Dolkun Isa visa affair has left India red-faced – Kanchan Gupta

Kanchan Gupta“As in Tibet, Beijing has been trying to suppress and crush Uyghur nationalism and separatism through its triple policy of overwhelming force, sly co-option and massive resettlement, though not necessarily in that order. Inducements of office and power are offered to Uyghurs willing to collaborate with Beijing.” – Kanchan Gupta

In this era of e-activism which does not require activists, both wannabe and genuine, to march through streets in blistering heat or biting cold, social media has become the barricades of our times.

Consequently, to man the barricades has come to mean to rush to the keyboard and post your protest (or defence) on Twitter or Facebook.

You don’t chant rhyming slogans like “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, We shall fight and we shall win”; you coin hashtags and make them trend—nationally and globally.

Dolkun IsaConference

And so it came to pass that when news first broke of India granting a visa to Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa for attending a conference on China at Dharamsala, excited supporters and e-activists of the BJP reached for their keyboards to wave the flag and heap praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Soon, the hashtag #ModiSlapsChina was trending, fetching further excited chatter. It would seem this was the moment India was waiting for since the humiliation of 1962; the moment for revenge and redemption.

Few, if any, among those cheering the Modi government would have had heard of Dolkun Isa before this, or known of him as the Uyghur dissident who lives in exile in Germany and is believed to hold a German passport. Isa heads the World Uyghur Congress which has been campaigning for the rights of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.

As in Tibet, Beijing has been trying to suppress and crush Uyghur nationalism and separatism through its triple policy of overwhelming force, sly co-option and massive resettlement, though not necessarily in that order. Inducements of office and power are offered to Uyghurs willing to collaborate with Beijing.

There are some takers, but the vast majority rejects China’s repressive rule and abhors the Han Chinese who have been ferried in as settlers with the aim of changing the demography of the province.

Over the decades, Beijing has modulated its position on Tibetan separatists. They are now called “splittists”. This is largely because little remains of the country the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 to seek shelter in India.

Compared to Tibet, Xinjiang is a different story. The indigenous Uyghur population, of Turkic extract, has refused to be bludgeoned into submission. Beneath the turbulent surface simmers fierce hate.

What has fuelled Muslim separatism is the global rise of jihadist Islamism. Beijing claims the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement, affiliated to al Qaeda, is behind the ethno-religious uprising by “terrorists”.

Dolkun Isa is accused by China of being a “terrorist” who uses his perch in Europe to mobilise funds and arms for Uyghur separatism. The accusation may be entirely untrue, but in the past other separatists have used liberal Europe’s shelter to mobilise resources for armed insurrection. Given this reality, it becomes difficult to scoff at China’s claim and accusation.

Masood AzharBut that is precisely what New Delhi was perceived as having done in response to China blocking India’s move at the UN Security Council (UNSC) to secure sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar who plotted and executed the Pathankot attack.

In the past, China has restrained India’s hand on Hafiz Saeed and his lieutenants in Lashkar-e-Taiba by invoking its right to block. Worse, China justified the protection it extended to Azhar by lecturing India on the need to be good friends with Pakistan, pretending its deed was that of a well-wisher, when in reality it was akin to sprinkling salt on India’s wound.

It’s this backdrop that made the visa for Dolkun Isa a big issue: India had done unto China what China had done unto India, or so the hashtag nationalists believed and proclaimed.

For more than a week the narrative gathered steam and the #ModiSlapsChina balloon grew bigger by the day. Oped-ists rushed in with their two-penny views. Foreign affairs analysts agonised over possible fallouts of a Modi-Xi clash.

The lusty cheers of e-activists grew into a cacophony of nationalist slogans. The barricades shook and looked as if their collapse under the force of Right triumphalism was imminent.

Protest

Then the least expected happened. The visa (it turned out to be an e-visa meant for tourists) was withdrawn. This was done after China lodged its protest with India for giving a visa to a “wanted terrorist” and pointed out that there was a “red corner” notice mandating Isa’s arrest if he were to arrive at an Indian port.

There were various explanations credited to unnamed sources on why the visa was cancelled: that Dolkun Isa could not have attended the Dharamsala conference with a tourist visa; that as a responsible country India could not have allowed unhindered travel to a person against whom there is a “red corner” notice; and, that it was never a considered decision to spite China by thumbing our collective nose at that country.

Interpol Notice LogosThese are lame excuses. A realistic explanation would be this was yet another halfway house act of standing up to China (or the mighty US and even puny Pakistan, for that matter).

When push came to shove, India, as always, meekly allowed itself to be shoved. The only other explanation would be this is another instance of two key ministries, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs, not knowing what the other is up to.

Mystery

Either way it remains a mystery as to why the #ModiSlapsChina narrative was allowed to build up to a virtual point of no return. It also remains unexplained why India would feel constrained to issue a visa to a German national against whom China bears a grudge. We can be pretty sure China would not reciprocate in a similar manner.

