How to combat global Islamism – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“There is no short-cut solution to integrating Muslim communities, whether in France or in India. This is because Islam does not allow Muslims to fully integrate with local communities; as a system of ideas, Islam is designed to essentially separate Muslims from the practices of non-Muslims. … Muslims everywhere will continue to separate themselves from the rest of society. Islam doesn’t permit integration, despite which some Muslims do integrate.” – Tufail Ahmad

Charlie HebdoThe continuing series of jihadist attacks by “lone wolves” – some call them stray dogs but both the terms are insults to animals – in London, Boston, Sydney and Paris illustrates the fact that modern democracies cannot take their freedom for granted. After the Second World War, democracies faced threats from armed communism.

Seven decades on, democratic nations and their liberties are still threatened, this time by radical Islamism. It is a matter of time before Indian democracy too will come face to face with such threats, especially since the signs of radicalisation are emerging in many parts of India.

The January 7 attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo illustrates two points: first, democratic nations must put in place a counter-radicalisation strategy that integrates Muslim communities and counters radicalisation. Second, big powers must join hands and evolve a global strategy against the jihadist threat currently wreaking Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and others. As of now, the Western powers are not engaging in developing a global strategy against Islamism due to the fear that they will be seen as anti-Islam.

However, the longer the West takes it to tackle this cancer, the bigger it will become. It was indeed this realisation which forced the leaders of forty countries including the UK, Israel, Germany, Palestine, Jordan, Poland and Spain to march hand in hand with the French president in Paris on January 11 to denounce the attackers of Charlie Hebdo.

Let’s explain the second point to understand how the international system of states has become problematic. The modern nation-states – with sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s affairs being their defining characteristics – emerged after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, an agreement which ended the Thirty Years War during which conflicts between the Protestant and the Catholic states had transformed into a war between the great powers.

Flags at the United Nations building in New YorkWhile the newly emerging nation states ended the war to the benefit of their peoples, they are now doing exactly the opposite. For example, the Pakistani nation-state crushes its people in Balochistan. The Sunni nation-state of Bahrain tramples upon its Shia majority. The Chinese nation-state suppresses its Muslim population in Xinjiang.

United Nations HQ New YorkIraq suppresses the Kurds and Sunnis while Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan allow persecution of their Shia minorities. (Kashmir is not a good example because the people elect their government, can openly challenge the power of the Indian nation state and are about to overcome jihadist insurgency commissioned from outside.) The argument here is this: the international state system anchored to the United Nations since the Second World War is failing to address emerging problems caused by its member-states, notably the rise of global jihadism. The UN is paralysed. There are two urgent needs: dismantle the UN and seed a new international state system; and evolve an international strategy to undermine the global jihadism from within and without.

A global strategy must take into account the suppression by nation-states of people within their own borders as well as the state support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan to jihadist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Canadian-Pakistani writer Tarek Fatah has suggested that global extremism can be undermined from within by addressing the issues of Balochistan, Kurdistan, Turkey’s support of Muslim Brotherhood, among others.

If some Western countries are willing to recognise Palestine as a state despite the jihadist ideology of Hamas, there is no reason why the Kurds who have abided by the norms of civilised behavior should not get Kurdistan.

To return to the first point, the need for counter-radicalisation strategy, the democratic states must evolve their own domestic policies to challenge radicalisation. Over the past year, India has witnessed worrying symptoms of radicalisation: Muslim youths posed for a group photograph in ISIS t-shirts in Tamil Nadu.

ISIS in KashmirIn Kerala, stickers in favour of ISIS were seen on cars. In Kashmir, masked youths waved ISIS flags. In the toilet of a Mumbai airport, a passenger wrote ISIS threats. In Jharkhand, someone deemed it fit to print “ISIS Pakistan” on t-shirts. Muslim youths from Mumbai went to Iraq and some were detained in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad over ISIS links.

Sanjeev Dayal, Director General of Maharashtra police, has proposed a counter-radicalisation strategy, which argues for inclusive housing for Muslims, mainstreaming of madrasa education and dealing with perceived grievances, among others. Dayal took inspiration from a Singaporean law that mandates mixed ownership in housing societies for the Malays, Indians and the Chinese.

