In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

'Jihad tourism' is surging

By Matthew Schofield

Young Muslims heading to Syria to fight, become adept terrorists, and return to the Western countries that gave them refuge

JewishWorldReview.com |

mERLIN— (MCT) By the time Syrian aircraft bombed the house he was in, the man with tattoos of a zulfiqar sword and a teardrop was going by the name Abu Talha al-Almani.

European news reports that he may have been injured in the attack referred to him by a past alias, Deso Dogg, a sometimes troubled, sometimes brilliant Berlin gangsta rapper. But in official German records, he's Denis Mamadou Cuspert, now 38. And to German intelligence officials and terrorism experts he represents the tip of a very disturbing trend.

Cuspert was hiding in a house in an unnamed area within Syria two weeks ago when he was injured in a bombing that also killed two children, according to rebel reports on social media. But he is only one of an estimated 170 Germans who, German intelligence officials believe, have made their way to Syria in the past year to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, often as part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. In the past month alone, 50 have gone, German intelligence estimates.

Only a handful have returned so far, said Angela Pley, spokeswoman for the German equivalent of the National Security Agency, but that doesn't calm German officials who worry that more will and that they will bring back military and terrorist know-how on an unprecedented scale.

"We know very little about those who have returned," Pley said.

Germany is not alone in its concern. Recently, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls estimated that more than 300 French Muslims are fighting with the anti-Assad rebels. Russian Federal Security Service head Aleksandr Bortnikov said earlier this year 200 fighters from Russia have gone to Syria. Anti-terror experts in the United Kingdom put the British number as high as 100. Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands each place the number of their nationals fighting Assad at between 50 and 100.

European news reports say an estimated 300 "Balkan mujahedeen" are there. Most of those are thought to come from Bosnia — where the government considers it such a problem that it has issued a formal warning against going to join the fight.

The trend even has a name, "jihadi tourism." Regardless of nationality, those who make the trip tend to be young, radical Salafist Muslims searching for their place in this world. The fear is that those who actually learn to fight could return as skilled terrorists who will want to act against their home nations.

Syria is not the first conflict to draw foreign fighters, experts say. But its popularity as a destination is surging.

"We first started seeing this 10 years ago, young people were heading to Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya," said Claudia Dantschke, a German specialist in Islam who tries to identify families where the young people are at risk of choosing the fight. "But that was a trickle, this is a flood. The number of people moving into this world really started picking up in August. It's only going to continue to grow."

A decade ago, the few young people who found their way to battle against the Western world came to that decision after first finding a home in traditional Islam, then drifting toward the violent fringe. Today, the fear around Europe is that young people are making the transition in reverse — wanting a violent outlet, then accepting a radical view of Islam as the surest path there.

Magnus Ranstorp, a leading anti-terror expert now at the Swedish Defense College, says that radical theology is painting the fight in Syria as a prophesized holy war.

"The people going down to Syria are convinced this is the struggle preceding the end times," Ranstorp said. "They've latched on to the idea that Syria is Sham, that god's army must gather near Damascus. They're fighting so that they will have the glory of standing in the final defense of Islam. It's powerful stuff. We should not underestimate that power."

Ranstorp explained that Sham, which is generally translated as greater Syria and includes bits of several other nations, including modern day Israel, was the site of the original Islamic caliphate. The theology being used in this case foretells that a new caliphate will rise there, on the ruins of a region defined by colonialism.

This old time religion is being sold in a modern package. Young Europeans are recruited through Facebook, on Twitter and other social media sites, as well as websites. The virtual connection comes long before the actual connection, said Dantschke, the German Islam specialist.

One website urges its visitors to "find your way — turn to Sham. You should go, go to Sham" and are told "there will always be a place in my home for those who will be victorious." Other sites praise the martyrs, such as "Abu Handala of Frankfurt," said to have died on Aug. 15. "He was fighting in the front row, was hit and returned to god with a smile on his face."

Still other sites attract new recruits by focusing on the most famous fighters, such as Cuspert.

A decade ago, Cuspert was a rising star in German rap. His angry anthems, in which he welcomed German youth to "my world, full of hate and blood" where "children cry softly as the black angel sings," reflected more of the angst of youth culture than reality of life on the streets of Berlin, which has one of the lowest crime rates of major world cities.


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His old rap videos always made a point of showing him in Islamic iconography, but in 2010, he made a very public break with the rap scene and committed to being a Muslim. He even said his old songs and ways were clearly "forbidden" in Islam.

Newspaper profiles focused on his struggle to find an identity. They claimed he'd rejected the world of his stepfather, an American serviceman. Online sites discussed how a former rapper with Shiite Muslim tattoos (Zulfiqar is the sword of Ali, a Shiite icon) became a devoted Salafist, a conservative branch of Sunni Islam.

His pronouncements on the evils of Western occupation became an inspiration. In March 2011, a man named Arid Uka killed two U.S. airmen at the Frankfurt airport. Later he would say that he was listening to a tape of Cuspert just before the murders.

In more recent videos, Cuspert encourages suicide bombings, praises Osama bin Laden ("Sheik Osama, your name is floating in our blood," he sings in one), says that he can't wait for a violent death. In another video, showing what appear to be Hollywood blockbuster screenshots of destruction, he asks, "Don't you hear what the angels are saying?" in an echo of his gangsta rap days.

Dantschke says his videos have been a powerful recruiting tool.

"He's talking to people who feel they have no voice in this society," she said. "They come from broken homes, live in a world where they believe they are seen as second-class citizens. They want to feel important. He offers that."

A trip to Syria is relatively simple for an alienated European. "It's just a budget flight to Turkey," said Bibi van Ginkel, a fellow at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague and at the Dutch Clingendael Institute. "After that, there are people who will help them get across the border."

That simplicity helps explain why more Europeans have found their way to Syria than to Afghanistan, Mali in North Africa or Yemen in the Persian Gulf.

But unlike others, she is less concerned about the possibility of returning terrorists. To date, she said, there's very little evidence that any who've returned have proved to be a threat. A recent der Spiegel magazine article noted that many if not most European Jihadi tourists appear more interested in the adventure of hanging out near Syria than in actually getting involved in battle, and passed their days playing Xbox rather than training. Better for European governments to focus on how they can improve would-be fighters' lives at home so they don't see a need to travel to Syria, and feel comfortable when they return.

"We need to be asking how we can help them before they go," she said. "And how we can help them when they return."

European political rhetoric is increasingly anti-immigrant, which Ginkel says is a code for anti-Muslim. Indeed, in the first Norwegian election since anti-immigrant Anders Breivik killed 77 people attempting to further his views, his former anti-immigrant political party had a historically strong showing, and is now part of Norway's ruling coalition government.

"In the end, we're adding fuel to what too many people already believe is a raging fire," Ginkel said.

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© 2013, McClatchy Washington Bureau Distributed by MCT Information Services