Amid calls to declare Pakistan a ‘hostile state’, US curtails aid, withholds Sharif invite – Chidanand Rajghatta

Barack Obama & Nawaz Sharif

Chidanand Rajghatta“Pakistan’s economy is both parlous and perilously-poised, despite frequent juggling of numbers in a country that does not even conduct a regular census. With economic growth barely matching projected population growth, it is reduced to living on aid and remittances. Even aid is starting to dwindle after its familiar patrons in the Gulf have pulled the plug and its sugar daddy China has not come through with the expected bail-outs.” – Chidanand Rajghatta

Dr Peter LavoyPakistan’s bottomfeeding on American aid is about to end unless it terminates its policy of covertly using terrorism to further its frontiers, the Obama administration has conveyed to Islamabad, amid indications that the US is also making Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s proposed visit to Washington conditional to meeting this objective.

A key administration official on Thursday said there has been no announcement about a Sharif visit to Washington in October although the trip had been widely reported in the Pakistani media based on briefings from diplomats in Islamabad. “This is news to me. We have not made any statements about that (Sharif’s visit to Washington),” Peter Lavoy, special assistant to the US president and senior director for south asian affairs at the national security council of the White House, told PTI. “If it is pakka (final) you would be the first to hear.”

The rethink—or at least holding back the announcement—of the visit comes after the administration conveyed to Islamabad that it will not certify the effectiveness of Pakistan counterterrorism operation to Congress to enable passage of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), the military reimbursement aid that goes towards keeping Pakistan solvent.

As part of its rentier-state ethos, Pakistan provides logistical support to US and coalition forces in Afghanistan and in turn bills Washington for reimbursement. Pakistan has extracted more than $13 billion from the US since the coalition forces swooped into Afghanistan.

The CSF was scheduled to end following the US drawdown from Afghanistan in December 2014, but the Obama government extended the program for another year through a legislation containing additional conditions, including a requirement for certification by the defence secretary that Pakistani military operations are rolling up terrorist networks, including the Haqqani group in North Waziristan.

But true to form, Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment has again suckered Washington fooling the US by keeping the death from illnesses of Taliban supremo Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani while trying to manage their succession.

Hafiz Muhammad SaeedThe manipulation, coming after Osama bin Laden being sheltered in Abbottabad, has further eroded trust in a country with a long history of lying and dissembling. Although US policy of forbearance is centered around its fear of Pakistan’s collapse, that tolerance is being tested in the face of the Pakistani military-intelligence’s serial malfeasance, including its continued patronage of terrorists associated with the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which six Americans died.

“The US move is politically more damaging for Islamabad than its financial impact, which is significant nevertheless for being an important source for narrowing the current account deficit. More importantly, it coincided with the deterioration in ties with Afghanistan because of Kabul’s allegations that Islamabad continued to harbor Taliban bases from where attacks were being launched,” Karachi’s Dawn newspaper, which first reported the rupture, said on Thursday.

“The US decision is also likely to sour ties in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s scheduled visit to White House in October,” it added.

Zaki ur Rehman LakhviPakistan’s economy is both parlous and perilously-poised, despite frequent juggling of numbers in a country that does not even conduct a regular census. With economic growth barely matching projected population growth, it is reduced to living on aid and remittances. Even aid is starting to dwindle after its familiar patrons in the Gulf have pulled the plug and its sugar daddy China has not come through with the expected bail-outs.

Desperate to keep the US pipeline open, the Pakistani military, which runs the country’s foreign policy on behalf of the nominal civilian government, has been decimating its civilian population with every-day air-strikes this week in North Waziristan, announcing dozens of dead “militants” which no one is able to authenticate due to lack of access.

However, the country’s continued patronage of terrorists on its eastern flank with India, including its protection of UN designated terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, indicates there has been no fundamental change in its policy.

With Pakistan’s salience to American objectives declining in the context of US outreach to Iran and the drawdown in Afghanistan, some scholars are now pressing for a review of Washington’s ties with Islamabad. In a Foreign Affairs magazine piece headlined “An Unworthy Ally,” C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly have argued that the time has come for Washington to “cut Pakistan loose,” going as far as to suggest punitive sanctions against Pakistani elite, including visa denials to its top generals and officials who support terrorism.

Extracts from Foreign Affairs article by C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly:

  • “Since the current approach has little chance of aligning Pakistan’s interests with those of the United States, the time has come for Washington to change course. If Washington cannot end Pakistan’s noxious behaviors, it should at least stop sponsoring them.”
  • “The strategic demands of today’s South Asia are distinct from those of the Cold War era, but the central dynamic of US-Pakistani relations remains constant. The United States turns a blind eye to Pakistan’s misdeeds because it depends on the country’s leaders to counter US enemies in the region-first the Soviets, now the melange of militant groups active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, the United States has subsidized both the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and its stable of Islamist terrorists through programs ostensibly created to manage those same concerns.”
  • “Despite Barack Obama’s understanding of Pakistan’s misdeeds … his administration, like his predecessor’s, has failed to develop policies that limit American complicity in them. As a result, Washington has continued to pay Pakistan to do what any sovereign state should do: eliminate terrorists exploiting its territory.”
  • “All the while, the United States has not required Pakistan to stop backing militant groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, even as Islamabad battles those militants who have turned against the state. Indeed, Islamabad has created a permanent revenue stream by arguing that so long as it is fighting militants, it should be entitled to US aid. The United States has been willing to comply because it considers the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons a core national interest.”
  • “Past attempts to induce Pakistan to change its behavior have largely failed, and there is little reason to believe that a change in course is imminent. Indeed, what little convergence of interests existed between Washington and Islamabad during the Cold War has long since disappeared. After six decades of policy predicated on Pakistani blackmail, it should be possible to achieve US interests with a different approach.”
  • “A strategy of containment is the United States’ best option. Above all, US relations with Pakistan should be premised on the understanding that Pakistan is a hostile state, rather than an ally or a partner.” – The Times of India, Aug 21, 2015

» Chidanand Rajghatta is The Times of India’s US-based Foreign Editor, long-time Washington DC scribe and sutradhar.

