Tuesday, July 27, 2004

An ongoing failure of imagination in the terror war

William's note: This is from the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal. The American Media has few, if any, supposed journalist who can write an analysis like this 

An ongoing 'failure of imagination'?

Ajai SahniEditor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

A "failure of imagination", the Panel investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US stated, was what kept US officials from understanding the Al Qaeda threat before the catastrophic events in New York and Washington. There is, however, a manifest and abiding danger today, that a future investigation into terrorist plots that are yet to be accomplished would find another, even greater, 'failure of imagination', culminating in horrors that may easily dwarf the events of 9/11.

The 9/11 Panel has been sagacious in noting that the critical element that must be understood if an adequate response to global terrorism is to be crafted, is that "we are in the midst of an ideological conflict". The contemporary assessment of where precisely inimical ideologies are located will be crucial to the outcome of this conflict - and here, again, there is an evident error in the dominant American evaluation.

It is, of course, the case that Osama bin Laden has been one of the most articulate representatives of this ideology, and his Al Qaeda one of its most effective manifestations. But there are many 'future bin Ladens' waiting in the wings, largely unnoticed, or systematically and intentionally ignored, by the American establishment, as well as by much of the world.

Among the most dangerous instances of this neglect occur in Pakistan. The present US Administration appears to have substantially 'outsourced' the management of its security interests in this region to what it perceives as a pliant, even servile, military dictatorship headed by General Pervez Musharraf, and there is a belief that this regime will bring about the 'enlightened moderation' that America hopes for in its favoured ally. It is useful, consequently, to identify where precisely, within this arrangement, the ideologies of hatred are articulated, what their constituent elements are, and what relationship the Musharraf regime has with their most visible advocates.

On May 20 this year, a meeting was organised at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) by the Hizb-ul-Mujahiddeen (HM), the largest terrorist group operating in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The meeting commemorated the 'martyrdom' of two of its 'commanders' in J&K, on May 6, 2004, and was only one of many such routinely organised to commemorate the rather frequent 'martyrdom' of prominent terrorist cadres in J&K. The current Pakistani fiction, substantially accepted by the 'international community', is that the HM is an 'indigenous' Kashmiri group with an agenda exclusively limited to the 'liberation' of Kashmir. The HM is not a banned organisation in Pakistan, and operates openly with significant infrastructural, material and military support from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The May 20 meeting was addressed by, among others, Syed Mohammad Yusuf Shah @ Syed Salahuddin, the 'Supreme Commander' of the Hizb; Shiekh Aqil-ur-Rahman, the District Chief, Murzaffarabad, of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of the largest 'mainstream' political parties in Pakistan, and Javed Iqbal, also of the JI; Ghulam Rasool Shah @ Abdur Rafiya, Deputy Chief, Jamiat-ul-Mujahiddeen, a terrorist organisation supposedly 'banned' in Pakistan; and Mohd. Farooq Rahmani, Convener, All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), POK, an organisation engaged in a 'peaceful struggle' for the 'liberation' of J&K. Significantly, the meeting was held openly in a public ground in an affluent area in Muzaffarabad, and the benign presence of uniformed police personnel is visible in the video record secured by the South Asia Terrorism Portal.It is not possible, here, to reproduce the full text of their speeches translated from the Urdu, but their main thrust can be communicated, without comment, with a few extracts:

Syed Salahuddin, 'Supreme Commander', Hizb-ul-Mujahideen thus states: "Almighty Allah, by his will and tactics, is bringing the Jihad Movement of Kashmir on a track that will liberate not only the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir but also crores of Muslims and other minorities in India oppressed by Brahmin imperialists…"Islamic history, the Holy Quran, the biographies of the Holy Prophet Mohammed and his virtuous followers, and the whole of history proves that no Muslim issue could ever be solved on the negotiating table. Can anyone quote an example and tell me whether any Muslim issue has been solved in their favour according to their will on the negotiating table? Disputes have been solved only on the battlefield.