Nor did China pillory the US for ignoring the “red corner” notice while opening its doors to Dolkun Isa. Foreign policy is largely about pushing, promoting and securing the national interest. And what is in the national interest is often bereft of moral principles, ethical niceties and obligations to the world at large. It is silly to even remotely suggest that India should play by the rulebook while dealing with China.

Sadly, the whole messy affair over the visa for Dolkun Isa suggests those who should be playing a crafty power game to push India’s national interest are either incapable of craftiness or simply gutless. Yet they are happy to ride the tide of hashtag nationalism till the tide recedes and a new one rolls in, this time bearing the hashtag #ChinaSlapsIndia. – Daily-O, 29 April 2016

» Kanchan Gupta is a popular columnist who writes on national and regional politics, international affairs and security issues.

Dolkun Isa Visa

The Tulsi Gabbard Interview – Manu Balachandran

Tulsi Gabbard & Narendra Modi in New York (28 September 2014)

Manu Balachandran“[Tulsi Gabbard is] one of the first two female combat veterans elected to US Congress and also its first Hindu and first American Samoan representative. … And this week, the 34-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii reminded everyone of it, as she broke ranks with the Democratic party establishment and relinquished her post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 29 to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.” –  Manu Balachandran

Tulsi GabbardWashington has no shortage of politicians struggling to be seen as a maverick. But Tulsi Gabbard isn’t one of them.

As one of the first two female combat veterans elected to US Congress and also its first Hindu and first American Samoan representative, she wears the label quite easily. And this week, the 34-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii reminded everyone of it, as she broke ranks with the Democratic party establishment and relinquished her post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 29 to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. (Her role with the DNC, the party’s governing body, would have required [her] to stay neutral in the election.)

Described last October by the Washington Post as “the Democrat that Republicans love and the DNC can’t control,” Gabbard offered a sample of her independent streak a year ago, when she spoke out of sync with her fellow Democrats and criticized US president Barack Obama’s handling of Islamic extremism—specifically over his unwillingness to brand ISIL an “Islamic” group. “[Obama] is completely missing the point of this radical Islamic ideology that’s fueling these people,” Gabbard told Fox News last February.

Her viewpoint on this subject is all the more notable given her military experience in the Middle East, where she served in a field medical unit in Iraq and was a trainer for the Kuwait National Guard.

Speaking at a fundraising event for the BJP in August 2014, where she articulated the plight of Hindus around the world who have suffered persecution, Gabbard said that Modi’s election victory was only possible because “people stood up, one by one by one by one, and said we will demand that this change occurs.”

In September 2014, the new Indian prime minister made it a point to meet Gabbard following his historic post-election speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden. And the congresswoman gave Modi a gift—a copy of the Bhagwad Gita that she swore by when elected to office—and assured him of her support for a Modi pet project of declaring an International Yoga day.

“We had a wide-ranging discussion on several issues our countries have in common, including how America and India can work together to help combat the global threat posed by Islamic extremism,” Gabbard said after the meeting.

With Modi set to stay in power until 2019, and Sanders doing better than expected in the Democratic primaries (or at least was up until March 1, when Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton handily won key states like Texas and Virginia in the “Super Tuesday” state contests), it can’t hurt the BJP and India to have a friend like Gabbard in the US.

On March 2, Gabbard answered questions from Quartz via email about her support of Modi, her approach to Hinduism, and the connection she draws between Islam and terrorism. The transcript below has been condensed and lightly edited:

Quartz: Could you tell us about your reasons for supporting the BJP and Narendra Modi, and why you referred to him being denied a visa as a “great blunder”?

Tulsi Gabbard: There are many different areas and sectors where the United States and India’s growing friendship can cover mutually beneficial ground such as defense, renewable energy, bilateral trade, and global environmental concerns such as climate change. Modi impressed me as a person who cares deeply about these issues and as a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere.

It is very important that the US and India have a strong relationship of mutual respect. The denial of a visa to prime minister Modi could have undermined that relationship had he used it as an excuse to reject having a strong bilateral relationships with America. This would have been bad for both of our countries. For many reasons—not the least of which is the war against terrorists—the relationship between India and America is very important.

QZ: You took on the US president for his reluctance to name ISIS as an Islamic extremist group. Do you still stand by this criticism?

TG: In order to defeat the terrorists who have declared war on the United States and the rest of the world, we need to understand their ideology. In other words, the war can’t be won just militarily. We must defeat them in the ideological war, not just on the battlefield. In order to defeat their ideology, we need to recognize what their ideology is.

The ideology of these terrorists is “Islamism.” It is a radical political ideology of violent jihad aimed at bringing about an establishment of a totalitarian society governed by a particular interpretation of Islam as state law. Referring to terrorists as “Islamist extremists” is simply an accurate way to identify ISIS and other Islamist extremist organizations whose ideology is rooted in one form of Islamism or another.

The majority of Muslims are practicing the spiritual path of Islam within their own lives in a pluralistic, peaceful way. So by calling organizations like ISIS Islamic or Islamist extremists [emphasis hers], we are making a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and a handful of those who are.

