THEMES

What lies at the heart of Terror
November 25, 2015
What lies at the heart of Terror
A reasoned analysis of the growing extremism in Islam.

The recent attacks across the world, most notably Paris, Beirut and Baghdad highlight the growing extremism and the brutality of the Islamic State(ISIL). We, therefore, feel that understanding the roots of this terror is more important now than ever. 
Paris attacks: The answer is a global human resistance to Islamism
Maryam Namazie

Paris Terror Attack
Courtesy: Getty Images
 
We mourn our dead in Paris today and stand in solidarity with the people of France – no ifs or buts.

And whilst we mourn the dead, let us not forget the many other civilians who whilst going about their daily lives have been slaughtered by Islamism – a global killing machine.

This month alone, the dead comprise 7 Hazara, including a 9 year old girl, beheaded by ISIS and 19 year old Rokhshana, stoned to death by the Taliban in Afghanistan; a mass grave of Yazidi women uncovered after ISIS was routed from Sinjar (see photo on left); roadside bombings in Baghdad and Sadr City, which killed 41 people; twin explosions in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed at least 43 people; a downed Russian airliner killing all 224 on board; at least 4 killed in suicide attack in Sinai, Egypt; a secular publisher killed and 3 others wounded in Bangladesh; at least 32 people, including four children, killed in a suicide attack in Pakistan; 30 people killed and dozens injured in twin suicide bomb attacks in Nigeria’s Borno State…

Countless others have also been killed – not by “jihadis” but legally by Islamic states via Sharia laws: 100 have been executed in Saudi Arabia during a 6 month period with 700 executions in Iran during the same time-frame. The current President Rouhani, who planned to visit France, has overseen the execution of 2000 civilians during two years in office… Many more languish in prison – people like Raif Badawi and Atena Faraghdani – or face male guardianship rules, compulsory veiling, gender segregation, even bans on laughing out loud or music…
U2 lead singer Bono says the Paris massacres, especially the attack on the music concert, is Islamic State’s first “direct hit against music” but music has been the target of Islamists for decades. In Mali, for example, Islamists have banned music in the north of that country. In Iran, women cannot sing solo in front of men…

The Islamists target music, art, love, and always civilians.

French President Hollande says the Paris attacks are an act of war. True, but this war has been raging for decades. People in many countries across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have lost a generation and been fighting this movement at great risk to their lives. This “war” is one of the main reasons for the mass migration.

Despite the devastation, there is hope. Just this week, women came out to oppose Rokhshana’s stoning, tens of thousands came out against the ISIS beheadings in Afghanistan and peshmarga liberated Sinjar from ISIS, lowering ISIS’ flag and raising the Kurdish flag.

True, but this war has been raging for decades. People in many countries across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have lost a generation and been fighting this movement at great risk to their lives. This “war” is one of the main reasons for the mass migration.

Protests in defence of the people of Paris are part and parcel of this global protest movement against Islamism’s inhumanity and brutality. Our success will lie in recognising the global resistance against Islamism and seeing how it is intrinsically linked to our own.

It will also lie in our ability to target Islamists and not just jihadis. We cannot win against ISIS whilst wining and dining heads of Islamic states like Rouhani and the Saudi regime or appeasing, funding or even arming “moderate” and “soft” Islamists, which are part of the problem.

We also won’t be able to win if we place collective blame on migrants or Muslims. Many “Muslims” (or those presumed to be Muslims) are the first victims and on the frontlines of resistance. Also, many migrants are fleeing Islamists or dictators like Asad in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan…
Those who kill indiscriminately in Paris or in Raqqa include the European-born. This is not an “anti-imperialist” movement to be excused and justified nor is this about “identity.” It’s about politics – regressive, fascist politics that needs no justification to kill and slaughter. Where Islamism begins, rights, freedoms, democratic politics and freethought ends.

To push back this movement, we must oppose it all – not just jihadis – and not just in Europe. Keeping the people of Europe safe is intrinsically linked to keeping people the world over safe. In this we have many allies amongst the people of Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq to Algeria, who have been standing up to and resisting Islamism for decades.

Today we mourn but we also resolve to continue the fightback on behalf of people everywhere.

Onwards towards a global, human resistance to Islamism.
A common terror pool

Javed Anand

Courtesy: corbettreport.com
 
In its savagery and brutality, the ISIS is acting strictly in accordance with the teachings and practice of al-Wahhab who enjoyed the active political support of the founder of the first Saudi state.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

..the Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, proclaimed that the killing of innocent human beings is the worst fitna (strife) and is strictly forbidden in Islam. Moving on from the general to the specific, he described the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the “enemy number one” of Islam and humanity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you have a problem tree in the orchard, chopping branches won’t help. Get to the roots of the problem.

(This article was first published in The Asian Age on October 15, 2014)

The colour of terrorism

Ibrahim Hewitt


Dismissing this murderous act as the work of “a lone madman” ignores a more detailed study of the killer’s motivation.

 

A few years ago, the respected Cambridge scholar TJ Winter, also known by his Muslim name of Abdal Hakim Murad, gave a fascinating lecture to humanities staff and students at the University of Leicester. The title was ‘Islam and the threat of the West’, turning on its head the more usual – then and now – ‘Islam and the threat to the West’.

