A Hundred Osamas: Islamist Threats and the Future of Counterinsurgency
NEW CONFLICT, OUTDATED STRATEGY?
Efforts to the U.S. Government launched Operation ENDURING FREE- DOM reaped Osama Bin LAden, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in response to the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11), and in alliance with various nations. Many other nations objected to the U.S. invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussayn’s region did not, in their views, pose a credible Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat as was claimed at the time, and because they believed that American dismantlement and occupation of Iraq would surely be interpreted as neocolonialist interventionism. Indeed, Islamist extremists labeled these as Crusader campaigns, capitalizing on the preexisting understanding of neocolonialism and fear of Western antipathy to Islam. In March 2003, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted that the American-led war on Iraq would create “one hundred new bin Ladens.”1
The mushrooming of Islamist-extremist movements predates the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, emerging from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Prior to 9/11, certain academic and security experts from within the region predicted continuing Islamist threats and further development of the broad-based Islamic resurgence in the Middle East, and beyond, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. However, local security services, police, and the military in Muslim and Middle Eastern states, including Israel, had been engaged in the containment of Islamist radicals. Their governments pursued two basic strategies, including mass arrests and judicial processes, assassinations, and repression on the one hand, or co-optation and political bargains on the other.
Islamist extremism predated 9/11. The United States had developed policies against terrorist groups, including Islamist extremist organizations earlier, but 9/11 created an impetus and urgency for a more successful strategy of opposition to these groups. One could argue that America has not met its most important goals in the GWOT, as it has been defined since 9/11, in terms of denying sanctuary to terrorists, preventing further violence, and diminishing the growth of extremists. One might further argue that constraining factors are U.S. dependence on allied paramilitaries and militaries that carry primary responsibility in counterterrorist activities, for instance, in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other nations; and that the irregular nature of the combatants stymies our own military approach, or it is unsuited to what is essentially a police/security services issue. But the problem is deeper because of certain assumptions that fund various efforts the United States has made in the hopes of destroying or diminishing violent extremism.
Certain miscalculations, preventable or not, are now part of the calculus of battle with insurgents in Iraq. Here the U.S. understand- ing of extremist leadership and strategic communications of the Islamists may indicate the nature of battles to come. There is some disagreement about how badly the effort is going, and many hope that the establishment of democratic institutions in Iraq, along with the will of the majority of the Iraqi people, will help turn the tide against the insurgents. At the time of this writing, a high price has been paid. In 2005, the U.S. military launched counterinsurgent operations in Najaf, Fallujah, Mosul, Qaim, and Karabila near the Syrian border, but the frequency of insurgent attacks, particularly suicide bombings, increased from 69 in April to 90 in May 2005, and even more in June (killing more than 1,350 from April 28 to the end of June). Coalition deaths were 52 for April, 88 for May, and 83 for June, while 199 Iraqi military and police died in April, 270 in May, 296 in June, and 125 by mid-July. By October 25, 2005, 2,000 American troops had been killed in Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared a war on Iraqi Shi`a in August and September of 2005. No one really knows how many Iraqi civilians have died since the initial invasion; the Iraq Body Count and Oxford Research Group reported 25,000 Iraqi deaths since March 2003 in a dossier released in July 2005, but the Iraqi government disputed some aspects of the report. We do know that, due to the insurgency, about 12,000 Iraqi civilians have perished over the 18 months up to July 2005, a rate of about 20 people per day. According to data provided by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, this amounts to about 800 Iraqi civilians, military, and police deaths per month, not counting deaths during U.S. military operations or those in the Kurdish areas.2 Previous data indicate that the largest number of victims have been Shi`i Iraqis,3 and more Shi’i mosques or clerics were reportedly attacked than others, but Kameran Qaradaghi, a spokesperson for the Iraqi president, commented that the interior ministry’s data show that civilians of all types and ages are targets, and he denigrated the notion of “honest resistance.”4 This exceeds the frequency of attacks carried out by Palestinians in the tense 2001-03 period of the al-Aqsa intifadha. In addition, recent attacks in Iraq have featured larger bombs, which have been increasingly lethal.5 Although some officials depicted the insurgency as waning, June, July, and August featured many brutal attacks. General Richard B. Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated on July 21, 2005, that the attacks on U.S. troops were increasingly lethal and that assassinations of Iraqi officials had mounted.6 Attacks on Iraqi civilians are polarizing because they exacerbate sectarianism, and those on police and military recruits constrain U.S. efforts to speedily build up Iraqi military and police capacity. It is important to note that the insurgency, in both Islamist and nationalist aspects, is not an isolated phenomenon restricted to Iraq; it is part of a trend. We can call this a bi- or tri-regional, or even a global, insurgency. Even if one would not go that far, suicide attacks in Egypt in October 2004, and April and July 2005 are certainly ominous; as are continuing attacks in Afghanistan; the bombings in London on July 7, 2005, and the attempted bombings on July 21, 2005; multiple bombings in Bangladesh; and many other incidents. Both the “local” and the global nature of the threat should alarm the United States and its allies in the GWOT. Consider just a few of the major attacks launched since 2001:
• a suicide attack in April 2002 at a Tunisian synagogue killed 19 people.
• the bombing of a Bali nightclub packed with foreigners in October 2002. On October 1, 2005, three suicide bombers attacked three restaurants, killing 20.
• five suicide bombings in Casablanca in May 2003.
• bombings in front of two Turkish synagogues in November 2003 that killed 20 and wounded 300.
• Al-Qa’ida on the Arabian Peninsula (QAP)’s violent attacks and bombings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 2003 through 2004 including a beheading, and one attack launched on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah.
• a bombing at the Australian embassy in Djakarta in 2004.
• violence and bombings from January 2004 through May 2005 in southern Thailand.
• attacks on Shi`a mosques and Ashura celebrations in Iraq and Pakistan.
• bombing of early-morning commuter trains in Madrid on March 11, 2004.
• the October 2004 hotel bombing at Taba, close to Eilat in the Sinai.
• bombings in December of 2004 in General Santos and February 2005 bombings in Manila by Abu Sayyaf.
• a March 2005 car-bombing in Doha, Qatar, in Yemen.
• the Shabab al-Mu’minun’s (an Islamist extremist group) clashes with the Yemeni government through 2004 and again from March to May 2005. Also Yemeni al-Qa’ida members who surfaced elsewhere in the Peninsula. Yemen had already faced a strong challenge from insurgent cleric Shaykh al- Houthi and killed him, but in the spring of 2005 followers of al-Houthi’s father, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, mounted attacks.
• British-born Muslims from Leeds attack the London under- ground and a bus killing 37 and injuring more than 700 on July 7, 2005. These were followed by foiled attacks on July 21 in London by a different set of terrorists.
• 3 bombs in Sharm al-Shaykh are set off also in July 2005 at a resort town in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula which killed more than 88 people and injured more than 200.
• Just a few of the many attacks in Iraq included a bombing near a propane fuel tanker on July 16, 2005, south of Baghdad that resulted in a huge explosion, killing more than 60 and wounding more than 100; a fuel truck bomb on July 17, killed 98 people south of Baghdad, just as car bombs were also detonated in the Iraqi capital; insurgents killed Iraqi soldiers guarding a water plant north of Baghdad, as well as Algerian diplomatic staff members on July 27, and then attacked a train oil tanker. A suicide bomb attack was followed by the killing of new recruits to the Iraqi Army on July 29, and the next day two British private security agents were killed after an attack on a convoy in Basra; journalist Steve Vincent, who had been reporting on Basra police involvement in assassinations there, was kidnapped and assassinated on August 2; the next day a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) made out of three bombs put together killed 14 Marines and their translator in an amphibious assault vehicle near Haditha; Arab diplomats and embassy staff were kidnapped and assassinated, and al- Qaeda announced it would try victims in an Islamic court; 182 people were killed in a series of attacks in Baghdad in September 2005.
• 200 homemade bombs exploded at government buildings, courts, and in the streets in at least 60 different towns and cities of Bangladesh following Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s departure on August 17, 2005, for China.
• 62 people died and more than 200 were injured in a triple bombing in Delhi, India, on October 29, 2005. Islamic militants are suspected.
• Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their bodies were discovered on October 29, 2005.
During the same post-9/11 time frame, Islamist suicide bombers were less active in Israel in response to a changing political situation and uneasy truce, but inter-Palestinian conflict increased the public’s trust in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah as compared to the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the tumultuous period prior to the 2005 Gazan disengagement, the “secular” al-Aqsa Brigade fighters somewhat paradoxically claimed they would go to Iraq as mujahidin if only they could, since they are being repressed by the Authority.7
The Iraqi insurgents increasing use of car bombs, suicide attacks, kidnappings, and beheadings, and the fact that they have begun targeting foreign diplomats and diplomatic staff points to their efforts to heighten jihad before Iraqi stabilization can dismantle their latest sanctuary. There are a large number of extremist groups, and each has gone through transitions over the last 2 years. The significance of Abu Mus`ab Zarqawi’s group’s Jama`at al-Jihad wa al-Tawhid (the Group of Jihad and Unicity8) adoption of a new name, Tanzim Qa’ida Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (Qa’ida Organization of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers) was that Zarqawi swore loyalty (the bay`a) to Usama bin Ladin. Bin Ladin constructed a unique oath as follows:
I recall the commitment to God, in order to listen to and obey my superiors, who are accomplishing this task with energy, difficulty, and giving of self, and in order that God may protect us so God’s words are the highest and his region victorious.9
Zarqawi then entered a second tier of bin Ladin’s lieutenants. By this linkage of Iraqi groups to bin Ladin, Islamist extremists were proclaiming to the world that the United States might have driven the Taliban into the Afghan hinterland and dismantled the government of Saddam Husayn, but they would wage jihad wherever possible. And they will do so until their deaths and beyond.
It goes without saying that we should distinguish those groups and individuals who have perverted Islamic principles from ordinary Muslims. On the other hand, it will not aid us to apply a universal strategy to all extremists and insurgents, or to forgo critical assessments of outcomes over time. And there is no unified or universal goal for all extremists, whereas Islamist extremists do assert similar aims. For instance, we commonly hear experts state that the goal of terrorism is to terrify. But Islamist extremists aim for much more: withdrawal of Western forces and even businesses from Iraq, Palestine, and the “land of Muhammad,” meaning Saudi Arabia; the dissolution of secular governments in the Muslim world, and transformation of Muslim societies, cleansing them of doctrinal innovation. All of this is to occur through the waging of jihad.
Young fighters, in particular, exhibit certain individual and organizational characteristics found in gang cultures. But can we apply the same anti-gang tactics developed elsewhere in the world by penetrating schools, neighborhoods, and families? These young men, for the most part, will accept no pay-off. Co-optation aimed at the leadership level might be a temporary solution. However, jihadist leaders often compete with moderate groups who believe that building a broad popular base is the first order of business and work with secularist governments if they need to. Extremists have usually avoided cooperation with secularist governments, fearing they will taint their jihadist image. These fighters use the term al-qa’idin (the sedentary folk) to ridicule and condemn those who will not adopt jihad. They recruit and are recruited through a belief in a recently- defined Islamic mission, or da`wa, and the glorification of jihad and martyrdom. We must not discount their ideological motivation, their recruiting talents, and ability to sustain morale, or we will not defeat them. While we have spoken often of encouraging the forces of moderate, conservative, or even liberal Islam to compete with the extremists, we need to remember that previous efforts of this sort on the part of Arab and Muslim governments did take place. Those efforts established a tension between authoritarian, Big Brother-like states and mobilization efforts by ordinary members of society.
Around the time that most Egyptian Islamists crafted a deal with their government forswearing violence in the wake of the 1997 Luxor attack on tourists, many academics were emphasizing the moderate potential of Islamism. Co-optation seemed a strategy preferable to repression. Certain French experts claimed that radical and political Islam had decreased, although it would be more true to say that despite ongoing Islamization (in places like Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria, and the Kelantan province of Malaysia), Islamists had not achieved their political goals. A host of “Islamic Republics” like Iran had not emerged. One could point to Afghanistan or Sudan, but certainly no caliphate.
How could these individuals support a thesis of “post-Islamism” after 9/11? Giles Kepel, a French specialist on Islamist extremism in this camp, argues that 9/11 was merely an end-stage paroxysm, part of the death throes of radicalism.10 This may be similar to current American claims that Iraqi insurgents are in their last throes of violence, for if jihad is transported from Iraq to other locations, the GWOT will continue. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Porter Goss pointed out that “Al-Qaida is only one facet of the threat from a broader Sunni jihadist movement” and that “the Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists” and that economic development there has proceeded more slowly than hoped because of the insurgency.11
In the last 4 years, nonregionalists primarily responsible for the remapping of counterterrorism moved the discussion of Islamist threats away from regionalist oversight. This meant that more individuals with little in-depth knowledge of the area’s complex religio-political, ideological, or cultural history were in charge of developing strategies toward it. They brought in experts, or individuals from the region, but had no ability to discriminate between the different suggestions made or views proffered. Other difficulties arose because of the contradictions between the strategies of nation- and democracy-building and the need to destroy or contain Islamist cells and organizations that may directly threaten Americans and as American interests in the region, as well as allied governments.
Current U.S. grand strategy toward terror is hampered by disagreements about the definitions of global “terror” and the failure to address the specific nature of Islamist-extremist terror in that strategy. In other words, our analysis of the conflict and the defini- tions of the enemy are unclear and remain so. This is true of many governmental agencies, and the media as well. In the wake of the London bombings, Fox News correspondents blasted the BBC for removing the term “terrorist” from their coverage. Others are still debating the conversion of the term “terror” to “insurgency.” Next came a disagreement about converting the phrase “war on terror” to the “struggle with extremism.”12 To some degree, the urgent need for a response to a continuing threat is clouding our vision and statements. Al-Qa’ida’s 2001 attacks were vivid declarations of a state of warfare, just like the attack on the USS Cole, unfortunately misread by some. But they were also the logical progression of jihadist efforts underway for nearly 3 decades. Since regional governments tried various tactics which we now mirror (from expulsion to combat, and incarceration to amnesties), we need to review their failures, understand where we may be reinventing the wheel, and build a strategy should we be unable to contain extremist Islamism.
The lessons of regional strategies are confusing precisely because the proponents of the carrot or stick tend to abide by their preferred method despite the incomplete success or outright failure of both strategies. And other political processes and Islamization were affecting these nations simultaneously. Middle Eastern and Muslim governments often tried to contain Islamists simultaneously while some elements in the military apparently colluded with or made little effort to capture militant Islamists, as in Western Pakistan. Elsewhere (for instance, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) one could observe security and governmental agents simultaneously torturing, excluding, and radicalizing some Islamists, while being influenced by other Islamists who had become part of the government structure. Another strategy is to recognize certain Islamist parties or groups as legitimate political actors (Lebanon, Iraq). Or governments (like Saudi Arabia’s) alienated and eliminated radicals but communicated with neo-salafists who forswore violence and cooperated with the state. Nonetheless, no effort was made to transform their core values, which are not much different from the radical extremists (Saudi Arabia). Or militaries and intelligence services like the Israelis targeted political leaders since military apparatuses of the radical groups were less vulnerable. They have discounted the possibility of negotiating with Islamist moderates to promote a transition of Palestinian Islamists from opposition to moderate political actors. In Iraq, our military has targeted particular locations in wipe-out mode, while seeking throughout the country to limit sanctuary. But in fact, the militants’ strategy has been so successful that Americans and foreigners cannot venture anywhere without being in a position of strength or without protection.
