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Strength of Israel will not lie

ISLAM & AL QAEDA ISLAMISTS: RETURN TO VIOLENT PAST WILL CONQUER THE WORLD; MEANWHILE, RE AL QAEDA, OBAMA HAS AMNESIA

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Contents:

Islamism: Back to the Sources: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2013— To read Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s 1984 book Islamic Education and Hasan al-Bana is to get an Islamic education. Nobody should be allowed to talk about Islam or political Islamism without having read this or similar texts. Just as with Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” the Islamists, too, disdain to conceal their aims. Yet those who don’t read their actual texts, speeches and debates but only their public relations misinformation know nothing.

 

Islamist vs. Islamist: Daniel Pipes, National Post, July 29, 2013 As recently as 2012, it appeared that Islamists could overcome their many internal dissimilarities – sectarian (Sunni vs. Shiite), political (monarchical vs. republican), tactical (political vs. violent), and attitudes toward modernity (Salafi vs. Muslim Brotherhood) – and co-operate. In Tunisia, for example, Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) types found common ground. Differences between all these groups were real but secondary, as I put it then, because “all Islamists pull in the same direction, toward the full and severe application of Islamic law (the Sharia).”

 

A Religion at War With Itself: Robert Fulford, National Post, July 12, 2013— At the recent Oxford Union debate, the resolution “This House Believes Islam Is a Religion of Peace” won the day by 286 to 168 votes. That seems an odd conclusion to embrace in 2013.

 

The Al Qaeda Obama Forgot: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2013— In May, Barack Obama told an audience at the National Defense University that the core of al Qaeda was "on the path to defeat." The "future of terrorism," Mr. Obama predicted, would involve "more localized threats," on the order of "the types of attacks we faced before 9/11," such as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing or the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut. "Dealt with smartly and proportionately," he added, "these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11." He ended by calling for repeal of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force—Congress's declaration of war on al Qaeda.

 

On Topic Links

The Long War With Al Qaeda Isn’t Over: Jeffrey Simpson, National Post, Aug. 17, 2013

How Al Qaeda Made Its Comeback: Ali Soufan, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2013

Snapshot of an Uneasy Community: Igal Aciman, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2013

 

ISLAMISM: BACK TO THE SOURCES

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2013

 

 

To read Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s 1984 book Islamic Education and Hasan al-Bana is to get an Islamic education. Nobody should be allowed to talk about Islam or political Islamism without having read this or similar texts. Just as with Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” the Islamists, too, disdain to conceal their aims. Yet those who don’t read their actual texts, speeches and debates but only their public relations misinformation know nothing.

It’s easy to see why Qaradawi is the leading Sunni Islamist thinker in the world today, the spiritual guide behind Egypt’s Islamist revolution. He knows how to express his ideas clearly and persuasively.

Here is his depiction of the Muslim world before the rise of revolutionary Islamism to power and prominence: “The condition of the Muslim nation was like a wasteland in the middle of the [mid-19th century]….

Blind imitation of self-made Western laws and appreciation of foreign values had set over the lives of Muslims… whose names were no doubt Islamic but [whose] brains were West-bred.”

Notice his different angle on what for the Western author would be a tale of Western imperialism and the technological and organizational backwardness of Muslim peoples. Qaradawi does not put the emphasis on Western strength or even injustice but on Muslim weakness. He does not flinch from facing the humiliations of the situation. He promises – as the Arab nationalists did 60 years ago – that his doctrine will bring rapid development and tremendous power. Like Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev once said, Qaradawi pledges to the West, “We will bury you.”

Islamism is a formula to turn inferiority into superiority, to make the Muslim world number one in the world. It uses religion and is formed by key themes in Islam, but ultimately has nothing to do with religion as such. This is a political movement.

Qaradawi is not upset by recent US policy, but by Western policy going back over a century. This bitterness is not going to be conciliated. The problem is not in Western actions – which anyway cannot be undone – but with the interpretation of these actions. They are seen as rooted in a desire to destroy Islam, as being based on a permanent enmity, and no gesture by contemporary Western leaders can lead to the end of this view. On the contrary, such things will be interpreted through the prism of this view, as a trick or a sign of retreat and weakness.

