By Gail K. Ripans
Terrorism expert Robbie Friedmann explained the threat of domestic and international terrorism to about 140 students at Senior University of Greater Atlanta on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Friedmann is a professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University and is the founding director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, a frequent target of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement because it brings together Israeli police with officers from the United States and other nations.
Terrorism is defined as the use of violence to achieve political objectives. Friedmann gave an overview of events in the Middle East going back 100 years when the British and French established spheres of influence under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. They wanted then, and still need today, the oil from the region.
Britain and France established states with artificial boundaries, such as Syria, Iraq and Jordan. Those countries now are embroiled in violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood began in Egypt and was a reaction in part to colonial activities but mostly idealized Islamic control. It remains active and is the forerunner of Al-Qaida, Hamas and Islamic State.
The Syrian civil war to date has caused an estimated 600,000 deaths and many more injuries, with millions of refugees fleeing to Jordan, Turkey and Europe. While the United Nations routinely condemns Israel, it has not intervened successfully in the brutal 5-year-old Syrian conflict.
Outlining different kinds of terrorists, Friedmann drew a distinction between those who commit suicidal attacks and those who direct them. The latter have a political and religious agenda to spread Islam through radical means and to dominate the Western world, subduing Christians and Jews. Killing is used in the service of this cause and must be identified as such.
Moderate Muslims must become more engaged in coping with the threat of the radicals, Friedmann said. He emphasized that the United States and other Western nations are not at war with the religion of Islam, but change and reform must emerge from within the Muslim community.
Discussing an ongoing mass Muslim migration that began decades ago, Friedmann noted the changing demographics in Europe. There are 2 million Muslims in London, which has elected its first Muslim mayor, a London-born son of Pakistani immigrants.
Members of the second and third generations of immigrant families often are the ones who become terrorists, activated in mosques with radical imams or online by propaganda from magazines such as Inspire and Dabiq or by violent video recruitment messages.
Many of those immigrants have traveled to fight in Syria and returned to Europe or the United States. Some of these terrorists are directed by others, and some are merely inspired and act on their own.
Those lone-wolf attacks inspired by terrorist organizations are hard to prevent, Friedmann said.
It is also not possible to vet people whose offspring may grow up to become radicalized. Hence, open borders endanger citizens of Western countries.
It will take generations to deal with the threat and activities of jihadists. It is not productive to overreact or to be Islamophobic, Friedmann said. Rather, it is important to be watchful, and if you see something, say something to authorities.