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Books and Documents

Radical Islamism and Jihad

In Riyadh last March, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decorated American vice president Dick Cheney with the Kingdom's order of merit (the King Abdul Aziz medallion). At the same time, Osama bin Laden released two audio statements condemning western and Israeli attacks on Muslims and reiterating the need for violent warfare to liberate occupied Muslim territories from the infidels. In terms of media strategy, the contrast between the leaders of the Arab countries and bin Laden could not be starker. On the one hand, Arab kings and presidents lack charisma, seem politically impotent and are rarely, if ever, on message with respect to the "big issue" concerns of the peoples of the Middle East. Princeton academic Bernard Haykel comments.

 

Northern Waziristan, where Islamic militants recently signed a peace deal with the government, has virtually become a “Taliban mini-state”, a 2,500-word report in the New York Times said on Monday. The newspaper quoted a recently arrested suicide bomber in Afghanistan as saying that the former head of Pakistani intelligence, Gen Hamid Gul, “was financing and supporting the project (of producing suicide bombers)”. Though, it said, the claim is impossible to verify. Pakistan intelligence agencies have long nurtured militants in the tribal areas to pressure the rival government in Afghanistan, though the government claims to have ceased its support, reported New York Times on December 12, 2006. It should serve as an essential backgrounder today.

 

“Until some weeks back, the Taliban used to enter Peshawar through Hayatabad and tried to impose their ideology on the people of the city,” said the Landi Kotal local. Referring to the reports some weeks earlier about the growing threat to Peshawar, he added: “They abducted some people, blew up a few CD shops and also entered the homes of some locals and destroyed their TV sets. Since then, security on Peshawar’s border area has been beefed up and no more incidents of this nature have been reported in recent days,” he claimed. M Waqar Bhatti reports.

 

Like a bad dream, the gory images have come back to haunt the land of famished fields and parched valleys veiled in dense layers of dust. Just about when the picture of a woman — covered from head to toe in a blue burqa with a narrow screen in front of her stony eyes — shot in the back of her head was turning grainy, the nightmare revisited Ghazni city last week. Two women, wrapped in blue, were asked to kneel on the ground. And then a few fierce-looking men, with hate dripping from their eyes, nudged the women's bowed heads with the tip of their AKs, and pressed the trigger. As blood flowed into a sandy gulch, a few hapless Afghans watched the lifeless corpses — 'punished' for allegedly running a sex racket, wondering if the spectre of terror would ever leave their nation alone. Shobhan Saxena of TNN reports.

 

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims. Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community. The choice of image on the Tayside Police cards - a black dog sitting in a police officer's hat - has now been raised with Chief Constable John Vine. Tayside Police caused uproar in the Muslim community after they released this advertisement featuring police puppy Rebel sitting in a hat. The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert.

 

The capability of terrorists to attack Indian military personnel and pro-India civilians in Kashmir was intact, but the power struggle in Islamabad created uncertainty about whether or not the jihadis could rely on Pakistan's undying support to wrest Kashmir from India, writes research scholar Sreeram Chaulia for Asia Times Online.

 

Most ordinary folks ask the question: from where have the Sufi Mohammads, Nek Mohammads, Baitullah Mehsuds, Fazlullahs, Mangal Baghs, Namdaars and their ilk suddenly appeared and fortified their positions, taking the public hostage and challenging the state? Why do these things not happen in Punjab where they have Raiwind, Mansoora and the renowned 'bazaar' alongside the famous Badshahi mosque? And here in our land known for centuries for its peaceful civilisations and syncretism of cultures there has suddenly emerged the most violent interpretation of religion threatening to take the country into the dark ages, writes Adil Zareef.

 
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