A NEW JIHAD
Why has Islamist extremism been so pervasive, so easily franchised, and so difficult to extinguish? A new Islamist discourse, produced by the Islamic awakening (sahwa Islamiyya) since the 1970s, has influenced and been influenced by a “new jihad,” which has coalesced and evolved since the mid-1980s and 1990s. The new jihad, in turn, qualitatively has affected the capabilities of extremist leaders and the behavior of combatants.
What’s New about the New Jihad?
It posits a World Islamic Front, promoting and aggrandizing battle against Western nations and local “apostate” governments, without sparing civilians. Members of this Front may appear at will, as they did in carrying out the London bombings. No-one need carry a card, or provide the authorities with recordings of cellular telephone calls to Afghanistan or Pakistan; instead, as one longtime resident of the bombers Leeds’ neighborhood stated, “they need to understand, al-Qa’ida is inside [in the heart].”
It is malleable and opportunistic, utilizing new types of alliances. Groups who aim at the “far enemy” (the United States, other Western nations, and Israel) may ally with groups seeking local autonomy, or with moderates.
It is not anti-modern. Such a large body of literature may now be cited to support this claim that it would be impossible to discuss or enlist all of the sources.13 On the sociological and psychological levels, Farida Adelkhah has described “the new Islamic man,” and I have written about “the new Islamic woman,” which helps explain the internalization of the Islamist message.14 Earlier, in the wake of the Islamic revolution in Iran, some experts chose to emphasize Islamists’ echoes of pre-modern themes such as the medieval scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, who disliked a Muslim ruler’s cooperation with the Mongol conquerors.15 But Ibn Taymiyya was far more tolerant in many ways than those Islamists who emerged in the 1960s, like Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, and those of 1970s to be discussed below. We need to remember that analysts at that time were trying to explain social features that had not yet transformed under modernization along with anti-Westernism. Remember, too, anti-Westernism is not equivalent to anti-modernism.
Other reasons for common mischaracterization of jihadis as barbarians with cars and Websites, throwbacks, or medieval monsters have to do with 1) certain non-Muslims’ (and even some Muslims’) difficulty in comprehending the historicity of the Islamist message which is also revisionist, and expressed in truly modernist language; 2) most Westerners have defined modernity with a secularist lexicon as have many liberal Muslims; 3) some rely on “cultural” definitions of the “Other” that incorrectly posit them as purely non-Western, when most are hybrid. We can see quite clearly that today’s jihadists are Western trained and possess technical and analytical skills. They use the Internet, cellular messaging, chat rooms and e-linked faxes more adeptly than larger organizations with physical recruitment centers. The pathologizing of terrorism causes us to say that their minds “work differently” than ours-when the issue is really one of different values and disassociative techniques. In other words, the jihadi believes, or convinces himself, that his immoral acts of violence are moral, but this in no way impairs the modern logic patterns of his brain.
The new jihad has broken with classical doctrines of jihad and “the law of nations” (siyar) as well as Muslim modernist or reformers’ reconstructions of jihad in the 19th and 20th centuries. The classical doctrines of jihad specified the most permissable form to be between Muslims and polytheists or unbelievers waged “in the path of God,” although jihad could also be conducted against apostates, Muslims who had rejected their faith, revolutionaries, brigands or deserters, and in some cases, members of other monotheistic faiths. However, strict rules applied to jihad; under the siyar, the Muslim “nation” might be an individual duty as opposed to a collective duty, and was differently governed if it applied to land controlled by Muslims or non-Muslims.16 Ethics and rules of conduct were meant to limit brutality and the cycles of vengeance it could unleash, and yet we see today’s jihadis engaged in vicious kidnappings, beheadings, and wide-scale attacks on civilians that would be forbidden under classical understandings of jihad.
The modernist or reformer’s approaches to jihad were developed with a cognizance of the military and political upper-hand of the West. They sought to limit the rationale for jihad (for instance, only when one was prevented from carrying out the duties [or pillars] of Islam) or to redefine it in terms of the lesser (military) and greater (personal striving or goal-setting) jihad, or to provide substitutes for fighting such as economic support, or charity.
An Islamist explains:
Muslim scholars “capitulated” to Orientalist (Western) critiques and falsified facts in order to say “Now, [jihad] is not obligatory anymore, since the cause has disappeared. We hold that jihad has no other aim than defense of our lives and the country we live in.”17
Wahhabism, the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, decried this “demotion” of jihad’s importance, as did the extremist Islamists. So a central feature of the new “jihad” is that it is a consistent duty and was incapable of being bounded via a peace treaty as was true of the classical definition.
It is fostered through a different approach to acquired knowledge; tarbiyya more than ta`lim. Ta`lim means education in the sense of enlightenment. Tarbiyya involves training and socialization, and, for militants, military information, strategy, rationalizations for violence, and a construction and glorification of jihad and jihadi history.
It rejects democracy and democratic institutions because they promote or allow secularism, and are usually defined by Western sources to mean more than pluralism and representative government, which Islamists may not, in fact, reject. The problem with democracy for Islamists is that it provides an alternative to Islamic governance which should, ideally, be conducted via shura, or consultation. The fact that shura is similar to other forms of elite consultation, or to representative governance that advised monarchs or strong executive branches is the reason that many Muslims also can argue that Islam is not incompatible with democracy. Islamists on the other hand, argue that shura provides popular participation, but that pluralism or democracy are not innately Islamic.
Unfortunately the conflicting messages conveyed by U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world which include promotion of the GWOT, democratization, and maintenance of U.S. strategic goals actually has intensified the new jihad’s magnetic appeal to Muslims of varying backgrounds. The reasons for this stem in part from Muslim and Middle Eastern antipathy to foreign intervention. But also, in this age of instant information and interconnectivity, it is easy for them to see the myriad misinterpretations of their culture and religion, as well as the enormous hostility to Islam and Muslims on the part of Western commentators, whether on the worldwide web or in the media in nearly all reporting of events in the region, on the GWOT, and in discussions of security and immigration, both in Europe and the United States.
Muslims may desire representative government, and some may even support verbal interventions that will spur their governments to reform, but they may not prefer Western-style democracies or other political features. Or they may truly resent U.S. support for Israel and the seeming lack of stronger pressure on nondemocratic governments like Saudi Arabia or Syria to reform. Still others may dislike the arrogant tone of American statements about the necessity of reform, as if only our nation can determine the shape that reform can take.
Problems with Strategic Responses.
Many disagreements over the proper response to “al-Qa’ida and its affiliates” have taken place. Will they reshape the way the United States and other nations define irregular or asymmetric challenges? Certainly this shift in terminology prevailed after Islamist insurgents in Iraq sabotaged reconstruction efforts. U.S. Government spokespersons and the American media at first identified former Ba`thists or Iraqi nationalists as “the insurgents,” not mentioning or seemingly unaware of the Islamist insurgents at first. Cooperation between these three elements was another ominous feature of the situation. In devising a new strategy against terrorism, U.S. policymakers have prepared both too large and too restricted a canvas. Ignoring much of the knowledge previously acquired about Islamist extremists-the lessons learned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Pakistan, and elsewhere, officials worked with the definition of terrorism as a “global” phenomenon. This definition did not take account of features that appeal or have special relevance for Muslims because, according to its articulation, terrorism could be identified with any religion or ideology.
But then, the specific efforts of intelligence, fact-finding, and analysis sought to highlight al-Qa’ida and its “network” or association as Enemy No. 1. By highlighting the differences between al-Qa’ida and world jihad networks and other organizations with more limited territorial objectives, the United States could more easily claim a strategic victory if bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida or any of a few groups thought to be directly connected to him were eliminated. This predominant approach is truly questionable for a number of reasons:
• First, all nations possess local, regional and international goals. The United States has, in fact, recently iterated bold new goals in the Muslim world which have caused Muslims to see a continuing and intensifying interventionism extending into the indefinite future.
For example, President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union message suggests that only the force of human freedom will “stop the rise of tyranny,” and that the United States must eliminate “the conditions that feed radicalism and the ideologies of murder.”18 In March 2005, he related this theme more specifically to the broader Middle East, parts of which have “been caught for generations in a cycle of tyranny and despair and radicalism” and further suppressed through dictatorship. So not only the defeat of extremists, but a transition to free nations, which incidentally require the “full participation of women,” “new thinking,” the encouragement of democracy, economic progress, political modernization, honest representative government, the “rule of law,” and patience and resolve are needed to reach these ends.19
These are worthy goals, but they produce several question marks: 1) Who designated the United States as the ultimate authority determining the future of the broader Middle East? (Can we imagine a State of the Union delivered in Iran or Saudi Arabia that laid out specific goals for the transformation of America?) 2) Doesn’t this transformational strategy resemble the liberal and Western efforts against Arab socialism and nationalism, and the British as well as American approaches to communist influence in the broader Middle East in years past? 3) Where is the role of Islam in this anticipated Middle East? and 4) Would not democratization enlarge the role of Islamists in the region?
• Second, targeting a narrow list of groups such as al-Qa’ida, the Zarqawi network, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, al- Qa’ida on the Arabian Peninsula, and possibly the Jama’at Islamiyya of Indonesia excludes others who also oppose their home governments and the United States and engage in violence. Actually, many other organizations with local territorial or political goals share a great deal with al-Qa’ida and similar groups. They recruit and derive local support because people identify with certain themes, for example, freedom and justice that may be part of governmental rhetoric but which do not appear to be genuine values. Violent groups have and may continue to interact with moderates, or those not directly linked to al-Qa’ida. Both types derive support from the much broader Muslim awakening, or renovation20 that also features a new Islamic discourse.21
• The provision of a convenient hit list, like the post-invasion deck of cards representing Iraqi officials, or chart of Zarqawi’s captured or slain amirs, or QAP’s most wanted, underscores the successes of counterterrorism, and enhances the political fortunes of the successful anti-insurgent/extremist strategists. Unfortunately, the scorecard against radical actors does not reflect their regeneration or ability to appear in a new guise in an entirely different region. Nor do such targeting methods help us understand extremist “networks,” alliances, or associations that may merely be temporary unions, or marriages of convenience.22
The U.S. inabilityto properly analyze or construct effective strategies for the GWOT has many causes:
• For obvious reasons, large numbers of analysts and contractors have been drawn from Europeanist or Soviet studies backgrounds or a general security focus to an Islamic world focus. They lack necessary regional training, language skills, and requisite field experience. In addition, the Foreign Area Officer’s typical language skills are based on 1 or 2 years of Arabic language study and do not suffice for needed communications or intelligence skills. Because of geographical transfers and other reasons, 4-year programs may not be required. Even graduates of lengthier programs are not able to comprehend key material on the Defense Language examinations. Native speakers were not widely recruited, but when they are, it is frequently for work as contractors without specialized security policy knowledge; they may be drawn from any professional field. Lack of experience in the region outside the cocoon of the military base or embassy is an even greater deficit because analysts do not understand the worldviews shaping the actors and individuals they study.
• The United States most critically encountered the expansion in Islamist-terrorist capabilities in Iraq. There, the Coalition’s immediate needs-to rein in insurgents and pursue reconstruction simultaneously-left little time for deep reflection and careful analysis.
• Disagreements about the nature of the threat, as described above, confuse and misdirect policymakers. Also many, including some in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of State (DOS), fault Islam or Islamic culture or the Islamic lack of development or reform, rather than Muslim miscreants for the explosion of Islamist extremism. This even though the U.S. National Security Strategy declares that “terrorism” can be anywhere and should be disassociated from the practice of Islam.23 The resulting confusion reflects ignorance of Islam, its discourse and history, and also political factors and divisions between factions. Some fear alienating the Muslim world and others have no such sensitivities; some also support or doubt the potential for socio-political transformation in the Muslim world.
• Similarly divided ideas on the future of Islamist extremism tended to sideline many experts who could shed more light on the problem, as with the example of those writing about post-Islamism-a term inspired by post-modernism and the “end of history,”24 or those who have studied the nature and development of salafist and other Islamist groups. This is not necessarily a conscious omission but a feature of the compartmentalization of disciplines and lack of time to “read outside the box,” as well as think there.
• Western and non-Western academics agreed that salafism and Islamism were transforming political and religious discourse even though local governments successfully had fended off the establishment of more formal Islamic governments in place of nation-states.
• Strategic and security studies have not truly internationalized. Western experts frequently have not been interested in, nor exposed themselves to the ideas of, their Middle Eastern or Muslim counterparts. As in any professional specialization, it seems more important to quote insiders to the policymaking world. Sometimes strong xenophobia results (as strong as anti-Americanism on the other side of the world); we hear “foreigners” blamed for an inefficient control over “their terrorists” that culminated in 9/11. Most often, though, specialists simply lack access to non-Anglophones and their ideas, which would be useful if, in fact, we hope to address the ideology of Islamist extremists.
• By the same token, in recommendations made in the policymaking community and DoD, ideas from Islamic ideology elicit great interest, but taken piecemeal and poorly understood, create a terrible goulash of ideas about the information war, a bewildering confusion of cultural, psychological, and political interpretations. One reason is that in following a directive to integrate more “cultural” awareness, “culture” is primarily defined as behavior, but sometimes, as ethnic, or historical, political, or sociological information, as well as religious concepts that are obtuse to outsiders. Another reason for this confusion is the understandable desire for the greatest possible amount of information to feed into data banks, but there is no sound plan for integration of that information into action-proposals, and no capacity to analyze potential negative effects of such proposals. For example, many suggestions have been made that Muslims must develop, or be taught (presumably by Westerners) a new kind of jihad. Some discuss ways to convert or secularize Muslims and whether or not a moderate form of Islam (not Islamism) exists. Notions that all Muslims would be attracted to a Caliphate, or that this is even a primary concern for Muslims, are similarly off target.
Understandable confusion about the nature and definitions of jihad come from modernist interpretations, mostly developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries of the so-called “greater” and “lesser” jihad as is explained later on in this monograph. Americans then suggest that if Muslims actually teach that the greater jihad consists of striving for Islam in the sense of being a good Muslim, why can’t they engage in that instead of fighting nonbelievers? This division is useful in a summary version of Islam as presented in an interfaith dialogue, or to explain to outsiders why jihad can mean more than “holy war.” However, it is, at heart, a modernist interpretation that has not been acceptable to many Muslims, and the notion of substitution of “greater” for “lesser” is not expressed in the classical treatises on jihad. Jim Guirard of TruthSpeak defines himself as an anti-al-Qaeda language warrior, arguing that writers should substitute criminal for the word “jihad” (like some Muslim governments) or, instead, substitute hiraba. Muslims have also discussed hiraba as a term that could describe acts of terrorism against the civilian public,25 but there are theological, philosophical, and legal problems with these suggestions that Muslims should not identify terrorist actions with jihad. “Hiraba” is a criminal category that is detailed in the Qur’an in “Al-Ma’idah, Surah V,” following the story of Adam’s two sons, Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain). Then after a verse (32) that is usually interpreted to refer to Israel’s rebellion against Allah, the punishment is described for a hiraba crime that combines sedition, apostasy, and brigandry.26 Hiraba is usually used to mean a crime that causes public disruption and involves theft of money or property, rape, or destruction of agriculture or animals. Jihad on the other hand, is fighting on the path of Allah.
