Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
Until recently, many thought the Taliban would lead the way to the Promised Land
My neighbours are not the only urban, middle class Pakistanis yearning for a return to an imaginary past in the Arab deserts - a puritanical utopia where they would live blessedly ever after. Every day, in a thousand prayer and preaching sessions, the believers beg to be returned to Mecca and Madina. And until recently, many thought that the Taliban would lead the way to this Promised Land.
Or at least create a replica at home.
For a long time the Taliban presented themselves as the lost link to a pure past, a conduit to a simple life and eternal salvation. Only four weeks ago most Urdu television channels were acting as cheerleaders for the Taliban. Most Urdu columnists in newspapers were presenting the Pakistani Taliban as the reincarnation of early Muslim warriors. -- A BBC Report
In the early 1980s, Hafiz Saeed joined the mujahidin war in Afghanistan which also brought him into close contact with Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden. Their ‘dedication to jihad’ inspired him immensely. ‘Osama was a man of extraordinary qualities,’ he recalled. (10) Azzam, a Palestinian who had worked as a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at the University of Jordan in Amman had a huge influence on Hafiz Saeed. … Azzam helped Hafiz Saeed establish Markaz Dawal al-Irshad (MDI), an organization for Islamic preaching and guidance which was ideologically affiliated with wahabi Ahle Hadith. …
Hafiz Saeed founded LeT in 1990, soon after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, as a military wing of the MDI to wage jihad against the Indian authorities in Kashmir. The LeT announced its arrival on the Kashmir jihad scene on 5 February 1993 with a ferocious attack on an Indian military force in Poonch district that killed at least two soldiers. Two of the guerrillas were also killed. Since then the outfit has been responsible for hundreds of guerrilla raids in the disputed territory. Within a short span, LeT emerged as the fiercest militant organization—it possessed not only thousands of well trained and highly motivated fighters, but also a huge propaganda network. Its main publications in different languages had a circulation of hundreds of thousands. Its main publication, Al-Dawat, had more than 80,000 copies printed and sold at major bookshops across the country. (13). LeT had worked in close coordination with the ISI, which also provided support to launch the militants across the border.
LeT’s main stress was on jihad against Hindus, who it regarded as the worst polytheists, and against Jews who it claimed were ‘singled out by the Qur’an as the enemies of Islam’. LeT leaders maintained that Hindus and Jews were their main targets because they were ‘the enemies of Islam and Pakistan’. (26) A party document, ‘Why are we waging jihad’, argued that jihad was the only way to avenge history and re-establish the lost glory of Islam. It vowed to take back Spain, where Muslims had ruled for 800 years, and to re-establish Muslim rule in India. It said that LeT was fighting to liberate not just Kashmir, but the whole of India. It was one of the reasons why LeT’s attacks against Hindus had been so savage. In many cases the victim were beheaded. In December 2000 LeT extended its jihad from Kashmir to mainland India. – renowned Pakistani journalist and author Zahid Husain
Yet, more spectacular events should be expected
Disenchantment is setting in among the latter-day Taliban who joined Baitullah’s enterprise simply to fulfil their dreams of a “pure Islam” to transform society into some sort of imagined utopia. After perceiving that the Taliban were on the run, a Taliban chief in Peshawar has also denounced Baitullah’s policies: “Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism”. This “realisation” has come after the military operation in the Malakand-Swat region and, above all, after the formation of a national consensus against the TTP. .. This is not to downplay the capacity of the TTP to stage aggression. As it retreats in the face of the military operation, more spectacular events should be expected. The war is for the long haul and Pakistan cannot afford to become complacent about its ability to tackle the likes of Baitullah Mehsud. That ability is still limited given the warlord’s resources, entrenchment in certain regions and the “external” support that is on offer to him. -- Editorial in the Daily Times, Lahore
Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s intimate relationship with the Pakistani state
