RIYADH: Dozens of Daesh militants emerged from tunnels to surrender to Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria on Sunday, a day after their “caliphate” was declared defeated.
Men filed out of the battered Daesh encampment in the riverside village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border to board pickup trucks. “They are fighters who came out of tunnels and surrendered today,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Jiaker Amed said. “Some others could still be hiding inside.”
World leaders hail Saturday’s capture of the last shred of land controlled by Daesh in Syria, but the top foreign affairs official for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region warned that Daesh captives still posed a threat.
“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Abdel Karim Omar said. “Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation.”
While the terrorists have a suffered a defeat, the pernicious ideologies that drive them, and the hate speech that fuels those ideologies, live on. For that reason Arab News today launches Preachers of Hate — a weekly series, published in print and online, in which we profile, contextualize and analyze extremist preachers from all religions, backgrounds and nationalities.
In the coming weeks, our subjects will include the Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali, the Egyptian preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the American-Israeli rabbi Meir Kahane, the Yemeni militia leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, and the US pastor Terry Jones, among others.
The series begins today with an investigation into the background of Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white supremacist who shot dead 50 people in a terrorist attack 10 days ago on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Tarrant is not just a terrorist, but is himself a Preacher of Hate, author of a ranting manifesto that attempts to justify his behavior. How did a shy, quiet boy from rural New South Wales turn into a hate-filled gunman intent on killing Muslims? The answers may surprise you.
Our series could not be more timely — anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK have soared by almost 600 percent since the Christchurch attack, it was revealed on Sunday.
The charity Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents, said almost all of the increase comprised “language, symbols or actions linked to the Christchurch attacks.”
“Cases included people making gestures of pointing a pistol at Muslim women and comments about British Muslims and an association with actions taken by the terrorist in New Zealand,” the charity said.
“The spike shows a troubling rise after Muslims were murdered in New Zealand,” said Iman Atta, director of Tell MAMA. “Figures have risen over 590 percent since New Zealand in comparison to the week just before the attack.