John Kerry & Pak Military

See also

Has terror a connection to religion? – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“It is important to find out, whether there is something in the doctrine of Christianity and Islam, which is missing in Hinduism and Buddhism, and which allows or even fosters terror against outsiders. How was it possible for a Timur or Babur or Aurangzeb to have hundreds of thousands of civilian Hindu men slaughtered and their women and children taken as slaves only because they were Hindus? What mindset does it require to be able to do this?” – Maria Wirth

For Allah!“Terror has no religion” is often repeated by politicians and media. At the same time, the most dangerous terrorists of our times like the Islamic State and Boko Haram shout triumphantly “Allah ho Akbar” after brutally killing those whom they consider infidels or opponents of the caliphate. Common sense would suggest that at least these groups inflict terror in the name of Islam.

However, so far, the “correct” view is that these groups don’t follow Islam, but “Islamism“. They are misguided and have distorted the good Islam into a bad Islamism. So they are not Muslims, but Islamists or extremists who follow an “extremist ideology”. Islam has nothing to do with it. Terror may have an ideology, like communism or Nazism, but it has no religion. Obviously this explanation is meant to keep Islam away from scrutiny and its image “sacred”.

Chief Rabbi of Israel & Pope John Paul IIIn the same way, Pope John Paul II tried to keep Christianity and the Church above board, when in the year 2000, he finally asked “forgiveness from God for sins committed against Jews, heretics, women, gypsies and native people“. He, too, did not blame the Church but “sons and daughters of the Church” who committed “mistakes”.

These sons and daughters of the Church surely would proclaim, if they were still around, that they only followed the instructions of the Church—whether it was the brutal Christianization of Latin America, where millions were killed, or the “Holy Inquisition” which consciously used horrific torture and murder to make people fall in line with the unintelligible dictates of the Church.

Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiThe Jihadis of ISIS, too, don’t agree with the view that they misinterpret Islam. They are sure that they follow the true Islam and can quote numerous ayats from the Quran to support their view, for example 8.39: “Oh believers, fight them until there is no more mischief and the Deen of Allah (way of life prescribed by Allah) is established completely.”

If ISIS indeed represents “true” Islam, it is a cause for great concern and needs to be investigated. Why do politicians and community leaders shy away from putting religious texts on the table and under scrutiny? Why the Quran or the Bible is never mentioned when religion is discussed? On 20th July 2015, David Cameron vowed to deal with the poison of extremism. He said: “What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine.”

Yet he did not mention the Quran once in his long speech. Why?

It is important to find out, whether there is something in the doctrine of Christianity and Islam, which is missing in Hinduism and Buddhism, and which allows or even fosters terror against outsiders. How was it possible for a Timur or Babur or Aurangzeb to have hundreds of thousands of civilian Hindu men slaughtered and their women and children taken as slaves only because they were Hindus? What mindset does it require to be able to do this?

Yes, there is indeed something in the Christian and Islamic doctrine that condones and even fosters violence, and it is easy to find out: Apart from the true core in all religions, i.e. the acknowledgement and worship of a higher power, Christianity and Islam inject the virus of supremacy into their belief system and contempt for “others” who they claim will be thrown into hell-fire for all eternity. They both claim that the full truth was revealed by the highest authority of the universe only to them and everyone has to believe it. Those who don’t are highly offensive to their God and will suffer for all eternity in hell-fire.

Obviously these two religions—Christianity started the trend—were not content with people worshipping a higher power by whatever name they chose. They wanted to control people and attain world dominion. And what a disaster it turned out to be for humanity! This claim “we have the full truth; God / Allah has chosen us (Christians / Muslims) over them (all others)” is poison for humanity. There is not a shred of Cross & Crescent evidence that this claim is true. In fact, it is clear that it cannot be the absolute truth, yet because it is enshrined in their respective ‘holy book’, nobody questions it.

Reading the Quran it becomes quickly clear that Allah has hatred for unbelievers and also for hypocrites among the believers (which gives Jihadis the justification to kill also Muslims apart from kafirs). He keeps reminding the believers again and again, how they will enjoy paradise and the unbelievers will suffer in hell. He even details the torture in hell in horrific detail. All this is there in the Quran.

Similarly, the Bible also claims that there won’t be any mercy for those who did not accept Christ during their one and only lifetime (the Church forbade the belief in rebirth in 553 AD). The hell for non-Christians is as bad as the hell for non-Muslims. There will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”(Mathew 13.50)—and mind you, for all eternity….

Christianity and Islam never tried to sort out which one of the two is “only true”. They are content to claim “our belief system alone is true and only those, who adopt it, find favour with the Highest”. The reason may be that the top officials in the religious institutions don’t really believe what they tell their flock. If they would believe in eternal hell, several Popes would have lived their lives differently….

Injecting a feeling of supremacy into the faithful pampers to a human weakness—the weakness to feel superior to others, whether as an individual or a group. Belonging to a big group of like-minded people who confirm each other that they are favoured by God and superior, is for many reassuring. Especially in Islam, the brotherhood of the faithful plays a big role in making people stick to their religion.

The claim of both Christianity and Islam that God / Allah has made his will known at a certain point in time to a certain person and wants all to follow their respective religion, and if they don’t, they will be thrown into hell-fire is the poison that needs to be taken out from those ‘religions’.

Incidentally, the term ‘religion’ (Latin to bind or tie) was used from the 11th century on only for the Catholic Church and from the 16th century onwards also for Islam. People were tied into the belief-system, into which they were born, and not allowed to choose how they want to call or imagine the invisible, great Power—a freedom that India traditionally granted. So there is no need to bow one’s head and fold one’s hands in reverence, as soon as someone says ‘this is my religion’. Intelligent reasoning must not be forfeited.

HellNow what can be done? How can the poison be taken out?

This needs to be debated. However I consider one point important: the “others” (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Atheists, etc.) who are said to be thrown into hell-fire, would do well to protest the outrageous, untrue claim that they will suffer in hell for eternity. There is, however, a problem: how can they feel outrage at something, what they don’t believe in. In all likelihood, they consider this hell-claim ridiculous, not worthy of any repudiation. And of course they have a point.