The police chief also warned against online propaganda that radicalises Muslim youths. All the suggestions are practical, but there is no short-cut solution to integrating Muslim communities, whether in France or in India.

This is because Islam does not allow Muslims to fully integrate with local communities; as a system of ideas, Islam is designed to essentially separate Muslims from the practices of non-Muslims.

In Dayal’s state, this writer asked a Muslim man, who has not gone to college, a question: what do Urdu religious channels like the Peace TV of televangelist Zakir Naik teach? His response: they teach us about Islam. Probed further as to what he and his family learn from these channels, he explained: wo hamein Islam ke saanchey mein dhalte hain (they shape us into the mould of Islam).

Muslims everywhere will continue to separate themselves from the rest of society. Islam doesn’t permit integration, despite which some Muslims do integrate.

Lee Kuan Yew: “I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came ... I would say today, we can integrate all religions and races except Islam.” Nevertheless, attempts for reform must be made on an urgent basis. India needs to think long-term and evolve a 100-year strategy, seriously. Such a strategy must do the following: all madrasas and mosques should be registered and their finances audited by local officials, a task unachievable if the same is not done for temples and churches; madrasa syllabi should be reformed to include – in addition to the teachings of the Quran, Hadiths and Islamic Studies – English and material sciences as well as a primer on need-blind subjects like liberal arts from the primary standards. – The New Indian Express, 14 January 2015

» Tufail Ahmad is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

 

Charlie Hebdo — Je Suis Charlie

Cartoon by Francisco J. Olea

Cartoon by Cyprien

Cartoon by David Pope

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's publisher and cartoonist, known only as Charb, clenches his fist as he presents to journalists, on September 19, 2012 in Paris, at the headquarters, the last issue which features on the front cover a satirical drawing entitled "Intouchables 2". Inside pages contain several cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed. The magazine's decision to publish the cartoons came against a background of unrest across the Islamic world over a crude US-made film that mocks Mohammed and portrays Muslims as gratuitously violent. The title refers to "Intouchables", a 2012 French movie, the most seen French movie abroad, which is selected to represent France for the Oscars nominees, according to one of his directors, Eric Toledano. AFP PHOTO FRED DUFOUR

“Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech—the literal sacred institution of society.” – Jonathon Turley

Charlie Hebdo Famous Cover

People hold placards reading in French "I am Charlie" during a gathering in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France, on January 7, 2015, following an attack by unknown gunmen on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Heavily armed men shouting "Allahu Akbar" stormed the Paris headquarters of a satirical weekly on January 7, killing 12 people in cold blood in the worst attack in France in decades.  AFP PHOTO / DENIS CHARLET        (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

More cartoons at VOX & THE DAILY BEAST

The Jihadi's End!

 

Open up radicalisation of Muslim youth debate – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“An erroneous belief is held by Indian government leaders that not talking publicly about radicalisation in India could curb jihadism. India is a free society, deriving its strengths from openness and law. This strength can work only in a public way, when media and citizens debate the causes and extent of radicalisation.” – Tufail Ahmad

Haribhai Parthibhai ChaudharyOn December 10, India’s junior minister for home affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Parliament: “There are no intelligence inputs to suggest that Al-Qaeda and ISIS terror groups are working together to target Indian cities.” Intelligence agencies are engaged in a difficult task of tracking terror networks. Let’s assume that Chaudhary was presenting a correct assessment of the jihadist threat before the nation. However, 2014 has been an extraordinary year during which the threat of radicalisation from jihadist movements like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda did enter Indian homes.

Based on jihadist sources and media reports, it is possible now to establish routes and patterns of radicalisation in India. One, several youths from Tamil Nadu based in Singapore came in contact with ISIS jihadists. The notable case here is that of Fakkurudeen Usman, who took his wife and three children to Syria. The radicalisation wasn’t limited to Singapore, as the jihadists made recruitment efforts in Chennai. Two, it emerged in April that a Kashmiri youth, Adil Fayaz, was radicalised in Australia and he travelled perhaps directly from there to Syria via Turkey. An additional point to remember is this: Several educated Kashmiri youths went missing over the past two years.

