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Books and Documents

War on Terror

The attacks in January on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris raised many questions that Europeans are currently trying to grapple with. Some of them concern the relationship between Islam and the kind of terrorism committed in its name. Yet, the way the respective debates are being conducted – at least that’s the impression I got from the German media that I have followed during the weeks after the attacks – reveals how ill-prepared some on the old continent are to formulate and address the relevant problems….

 

For more than 13 years, people around the globe almost took it for granted that the Taliban is a terrorist group that shares many similarities with al Qaeda. The White House spokesman also denied that the Taliban are a terrorist group. What does the US want in Afghanistan? The answer is murky. Now, the real concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban has also become limpid; on January 23, 2015, the US declared Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah a global terrorist and Mullah Omer a Mujahid…..

Islamic State (Isis) will remain at the centre of the escalating crisis in the Middle East this year as it was in 2014. The territories it conquered in a series of lightning campaigns last summer remain almost entirely under its control, even though it has lost some towns to the Kurds and Shia militias in recent weeks…..

 

How can any war be successful if not waged against a tangible reality, but an ideology, an emotion that is only perpetuated by further acts of violence? Since 2001, a series of conflicts have ensued in the quest to end ‘terror’, but surely by killing civilians ‘terror’ is being transposed from our realities onto theirs? In the years after 9/11, the Western world has led nations into armed conflict with nations within the Muslim world, and the wider political repercussions are made almost entirely invisible….

 

What Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen did have was a check for a cool $80 million. For some, the war on terror was already becoming a lucrative business. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a new company, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, was set up by the two former U.S. air force psychologists to service the CIA’s interrogation program, and rake in the profits. While in the air force, the pair had trained U.S. troops on how to resist torture. Yet neither had ever conducted a real interrogation. They knew nothing about extracting accurate information from suspects. Instead, they created fantasy torture sessions to harden up their trainees, sessions which they simply reverse-engineered for the CIA torture program…..

Before fleeing to Iraq, Arif Majid had left a note to his parents and sister which gives us a peep into his ideas and thoughts:

“I used to cry when I found you submerged in sins, smoking cigarettes, taking interest from banks, watching TV, pornography, leading luxurious lives, mixing with opposite sex, not praying and not growing beards. These acts will lead you to the hell fire.”

The thoughts of Arif Majid makes it clear that he hated the society he lived in as a place full of sin and so he wanted to leave a country that was kufristan and become a citizen of the country that was fighting for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate where there will be no sins, people will grow beard, will not watch TV, will not mix with opposite sex, will not smoke cigarettes and will not take interest from banks.

There are certain religious organizations in the country, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam of Indian Punjab being a glaring example - that continuously campaign that India is a Kufristan (land of infidels).  India is a secular and democratic country while Islam, in the view of these clerics, is against secularism and democracy. His letter says it all. He was radicalized by the regular intolerant teachings of "Islam" imparted to him on the thousands of Wahhabi websites run with Saudi money internet.

Most importantly, the fact that the champion of democracy and the leader of the free world the USA did not take any action when its Congress was “mislead” by one of its government arm as the intelligence agency for so long; considered a crime in any parliamentary democracy worth its salt in the free world, is a blot on their system! The deception and lies propagated by this agency to mislead its own government was to make it believe that there is an “imminent danger” to the country and its allies round the world. Thus, justifying the adoption of official policy of savagery and torture, based entirely on false pretences...

 

However, the more immediate confrontation remains the one between Saudi Arabia and Iran which has sectarian and strategic connotations. The Kingdom perceives an existential threat for itself in a West Asia that in its view is overwhelmingly under Iranian influence. The most recent challenge for Saudi Arabia is the dominant role now being played by the Iran-influenced Shia Houthi group in Yemen, giving the Kingdom the sense of being encircled by hostile sectarian forces....

 

That ISIS influence percolating to South Asia will impinge on Indian security is a given. It has been speculated that President Obama asked Prime Minister Modi during their Washington talks for Indian help. This raises the larger debate of the impact any such action may have on the 18 crore Indian Muslims. It is a debate that goes back a century to the Khilafat Movement, when Congress took up cudgels on a pan-Islamic issue on behalf of Indian Muslims. After independence an unwritten rule has been a veto of foreign policy decisions thought to effect the Indian Muslim psyche, i.e. relations with Israel, Palestinian issue, etc. India in addition has a large Shia population, which had recently begun recruitment of volunteers to protect Najaf and Karbala when the ISIS’ initial advance seemed to imperil those holy cities.

PM Modi’s challenge is to outgrow his stereotyped Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) trained understanding of Islam and what ails it. Besides counter-terrorism cooperation with a swathe of nations threatened by jihad, India can be a bulwark of moderate Islam, built on inter-faith trust. Campaigns like “love jihad” and banning cow slaughter can increase alienation of the largest minority and thus make it susceptible to exploitation by radical forces. A good counter-terrorism strategy includes both a battle for the mind and heart as indeed good intelligence and policing....

But that is not, and never was, the purpose of the War on Terror. It was designed from the start to be endless. Both Bush and Obama officials have explicitly said that the war will last at least a generation. The nature of the “war,” and the theories that have accompanied it, is that it has no discernible enemy and no identifiable limits. More significantly, this “war” fuels itself, provides its own inexhaustible purpose, as it is precisely the policies justified in the name of Stopping Terrorism that actually ensure its spread.....