But they overlook a crucial aspect that can become highly dangerous for them: they ignore the mindset which this claim produces in people who believe it. And they should not delude themselves that it is impossible to believe it. It is possible. I know from own experience.

True, nowadays in Europe, the Church (wisely) does not stress “hell” anymore, because many lost faith and even more would leave the Church, but in India it is stressed. The Christian converts, whom I asked, all believed in hell for Hindus, including an IIT professor who converted when he was working in the US. He even convinced his parents to convert. It is clearly a case of making otherwise intelligent persons stupid.

The Quran is full of quotes of hell for unbelievers. Further, Muslim youngsters hear five times daily the azan ending with the words:

“O Allah! Guide us to The Right Way. The Way of those whom You have favored, not of those who have earned Your wrath or of those who have lost The Way” (Quran 1.6,7).

Naturally, they may start to detest their Hindu brothers and sisters who have ‘earned the wrath’ of the Highest, because they don’t heed his words and convert to Islam.

If one day the call for Jihad were given, (Tarek Fatah mentioned in an article that even in Toronto mosques, imams pray for victory over the kafirs) their conscience would be already dysfunctional. They would see nothing wrong in ridding the earth of those who are arrogant enough not to heed the words of the one true God, which according to them are enshrined in the Quran or in the Bible.

Pakistani child terroristsHindus generally don’t realize the power and danger of a mindset, though they need only look to Pakistan. It is the best example of what can become of normal, well-meaning Indians when they are brainwashed into a hateful doctrine. How did Kasab I and II develop the mindset that it’s good to kill Hindus? Who or what is responsible? Or how is it possible for Christian missionaries to cheat simple Hindu folk to get them to sign up for baptism? Even the huge slave trade from Africa and the arrogance of western colonial powers towards the ‘natives’ probably had its root in the brainwashing of being superior and chosen. Rightly, ISIS in a video on the net talk about their brainwashed kids as their greatest asset.

Typically, Islam and Christianity try to avoid scrutiny of their religions for obvious reasons. They are interested to preserve their ‘true and holy’ image that they have enforced over centuries. Attempts are on not only to ban defamation, but even criticism of religions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has already petitioned the United Nations and Saudi Arabia gave in July 2015 a call to the world to ban all criticism of religion.

Before this hopefully never succeeds, countries like India, China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar and others should petition the United Nations to ban untrue claims about the afterlife of their non-Muslim and non-Christian citizens, as it breeds contempt and hatred for them.

When children read in their holy book in school how terrible ‘unbelievers’ are, some of them may later be ready to kill those whom they consider rejects by their God. ISIS is taking the Quran literally. They consider it their duty to establish a caliphate and sharia and bring the whole world under it. They are convinced they have made their life meaningful and scoff at those who criticize them as having an ‘extremist ideology’. They ‘know’ they follow the word of Allah.

Can they be blamed? If not them, who or what is to be blamed for their mindset? As long as they don’t doubt certain ayats of the Quran, any de-radicalization program is bound to fail. They will consider clerics who tell them not to follow the Quran to the letter “confused old men”, as a German Turk explained in an interview.

Adi Shankara & MadanmishraOver thousand years ago, Adi Shankara challenged Mandana Mishra for a debate. There is need for a debate today on different aspects of truth, including on whether there is eternal hellfire on the basis of one life or whether there is rebirth on the level of this universe. At least people need to be made aware about this hell claim and how ridiculous it is.

The true core of all religions needs to be strengthened. This core is common to all and beneficial. It is the claim that there is a great invisible power behind this visible universe. This true core was known since ages and is explained in the Indian tradition in its purest form. It is not an invention by Christianity and Islam. In fact, these two religions can learn from Hindu Dharma how many different ways of expressing one’s faith can live peacefully side by side. Hindu Dharma doesn’t tie its followers into a rigid belief system, but helps them to become free by realizing the truth in oneself.

Harmful, untrue dogmas like “this invisible power is jealous and wants this or that …  and if you don’t do it, it will throw you into hellfire” need to be weeded out.

Only then humanity can be one family.

» Maria Wirth is a German author and psychologist who lives in Uttarkhand.

Zeus

The Delta Flight 15 Story – Nazim

Delta Plane, Frankfurt

Gander International Airport

Gander International Airport on 9 September 2001

Planes parked at Gander Airport 9 Sept 2001

Delta planes parked at Gander

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. 

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.” No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately—no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request. While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings. We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out. We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM, that’s 11:00 AM EST.There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that ground control in Gander told us to stay put. The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with [38] airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets. Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed. Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.

We had only to look out the window at the [38] other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament. We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 AM the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word.

Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we—the crew—were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!

We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started. Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.

What we found out was incredible…

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

All the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes. Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour urgent care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbours. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundromats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers. Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a trust fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporation and ask them to donate as well. As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

“It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

This is one of those stories that need to be shared. — Reposted from Floodout Your View, 17 February 2015

» The author of this article is a Delta Airlines flight crew member identified as Nazim (by Scopes) who attended passengers on Flight 15 from Frankfurt to Atlanta on September 11, 2001.

Gander, Newfoundland

Dormitory at Gander, Newfoundland

Sleeping arrangements at Gander, Newfoundland, on 9 September 2001

Delta Flight 15 Gander Airport

Delta 15 at Gander Airport

See also

Mumbai attacks trial – Tariq Khosa

Mumbai Attacks 2008

Tariq Khosa“Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil. This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes. The entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks are brought to justice. The case has lingered on for far too long. … However, cognizance was taken by the Islamabad High Court which directed the trial to be concluded within two months.” – Tariq Khosa

The Mumbai terror attacks were claimed by India to be its 9/11. For more than 66 hours, 10 highly trained militants played havoc in India’s commercial metropolis, spraying bullets and shedding the blood of innocent civilians and tourists in November 2008, bringing the two nuclear neighbours to the brink of an all-out war.

In Ufa, Russia on July 10, 2015, both the prime ministers of Pakistan and India were “prepared to discuss all outstanding issues,” and both the leaders “condemned terrorism in all its forms” and agreed to cooperate with each other “to eliminate this menace from South Asia”. Therefore, we in Pakistan should welcome this development wholeheartedly.