Three, after al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s announcement of the establishment of the al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), it was reported in September that 23 youths from Thoubal district of Manipur had left their homes in two batches to join the AQIS. Their joining al-Qaeda shouldn’t surprise, since the Northeast has witnessed anti-Muslim violence in Assam and nearby Myanmar. In the past, non-Muslim terrorists from ULFA travelled through China to Afghanistan not for jihad, but to train at Osama bin Laden’s camps. Four, from India’s viewpoint, the biggest story was that of four Muslims from Mumbai who flew to Iraq as Shia pilgrims and joined the ISIS. One of them, Arif aka Areeb Majeed, was injured and with the help of Turkish businessmen reached Turkey for treatment. He was brought to India.

Mehdi Masroor BiwasFive, Arif Majeed revealed that he saw 13 Indian youths already present at a training camp in Syria. His statement indicates that these Indians had gone to work in the Middle East, probably in the UAE, from where they joined the ISIS. Six, in a worrying development, it was revealed this month that a popular jihadist account on Twitter was operated by Indian youth Mehdi, who was working for a Bangalore-based firm. Seven, Munawad Salman, a software engineer and former employee of Google in Hyderabad, was arrested for trying to join the ISIS. Also, Telangana state police stopped 15 engineering students, ISIS in Kashmirincluding a girl, from Kolkata where they had gone for an onward journey to Iraq in September. Another Hyderabadi youth was detained in Mumbai. Eight, youths wore T-shirts and waved flags in favour of ISIS in Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand.

Nine, the footprints of Pakistan-sponsored jihadist organisation Indian Mujahideen were seen in several bomb blasts in recent years in different parts of India, though its leadership is in disarray due to arrests of some key leaders. However, many innocent youths are also languishing in jails because they were arrested by police just to prove their own effectiveness. Ten, as revealed in the videos of Ansarut Tawheed Fi Bilad Al-Hind from mid-2013 onwards, at least nine Indian Muslims were being trained in Pakistan by a Saudi jihadist. A jihadist organisation with a similar name, Ansarut Tawheed Wal Jihad Fi Kashmir, emerged after this year’s floods in Kashmir, offering to host al-Qaeda fighters though it noted that it faced difficulties.

From these developments, one can derive some lessons. Radicalisation is taking place both in India and among expatriate Indian workers based in the Middle East and elsewhere. The radicalisation is of two types: Muslims are self-taught in jihad and connected to jihadist groups through social media; they are also recruited by jihadist groups. Indians have gone mainly to four countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. In the past, Indian jihadists went to Grozny, Serbia and Glasgow. Also, some commentators have dismissed the emergence of ISIS T-shirts in Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Kashmir as innocent transgressions by street urchins, but they are an important barometer of radicalisation underway in Indian society: from Mumbai to Hyderabad, from Chennai to Manipur.

Ajit DovalAt a conference in Delhi on November 22, this writer asked national security adviser Ajit Doval to estimate the number of Indian youths who got radicalised and migrated for jihad. Doval skipped the written question but noted that five-six youths were inclined to join the jihadist groups but their parents contacted security agencies which helped them. However, from jihadist sources and the Indian media, it is possible to estimate the number of radicalised youths. Various media reports have put the number of such youths in scores, up to 300. It appears definitive that nearly 50 Indian jihadists are based in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. As long as jihadism in Pakistan survives, India will continue to face threats. Arif Jamal, a New York-based author, recently warned that the global jihadism has expanded to three poles: Nigeria, Iraq-Syria and Pakistan-Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, an erroneous belief is held by Indian government leaders that not talking publicly about radicalisation in India could curb jihadism. India is a free society, deriving its strengths from openness and law. This strength can work only in a public way, when media and citizens debate the causes and extent of radicalisation. It is also essential that while pushing Pakistan for justice in the 26/11 case, India must deliver time-bound trial of terror cases on its soil, including the 2007 Samjhauta Express case. A dysfunctional India cannot be a great republic. Authoritarian systems like China and Saudi Arabia can crush the jihadists, but being a free society means that India has an additional task: to catch the jihadists as well as to protect their rights guaranteed under the Constitution, the source of liberty for Indians. – The New Indian Express, 20 December 2014

» Tufail Ahmad author is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

Tamil Muslim youth in ISIS t-shirts: Is this the future for India?

