A demonstrator wearing a pro-Muslim Brotherhood headband protests against the visit of Egypt's President Sisi. (Photo: © Reuters)
Mohammed Amin is the Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, an organization affiliated with the UK's Conservative Party.
Outside of interfaith he worked in finance as a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers.
He gracicously agreed to speak with Clarion Project's Dialogue Coordinator Elliot Friedland about Muslim organizations in the UK and efforts to counter-extremism.
His website can be found here.
The author is speaking in a personal capacity. The views expressed in the interview are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Clarion Project. All images and links to other other pages contained in the interview were chosen by Clarion Project and not by the author.
Clarion Project: You called on Muslim organizations to take a more active role in challenging extremism. Why do you think they have not done so until now?
Mohammed Amin: As a preliminary point, Muslim organizations vary, just as there is a very wide spectrum of views amongst individual Muslims. Some organizations such as the UK think tank Quilliam are very clear about the ideological aspects of extremism amongst Muslims.
Looking at those UK Muslim community organizations which have been insufficiently effective at addressing extremism amongst Muslims, I believe there are a variety of factors which have held them back.
The most important factor is that many are unwilling to acknowledge that a flawed understanding of Islam underlies the belief systems of the terrorists that we are talking about. Instead, they contend that the sole cause of such terrorism is grievance with British foreign policy such as its support for Israel, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.
While such grievances are regularly cited by terrorists and are undoubtedly an important motivating factor, in my opinion they cannot be the sole cause of terrorism amongst Muslims.
As I have written on several occasions, as well as having a cause to fight for, it is also absolutely essential for the terrorist to believe that what he is doing is a virtuous activity in the eyes of God. That is a theological position. It is irrelevant that the terrorist may be relatively ignorant about Islam, as indeed many are. He will not kill innocent people unless he holds that theological position, even if he does not know what the word “theology” means. Accordingly, bad theology costs lives.
Since these UK Muslim community organizations refuse to accept that the religious beliefs of the terrorists matter, they are unable to compose any form of meaningful approach to addressing such terrorism. Instead they simply issued statements condemning terrorists and pointing out that terrorism is not Islamic.
As a contrast, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri fully appreciates that the terrorists have a theological position. He has written a 600 page "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings" to demonstrate why that theological position is entirely unsupportable, and there is a review of the fatwa on my website. Recently his organization Minhaj-ul-Quran, which has a significant UK branch, has produced a curriculum intended to provide an Islamic education which will reduce the risk of young Muslims being radicalized.
Clarion: Organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the MCB which you mentioned in your piece frequently condemn terror but themselves promote Islamist views. What do you think is the most problematic thing about groups like that?
Amin: I generally avoid using the word “Islamist” because it is too elastic. A word that encompasses both political parties that operate entirely within a lawful democratic framework such as the AK Party in Turkey or the PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) in Indonesia and also encompasses terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIL is not a very useful adjective.
While I have been on the CAIR email list for six or seven years, I have only had brief contact with a few individuals from the organization when they were visiting Europe. My perception from a distance of CAIR is that they are a civil rights campaigning organization very much like the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Beyond that I am unable to comment on their views.
Conversely I know the MCB (Muslim Council of Britain) very well. For the period June 2008 – June 2010 I was an elected member of the MCB’s Central Working Committee. During that period I was also Chairman of the MCB’s Business and Economics Committee which made me a member of their wider leadership team. Since then I have remained on friendly terms with the MCB and am invited each year to their Muslim community leadership dinner and regularly meet members of their leadership at various public events in London.
The MCB has about 500 affiliated organizations. A significant number of them have been heavily influenced by the Indian subcontinent’s Jamaat-e-Islami founded by Abul Ala Maududi and the Middle East’s Muslim Brotherhood founded by Hassan al-Banna.
In my opinion two principal factors impair the MCB’s effectiveness in seeking to prevent young British Muslims being radicalized.
Firstly, in practice the MCB tries hard to avoid upsetting any of its member organizations. Accordingly any statements that it issues are bland. This precludes it taking positive positions such as encouraging British Muslims to join the police, the armed forces and the security services that I would regard as non-contentious.
As part of writing this interview response, I carried out some Google site searches on the MCB website to see what they have said about the police, the armed forces and the security services.