The events of 9/11 were not the first surprise attack by extremist Muslims that caught experts short, and will not be the last. A similar moment of existential shock took place when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979, and a barrage of hastily written literature about the Islamic threat, the failures of political development, and the future of political Islam was produced. In that case, the primary event was the fall of an ally, the Shah, and his replacement with a hostile theocracy. The Iranian revolution was a true revolution in the sense of a complete shift in the political order. Some have tried to diminish the role that Islamist ideology played in these events by pointing out that the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) did not defeat its more secular or socialist enemies immediately, but the fact remains that the revolution responded to Islamist ideology and organization. The secondary event, the seizure of American hostages, was more obviously a “terrorist” event. Analysts then documented the rise and spread of Islamist movements in Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf states; revived earlier analyses of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimin) founded in Egypt, or examined brief outbursts of violence such as the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. While few Islamic revolutions followed Iran’s (other than the coup in Sudan and the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, and an electoral shift in Turkey with the victory of the Refah [Welfare] party), Islamization and a new Islamic discourse have swept through the region.
The New Islamic Discourse.
Islamist discourse replaced or transformed Arab socialist or other Muslim-leftist values of mid-century all over the region, even in Syria, which supposedly had extinguished its Islamic movement with the massacre in Hama in February of 1982. Was Syria’s repressive strategy successful? Despite the dominance of the mass Ba`thi party system, any urban resident of Syria in the 1990s could identify Islamist groups operating quietly. But more importantly, Islamist groups have used Syria to plan and stage attacks elsewhere, and insurgents in Iraq have derived support and financial aid there.27 The Syrian government reported clashes with Tanzim Jund al- Sham lil-Jihad wa-al-Tawhid (Organization of the Army of Greater Syria for Jihad and Unicity) in Damascus.28 On the one hand, this demonstrates governmental efforts to control radicals, but also that they have indeed reemerged from, or despite the destruction of, the earlier Islamist uprising in Syria. Islamist discourse responds to an internal debate in the region expressed as a battle raging between `asala (authenticity, but not necessarily traditionalism) and mu`asara (modernity). The tenets of each vary according to the country and decade in question, but to summarize, local intellectuals hoped to retain the positive aspects of cultural authenticity but rid themselves of archaisms and backwardness. They worried about features of modernization that they could not control such as the breakdown of the extended family system, increasing income gaps, or partial or wholesale adoption of Western fads or habits that were at odds with local values. Thinkers engage today in this debate in the context of an era of privatization and more economic vulnerability to the world economy than under protective state economies of the past. They want to stave off a Big Mac/MTV/music and dance video culture, embraced by younger sectors of the population. They predict the breakdown of the family system now that many women have entered the workforce and obtained greater independence. Many moderates and Islamist extremists share the anti-materialist features of these ideas and other aspects of reformism, reinterpreting and renovating Islamic traditions and ideas.
But politics-international, regional and local-predicated responses to Islamists from power elites in the various countries affected. Extremists, moderates who are by no means secularists, and conservatives outnumber liberals. And liberals-even those dubbed Arab democrats-have problems with the questions of Islamic identity, or the great divide between their views and those of the sha`b (ordinary citizens) as we have seen in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Islamists have made tremendous gains whether through the weak democratization policies of Jordan or the Gulf, or where secular political movements faltered, as, for example, in the West Bank town of Qalqilliya. Qalqilliya was once a stronghold of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the four parties of the PLO. Today the town is pro-Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Extremist leaders gain strength from elements of a new Islamic discourse, and they also contribute to it. At the most basic level, that is because their efforts to live more “Islamically” are in tandem with the aims of many other Muslims today, even though their efforts to swiftly revolutionize the social and political environment by violent means set them apart. The blurriness of this distinction is ignored somewhat by the policymaking and intelligence communities which have attempted to separate the “good Islam” from the “bad”-the extremists. One strategy (U.S. and foreign) has been to dub Islamist moderates with the “good” label, so long as these groups avoid or have forsworn violence. At the same time, they actually pathologize extremism without noting the relevance of certain themes in the strategies and tactics of the hundreds of Osamas now emerging to the broader Muslim awakening. This, along with negative reactions to foreign interventionism, cause some Muslims to sympathize with a bin Ladin, or a Zawahiri, or more often, simply fail to see them as “enemies.”
Part of the new Islamic discourse is devoted to the new jihad. The separation of personal striving to be a better Muslim, the so-called greater jihad, is stated in it, along with the re-energized necessity of the lesser jihad, or fighting. The new Islamist discourse calls for implementation of shari`a, Islamic law, the enhancement of Islamic morality and ethics, reinterpretation of Islamic texts, pursuit of da`wa, Islamic mission, and also, to various degrees, the Islamization of existing political systems. It opposes Darwin’s theory of evolution, and upholds complementarity of the sexes rather than symmetrical equality, and insists on Islamic modest dress for women. It may include ideas identified as Sufi in nature, such as the progressive stages of personal spiritual advancement, the utility of brotherhood and guidance (suhba, the spiritual companionship of the group-an experience provided by Islamist radical associations as well). Or it may counter Sufi precepts by emphasizing training and guidance (tarbiyya) versus enlightenment, and social responsibility rather than the highly individual pursuit of unity with God.
The new Islamist discourse can, and sometimes does, include the salafist ideal of purifying the faith from the effects of cultural synthesis, or “un-Islamic” innovations, but sometimes also incorporates suspect textual interpretations, for example, in the use of hadith (a secondary source for Islamic jurisprudence). Not all Islamists are salafis, another frequently misunderstood term in the current lexicon of U.S. policymakers. The word really means “purists”-those returning to the spirit of the early generation of Muslims, and today’s salafis are more and less than this term implies; also, not all salafis are engaged in violence.
European scholars had promoted the notion of post-Islamism-a term that, like post-modernity, posits a temporal and philosophical space where ideas have run dry or failed to realize their goal-in this case, an Islamic state. But 9/11 illustrated the ferocity of a group of individuals who do not believe that liberal democracy is the “end of history.”
Writing within the new Islamist discourse are others more inclusive in their perspectives. For example, Iranian `Abd al-Karim Soroush,29 a 60-year-old philosopher who is part of Iran’s pro- democracy movement and has challenged some of Khomeini’s ideas, considers the role of Islam beyond the Islamic revolution. Some emerge from anti-Islamist political systems, like Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti of Syria who criticizes Wahhabism.30 Then, there is Moroccan Islamist `Abd al-Salam Yasin,31 who promotes aspects of mysticism. One could point to leaders of the well-established Muslim Brotherhood, such as the articulate `Isam al-`Aryan (Essam al-Eryan) of Egypt,32 or the Wasatiyun, a moderate party that broke away from the Brotherhood and has counterparts in Jordan, Kuwait, and elsewhere. On the popular, as well as the intellectual, level, Islamist discourse has been attracting a broad audience.
Take, for instance, the nonintellectual popularity of Egyptian televangelist `Amr Khaled, who calls his mission the appeal of the heart. Khaled markets a new Islam to the younger generation. He is the antithesis of a turbaned, robed cleric, appearing in natty business suits, and discussing issues relevant to his younger audience members. One of his slogans available on T-shirts is “I am a Maker not a Taker,” and his goal is an Islamic renaissance (nahda). He promotes a 12-step program towards Islam in his show, Lifemakers (Sunna` al-Hayat). So seductive was Khaled that he was dubbed a Rasputin and banned from preaching in Egypt in 2002. He moved back and forth from the UK to Lebanon, and back to the UK,33 and his fans now comprise other Arabs and immigrants to Europe as well as Egyptians.
Even Muslim modernists now express Islamism, or what some call neo-salafism, an updated, or more intense version of Sunni purist thought with political and religious aims. Some are more tolerant or critical than others. Fahmi Huwaydi, a journalist and Muslim thinker promotes pluralism and opposes the extremists because they do not.34 My point is that Muslims have new spokespersons, or heroes-and they are not necessarily scripturalist, or salafi, like the frequently described “fathers” of modern Islamism, Abu al-`Ala al-Mawdudi, Hasan al-Banna, or Sayyid Qutb or, on the Shi`a side, reinvigorated Ja`afari Islamists like Khomeini or `Ali Shari`ati. But neither are they secularists. To be a secularist today is to be considered religiously delinquent, and one cannot be an atheist or an agnostic in Muslim society as is quite possible in the West. The Arab and Muslim media therefore speak of liberals rather than secularists.
If the United States continues to promote secularism, in one form or another as the antidote to extremist or revivalist Islam, it will not reach hearts and minds. These new figures are calling for reinvigoration of Islam and its application throughout life through an activist agenda. They will not sit still while their governments order the construction of Western-style democracies (though democratiza- tion may grant them a new political role, they do not want a replication of Western features of democracy or the implementation of secularist aims). Both they and the extremists aim at establishment of a New Ummah (community of Muslims); the latter, however, believe that only jihad and the overthrowing of impious political leaders will prove effective in that aim.
Extremist recruitment successes are due to forces that ideologi- cally attract or repel-factors that push the public away from other political movements or the state, and qualities that attract them to Islamist extremists. President Bush’s 2004 State of the Union address and March 2005 speech on terrorism indicated that despair and tyranny are factors impelling ordinary Muslims toward such movements and away from other allegiances, and so democratization is called for.35
While this transformational sentiment is an admirable, if unusual, addition to U.S. foreign and national security policy, it might be more accurate to assent that despair and tyranny are recipes for many different types of disastrous situations. Yet, they are not the sole, or even the major, reasons impelling Muslims toward extremist Islamism. Despair can emerge from economic distress, but also from immobility, impotence in the face of state violence, lack of access or wasta (influence, mediation, an intermediary who can intervene for one), disgust with corrupt local leadership, impermeable elites, or state systems. It is true that Islamist groups have been sensitive to socioeconomic needs of their target populations and use these to their advantage-for instance in the Ikhwan’s response to the 1992 earthquakes in Cairo, assistance of $1000 to every homeless family.36 Such efforts parallel a broader rise of Islamically-oriented volunteerism in Egypt, and not all organizations are linked to any politically active group.37 Or one could note Hizbullah’s provision of electricity in Beirut in the early 1990s, hospitals there and in Ba`lbak, and private schools. Marriages are extremely expensive for populations with low wages; it is estimated that it takes 10 years for a man in Egypt to save for his wedding and all the related costs. Islamist groups around the region have met this social challenge actively by hosting group weddings and footing many of the expenses, such as in a recent wedding Hamas sponsored for 452 couples.38
The Palestinian party, Hamas, and the Lebanese Hizbullah recently have seen higher recruitment in the Palestinian territories as a result of their response to the scandals concerning the collection of prisoners’ pensions. Even after the two token releases of political prisoners, some 8,000 Palestinians remain incarcerated, and their families depend on small pensions of about $150 per month. Their female relatives have been harassed, or worse, when they try to collect these pensions, so these Islamist organizations intervened to provide assistance.39 Islamists, particularly moderate and well- organized groups like Hamas, are expected to do well at the polls in the West Bank. In Gaza, on the other hand, they resisted the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s efforts to exclude them from gains after the disengagement of August 14, 2005. The overall security situation has been plagued with infighting. The PA was unable and apparently unwilling to control the thuggish behavior (assaults, shakedowns, harassment) by some of the al-Aqsa Brigades, yet, to show its tough side, has imprisoned and even tortured Brigade members in Jericho.40 The future of the Brigades is uncertain; they may be absorbed into the PA security structure, but the PA is trying to isolate and destroy their more able leaders, while inciting and manipulating some of the above-mentioned thuggery. That causes more distrust of the PA, and siding with dependable or morally compelling organizations as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah are perceived to be.
Israeli strategies against these groups have ranged from “targeted elimination,” or assassinations to put pressure on the PA to rein them in, or their receiving no further concessions toward peace or withdrawal. In general, insistence on security before peace seems both impractical and to be dividing the Israeli and Palestinian populations among themselves, causing despair on the part of pro- peace individuals on each side of the Wall.41 This may imply that security might not be achievable in Iraq, and that a state of low-level battle with insurgents is likely to continue for some time.
The Israelis exiled members of Hamas, but that caused further radicalization. Hamas exiles in Lebanon were a public relations problem for the Israelis, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad already has shown its ability to operate from a Damascus base. Israelis also launched informational campaigns about the violence preached by Muslims which, in light of the overall discrimination against Arabs and Muslims in the country, only translated into greater Israeli distrust, yet little transformation of discourse. Israeli authorities closed Hamas’ charities, and the basic effect was that support was withdrawn from the most miserable sectors of the camp-dwelling Palestinians.42 Heightening public distress has not decreased the Islamist groups’ popularity, and there may be other ways that it has channeled assistance and funds.
In Egypt, at least two new radical cells emerged in the fall of 2004 and the spring of 2005.43 Meanwhile, the government’s violent and coercive responses to an indigenous democracy movement, as well as Muslim Brotherhood protests in May 2005, might encourage people to join one of the forms of political opposition available to them-liberal, Islamist, or extremist. Stringent counterterrorist measures that involve detention and torture, and which have been employed in Egypt, play a role in radicalizing those already involved in extremist movements. These measures cause the government to be viewed just as the extremists depict them; as anti-Islamic, those who suppress sincere Muslims.
Former Ambassador Fereydoun Hoveyda, an Iranian-American who grew up in the Arab world and remembered Islamist activists from his youth in Syria, characterizes militant Islamism as being “essentially a political movement, not a religious one,” that nonetheless will threaten the West and be “lethal to the Muslim world.”44 The problem is that other Muslims see Islamist insurgents quite differently, because religion and religious discourse can encompass political, social, and economic goals. Tony Blair, Francis Fukuyama, and others have made the same point-that extremists are not operating on a religious basis. That betrays a misunderstanding of Muslims’ holistic view of life; everything is religion, everything is Islam; financial, social, intellectual, theological, military, and political.
The basic principle, “Islam is religion and state” (Islam, din wa dawla), has been constrained by nation-states for some time. Also, Muslims generally are concerned with whether or not a person, action, or substance is Islamic, categorizing each as “allowed,” “forbidden,” or “neutral.” Which looks more Islamic: a party that aids prisoners’ families, or secularist party officials who are known to torture young militia members and siphon off party funds? Which looks more Islamic: radicals who claim that they will restore a Muslim way of life to Egypt’s rapidly changing environment, or government officials also associated with corruption and torture? Liberals, such as the followers of the Kifaya (Enough) democracy movement in Egypt, do not favor a religious state. Factions which support the PA, or at least accept its leadership more thoroughly than they support Islamist parties in Palestine are also pro-secular. But both are very small groups. The larger segments of these populations so fervently accept the principle of an Islamic state that any effort to distinguish between “religious” and “political” is fraught with difficulties. Such distinctions aren’t a useful way to delegitimize Islamists, or extremist Islamists.
Martin Kramer, an Israeli-based authority on Middle Eastern politics, claimed that radical Islamists had an Achilles heel-their inability to cooperate with other actors.45 This general statement, made in the 1990s, is no longer accurate, if it ever was. Moderates, as well as extremists, formed useful alliances for themselves in Egypt, Lebanon, and now in Iraq. We could say that is due to the flexibility of their grand strategy (destroy, then rebuild a New Umma by whatever means are necessary). Specific factors of their historical experience, responses to local repression, forged their flexibility.