Peshawar massacre consistent with Prophet Muhammad’s teaching, says Pakistan Taliban – Ahmar Mustikhan

Umar Khurasani  (Omar Khalid Khorasani)

Six Taliban Child Killers

Prophet Muhammad“Umar Khurasani insisted the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan followed what he called sunnat, or actions of Prophet Muhammad during wars. He said those who are saying the Peshawar attack was un-Islamic should read Sahih al-Bukhari, 5th Volume, Hadith No. 138.” – Ahmar Mustikhan

The Islamic terrorist outfit that carried out the bloodiest school massacre in world history Wednesday defended its action as being in line with what Prophet Muhammad, who Muslims believe was the last messenger of God, did with his enemies 1400 years ago. “At the time of the Bannu Qurayza massacre, Prophet Muhammad ordered only those children be killed whose pubic hairs have appeared,” said Umar Khurasani [Omar Khalid Khorasani], spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Bannu Qurayza was a Jewish tribe that lived in present day Medina. Islamic history texts confirm 800 men and boys and one woman of the Qurayza tribe were beheaded. “Killing of children and women is according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad; those who are objecting should study Sahih al-Bukhari,” Khurasani said. Khurasani insisted the TTP followed what he called sunnat, or actions of Prophet Muhammad during wars. He said those who are saying the Peshawar attack was un-Islamic should read Sahih al-Bukhari, 5th Volume, Hadith No. 138. Bukhari is considered to be one of the most authentic books on what Prophet Muhammad said and did during his lifetime. The TTP statement coincided with the television interview of Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric at the Lal Mosque in Islamabad, who flatly refused to condemn the Peshawar attack during a television talk. But he did acknowledge the jihadists were prepared by Islamabad for jihad in Kashmir.

Maulana FazlullahMany Pakistanis also noted with concern that none of the Arab countries uttered a single word of condemnation against the Peshawar attacks. Islam was first transported to what is now Pakistan and India by Arab marauders. “Pakistan buried 132 children. It failed a generation. The world mourns these Angels, but am waiting for that one ‘leader’ with a conscience to ask where are statements, vigils, condolences from the bloody Arabs!?” said Pakistani journalist Reema Abbasi, who authored Historic Temples in Pakistan: A call to conscience. Leaders in India, world’s largest democracy, which faces terror attacks from Pakistan on almost a daily basis in Kashmir, condemned the terror attack. “My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain & offer our deepest condolences,” Indian premier Narendra Modi tweeted. India’s home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar. I express my condolences to those families.” Likewise, Indian government spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted, “Our hearts go out to the grief-stricken families of the innocent Peshawar School Massacre 2014children killed & injured in this barbaric attack in Peshawar.” However, since Pakistan is a roguish state in nature that nurtures global jihadists, a man with a $10 million bounty on his head and who works closely with Pakistan’s infamous Inter-Services Intelligence, Hafiz Saeed Ahmed, termed the attack a conspiracy of the Indian government. “If India can send troops to Afghanistan to help the US, then Mujahideen have every right to go to Kashmir and help their brethren. Kashmiris are clamouring for help and it is our duty to respond to their call,” Saeed was cited as saying in a report in the First Post. Wednesday Pakistan’s former coup leader India-born Gen Pervez Musharraf, in an interview with CNN, also blamed India along with Afghanistan for the terror attack. To the chagrin of many intellectuals in India and Pakistan, Musharraf, who started the Kargil war with India in 1999, was invited for delivering talks in India during the previous Congress government.

Hussain HaqqaniMeanwhile, Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani envoy to the U.S., who almost got killed by the ISI for allegedly issuing visas to Americans who tracked down bin Laden next door to Pakistan’s West Point, in an article in The Indian Express expressed hoped that the Pakistan premier spy service and the military which he called “deep establishment” would rethink their policy and move in a new direction. He said the Inter-Services Intelligence might feel reassured by commitments from the Haqqani Network, Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba / Jamaat-ud-Dawa to not conduct militant operations inside Pakistan. “But there is no guarantee that these instruments of regional influence would not, in turn, support groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban,” Haqqani said. – Examiner, 17 December 2014

Ahmar Mustikhan» Ahmar Mustikhan is a journalist of long-standing from Balochistan, now residing in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. In his professional career, he has worked for leading newspaper groups in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Muhammad kills Jews of Medina