On the table? Yes! We were cheated! Don't go far, ask the Palestinian people how they were cheated in the Camp David agreement. Afghan Mujahideen were cheated in the Geneva Agreement. If the Mujahideen had not tackled the problem through their iman (faith), then today Russia would have Afghanistan firmly in its claws…"Most humbly and respectfully, I request the leadership of my base-camp and the political leadership of the God-gifted state (Pakistan), whether they are in power or in opposition, in politics or in religion that: "Take not for friends Unbelievers rather than Believers." Jews and Hindus were neither your friends earlier nor can they be today...

"The God-gifted Pakistan will emerge as a prosperous Islamic, nuclear and Islamic country that can listen to the cry for help of the empty-handed, innocent child Mujahideen, the shamed mothers and sisters in Palestine. There is no Salahuddin Ayyubi or Nooruddin Zangi in the entire Arab world who can listen to their cry for help. There is no Mohammad bin Qasim, Tariq bin Ziyad, and no Salahuddin Ayyubi in the entire Muslim world who can prevent the blood shed of helpless Muslims, which flows like rivers in the hills of Afghanistan, in the deserts of Iraq, in the sky high mountains of Kashmir or in the Chechnyan valley strewn with flowers. There are 56 Muslim countries, 56 organized Muslim forces and all of them have surrendered to the devil's forces. They are defeated and helpless…."Dear youth! Allah bless you, Allah has chosen you by his own powerful hand.

 He has chosen you for protecting the honour of Islam. Who is there today? Where have Saddam's 500,000 forces and 80,000 Republican Guards gone? Who is present today to challenge the imperialist powers? Who is defeating the allied forces in the deserts of Arab Iraq, and who is breaking the pride of America? Who is causing trouble in the hills of Afghanistan and for the 750,000 forces of Indian imperialists in the Kashmir Valley, strewn with flowers? Who is attacking the Generals in Chechnya? Dear youth! They are none other than the Mujahideen, the successors of the holy Prophet Mohammed. In this context, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said: "To embark on the cause of Allah, whether in night or day, is the greatest good on earth." These are the Mujahideen who teach a lesson to all forces of the devil, who will make Allah's religion achieve eminence and will protect the honour of the oppressed millat (community). They are the Mujahideen about whom it was said that on judgment day Allah will weigh all the treasures of the earth and the sky on one side and a day or a night in the life of the Mujahideen on the other side."Sheikh Aqil-ur-Rahman of the JI declares:

"The rulers of Islamabad and India as well as those of America, who are conspiring against jihad should understand that Muslims cannot compromise with jihad. It is an integral part of our Iman (faith). We do not posses the same eminence and stature as the five hundred thousand brethren who have sacrificed their lives for this purpose. But we will also follow their paths and sacrifice our lives."Javed Iqbal, also of the JI:"My brethren! Today, after 9/11, people all over the world are saying that the situation has changed and the Mujahideen should learn their lesson and they should stop their activities.

My brethren! If we believe in Allah, if we believe in the Holy Quran, if we are the followers of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and believe in him, then jihad is the destination of our lives. Jihad is our only path and we have to follow it."Sheikh Jamil-ur-Rahman, a political Leader in PoK:"The Hindus can never be our friends. The Holy Quran confirms it. In clear words, Allah also says that the Jews and Christians too cannot be our friends. Those who are initiating friendship between India and Pakistan are misguiding the nation. They are cheating the nation. Friendship with the Hindus is unnatural, unprincipled and unlawful."

 
These voices are neither isolated exceptions, nor the most extreme in the ideological discourse that dominates the Islamist core in Pakistan. In an address at Jamia Qadsia in Lahore, on July 9, 2004, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its terrorist arm, the supposedly 'banned' Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), states: "Islam was spread and propagated in the world through jihad. Jihad strengthens the relation between Islam and the Muslims and reinforces their Iman (Faith). In the past too, through jihad, infidels were defeated in the world and infidelity crushed. Islam achieved eminence and even today, jihad will lead to similar results by the will of Allah…Earlier, on June 7, 2004, Saeed had written in Jasrat:"The US thought that it would keep jihad limited to Afghanistan and extend its agenda of usurping the natural resources of the Muslim world to Central Asia. But jihad's wave spread all over the world. The US wants to control this wave. Jihad is the biggest threat to the US interest.