When Egyptian Islamists faced trial in that country, many fled, recruiting others to the jihad in Afghanistan and later Chechnya. They traversed various temporary sanctuaries: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or through the Western desert to Libya. The Saudi Arabian government argued its inability to contain Osama bin Ladin, though it stripped him of his citizenship. He traveled to the Sudan where he could continue to build his organization. All of the above helps explain networking, alliances of convenience, and franchising.
It also explains the futility of exiling extremists, as the Israelis tried with PIJ and Hamas. If Islamists lose ground in Iraq, some will melt back into society, and others will move on to Saudi Arabia, or Syria, or return to Egypt, the Sudan, and other points. Some already have tried moving back into Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states. Iraq has been the most important training ground to date for such fighters; their proficiency has increased there, although their numbers do not equal those of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. In other words, jihad leads only to more jihad.
Islamist leaders employ various strategies that enhance their ideological impact and transmit it to potential recruits. Some are the natural consequence of their worldview, shaped by various influences from their milieu, for example, the inclusion of various themes of Third Worldist ideology or Leninist notions about the development of the vanguard which provides a good fit for small groups with international aims. Their history of opposition also affected their tactics and strategies. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of Egypt created a secret apparatus (tanzim sirri) in the 1940s that carried out violent actions, including assassinations, because they were blocked from political advancement in other ways.46 Despite the MB’s evolution of a different strategy, creating a mass-base through education and gradual change, its secret apparatus served as a model for the radical Islamist groups emerging after the 1967 war.
Tactical decisions such as the selection of particular targets in preference to others, or the forging of alliances with groups not necessarily identical to the al-Qa’ida model, heighten groups’ malleability and abilities to survive. Thanks to movement, reconstitution, franchising, and the flexible aspects of their grand strategy, extremists replace themselves and benefit from the various alliances available to them. New Islamist-extremist leaders have been quite successful in constructing and defending their ideological authenticity. They have altered and elaborated certain themes, elevating their programs to a new level of sophistication. This strategic success is something of a paradox because these leaders of the next generation claim to be defending the “true jihad” which is, as are most ideas, a constantly evolving construction.
METAMORPHOSIS OF ISLAMIST LEADERS
Osama bin Ladin, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, and other contemporary figures can be seen as reincarnations or avatars of earlier leaders of the 1970s and 1980s like Juhayman al- `Utaybi, Salah Siriyya, Shukri Mustafa, Muhammad abd al-Salam Farag, and Shaykh `Abdullah `Azzam. That means that the public and potential recruits identify with themes that have remained constant in these leaders’ messages-for example, the corruption of the current political order in the Muslim world. Yet they have contributed other newer themes to the discourse of jihad.
What may be learned from the experiences of earlier Islamist extremists? Salah Siriyya, a Palestinian agronomist who was an adherent of the Islamic Liberation Party originally established by Shaykh Nabahani in Palestine, infiltrated the Technical Military Academy in Egypt. His followers tried and failed to kill President Anwar Sadat there in 1974. His group’s effort was mirrored in a later successful assassination operation carried out by the Tanzim Jihad. Both attacks involved members of the Egyptian military, which has provided Egypt’s political leadership ever since the dissolution of the monarchy with the 1952 revolution of the Free Officers. Moreover, both parties continued to operate-the mother Islamic Liberation Party that spawned Siriyya’s Military Academy Group has gained strength in other areas ranging from Uzbekistan to London, where it could freely promote its aim of a caliphate and the cessation of the system of nation-states.47
Shukri Mustafa, another charismatic personality, led his followers in the Egyptian group, Takfir wa-l-Higrah, underground, describing their flight, or higrah, from jahiliyya (barbarism like that in the pre-Islamic era) as a necessary stage in jihad akin to the Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.w.s.48) journey from Mecca. In 1977, they attacked Egypt’s fleshpots, nightclubs along Shari`a al-Haram, a playground for Arab tourists, and a few months later kidnapped the moderate, Muhammad adh-Dhahabi, a former Minister of Awqaf (Islamic Endowments), and held him for ransom. More than 400 members were arrested, and Mustafa was executed. He had broadened the scope of action for future radicals by challenging the Islamic nature of Egyptian society,49 targeting an exemplar of moderate Islam, and legitimating such attacks on agents of the state.
Juhayman al-`Utaybi, grandson of an Ikhwan warrior, challenged the guardianship of the Saudi royal family over Islam’s holy cities, Mecca and Medina-and by extension, their leadership in the Islamic world-when he took over the Grand Mosque at Mecca in 1979. The Saudis were in an even more uncomfortable position than Americans in Iraq who must respond to shelling from mosques, because there were many hostages taken, and a lengthy stand-off was only resolved with the aid of foreign forces. Al-`Utaybi actually did not claim leadership of his own movement but instead presented his followers with an historically-sanctioned leader, a mahdi-a guided one-his brother-in-law, al-Qahtani. In doing so, he provided a linkage to the rationale of Islamic purist movements of the past.50
Muhammad `abd al-Salam Farag, ideologue of the Egyptian Tanzim al-Gihad Islami (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) whose operative Lieutenant Khalid al-Islambuli assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981, emphasized jihad as well, claiming that it was a sixth pillar of Islam, and the only acceptable means of its expression is armed struggle. Jihad cannot be avoided; it is an incumbent individual obligation like fasting during Ramadan. He employed a Trotskyesque concept (ironically similar to the notion of continuous revolution employed by the Ba`th Party both in Syria and Iraq), writing of a “continuous” or “perpetual struggle,” a never-ending jihad.51 He wrote that Muslims should wage jihad against the governments of all the modern Muslim states because their laws were created by infidels. Muslims should not work for, nor cooperate with, such governments nor join their armies.52
Shaykh `Abdullah `Azzam, who taught Osama bin Ladin, originally came from a Palestinian village near Jenin, moved around the Middle East from Jordan to Syria where he graduated from the University of Damascus, went from there to Egypt where he attended al-Azhar University, to Saudi Arabia, and from there to Pakistan. He inspired disciples with his strong personality and an uncompromising message. In one of his key tracts, he explains:
<quote>When a span of Muslim land is occupied, Jihad becomes individually obligatory (fard `ain) on the inhabitants of that piece of land. The woman may go out, without her husband’s permission, with a mahram, the one in debt without the permission of the one he owes, the child without his father’s permission. If the inhabitants of that area are not sufficient in number, fall short, or are [too] lazy [to wage jihad], the individually obligatory nature of jihad extends to those around them, and so on and so on until it covers the entire earth, being individually obligatory (fard `ayn) just like prayer, fasting, and the like so that nobody may abandon it.
The obligation of Jihad today remains fard `ayn (an individual obligation of a believer) until the liberation of the last piece of land which was in the hands of Muslims but has been occupied by the disbelievers.53
Foreign occupation or military presence on Muslim lands then becomes the most powerful argument for jihad, and one hinging on American foreign policy in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Azzam’s definition and prioritization of jihad is echoed by many other “Osamas,” such as Abu Bakar Ba’asyir who said from his Jakarta prison cell that martyrdom actions for jihad cannot be postponed for any reason, not even to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, or to visit sick parents-it “must be number one.”54
Azzam bolstered the new jihad through his mobilization efforts and, additionally, through his insistence that jihadists should confront the Western enemy and use Muslims in the West with all of their global connections. This encouragement to fight the far enemy has a direct relationship to the 9/11 attacks and to attacks on Westerners in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Spain, the Philippines, and London. But it should be understood that up to that point, jihadists were, and may still be, pragmatic. It is not that they eschewed attacks on the “far enemy,” since their analysis pinpointed the U.S. role in supporting the local governments that were battling or containing Islamists. The issue was simply a gauging of response. What kind of a response would a direct attack on Americans engender? If groups aimed at local sovereignty, it made little sense to elicit an American response, for example, to attacks on American tourists. What changed in those like `Azzam was the conviction that a heightened jihad must take precedence, and direct attacks would intensify the conflict between the West and Islam, illustrating the inevitability of jihad and martyrdom both to mujahidin, and other Muslims who might join them instead of moderate groups calling for reform.55
Just as al-Qa’ida capitalized on the new elements of jihad supplied by these leaders, current recruiters and leaders are amplifying them. Take, for instance, the leaders and operation planners for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ believes that Israel must be destroyed through jihad and that its own role in such a war is as a revolutionary vanguard.56 PIJ has utilized its resources judiciously, limiting the numbers of attacks mounted against Israelis, and these are generally effective. It recently rejected participation in a unity front proposed by President Mahmoud Abbas, as did Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.57 These three groups contested the PA’s insistence that it provide sole security in Gaza after Israeli withdrawal in August. Meanwhile, the Israelis announced that they intend to resume targeted “eliminations,” i.e., assassinations of PIJ figures.58
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah of the PIJ-who speaks Arabic, Hebrew, English, and even a little Yiddish-attended university in Zagazig, Egypt, and the University of Durham in the UK, where he established good connections with other Arab and Muslim students, and subsequently appeared in Tampa at a Muslim research institute, World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), established through the auspices of the University of Florida. Shallah’s doctoral thesis had focused on Islamic economics, and his efforts to meld political economy with Islamist thought runs parallel to efforts of earlier figures like Muhammad as-Siba’i, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Shallah, who has a sharp intellect,59 actually wielded some influence on the academic discourse about Islamist movements as the editor of Qira`at Siyasiya (Political Readings), the journal of WISE. By demonstrating to Arabic readers that American academics, like Louis Cantori, Richard Bulliet, Bernard Lewis or John Esposito, were treating Islamist ideas as manifestations of a broader intellectual phenomenon and placing their articles in Arabic translation alongside Islamist writings or interviews (with figures like Hasan Turabi, the Sudanese Islamist leader), the image of the Islamist movement and the notion of its inevitability grew. It should be noted that none of these academic collaborators knew Shallah would later assume the leadership of Islamic Jihad. So, one could see Shallah as a sleeper jihadist who tried his hand at influence via persuasion, prior to his assumption of leadership in a violent struggle.
Shallah has made claims, repeated by young jihadis, that Israel will never defeat human bombs, “not even by nuclear bombs,”60 emphasizing the indefatigable thirst for martyrdom, persistence, and inverse relationship of small operational cost to much larger effect that characterizes this strategy. Western analysts wrongly have pointed to suicide operations (jihadis insist these are martyrdom operations) as a mark of desperation, arguing that groups would only engage in such efforts when there is no other hope left to them. In fact, popular songs, children’s games, and public discourse shows that the linkage of martyrdom to suicide attacks is accepted by many individuals who see these actions as being “moral.” Jihadists further claim moral superiority when they say that their willingness to die expresses a type of commitment that Israelis and Americans lack.
FROM SAUDI ARABIA TO THE WORLD
Osama bin Ladin achieved infamy eclipsing Shallah’s through the attacks in the United States. He represents both the regionalization and, if you will, the globalization of the jihad effort. When he identified a key Muslim jihadist cause in Afghanistan, he created a regional nexus for fighters who then articulated goals in all parts of the world. His own avatars have now emerged, launching themselves into new arenas. So his capture or demise will not end the jihad. If bin Ladin is killed, he will remain a martyr, resistance hero, and popular icon forever, and the United States would do better to put him on trial- that should ideally be an international cooperative effort-filming him periodically in captivity, to diminish his allure, and minimize his inspiration to future generations of Osamas. This is in no way meant to diminish the justice owed to the families of 9/11 and other victims, but an observation about the process of martyrdom that needs to be kept in mind.
His distaste for Arab and Muslim governments is due to his idealistic pursuit of a new ummah, a purified Muslim society.61 He is battling for leadership of this society, and al-Qa’ida, as Michael Scheuer has pointed out, has been able to take advantage of U.S. ambitions and setbacks in the region to heighten tensions against the United States and the “apostate” governments.62 Unfortunately for the United States, many in the Muslim world admired bin Ladin and saw him as a sort of Robin Hood, rather than demonizing him. A recent survey shows that, although support for “Islamic extremism” generally has decreased, some in the region continue to admire bin Ladin.63 He stood for the defense of the Muslim world through jihad, creating a central cause and gathering place for mujahidin.
Now isolated somewhere in Pakistan or in rural Afghanistan, does he continue to attract adherents? The answer is that through his connections and financial wherewithal, and al-Qa’ida’s ideological influence over other groups, he exerts influence over other extremist- Islamist groups without necessarily making decisions for them. He and other key members of al-Qa’ida use familiar arguments-that local governments were oppressive and corrupt; anti-Islamic, or that they suppress true Muslims. And they argue that the most holy sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia are corrupted by the West and the Saudi royal family. Iraq, with its holy cities, is now occupied as well, and the holy sites in Jerusalem were seized by Israel, ally of the West, in 1967.
In the leadership of al-Qa’ida on the Arabian Peninsula, (QAP, al-Qa’ida fi Jazirat al-`Arabiyya) we perceive the methodology of Salah Siriyya’s underground organization and the cyber-expertise of many of today’s groups. This group self-franchised to al-Qa’ida, and after a series of bombings and attempted and successful attacks since May 2003, the Saudi security forces claimed they had crippled QAP and had nearly eliminated its leadership. QAP nevertheless published its web-magazine, Sawt al-Jihad, in 2004, and recruitment began anew. The web publication interviewed the late QAP leader, al-`Awfi, who denied that it was best to go fight in Iraq, rather than Saudi Arabia:
Your country, the Peninsula, is in greater need of your services. There are several borderlines here to protect. The enemy that you want to go to, those who are defaming the honors in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Palestine, that enemy is here, amongst you. He is on your land, pillaging your religion and your treasures. It is the lawful duty of a Muslim to close the hole that is nearest to him. Clerics have agreed that, if an enemy occupies one of the Muslim countries, he needs to be pushed away from the nearest point, then the one after that.64
He also demeaned those neo-salafists participating in negotiations with the Saudi government. Since then, many Saudis have traveled to Iraq to fight. Israeli writer Rueven Paz contends that the largest portion of foreign fighters in Iraq are Saudis, but Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi analyst, disagrees. Saudi security forces contend that their antiterrorism campaign has diminished public support for the jihadists in their country. This campaign featured televised meetings in which religious officials spoke against extremism and huge billboards; for example, one in Riyadh with a depiction of bombing damage, reads poignantly, “My Country, Did You Do This?”65 In this conservative society, it is significant that a debate about Saudi Arabia’s role in inspiring acts of terrorism is taking place, though it is amid much discomfort about the incorrect labeling of Islam and Wahhabism itself.
Saudi officials at first reported that al-`Awfi was killed at al- Qassim in early April 2005, his body too badly burned to identify. But jihadi web-postings were scornful of this news, and a Saudi dissident claimed that the movement’s leader, Sa’ud al-`Utaybi, was killed then, not al-`Awfi,66 who may have taken part in the Jedda attack. This kind of uncertainty probably bolsters the insurgents. As this dissident pointed out, a general Saudi sentiment of support for jihad in Iraq could aid QAP, despite its losses over the last 2 years, especially if they were to shift their targets to the royal family, an idea supported by at least one faction within QAP.67 On August 18, 2005, Saudi authorities announced they had identified al-`Awfi as one of the militants they had killed in a raid on extremist hiding places in Medina.