While there is a document produced about six years ago celebrating the Muslim contribution to the British war effort in World War I, I found nothing that could be interpreted as encouragement to join the contemporary armed forces. Similarly I could not find any encouragement to join the police or to join the security services. However I came across many documents which refer to the police and the security services in a generally critical tone.
Secondly, from many documents on the MCB website, it is clear that the MCB considers that the religious views of the Muslim terrorists in question do not matter. Accordingly it is left with little meaningful to say apart from condemning terrorism. When doing so it sometimes explicitly connects the terrorism to British foreign policy and sometimes remains silent on the foreign policy point.
Since the MCB does not believe that the religious views of the terrorists matter, it has nothing to say about the distorted religious views that ISIL promote to people it is seeking to radicalise. Indeed it rejects the entire concept of radicalisation.
In my view the MCB’s refusal to accept that the theological views of terrorists matter arises from an unvoiced fear that if they accept that the terrorists are motivated, to any extent, by religious views, this will be pounced upon by anti-Muslim bigots and used to promote the (entirely incorrect) view that Islam causes terrorism.
Clarion: What can non-Muslims do to best support anti-Islamist Muslims without being accused of bigotry?
Amin: The first thing that non-Muslims can do is to acknowledge and share the condemnations of terrorism that are regularly issued by Muslims when terrorist attacks are perpetrated by Muslims.
At an individual level I am completely fed up by regularly encountering non-Muslims who ask “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?” Such people are either both blind and deaf, or they are wilfully choosing not to see the many condemnations that are issued. That led me to start a page on my own website as a compendium of Muslim condemnations of terrorism.
Non-Muslims should also do more to share the analysis of terrorism and its causes that is offered by many well informed Muslims such as the Quilliam think tank and Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri.
Finally non-Muslims should do more to publicize and celebrate the significant contribution that Muslims are making to every society in which they live, particularly Britain and America. They should also be vigorous in combating anti-Muslim discrimination.
Clarion: When there are terrorist attacks like the ones in Paris, what do you think the best responses are from both Muslims and non-Muslims respectively?
Amin: The most important immediate response from both Muslims and non-Muslims is to provide every assistance possible to the security services and if necessary the medical services such as blood donations.
In the longer term, both Muslims and non-Muslims have an obligation to work hard at building a cohesive society by maximizing interaction across religious boundaries. That is one of the reasons I am Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, as well as being active in other interfaith organizations.
Muslims in particular have an obligation to actively combat the pernicious false narrative that is peddled by those seeking to radicalize young Muslims; a narrative which falsely paints Britain, America and other European countries as being at war with Islam.
Britain and America are in my view amongst the best countries in the world in which to live as a Muslim.
Clarion: Finally, what is your favourite thing about being a Muslim that keeps you in the faith and makes you proud to be part of it?
Amin: For me Islam is simply the monotheistic faith that was practiced by all of the Old Testament prophets, and by Jesus (peace be upon him) as well as by Muhammad (pbuh). While this belief in the continuity of the religion is an integral part of Islamic teaching, in my opinion too many Muslims have forgotten it or never learnt it.
Instead they focus entirely upon the time of Muhammad (pbuh) as if Islam was a completely different religion from Judaism and Christianity and with no connection to them.
Although Jews Christians and Muslims have many religious disagreements with each other, just as Jews have many religious disagreements with other Jews, Christians with other Christians and Muslims with other Muslims, in big picture terms I see these three groups as belonging to one religion rather than three.
The differences between the three are minor compared with the differences between them and other religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism.
As with Judaism, Islam is strictly monotheistic whereas Christianity has a very different understanding of the nature of God while stating that it is monotheistic. The only real difference I see between Islam and Judaism is that Islam does not have the concept of a chosen people.
I am a Sunni Muslim for the simple reason that I do not believe that the Prophet Muhammad designated any successor. He had ample opportunity to designate a successor in a manner that would have left absolutely no doubt amongst the Muslims of that time had he wished to do so.
The key principle of Sunni Islam that matters to me is that there are absolutely no intermediaries between me and God, since Sunni Islam has no concept of a priesthood or a religious hierarchy.
Like Malcolm X I deeply value the way that Islam brings together people regardless of ethnicity or nationality.
