Friday, June 11, 2004



by Dr.Subhas Kapila

Introductory Observations:

The United States after the Islamic Jehadi attacks on the citadels of American power in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 (9/11) has been engaged in a relentless operation to track down Osama bin Laden and his unholy band of the Al Qaeda hierarchy. The United States launched a military intervention in Afghanistan to destroy the medieval Islamic Jehadi regime of the Taliban imposed by Pakistan on that war-ravaged and hapless country. The attendant aim being also to destroy the Al Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan so painstakingly built by Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) with financial assistance from Saudi Arabia. In fact it were Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which formed the real “axis of evil”. This author's SAAG Paper- “Bush’s Other Axis of Evil” refers.

While United States military aircraft were busy rescuing Pakistan Army personnel actively fighting on the side of the Taliban against the Afghan liberation forces, Pakistan seems to have facilitated or spirited away Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda hierarchy to Pakistan territory to evade capture by the Americans. This was also the time that General Musharraf was making statements that Osama bin Laden had been killed in American bombings,

Three years down the line, Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda hierarchy in safe havens in Pakistan have defied United States efforts to capture them. All this despite the Pakistan military rulers assertions that the Pakistan Army was in hot pursuit of the fugitives. It also needs to be recalled that at the same time American field commanders in Afghanistan on the trail of Osama bin Laden were complaining of lack of cooperation by Pakistan Army commanders.

Three years down the line, Islamic Jehad is still playing havoc with American lives in Iraq and rearing its ugly head in South East Asia, Philippines and operators recently arrested in Japan i.e. in areas of strategic importance or strategic interest to the United States. Terrorism, suicide bombings etc of the Al Qaeda variety continue to abound.

This raises a moot question whether Al Qaeda continues to exist as an effective organization directing global terrorism of the Islamic Jehadi type or that the Al Qaeda has spawned “Al Qaedism” as an Islamic Jehad “ideological” movement against the United States, West, Israel and even India.

“Al Qaedism” More Dangerous to United States than Al Qaeda:

The United States must pressurize Pakistan hard to hand over Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda accomplices so that American justice can take its course for the wanton destruction of 9/11. It can be done and some have cynically claimed that it will take place in September 2004, closer to US presidential elections.

Will the capture of Osama bin Laden bring about the elimination of Islamic Jehadi terrorism or will “Al Qaedism” as an Islamic Jehadi terrorism ideology outlive the end of Osama bin Laden?

The answers or clues in this direction have been competently and very aptly provided by Jason Burke in his article “Think Again :Al Qaeda” in the American magazine “Foreign Policy” May-June 2004 issue.

Jason Burke’s significant observations are as follows:

* The mere mention of Al Qaeda conjures images of an efficient terrorists network guided by a criminal mastermind.

* Yet Al Qaeda is more lethal as an ideology than as an organization.

* “Al Qaedism” will continue to attract supporters in the years to come, whether Osama bin Laden is around to lead them or not.

* Al Qaeda functioned like a venture capital firm in providing funding, contacts, expert advice to many different militant groups and individuals from all over the world.

* Though Al Qaeda structure stands destroyed in Afghanistan and there is no central hub for Islamic militancy, “Al Qaedism” is growing stronger every day.

* This radical internationalist ideology sustained by anti-Western, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric has adherents all over----- few of them linked directly with Osama.

* In Pakistan, money from Persian Gulf has funded massive expansion of madrassas (Islamic schools) that indoctrinate youngsters with virulent anti-Western dogma (of the Al Qaeda variety).

If “Al Qaedism” is more dangerous than Al Qaeda as an organization and rightly so argued, then the point comes up as to what is the solution. Some senior American officials to whom this author highlighted Jason Burke’s observations also came up with the same question: “What can the United States do to overcome the challenge of “Al Qaedism”.

To find a solution to overcome the “Al Qaedism” challenge, the United States has to ponder and deliberate over the following factors:

Al Qaeda and and “Al Qaedism:- do they require different strategies and policy approaches or existing ones will suffice?
“Al Qaedism”- is it a precursor or extension of Islam’s civilisational war against America?
“Al Qaedism”-how does the United States tackle its nurseries, financing and experimental laboratories.
Afghanistan critical importance as a US Base to combat “Al Qaedis
“Al Qaedism”resorts to use of a “Dirty Nuclear Bomb"
The remaining part of this paper attempts to put forth the authors views on these critical factors.

Al Qaeda and “Al Qaedism” Require Different Strategies and Policy Approaches:

Elimination of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda hierarchy and structures falls within the domain of military operations. Hence military strategies are required. On the other hand “Al Qaedism” as an Islamic Jehadi ideological struggle would require the United States to adopt a combination of political, strategic and psychological warfare strategies. Strategies for tackling “Al Qaedism”, perforce, will be long drawn out in terms of time and resources. It would involve attacking the very roots of Islamic Jehadi terrorism by a combination of all of the above means. These roots are not poverty of Islamic masses, but the use of “Al Qaedism” (International Islamic Jehad) as an instrument of state policy.