U.S. policymakers and analysts have misunderstood the delineation between those in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who are fighting the far and the near enemy. It is important to note an existing overlap and ability to shift from one target to another. They would be ill-advised to take their eyes off of this group, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, merely on the grounds that a small group aimed at the near enemy will not present a global challenge. Likewise, the argument that al-Qa’ida or Zarqawi are running out of steam68 is premature. While Saudis point to the successful elimination of many QAP leaders, they designated a new set of leaders to be targeted, and, if fighters return from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, a relatively small number might be quite dangerous, given the vulnerability of the country’s oil fields and of many areas in the larger cities, including public buildings.
AYMAN ZAWAHIRI AND EGYPTIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD
Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose maternal grandfather was Shaykh Abdelwahhab Azzam, who became a dean at Cairo University and ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and whose father was deputy chair of the pharmacology department at Ain Shams University, also studied medicine and became a member of Islamic Jihad. Egyptians finally understood that, if upstanding families like the Azzams and Zawahiris could produce this militant leader, then the “enemy is within.”69 He spent 3 years in jail after Sadat’s death, then left for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where he met Usama bin Ladin. His own and the organization’s hijrah (migration) from Egypt to Afghanistan transformed much of Gihad Islami (as pronounced in Egypt) into al-Qaida. Al-Zawahiri was not the only member of the group to achieve importance to al-Qai’da, certainly the late Muhammad Atta was a key combatant as well. Some claim that Zawahiri and bin Ladin are too busy fleeing for their lives to be of any importance in global jihad, and that Islamic Jihad, like al-Qa’ida, may be on the verge of extinction. Yet the group’s history illustrates its regenerative capacity, that not many militants are needed to cause havoc, and factionalized groups can join forces. In this case (some members came from other organizations such as Shabab Muhammad), EIJ was actually two different organizations-one founded by Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj (Farag, in Egypt), and the other founded by Muhammad Salim al-Rahal, a student of the Islamic al-Azhar University.
When Rahal was expelled from Egypt, Kamal al-Sayyid Habib, a young economics graduate of Cairo University, became the new leader. The two groups merged when Habib was introduced to Faraj by Tariq al-Zumur, whose brother-in law, a major in army intelligence, was the strategist of the Farag group. Various critics of extremist Islamists have maintained that, like other revolutionaries, they lack clear platforms, institutions, or programs, yet EIJ’s structure and training program was well-developed early on. The group was headed by a majlis al-shura (literally, council of consultation) with subcommittees for preparation, prograganda, and finances. Its goal was a state with a majlis al-shura and a council of `ulama, similar to Iran’s-not an amorphous caliphate. The group’s initial plan for an Islamic revolution mimicked the 1952 revolution in that it proposed the seizure of the Radio and Television building. Stage one of the training program included first aid, knowledge of topography, vehicle training, defense, and physical exercises. At stage two, techniques of attacks and ambushes and securing strategically crucial sites were introduced, as were proper use of weapons and explosives. Simulations were carried out in the third stage, supervised by Nabil al-Maghrabi.70
Islamic Jihad became widely known when Khalid al-Islambuli, a lieutenant in the Egyptian Army and EIJ member, assassinated President Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981. In fact, EIJ leadership was not of one mind regarding Khalid Islambuli’s plan to assassinate Sadat. Abbud al-Zumur felt the organization required more time before it could lead a popular revolution,71 which was to have broken out following the assassination. Another later disagreement concerned the subsequent role of Shaykh Abd al-Rahman, the supposed ideologue of the movement.
Once in court, al-Islambuli stated that he assassinated Sadat because Islamic law, the shari’a, was not being applied in Egypt because of the peace treaty with Israel and arrests of religious clerics without justification.72 He and other EIJ members expressed their opposition to corruption, robbery, embezzlement, and bribery-it was common knowledge that members of the government were involved in such activities, and the EIJ held that the Egyptian government enforced or encouraged the physical display of women (tabarruj al-nisa’).73
Many Egypt-watchers as well as analysts saw basic similarities between all of the Egyptian “jihad groups”-Takfir wa-l-Higrah, the Military Academy group, the Gama`at al-Islamiyya, and Islamic Jihad-in that they were militant and directly confrontational. They are enacting a commitment to jihad formulated by Sayyid Qutb and the notion of jihad as a sixth pillar. The idea that jihad was the absent, or neglected, requirement of Muslims was most fully iterated by Muhammad `Abd al-Salam Faraj. Actually, Faraj differentiates between the various “jihad groups” in his treatise, critiquing Takfir wa-l-Higrah and Gama`at Islamiyya, as well as the modernist rebuttal provided by then Shaykh al-Azhar, Jad al-Haqq, who wrote a defense of the government’s authority. Faraj’s main point is that jihad is obligatory. Fleeing jahillliya society in a hijra as Takfir wa- l-Higrah recommended, instead of taking up jihad, was religiously improper. But using da`wa (mission, proselytization of the correct Islam) to create a mass base like Gama`at al-Islamiyya and the Muslim Brotherhood and postponing jihad was also wrong; he argued that one cannot substitute “populism for jihad.”74 And furthermore, the nearest enemy is the Egyptian government, not Israel: only under true Muslims will Jerusalem be liberated. This last argument essentially distinguishes the Islamic Jihad from the Muslim Brotherhood as well. Finally, Faraj’s attack on al-Haqq, who spoke for the Egyptian government, basically argues that the Sword Verses-those verses of the Qur’an that explain jihad to be obligatory-have abrogated all other verses and so jihad is, as bin Ladin and Azzam also claimed, just like fasting.75 Al-Haqq pointed to the propriety of jihad by the heart and the tongue, instead of the sword, but more strongly made the argument that the ruler is not an apostate, because an apostate is only one who rejects all, not just part, of the shari`ah.76
The Egyptian government’s response was to deny first, then suppress Islamic extremism. Meanwhile many members of EIJ went to the Gulf, Afghanistan, and later Albania, Kashmir, Chechnya, and finally in 1998, Zawahiri joined forces with al-Qa’ida. He was motivated by the fact that some leaders of al-Gama`at al-Islamiyya agreed to nonviolence following the Luxor attack on a large number of tourists, but EIJ, at least Zawahiri’s faction, swore to carry on jihad.
Ayman Zawahiri carried Faraj’s ideas further in his own book, Knights under the Prophet’s Banner, which was serialized in the popular Arabic newspaper, al-Sharq al-Awsat. Here he portrays himself as an educator to Muslim youth. He is spreading jihad successfully, and the proof may be found with thousands of young men in prisons who have become Islamists there. He recommends a “by any means necessary” strategy, pointing to the damage that even small numbers can exact and suggests targetting the UN, multinational corporations, the media, and international relief groups because these are covers for other operations, according to him, as well as rulers of Arab states.77 Further, he and al-Qa’ida have now linked the Palestinian and Iraqi causes to jihad with the argument that the occupation of Muslim lands requires jihad. In an August 4 videotape, Zawahiri drew a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam, and threatened the British and Americans with more violence, saying that if they [their governments] did not cease “aggression against Muslims,” they would “see horror that will make you forget what you saw in Vietnam.”78
Stringent counterterrorist measures apparently backfired in Egypt.79 Torture, hostage-taking, and abuse of Islamist family members, including sexual abuse, has been documented.80 This was an important lesson. Still, the Muslim Brotherhood and other moderates hope to overcome obstacles to political participation and could continue to provide an Islamist alternative to extremism.
MUHAMMAD MAKKAWI OR SAYF AL-ADEL
Some experts say that Muhammad Makkawi, a colonel in the Egyptian special forces who became an Afghan Arab, was the victim of al-Qa’ida infighting.81 But most believe that Sayf al-Adel is Makkawi’s nom de guerre, and that he has headed al-Qa’ida’s military wing, providing much of its strategic thinking. Whether al-Adel or Makkawi, he is a major strategist for the group. He describes al- Qa’ida’s aims as going beyond Afghanistan, where they supposedly “sacrificed” the Taliban, moved from Iran into Iraq (as Zarqawi, in fact, did),82 and will also engage the United States in other areas; he specifies Syria, and Lebanon, as well as Iran, suggesting that the United States may attack Iran. Al-Adel credits al-Qa’ida with foreknowledge of U.S. attacks, and planning capabilities that may aggrandize the truth.83 In this way, al-Qa’ida is able to adapt to changing circumstances, taking responsibility for actions planned by independent cells, or adapting their own plans as in the videotape that announced that Usama bin Ladin would proceed to Iraq to strengthen his amir’s, al-Zarqawi’s struggle there.
THE ROLE OF THE SPIRITUAL LEADER: FROM EGYPT TO INDONESIA
Another strategy fraught with difficulties is the identification and punishment of those clerics who inspire or approve acts of violence. This strategy resembles the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) efforts to target political leadership of Islamist groups rather than their military operatives, because spiritual leaders frequently are disassociated from actual planning by design, as well as the need to focus extremist abilities. For example, many Westerners, including Middle East scholar, Daniel Pipes, blame the influential Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, Dean of Islamic Studies at the University of Qatar, for supporting jihad and linking it with martyrdom. Actually, Qaradawi strongly condemned the 9/11 attacks and all killings of civilians. But he differentiated these from attacks on Israelis because, he made the point, there even women are militarized, and he suggests that “acts of martyrdom” are authorized when a population has no way to counter occupation.84 His is far from a unique position on this issue; various Muslim clerics have pointed to the mobilization of the entire Israeli population, defining them as combatants. The linkage of jihad to martyrdom in other contexts-assassination attempts in various countries, operations in Iraq, or in attacks involving other than civilians-has not been debated sufficiently in some places. That said, bringing “inciters to jihad” to justice violates the customary freedom of speech enjoyed by spiritual leaders in Islam, which is seen to be a part of their religious role. Some readers may not understand that it is considered the duty of the religious preacher to make political statements and call for action when he believes Islamic rights are violated. Also, it may not be quite clear that martyrdom and jihad are, in fact, topics enmeshed in Islamic history and mentioned in numerous instances in the Qur’an and other sacred literature. Hence, a governmental authority cannot forbid a religious preacher to discuss martyrdom, which has become a populist theme of sorts in a perceived struggle between the East and the West.
The difficulties in pursuing justice for those linked with more clearly defined terrorist actions, such as Shaykh Umar abd al-Rahman of Egypt or Abu Bakar Ba`syir of Indonesia, lie also in legal definitions of terrorism, culpability, and differences in evidentiary proceedings, as well as in hostile local reactions to public trials, because it seems to the public of these Muslim countries that Islam and Islamism, rather than terrorism, is on trial. This parallels public sentiment that there is a Global War on Islam (rather than Terror). Extradition, as of abd al-Rahman, is one response, which affords the West greater judicial leeway to prosecute. However, `abd al-Rahman’s lawyer, the well-known Islamist, Muntasir al-Zayyat, who incidentally wrote a “tell-all” about Zawahiri and then withdrew it from circulation since Zawahiri could not defend himself, warned that some follower of the Shaykh might well attack Americans or U.S. interests outside of Egypt in response to the “humiliation” of the shaykh.85
Abu Bakar Ba`syir or Bashir, originally of East Java, was a founder of Ponodok Ngruki and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) of Indonesia. The JI was formed at least in part as a response to the Indonesian military regime’s attacks on Muslim groups,86 as has the Darul Islam movement more generally.87 He faced various charges and escaped to Malaysia. Bas’syir became the JI’s spiritual leader in 1999 when his co-founder died. Ba`syir was tried in connection with the Bali bombings and the 2003 bombing of the Jakarta Marriot hotel. He also was charged in connection with a foiled assassination attempt on President Megawati Sakarnoputri. Many Australians were outraged when, in contrast to the 30-months sentence Ba`syir received for inspiring a crime in which many of their fellow nationals were killed, Australian tourist Schappelle Corby was sentenced in May 2005 to 20 years in jail for allegedly bringing four kilos of marijuana into Bali in her suitcase. Her trial received a good deal of publicity as well. Further, the Indonesian government had not outlawed JI in the spring of 2005, although it has imprisoned more than 150 members of the organization in the last 3 years, since doing so would give the impression that the West was dictating to the government.
Much evidence in Ba`syir’s case was eliminated from consider- ation, including the reports of his attendance of a graduation event at the terrorist training Camp Hudaybiyya in the Phillipines in 2000, where he gave a speech promoting jihad. He was cleared of seven charges and convicted of treason and an immigration violation. He appealed his 4-year sentence, which was reduced to 18 months, whereupon he was recharged under Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Act, allegedly following U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge’s call that “Hopefully in due time . . . he will be brought to justice in a different way.”88 Haroon Siddiqui commented that America “advocates democracy but seems to pine for Indonesia’s old authoritarian ways.” He added, “It needs Muslim moderates, but alienates them.”89 Ba’syir is no moderate, advocating that the fight against America “is compulsory,” and that Muslims should attack Americans in America, and, as bin Ladin urges, that they should free the Arabian peninsula from occupation.90
Two other instances of clerics’ relevance to the GWOT should be mentioned. First, Abu Muhammad Maqdisi, a mentor for the Jordanian and Iraqi group al-Tawhid wa-al-Jihad, decried attacks on Muslims in Iraq on al-Jazirah television and in the press, saying that such attacks “might distort the true jihad.”91 Subsequent web postings showed that this statement shocked some of his hardline followers. Many clerics also criticized the London July 7, 2005 (7/7), bombings; as they did 9/11. But in this instance, some of the clerics are neo-salafis who support jihad, like Syrian scholar Mustafa ‘abd al-Mun’im Abu Halimah, who lives in London and is known as Abu Basir al-Tartusi. After virulent responses to a fatwa, he issued another statement that basically said that Muslims must operate with integrity, instead of seeking equivalent degrees of revenge.92 One can see ambiguity in that clerics might provide rationales for extremists, but not support their actions.
Second, clerics have been useful members of groups for national dialogue and debate, and in bodies that demilitarize or negotiate with militants. In any process which seeks to rehabilitate or include Islamist oppositionist groups, they are critical voices. Judge Hamoud al-Hitar chaired Yemen’s National Dialogue Committee, established in 2002, to conduct dialogue with detainees from groups like al- Houthi’s followers, al-Qa’ida, Takfir wa-l-Hijra, Afghan veterans, and the Aden-Abyan Islamic army. By treating the detainees with respect, but firmly opposing their ideas, it persuaded some to relinquish violence. The clerics on the committee formulated their arguments by drawing on their knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet). The detainees argued their own version of jihad, which simply was not well-grounded Islamically, and not persuasive in the face of superior scripturally-based arguments.93 Dialogue as a means of communicating and providing a way out of violence also was promoted by Egyptian sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. It was tried as well in Algeria in 1994, but “eradicationists” and “dialogists” from within the Algerian government and military clashed, and it took time for the latter method to result in political normalization.94
ZARQAWI: BANE OF IRAQ
Abu Musab Zarqawi’s organization’s brutal bombings and beheadings added a new twist to coercive measures toward local populations, without which his group, al-Qa’ida fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, QAP, and others could not operate. Zarqawi’s virulent anti-Shi`i attacks contrast with Osama bin Ladin’s silence on this issue. Bin Ladin’s salafi followers are also grounded in negative attitudes toward the Shi`a in general. In Iraq, salafi-jihadist objections to the Shi`a have much to do with perceived Shi`i cooperation with American “occupiers.” Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmad Fadhil Nazzal al-Khalayla, was born in 1966, a Jordanian from the town of Zarqa and a member of the Abu al-Hassan tribe. He left school early, apparently out of frustration when it was recommended that he attend a vocational rather than an academic high school, and though formerly a “sinner” who drank, womanized, and sported tattoos, he became fervently involved in Islamism. Some analysts have tried to make a case that al-Zarqawi became a jihadi because of poverty or desperation. In fact, he was not especially poor or miserable, and many young men are uninterested in vocational or any other form of education, though others become Islamists or jihadists while attending higher education. Al-Zarqawi first traveled to Afghanistan in his early 20s but did not then join bin Ladin’s jihad. After taking the 13-year-old daughter of one of his associates as a second wife, he operated a jihadist training camp outside of Herat near the Iranian border. Experts misattributed and even misidentified him at times and some of his contacts, such as Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a key icon to the Jordanian salafists along with Shaykh `Umar Abu `Umar, also known as Abu Qatadah.