Didn’t we suffer the pain and agony of our own 9/11 on Dec 16, 2014, at the hands of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its surrogates and aren’t we as a nation determined to root out terrorism in all its forms from our soil? The answer is obviously a resounding yes and I have no doubt that the political and security leadership have resolved to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, militancy and extremism through the counterterrorism National Action Plan. The duality and distinction between good and bad Taliban, including all militants and terrorists, should stand removed from Miramshah to Muridke, from Karachi to Quetta.

Nawaz Sharif & Narendra Modi in Ufa 2015Against this backdrop, the agreement between PMs Sharif and Modi in Ufa to approve the meeting of their national security advisers to “discuss all issues related to terrorism” was a welcome development. Pakistan’s concerns in respect of the botched investigation into the Samjhauta Express bombing and alleged covert support to the Baloch insurgency as well as reported ‘terror financing’ both in Karachi and FATA by Indian and other foreign agencies should not only be highlighted but concrete evidence presented to put a stop to such means of non-kinetic warfare resorted to by sleuths from both sides to further their so-called national interests.

There are very knowledgeable and competent professionals with investigation and intelligence background in Pakistan who can meet the Indian security officials and talk as professionals. They too have many skeletons in their cupboards. So why fight shy? Let both India and Pakistan admit their mistakes and follies and learn to co-exist while trying to find solutions to their thorny issues through peaceful means.

Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil. This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes. The entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks are brought to justice. The case has lingered on for far too long. Dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses have been serious setbacks for the prosecutors. However, cognizance was taken by the Islamabad High Court which directed the trial to be concluded within two months.

Ajmal KasabThe following facts are pertinent. First, Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani national, whose place of residence and initial schooling as well as his joining a banned militant organisation was established by the investigators. Second, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists were imparted training near Thatta, Sindh and launched by sea from there. The training camp was identified and secured by the investigators. The casings of the explosive devices used in Mumbai were recovered from this training camp and duly matched. Third, the fishing trawler used by the terrorists for hijacking an Indian trawler in which they sailed to Mumbai, was brought back to harbour, then painted and concealed. It was recovered by the investigators and connected to the accused. Fourth, the engine of the dinghy abandoned by the terrorists near Mumbai harbour contained a patent number through which the investigators traced its import from Japan to Lahore and then to a Karachi sports shop from where an LeT-linked militant purchased it along with the dinghy. The money trail was followed and linked to the accused who was arrested. Fifth, the ops room in Karachi, from where the operation was directed, was also identified and secured by the investigators. The communications through Voice over Internet Protocol were unearthed. Sixth, the alleged commander and his deputies were identified and arrested. Seventh, a couple of foreign-based financiers and facilitators were arrested and brought to face trial.

After an exchange of multiple investigation dossiers with the Indian police authorities, the trial court was requested to give approval to obtain voice samples of the alleged commander and his deputies for comparison with the recorded voices. The court ruled that the consent of the accused should be obtained. Obviously, the suspects refused. Then a plea was submitted before the sessions court to authorise the investigators to take the voice samples despite the lack of consent. The plea was denied on account of there being no such provision in the Evidence Act or the antiterrorism law applicable at Islamabad High Courtthat time. The investigators then went in appeal before the High Court. That appeal, I believe, is still pending. The Fair Trial Act, 2013 caters for admissibility of such technical evidence. However, its application with retrospective effect is a moot point.

The Mumbai case is quite unique: one incident with two jurisdictions and two trials. While the Indians managed to nab Ajmal Kasab and were able to obtain his confession to close the trial, proving conspiracy in a different jurisdiction is more complex and requires a far superior quality of evidence. Therefore, the legal experts from both sides need to sit together rather than sulk and point fingers.

Indian interlocutors, engaged during the talks between the then prime ministers of India and Pakistan in Egypt in 2009, had conceded that the Pakistani investigators had done a professional job in the indictment of seven perpetrators of the attack. However, the Pakistani authorities should not forget that the FIA declared various other facilitators and operatives as fugitives in the case. The trial will not be over with the disposal of those under arrest or on bail. Other missing links need to be uncovered after the absconders’ arrest.

This case will not be over soon.

Are we as a nation prepared to muster the courage to face uncomfortable truths and combat the demons of militancy that haunt our land? That is the question! – Dawn, 3 August 2015

» Tariq Khosa is former Director General, Federal Investigation Agency, Pakistan.

Taj Mahal Hotel

Pakistan’s continuing war against Indian civilisation – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“The jihadism in Kashmir is [Pakistan’s] continuing war against Indian civilisation…. The Pakistani identity is an interim construct; the identity, the civilisational impulse, remains Indian. Today’s jihadism is external to Indian civilisation. Attempts to buy peace with this force must be discouraged, more so since the Syria-based Islamic State has already made an incursion into India, like Muhammad bin Qasim led Iraqi and Syrian fighters to India.”

Muhammad bin Qasim was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born and raised in the city of Taif (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled further Islamic expansion into India.Over thirteen centuries ago, in 712 CE, an external force made an incursion into Indian civilisation. For the next thousand years, Indian people accommodated it in different ways. In 1947, they came to believe they could buy permanent peace with it by giving away a piece of our territory, thereby creating Pakistan. Once again in 2015, political analysts, acting on behalf of this external force, have convinced us and our government that we must buy peace. On July 10 in Ufa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to ride a peace plane to Pakistan next year.

Speaking of planes, our media has been teaching Indian youth since 1999 that the Indian Airlines plane IC814 was hijacked to Kandahar that year by terrorists. This is contrary to facts. The plane was hijacked by the Pakistani state to bargain for the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) imprisoned by India in Kashmir. This jihadist organisation is a branch of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. In interviews, three terrorist commanders have testified that the JeM is part of the ISI.