Moreover, Qaradawi does not talk about the need for urbanization, the equality of women, modern education, and greater freedom. Indeed, his view is totally contrary to that of leftist, liberal or nationalist Muslims, who would stress the need to borrow any ideas and methods other than purely technological ones, from the West in order to gain equality and even superiority.

Think of how Asia has succeeded – Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and now even China – through eagerness to blend borrowings, adaptation and its own historic culture. No, for Qaradawi the issue is completely one of the abandonment of Islam.

Equally, while defeat in World War II taught Japan to forget about military conquest and China’s decades of relative failure taught it to change course, Qaradawi favors blood and violence, revolution and totalitarianism.

Note, too, that Qaradawi is far more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill demagogic firebrand. He does not criticize the Muslims who wanted to become Westernized. Rather he feels sorry for them, calling them “victims.” That’s how one builds a movement with a wider base of support, though the actual Islamists in the field rarely show such a tolerant pity.

Moreover, as a man of religion, Qaradawi feels no need – at least consciously – to create a new ideology.

Indeed, human action is not at all the fountainhead of his view of history: Nevertheless, Qaradawi refers to the movement as revolutionary. He knows that its goal is to seize state power and then use that position and the compulsion it offers to transform society.

“When circumstances reached this limit, God’s will came into action. He took over the responsibility of the protection of Islam…. To revive Islam, to put life in the dead spirit of the nation, and to carry it to the climax of success and development. He chose Hasan al-Banna, who laid the foundation of the [Muslim Brotherhood] movement.”

This passage is notable for its claim that Banna was divinely inspired, literally a prophet.

Western observers often take for granted or discount the seriousness of movements claiming they are a direct instrument of God’s will. They are used to subvert far weaker contemporary Western religious impulses or look at those from the past that crumbled in a test of wills with rationalism, modernism, material interests, and personal hypocrisy.

Yet the sincere and profoundly belief that one’s worldview is a product of divine will – an attitude shared by not a single leader or party in any industrialized state – has profound implications. It means that you don’t sell out, get seduced by materialistic lusts, or moderate your ideas and goals, except as a conscious, short-term tactical expedient that you reverse at the first possible opportunity.

The West has not dealt with such a situation of a sincerely held, radical ideology that motivates people for a long time. The suicide bomber has become the symbol of that characteristic, which used to be called “fanaticism” and can now merely be summarized as people who really believe what they say and intend to do what they declare, even unto death.

Qaradawi writes, “If discourse is but verbal and the characters of such persons are free from those principles which he is propagating, then such invitations [to support these ideas] dash against the ears and become empty echoes.”

Almost 30 years after Qaradawi explained the movement’s ideas clearly, the opponents of Islamism have barely begun their attempt to understand and educate others on this ideology.

Contents

           

 

ISLAMIST VS. ISLAMIST

Daniel Pipes

National Post, July 26, 2013

 

 

As recently as 2012, it appeared that Islamists could overcome their many internal dissimilarities – sectarian (Sunni vs. Shiite), political (monarchical vs. republican), tactical (political vs. violent), and attitudes toward modernity (Salafi vs. Muslim Brotherhood) – and co-operate. In Tunisia, for example, Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) types found common ground. Differences between all these groups were real but secondary, as I put it then, because “all Islamists pull in the same direction, toward the full and severe application of Islamic law (the Sharia).”

 

This sort of co-operation still persists in small ways, as shown by a recent meeting between a member of Turkey’s ruling party and the head of a Salafi organization in Germany. But Islamists have in recent months abruptly and overwhelmingly thrown themselves at each others’ throats. Islamists still constitute a single movement, and share similar supremacist and utopian goals, but they also have different personnel, ethnic affiliations, methods, and philosophies.