QZ: How much of that sentiment is influenced by your experience serving in the military in the Middle East, versus your interest in Hindu/Muslim conflicts in India?

TG: My experience serving in the Middle East has shaped many of my views. This has nothing to do with any “Hindus/Muslim” conflict in India or anywhere else. It comes from the understanding that in order to defeat the terrorists who have declared war on the United States and the rest of the world, we need to understand their ideology.

My two deployments in the Middle East reinforced the fundamental military wisdom that you can’t defeat an enemy if you don’t understand him. We cannot win this war if we do not understand our enemy’s goals, [or the] ideology that inspires them and fuels their recruitment propaganda. And the first step to understanding an enemy is correctly identifying him in a way that makes clear his ideology.

QZ: You referred to the suffering of Hindu minorities across the world, in a speech you gave during a fundraiser attended by some of the top leaders of the BJP. Do you think that in India there exists a similar situation?

TG: Throughout the world, Hindus are victims of discrimination. Recently, a Hindu priest in Bangladesh was brutally hacked to death by ISIS terrorists and two others were injured trying to help him. Unfortunately, even in the United States, as well as different pockets of India, such discrimination exists.

While there is no doubt there is some discrimination directed toward different “religious minorities” in India, throughout India you will find Muslims, Christians, and people of all kinds of religions free to practice their faith. However, you will not find this degree of tolerance or openness in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or other Muslim countries. In fact, if you are not a member of the government-approved religion in those countries, it is government policy that you will be punished and discriminated against. To my knowledge, this does not exist in India. However, if India were to enact government policies that punish their citizens simply for being of a “minority religion,” I would condemn that action.

The essence of the Hinduism that I practice is karma yoga and bhakti yoga, which means to love God and all [emphasis hers] of His children, regardless of their race, religion, etc., and to use my life working for the well-being of everyone.

QZ: A report in The Telegraph, an Indian newspaper, referred to you as the mascot for the right-wing RSS in India. How do you respond to that? Do you think that is true and would you like to be associated with the RSS?

TG: Both in India and here in the US, I have held meetings with members of both the BJP and the Congress Party. As a member of the US Congress, my interest is in helping produce a closer relationship between the United States and India, not just between the United States and one political party of India.

I have no affiliation with the RSS. Sometimes people on both sides, for their own purposes, try to say I somehow favor, or am part, of the BJP or take photos of me at Indian events and circulate them for their own promotional reasons. But the fact is, I’m not partial to BJP, the Congress Party, or any other particular political party in India.

QZ: Some media reports suggest that you seem to be supporting the Indian diaspora, mostly because they are huge contributors to your campaign, especially with your Hindu identity. How do you respond?

TG: Through my election to Congress and my swearing in on Bhagavad-gita, those in the national media, my colleagues in Congress, and regular Americans across the country have all been very respectful, and even proud of America’s diversity. I assume the reason Hindus all across the country have been so supportive of me, is because when they see me, they see the potential for themselves and their sons and daughters.

There are many Hindus in America who feel they need to convert to Christianity or take “Christian” names if they or their children are to succeed in this country. I have found that simply being the first Hindu elected in Congress has been liberating to so many because it shows that every American, regardless of their background, race, or religion, has the opportunity serve our community in any capacity he or she may choose. – Quartz, 3 March 2016. The introduction to this interview has been abridged. 

» Manu Balachandran is a writer for Quartz in New Delhi. 

Ban Ki-Moon & Tulsi Gabbard: The International Day of Yoga is being celebrated around the World following recognition by the United Nations General Assembly of the holistic benefits of the ancient Indian practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the UN. United Nations, New York, USA (June 21 2015)

See also

Pakistan’s hand in the rise of international jihad – Carlotta Gall

Child terrorists training in Pakistan

Carlotta Gall“Pakistan is intervening in a number of foreign conflicts. Its intelligence service has long acted as the manager of international mujahedeen forces, many of them Sunni extremists. … Pakistan was cooperating with Qatar … to move international Sunni jihadists … from Pakistan’s tribal areas … to new battlefields in Syria. It is just another reminder of Pakistan’s central involvement in creating and managing violent jihadist groups. … Perhaps most troubling, there are reports that Pakistan had a role in the rise of the Islamic State.” – Carlotta Gall

Ashraf GhaniPresident Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has warned in several recent interviews that unless peace talks with Pakistan and the Taliban produce results in the next few months, his country may not survive 2016. Afghanistan is barely standing, he says, after the Taliban onslaught last year, which led to the highest casualties among civilians and security forces since 2001.

“How much worse will it get?” Mr. Ghani asked in a recent television interview. “It depends on how much regional cooperation we can secure, and how much international mediation and pressure can be exerted to create rules of the game between states.”

What he means is it depends on how much international pressure can be brought to bear on Pakistan to cease its aggression.

Critics of the Afghan leadership say it’s not Pakistan’s fault that its neighbor is falling apart. They point to the many internal failings of the Afghan government: political divisions, weak institutions, warlords and corruption.

