Moderate Islam needs to condemn jihadism unequivocally (Comment)February 22nd, 2009 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for India from all over the world after the recent Mumbai carnage just like what the US received after 9/11. In recent years there have been such senseless killings in Bali, Indonesia (October 2002), Madrid train killings (March 2004), and the London bombings (July 2005). Between 9/11 in the US and 26/11 in India, there have been regular jihadi killings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Algeria, China and Russia. But jihadi terrorism involving the World Trade Center (New York), Madrid, Bali and London has been getting the world attention without any attempt to identify and solve the fundamental problem behind the carnage.
After the regular cyber jihadi terrorism talks and acts by Saudi millionaire terrorist Osama bin Laden, the world started to pay some attention to global jihadi ideology. While the world has realised the killing of millions by communism (according to Black Book of Communism it is more than 100 million), the world has still not taken jihadists seriously. In many respects they are more dangerous than the most deadly weapons of mass destruction. By this time it is well recognised that Bush’s attack against Sadam Hussein, instead of solving the basic problem of international jihadi terrorism (IJT), has only worsened it.
After the Mumbai carnage where one could see on TV the beastly behaviour of jihadi terrorists killing their hostages for just being non- Muslim there is an urgent need for the world community to face the long-term consequences of IJT. In his book on “Clash of Civilizations” Samuel Huntington was able to foresee the future wars based not on nationalities or ideologies like Communism but on religions. But he did not predict nor could he foresee the potent power of jihadi ideology which can hardwire Muslims into live bombs to kill people all over the world.
Douglas Feith, writing for the Wall Street Journal on how India will be a key ally in the fight against terror, has summarised IJT ideology: “The more we learned about jihadist ideology - that of Al Qaada, Lashker-e-Taiba and others - the less likely it appeared that India could free itself of terrorist attacks simply through territorial compromise with Pakistan over Kashmir. Jihadist leaders declare that the aim of their holy war is not to alter specific policies of their enemies, but rather to establish a universal Muslim state. Fighting and killing to implement this apocalyptic vision, they have a long list of grievances and hatreds, including against the rulers of most Muslim countries, who they deem apostates.
But the jihadists particularly despise democracy. They believe law-making and self-government by human beings is blasphemous, an affront to the sovereignty of God, who is the only proper source of legislation.”
It is that IJT ideology quite possibly supported by the Pakistan Army and intelligence which led to the killing of Benazir Bhutto, according to the Economist. It is the same IJT ideology which was behind the Mumbai carnage.
When the world first heard of Chechnya and the Russian inability to handle it peacefully, the reaction was to sympathise with Chechen separatists and we failed to see the role of jihadi ideology. Even after the heart-breaking killings in Moscow and in North Caucasus, the world interpreted the Chechen problem more from the point of view of human rights and age-old grievances of Chechnya rather than the role of international jihadists in exacerbating the situation. The same is true about the Uighur problems in Xinjiang in China. Irrespective of the problems of Muslims in Xinjiang which may be genuine, why should international jihadists interfere in the internal affairs of the country?
Sudan and Nigeria, both of which are suffering from the curse of oil, are also victims of international jihadi terrorism in a less subdued manner compared to Kashmir, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Sudan was the country which had hosted Osama just before his bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
In Pakistan, the army and the intelligence wing, which is under the army, ensure the influence of jihadists. While the former military dictator Zia-ul Huq did not even try to control the army’s jihadi role, the recent dictator Pervez Musharraf did not have much luck. Currently the civilian President Asif Ali Zirdari has no control over his army which has been getting billions of dollars to fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan from the US. But it is diverted to support IJT against India as has been revealed in the latest US report.
According to the Economist, Pakistan is the most dangerous place in the world because of the combination of two weapons of mass destruction - atom bomb and the rule of jihadi ideology. Today it is Pakistan. Tomorrow it could be another country like Bangladesh where democracy has not been able to set its roots. If the world does not start dealing with the fast spreading virus of international jihadi terrorism, IJT will be considered by the future generation to be a more deadly WMD than atom bombs.
There is an urgent need for the UN to organise a meeting of world leaders to discuss the increasing problem of IJT and to develop strategies to overcome it. While the UN is planning such a meeting, the world community should call upon the moderate leaders of Islam to isolate their jihadi elements in more forceful ways. Just like Hindus have been struggling to get rid of untouchability, caste-based discrimination and Sati (practically eliminated), Islam should start a movement to get rid of Jihadism.
While the majority of Muslims is critical of jihadists, there is still a significant minority in various Muslim-dominated countries where jihadists are getting full support. How can one explain the martyr type of respect shown to the killers of Bali bombing in Indonesia after they were put to death recently?
When the complicity of India’s mafia leader Dawood Ibrahim is well known in various jihadi killings of Mumbai, how can one explain the indifference of the Pakistan government in extraditing him to India or being given lavish hospitality in the Middle Eastern countries? How can one explain millions of dollars being provided to promote international jihadi terrorism movement by the millionaires living in an oil rich country like Saudi Arabia?
Now is the time to take strong action because IJT will get more strength and support in the future as the world’s reliance on Middle East oil starts to increase even more. The recent IEA report has predicted $200 per barrel of oil by 2030 mostly because the supply of conventional oil will start peaking. By that time more than 85 percent of oil reserves will be from the Middle East and all the nations there have Muslim majority. Unless those states take active steps and join the rest of the world community to eliminate these jihadi elements, the situation will only get worse.
There is no use in some affected countries like the US, India or Spain going and bombing the jihadi terror camps. Killing a few jihadists physically will not help much. In Hindu mythology there was a demon whose each drop of blood falling to the ground created hundreds of his clones. Similarly as it happened in Iraq, killing of Al Qaeda or LET will give rise to more of them instead of eliminating them as predicted. What is needed is for the followers of moderate Islam to condemn jihadism in no uncertain terms. Only they can put the genie of jihadism back in the bottle.
(Dr. Bhamy V Shenoy, convener of Mysore Grahakara Parishat, an NGO, and an international oil expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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