My father taught me that I should fear God, but fear no man. That has been a powerful influence on my life since the fear of God liberates you from all other fears.
(Photo: © Reuters)
This blog appeared originally in the Toronto Sun and was reprinted with permission from the author
Once again terrorists have struck at the heart of Europe. My cousin who lives in Paris writes, “Paris, my City of Lights is in darkness — but this, too, shall pass.”
Will it pass?
Our reaction is deep sadness at the loss of innocent lives but also anger at the fact that this attack is not unexpected, knowing the track record of ISIS and their ilk.
Reaction across Europe is that this madness is now a reality, hitting close to home. For some leaders in the West, the discussion is whether ISIS should be called Daesh, ISIL or something else? Let’s not deflect the real issue.
For some Muslims on social media and those I have spoken to over the past two days, the victim card is already being played out. I met a young newly-elected Muslim MP who said, “I hate the word ‘terrorist’ because we don’t know who they [the perpetrators] are.”
Seriously? Across mainstream media, self-appointed analysts are spouting their expertise to conclude that the culprit turned out to be none other than ISIS — surprise!
We fully agree that the perpetrator this time is ISIS. But the same type of cowardly terrorist attacks have taken place even before ISIS was in existence. Why can’t we connect the dots to the heart of where the violence is emanating from?
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was one of the first Western leaders to point out that Islamism is the biggest threat facing Canada. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called radical ideology “the struggle of our generation.” French President François Hollande says this is a declaration of war.
We agree. However this declaration of war from radical Islamists happened on 9/11 when planes crashed into the twin towers in New York. What other well articulated argument do we need to understand the enormity of the threat?
Since 9/11, the West has been waffling in the quicksand of political correctness and refusing to call a spade a spade. Until they do, attacks like those in Paris, New York, Mumbai, Boston and Ottawa will keep happening again and again until they engulf all of us.
Just connect the dots:
• The export of Wahabi ideology has been taking place successfully for more than three decades.
• Trillions of dollars have been used to support this program.
• The inability of democratic Western nations to challenge Saudi Arabia and Iran on their human rights record.
• Non-integration of Muslims into countries where they migrate or seek refuge.
• The push for unreasonable accommodation that white liberal guilt offers these immigrants.
• No challenge to messages of hate being spouted from mosques — especially against Christians, Jews and Hindus.
• The ability of notorious Muslim organizations who say they represent all Muslims to work with impunity with government bodies.
• Finally the refusal of Western democracies to brand terrorist organizations as terrorists.
Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan just said that Canadians should not fear ISIS. With due respect, Canadians while not being afraid, should be very concerned. The perpetrators are within us and unless law enforcement takes drastic action on the issues mentioned above, terrorists will strike again.
There is no need to pray for Paris unless we connect the dots, understand the players and their motives and take action accordingly.
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.
Turkish police with shields in Taskim Square (Photo: Lonna Lisa Williams)
This article blog appeared originally on Digital Journal
On live television, Turkish police closed a TV news station in Istanbul allegedly linked to a foe of President Tayyip Erdogan. Is this the end of journalistic freedom in Turkey or the end of Islamist leader Erdogan?
I watched a live TV broadcast on YouTube yesterday; it was more riveting than a spy film. I could not stop watching history play out before my eyes. Samanyolu Haber showed the invasion of the Kanalturk TV news station by Turkish police. The police, dressed in combat helmets and body armor, pressed their shields against Istanbul citizens and journalists. They sprayed mace across a barrier erected to protect the news station, and some of it deflected against clear plastic umbrellas. An armored police combat vehicle, that would be illegal in Europe or America, shot streams of water from its rooftop canon nearby.
No court of law or parliamentary procedure could defend AK Party leader Erdogan's dictator-like actions. As I saw a plain-clothes police officer shoving a water-soaked journalist who was close to tears, I wondered if such scenes played out in Nazi Germany before World War II. However, there was a difference: this police officer sported a full Islamist beard, which was previously forbidden among public employees during the secular democratic influence of Ataturk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey.
My Turkish husband watched with me, pointing out details I would have missed on my own. We sat at our dining table in China where I teach Journalism and Writing for CyberSpace at an American-style university. It was almost noon here near Shanghai but only 7 a.m. in Istanbul.