But experts have found a lot of evidence that Pakistan facilitated the Taliban offensive. The United States and China have been asking Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to make peace, but Afghanistan argues that Islamabad has done nothing to rein in the Taliban, and if anything has encouraged it to raise the stakes in hopes of gaining influence in any power-sharing agreement.

Pakistan flag waver in SrinigarThis behavior is not just an issue for Afghanistan. Pakistan is intervening in a number of foreign conflicts. Its intelligence service has long acted as the manager of international mujahedeen forces, many of them Sunni extremists, and there is even speculation that it may have been involved in the rise of the Islamic State.

The latest Taliban offensive began in 2014. United States and NATO forces were winding down their operations in Afghanistan and preparing to withdraw when Pakistan decided, after years of prevarication, to clear Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from their sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal area of North Waziristan.

The operation was certainly a serious endeavor—Taliban bases, torture chambers and ammunition dumps were busted, town bazaars were razed and over one million civilians were displaced.

But the militants were tipped off early, and hundreds escaped, tribesmen and Taliban fighters said. Many fled over the border to Afghanistan, just at the vulnerable moment when Afghanistan was assuming responsibility for its own security. Ninety foreign fighters with their families arrived in Paktika Province that summer, to the alarm of Afghan officials.

Further along the border in Paktika Province, Taliban fighters occupied abandoned C.I.A. bases and outposts. A legislator from the region warned me that they would use the positions to project attacks deeper into Afghanistan and even up to Kabul. Some of the most devastating suicide bomb attacks occurred in that province in the months that followed.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the Haqqani network, the most potent branch of the Taliban, moved from North Waziristan into the adjacent district of Kurram. From there it continues to enjoy safe haven and conduct its insurgency against American, international and Afghan targets.

Pakistan regards Afghanistan as its backyard. Determined not to let its archrival, India, gain influence there, and to ensure that Afghanistan remains in the Sunni Islamist camp, Pakistan has used the Taliban selectively, promoting those who further its agenda and cracking down on those who don’t. The same goes for Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters.

Even knowing this, it might come as a surprise that the region’s triumvirate of violent jihad is living openly in Pakistan.

Sirajuddin HaqqaniFirst, there’s Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, and second in command of the Taliban. He moves freely around Pakistan, and has even visited the Pakistani intelligence headquarters of the Afghan campaign in Rawalpindi.

Then there is the new leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, who has openly assembled meetings of his military and leadership council near the Pakistani town of Quetta. Since he came to power last year, the Taliban has mounted some of its most ambitious offensives into Afghanistan, overrunning the northern town of Kunduz, and pushing to seize control of the opium-rich province of Helmand.

Akhtar MansourFinally, Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan—one recent report placed him in the southwestern corner of Baluchistan. He has been working to establish training camps in southern Afghanistan. In October, it took United States Special Operations forces several days of fighting and airstrikes to clear those camps. American commanders say the group they were fighting was Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, a new franchise announced by Mr. Zawahri that has claimed responsibility for the killings of bloggers and activists in Karachi and Bangladesh, among other attacks.

Ayman al-ZawahiriPakistan denies harboring the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and points out that it, too, is a victim of terrorism. But many analysts have detailed how the military has nurtured Islamist militant groups as an instrument to suppress nationalist movements, in particular among the Pashtun minority, at home and abroad.

Perhaps most troubling, there are reports that Pakistan had a role in the rise of the Islamic State.

Ahead of Pakistan’s 2014 operation in North Waziristan, scores, even hundreds, of foreign fighters left the tribal areas to fight against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Tribesmen and Taliban members from the area say fighters traveled to Quetta, and then flew to Qatar. There they received new passports and passage to Turkey, from where they could cross into Syria. Others traveled overland along well-worn smuggling routes from Pakistan through Iran and Iraq.

The fighters arrived just in time to boost the sweeping offensive by ISIS into Iraq and the creation of the Islamic State in the summer of 2014.

If these accounts are correct, Pakistan was cooperating with Qatar, and perhaps others, to move international Sunni jihadists (including 300 Pakistanis) from Pakistan’s tribal areas, where they were no longer needed, to new battlefields in Syria. It is just another reminder of Pakistan’s central involvement in creating and managing violent jihadist groups, one Pakistani politician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity when talking about intelligence affairs, told me.

This has been going on for more than 30 years. In 1990, I shared a bus ride with young Chinese Uighurs, Muslims from China’s restive northwest, who had spent months training in Pakistani madrasas, including a brief foray into Afghanistan to get a taste of battle. They were returning home, furnished with brand-new Pakistani passports, a gift of citizenship often offered to those who join the jihad.

Years later, just after Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan, I interviewed a guerrilla commander from the disputed region of Kashmir who had spent 15 years on the Pakistani military payroll, traveling to train and assist insurgents in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan.

In 2012 I came across several cases where young clerics, fresh graduates from the Haqqania madrasa in Pakistan, returned to their home villages in Afghanistan, flush with cash, and set about running mosques and recruiting and organizing a band of Taliban followers.