 

Islamist internecine hostilities have flared up in many other Muslim-majority countries. Sunni vs Shiite tensions can be seen in the rivalry between Turkey and Iran, which is also due to different approaches to Islamism; in Lebanon, where it’s Sunni vs Shiite Islamists, and Sunni Islamists vs. the army; Sunni vs Shiite Islamists in Syria; Sunni vs Shiite Islamists in Iraq; Sunni Islamists vs Shiites in Egypt; and Houthis vs Salafis in Yemen.

 

In many cases, it is members of the same sect who are fighting each other: Khamene’i vs Ahmedinejad in Iran; the AKP vs the Gülenists in Turkey; Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq vs Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq; monarchy vs the MB in Saudi Arabia; Islamic Liberation Front vs the Nusra Front in Syria; Egypt’s MB vs Hamas regarding hostilities toward Israel; MB vs the Salafis in Egypt; and a clash of two leading ideologues and politicians, Omar al-Bashir vs Hassan al-Turabi, in the Sudan. In Tunisia, the Salafis (called Ansar al-Sharia) are fighting the MB-style organization (called Ennahda).

 

Seemingly minor differences can take on a complex quality. Just try to follow a Beirut newspaper’s arcane account of hostilities in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli: This pattern of fracturing brings to mind the divisions of pan-Arab nationalists in the 1950s

 

“Clashes between the various Islamist groups in Tripoli, divided between the March 8 and March 14 political movements, are on the rise … Since the assassination of March 14 figure and intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan in October, disputes between Islamist groups in Tripoli have been heading toward a major conflagration, particularly following the killing of Sheikh Abdel-Razzaq Asmar, an official from the Islamic Tawhid Movement, just hours after Hasan’s death. The sheikh was shot dead … during an armed clash that erupted when supporters of Kanaan Naji, an independent Islamist figure associated with the National Islamist Gathering, attempted to take over the headquarters of the Islamic Tawhid Movement.”

 

This pattern of fracturing brings to mind the 1950s divisions of pan-Arab nationalists. They aspired to unify all Arabic-speaking peoples, as the expression then went, “From the [Atlantic] ocean to the [Persian] gulf.” However appealing the dream, its leaders fell out as the movement grew in power, dooming pan-Arab nationalism to the point that it eventually collapsed under the weight of kaleidoscopic and ever-more minute clashes. These included:

 

— Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt vs the Ba’th (or Baath) parties ruling in Syria and Iraq.

— The Syrian Ba’th party vs the Iraqi Ba’th party.

— The Sunni Syrian Ba’thists vs the Alawi Syrian Ba’thists.

— The Jadidist Alawi Syrian Ba’thists vs the Assadist Alawi Syrian Ba’thists.

 

And so on. In fact, every effort at forming an Arab union failed – in particular the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria (1958-61) but also lesser attempts such as the Arab Federation (1958), the United Arab States (1958-61), the Federation of Arab Republics (1972-77), the Syrian domination of Lebanon (1976-2005), and the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait (1990-91).

 

Reflecting deep Middle East patterns, dissension among Islamists likewise prevents them from working together. As the movement surges, as its members approach power and actually rule, its cracks become increasingly divisive. Rivalries papered over when Islamists languish in the opposition emerge when they wield power.

 

Should the fissiparous tendency hold, the Islamist movement is doomed, like fascism and communism, to be no more than a civilizational threat inflicting immense damage but never prevailing. This possible limit on Islamist power, which became visible only in 2013, offers grounds for optimism, but not for complacency. Even if things look brighter than a year ago, trends can quickly turn around again. The long and difficult job of defeating Islamism remains ahead.

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A RELIGION AT WAR WITH ITSELF

Robert Fulford

National Post, July 13, 2013

 

 

At the recent Oxford Union debate, the resolution “This House Believes Islam Is a Religion of Peace” won the day by 286 to 168 votes. That seems an odd conclusion to embrace in 2013.

 

After the 9/11 outrage, George Bush said “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” We have to imagine that in 2001 he spoke out of hope rather than experience. Certainly we now know that nothing about Islam is that simple. Today, many of its adherents frequently express their religious beliefs through war.