India must pay attention to the message from Burdwan – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“As part of its post-2014 plan, the ISI got Al-Zawahiri to announce the establishment of Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS). Al-Qaeda is a branch of the Pakistani military. … Though led by Arab militants, Al-Qaeda was created and nurtured in Pakistan, spread to the Middle East from Pakistan and its central leadership remains protected by Pakistan. The AQIS is advancing the ISI’s post-2014 strategy. It has declared its objective to establish an Islamic caliphate from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and beyond by erasing international borders created by the British. So, the Wagah border has become a new jihadist target.” – Tufail Ahmad

Wagah Border BlastErroneously, the jihadist bloodshed in Pakistan is being seen by Indian analysts as Pakistan’s problem. After the November 2 bombing at Wagah, an Indian official described it as “a fallout of schisms within the Pakistani apparatus”, planned to cause a rift between Islamabad and Delhi. In an editorial, a leading newspaper dubbed it as “an existential threat to Pakistan” and a “warning for Pakistan”. A blogger bought into the argument that the attack was a revenge for the Pakistani army’s Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan. Contrary to this, the jihadist bloodshed wreaking Pakistan is no longer Pakistan’s problem. It is an Indian problem—and this is what the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) wants to achieve.

There are historical templates. One, over the past few years, protests in Kashmir Valley were presented in the media as Kashmiris’ struggle against human rights violations by the Indian army. However, there is a clue in the nature of the protests: these were based on the template of the Palestinian intifada, borrowed and executed by Pakistan. Two, in the late-1980s when the Afghan jihad was at its peak and the Soviets were set to quit, the ISI conceived its next jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. It led to over two decades of violence that the Indian army had to fight, contain and curtail at costs to its professional image. Three, after the 9/11 attacks delegitimised the Kashmir jihad, the ISI created the Indian Mujahideen to take the fight to the heart of India. This, too, has been mostly contained by Indian intelligence agencies.

Rizwan AkhtarFour, a few years ago, when the US announced to the jihadis that it would quit Afghanistan by 2014-end, the ISI began executing its next jihad, whose symptoms are becoming visible. In early September, Asmatullah Muawiya, the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab, declared ceasefire against Pakistan. The fact: the ISI convinced him to focus on Afghanistan. Muawiya’s ceasefire was followed by reports that he would work with the Haqqani Network of the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar. That the ISI nurtures jihadists became evident when Pakistan army allowed militant commanders to move to Kurram Agency before launching the Zarb-e-Azb operation.

Compliant Taliban commanders like Khan Saeed Sajna stayed in North Waziristan during the operation. Leading Taliban commander Adnan Rasheed, who was captured in neighbouring South Waziristan, was quickly released by the ISI. If you are wondering why, know also this: the ISI shifted him from Rawalpindi prison to Bannu jail and got him freed in an attack orchestrated through the Taliban in 2012. These commanders, including Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, are working under Mullah Mohammad Omar, who is protected by the ISI, which protected Osama bin Laden. Also, the Zarb-e-Azb operation was organised to have the US release blocked funds to Pakistani army.

In September, as part of its post-2014 plan, the ISI got Al-Zawahiri to announce the establishment of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Al-Qaeda is a branch of the Pakistani military, a duality perplexing to young readers of Pakistan. Though led by Arab militants, Al-Qaeda was created and nurtured in Pakistan, spread to the Middle East from Pakistan and its central leadership remains protected by Pakistan. The AQIS is Burdwan Blastadvancing the ISI’s post-2014 strategy. It has declared its objective to establish an Islamic caliphate from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and beyond by erasing international borders created by the British. So, the Wagah border has become a new jihadist target.

It is a template borrowed from Pakistani intellectual traditions. From their early days through the 1980s, Pakistani leaders thought of establishing a sphere of Islamic influence from Pakistan through Afghanistan to Central Asia. The ISI is implanting this template eastward. The Wagah attack connects with Burdwan, where young Muslim women and men were being given arms training till October 2 when accidental blasts exposed everything. Bangla-language Al-Qaeda literature found in Burdwan advocated setting up of an Islamic caliphate covering Bangladesh and bordering districts of West Bengal.