But the bigger question that the United States has now to face is as to which is the priority target-Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda hierarchy or “Al Qaedism” or both have to be tackled simultaneously.

Prioritizing elimination of Osama bin Laden and his hierarchy reduces America’s war against Islamic Jehadi terrorism to distorting United States perceptions and policies on its global counter-terrorism war. It becomes an exclusively United States military operation limited to Pakistan-Afghanistan territory. It also leads to an over-exaggeration of Pakistan’s presumed importance in United States strategy and excluding the rest of the world in the American global war on terrorism. It reduces and opens United States to charges of selective and sequential campaign against global Islamic Jehad.

However, if the United States were to accord Priority I to tackle the challenges of “Al Qaedism” then its global war on Islamic Jihad perceptions and policy approaches fall into the correct perspective. It would be more inclusive and enlist the willing support of a large number of countries, the world over. It would also correct the policy distortions in America’s Greater Middle East policy of over reliance on an ally of dubious value, namely Pakistan.

“Al Qaedism” is a Manifestation of Islam’s Civilisational War Against the United States and the West:

The United States and the West are in a “denial mode” that Islamic Jihad or “Al Qaedism” is not a manifestation of Islamic civilisational war against the United States and the West. The sooner this realization dawns, the sooner will emerge a united and concerted joint United States and Europe counter-offensive against this challenge. Samuel Huntington was not wrong when he conceived the theory of “Class of Civilisations”. Some thoughts of Huntington on the subject need to be focused on:

* “ Some Westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamic extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”

* “ A prominent Indian Muslim predicted in 1992 that the West’s “next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin.”

* “Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt, and it has done that at least twice.”

Putting the survival of the West (now including the United States) for a third time may have already commenced now.

Once this perspective is duly recognized by the United States, then the distortions in US attitudes, policies and strategies of its global war on terrorism will recede.

The European nations having tasted the Madrid bombings and what could follow from terrorism sponsored by international Islamic Jehad (read Al Qaeda) should prompt them to unite with the USA unreservedly in pursuing such terror. They have the resources but they need a united will with USA.

Israel is the only country in the world which has recognised the true import of Islamic Jihad, and its pan-Islamic stirrings and its international dimension.

Al Qaedism Nurseries-Pakistan:

After 9/11 many research works by American authors on Islamic Jihad opined that Pakistan was the nursery, the initiator and the organizer of international Islamic Jehad. Yossef Bodansky had pointed this earlier with telling effect before 9/11 in his book on Osama bin Laden. His observations on Pakistan are noteworthy, namely:

* “Benazir Bhutto, who became the Prime Minister in 1989, had a profoundly different perception of the role and utility of Islamist terrorism. Convinced that Pakistan’s destiny lay in strategic alliances with such countries as Syria, Iran, China (PRC) and North Korea. Benazir Bhutto’s Islamabad re-examined all aspects of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and the world of state sponsored terrorism became an instrument of crucial significance for policy.”

* Consequently, the ISIs support for and sponsorship of sisterly Islamic terrorist movements throughout the Arab world became a cornerstone of Pakistan’s national security policies.

* “….Islamabad recognized the growing specter of confrontation with the United States ….still Islamabad shifted to active support for militant Islam.

* “..Pakistan became to Sunni Islamist terrorism what Lebanon had been to radical leftist terrorism.”

* “By the late 1980’s….Pakistan had already turned into the center of Islamist terrorism, the melting pot of the Sunni Jihad (read “Al Qaedism”)

Events post-9/11 are well known including Pakistan’s role as a facilitator of 9/11 bombings and are not being re-counted. It is strange that such a nation today stands enlisted by USA as an ally against global terrorism

Leaving that aside, the moot question is how does USA find a solution to eliminating Pakistan’s role( a continuing one ) as the nursery of “Al Qaedism”. In terms of a solution, the United States has to ponder over the following factors:

* “Al Qaedism” found roots and flourished in Pakistan not arising from the poor Islamic fundamentalist masses of Pakistan. “Al Qaedism” was nourished, flourished and exported by Pakistan as an instrument of state policy.

* Pakistan Army and ISI have adopted Al Qaiedism as an act of faith.

* The Islamic ‘madrasas’ and seminaries in Pakistan and “Al Qaedist” terrorist organizations continue to exist extending from Karachi to Peshawar via Multan and Jhang.

United States has only one radical solution where a nation-state like Pakistan emerges as a “rogue terrorist Al Qaedist state”. The United States needs to:

* Sideline Pakistan politically.

* Stop all economic aid to Pakistan till “Al Qaedism” is eliminated

* Cut of all defence ties and military aid to Pakistan.