As with bin Ladin, some rumors circulate that Zarqawi is an American creation, although when he apparently was wounded in May 2005, rumors of his death or impending death strengthened an argument for his existence and mortality. Given the supposed weakness of his education, some question the eloquence of his missives. Certain statements have come from other commanders, for instance, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi who defined al-Qa’ida in Iraq and its goals in a webposting of Dhurwat Sanam al-Islam, a phrase which refers to jihad and means Crest of the Summit of Islam. Most political leaders know the value of a good speechwriter, of course, and dead, alive, or wounded, Zarqawi is important as a nucleus for Islamic resistance. Both Zarqawi and Abu Maysara explained that the killing of Iraqi security forces is licit, even though they are Muslims, because their cooperation with the infidels renders them apostates or beyond the pale of Islam. Zarqawi went further in enlisting the enemies of Islam in Iraq-these being the Shi`a (termed rafidhin, or renegades); Iraqi police and soldiers (because they serve the occupying force); the `ulama or clerics of Iraq, who he terms Sufis and hypocrites; the Kurds, because of their support of the U.S. occupying force; and, naturally, the Americans. The Iraqi mujahidin are described as being courageous but “uneducated and inexperienced,” while fighters coming from outside Iraq are still “too few in number,” and Iraqis welcome them [verbally] but won’t allow them to use their homes or land for bases.95
Zarqawi has been opportunistic in his alliances; for example, with Abu Abdullah al-Shafi`i of Jund al-Islam; Mullah Kreikar, originally of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan and later identified with Ansar al-Islam and its several jihadist offshoots; the Tawhid group; and Kurdish Hamas. Kreikar allegedly made contact with Zarqawi through a Jordanian lieutenant and, while this relationship goes back to 1997, it seems to have been formalized in 2002 and was more fully realized in 2003-04.96 Ansar al-Islam’s primary rival was the Popular Union of Kurdistan (PUK), so, though its goals differ substantially from al-Qa’ida’s, the alliance brought Afghani-trained fighters into Iraq. The alliance did not particularly benefit Kreikar who denied it and was deposed and exiled, although he remains an Islamist committed to jihad. Ansar al-Sunna was officially formed on September 20, 2003, alongside Ansar al-Islam, and Zarqawi’s own Tawhid wa-al-Jihad, a force of about 1500 fighters, took shape. Zarqawi utilized Syrian connections to some degree, dating back to 2002, and information about these was revealed in March 2005.97 The major benefit of Zarqawi’s later alliance with al-Qaida was jihadic legitimacy and appeal to salafists both inside and outside of Iraq.
It should be noted as well that Zarqawi allied himself with al-Qa’ida, not the reverse, and characterizes himself as resisting pressure from the United States, in contrast with Ayatollah Sistani of Iraq, who Zarqawi calls “the leader of infidelity and heresy,” or Muqtada al-Sadr. Zarqawi accuses the Shi`a of being “the crafty evil scorpion, the enemy lying in wait with a poisonous bite,” who are intent on fighting the Sunnis, wreaking vengeance on them after the fall of Saddam’s Ba`thist regime, and says they want their own state extending from Lebanon to Iran. He enlists all of their supposed historical acts of treachery as well, including their “cursing of Sunnis” and validates his anti-Shi`a views with citations from Imam Malik Bukhari, Ibn Hazm, and Ibn Taymiyya, (medieval Islamic sources).98
Zarqawi is not the only Islamist opponent of democracy. In general, Islamists have objected to democracy because it is described as a product of Western civilization; in the West, it has supported secularization and promotes the rights and representations of all groups in societies. In the Islamist vision, the state should be based on consultation, shura, but need not be democratic. Certain Islamist thinkers believe Islam has democratic features, or that shura can serve the same purpose as democratic representation, but the legal system in their idealized state is an Islamic one. Non-Muslims are treated differently under this system and must assent to the will of the Muslim majority. They might even be subjected to Islamic principles. Egypt’s Constitutional Court recently ruled that the Islamic practice of enforcing the obedience of a wife is incumbent upon a Greek Catholic woman, and that is under the current legal system.99 Zarqawi, his group, and others like it fear the democratization of society, not least because minorities and non-Sunnis will play a role in government that they would not achieve under Islamist governance.
Zarqawi describes his movement in the language of early Islam when the Ansar and the Muhajirun (Emigrants from Mecca) united forces.100 The next stage of early Islamic history featured Uhud and Badr, key victorious battles for the early Muslims. We need to understand that to Zarqawi it does not matter how long it takes to reach the Badr stage, or even if his forces are eliminated in the process-so he said in his May 2005 tape, “We will either win or die trying.”101 According to Zarqawi’s thought, even the extinguishing of his group in battle would heighten jihad, leading to the expansion of the ummah and the migration and continuation of the jihad to other places in Iraq and the world.
MUSTAFA SETMARIAM NASAR AKA ABU MUSAB AL-SURI
Abu Musab al-Suri is another of the hundred Osamas. Still in his teens when Hafiz al-Asad cracked down on militant Islamists, he reappeared years later as a key trainer and jihadist idealogue, backing Zarqawi, and also, allegedly, al-Qa’ida-linked groups in the West. His real name is Mustafa Abdul-Qadir Mustafa Hussein al- Sheikh Ahmed al-Mazeek al-Jakiri al-Rifa`i, but his family is referred to as al-Sitt Maryam. He hails from Aleppo and joined the Tali`a al- Muqatila, the Islamist offshoot of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, charged with violence against Syrian cadets and others. His background suggests the reemergence of jihadism in Syria, but he is more properly a member of the global jihad generation. After 1982, he apparently escaped to Afghanistan, joined the mujahidin, and then surfaced in Spain where he became a part of al-Qaida and forged connections with Algerian extremists. Later he returned to Afghanistan and is now working in Iraq, supporting al-Zarqawi as far as we know. Abd al-Suri is suspected of involvement in the March 11, 2004, Madrid attacks. This charge disturbed him sufficiently that he disclaimed a role in these or the 9/11 attacks in a December 2004 letter to President Bush. `Abd al-Suri has influenced many of the 100 Osamas through his book which discusses jihad and jihadist movements, tactics, fundraising, information warfare, and other topics.102
FROM IRAQ TO THE WORLD
Experienced and younger leaders and trainers share a deep commitment to jihad for the forseeable future. This, along with the migration of jihad from Afghanistan to Iraq, bodes ill for a counterterrorist policy that focuses primarily on the elimination of leaders and second tier operatives. Hence, the slayings of Abu Khattab, Abu Anas al-Shami, Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, Abu-l-Harith, Abu Anas al-Turki, Abdel Hadi Daghlas, and Abu Muhammad Hamaza Hassan Ibrahim, and the capturing of high profile lieutenants like Abu Qutayba and at least 11 others has not really dampened the insurgency or thirst for jihad.103 We hope that the Iraqis, who long for stability and the opportunity to participate in a representative and democratic political life, will be successful in developing and enacting other types of counter and antiterrorist campaigns and policies. Yet, they may have to contend with a lingering or sporadic insurgency that may be especially troublesome when U.S. troops are withdrawn.
EXTREMISTS’ STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
Much is made of extremist use of the worldwide web in attracting recruits and promoting their organizations.104 It is worth understanding the jihadist effort to communicate the principles of their successes. First, they have explained that their aim is to embroil the United States in the region, where it can be fought. That may not rule out attacks on Western targets, of course, because, as Abu Bakr Naji’s Idarat al-Tawahhush (The Management of Barbarism) pointed out, the enemy must be exhausted and its activities disrupted, so it is important to vary targets and do so “in all parts of the Islamic world and beyond it.”105 The Western enemy is depicted as huge, unwieldy, hypocritical, and unjust. The entrapment of this Western Goliath also will be accomplished because of flaws or theoretical stultification in Western strategy. As Salim al-Makki (and another strategist) noted,
America today is facing a huge problem with Clausewitz’s theories. The latter are premised on the existence of a centralized hostile power with a unified command. Assuredly, the mujahidin, with the al-Qa’ida organization in their vanguard, believe in decentralized organizations. Thus the enemy cannot ascertain the center of gravity, let alone aim a mortal blow at it. . . . Just a few hundred fighters can “drive crazy the mightiest, best trained, and best armed armies. With God’s help, this is happening.”106
We know that U.S. strategists are engaged in debate over the “new way of war,” and will find methods to improve approaches to such asymmetric threats or the problems of alienating civilians in response to numerous smaller attacks. And the jihadi “strategy” statement above may be wishful thinking. Yet, as the Islamists constantly point out on their PR-oriented websites, their efforts in multiple locations (along with our own force requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan) provide many targets, distract from the business of stabilization, and test public confidence in counterinsurgency in general. This, in turn, influences the “will of the people,” whether in the United States or Iraq, neither of which is a monolithic entity. The extremists also gleefully point out the multiplication effect-the huge amounts of money the United States has spent in the GWOT compared to their relatively modest financial investment. New security arrangements, for instance bag-checking on New York’s subways and airport security procedures, also cost a great deal. Cameras installed in the London underground are also expensive and helpful tools in tracking terrorists, but did not prevent their attacks.
Various web magazines focus on the particularity of groups’ local enemies: the Saudi royal family in Sawt al-Jihad and Muaskar al-Battal; and the `Alawi regime in Syria for the Risalat al-Mujahidin, which began publication in 2005. Its home page features a picture of the Syrian Mazzeh prison, and a fallen sculptured head of late President Hafez al-Assad which evokes the toppling of Saddam’s statue. The magazine contains pieces like a call to jihad to “youths in Levant,” the “criminal history” of the Minister of the Interior, and one entitled “The Torture of Women in Syria.”107 The anti-Islamic nature of governing regimes constitutes a key component of the call to jihad. Some articles in other magazines, like Sawt al-Jihad, have justified and praised attacks on Westerners.
In sum, we may characterize extremist themes, tactical and strategic, as:
Distract, Annoy, Destroy
Takfir (Charging Muslims with Apostasy or Anti-Islamic Behavior)
Justifications for the New Jihad
Enmity of Jews and Crusaders (Christians) to Islam
The Failure of Western Strategies and Counterterrorism
David vs. Goliath
Promotion is All
Sow Sectarian Discord (as in Iraq)
Alternative Timeline to Eternity
Internet postings of visual materials promote recruitment, expand and document Islamist jihadists’ actions, provide details of encounters with Western forces, and demonstrate the zeal of young fighters. Zarqawi’s information group posted a video entitled “All Religion Will Be For Allah” on a Web page with sophisticated features and many links, enabling the viewer to see suicide bombers being trained and download a musical tune of the video onto a cell phone. As with a recruitment tape described below, the graphics and overall professional quality of the work project another message: You Can’t Stop Our Information War!
EXTREMISM, EDUCATION, AND INFORMATION WARFARE
Islamic madrasahs frequently are attacked as the source of jihadist venom. Sometimes people simply assume that Islamic education in general promotes war on the West, while others have no idea what curriculum is followed but oppose religious education on principle. Peter Bergen and Swati Pandev expand on this,
It is one of the widespread assumptions of the war on terrorism that the Muslim religious schools known as madrassas, [sic] catering to families that are often poor, are graduating students who become terrorists. Last year, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell denounced madrassas in Pakistan and several other countries as breeding grounds for “fundamentalists and terrorists.” A year earlier, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld had queried in a leaked memorandum, “Are we capturing, killing, or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?”
While madrassas may breed fundamentalists who have learned to recite the Koran in Arabic by rote, such schools do not teach the technical or linguistic skills necessary to be an effective terrorist.108
Further, these authors explained that only about 1 percent of Pakistanis attended madrasahs, according to information from the World Bank. In this author’s opinion, although it is correct to associate the Taliban with unpalatable Islamic ideas, Westerners who call for the closing of all religious schools are pursuing another misguided strategy against Islamist terrorism.
Recently, President Musharraf announced the expulsion of the 1,400 foreign students in Pakistani madrasahs.109 This measure, along with promises to control extreme speech in the mosques, is probably a good thing, but it does suggest that the underlying basis for terrorism is external to Pakistan.
Those who believe that Muslims should eschew or censor Islamic education need to be aware that private Islamic schools, especially those that offer sex-segregated facilities and well-developed curricula, are today more popular than the overcrowded public school systems operating in many countries. These contrast with the stereotypical Muslim kuttab or small Quranic elementary program, and with madrasahs which are essentially Muslim academies. To keep Islam viable as a holistic lifestyle, Muslims require education in their religion, its philosophy, and moral values. Dogmatism, intolerance, and narrow interpretations should be addressed, but there is probably no more of these problematic attitudes in Islamic schools than in national schools in certain country cases.
Indeed, national educational systems, for example in Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan, contain many Islamists in key positions. Moderates exert a certain effect, and more radical aspects of the curricula, such as the glorification of activist jihad, can be found there as well. The Kuwaiti government apparently has critiqued anti-Shi`a sentiments in its curricula, and is very concerned with the way in which jihad is being promoted, as well.110
Some Westerners mistakenly believe that the lack of modern education has caused the rise of Islamism and its radical interpretations.111 Many of today’s Osamas received modern educations in the sense of a nationally-determined curriculum that included rational sciences as well as history, language, mathematics or vocational skills, and ideas that bolster national (rather than Muslim) identity. Actually, the breakdown of the traditional system of Islamic education, wherein one was apprenticed to a master, the `alim (enlightened one), eroded the clerics’ authority. Religion, as taught in the national curriculum, located authority in any and every religious product. That made it easier for those with a lesser intellectual background and Islamist leanings to promote their views. As Gregory Starrett, a scholar who has looked closely at the spread of Islamist discourse in Egyptian society, pointed out, “who the producer is” (and he is very often one of the new Islamist intellectuals) is “less important than the marketability of what he has to say.”112 Governments are then trapped into using Islamic discourse to try to defeat radicals who are more adept than they at marketing. And at the same time, the general climate of support for Islamist thought and ideas has grown immensely in the last 25 years in every Muslim country, even Turkey, once dedicated to Islamic “secularism.”