"See, that is a CHP (People's Republican Party) Parliament Member in that gray suit. It is illegal for the police to touch him, but they just shoved him. He comes from Ataturk's own democratic party and is there at the news station to show support for free speech."
Ordinary Istanbul citizens, who live in apartment buildings near Haberturk news station, clapped their hands in peaceful protest of the police actions, as if to say, "Good job, Erdogan. You've really done it this time."
Inside the station, the news team continued their live broadcast until the last possible moment. Police called in a firefighter who cut the steel barrier's lock outside. I saw big metallic shears and bare hands trying to stop them. Then armed hordes entered the building. Police stood guard outside the door as journalists, looking stressed and full of sorrow, walked out in a single line, their press badges dangling around their necks. Other news stations continued covering their downfall, focusing on the faces of the men and women who walked silently past.
People held up banners that read "Free Speech Cannot Be Silenced" as the crowd chanted those words in Turkish and continued clapping. News sources from around the world covered this story and shared these images.
As those reporters walked out of their occupied station, it looked like the end of free journalism in Turkey. I remembered my own experiences in Istanbul, where my husband was tortured at a police station, we were both attacked by police during a peaceful street rally, and I was nearly arrested for a photo I'd published. I covered this news for Digital Journal and turned it into a Kindle book. I walked with them in 2013, and I walk with them now.
"Maybe Erdogan has lost his mind through his lust for absolute control. Maybe the effects of chemotherapy from his cancer—that he tries to hide—have affected him," my Turkish husband observed. "In any case, this is a dark day for Turkey."
Lonna Lisa Williams teaches English, Writing for CyberSpace, and Journalism an American-style university in China. She writes books about surviving cancer, travel adventures, Turkey, science fiction, and fantasy. Lonna was a journalist and photographer for a California newspaper, and she regularly contributes news articles and photo essays to “Digital Journal” and “Yahoo.” Follow her blog or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.
Screenshot from a Hamas YouTube video exhorting Palestinians to stab Jews
"The art of reframing is to maintain the conflict in all its richness but to help people look at it in a more open-minded and hopeful way.” – From Bernard Mayer’s “The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution”
Can we look at what is going on in Israel today – and the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole – “in a more open-minded and hopeful way”?
After all, the current trouble is nothing new. Arabs have been stabbing and murdering Jews for 100 years, long before the modern State of Israel came into being. The Hebron Massacre in 1929 is just one incident that springs to mind.
And with no substantial political or military solution on the horizon, how can we possibly reframe things?
Well, the popular way of looking at the conflict is to see it simply as a dispute over land. This narrative accuses Israel of occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. And if Israel will just give these areas back to the Palestinians, they will instantly lay down their stones and knives and Jews and Arabs will live together happily ever after.
Of course though, every time Israel has “given back” land, the Arabs use it to launch further attacks on Israel, with Hamas tunnels and rockets from Gaza being the most obvious and recent example.
Yet, strangely enough, most of the world’s leaders and media still buy into this theory.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at Harvard University said last week, "a massive increase in settlements” has led to the current "frustration and violence."
But that concept is as flawed as the failed peace process itself.
The Arab-Jewish conflict was ablaze long before Israel came along. For example, Arab rioters with knives, pistols and rifles ran rampant through Jaffa on May 1, 1921, beating and murdering Jews and looting Jewish homes and stores. They killed 27 Jews and wounded another 150.
And because similar conflicts rage in more than 25 other countries today – Afghanistan, Angola, Nigeria, Syria, to name but a few – the symptoms indicate a more serious problem.
This is not a common cold to be cured by a Jewish country evacuating this piece of land or agreeing to that concession.
It’s a cancer of the most virulent strain…spreading rapidly throughout the entire free world.
Let’s face facts.
This conflict is not primarily about land at all.
Those malignant cells terrorizing Israel today are infected with the same disease as the forces destroying 2,000-year-old archaeological treasures in Syria, beheading, raping and massacring Muslims and non-Muslims across the Middle East and detonating suicide bombs in Turkey, Bali, Indonesia. And the list goes on.
