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Global Islamism Monitor - No. 44

Edited by Ilan Berman and Diana Biya
September 6, 2017

The Hamas movement continues to rebuild its once-robust political ties to Iran. In early August, a high-level delegation of officials from the Palestinian terror group traveled to Tehran to meet with a range of Iranian officials, including representatives of the regime's clerical army, the Revolutionary Guards. The visit was the most public olive branch proffered to Iran to date by the radical movement, which fell out with its sponsor several years ago over conflicting approaches to the Syrian civil war. The delegation, the first by the group since its election of new leadership earlier this year, was intended to formally "turn a new page in bilateral relations" between the two sides, Hamas said in an official statement.

Hamas' overture found a receptive audience in the Islamic Republic. Iran is "ready to put aside all disagreements for the sake of supporting Palestine and the Palestinian people as well as the unity of the Muslim world," Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is reported to have told the visiting delegation. (
Times of Israel, August 8, 2017)


Even as it faces strategic setbacks in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is seeking to subvert key constituencies in nearby Iran. The terror group is reportedly attempting to radicalize disaffected minorities within the majority Shi'ite nation in retaliation for Iran's ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war. As part of this effort, the group issued a formal video in early August calling on young Iranians to mobilize and carry out terror attacks against the Islamic Republic. The organization is also said to be exhibiting a growing presence among Iran's Kurdish and Arab minorities, and Iranian security forces have reportedly arrested at least 100 individuals linked to ISIS in recent weeks. (
Reuters, August 15, 2017)


Russia's involvement in Syria in support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad over the past two years has made it a target of Islamic extremists, chief among them the radicals of the Islamic State. Over the past year, the group has targeted the Russian Federation on a number of occasions, most recently in the April 2017 bombing of the St. Petersburg metro, an attack which left eleven people dead and wounded dozens more. That, however, appears to be just the start of a coordinated campaign of terror against the Russian Federation that is being planned by the group. In mid-August, Russia's domestic intelligence service, the FSB, successfully foiled a double suicide bomb plot in Russia's capital, Moscow, raiding a makeshift explosives laboratory in the city's outskirts and arresting four suspects. (
Newsweek, August 14, 2017)


Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the secular Turkish state, is in danger of being eclipsed in the country's schools. Beginning with the new school year this Fall, Ataturk and his teachings will no longer be featured as prominently in the past in the lessons taught to first, fifth- and ninth-grade students throughout the country. Instead, students will receive "an introduction to the concept of jihad and more classes on religion." The move is part of a broader shift away from the teaching of concepts such as evolution in favor of more religious instruction and doctrine in what critics are calling nothing short of a revolution in the country's educational affairs. "This curriculum is a coup d'etat targeting education in Turkey," warns Orhan Ildirim, head of a large teachers union in Turkey. "You don't have to have guns to make a coup. If you strike a country's education as such, then it will be impossible for it to catch up with prosperous nations." (
BBC, August 22, 2017)


A new British film series intended to dampen the appeal of the Islamic State is making news, for all the wrong reasons. The four-part drama, entitled "The State," dramatizes the experiences of four British Muslims who traveled to join the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria. But, although the series makes an effort to document ISIS life, it effectively romanticizes the experience of the British jihadis, painting the male protagonists as good-looking, sensitive and soft-spoken, and the females to be elegant, strong, and independent. The result, notes critic Christopher Stevens in a scathing review, is that "The State" is less a documentary and more a recruitment video for the world's most dangerous extremist group - one that portrays life in the "caliphate" as virtuous and exciting, and minimizes the group's brutal excesses. (London
Daily Mail
, August 20, 2017)

Related Categories: Middle East; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Iran; Turkey; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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