Given the Lashkar’s intimate relationship with the Pakistani state, Saeed’s release is no surprise. Pakistan’s military establishment sees the Lashkar as a partner and strategic asset, not a threat that must be crushed. Even as Pakistan fights hostile jihadist elements that threaten it in the west, it continues to patronise groups such as the Lashkar; groups which, like the Pakistan Army itself, see themselves as guardians of the ideological frontiers of the state. - Praveen Swami
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, a Saudi-trained Islamist
In the early 1980s, Saeed was again sent to Saudi Arabia for higher studies by his university. There he met Saudi sheikhs who were financing or actively taking part in the US-sponsored jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet troops. It is believed that it was then that Saeed first started associating with jihadis and began identifying with jihadi ideology. In 1987, Saeed, along with Abdullah Azzam, founded the Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, a group with roots in the Jamait Ahl-e-Hadis — a branch of radical Sunni thought which believes that only the sayings and doings of Prophet Mohammed, his followers and family members form the sole basis of Islam. It was this organisation that led to the creation of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba in 1990 with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to carry out terror strikes in India to capture Jammu & Kashmir. - Rudroneel Ghosh
What next? Saeed for Nishaan-e-Pakistan? - The Pioneer Edit Desk
The flaw that let Saeed off the hook -
The butchers call again
Editorial in Dawn, Karachi: 28 May, At about 10:25 am on Wednesday the butchers called again to Lahore (and next day Peshawar). They did their work well. At the time of writing there are 19 confirmed dead (35 according to unverified reports) and over 200 confirmed injured. (11 dead in Peshawar, over 90 injured.) Perhaps as many as a dozen policemen are dead and a rescue services building destroyed, with many other buildings within the blast radius having had their windows blown in and ceilings brought down, employees injured….
What we should be doing however is listening very carefully to the tone and nature of the condemnation of the attack by the various political parties. We need to be hearing - loud, clear and consistent - repugnance at the loss of innocent life, with no equivocation. No mealy-mouthed failure to point the finger at those most likely to be responsible. If we don't hear it – the loud clear and consistent condemnation – then we may be reasonable in making the assumption that those who fail to raise their voices against it are the tacit supporters of the butchers who visit our towns and cities.
Indian analyst B. Raman, a former R&AW official: The increasing resort to commando-style attacks by different groups in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan gives rise to the following questions: Are they merely instances of copy-cat terrorism or is there a common training centre for different organizations? If so, who runs this centre? Is there a co
INVESTIGATIONS into the 2004 Chittagong arms haul have taken a sensational turn with the revelation by a former Bangladesh intelligence chief that a Dubai- based business house owned by a Pakistani, and the high commissioner of an “ unnamed country”, (obviously Pakistan) smuggled 10 truckloads of arms for the Ulfa into the country through a government- owned jetty. They did this with the connivance of high officials of the Bangladeshi intelligence and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s son. -- Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi
Pakistan shifts proxy war to India's east
The ISI built up a substantial presence in several areas of Kolkata and almost all districts of the state bordering Bangladesh - with the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district in the north receiving particular attention. All this was dramatically brought to light in January 1999, when Delhi police arrested Syed Abu Nasir, a Bangladeshi who had crossed over from Bangladesh to bomb the US Embassy in Delhi and the US Consulate General in Chennai. He reportedly revealed during interrogation that he and his team of nine had gathered in Kolkata in December 1998. From there, the three Indian members had been sent to Siliguri to establish a support base in collaboration with ISI agents stationed there, while the six "Afghans" - a generic term used to signify Afghans as well as various Arab and other terrorists trained in Afghanistan by al-Qaeda - went to Chennai. The three Indians who went to Siliguri were subsequently arrested while the six "Afghans" managed to disappear.
