By Rudroneel Ghosh
July 26, 2016
The suicide bombing in the German town of Ansbach which was carried out by a Syrian refugee could provide important clues to understanding the recent spate of Islamist attacks across France and Germany. The attack which injured 15 people was carried out by 27-year-old Mohammad Daleel who left behind a mobile phone video of himself pledging allegiance to the Islamic State terror group. Not surprisingly, the latter has latched on to the development and proclaimed Daleel as one of its soldiers.
But what’s interesting is that Daleel had come to Germany as a refugee in 2014 and had applied for asylum. He had been living in an old hotel that had been converted into a refugee shelter. According to those who knew him, he was keen on acquiring a work permit and getting a job. However, it also appears that Daleel was a disturbed individual and reportedly tried committing suicide twice before. He was even admitted to a psychiatric clinic at some point. Plus, some reports suggest that he had war wounds on his body – unsurprising since he hailed from the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo.
Additionally, Daleel was informed two weeks ago that his asylum application had been denied and that he was being deported to Bulgaria. Putting all of this together, it’s possible that Daleel was a genuine refugee. He may have been suffering from some psychological complications because of the trauma of the war in Syria – he may have lost family members. And perhaps he was trying to make a fresh beginning in Germany by applying for asylum status. However, everything went south when his application was rejected and he was told that he was to be deported.
Which brings us to what made Daleel pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. It’s important to realise that the overall propaganda of the Islamic State includes a strong call for standing up for Muslim rights against perceived discrimination by non-Muslims. Now all three of these terms, Muslim rights, perceived discrimination and even non-Muslims – are subject to interpretation. The Islamic State has its own radical definition of what these are. But the underlying message is that a Muslim must fight back against discrimination, if necessary through violent means, to uphold Islam.
People like Daleel who are obviously suffering from psychological issues can easily be swayed by such messaging and converted into Islamist attackers. As a matter of fact, in a recent documentary on the Islamic State phenomenon when a captured IS fighter was confronted with evidence of the group’s atrocities in Iraq – which include raping Yazidi girls and women – he said that he actually knew nothing about these crimes against humanity and had joined the Islamic State for Islam.
In fact, that’s precisely what has drawn a majority of recruits to the Islamic State – they seriously believe that they are protecting Islam and fighting discrimination against the Muslim Ummah. And that’s also what many of the lone wolf attackers in Europe believed – that they were lashing out against European citizens and authorities for discriminating against Muslims. But this is exactly why in addition to security measures the fight against Islamic State must also include ideological tools.
All Muslim community leaders across the world must unanimously condemn the Islamic State and clearly state that the group’s activities aren’t protecting Islam but bringing disrepute on the religion. They must emphasise that the group has been deliberately misinterpreting Islam’s tenets for its own political agenda. It’s only by countering the ideological allure of the Islamic State that attacks like the one in Ansbach can be prevented and the group’s profile degraded.