I visited that madrasa in 2013. It is the alma mater of the Afghan Taliban, where many of the leaders of the movement were trained. The clerics there remained adamant in their support for the Taliban. “It is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power,” Syed Yousuf Shah, the madrasa spokesman, told me. “We are experts on the Taliban,” he said, and a majority of the Afghan people “still support them.”

Nawaz Sharif & Rizwan AkhtarThe madrasa, a longtime instrument of Pakistani intelligence, has been training people from the ethnic minorities of northern Afghanistan alongside its standard clientele of Pashtuns. The aim is still to win control of northern Afghanistan through these young graduates. From there they have their eyes on Central Asia and western China. Pakistani clerics are educating and radicalizing Chinese Uighurs as well, along with Central Asians from the former Soviet republics.

No one has held Pakistan to account for this behavior. Why would Pakistan give it up now? – The New York Times, 6 February 2016

» Carlotta Gall is the author of “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2014” and currently the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times.

Map of secret terrorist training camps in Pakistan

Headley asserts Pakistan’s ISI, Army’s hand in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks – Manoj Gupta & Shawan Sen

David Coleman Headley

CNN-IBN“Headley is the first one to depose before Indian court from foreign soil. Sources said Headley had initially refused to confess and after which Doval met US officials four months ago. According to the sources Doval put pressure on US to make Headley turn approver. The sources said that Headley’s confession will help India isolate Pakistan completely.” – Manoj Gupta & Shawan Sen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Mumbai_attacksA day before 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks convict David Coleman Headley will depose in court, his confession has nailed Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence and Army‘s role in the attacks.

On the basis of National Investigation Agency‘s interrogation report accessed by CNN-IBN, Headley said 26/11 attacks were launched with Lashkar-e-Toiba Hafiz Saeed‘s approval. He said attacks were executed with the help of ISI and the money was given for recce.

Headley added that apart from Mumbai, he had recced residence of the Vice President, India Gate and CBI office in the national capital.

Headley further said that ISI’s major Iqbal and Sameer Ali were my handlers. He also said that LeT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi‘s handler was ISI brigadier Rivaz and added that ISI chief Shuja Pasha visited Lakhvi after his arrest, post-26/11 terror attacks.

It was a major success for India in 26/11 case after Headley turned approver through efforts of NSA Ajit Doval.

Headley is the first one to depose before Indian court from foreign soil. Sources said Headley had initially refused to confess and after which Doval met US officials four months ago.

Ajit DovalAccording to the sources Doval put pressure on US to make Headley turn approver. The sources said that Headley’s confession will help India isolate Pakistan completely.

All this comes just a few days after US President Barack Obama sent a strong message out to Pakistan on terrorist groups operating from its soil and lauded India’s efforts to reach out to its neighbour. He had said, “Pakistan should de-legitimise, disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks on its soil. Both Modi and Sharif are advancing a dialogue on how to confront violent extremism and terrorism across the region. India can be an anchor of stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Headley is currently serving 35 years in an American prison after being convicted of being involved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008 in which 166 persons were killed. – IBNLive, 7 February 2016

Barack Obama & Nawaz Sharif

The Paris Mastermind: Abdelhamid Abaaoud or Ibn Taymiyyah? – S. Gurumurthy

Ibn Taymiyyah

S. Gurumurthy

“IS is the latest manifestation of Wahhabi Islam. It attracts Jihadists from all over the world on the theology of Al-Wahhab—read Ibn Taymiyyah. … Russian President Putin has said that 40 nations, including some G20 constituents, fund the IS. … Ibn Taymiyyah’s theology is at the root of the problem of Islamist terror. Is Abaaoud then the mastermind of Paris Jihad? Not at all. He is at best the master-hand. The mastermind is Ibn Taymiyyah who re-weaponised the Jihad and that impelled Abaaoud. It is Taymiyyah’s Jihadi exposition which blew up Paris. In the last several decades, his concept of Jihad has snuffed out hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.” – S. Gurumurthy

Abdelhamid AbaaoudFrench intelligence has named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national, as the mastermind behind the Paris carnage. He was killed later. Four of the seven attackers who perished in the process are French. Fifth, the first woman bomber of Europe, later killed herself. Sixth, possibly a Syrian, had landed in Greece in the guise of a refugee and weeks later he bombed Paris. An Egyptian too was perhaps involved. The configuration of unrelated persons raises some fundamental questions that touch the basics. Syrians may target France which had bombed their nation. But why should a Belgian, when France has done no harm to his nation. What have the four Frenchmen to do with Syria or Iraq by birth, language or culture? Why should they target their own nation? Mow down their own people? How they blew themselves to smithereens to harm their own motherland brings out the intensity of their hate. Why such hate for one’s own nation, culture and people? Belgian, Syrian and French, including a woman—the group cannot be more disparate. No one can seriously deny that the common idea that bound and motivated the disparate group is Islam. What strand of Islam it was may be debated, but that their motivation is some strand of Islam is indisputable. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) has proudly claimed that it did the Jihad in Paris. But the IS is only the hand that hits. Ideology is that what really motivates the hand. What, and not who, made this disparate group converge is the real issue.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (2004)IS Emerges