On June 25, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released an interview of Adam Gadahn, the American spokesman of Al-Qaeda killed in a drone strike in Waziristan this year. Gadahn shed fresh light on the Pakistani state’s support to JeM. For his final trip to Pakistan in late 1998, Gadahn stayed at Kuwait Hostel of the Islamic International University in Islamabad. From the Kuwait Hostel, Gadahn said he was picked up by “two Pakistani brothers” who “told me they were from the group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was still in an Indian prison.” Jaish-e-Muhammad, along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is the lead group fighting in Kashmir. Two more interviews of Adnan Rashid and Shamsh Kashmiri establish that JeM is a branch of the ISI. Shamsh Kashmiri, a former JeM deputy chief, revealed last year that when Pervez Musharraf ‘shut down’ offices of jihadist groups under global pressure, Ashfaq Kayani, then ISI chief, raised salaries for JeM, LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and others. Kayani was elevated to the post of army chief by Musharraf on whose watch 26/11 attacks were planned.

Adnan Rashid, a commander with the Pakistani Taliban, revealed in 2013 that as a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) staff he was sent to a JeM training camp where he realised: “We are soldiers in uniform” and JeM members “are soldiers without uniform”; “we follow them and they take instruction from our institution—the ISI.” Adnan also revealed that he was part of a unit in the PAF called Idarat-ul-Pakistan (the Institution of Pakistan), whose stated objective was to create a jihadist network across the Pakistani armed forces. AQIS is its new offshoot.

The worry is that Pakistan continues to support the JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, much as it protected Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar and protects Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed,  and others. Al-Qalam is an Urdu-language jihadist weekly sold across Pakistan, published by the JeM’s Al-Rehmat Trust. In a July 14 report, Al-Qalam celebrated “two weeks of success by Jaish-e-Muhammad mujahideen” in Nowgam sector in Kashmir. The external force that arrived under Muhammad bin Qasim is now led by the JeM-ISI combine.

Kashmir MapIn Kashmir, it is testing India’s spirit for coexistence. During July 1-19, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir for 11 times and ISI-backed terrorists from Jaish-e-Muhammad and LeT fought against Indian troops. On July 13, Pakistani national Mohammad Anwar of LeT was killed in Poonch district. On July 3-4, five militants were killed in Uri sector. There are recurring cases of incursions and militant attacks. A private website must compile the list of Indian soldiers being killed by Pakistan in this manner.

A divided Punjab is acceptable to this force but a division of Kashmir isn’t because it is a Muslim-majority region. Lead organisations fighting against the Indian civilisation are: Pakistani military, LeT, JeM and Indian Mujahideen, the last three backed by the first. This singular force also aided non-Muslim proxies like pro-Khalistan terrorists who should ideally be fighting to take back Lahore as their capital instead of fighting against India. This is the force that shot Malala Yousafzai, who is an Indian; Pakistani is not an identity; the identity is only Indian. Former PAF chief Asghar Khan has testified that all wars with India were initiated by Pakistan.

To this external force, peace is unacceptable; peace is merely a tactic. The historic peace bus to Lahore by A. B. Vajpayee led to Kargil war in 1999. When Musharraf was talking, terrorists were trained to attack Mumbai. When Nawaz Sharif was talking of talks, India’s consulate in Jalalabad was attacked in August 2013. Trust talks of peace with this external force after Pakistan amends its constitution allowing non-Muslim Pakistani citizens to become head of the state.

Countries like Pakistan that do not allow their non-Muslim citizens to become the head of state are the anti-thesis of Indian civilisation and Malala Yousafzai. The jihadism in Kashmir is their continuing war against Indian civilisation. This writer was questioned on Twitter for arguing that teaching India’s history could undercut Islamic extremism. The argument remains: this external force subverts the process of India’s history; Multan was a Hindu city, Lahore a Sikh metropolis. Teaching our kids that we all are Harappans will indeed aid Islamic reformation in India. Actor Salman Khan, holding a torch of hope in his new movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan in which he helps a lost mute girl return home in Pakistan, tweeted that Modi and Sharif should watch the film “because love for children is above all boundaries.” Khan the Bajrangi is indeed the impulse of Indian civilisation; the Pakistani identity is an interim construct; the identity, the civilisational impulse, remains Indian. Today’s jihadism is external to Indian civilisation. Attempts to buy peace with this force must be discouraged, more so since the Syria-based Islamic State has already made an incursion into India, like Muhammad bin Qasim led Iraqi and Syrian fighters to India. – The New Indian Express, 31 July 2015

» The author is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington. Email: newcriterion@yahoo.co.uk

Nawaz Sharif

The Yemeni Koran – Jamie Glazov

Moorthy MuthuswamyJamie Glazov’s Frontpage interview guests are Robert Spencer and Moorthy Muthuswamy.

Moorthy Muthuswamy is an expert on terrorism in India. He grew up in India, where he had firsthand experience with political Islam and jihad. He moved to America in 1984 to pursue graduate studies. In 1992, he received a doctorate in nuclear physics from Stony Brook University, New York. Since 1999 he has extensively published ideas on neutralizing political Islam’s terror war as Robert Spencerit is imposed on unbelievers. He is the author of the new book, Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is the author of nine books on Islam and Jihad, a weekly columnist for Human Events and Frontpagemag.com, and has led numerous seminars for the U.S. military and intelligence communities. He is the author of the new book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran.

FP: Moorthy Muthuswamy and Robert Spencer, welcome to the Frontpage interview. I’d like to talk to both of you today about the Yemeni Koran. Moorthy Muthuswamy, let’s begin with you. Tell us about this Yemeni Koran and what it signifies.

• Muthuswamy: Thank you for the opportunity, Jamie. First, some background.

In 1972, during the restoration of the Great Mosque of Sana’a, in Yemen, a gravesite containing a mash of old parchment pages was discovered. It became clear that this parchment hoard is an example of what is sometimes referred to as a “paper grave.” In this case, the site was the resting place for tens of thousands of fragments from close to a thousand different parchment codices of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

Using a technique called “carbon dating,” some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard were dated back to the seventh and eighth centuries, or Islam’s first two centuries. Until now, three ancient copies of the Koran were said to exist. One copy in the Library of Tashkent in Uzbekistan, and another in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, date from the eighth century. A copy kept in the British Library in London dates from the late seventh century. But the Sana’a parchment pages are even older. Moreover, these pages are written in a script that originates from the Hijaz—the region of Arabia where the prophet Muhammad purportedly lived. This makes the Yemeni Korans not only the oldest to have survived, but one of the earliest copies of the Koran ever.