Proposed campaigns to secularize Muslims and replace offensive concepts with others are counterproductive avenues for information operations and, moreover, smack of ultra-imperialism. Besides, many efforts were made to secularize and “liberalize” Muslims earlier in the century that were internally inspired, and these did not stand up to the Islamic “alternative” or awakening. As previously mentioned, one Western expert proposed to replace jihad with mentions of hiraba, another crime usually translated as brigandry, but which has a separate legal and philosophical history. Many people call for a Muslim Luther (as if Islam has not had its own reform movements), and some suggest that reestablishment of a Caliphate could aid the West in the GWOT by forcing a centralized authority on Islam. Muslims are startled to hear spokespersons such as Irshad Manji, a feminist, lesbian Canadian Muslim, author of The Trouble With Islam, touted as experts on progressive Islam. Manji declares she has renounced her faith, which would make her an apostate in Islamic terms. Though she is not very familiar with Islamic principles, that does not prevent her from lecturing about the fundamental contradictions and evils of the faith. This may be why Muslims now feel that the War on Terror is a cultural onslaught. Instead, avenues of communication need to be opened and maintained in forums for debate and discussion in both the Muslim, non-Anglophone world, and in the West. A proper critique of jihad can be undertaken, but not on the basis of hype, missionary zeal, or disdain for the views of others.
FROM EXTREMISM TO POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Can jihadists be convinced to lay down their arms under any circumstances? If they do so, should our strategy address them? Some readers will object here to my use of the label “moderate Islamist” for organizations like Hizbullah, Hamas, the MB, or the Wasatiyun (Centrists). But there is no doubt that they are more moderate than Zarqawi’s organization, for instance. Two other points are important: they have refrained from attacks on Western civilian targets. No targeting of the numerous American tours in Israel has occurred to date, nor did the MB or Wasat ever attack tourists in Egypt. Second, they have strongly influenced their co-citizens’ attitudes toward Islam and moderate Islamism.
Hizbullah of Lebanon, whose founding nucleus came from Iraq, and Hamas of Palestine appear to be following a different path. Both organizations call for Islamic government, but are situated where compromise is essential. Analysts who examine the World Islamic Front, or “Caliphists,” are not including Hizbullah and Hamas, despite various allegations that Hamas members have or had connections to al-Qa’ida. Similar to Palestinian Islamists, Hizbullah gained some strength when the reputation of its secular competitor in the Shi`a community, the AMAL party, was tarnished. Hizbullah emerged in a period of chaos and has international and inter-regional linkages.
Hizbullah illustrates the Iraqization of Shi’ism in Lebanon, as well as Iranian influence in its efforts to create a rational and modernist version of Islamic life.113 Dating back to 1982, its primary raison d’e_tre was to resist the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, a military goal, and to represent and uplift the oppressed masses of the Shi`a, political and socioeconomic goals. The leadership of Hizbullah has demonstrated various qualities: tenacity, pragmatism, and popular appeal with its political leader, Hasan Nasrallah, and more erudite and enlightened interpretations of Islamic principles with Shams al-Din Fadlallah, an `alim, or religious inspiration of the movement. Hizbullah faced down factionalism in the Biqa` when one contingent of the Party led by Shaykh Tufayli rebelled against accommodation with the Lebanese government after the Lebanese war had ended.
Lebanon has a multireligious political and social base, with 18 officially recognized confessional groups. Therefore, Hizbullah’s aim of an Islamic state where vilayat e-faqih (the rule of the jurist) will prevail is not practical as a political design for Lebanon as a whole. But Hisbullah’s competition with other political forces in the Shi`i community has been quite successful. The Party transformed itself from a militia/religious movement to a political party/religious movement with residual militant goals of opposing Israel, arguing, for instance, that no settlement can be made with Israel, certainly not without attention to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and in Syria. Hizbullah is not universally popular with every Lebanese or even every Shi`a,114 but it is respected and considered less corrupt than most other political actors and groups.
Shaykh Hasan Yousef, the prominent West Bank Hamas political branch leader, joined the Muslim Brotherhood while a university student in Jordan. He used to travel from West Bank village to village preaching, so he retains great local credibility there, despite lengthy periods spent in Israeli prisons and exile in Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon. Hamas has struggled ideologically with the PLO for the hearts and minds of young Palestinians. It has encountered political limitations on the part of the PA that returned from Tunis, in particular. In an interview with the International Crisis Group, Yousef recently stated that “for the first time, we feel there is a genuine potential for a partnership with the PA.”115 And in June, Yousef expressed his desire to communicate with the West to me, “to establish better relations that will lead to a better dialogue in the future,” though he was amused by the title of this monograph, asking me if he was one of my “100 Osamas.” He is strongly troubled by the many key issues that remain unexplored while the Gaza disengagement proceeds, like the large number of political prisoners, the ill effects of the new “Wall,” the misery caused by the closure of Hamas charities (though “Hamas is willing to be the most transparent of organizations”), and Israeli efforts to reduce and hem in the Arab presence in East Jerusalem, while permitting settler establishments and house seizures there. He hoped that people of conscience could make the United States and Israel more aware of the contradictions inherent in promoting Middle Eastern democracy and supporting a system in which every movement, passage, phone call, and interaction is monitored, and there is “absolutely no freedom.” Yousef, who was rearrested in September, pointed to Hamas’ inclusion of women in its political leadership and list of candidates as well as Christians.116 All in all, Yousef’s characterization of Hamas goals casts and rationalizes them as the aims of all Palestinians, so that the organization appears more nationalist than pan-Muslim, and more pragmatic than idealistic.
Viewing Islamist extremists as strategic leaders can be useful, but counterinsurgency should focus on two additional levels-operations experts and recruiters, and potential mujahidin. Some analysts believe there may be as many as 200,000 insurgents in Iraq, for example. In fact, the organizational culture of extremist movements still is not well-understood. Experts have applied a criminological approach, seeking to identify particular profiles for “deviant” behavior. The new jihad is so widespread and appealing, and the confusion between general Islamists versus extremists is so profound, that the criminological or pathological approach is not serving the GWOT well. For example, the accepted profile-a young, impoverished male from a rural or recent urban migrant background-no longer fits all recruits or volunteers.117 The same fuzziness in profiling suicide attackers should be noted. According to such profiles, women were not supposed to engage in “martyrdom” activities nor were mature men with families. In fact, women have served as mujahidat since the early days of Islam, playing an increasingly important role in the last decade.118 Likewise, a believer is not supposed to take up jihad if he owes money, and those with dependents were thought less likely to volunteer; however, men with families have carried out attacks in Israel, and two of the bombers in the 7/7 London attacks had young children.
A “successful strategy” is one that brings what an organization can do (its competencies) into alignment with the needs and demands of its environment “. . . achieving a ‘strategic fit’.”119 Engaging the United States in regional hostilities certainly fits the capacities of many of these relatively small extremist groups more aptly than any sustained operations in the West. Also, extremist groups have found suicide attacks to be a successful strategy because they:
• are force multipliers,
• attract media attention and increase recruitment,
• are relatively inexpensive, and
• are suited to the irregular nature of the organization.
Organizers for martyrs’ cells recruit, indoctrinate, provide materials and training, and, most importantly, construct a moral contract with operatives that binds them to the group and their specific mission. Sometimes larger entities like a sub-brigade are designated to such operations as in Zarqawi’s group’s June 20 announcement that it had formed a unit of “martyrs named al-Ansar” from the Martyr Brigades of al-Baraa ibn Malik.120
Just as local governments employed both carrot and stick to deal with their Islamist insurgencies, new Islamist insurgents try to attract or terrify locals of their bases or neighborhoods. In recruitment, it is mostly the carrot of jihadi allure; the association of martyrdom and glory with jihad, along with young people’s strong desire to affect their environment and general inability to do so along other avenues, that aids recruitment.
A video made by Zarqawi’s organization and obtained in Falluja is a superb recruiting tool that critiques the West, documents and ritualizes martyrdom, demonstrates the pan-Muslim membership of the organization, and multiplies its impact. The video features religious quotations and nontraditional “religious” music, borrowing from the Eastern/Arab church and Western traditions, that add to the drama of the tape. In the very first segment, American soldiers kick their way into an Iraqi home and lead away a small child who calls for her father. This illustrates the reality of Muslims under siege, when jihad is compulsory for all and obviously necessary in order to save children and innocents.
Young suicide-attackers from various Arab countries read their “wills” on the tape to satisfy the cultural and religious instructions to obtain permission and provide for one’s dependents. Each attacker appears against the background of a translucent martyr’s stairway, leading upwards to the light, to Paradise. Martyrs do not require the ritual washing of other deceased Muslims, but the video shows the special mourning given them, to give would-be martyrs a taste of what they anticipate. Muslim intellectuals have spoken and written about the need to separate martyrdom from these violent acts of jihad, but there is no mistaking the power of the call to martyrdom in this tape.
The tape also illustrates subtleties of coercion. Given the cultural construct of Arab masculinity, what young man would retract his sworn, video-taped testimony? And Western news footage, maps of attack areas, actual bombings, and news items are cleverly embedded, used both as graphics and to demonstrate the power of the group.
These mujahidin cannot explicate their leader’s methodologies, rather they emotionally identify with components of an organic philosophy. Jihadi-recruiters must convince these foot-soldiers of the morality of killing and the utility of dying. Timing is important so that they will not change their minds or consult others who may report them or pursuade them against such action. Islamist-extremists also seek out young people who can be manipulated easily. According to testimony from captured operatives in Saudi Arabia, some were coerced into committing crimes so they would not go to the police.
However, recruiters and strategic planners must also build a continuing force. Here skills, experience, and group cohesion are important; and factionalism actually plagues many extremist organizations, which seek to differentiate themselves from moderate, or more pragmatic elements.
SWIMMING IN FRIENDLY WATERS
To retain sanctuary, Islamist extremists of all functional levels also employ two basic strategies-carrot and stick. On the one hand, they appeal to the young and less powerful because they so emphatically oppose tyranny, injustice, and corruption.
They also have intimidated surrounding civilians. This has been achieved through violence: attacks on Shi`a sites in Iraq, on police and contract workers, as well as the now infamous kidnappings and beheadings of so-called “apostates” and “infidels.” Brutal kidnappings and murders of civilians took place during the Lebanese civil war, and a huge number of people remain unaccounted for.121 Widescale coercion in the form of violence against local populations also took place in the GIA massacres in Algeria that peaked in 1997 and evidenced a smaller peak in 1994.
In Iraq, kidnappings of foreigners, or “apostates,” were used in efforts to force troop withdrawals, discourage international busi- nesses and agencies, obtain ransoms, postpone the formal installation of diplomats, and attract the attention of sympathizers inside and outside of Iraq.122 Kidnappings of Iraqis coercively demonstrated extremist strength and also yielded ransoms and political benefits.
Extremists have attacked Iraqi women who were not wearing hijab (the headscarf) or abaya (the outer robe) and barbers who shave men’s beards and cut their hair in modern styles. But the suicide attacks have been most devastating to Iraqis, causing despair, even to Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani who described the fighting as “genocidal.”123 Suicide attacks will likely continue, and, if tighter security measures are not employed, they will, no doubt, be utilized again in the West. Israelis adopted the most logical tactics, employing security guards to search bags outside of every large store and inspect passengers boarding public transport.
We might like to believe that such actions illustrate the desperation of extremists, or that massacres and bombings by extremists eventually will hurt their cause. But this has not always been the case. Islamists feel they are demonstrating superior and morally necessary force. Moderates sometimes support extremists for defying the United States, or un-Islamic governments and local populations may be hedging their bets, playing it safe by not castigating those who threaten them. When the object of Islamist violence can be demonized as an outsider, then, of course, violence is perceived differently. So Hizbullah, which initially exerted coercion against civilians (against liquor stores and coffee houses where men play games like backgammon) and fought other Lebanese, eventually reserved its violent actions for Israelis. As a result, the organization is feared but also respected by the Lebanese population. Hamas, al- Aqsa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad rationalize their violence against Israelis by pointing out that every Israeli is a combatant since all serve, or will serve, in the armed forces. As for the effect of unpredictable small- or medium-scale attacks, we have seen that they do disrupt daily life and that negotiation may result, as, for example, in the response to the attacks of the al-Aqsa Intifadha.
Attempting to remove the jihad from the jihadi, the allure of the freedom-fighter, is a delicate task. Somehow this task must be accomplished to erode sanctuary, but it cannot be accomplished in the style of 19th century missionaries. To date, the widely-viewed television program, “In the Grip of Justice,” in Iraq has managed to tarnish jihadi allure in a terrorist reality show that reveals the base, cowardly, and Islamically unsound nature of captured insurgents. In select shows, two Shi`a cells of hitmen admitted that they worked for Zarqawi’s movement, shocking members of both sects. This is the flip side of recruitment videos.
However popular an Iraqi reality show is, the tactic of discreditation is a two-edged sword. How credible is the force that tolerated the criminal behavior at Abu Ghraib (thus far, Muslims and Arabs have read that a criminal process is ongoing, but that only a few perpetrators were charged and there were legal problems with their prosecution) or the “softening” tactics, lack of habeus corpus, and unspecified terms of confinement at Guantanamo Bay? These problems, while representative in the least of American intentions, were nevertheless very damaging to the U.S. moral position. Also, many Iraqis believe that the former “insurgents” have been beaten into their testimony; some footage from the above mentioned program, including that screened on al-`Arabiyya television, features sound track dubbing. Whether or not it is actually read by an actor, a portion of the Arab public believes this to be the case.
In sum, there is a disjuncture between the mujahidins’ ultimate goals and their present abilities. But we cannot narrowly focus on this chink in Islamist armor, nor merely on eliminating leadership or discouraging recruitment. We need to encourage Muslim and Middle Eastern governments to carry out these tasks simultaneously while establishing trust in their own political systems to provide an alternative for would-be jihadists of the future. Similarly, if we set our goals at the elimination of a few select groups that most clearly resemble al-Qa’ida, we will fail to comprehend the 100 Osamas now emerging and their likely future impact. If we discredit Islam, Muslim discourse, and Islamic education, we win few friends and foster many enemies.
The impact of Islamist discourse is amplified further by the extensive reach of moderate ideas today. These convey a sense of commitment to Muslim ideals. So, as efforts to reform and democratize proceed in some parts of the Muslim world, a greater number of Islamists will attain political power. This is a cause for concern, and a careful and cautious weighing of the costs and benefits of our tactics in the War on Terror. A new Hundred Years War is as likely as the emergence of 100 Osamas. If we can encourage the transformation of certain of those 100 into viable political leaders, if they forswear violence and can compel their followers to follow suit, then we can narrow the scope of that future war. If we carefully consider those elements of our foreign policies in the Middle East and the Muslim world that can encourage a locally-driven democratization and greater trust in the U.S. stewardship of global power, that will be to the good. All of this can be done by remembering that all politics are local, and that pragmatism and idealism are not necessarily forces that cancel each other out.
Some recommendations follow.
1. Revise strategies that narrowly define extremist networks and their modus operandi. The five groups with ascertainable ties to al-Qa’ida may relatively soon (within a few years) be neutralized, but by that time, 10 to 15 or more different groups may be exerting pressure elsewhere.
2. Revise approaches that too broadly define terrorism and extremism and our responses to them. Regional, ideological, and country specificity is essential.
3. Acknowledge the evolution and change of Islamist extremist leadership and develop strategies to contain it. Co-optation and elimination are, in essence, no more than methods to contain these movements. No centralized Islamic authority exists that can excommunicate renegade leaders who are, in any case, regarded more as popular heroes, members of a resistance-insurgents, rather than terrorists. Yet, ideological, political, and intelligence methods must be employed against them. Broaden counterterrorist responses to go beyond leadership to the lower levels of organizations and their sympathizers. Utilize those who know the operating bases well and speak the appropriate languages, instead of relegating this enormously difficult task to those who have no deep understanding of the area, the issues, or their delicacy.