 

Historians warn us that contra factual speculation is a useless activity: the world is simply too complex and unpredictable to make meaningful guesses about what might have happened if Nicias had won the debate against Athens’s party of war. Yet, it is hard not to see that the world looks a lot as it likely would have if the wars of 9/11 had never happened. In the great arc from Mali to Pakistan, the jihadist movement is in the ascendant as never before. Efforts to construct stable polities and state structures have failed, from Somalia to Afghanistan…..

 

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way......

The True Face Of Liberal Interventionism
Nauman Sadiq, New Age Islam
The True Face Of Liberal Interventionism
Nauman Sadiq, New Age Islam

The fear of terrorism is partly a fact and partly a hype to militarily intervene in the oil-rich Middle East. Obviously, any incident of terrorism is a big human tragedy in which many innocent human lives are lost and governments all over the world try to avert such an incident from happening. But the actions of the governments, and their proportionality, needs to be carefully examined to judge their real intentions. Can it be said about the Zia regime that it felt a genuine love and affection towards their brothers-in-faith; and that’s why they chose to give refuge to the Afghans and then equipped and trained them to liberate their homeland from an evil empire? Even the naivest among us won’t believe a word of what I just said, but some Pakistani tea partyers might.

 

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

 

‘Progressive Pakistanis should openly support the operation against a barbaric foe. Specious objections will merely serve to strengthen them,’ says Pervez Hoodbhoy in an interview with Viewpoint on the military operation going on in Waziristan. 

Noted intellectual and scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy has taught physics for over three decades at Quaid-e-Azam University where he also headed the Department of Physics. After his retirement, he briefly taught at LUMS, Lahore. Currently, he holds the Zohra and Z.Z. Ahmed endowed chair in the departments of Mathematics and Physics at FC College University, Lahore. Read on:

Britain invaded Iraq in 2003 without history books, ignorant of the insurgency against the British in 1920, unaware of TE Lawrence's warnings about the old Mesopotamia. The British believed their own propaganda – the cheering crowds, the rose petals that would greet them – and forgot the Iraqi sanctions that they supported for 12 years and which killed half a million Iraqi children.  And today – as their creature Nouri al-Maliki pleads for help against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) – Britain has resumed its ignorance…..

 
NATO’s Role in the Fight against Extremism
Serkan Demirtas
NATO’s Role in the Fight against Extremism
Serkan Demirtaş

A military option against ISIL seems to be inevitable in this phase, but the international community should think about a more complicated set of actions against the growing threat of extremism in the region. This is because neither Iraq nor Syria can eliminate this threat with their own sources. Neither Turkey nor other regional partners can deal with this problem either…..

 

A news channel broke the story of a plane being hijacked, reminding people of the horrors of 9/11. Another channel beat its rival by reporting two aircraft were hijacked. After a while, both retracted their stories. At the ASF academy, over-excited reporters even tried to communicate with the commandos engaged in a gun battle. The soldiers tried to tell them away, but in vain. The news channels compromised the position of security personnel …..

 

Some veterans have gone on to become domestic terrorists, like Desert Storm veteran Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma federal building in 1995, or mass murderers like Wade Michael Page, the Army veteran and uber-racist who killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012….

 

This is an unprecedented development. It indicates that the military has finally woken up to the fact that its quest for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan on the back of “friendly” Afghan Taliban “assets” hosted by Pakistan is actually foundering on the rock of the most serious existential threat to the internal security of Pakistan posed by the TTP…

 

Shia cite a number of Fatwas targeting them as non-Muslims, such as one that declares:  “To call for closeness between Shia and Sunni is similar to closeness between Islam and Christianity.” Christian churches are considered places of idolatry and polytheism because of pictures of Jesus and his mother and the use of the cross, all of which shows that Christians do not worship a single God. This is not a view confined to Saudi Arabia….

 
Terrorism: The legacy of US War in Iraq
Haifa Zangana
Terrorism: The legacy of US War in Iraq
Haifa Zangana

"The defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way," said George Orwell in "Politics and the English language", highlighting a pattern of statements that "are almost always made with intent to deceive".....

 

“I have never seen so much death in my whole life,” she said, describing people breaking down the doors of houses to find everybody inside dead. Doctors in the few medical centres wept as they vainly tried to treat gas victims with the few medicines they had. Bodies were being tipped, 15 to 20 at a time, into mass graves. She contemptuously dismissed any idea that the rebels might be behind the use of sarin, asking: “Do you think we are crazy people that we would kill our own children?”....

 

Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over the city in January. This was a body blow to the Iraqi government since Fallujah is only 40 miles west of Baghdad and was famously stormed by US Marines in a bloody battle in 2004.....

 

Al-Qa’ida-type organisations, with beliefs and methods of operating similar to those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, have become a lethally powerful force from the Tigris to the Mediterranean in the past three years. Since the start of 2014, they have held Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, much of the upper Euphrates valley, and exert increasing control over the Sunni heartlands of northern Iraq. In Syria, their fighters occupy villages and towns from the outskirts of Damascus to the border with Turkey....

 


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