In 1981, the first scientific undertaking to study the Yemeni Koran was initiated by a group headed by Gerd R. Puin, a specialist in Arabic calligraphy and Koranic paleography based at Saarland University, in Saarbrücken, Germany. Puin and his group recognized the antiquity of some of the parchment fragments. Their preliminary inspection revealed unconventional verse orderings, minor textual variations, and rare styles of orthography and artistic embellishment. Interestingly, some of the sheets were also palimpsests—versions very clearly written over even earlier, washed-off or erased versions.

To quote Puin: “So many Muslims have this belief that everything between the two covers of the Koran is just God’s unaltered word…. They like to quote the textual work that shows that the Bible has a history and did not fall straight out of the sky, but until now the Koran has been out of this discussion. The only way to break through this wall is to prove that the Koran has a history too. The Sana’a fragments will help us to do this.”

The idea that the Koran is the literal Word of God, perfect, timeless, and permanent, is crucial to Islam, in particular, to the Islamists at the forefront of spreading sharia and jihad. However, some of the Sana’a fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Indeed, this evidence compels one to conclude that the Muslim holy book has undergone a textual evolution rather than simply the Word of God as revealed in its entirety to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.

This explosive ramification has made the State of Yemen reluctant to give further access to the Sana’a fragments. Fortunately, before the door was shut to Western scholars, another German academic, Graf von Bothmer, made 35,000 microfilm pictures of the fragments, which remain at the University of the Saarland.

FP: Robert Spencer, so the Yemeni Koran points to the fact that the Muslim holy book has undergone a textual evolution. Give us your view of the meaning and significance here.

• Spencer: Moorthy is quite right: the idea that the Koran is perfect and uncreated, with no textual variants, is central to Islamic proselytizing. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the Koran “was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The text of the Qur’an was cross-checked during the life of the Prophet. The 114 chapters of the Qur’an have remained unchanged through the centuries.” This idea is also central to the worldview of jihadist groups. Osama bin Laden bragged in his 2002 letter to the American people that the Koran “will remain preserved and unchanged, after the other Divine books and messages have been changed. The Qur’an is the miracle until the Day of Judgment.”

The textual variants in the Yemeni Koran, simply by showing that the text is not always and everywhere the same, explode the mainstream Islamic belief that the Koran was delivered in perfect form to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel, and has always been miraculously preserved from variant readings.

Yet oddly enough, early Islamic traditions recorded in the Hadith assume the existence of variant readings of the Koran. The impetus for collecting Muhammad’s revelations into a single volume came after Muhammad and other important early Muslims started dying off. Late in the year Muhammad died, 632, a group of Arab tribes that Muhammad had conquered and brought into the Muslim fold revolted. The first caliph, Abu Bakr, led the Muslims into battle to subdue them.

The two sides met in the Battle of Yamama, in which some of the Muslims who had memorized segments of the Koran were killed. One Islamic tradition notes that “many (of the passages) of the Qur’an that were sent down were known by those who died on the day of Yamama … but they were not known (by those who) survived them, nor were they written down, nor had [the first three caliphs] Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman (by that time) collected the Qur’an, nor were they found with even one (person) after them.” (Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif )

The official compiler of the Koran, Zaid ibn Thabit, explained that he “started locating Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two Verses of Surat-at-Tauba which I had not found with anybody else.” Zaid’s recollection testifies to the ad hoc nature of his work. For example, it was Khuzaima himself, Zaid’s sole source for the last two verses of sura 9, who approached Zaid and informed him of the omission: “I see you have overlooked (two) verses and have not written them.” When he had recited them, an influential companion of Muhammad and the future third caliph, Utman, declared, “I bear witness that these verses are from Allah.” And so they were included in the Koran (9:128-129).

Other sections of the Koran, some mandating stringent punishments for unbelievers and other violators of Islamic law, were lost altogether. One early Muslim declared, “Let none of you say, ‘I have acquired the whole of the Qur’an.’ How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur’an has disappeared? Rather let him say ‘I have acquired what has survived’” (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur’an ). Other Koranic verses dropped out of the text without replacement. One of these stated, “The religion with Allah is al-Hanifiyyah (the Upright Way) rather than that of the Jews or the Christians, and those who do good will not go unrewarded.” Al-Tirmidhi, the compiler of one of the six collections of Hadith, or Islamic traditions, that Muslims consider to be the most reliable, said that this verse was at one time part of sura 98. It is not found there, however, in Zaid’s canonical version.

FP: Moorthy Muthuswamy?

• Muthuswamy: The importance of the Yemeni Koran is that it was an independent discovery; it physically exists and is distinct from the Islamic doctrines presently in use.

Political Islam faces ideological difficulties with the likes of the Sana’a fragments pointing to the textual evolution of the Koran. Furthermore, as Robert insightfully observes, other inconsistencies in the contemporary Koran and the Hadith accentuate these difficulties.

The challenge ahead lies in utilizing this breach to decisively break the back of Islamic radicalism.

Whether it is the latest, in the form of the Fort Hood massacre or the previous 9/11 attacks, there is one common theme: the armed jihads were carried out by mosque-going pious Muslim men who claimed to be driven by Islamic doctrines.

Recently, much progress has been achieved by applying statistical analysis to the Islamic doctrines themselves in order to understand why pious Muslims are waging jihad on unbelievers. Specifically, we now understand that about sixty-one percent of the contents of the Koran are found to speak ill of unbelievers or call for their violent conquest; at best only 2.6 percent of the verses of the Koran are noted to show goodwill toward humanity. Get this: about seventy-five percent of Muhammad’s biography (Sira) consists of jihad waged on unbelievers.

While there might be some subjectivity to the above analysis, the overwhelming thrust of the inferences should be noted. Moreover, this overall thrust exposes the sheer absurdity of excusing the Koran-inspired terror on the so-called “selective interpretation” of the Muslim holy book or its “verses being taken out of context.”

Additionally, there is the sharia—the so-called Islamic Law, legitimized by the Koran. The medieval sharia has stifled development and integration of Muslim communities, and has indirectly helped channel Muslim energies toward the outlet of jihad.

