2015 — An ominous start …
By Gil Elan

Last month I predicted that “2015 will be a very interesting year.” Reports this week from France, the Middle East and around the world indicate that may have been the understatement of the year…!
Here are just some of the headlines we’ll be following and commenting on in the New Year.
Islamist terrorism: What we know so far about the two professionally executed terrorist attacks in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market is that they were long planned operations ordered by al-Qaida’s leader Ayman Al- Zawahiri and conducted by one of many French based Islamist “sleeper cells” of AQAP — Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula. Here are translated recent tweets by Bakhsaruf al-Danqulah — a senior AQAP leader active on Twitter (courtesy of Gloria Center):

A French policeman stands outside the kosher supermarket in Paris where four Jewish men were murdered by an Islamist gunman, Jan. 11, 2015. AQAP, Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, is said to be responsible for the attacks. | Photo: Serge Attal/Flash90
A French policeman stands outside the kosher supermarket in Paris where four Jewish men were murdered by an Islamist gunman, Jan. 11, 2015. AQAP, Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, is said to be responsible for the attacks. | Photo: Serge Attal/Flash90

1. Many followers are asking about the link between al-Qa’ida and those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack. The link is direct and the operation was supervised by AQAP.
2. The operation was directed by AQAP’s leadership. And they chose these targets out of desire to avenge the insult to the Holy Prophet.
3. And in France in particular for its undisguised role in the war on Islam and oppressed peoples.
4. The operation is an implementation of the threat of Sheikh Osama bin Laden in which he warned the West of the consequence in the long run of affront to the sanctities of Muslims.
5. He said in his message to the West: “If there is no limit to your freedom of speech, your chests will become broadened targets for our actions.”
6. The organization delayed implementation of the operation for security reasons dependent on the operatives. And the operation has a number of messages for all Western states:
7. Infringing on Islam’s sanctities and protecting those who mock them will bear a very heavy price. And the consequence will be severe and terrible.
8. The crimes of the Western states — especially America, Britain and France — will be turned on their heads within their abodes.
9. The policy of striking the far enemy which has remained for al-Qa’ida under Zawahiri’s leadership will continue in the realization of its aims, until the West falls back on itself.
10. The policy of the mujahideen of al-Qa’ida’s media incitement, especially Inspire magazine, has produced splendid results in the defining of its aims and marshalling potential.
11. For one of the authors put his name and photo [i.e., that of the editor of Charlie Hebdo] as a dead or alive target for the mujahideen, so the Western states should expect evil consequences and ruins by God’s power.
Al-Danqulah concludes with a call for people to disseminate and translate his tweets. The threat is clear and unequivocal.
According to most analysts, 2015 could easily become the Year of Islamist Worldwide Terrorism. We’re already seeing it in Europe (al-Qaida), Africa (Boku Haram and al-Shabab), the Middle East (ISIS) and coming soon to a public place near you (al-Qaida, Khorasan)…
Can they be stopped? Certainly not by rallies, marches, demonstrations and speeches — especially if the speakers do not identify the enemy by name: Islamic extremism and the Islamic doctrine of religious exclusivity, that according to them trumps the First Amendment of our Constitution, that is still being indoctrinated in schools and mosques around the world — including here in the U.S.!
For example at 5 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, at the Curtis Culwell Center, a Garland Independent School District property, there will be an event titled “Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect.” With flyers claiming: “Ready to defeat Islamophobia?” the organizers, Sound Vision Foundation, “a not for profit organization serving Muslims,” stress that “this is not an event, it is the beginning of a movement — a movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.”
But can Islamist Jihadism be defeated from within? Pay careful attention to the courageous speech that Egyptian President Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi gave last month front of leading Islamic clerics and scholars at the sacred Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In his speech, al-Sisi called on them to modify the religion, outlaw any and all violent behavior, and make it at least acceptable to all others. His words may get him assassinated, but if other Muslim leaders follow his lead, it could be a start to a completely different future. You can find a clip with subtitles on YouTube.
Israel elections (March 17): Netanyahu won the Likud primaries but lost several key players. Tzipi Livni joined forces with the labor Party to form a combined list, which most current polls show is running head to head with Bibi’s Likud. Another centrist party, formed by former Likud Member of Knesset Moshe Kahalon, is gaining steam by recruiting top security experts to its list, and the Sephardic Orthodox party, Shas, has regrouped.
Right now there is a plausible chance that with successful coalition negotiations after the March 17 elections, Yitzhak Herzog could be the next Israeli prime minister.
But a lot can happen in the interim, and if the first 12 days of 2015 are anything to go by, it will.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lieutenant Colonel (IDF res) Gil Elan is president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress and a Middle East Analyst. Email: gil@swjc.org. Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org. DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.

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