The ISI's activities in the area attracted further attention during the Kargil war when a blast in a train in North Jalpaiguri station on June 24, 1999, directed at a group of soldiers travelling to Kashmir, killed two of them and injured 16. There were several other attempts to sabotage the movement of troops and equipment from north-eastern to north-western India. These incidents clearly underlined the reason for the ISI's activities in Siliguri. North-eastern India's sole direct land link with the rest of the country passes through the subdivision, particularly the narrow Siliguri-Islampur corridor. -- Sultan Shahin in Asia Times Online on February 6, 2002
ISLAMABAD: An influential group of Pakistani scholars and religious leaders on Sunday declared suicide attacks and beheadings as un-Islamic and called on people to unite for a struggle against the militancy plaguing the country. 'Ulema' (clerics) and 'mushaikh' (spiritual leaders) of the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnah, who gathered here for a convention, declared suicide attacks and beheadings as un-Islamic in a unanimous resolution.
They backed the military operation being conducted in Swat and Malakand to flush out the Taliban and restore peace. They described the operation as important, saying it was a war for Pakistan's integrity and sovereignty. The religious leaders said the designs of elements engaged in creating a state within a state should be frustrated.
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Morocco's Multi-Pronged Counterterrorism Strategy
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The Swat Conflict: An Arc of Instability Spreading from Afghanistan to Central Asia and Xinjiang
By Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari and Sadia Sulaiman
Secular cowardice is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. The founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had said on August 11, 1947, in the constituent assembly of Pakistan in Karachi: 'You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.' But as Pakistan's renowned columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee recalls: 'Deliverance into the hands of the theocrats came a mere six months after the death of Jinnah, the delivery made by the man who had succeeded him as the leader of his nation. The Objectives Resolution was adopted on March 12, 1949 by the constituent assembly of Pakistan, proposed by the Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. It clearly and unambiguously declared that religion had much to do with the business of the state. There could be no recovery, as history has proven over the past 60 years.'
No one should forget the swiftness with which the Afghan Taliban rose in the 1990s to capture Kandahar and Kabul in one fell swoop. Surely the Taliban are not going to stop at Islamabad. Conquering Pakistan is only the first step in their Long War aims. While Israel and America are going to be their main long-term targets, the first country to bear the brunt will be India. Already there are reports of over a hundred Taliban fighters having infiltrated into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This also speaks of collusion between the Taliban and elements in the Pakistan Army. And this is what makes the American strategy for containing Taliban flawed. For they want to use the same Pakistan Army to fight the Taliban. If he could have relied on the army, former president and army chief General Musharraf would have succeeded, at least to some extent, in turning the country around in the direction of what he called 'enlightened moderation.' -- Sultan Shahin
“We don’t produce terrorists; we feed and educate poor children”
According to a report published in the Delhi-based Muslim fortnightly, Milli Gazette, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued “a mischievous circular” that suggests that certain vested interests are seriously preparing the ground for a “communal civil war” in the state. The circular, signed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Lucknow, B. B. Bakhshi, has been issued to the state police as a guideline on how to keep a vigil on “ISI activities”. The circular says that ISI is “leaving no stone unturned” to disrupt life in the state, and is luring Muslim and Sikh youth “to involve them in subversive activities”, besides also fanning anti-Hindu sentiments. The circular instructs the Station House Officer of every police station to “prepare a register of Muslim and Sikh families living in his respective area”. In particular, the report emphasized, a list of newly constructed Madarsahs and mosques should be kept and these are to be closely monitored. ...
... This is not to suggest that all is well with the Madarsahs today . Many Madarsahs in Pakistan, for instance, have emerged as breeding grounds for self-styled jehadists, including the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Lashkar-i-Tayyeba which wants to emancipate Kashmir. It appears that the experience of Madarsahs in Pakistan  has fuelled the fear of Madarsahs in India, but clearly such a fear is misplaced, as there is no evidence of Indian Madarsahs having anything to do with their counterparts across the border, or for that sake, even their counterparts within the country. Madarsahs are extremely autonomous institutions and there is no federation or Union that runs or monitors them.