It was a novel approach which, in a nutshell, illustrated that historically, aggression has been directed more from Europe to the Muslim world than the other way round. His evidence for such a view was impeccably sourced.

I thought about Abdal Hakim’s talk this morning as I read the reports coming in of the dreadful bombing and shooting in Norway wherein, of course, there was speculation that these two events were “Islamic terror-related”. No doubt we will learn more over the coming days but the early signs are in fact that the perpetrator was a “blonde, blue-eyed Norwegian” with “political traits towards the right, and anti-Muslim views”. Not surprisingly, the man’s intentions were neither linked to these “traits” nor to his postings on “websites with Christian fundamentalist tendencies”. Any influence “remains to be seen”; echoes of Oklahoma 1995.

Interestingly, this criminal is described by one unnamed Norwegian official as a “madman”. He may well be but this is one way that the motivations for heinous crimes can be airbrushed out of the story before they have the chance to take hold in the popular imagination.

 

Closing the book

In 1969, for example, Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian Christian who set fire to Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, was dismissed as a “madman” and sent for psychiatric treatment; end of story. The right-wing fundamentalists plotting to destroy the mosque, and the nearby Dome of the Rock, lived to fight another day. I suspect that that is what will happen with the Norwegian bomber/ shooter; his right-wing links and Christian fundamentalist contacts will be dismissed as irrelevant. This, we will be told, was the work of a “deranged” person “acting independently”. Ergo the only organised “terror threats” to civilisation are still “Islamic-related” and the focus of anti-terror legislation and efforts must remain in the Muslim world and on Muslim communities in Europe and the USA.

If we allow this to happen, we will be doing the world a great disservice, not least because the new right is on the rise across the West – and Oklahoma was proof that its followers are capable of immense destruction.

Neo-Nazi immigrants from eastern Europe have even been active in Israel where the government, while deploring such far-right activity in its midst, is actually edging ever more to the far right on a daily basis. Ministers advocate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in order to purify Israel as a “Jewish state”; precious human rights for which the world has struggled are overridden in the name of “state security”; criminals in uniform are allowed to get away, quite literally, with murder.

All of this takes place with the collusion of western governments which are themselves showing right-wing tendencies towards doublespeak on matters of respect and tolerance for minorities. If you are even remotely “different” in Europe today, especially if you are a Muslim, you are eyed with suspicion and must go out of your way to “prove” your loyalty to a state which, if the truth was made known, would get rid of you if only it had the guts to pass the necessary legislation to do so. In some cases, such legislation is virtually in place in the guise of “anti-terror” measures.

All of this is backed by a vociferous and influential right-wing media which supports Israel, right or wrong – and a pro-Israel lobby which acts as if it is untouchable. Given the political context across the West, it probably is.

 

Attacks against the left

It is significant that the target of the Norwegian “madman” appears to have been the left-leaning Labour Party, both in Oslo and on the island where the shootings took place. Across Europe, the left has been forming alliances with Muslim groups to fight fascism and racism of all kinds and it cannot be a coincidence that The Politics of Multiculturalism in the New Europe, a collection of essays from across the continent, published in 1997, concluded almost without exception that “the challenge” facing Europe was the presence of large Muslim communities in “our” midst. Anyone who claims therefore that the perpetrator’s “right-wing traits” and “anti-Muslim views” or even links with “Christian fundamentalist” websites are irrelevant is trying to draw a veil over the unacceptable truths of such “traits” and expecting us to believe that right-wing ideology is incapable of prompting someone towards such criminality.

Of course, that idea is nonsensical. Right-wing ideology was behind the Holocaust; it has been behind most anti-Semitism and other racism around the world; the notion of Europe’s and Europeans’ racial superiority – giving cultural credibility to the far right – gave rise to the slave trade and the scramble for Africa leading to untold atrocities against “the Other”; ditto in the Middle and Far East. Ironically, it is also far-right Zionism – far from the socialist myths of Zionist pioneers in the 1930s and before – which has been behind the ethnic cleansing of Palestine throughout the 20th century, right up to today, as a specific policy to be pursued – by military means if necessary.

This is well documented and yet ignored by our political masters. In the context of the latest apparently far-right atrocities in Norway, it is equally ironic that the word in English for a traitor who collaborates with an enemy power stems from Major Vidkun Quisling who ruled Norway on behalf of Nazi Germany during the second world war.

We dismiss this “madman” as a one-off “not linked to any international terrorist organisations” at our peril. If nothing else, history has shown us that such ideologies are transnational across and beyond the West, with catastrophic effects on the rest of the world. We have been warned.

(Education and media consultant Ibrahim Hewitt is the chair of trustees of the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund and is senior editor of the Middle East Monitor. He is also a trustee of Creative Arts Schools Trust. This article was posted on the Al Jazeera website on July 23, 2011.)

Courtesy: Al Jazeera; http://english.aljazeera.net

Archived from Communalism Combat, July-August 2011  Year 18    No.159, Fascist Terror