vendredi 25 avril 2014

Foreign Fighters, Rebel Side, in Syria. 4/Finns

In Finland, the first rumors about fighters in Syria began to circulate in the media from August 20121. A year later, the Interior Ministry confirms that more than 20 Finns have already joined the radical Islamist groups on site. This marks radicalization, filigree, of Finnish Muslims for about two years. Finnish Muslim population, very small at first, grew in the 90's by the contribution of many refugees. It is estimated there are 50 to 60 000 people in 2011, 90 % Sunni. There are Muslims of the second generation, poorly integrated, originating in areas of conflict, which became radicalized. However, most radicalized Muslims are related, in fact, to Islamist and other groups with local issues, although several organizations like al-Qaida, the Shabaab, Hezbollah are represented in Finland. The Shabaab, in particular, are more visible because they recruited into the Somali community in Finland (15 000 in 2012). The process seems to be restricted from 2012, when the Shabaab associate clearly with al-Qaeda and begin to use conventional methods of organization like the kamikaze attack car.

It is believed that there were no Finns engaged in Afghanistan. The first Finnish foreign fighter highlighted is Abu Ibrahim, who went to fight in Chechnya and was arrested by the Georgian authorities. His father was an officer in the Finnish army. The largest contingent remains this debauched by Shabaab between 2007 and 2009 , before the radicalization of this movement to al-Qaeda. It also evokes, perhaps, the presence of a Finn from the National Front for the Liberation of Ogaden, Ethiopia. It's with the war in Syria that the quota of Finnish volunteers is the most important. After rumors unveiled in August 2012, a Finnish first martyr, Kamal Badri , was identified in January 2013 : he was killed in Aleppo. A few months later, the authorities start talking about ten, then twenty people who have left in Syria. The overall picture remains unclear, with lack of information, although it can be inferred that the Muslim community radicalized in Finland, is structured since more two years.

In March 2014, the intelligence and security Finnish service estimated that more than 30 people have already joined Syria, mostly in the ranks of al-Nosra, ISIS or Jaish Al Muhajireen Wal Ansar2. Mobilization is facilitated by fascination for the the Syrian conflict, the rise of radical Islam in Finland and the relatively easy access to the territory of Syria. The fringe of radical Islam in Finland now count several hundred people, which would increase the potential candidates for jihad. In addition, the Finnish legislation can not arrest people who want to go abroad to fight, even joining a terrorist group. Most Finnish volunteers left alone, even if there is at least one case where the family accompanied the jihadist on site. The presence of Finns was reported in the provinces of Idlib , Aleppo and Raqqa ; at least two Finns died ; some would be returned to their homeland, others would have done the trip several times.

Abou Anas al-Finlandi.-Source : http://neildoyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Abu-Annas-from-Finland-killed-in-Syria-300x178.jpg


Only four fighters were clearly identified. Muhammad arrived from Somalia in 1993 at the age of two years. He was raised and educated in Finland, Espoo, before reaching Turkey in December 2012 and join the ISIS. It does not intend to return to Finland. Abu Mansour, spotted by MEMRI in December 2013 during a public speech in Raqqa, is probably the same person. Marwan, born in 1993, is a young convert to Islam from Turku. His mother is Finnish and his father Namibian. After completing his military service, he claims to want to study Islam abroad, gaining Syria in summer 2012, with his wife, and fight in a unit north of Aleppo, including other Finns. He died in Aleppo in June 2013. His Facebook profile says he fought in Idlib province in March-April 2013 ; among his "friends", another Finnish fighter, Abu Anas al-Finlandi. Rami, born about 1992, with a Finnish mother and a father from an Arab country, lived in Helsinki before reaching southern Turkey in July 2013. He had a difficult schooltime, marked by alcohol abuse problems and delinquent behavior. Converted to Islam as a teenager, he asks the imam of the mosque to leave in Syria. Abu Anas al-Finlandi, who was born around 1993, a native of Espoo, have joined ISIS at the end of 2013 ; he was killed in February 2014 during clashes between ISIS and other insurgent groups. Despite the limited information on the Finnish volunteers, we see that it attracts foreign recruiters : Omar Bakri Mohammad, from the English group al-Muhajiroon, had met with Finnish fighters in Syria and Somalia, and Anjem Choudary came to Finland in March 2013, suggesting that he might be planning to develop a Sharia4Finland movement, like those already established elsewhere in Europe3. Choudary had come to support a Norwegian jailed, Mullah Krekar, former leader of Iraq Kurdish terrorist group Ansar al-islam4.


1Juha Saarinen, « GUEST POST: The History of Jihadism in Finland and An Early Assessment of Finnish Foreign Fighters in Syria », Jihadology.net, 21 novembre 2013.
3Juha Saarinen, « The Finnish Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria », CTC Sentinel, March, 2014, Volume 7, Issue 3, p.6-10.

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