For now, India faces no threat from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria of a magnitude it can’t deal with, argued national security adviser Ajit Doval on October 21. Indeed, India must not wait for the problem to reach any magnitude. But officials in West Bengal did wait for the problem to acquire a magnitude. Much like during the pre-9/11 years when Britain tolerated the existence of today’s jihadist forces in the name of anti-colonial politics, Bangladeshi jihadists found a liberal, secular and hospitable environment in West Bengal to hide, plan and grow. Such a tolerating environment, unavailable in Bangladesh, was easily available in India. Both the Burdwan developments and the Wagah attack originate from the ISI’s post-2014 strategy. The Taliban, the AQIS and Jama’at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh are parts of this strategy. Doval also remarked: “There is nothing (like a) big or small threat. It is not on the basis of geography, but on the basis of the groups.” Just keep in mind: in the jihadists’ imagination, geography and hijrah (migration) do matter a lot. Hijrah denotes Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Madina to establish the first Islamic state. It’s a vital reason why Indian Muslims went to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in recent years.

Raheel SharifHere is how the ISI hides its own role in jihad and insulates Pakistan’s army. After the Wagah attack, it got the Khorasani-led Taliban to say it was a revenge for Zarb-e-Azb operation. After each turbulence in India-Pakistan ties, Pakistani journalists parrot this line: the army chief does not want to get involved in it. To insulate Pakistan’s army from global criticism after the Wagah attack, the ISI got a Christian couple burnt alive, successfully diverting public opinion. In recent years, Pakistan was globally criticised for its role in the 26/11 attacks. The message from Burdwan: have Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s assassination executed from Indian soil—fundamentally an ISI plan—so that India stops blaming Pakistan for the 26/11 attacks. – The New Indian Express, 10 November 2014

» Tufail Ahmad is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

Canada in total denial on terror attack – Madhav Nalapat

Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa, October 22, 2014.

Prof M.D. Nalapat“Terrorists do not simply come out of nowhere, but are nurtured by support groups having the same purpose. However, try telling this to Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, whose men are insistent that the shooter in the 23 October incident was another of those singletons, coming as if from nowhere. In fact, the terrorist would have had a support network, which identified him, indoctrinated him and motivated him into carrying out his act.” – Prof Madhav Nalapat

Taj Mahal HotelAfter the 26/11 attackers came ashore in Mumbai and caused havoc for three days in the city, damaging India’s reputation as a country skilled in counter-terrorism, the Manmohan Singh government at first declined to name the ISI as being behind the outrage, and claimed that there was no local involvement in the attacks. This was in the face of information that the Chabad House had been reconnoitred by local associates of the Al Qaeda groups patronised by the Pakistan army, and that an informer had even managed to worm his way into the confidence of the young Jewish couple, Rivka and Gavriel Holzberg, who were murdered by the 26/11 killers. As Amartya Sen has constantly reminded the world, ours is a talkative society, and had the government listened to voices other than the “usual sources” relied upon by intelligence agencies, they may have come across traces of the way in which a very few inhabitants of the city were visiting Chabad House, ostensibly to discuss the finer points of inter-faith dialogue with the idealistic young couple staying in the centre with their child, Moshe, who fortunately escaped the murderers of his parents in a miracle made possible by his Indian nanny. No effort was made by the local police to investigate those who visited Chabad House or to check the internet surfing and meeting habits of such individuals to determine whether they could have been informers for the 26/11 killers. Any local connection would have reflected poorly on the city police; hence that agency was diligent in placing the entire blame on the Pakistani teams, who had come ashore that day, an official view which still persists.

