Washington, DC – Just a day after a group of distinguished journalists in the US and Europe- in a panel discussion under the aegis of a DC-based think tank Global Strat View (GSV) – cautioned against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey, its nexus with existing State-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan, and their linkages with Iranian and the global terror networks, an 18-year-old Pakistani carried out Charlie Hebdo-II attacks, injuring two people with a meat cleaver in Paris. Reports surfacing today indicate the attacker also wanted to set fire to offices of the satirical magazine.
According to French media reports, the suspect, who was arrested not far from the scene, had “taken responsibility for his action.” Sources were cited by AFP, adding that he placed his actions “in the context of the re-publication of the cartoons.” Eight other people were also arrested over the attack, including a former flatmate of the main suspect.
In a confirmation of the identity of the suspect, his father, Arshad Mahmood in Pakistan identified his son as Ali Hassan, the same name police say the suspect gave when he was apprehended. Mahmood said his son traveled to France as an immigrant two years ago along with two brothers in search of work.
“We are proud of our son. Whatever he did is in his love for Prophet Muhammad,” Mahmood was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying, adding, “I say whatever he did is right. There is no comprise on dignity and respect of Prophet Muhammad.”
A day earlier, at a panel discussion “Neo-Ottoman Vision: Are Turkey’s policies destabilizing the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia?”, Andrew Kreig, a political commentator, non-profit association executive, author, attorney, and former newspaper reporter; Said Arikat, a Washington based correspondent / columnist for the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds Daily Newspaper; Kostis Geropoulos, Energy & Russian Affairs Editor of the Brussels-based newspaper ‘New Europe’; along with famous CNN contributor Brian J.
Karem had analyzed the possibility of such a scenario due to the increasing influence of the Turkey-Pakistan-Iran axis. The discussion had also seen the audience giving voice to their fears over the chance of tactical nuclear weapons of Pakistan falling into the hands of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Noting an emerging alliance of countries like Iran and Turkey with Pakistan, Arikat believed such a nuclear arsenal can fall out of the hands of Pakistan as it gets sucked into this emerging alliance in the Middle East.
“All things are possible,” said Kreig and elaborated on a “broader view” saying that the apathy of the US could dangerously ease such a movement of arms.
Interesting to note here is the willingness of Turkish President Erdogan to openly embrace terrorist organizations, when he hosted two senior Hamas operatives in Istanbul. It was the second meeting Erdogan has had with Hamas leaders and the US State Department protested.
“Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and EU and both officials hosted by President Erdogan are Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” the US statement said, adding, “The US Rewards for Justice Program is seeking information about one of the individuals for his involvement in multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings.”
Arikat noted how Turkey has supported Syrian opposition and helped terrorist organizations there to run a parallel economy under its protection.
Karem pointed at the “beating” of protesters by Turkish forces in the US capital here when the “Turkish strongman” (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) visited the White House and threw a question on where are the US-Turkish relations heading? Both Arikat and Kreig agreed that there is a lot of “confusion.” Kreig reiterated the failure of the US law and order agencies when strongmen of Turkey beat up protestors here.
Kostis noted that the US should show more interest in handling this emerging alliance. Although the European Union is getting involved, it may get bogged down in the more dangerous political and military incursion of Russia in the region.
On the Abraham Accords, which the White House brokered recently, Turkey issued a strong statement condemning it, noted Arikat. Kreig felt the Turks might have a two-tier strategy where publicly there is some show of support, but simultaneously they might work to undercut the peace deal.
On the question of a coalition of forces to counter the regional hegemony of Turkish Sunni leadership led by Erdogan, there was a subtle support for such a group. This issue becomes all the more vital as the Charlie Hebdo-II attacks by a brainwashed 18-year old Pakistani show the dangers of failing to counter the extremist tendencies being propagated by Turkey-Pak-Iran Alliance are much higher. While State-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan was always a danger for the US – as 9/11 attacks and hiding of Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistan army base of Abbottabad showed – the renewed support of such networks due to its alliance with Turkey and Iran will exacerbate the danger for the West. This attack should be an eye opener, if ever one was required, for the apologists of Turkey, Pakistan and Iran in the liberal circles of the US.