 

The Oxford peace resolution was supported by Mehdi Hasan, a British journalist, the political editor of Huffington Post’s U.K. edition. His opponent, Anne-Marie Waters, of the National Secular Society, cited 9/11, 7/7, Mali, Somalia and other instances of war-like behaviour. Hasan argued that violence involves only a small percentage of believers and Oxford shouldn’t slander the majority and “fuel the arguments of bigots.”

 

Yet Muslims are currently involved in persistent conflicts, including many Muslim vs. Muslim struggles. We know about Syria, where Muslims have killed 100,000 or more Muslims, but there are many other cases that rarely make the international news. In Nigeria, for instance, the conflicts are numerous and bloody — and usually grounded in religion.

 

Few people in the West have even heard of Boko Haram, a Taliban-like army that is now turning regions of northern Nigeria into hell — in the interest of converting the mostly Muslim north to its own version of Islam. Boko Haram’s name roughly translates as “Western education is sinful.” A week ago today, in pursuing their ideals, its soldiers in Yobe State attacked a boarding school for girls with guns and explosives, setting fire to the building. They killed about 42 people, mostly children.

 

Since it began terrorist operations in 2009, Boko Haram has been blamed for thousands of deaths. Parents in the region are reluctant to send children to school and the emergency controls imposed by the government have made ordinary business and farming difficult; the region fears a severe food shortage. Boko Haram, while violently anti-Christian, takes pride in violence against insufficiently pious Muslims, of any age. Their sin is failing to embrace Boko Haram’s puritan Wahbist view of Islam.

 

If Islam embodies a belief in peace, why isn’t that belief sufficient to prevent Muslims from killing other Muslims in great numbers? That question has always bothered me and I notice it also bothers Murtaza Haider, a Pakistan-born professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He recently published an online essay, “Islam at war — with itself,” pointing out that while the nations of the West have succeeded in limiting intra-European conflicts in the last 75 years, the Muslim world in the same period has fallen into one violent conflict after another.

 

The worst was the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, but there have been many since. For instance, in Quetta, Pakistan last month, a female terrorist, pretending to be a student, boarded a bus leaving the women’s university and detonated the explosives strapped to her body. The 28 people who died included 14 students. A sectarian terror group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which often attacks Shia civilians, claimed responsibility and proudly issued the name of the suicide bomber. Another bomb was detonated at the hospital where those injured in the bus were being treated. As Haider says, “This was all done in the name of Islam.” He imagines that the terrorists afterward “chanted with pride, Allah-u-Akbar (God is great).”

 

When the killing takes place entirely within the Islamic world, Muslims look elsewhere for a scapegoat, often the U.S. or India

Leaders in the Muslim world focus on conflicts where Muslims are considered the victims of others, above all Palestine. When the killing takes place entirely within the Islamic world, Muslims look elsewhere for a scapegoat, often the U.S. or India.

 

It’s obvious that many Muslims hope to convince themselves and the rest of the world that Islam is in essence a religion of peace. It’s also obvious that a great many other Muslims are doing their best to demonstrate that it’s not. Why?

In the closed, fearful world of Islamic discussion, this is a question considered offensive or dangerous or both. Muslims who mention it are branded disloyal. Outsiders who raise it are called Islamophobic, which is a form of bigotry in itself, an attempt to shut down controversy by intimidation.

 

But surely this issue deserves to be treated, for Islam’s sake and the world’s, as a question of the utmost importance.

                                              

                                               Contents

 

 

THE AL QAEDA OBAMA FORGOT

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, Aug 5, 2013

 

In May, Barack Obama told an audience at the National Defense University that the core of al Qaeda was "on the path to defeat." The "future of terrorism," Mr. Obama predicted, would involve "more localized threats," on the order of "the types of attacks we faced before 9/11," such as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing or the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut. "Dealt with smartly and proportionately," he added, "these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11." He ended by calling for repeal of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force—Congress's declaration of war on al Qaeda.

 

On Monday, the front page of The Wall Street Journal ran with this headline: "Regrouped al Qaeda Poses Global Threat." The second shortest distance in Washington now runs between an Obama speech and its empirical disproof.