Stephen HarperThe “Lone Wolf” theory of terror attacks has been in vogue across the globe, but in all except a very small number of cases, this is about as credible as Pervez Musharraf‘s assertion that Abdul Qadeer Khan ran a nuke bazaar on his own, without the involvement of the Pakistan army and other sections of that country’s establishment. It is another matter that the US continues to protect Islamabad, by not making public information on the A.Q. Khan network that is in its possession, or indeed any except the barest details of the trove of materiel found in Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad. Terrorists do not simply come out of nowhere, but are nurtured by support groups having the same purpose. However, try telling this to Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, whose men are insistent that the shooter in the 23 October incident was another of those singletons, coming as if from nowhere. In fact, the terrorist would have had a support network, which identified him, indoctrinated him and motivated him into carrying out his act. That another so-called “Lone Wolf” killed a military officer a short while earlier by running over him seems to have been ignored as a clue pointing to a wider conspiracy. Television channels claim that each such deed is sans any orders from recognised terror organisations, but in saying so, they forget that key organisations have publicly called for sympathisers to carry out such terror attacks. In all probability, the still-concealed support network of the Canadian shooter may be the recipient not simply of appreciation but of much more as a consequence of their motivating another psychotic young person into committing a terrorist act, and each group or individual in contact with the shooter needs to be monitored for sudden inflows or suspicious calls, if the domestic and international support group which nurtured this killer is to be exposed rather than denied.

Jihadi with AK 47 and KoranWhen ISIS declared its “caliphate”, this columnist wrote that the intention was to acquire (a wholly undeserved) legitimacy across the globe, particularly within the GCC, so that malcontents would join up and thereby (in their minds) redeem themselves or finally be part of a titanic endeavour. Such was the psychology which drew millions of Germans — not otherwise known for their lack of rationality — into signing up with Hitler, who promised the same level of hate and brutality which ISIS does. This is 1923 in the evolution of ISIS, and the world needs to avoid another occupation of the Rhineland, the stage when the Nazis became too strong to defeat without prodigious effort. The killer of 23 October is a strand in the cords which form ISIS, and to isolate this virus and destroy it, every possible strand needs to be located and dealt with, rather than allow the world to pretend, Stephen Harper style, that mass murderers within a cult (whether the Nazis or ISIS) do what they do independent of others. – The Sunday Guardian,  26 October 2014

» Prof M. D. Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.

The closet Stephen Harper hid in during attack on Canadian Parliament

In this photo provided by Conservative MP Nina Grewal, members of Parliament barricade themselves in a meeting room on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, after shots were fired in the building. A gunman with a scarf over his face shot to death a Canadian soldier standing guard at the nation's war memorial Wednesday, then stormed Parliament in a hail of gunfire before he was killed by the usually ceremonial sergeant-at-arms, authorities and witnesses said. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nina Grewal)

Islamist terrorist kills Canadian soldier

Al-Wahhab the mad mullah of Islamic terrorism and his Saudi patrons – Javed Anand

Javed Anand“Because of his extremism, al-Wahhab was driven out of Iraq and later had to flee the town of his birth, Uyainah. Then he found an ally and protector in Muhammad bin Saud, a small-time but politically ambitious local ruler from the Saudi clan in neighbouring Diriyah. In 1741, the two entered into a “win-win” relationship. Al-Wahhab bestowed religious legitimacy on Saud, who in turn would forcibly impose the former’s ultra-radical theology as the “only true” Islam on all Muslims.” – Javed Anand

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-SheikhIn his Haj sermon on October 4 to the nearly two million Muslim pilgrims from across the globe assembled in Mecca, the Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, proclaimed that the killing of innocent human beings is the worst fitna (strife) and is strictly forbidden in Islam. Moving on from the general to the specific, he described the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the “enemy number one” of Islam and humanity.

Sounds good, but it’s hardly good enough. Along with some other Sunni-majority Muslim countries in the region, Saudi Arabia is now part of the US-led coalition ostensibly committed to “degrading” and “destroying” the very monster they had until recently collectively nurtured in Syria and Iraq. Given the long-standing, mutually legitimising relationship between the Saudi royal family and the country’s ulema, the Grand Mufti’s belated discovery of Islam’s message of peace and the denunciation of the ISIS was only to be expected.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-WahhabBut it does not address the uncomfortable question Muslims, including many from within the Arab world, are asking: How can those who are part of the problem be part of the solution? Who can deny that the Saudi royalty and clergy on one hand, and the ISIS on the other, are part of the same theo-genetic pool as they all draw inspiration from the same “Shaikhul Islam”, Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab?

The story goes back to the 18th century. Al-Wahhab was born in a family of Muslim theologians in Uyainah, a small town in the Najd region of Arabia. He grew up into a manic monotheist determined to root out what to him were the illicit innovations, heretical and idolatrous practices that had crept into Muslim practice. He enunciated a version of Islam that was puritanical, rigid, inflexible, intolerant, violent.