* Put Pakistan under international quarantine.

* Freeze all Pakistan’s foreign accounts overseas.

Afghanistan conversely needs to be developed as a United States base for containment of Pakistan as an “Al Qaedism” state.

“Al Qaedism” Financiers-Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan is the second pole of the “Al Qaedism” axis of terror. It is Saudi Arabia predominantly which has provided extensive financial assistance to Pakistan for training sanctuaries and operations of “Al Qaedism” world wide. On 9\1, 15 of the 19 Islamic Jehadi bombers were Saudis, with many products of terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan created by Pakistan.

In a state like Saudi Arabia, all this financing of “ Al Qaedism” could not have taken place without Saudis official complicity. Even after 9\11, Saudi Arabia kept providing Pakistan with free oil amounting to millions of dollars a month. Obviously this was as a financial off set for Pakistan’s efforts in continuance of “Al Qaedism” and the Taliban-- both American enemies.

The solution is for the United States to exercise additional pressure against the Saudi monarchy, very untenable at present. United States enjoys several leverages to force Saudi Arabia to desist from financing and supporting “Al Qaedism” namely

* Threat of freezing of billions of dollars of Saudi investments in USA as compensation for victims of 9/11

* United States could implement 1971 plans, speculated then of carving a separate state of oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s Eastern regions under a separate regime, and there by cutting off Saudi Arabia’s financial clout.

Afghanistan’s Critical Importance as United States Base against “Al Qaedism”
Afghanistan was Pakistan’s experimental laboratory for “Al Qaeidsm” and a base for “Al Qaedist” operations to provide a plausible ‘ deniability exit’ for Pakistan. It would be wrong to say that Afghanistan or Afghans, barring the Taliban, were active proponents of ‘Al Qaedism’.

Afghanistan is crucial for the United States after its military intervention post 9/11 as a base of operations against ‘Al Qaedism's' spread. The attention of United States stood diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq, but it is in Afghanistan that the United States must consolidate its gains and launch an onslaught on “Al Qaedism” ensconced in Pakistan and the Pakistan’s Army

The United States needs to implement the following steps in this direction.

* United States must clinically insulate Afghanistan against any Pakistani role, interference or any other activity.

* United States would need to go to the UN for an UN Force to sanitise the Pak-Afghan border against Pakistan’s subversive operations in Afghanistan.

* Pakistan has to be denied any “special interests” or “strategic interests” role in Afghanistan.

* An Afghanistan so insulated can then be built up as a base for containment of an “Al Qaedist” Pakistan.

* United States must enlist all international support for reconstruction of Afghanistan’s infra structure and institutions and its emergence as a democratic state.

* Afghan Armed Forces could be built up with US and European assistance for defending the Pak-Afghan border and prevent the re-emergence of the Taliban, which Pakistan is currently attempting.

“Al Qaedism” Likely Resort to Use of a “Dirty Nuclear Bomb” Against the West: - The Pakistan Factor:

Ever since 9\11security specialists all over the world are exercised over the tormenting possibility of use of a “dirty nuclear bomb” against Western targets. It is a live possibility and very much on the cards going by the reckless operating patterns of the “Al Qaedists.”

Pakistan and Pakistan’s nuclear scientists are the only source which can make this happen. No other Islamic country other than Pakistan has nuclear weapons and materials and nuclear weapons technology. Pakistan has already demonstrated its readiness to proliferate nuclear weapons technology and then if a call comes “in the name of Islam” can Pakistan or its “rogue” (Pakistani nomenclature). Pak nuclear scientist not respond to the “Al Qaedist” calls. The possibility of “Al Qaedist” elements in the Pakistan Army spiriting away the wherewithal for a “dirty nuclear bomb” for the Islamic Jehadis cannot be discounted.

The United States instead of whitewashing Pakistan’s WMD proliferation needs to take stringent measures to quarantine Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal.

Concluding Observations:

“Al Qaedism “ is a more explosive civilisational and potent threat facing the United States and the West, than even Nazism. Imperatives therefore exist for the United States and Europe to put their acts together as the standard bearers against this menace as they did during the Second World War. “Al Qaedism” is also a threat to Israel, India, Japan and the other democracies. They too cannot afford to stand aside and pass on the burden to USA and the West.

While “Al Qaeidsm” might represent the lunatic fringe of political Islam, as Jason Burke describes it, but then he does not delve further as to what should the United States do when-

Pakistan, claiming to be USA’s staunch ally, uses this “lunatic fringe” as an instrument of state policy.

Moderates and peace loving people in the Islamic world are terrorized by this “lunatic fringe” and they are unable to speak out or work towards the emergence of moderate and modernised Islamic nations.

Obviously then, it is the United States supported by Europe and other democracies of the world which have to combat “Al Qaedism” world wide. The United States is a “great power” and as Winston Churchill once said, “With great power come great responsibilities.”

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