The IS, led by its supremo Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, aims to re-install the Caliphate—the Islamic State to rule the Muslim world—under a Caliph believed to be descendent of Prophet Muhammad. Tracing the lineage of Al-Baghdadi to the Prophet, the IS appointed Al-Baghdadi as the Caliph, in June 2014. Relying on the Islamic law which mandates all Muslims to owe allegiance to the Caliph, Al-Baghdadi called upon Muslims through a radio message in July 2014 to immigrate to the Islamic State to perform their highest duty of Jihad. Responding to his call, within nine months, by March 2015, some 22,000 Jihadists from 100 nations landed, on their own, in Syria and Iraq. By May, their number rose to 25,000. Take France, the latest victim of Jihad, for instance. Some 520 French (116 of them women) are currently engaged in Jihad in Syria and Iraq with some 137 already martyred.

Islamic terrorist outfits and mobile terrorists are multiplying exponentially. In November 2014, the UAE named 83 Islamist terrorist groups. A study says that, by November 2014, some 60 Jihadist groups in 30 countries had announced support to the IS. The “Caliph” Al-Baghdadi now controls vast parts of Iraq and Syria—in terms of area, population and revenues. Media reported in September that Russian intelligence had offered to the Central Intelligence Agency (US) and the Interpol a massive list of 87,000 Jihadists roaming around in US and Europe, but they refused to receive it because it was “not politically viable in the present atmosphere”. The Paris assault happened exactly 60 days later. Is it a surprise then that on just a radio call of Al-Baghdadi, thousands of ready-made Jihadists roaming all over the world rushed to join IS-led Jihad? Al-Baghdadi just opened the tap of readily available Jihadists. What, then, motivated the huge army of Jihadists ready on the tap? It calls for a throw back to 14th century when, after long lull, militant Jihad again became part of Islamic tradition—an interesting insight into the history of Jihad that has huge contemporary relevance.

MohammadIbn Taymiyyah

In his book God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad, Charles Allen, a renowned historian of the British Raj in India, traces the history of Wahhabism, the guiding ideology of Islamist modern terrorism. Wahhabism was founded in the 18th century but its seeds were sown centuries before. The 14th century Islamic scholar who re-invented and re-weaponised the concept of Jihad was Ibn Taymiyyah.

In Prophet Mohammed’s times, Jihad was an obligation on Muslims to strive for their faith until the entire world had converted or submitted to Islamic authority. But as Islam transformed into a multi-ethnic world religion, the literalist view of Jihad gave way to pragmatism. The pragmatists cited the famous declaration of the Prophet in Hadith on his return from the battle of Bard, that marked the end of his military campaign against the polytheists, that the Lesser Jihad (Jihad Kabeer) was over; the Greater Jihad (Jihad Akbar) had started. This statement was interpreted in Islam as meaning that the outer and less important physical struggle for Islam was over and had given way to a more important inner, moral struggle. But, after Mongols devastated the Islamic heartland, Ibn Taymiyyah found that the Greater Jihad idea had weakened Islam. He stood for a literal, and against a liberal, idea of Jihad. He defied the Prophet Himself on the pragmatic Greater Jihad. Citing two verses in the Quran (Chapter 2, Verse 193; Chapter 8, Verse 39) Taymiyya argued that the Prophet’s division of Jihad in Hadith was not authentic because it contradicted the words of God in Koran. He declared that the (indivisible) Jihad against Islam’s adversaries was the finest act a Muslim could perform. Taymiyyah also classified the infidels of Islam in four categories: the Christian; the Muslims with infidel habits unless brought back to Islam; the Muslims not carrying out Islam’s rituals; and those who rejected Islam while still claiming to be Muslims. He declared that no peace was possible with the first two and the next two must be mercilessly killed.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-WahhabAl-Wahhab

Taymiyya’s theology was rejected in his times. He was branded as a heretic. Even imprisoned. But, says Charles Allen, Taymiyyah’s theology continued to attract adherents. A most famous adherent of his was Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, who founded, in early 18th century, what is now known as the Wahhabi strand of Islam. This most virulent strand of Islam, rejected in the 14th century, was reincarnated four centuries later. Allen says that Al-Wahhab was schooled in Medina under Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi and his father from Sind in India, both followers of Ibn Taymiyya. They encouraged their students to “view the militant jihad as a religious duty”. When Al-Wahhab was studying in Medina, Shah Waliullah Dehlawi from Delhi too was in Medina studying Hadith under a Taymiyyah disciple who was the master of Al-Wahhab’s teacher. Al-Wahhab and Shah Waliullah, both young, went back to their respective countries to implement the radical teachings. In Delhi, Waliullah called for “a return to the first principles of Islam”. He attempted to restore “Muslim rule in Hindustan” by even inviting the Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdalli to invade India and destroy the Hindu Marathas in battle to bring back the golden days of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. But Ahmed Shah was defeated and the Maratha gained dominance in northern India.