... This is manifest in the form of animosity and competition among Madarsahs of different maslaks  (schools of thought). Most Madarsah graduates are taught how to put down the other school of thought (through an interesting expertise called the Radd, meaning to argue against, but in reality translates to “rubbishing”) whenever chance permits. The Radd is not targeted at other religions, but at the various Islamic sects and more specifically at other madarsahs run by rival sects. -- Zafar Anjum
India got no tangible help from the Bush or Obama administration to bring the plotters of the Mumbai strikes to justice, despite providing extraordinary access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to independently investigate those attacks and even allowing the CIA to serve as a conduit for intelligence exchange with Islamabad. Rather, Washington wants India now to rise above the Mumbai attacks and aid Mr. Obama’s “Afpak” strategy by giving Pakistan a tranquil eastern border through troop redeployments.
The U.S. message to India is to forget Mumbai and silently suffer Pakistan’s war by terror — a message reinforced by Washington’s identification of terrorist safe havens only along Pakistan’s western border. Ms Clinton indeed suggested India endure more Mumbais stoically by telling Congress, “So, we do have a lot of work to do with the Indian government, to make sure that they continue to exercise the kind of restraint they showed after Mumbai, which was remarkable, especially given the fact that it was the political season.”
Take yet another case. The re-hyphenation of India with Pakistan today is complete. India now figures in U.S. calculations principally in relation to Pakistan and Mr. Obama’s new Afpak strategy. This poorly conceived strategy is doomed to fail. And its means and ends are sure to engender more terrorist attacks against India, already bearing the brunt of the blowback from past failed U.S. policies. -- Brahma Chellaney
Reflections on Taliban, Pakistan, Kashmir and Teachings of Islam
I am not surprised over the least line of resistance which members of the National Assembly and others are adopting. After the Swat Valley agreement when I met Afsyander Wali Khan, leader of Awami National Party at Islamabad, he said this was the best course available but assured me there would be "no more." Already Taliban militants from Swat Valley have moved to the Buner district, only 100 kilometres from Islamabad. They have refused to vacate the area under their occupation.
Religion is a private affair and it has nothing to do with politics, so said Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. Jihnah did not want to mix religion with politics. I heard him in early August 1947 while I was still in Pakistan, saying, you can go to temples or mosques. The state would never interfere in what faith you pursue. National Assembly's resolution goes counter to what he advocated. It has provided a shot in the arm of Taliban, encouraging them to demand the imposition of Shariat, the Islamic laws, not merely in the Swat Valley but all over Pakistan. None in Pakistan objects to Shariat. But Taliban have a different view and it is contrary to the spirit of Islam and its values.
Muslims can adjust their faith to the changes of time and history. The spiritual problems are the crucial ones. As Prophet Mohammad once told his followers on returning from battle. "You have to come back from the lesser to the greater struggle." They asked, "What is the greater struggle. O Messenger of God?" And he replied, "The struggle within." -- Kuldip Nayar
New video shows ringleader saying goodbye to daughter.
From home videos of the ringleader, Mohammad Sidique Khan, cooing over his baby daughter to the “to-do lists” written by the bombers in their final days, the trial of Waheed Ali, Sadeer Saleem and Mohammed Shakil offered a new insight into the preparations for the July 7 attacks, and the four men who would go on to carry out the suicide bombings that killed 52.
The police believe the bombers were schooled by the al-Qaeda operatives when they travelled to Pakistan. Khan twice attended training camps there and went a final time with Aldgate bomber Shehzad Tanweer in late 2004. It was on this trip that authorities believe their plans changed from fighting overseas to an attack in the U.K.
The trial also revealed: Previously unseen footage that showed Khan, who would go on to kill six people near Edgware Road, tenderly saying goodbye to his six-month-old daughter before going to Pakistan. Cradling the child in his arms he tells her that he is going away “for the sake of Islam.” -- Rachel Williams
Pakistani women protest religious extremism, American imperialism
Muhammad’s merciful and beneficent Allah was clearly not the god of Wahhab. Wahhabism does not have majority support in Pakistan. But because Wahhabis give all Muslims a bad name, Muslims need to make the fanatics understand that Wahhabis are not heroes but heretics against the words of Muhammad. Indian Muslims were too intimidated by Wahhabism to speak out fearlessly against this creed. It is time they did. -- Murad Ali Baig