Let us discuss the evolution of Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist. Consider a hypothetical scenario: the majority of the worshippers in the mosques Hasan attended believed that the Koran couldn’t be taken literally; that there are many mainstream Islamic sites that emphasized the textual evolution of the Muslim holy book. What would have happened? It is very unlikely that Hasan would have given the pro-jihad seminar (the precursor to the Fort Hood massacre) in Walter Reed Medical Center.

Unfortunately, reality is just the opposite. Saudi-funded Wahhabi ideologies that emphasize the literal interpretation of the Koran have played a longstanding role at grievously influencing most American mosque goers.

An April 2001 survey by CAIR found 69 percent of Muslims in America saying it is “absolutely fundamental” or “very important” to have Salafi (similar to radical Wahhabi Islamic ideology) teachings at their mosques (67 percent of respondents also expressed agreement with the statement “America is an immoral, corrupt society”). The Internet-based mainstream Islamic portals too, almost without exception, preach radical ideologies, backed by the Muslim holy book.

Based on the above analysis we can unequivocally state that the Koran, through its contents and their literal interpretations, acts as an albatross around the neck of Muslim communities. Yet, our national security policy in its various incarnations builds on the fundamentally flawed assumption that the Koran is a constructive element in the lives of Muslims.

The challenge of mitigating the radical Islamic threat indeed comes down to questioning the very basis that the Koran is the Word of God.

The Yemeni Koran, backed by Koranic inconsistencies might provide a fresh impetus in this direction.

FP: Robert Spencer, final thoughts?

• Spencer: Moorthy is right. PowerPoint slides on which Hasan proposed to show “what the Koran inculcates in the minds of Muslims and the potential implications this may have for the U.S. military” have come to light. The implications are many, and important.

Hasan makes the case that Muslims must not fight against other Muslims (as is mandated by Koran 4:92), and that the Koran also mandates both defensive and offensive jihad against unbelievers, in order to impose upon those unbelievers the hegemony of Islamic law. He quotes the Koranic verse calling for war against the “People of the Book” (that is, mainly Jews and Christians) until they “pay the tax in acknowledgment of [Islamic] superiority and they are in a state of subjection” (9:29).

Hasan seems then to have been telling the assembled (and no doubt stunned) physicians that Muslims had a religious obligation to make war against and subjugate non-Muslims as inferiors under their rule. But surely that is “extremist” Islam, no? No. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad, in a book on Islamic law explains that “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book … is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” (Jizyah is the tax referred to in Koran 9:29.)

Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.”

Likewise Majid Khadduri, an internationally renowned Iraqi scholar of Islamic law, explained in his 1955 book War and Peace in the Law of Islam that “the Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world…. The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state.”

And Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini put it this way: “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world…. But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world…. There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”

Hasan’s Islam also coincides with that of the jihad terror group Hamas, which has announced its intention, once fully and firmly ensconced in power, to collect that Koranic tax—jizyah—from the non-Muslims luckless enough to live within its domains. Hasan would also no doubt find heads nodding in agreement with his explanation of Islam among the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamic organization (which operates under a variety of names in the United States) that is dedicated in its own words to a “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

No one in government or law enforcement has ever made any attempt to determine how prevalent such understandings of Islam are among Muslims in the United States. But if they are not Nidal Hasan’s eccentricities, but indeed mainstream views of Islam, it would be of cardinal importance for those sworn to protect us to begin making such an attempt now. The lives of innocent people depend on it. As Moorthy explained, the Yemeni Koran could help provide a way.

FP: Moorthy Muthuswamy and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.FrontPageMag, 13 December 2009

This folio, from a Quran manuscript written in Madina in the middle of the 1st century Hijra, was discovered in Sana'a's Great Mosque in 1972. It was auctioned by Christie’s for a record £2,484,500, 20 times its estimated price.

Great Mosque of Sanaa, Yemen

If only Tagore and Gandhi could civilise barbarians… – Kanchan Gupta

Kanchan Gupta“The continuing surge in Islamist fervour cannot, indeed must not, be ignored. The barbarians may not be at our gate as yet, but the unstoppable march of Islamic zealots, whom George W Bush appropriately described as ‘Islamofascists’, as the civilised world retreats, conceding ground with each passing day, should not go unnoticed. To turn a blind eye, to be indifferent, or worse, to be politically correct and tolerate the intolerable would be to our peril.” – Kanchan Gupta

Pranab MukherjeeThere was an interesting news report this past week that missed popular attention, possibly because there’s a predictable sameness to official speeches read out by our President to a foreign audience. The script remains broadly unchanged; Minor tinkering is done by our babus, keeping the venue and occasion in mind. Let me reproduce the opening paragraphs of the report, filed by the Press Trust of India from Stockholm:

STOCKHOLM: Terming terrorism as a serious challenge for the international community, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the ideas of truth, dialogue and non-violence espoused by Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi provide the best way forward.

“What is terrorism? What is the definition of terrorism? Terrorism has no respect for religion, border or nationalities. It believes in only one thing and that is wanton destruction. Today terrorism is a serious challenge for the international community,” he said. 

“I have no hesitation in stating that the ideas of truth, openness, dialogue and non-violence espoused by Tagore and Gandhiji provide the best way forward for a world confronted with intolerance, bigotry and terrorism,” he said.

Tagore & Gandhi  (1915)If indeed that were true, all that would be needed to fight terrorism are not guns and mortars but copies of Tagore’s Gitanjali and Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj. For instance, plane loads of these two books, encapsulating the thoughts of Tagore and Gandhi, could be air-dropped on territory held by the Islamic State and the barbarians would be civilised. But that would not work and we all know so; Mukherjee, I would be bold enough to suggest, knows that better than us. Yet, the clichés must be mouthed, for that is what is expected. In the process, we gloss over the real threat posed by intolerance, bigotry and terrorism as is practiced by the Islamic State and its admiring as well as competing jihadi organisations.