There is nothing like al-Qaeda. It is the figment of the US' imagination. The US has concocted an outfit like al-Qaeda to massacre the Muslims all over the world. It has concocted false stories related to al-Qaeda with the help of the foreign media… "America is bleeding these days. It has become a threat to peace. When a wounded animal becomes a threat to one's life, it is shot dead. It is time to gun down the US. The US is the enemy of our religious culture, jihad, curriculum, the two-nation theory, the people of tribal areas and Kashmir."What is articulated by these eminences grises of the jehadi terror finds constant echoes in the Urdu media. In Jasarat, on June 12, 2004, Javed Kasuri, 'Deputy Supreme Commander' of the HM states:

 
"The US, Israel and India feel threatened by those who sit on a mat and recite the Quran in madrassahs. Jihadis are the only force that can challenge US imperialism. The entire west is Islam's enemy… To save Islam, all the Muslim sects will have to unite and wage jihad against the west." Conspiracy theories and denial abound in this discourse. In the Nawai Waqt of May 26, 2004, Dr. Asrar Ahmad, a 'well known Islamic scholar', writes: "The US has invaded Iraq at Israel's behest. The US wants to make greater Israel by subjugating Iraq. Sharon had stated some time ago, that Iraq is part of Israel. The Iraq war is not the game of oil but securing a stable future for Israel. The 9/11 investigations have been stopped because it was masterminded by Israel and the US cannot take any action against the Jews. Europe will go to war against the US and Israel because a crusade is on the card that will be fought between the Jews and the Christians.

The Europe will try to conquer the US and Israel to make the world a Catholic colony.'On June 23, in an interview in Takbeer, Ahmad takes the thesis further: "9/11 was not bin Laden's brainchild but of the US, Israel and the Jews. It was masterminded to provide the US an excuse to destroy Afghanistan. In fact, the US wants to make Afghanistan another home for the Jews. It will facilitate Jews' settlement in Afghanistan… "The UN's agenda is to promote obscenity, incest and free-sex culture in the name of 'gender-empowerment'. The UN wants Musharraf to legalize prostitution, gay and lesbian marriage in Pakistan…"Ludicrous as these statements may seem to Western sensibilities, they form a substantial component of Islamist 'scholarship' in Pakistan.Worse still, as has been repeatedly noted in the past, the extremist Islamist discourse on jehad, and shahadat (martyrdom) and the 'global conspiracy' against and threat to Islam is not the province of mullahs and militants alone, and has penetrated every aspect of the Pakistani educational system - and not, as is widely believed, just the extremist madrassahs.

It is useful to note that the examples drawn up in this Assessment are a small selection of statements and writings in the past less than three months. A comprehensive archive of extremist discourse in this vein for the entire period since 9/11 would fill volumes, and would include innumerable statements by elements proximate to, or directly connected with, the Musharraf regime. Some of these dangers have been acknowledged, for the pre-9/11 period under its review, by the 9/11 Panel. One writer notes that a cursory key word search of the Panel's report recovers "more than 200 references to Pakistan, many of them damning. There are less than 100 references to Iran and Iraq combined."Nevertheless, ignorance persists at unacceptable levels. The international Press and diplomatic community, largely located in protected and affluent enclaves, with their attention fixed firmly on the relatively moderate and westernized English language media, remain substantially uncomprehending of these dangerous undercurrents. Worse, denial remains integral to the mindset of many Western - and particularly US - observers. A mention of the 'dominant ideology of Pakistan' to a senior US diplomat posted in that country, for instance, drew a sharp response rejecting the idea that any such 'dominant ideology' could actually be identified.

Such denial also characterizes the mainstream political discourse on the issue in India today, and constitutes a danger even greater than the direct threat of contemporary terrorism, creating vast spaces for the continuous consolidation of ideas that will breed much worse in the years to come.

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