Al-Wahhab had a simple solution for Muslims who did not subscribe to his militant theology: they should be killed, their daughters and wives enslaved, their property confiscated. “You will see much evil from my son Muhammad,” his own father, a recognised orthodox Sunni scholar, , is reported to have lamented shortly before his death.

Because of his extremism, al-Wahhab was driven out of Iraq and later had to flee the town of his birth, Uyainah. Then he found an ally and protector in Muhammad bin Saud, a small-time but politically ambitious local ruler from the Saudi clan in neighbouring Diriyah. In 1741, the two entered into a “win-win” relationship. Al-Wahhab bestowed religious legitimacy on Saud, who in turn would forcibly impose the former’s ultra-radical theology as the “only true” Islam on all Muslims.

The arrangement yielded rich political dividends; a local fiefdom grew into a state. By 1790, the fanatics had captured most of the Arabian Peninsula where Shias and Sufis were the worst victims. Muslims in the newly conquered areas were given an option: swear allegiance to Wahhabi Islam or face the sword. In 1801, the holy city of Karbala in Iraq was attacked, several thousand Shia Muslim men, women and children were butchered, many shrines, including that of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, were destroyed.

The holy cities of Mecca and Medina too were targeted, citizens terrorised, historic monuments and shrines razed to the ground. The terror campaign ended only in 1815, when on behalf of the Ottomans the Egyptians crushed the Saudi-Wahhabi forces. Three years later, the Ottomans destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Diriyah.

Ibn SaudA century later, as the Ottoman Empire collapsed in the midst of World War I, the Saudi-Wahhabi coalition led by Abd-al Aziz (Ibn Saud) made a dramatic comeback, capturing Mecca, Medina and Jeddah between 1914 and 1926. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 with Abd al-Aziz as its reigning monarch. (It’s the only country in the world that is named after a single clan). The astute king realised that the 20th century world was very different from the 18th one (when the first Saudi state was founded). Recognising the need to woo the new world powers, the US and UK, he redefined Wahhabism. The “new” Wahhabism would retain its arid, puritanical, ultra-orthodox, rigid, intolerant, “true Islam” strain. But it would abandon its earlier Jacobin-like reign of terror and mutate instead into an ideology of Islamist supremacism.

Ibn Saud’s “revisionism” brought him into headlong confrontation with the purists who were crushed with brute force. Those willing to see the light were co-opted into the new doctrine.

In due course, with the discovery of oil, the Saudi rulers switched to the use of soft power in a bid to “Wahhabise” Islam. In recent decades, it has poured billions of petro-dollars into Muslim quarters across the globe (India included), seeking to destroy the reality of a diverse faith and replacing it with a single intolerant, supremacist creed.

For millions of Muslims across the world, the seemingly benign Saudi Wahhabism is bad enough. But for those who still remember and revere its theological founder, Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab, it is not good enough. Among the latter is the ISIS and its numerous followers, not only in Iraq and Syria but in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and elsewhere too.

Abul A'la MaududiThis takes us back to where this column began. The ISIS is not a foreign object that can be purged through a simple surgery. It’s a cancerous growth within the theo-genetic make-up of Wahhabi doctrine. In its savagery and brutality, the ISIS is only acting strictly in accordance with the teachings and practice of al-Wahhab who enjoyed the active political support of the founder of the first Saudi state.

To effectively counter the ISIS and sundry other violent Islamist outfits, Saudi Arabia and Muslims elsewhere must question the three modern-day ideologues of political Islam: al-Wahhab (Arabia), Syed Qutb (Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt), Abul A’la Maududi (Jamaat-e-Islami, Indian subcontinent). One way or another, the world-view of Muslims still hallucinating about khilafat (caliphate), shariat (Islamic law), jihad and shahadat (martyrdom) can be traced back to one or the other of these worthies.

When you have a problem tree in the orchard, chopping branches won’t help. Get to the roots of the problem. – Deccan Chronicle, 15 October 2014

» Javed Anand is the General Secretary of Muslims for Secular Democracy. He is not a friend of Hindus or Hindutva but he writes a good history of Wahhabi Islam not found elsewhere.

ISIS flags and stone throwing in Kashmir

ISIS in Kashmir

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