But the continuing surge in Islamist fervour cannot, indeed must not, be ignored. The barbarians may not be at our gate as yet, but the unstoppable march of Islamic zealots, whom George W Bush appropriately described as ‘Islamofascists’, as the civilised world retreats, conceding ground with each passing day, should not go unnoticed. To turn a blind eye, to be indifferent, or worse, to be politically correct and tolerate the intolerable would be to our peril. For let there be no mistake, the taunting tone of those who believe in the inevitability of a homogenous ummah replacing the diverse world we know is already discernible over the babble of ill-informed and vacuous Left-liberal discourse.

Ed HusainSoon after the ghastly London bombings when Islamists blew themselves up with deadly effect, Ed Husain’s book The Islamist was published, recording his disillusionment with radicals who use faith as a cover for their murderous deeds. A particular passage in that book remains indelibly printed on my mind:

“Teacher, I want to go London next month. I want bomb, big bomb in London, again. I want to make jihad!” “What?” I exclaimed. Another student raised both hands and shouted: “Me too! Me too!” Other students applauded those who had just articulated what many of them were thinking…”

That’s how Husain records his experience in the Saudi Arabian school where he had taken up a teaching assignment after embracing radical Islam. It was the day after the 7/7 suicide bombings in London that killed 52 commuters. Husain, his faith in radical Islam by then dwindling rapidly after experiencing life in Saudi Arabia, was hoping to hear his students denounce the senseless killings. Instead, he heard a ringing Michael Adebolajoendorsement of jihad and senseless slaughter in the name of Islam. He returned to London and penned his revealing account in The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left.

Debunking the Left-liberal intelligentsia’s explanation that deprivation, frustration and alienation among immigrant Muslims in Britain are responsible for the surge in jihadi fervour, Husain wrote: “Many Muslims enjoyed a better lifestyle in non-Muslim Britain than they did in Muslim Saudi Arabia. All my talk of ummah seemed so juvenile now.

“It was only in the comfort of Britain that Islamists could come out with such radical utopian slogans as one government, one ever-expanding country, for one Muslim nation. The racist reality of the Arab psyche would never accept black and white people as equal. I was appalled by the imposition of Wahhabism in the public realm, something I had implicitly sought as an Islamist….”

ISIS in KashmirSo, what does an Islamist seek? The reams of rubbish churned out by bogus activists and windbag columnists desperately seeking to rationalise crimes committed in the name of Islam. Ranging from the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmir valley to the Mumbai massacre. From the attack on Parliament House in New Delhi to the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. From the horrific assault on human dignity by the Taliban in Afghanistan to the nauseating anti-Semitism of the regime in Iran.

From the myriad crimes of Boko Haram to the stomach churning blood-letting by the Islamic State, cannot explain either the core idea of Islamism or what motivates Islamists. For that, we have to go through the teachings of Hassan al-Banna, the original Islamist and progenitor of the Muslim brotherhood who now wields power in Egypt, the land of the birth of radical Islam.

Hassan al-BannaHassan al-Banna’s articulation of Islamism in the 1930s, distilled from complex theological interpretations of Islam, was at once simple enough for even illiterate muslims to understand and sinister in its implications when seen in the context of what we are witnessing today: “The Quran is our Constitution. Jihad is our way.

Martyrdom is our desire.” Imagined grievances and manufactured rage came decades later, as faux justification for adopting this three-sentence injunction that erases the line separating the spiritual from the temporal and giving Islam a political dimension in the modern world, thus expanding the theatre of conflict beyond the sterile sands of Arabia.

Sayyid QutbHassan al-Banna died a nasty death when he was murdered in 1949, apparently in retaliation of the assassination of Egypt’s then Prime Minister, Mahmud Fahmi Naqrashi, but the seed he had planted in his lifetime was to grow into a giant poison tree, watered and nourished by Sayyid Qutub (whose tract, Ma’alim fi-l-Tariq was interpreted as treasonous, fetching him the death sentence in 1966) which over the years has spread its roots and branches, first across Arabia and then to Muslim majority countries; so potent is that tree’s life force, its seeds, carried by the blistering desert wind that blows from the Mashreq, have now begun to sprout in countries as disparate as Denmark and India, Turkey and Malaysia, changing demographic profiles and unsettling societies.

Ayman al-ZawahiriThe world chose to ignore subsequent events and, like those who clamour for a gentler, accommodative approach to Islamism today by pushing for compromise over conflict, ‘enlightened’ scholars and public affairs commentators rationalised Anwar Sadat’s assassination by Islamists on October 6, 1981. Even Egypt erred in setting free scores of conspirators, including a certain Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Similarly, the ‘Islamic Revolution’ in Iran with its blood-soaked consequences was hailed as a “people’s victory” over Shah Reza Pehalvi’s dictatorial regime. For Europe, long dubbed Eurabia, it was business as usual — Iran’s oil swamped out rational analyses. If any country had the foresight to sense the danger signals, it was, and ironically so, Egypt under President Hosni Mubarak who remained wary of Iran, not least because of its export of rabid Islamism. Tragically, the new rulers in Cairo are not riled by Tehran naming a street after Sadat’s assassin, Khalid Islambouli.

Muhammed ibn Abd al-WahhabIt was in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that Islamism acquired a new dimension and a vicious edge when it was coupled with Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s severely austere version of Sunni Islam. Arab nationalism, which was unencumbered by Islamism till then, became an expression of faith in radical Islamism.

In what passes for Palestinian territories, the intifada was born and reborn, and while the popularity of Yasser Arafat’s largely secular the  Palestine Liberation Organisation began to decline,the Hamas, led by its paraplegic spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, began its murderous march which has culminated with Gaza Strip being declared ‘Hamastan’. Yassin was killed by the Israelis for inspiring young Palestinians to blow themselves up Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudin buses, restaurants and markets, but that has neither shaken Hamas nor weakened its faith in what Hasan al-Banna preached.

To neutralise the three-sentence injunction of Hasan al-Banna, we need more than a ‘War on Terror’. We need to launch an assault on the idea that motivates radical Islamists. There is no scope for accommodation, nor is there any reason to capitulate or strike a compromise. We still have time to mount a counter-assault. – The Pioneer, 7 June 2015

» Kanchan Gupta is a current affairs analyst based in NCR

ISIS in Palmyra

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