Essids: France’s First Family of Jihad

Posted by John Rosenthal

“Oh, you Jews! Allah has permitted us to kill your brothers on French soil and here on the soil of the Islamic State.” So says the speaker in an Islamic State video released in March, which allegedly shows a Palestinian Mossad agent being shot dead by a child executioner. Standing next to the boy and behind the kneeling detainee, the man, whose face is uncovered, speaks French with the cadence of the banlieues, France’s troubled urban slums that have proved fertile recruiting grounds for the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. He has been identified as none other than Sabri Essid, the self-described “half-brother” of the infamous Jewish school killer, Mohammed Merah.

In fact, Essid is Merah’s stepbrother. In the summer of 2011, Essid’s father, Mohamed, married Merah’s mother, Zoulikha, in a religious ceremony. As far as Islamic law is concerned, Merah thus became Mohamed Essid’s stepson. The boy in the video, incidentally, is Sabri’s own stepson, Rayan. Several other members of the extended Merah-Essid clan are likewise known to have left France to join the “lands of jihad” in Syria, including Mohammed’s elder sister Souad.

See my portrait of France’s “first family of jihad” in the June 29 issue of The Weekly Standard, now available online here.

Law and Jihad: Qatari Lawsuit Aims to Stifle Criticism in France

Posted by John Rosenthal

The accusation that the oil-rich Middle East micro-kingdom of Qatar is a major supporter of jihadist terror is a commonplace in English-language media and political debate. But if the Qatari royal family and two lawyers with close connections to the French political establishment have their way, any such talk could soon prove to be illegal in France.

For the details, see my new article at World Affairs here.

Newsletter Reminder

Posted by John Rosenthal

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2012 Egyptian Elections: Did Hillary Demand Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Be Declared Winner?

Posted by John Rosenthal

Back in the heady days when the West was still enthralled by the “Arab Spring,” the 2012 Egyptian presidential elections represented a watershed – if albeit an ambiguous one, given the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi. In the meanwhile, however, evidence has emerged that Morsi did not win the elections after all, but was merely declared the winner by the electoral commission in order to avert the violence that was sure to follow an announcement to the contrary. Moreover, according to reports in the Egyptian press, it was not only the Egyptian “street” that brought pressure to bear on the authorities to name Morsi the winner, but also then US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton…

See my new post at the Weekly Standard here.