The news, of course, is that 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in Africa and the Middle East will be shuttered until Saturday. This is on account of electronic intercepts of terrorist communications, collected by Edward Snowden's former employers at the National Security Agency and described by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) as "very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11." Vice President Joe Biden has delivered closed-door briefings to Congress; Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) has warned the attacks could come in Europe, the U.S., or as "a series of combined attacks"; Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) calls the threat "a big deal."

 

After 11 years of taking our shoes off at airports, seven years of being forced to throw away tubes of toothpaste and cans of hair spray, five years of assuming the surrender position at the X-ray machine, three years of don't-touch-my-junk anthems, eight seasons of TV's "24" and two seasons of "Homeland," it takes a lot to get Americans worked up about a speculative terrorist threat. If Mr. Durbin says the threat is a big deal, it is.

Then again, it's also a big deal that the executive branch of government has been operating on a contrary set of assumptions. Yes, the president's May speech contained all the required caveats about the abiding terrorist threat and the continued need for vigilance. But the gist of the address was clear, as was its purpose: to declare the war on terror won—or won well-enough—and go home. Facts and analysis were arranged to suit the policy goal. But the facts and analysis were wrong.

 

Specifically: Mr. Obama believed that killing Osama Bin Laden was a strategic victory. In fact, it was mainly a symbolic one (further undercut by his use of it as a political prop). He thought that ending the war in Iraq would help refocus U.S. efforts on Afghanistan. In fact, it showcased America's lack of staying power and gave the Taliban additional motivation to hold out during the president's halfhearted Afghan surge. He thought that substituting the Bush administration's approach to detainees with an approach heavy on drones would earn America renewed goodwill on the Arab street. In fact, there was no goodwill to renew in the first place, and the U.S. is more unpopular in Pakistan and Egypt today than it was six years ago.

 

He believed that staying out—completely out—of the war in Syria would contain the war to Syria and spare American lives and efforts. In fact, the war has generated a brand new branch of al Qaeda in the Nusra Front, helped regenerate the once-moribund Iraqi branch, and attracted jihadist recruits from Europe who may one day return to put their acquired skills into practice.

Finally, Mr. Obama believed that defeating "core al Qaeda"—the group around Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and Afghanistan—effectively meant defeating al Qaeda, even if a few of its lesser offshoots in Africa or the Arabian Peninsula survived. In fact, al Qaeda was designed not as an organization with subordinate branches, but as a model with multiple franchises—as Burger King not General Motors.

 

In his speech, Mr. Obama insisted that "not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States." Yet if al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, or the Arabian Peninsula, or the Maghreb, or some as-yet unknown al Qaeda affiliate succeeds in bombing a U.S. embassy, taking down an airliner, or engineering a second 9/11, will it matter that the plot was hatched in Yemen or Somalia instead of Pakistan or Afghanistan?

 

Which brings us to the shortest distance in Washington: the one that runs between an Obama speech and the media's memory of it. The speech at the National Defense University was billed as a major presidential address. A lengthy article in the New York Times, written days later, reported it was a "window into the presidential mind," the result of "an exercise lasting months," a matter not just of Mr. Obama's policy, but of his very legacy.

 

Yet here we are, not three months later, faced with a threat that makes a comprehensive and vivid mockery of everything the president said. If there's a silver lining here, it's that the administration can put an end to the end of the war on terror without much fear of embarrassment. Better to do so now than in the wake of an attack.

 

It is in the nature of wisdom that it is only truly learned after it's first been mostly forgotten. The lesson of 9/11 was to not go back to pre-9/11 thinking. We may learn soon enough what price we'll have to pay for the benefit of rediscovering what we knew once before.

      

 

                                        

Contents

 

On Topic

The Long War With Al Qaeda Isn’t Over: Jeffrey Simpson, National Post, Aug. 17, 2013

How Al Qaeda Made Its Comeback: Ali Soufan, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2013

Snapshot of an Uneasy Community: Igal Aciman, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2013

 

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