Our German translator JLH sends this matched pair of articles from the Austrian media about young “Austrians” who attend two special types of summer camp. The translator includes this note:
My sense of irony was activated by the juxtaposition of the two titles. I was also struck by the inane comment of the Austrian Minister of the Interior, who regards this trend as not all that significant.
First, from Kleine Zeitung:
More Than 1,300 Young Muslims At Anti-Terror Summer Camp
August 9, 2010
At the three-day event in Coventry in the English UK, young people learned how to respond t appeals from extremists. The organizer of the camp wants to “protect the young generation from radicalization.”
More than 1,300 young Muslims from Europe participated in a so-called anti-terror summer camp in Great Britain. At the 3-day event in Coventry in the center of England which ended Monday evening, they learned in lectures, workshops and debates how they can deal with incitements to terrorism from extremists. The summer camp was organized by the group Minjah ul-Quran, which was founded in 1981. Its founder, Muhammad Tahir al-Kadri, in a fatwa in March, had designated terrorists as enemies of Islam.
“It is my task,” said Tahir al-Kadri, “to protect the young generation of Muslims from radicalization and the wave of terror recruiting.” Participation in the summer camp cost £200 (€241).
And from Neue Kronenzeitung:
More and More Austrians Are Traveling to Terror Camps
April 26, 2010
In their annual report, presented on Monday, the anti-terrorist police of the federal intelligence service have made public some alarming findings. According to intelligence director Peter Gridling, there is a trend in Austria toward tourism to so-called “terror camps.” Gridling estimates the number of young Muslims and converts who attended such camps recently as “several dozen.” Domestically, meanwhile, the federal intelligence office is concerned by conflicts between left and right extremist groups.
As far as Islamism in general is concerned, the direct threat is “not so great” according to Interior Minister Maria Fekter, who presented the 2009 report together with the BVT (Administrative Center for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies) chief. Gridling added that radical Islamism is not a mass phenomenon here; the [membership of the] one group that can be regarded as radical barely reaches three figures.
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Nonetheless, radicalization and recruiting are a problem in Austria too. Small groups that do not cooperate with larger terror networks like Al-Qaeda and are therefore more difficult to identify cause some difficulties.
Instead of Travel for Language Study, Off to the Terror Camp
It is noticeable to the security forces that interest in participating in terror camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan has increased. For tactical reasons pertaining to the ongoing investigation, Gridling did not wish to give exact numbers. The number of those who were willing to be trained as terrorists would be “several dozen.”
Most of these potential terrorists are between 19 and 25 years old. This includes young people from Muslim families in Austria as well as Austrian converts, Gridling said. By and large, they are recruited by direct contacts or via the internet. Hate preachers — Gridling prefers the term radical preachers — also play a role. In the first months of this year, as many trips to Islamist training camps were recorded as in the entire preceding four years.
Often parents, relatives and friends of the terrorist camp tourists knew nothing about the stay, which usually lasted only a few weeks. The trips were disguised as vacation or educational trips to some unremarkable country, from which the route then illegally led to the actual target country (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen). Gridling also told of an Austrian who had advanced as far as “instructor” and taught the use of a grenade launchers and so forth in a desert camp somewhere.
In this connection, Fekter pointed out the not entirely uncontroversial terrorism prevention law which was introduced the previous week by the justice minister, Claudia Bandion-Ortner. Among other things, it is intended to make participation in terror camps and instruction for terrorist purposes punishable by law in the future.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.