But Waliullah’s Medina-mate Al-Wahhab went beyond. Allen says he “was able to construct and apply almost unchallenged a brand of confrontational and heartless Islam, the like of which had not been seen since the days of Mahmud Ghazni, the butcher, who led twelve loot-and-destroy raids on India in the eleventh century, justifying his actions in the name of Islam.” Al-Wahhab’s book Call to Unity, which later became a four-volume affair, expounded the Wahhabi theology. It declared that there should be but one interpretation of the Quran and Hadith—Al-Wahhab’s—and none else. Pointing out that Islam rose only by Jihad against idolaters and polytheists, it concluded that loving the true Muslims and hating the infidels was the only way—the Wahhabi way.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al SaudRe-weaponised Jihad

A historic turn came in Islamic history in 1744 when Al-Wahhab allied with Muhammed Ibn Saud, a reputed warrior and leader of a sub-branch of the powerful Aneiza tribe. They mutually recognised each other—Saud as the secular leader (Emir) and Al-Wahhab as the religious head (Imam). The rulers of Saudi Arabia are the descendants of Muhammed Ibn Saud. Thanks to Saudi Arabia owning up Al-Wahhab’s theology, Ibn Taymiyya, outlawed long ago, now occupies a place of honour next only to Al-Wahhab’s.

IS is the latest manifestation of Wahhabi Islam. It attracts Jihadists from all over the world on the theology of Al-Wahhab—read Ibn Taymiyyah. It gets funded and supported. Russian President Putin has said that he has shared with G20 leaders the details of how individuals from 40 nations, including some G20 constituents, fund the IS. Many liberals still think that terrorists are just a handful of misguided persons. Thousands are not a few. They are a mobile army conscripted by Wahhabi Islam. The Taymiyyah-Wabhabi theology guides millions and millions of Muslims who are the catchment constituency from which thousands of Jihadists emerge on the tap. The other strands of Islam, moderate or immoderate, are struggling—in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan and elsewhere—for survival. Ibn Taymiyyah’s theology is at the root of the problem of Islamist terror. Is Abaaoud then the mastermind of Paris Jihad? Not at all. He is at best the master-hand. The mastermind is Ibn Taymiyyah who re-weaponised the Jihad and that impelled Abaaoud. It is Taymiyyah’s Jihadi exposition which blew up Paris on Friday last. In the last several decades, his concept of Jihad has snuffed out hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.

Any battle to recover and save moderate Islam should start with disowning Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Wahhab—the very definitions of today’s hate and terror. There is every reason for moderate Muslims to discard them. For, Ibn Taymiyyah defied the Prophet and Al-Wahhab endorsed Taymiyyah. Will the Islamic world—Saudis in particular—declare them in one voice as apostates of Islam? This will hopefully cause a healthy debate within Islam. Moderate Muslims should ponder.

PS: So long as the world looks at which Islamic outfit organises the Jihad and not look into what so powerfully motivates the Jihadi to kill himself to kill others, it will be missing the cause and treating the symptoms. So long as the root cause remains unaddressed, even if the world weakens one outfit another will promptly emerge—like the IS emerged after the Al Qaeda weakened. – The New Indian Express, 22 November 2015

» S. Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.  Email: guru@gurumurthy.net

Jihad

No-go zones and the struggle facing Europe – Douglas Murray

France

Douglas Murray“In 2011 a report commissioned by the Institut Montaigne, and directed by the noted Islamic scholar Gilles Kepel, found that Seine-Saint-Denis and a clutch of other suburbs of Paris were becoming “separate Islamic societies,” holding themselves out as separate from the French state and instituting the rule of Sharia over that of French law. It found that French Muslims were increasingly aligning themselves with Islamist values rather than those of the French state.” – Douglas Murray

François HollandeIn the wake of the massacre in Paris, President François Hollande said that France was “at war”—and that it must be fought both inside his country and outside in the Middle East. As the French air force began dropping bombs on Raqqa in Syria, another operation was under way in towns and cities across France: 168 raids in two days. A battle on two fronts has begun.

Chartres cathedral is one of the great monuments of western civilisation, but Chartres was also home to one of the Bataclan theatre suicide bombers. A man from the same area died last summer in Syria, fighting for ISIS. In Lyon, the raids turned up a rocket launcher. On Tuesday night, a large-scale counter-terror assault was launched in St Denis in Paris. After heavy gunfire, a woman blew herself up by detonating a suicide belt, according to the police.

That the French police know where to look is heartening. That there are so many places to look is not. Long before this week’s slaughter, the French have known that large parts of France are effectively not French.

Ten years ago, when the banlieues lit up and more than 9,000 cars were burnt, the world paid some attention. But it soon sank back into denial. Statesman talk of the danger of “ungoverned spaces” in the Middle East and Africa. But the ungoverned spaces in France and in other parts of Europe were largely ignored.