4. Focus on antiterrorist as well as counterterrorist principles. Denying friendly waters or sanctuary can take place only where citizens perceive the benefits of their participation in any given social or political system. That is why democratization, or at least the establishment of just, representative, and effective political systems in the region, is key. Beyond that, we need to foster the concept of “world citizens” who band together against new challenges, and attempt to break down the xenophobias that divide us. That said, antiterrorist campaigns must go beyond propaganda, advertisement, and empty promises to protect the public, and address the ideological themes of insurgency, terrorism, and specifically, extremist Islamism.
5. Understand and respond to the increasing sophistication of Islamist tactical and strategic efforts. In this monograph, I have outlined the progress of radical Islamist thought at the leadership level. Theories of cultural superiority always are treacherous. We should not imagine that, because Western militaries have been more effective than those in Muslim countries, leadership cannot be cultivated or represent any kind of challenge to a technologically superior force. Extremist Muslims could penetrate armed forces in the region. In fact, the Egyptian and Saudi governments have been concerned about the presence of jihadists in their armed forces or police and rightly so, if we remember al-`Awfi, al-Islambuli, and others. Extremists will certainly further challenge the new Iraqi military and security forces if the United States withdraws from the country. But these forces, along with local political leadership, are going to be the point at which the war against terror is won or lost. We should then support them through all possible avenues.
6. Carefully consider the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and in other areas of the Muslim world on the stated aims of the Global War on Terror. The Palestinian issue is of paramount importance to many of the Muslim Middle Eastern countries and has become important even to Muslim countries outside the Middle East. Clear public statements about America’s relationship with Israel and long-term interests in Iraq and Afghanistan all require open communication and some modifications and resolution, or they will continue to be used as evidence of pervasive American hypocrisy.
7. Continue working with local governments in their counterterrorist efforts. This, in turn, requires careful attention to the lessons learned by local leadership, and representatives of civil society. But we should condemn the use of inhumane practices and help local forces resist infiltration by Islamist extremist forces into security, military, or police forces, wherever possible.
8. Establish centers for international counterterrorist operations to specifically address the threat posed by Islamist extremists. These should make use of international resources and knowledge of these groups and go far beyond name-sharing. Building on the February 2005 proposal of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and some recent suggestions of Australian governmental representatives, these centers might be set up with Saudi, Australian (for Southeast Asia), South and Central Asian, and North African/European focuses. While Islam should not be singled out as the only religion to have produced violent, purist, or separatist movements, these centers would do well to focus on this particular manifestation of violent extremism, rather than diluting their programs to fit all possible global circumstances.
9. Continue making legitimate efforts to obtain and coordinate information concerning the interaction, travel, and whereabouts of Islamist extremists. The use of physical and psychological torture and extralegal procedures is counterproductive to the moral terrain necessary for the establishment of a terror-free world.
10. Encourage local governments to normalize relations with certain Islamist groups, and utilize dialogue programs or amnesty efforts, where appropriate, in order to return supporters of jihad to society. Rehabilitation and the forswearing of violence can be monitored. We should encourage local authorities to provide alternatives to fighting that include a wage and possibly a commitment to social welfare.
11. Recognize the potential of moderate Islamist groups and actors to participate in the political process. As with the legitimization of Islamist parties in Iraq, such parties have a role to play elsewhere in the region, where they would express the popular will in open and free elections. While the author is concerned about the rights of women and minorities and freedom of expression and religion, compromises with such moderate groups are far more likely than with their extremist counterparts, and they can, if they are motivated to do so, help to constrain indiscriminate acts of violence. Policymakers should acknowledge that Islamist moderates, or even government- linked conservatives, will not see eye-to-eye with Americans on a variety of issues related to the GWOT. That does not mean that we go our way and they go theirs. But we should not behave as neocolonialists, dictating judicial practice in legal systems other than our own, or requiring popular amnesia of the political wounds dealt by authoritarian governments.
12. Energetic diplomacy should be utilized to achieve mutual understanding on the relevant issues or obstacles to a more “global” pursuit of the Global War on Terror. This should be carried out by professional diplomats, but also by articulate citizens, businessmen and women, and members of the military and other professions.
13. Establish a multi-country full media (Web, television, radio, and print) program to discuss and debate Islamist and other forms of religious extremism. It is particularly important that such communications be made in the local languages, and at a fairly sophisticated level that will not insult the intelligence of viewers and readers in the Muslim world, and which also will serve the purpose of educating the Western public about the complexity of the issues. Discussion of other “extremist” ideas ranging from Muslim questions about Christian efforts to proselytize and convert Muslims, to the role of other religious nationalisms (Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian) is important here, if indeed, Islamic extremism is not being treated as a unique phenomenon.
14. Stay the course in promoting democratization of the region. This monograph lacked space to explain the difficulties of promoting democracy while battling extremism. The 100 Osamas are, by and large, opposed to democratization, as was mentioned above, because such movements compete with their own and encourage other values, like pluralism, personal freedoms, and populism. While local allies have and will continue to object to the destabilization that democratic transformation may carry, blind authoritarianism has no more future in the Muslim world than in the Christian one. The democratization process will be slow and painful, but the building of stakeholders, those with an investment in their society’s future, is more essential to the future of counterinsurgency than any stockpiling of armored vehicles or antimortar weaponry. One point made in this monograph is that it may not diminish the thirst for an Islamic lifestyle, and the role of moderate Islamism in democratization needs to be considered.
15. Provide advanced training to military, intelligence, and political leaders on the history, evolution, and tactics of Islamist extremists that goes far beyond the current typical single-session briefings or conference-style meetings based on discussion models in which expert information is occluded by interpretation, political opinions, and misunderstandings of basic features of Islam.
If America’s pursuit of a Global War on Terror is strategically and politically well-grounded, then why are Islamist insurgencies and extremist movements continuing to operate, generating parallel cells that terrify the world with violent attacks from Iraq to London? While analysts debate the intensity and longevity of the latest round of terrorist attacks,1 we would do well to consider whether U.S. long-term goals in the war on terror-namely diminishing their presence and denying terrorists the ability to operate, while also altering conditions that terrorists exploit-are being met. If we are not pursuing the proper strategy or its implementation is not decreasing support for terrorists, then we should adapt accordingly. This monograph addresses these questions and examines the efficacy of proposed or operative strategies in light of the evolution of Islamist jihadist leaders, ideas, and foot-soldiers. Jihadist strategy has emerged in a polymorphous pattern over the last 30 years, but many Americans only became aware of the intensity of this problem post-September 11, 2001 (9/11), and through observation of the 2003- 05 insurgency in Iraq.
The author proposes that extremist (jihadist) Islamist groups are not identical to any other terrorist group. Islamist discourse, and extremist discourse within it, must be clearly understood. Given the fiscal challenges of the Global War on Terror, the fact that its coordination may be at odds with great power competition,2 and certainly contests the interests of other smaller states (like Iran), why are we aiming at eradication, rather than containment, and is erad- ication possible? Differentiating a “true Islam” from the false and destructive aims of such groups is an important response. Each region-based administration has so crafted its anti-terrorist rhetoric, and Muslims, in general, are not willing to view their religion as a destructive, anachronistic entity, so this unfortunately difficult task of ideological differentiation is an acceptable theme. But it is in- sufficient as a strategy because Islamist insurgencies have arisen in the context of a much broader, polychromatic religious and political “Islamic awakening” that shows no signs of receding. That broader movement informs Muslim sentiment today from Indonesia to Mauritania, and Nigeria to London. Official statements will not diminish recruitment; deeds, not words, are needed. Finally, eradication may be impossible, but containment is philosophic- ally unattractive. A combination of eradication (denial) and co- optation, as we have seen in the Muslim world thus far, probably makes sense. Certain assumptions that underlie U.S. strategies of denying and diminishing the terrorism of Islamist extremists there- fore need to be reconsidered.
Among the recommendations made in this monograph are:
1. Revise strategies that too narrowly or too broadly define extremist networks and their operational modes.
2. Acknowledge the evolution and change of Islamist extremist leadership and develop strategies to contain it. Utilize those who know the extremist bases of operations well and speak the appropriate languages instead of relegating this enormously difficult task to those who have no deep understanding of the area, ideological issues, or delicacy of the issues.
3. Focus on antiterrorist as well as counterterrorist principles.
4. Understand and respond to the increasing sophistication of Islamist tactical and strategic efforts.
5. Carefully consider the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and in other areas of the Muslim world on the stated aims of the Global War on Terror.
6. Continue working with local governments in their counter- terrorist and counterinsurgency efforts.
7. Establish centers for international counterterrorist operations to specifically address Islamist extremists (rather than all global forms of terrorism).
8. Avoid the use of physical and psychological torture and extralegal measures.
9. Encourage local governments to normalize relations with Islamist groups, and utilize dialogue programs or amnesty efforts in order to return supporters of jihad to society.
10. Recognize the potential of moderate Islamist groups and actors to participate in political processes. This does not mean that moderate or “progressive” Islamists as defined in urban American settings can serve as mediators or spokespersons for counterparts in the region.
11. Extra-governmental diplomacy should be used to achieve mutual understanding on the relevant issues or obstacles to a more “global” pursuit of the Global War on Terror.
12. Establish a multi-country, full media (Web, television, radio, and print) program to discuss and debate Islamist and other forms of religious extremism.
13. Stay the course in promoting democratization of the Middle East and the Muslim world.
14. Provide advanced training to military, intelligence, and political leaders on the history, evolution, and tactics of Islamist extremists.
1. Dexter Filkins and David Cloud argue that insurgents in Iraq are stronger, more sophisticated, and being quickly replaced. See “Defying U.S. Efforts, Guerrillas in Iraq Refocus and Strengthen,” New York Times, July 24, 2005. On the other hand, George Friedman claims that al-Qaeda’s global counteroffensive is a weak last-ditch effort. See “Al Qaeda’s Global Campaign: Tet Offensive or Battle of the Bulge? Stratfor, July 26, 2005, at http://www.strafor.biz/Story. Nora Bensahel of RAND explains that charting short-term trends in insurgent violence can be very misleading, hence we should measure progress against them with different yardsticks. See Commentary, “Gauging Counterinsurgency,” Baltimore Sun, August 9, 2005, at http//www.rand.org/commentary.
2. Stephen D. Biddle, American Grand Strategy After 9/11: An Assessment, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, April 2005, pp. 16-21. What is of interest to me are Biddle’s astute perceptions about the nature of international competition and the costs of a transformational policy like the Global War on Terrorism. In the next section of the monograph, Biddle suggests that only radical political reform will address terrorism in the Middle East, but I do not see the end of terrorism as the only possible, or most likely, result of such reform, nor has such reform really begun. Rather, states and elites are resisting these processes, and the Iraqi and Afghani cases illustrate the difficulties of simultaneously building states, reforming preexisting structures and behaviors, and fighting extremism and terrorism. Lack of space prohibits a full exploration of these issues in this monograph.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
`Alim: Muslim cleric, literally means enlightened one. `Ulama is the plural form.
`Asala: Cultural authenticity.
Bay`a: A Muslim oath of allegiance sworn to the Caliph. A symbolic demonstration of the Caliph’s political and religious legitimacy.
Confessional group. Officially recognized religious sect in Lebanon, often described as a polity moving toward a confessional democracy. Also means a religious sect in other countries.
Da`wah: Islamic mission. In the contemporary period, refers to proselytization, awakening “born but unconscious” Muslims, urging them to adopt an Islamist agenda, or merely to more faithfully adhere to their religious duties.
Dhurwat Sanam al-Islam: Crest of the Summit of Islam. A term meaning jihad, and also the title of a recent web-publication.
Fard `Ayn: Obligatory in Islamic terms.
Fatwa: A juridical response to a question about Islamic law, usually couched in terms of the Islamically-permitted nature of any given item or practice.
Hadith: A secondary source for Islamic jurisprudence, for producing juridical opinions (fatawa or responsa) grounded in Islamic law. A hadith is a short text concerning the opinions, words, or practice of the Prophet Muhammad, or sometimes his Companions, or those close to him. It is preceded by a chain of transmittors called an isnad. In Sunni Islam, the first source to be consulted is the Qur’an, and then those hadith collections considered to be authoritative. Consensus and analogy are other approved sources for jurisprudence.
Al-Haras al-Watani: The pagan guard, as the mujahidin of Iraq term the U.S.-trained Iraqi forces.
Hijra (Higra in Egyptian dialect): The emigration of the first Muslims from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.
Hiraba: A crime in Islamic law, taking or destroying the property of others, brigandry. Also rape is classified by some in this category.
Intifadha: Uprising. Literally means a “shaking off.”
Islamic Republican Party (IRP) of Iran: Clerics who were followers and former students of Ayatollah Khomeini established this party in February 1979. It became the dominant force in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Ja`fari: Of the Shi`i legal school known as the Ja`fariyya; Twelve Shiites, as in Iran, Lebanon, and Pakistan.
Jahiliyya: The time of ignorance and barbarism, before Islam. Islamist extremists charge contemporary society of being in a state of jahiliyya today.
Kuttab: Qur’anic school, or class at the elementary level.
Madrasa: General term for a school, public or private, secular or religious. Refers as well to a college or academy of Islamic thought and sciences.
Majlis al-shura: A council of consultation, a methodology for governance which Islamists prefer to Western-style democracy. This same term also stands for the Parliaments or councils of various governments.
Nahda: Rennaisance. Also the name of the Arabic literary revival.
Neo-Salafist: A category of extremists who have more recently gained popularity. To be distinguished from “early” or original salafists or purists. For example, certain neo-salafists became more popular in Saudi Arabia since the Gulf War of 1991.
Qa’idin: Those who sit and simply talk or reflect on jihad but who will not join the armed struggle.
Al-Qa’ida fi al-Jazirat al-`Arabiyya: al-Qa’ida on the Arabian Peninsula (QAP), the Islamist extremist movement in Saudi Arabia.
Rafidhin; Renegades, those guilty of sedition. Zarqawi’s term for the Iraqi Shi`a.
Sahwa Islamiyya: Islamic awakening; sometimes referred to as tayar Islami (Islamic trend).
Sha`b or `Amma: Ordinary people, common folk, or the “Arab street.”
Siyar: The Muslim “law of nations” or international law.
Suhba: Guidance, the spiritual companionship of the group-an experience provided by Sufi brotherhoods, Muslim educational systems, and Islamist radical associations.
Tabarruj al-nisa’: The illicit display of women’s bodies in Western fashion, according to those who support Islamic modest dress.
Takfir: To call someone an unbeliever, to charge a Muslim of being sinful or even with apostasy (rejecting his/her faith).
Ta`lim: Education, enlightenment.
Tarbiyya: Guidance in the sense of training and proper upbringing or vocational knowledge versus enlightenment, and social responsibility rather than the highly individual pursuit of union with God.
Tawhid: Oneness, or unicity of God.
Wasta: Mediation, or intercession, or an intermediary who can provide access. Similar to the Farsi term, parti.
Vilayat e-faqih: Governance by an Islamic jurist. Khomeini elaborated on this theory in a book on Islamic governance.
Cassidy Johns Chitali.