Earlier this year an American counter-terrorism expert appeared on Fox News and claimed that major cities in European countries, including Britain and France, had “no-go” zones where non-Muslims and the police simply did not go. He was widely ridiculed and even disparaged by the Prime Minister himself. The Socialist party’s mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, went further and said she would sue Steven Emerson and Fox News for harming the ‘image’ of her city. Coming, as this did, only days after the Kouachi brothers gunned down 12 people in Charlie Hebdo’s offices and another gunman slaughtered four Jews in a kosher food market, one might have thought that Paris had other “image” problems going on. But the backlash was striking. Mainly because it looked like what psychiatrists call displacement activity.

Perhaps the murder of cartoonists and Jews just wasn’t enough, and it was always going to take the simultaneous mass murder of concert-goers, football fans and people eating in Peace posters in Molenbeekrestaurants to help the world wake up. In any case, it’s now undeniable that there are no-go zones both in France and Europe. 

This week’s jihadi hunt has focused on the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. It is thought that two of the terrorists who carried out the attacks last Friday had been living there. Molenbeek is a heavily Muslim suburb—an area over which Belgian authorities admit they long ago lost control.

It undoubtedly shares characteristics with many other poor European suburbs: ugly social housing and high levels of unemployment. But that could be said of many cities. What makes these no-go areas notable is the size and density of their Muslim populations.

It is a problem which no country in Europe experiences so catastrophically as France. In 2011 a report commissioned by the Institut Montaigne, and directed by the noted Islamic scholar Gilles Kepel, found that Seine-Saint-Denis and a clutch of other suburbs of Paris were becoming “separate Islamic societies”, holding themselves out as separate from the French state and instituting the rule of Sharia over that of French law. It found that French Muslims were increasingly aligning themselves with Islamist values rather than those of the French state. It is no coincidence that France has the largest percentage of Muslims in its population (around 10 per cent) of anywhere in western Europe. Wherever the concentration gets above a certain level (perhaps 20 per cent), consequences follow. French social planning put all their Muslim immigrants in one place (and usually a place of mass unemployment). And unsurprisingly, it is in the areas with the greatest density of Muslim population that the greatest problems emerge.

By 2012, the problem of semi-autonomy had got so bad that the French government was forced to unveil plans to reassert the state’s control over 15 areas, including parts of Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Strasbourg, Amiens and Aubervilliers, where the population is more than 70 per cent Muslim and the police rarely went. Two years later, a leaked French intelligence document warned that Sharia law was being implemented in schools in Muslim ghettoes. The report gave 70 examples of Muslims turning secular French schools into places of religious indoctrination governed by Islamic law.

Sharia in EuropeThe question now for France is whether Hollande’s efforts to reimpose French law are any more successful than the efforts of Sarkozy, and whether they are a spasm or a mission. You could argue that Hollande now at least has events behind him. But in the past there have been quite a number of occasions, although not as bloody as this one, when individual cases have broken the surface and temporarily shocked France from its sleep-walk into dissolution and civil war: the stoning to death of a young Muslim woman in Marseilles in 2004; the torture and murder of a young Jewish man by a Muslim gang in the Parisian suburb of Bagneux in 2006; the murders of pupils at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. Each time the Republic rallies, but the country’s pulling apart continues.

It is easy for outsiders to point to holes in France’s post-war immigration strategy or the failure of its model of integration. And it is true that France has done immigration and integration badly. But who has not? Yes, travelling on public transport in France you notice lines and routes on which everyone is black and others where nobody is. But there are similar phenomena now across Scandinavia, central and southern Europe.

Nor can we be complacent in Britain. It was appropriate for the Prime Minister to leap to Birmingham’s defence when Fox broadcast their piece in January. But Birmingham is in fact a striking example of our own problem. The city remains one of the biggest producers of domestic terrorists and ISIS fighters in Britain. Perhaps most striking is the fact that nine tenths of Birmingham’s convicted terrorists come from areas where the Muslim Shariah Zone Londonpopulation is between 25 and 50 per cent (the latter figure being more than ten times the national average). Likewise, before anyone notices the centrality of Sharia4Belgium to the continent’s jihad, it is worth noting that the group’s launch was enabled by Muslim extremists from Britain.

Nor is it at all certain that Britain will continue to avoid another mass casualty attack. The Prime Minister recently said the security services had thwarted seven major attacks in the UK in the past six months alone.

Of course, it is important to remember how many Muslims in France and Britain came here precisely to avoid the fundamentalists in their faith. And there were problems long before the current migration wave. But as countries like Germany and Sweden decide to take in an additional 1 per cent of their population each year from majority Muslim countries, it is not scaremongering but a simple statement of fact to say that the Muslim population in Europe will increase. And at some point other European countries will go on to experience the kind of problems France has. Perhaps this will bring a popular backlash similar to that now under way in France.

But in some ways that would be the lesser of two evils. For if the trend of the no-go zone is not at some point halted or reversed, we must realise that for France, and perhaps for Europe, this will not be decline. This will be fall. – The Spectator, 21 November 2015

French Police

VIDEO: Terrorism has no religion? – MrRepzion

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 BC

Terrorism has no religion

With Open Gates: The forced collective suicide of European nations

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