The bad guys – whom the world refuses to acknowledge as such – are out to impose radical Islam on the world. They want to obliterate Israel, America, Christianity and even other anti-Islamist Muslims – “infidels” in their eyes. And that includes innocent Palestinians suffering at the hands of Hamas & Company.
In short, the entire civilized world is at risk.
I'm talking about ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the PKK, Hezbollah and dozens of similar organizations.
An entire society – connected to a daily drip of vitriol and hate from birth, brainwashed by a well-oiled system of education, media and religious rhetoric – ready and willing to kill and die in the name of the anti-Semitic Jihad of Intolerance.
And that’s why the current situation in Israel is not a localized “few days of rage,” “a wave of terror” or even “a Third Intifada.”
What’s happening is yet another symptom of a global Third Jihad.
The first jihad lasted from 622 – 750 AD, after Mohammad’s armies conquered all of Arabia and most of the Middle East, North Africa and Spain.
The second jihad started in 1071, when Islamic armies conquered Constantinople and spread into Europe, India and further into Africa. It eventually began to peter out when the Muslim Ottoman army was vanquished at the Battle of Vienna in September 1683.
And radical Islam’s pursuit of world domination has never stopped.
Countries and cultures ignored the threat or reacted too slowly and were swallowed up by the relentless radical Islamic monster. So much so that there are now 57 countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC.
The Third Jihad is upon us.
This is the deeper, more sinister nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is not simply a war over settlements, land or the Temple Mount.
It’s a religious battle. A clash of two diametrically opposed world views.
Between the sanctity of life and the culture of death.
And that definitely removes the conflict from the Middle East, away from the Israeli government, rolling responsibility to the feet of anyone who believes in a just and righteous world.
Is that “more open-minded and hopeful”?
Well, it could be. Continuing the cancer analogy, things will get worse until someone – preferably sane world leaders and a responsible media – makes the correct diagnosis.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.
This blog appeared originally in the Jeruslaem Post and was reprinted with permission.
The international media spent much of the last 24 hours mulling the question of whether Kogalymavia Flight 9268 crashed or was shot down by the Islamic State over the skies of Sinai, Egypt.
The truth is, in many ways it really does not matter.
ISIS did the damage when its Sinai branch Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the crash and the deaths of 224 people, even producing a video supposedly of the murderous act of terror.
That got the tongues wagging – almost to the extent that the enormous loss of life became a sub-plot. Headlines the world over focused on the ISIS whodunit: Could they? Couldn’t they? But that debate no longer matters – Lufthansa and Air France immediately announced they would no longer fly over Sinai airspace.
ISIS’ public-relations war, its scare tactics and the paranoia it has instilled in many of us are all moral victories for this tiny army of rag-tag volunteers from around the globe.
And here I am, guilty as charged, a day later, still talking about the Islamic State and its possible role in the fate of Flight 9268.
The only potential benefit in this instance is that ISIS is messing with Russia – not some Western government that may put "human rights" ahead of the war on terror. Moscow could well see this as a red flag to a bull – ignoring the truth of whether ISIS was or was not behind this, preferring to use it as a pretext to (properly) attack ISIS in Syria, where it challenges Russia’s partner President Bashar al-Assad.
Sometimes we have to play the enemy at their own game and defeat them. Sometimes we have to hope the Russians will do the dirty work for us.
David Harris is the editor-in-chief of Clarion Project.
Hardly two years ago, at the beginning of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams), its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared loud and clear that if ISIS cannot defeat the West by military means, they will overrun it with jihadists.
This very ISIS band of jihadists subsequently rebranded itself as the Islamic State (IS) with its leader taking on the grand title of “caliph” (mimicking the practices of early years of Islamic “Golden Age”) to rule over the concocted Islamic caliphate of modern times!
Whatever grand title Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have choosen to award himself, his pronouncement to overrun the West, particularly Europe, with jihadists definitely has the ring of reality about it.
The present predicament indicates, without any shadow of doubt, that al-Baghdadi is on the ascent. The Islamic State may have occupied vast tracts of land in Iraq and Syria over the past 15 months or so, but that victory diminishes into insignificance in comparison to what he is up to now.
He has stretched his hand to grab the crown jewel of humanity: European civilisation. Along with the hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other parts of the Islamic State caliphate that have landed on European shores are large number of Islamic State jihadis mingled among them -- with more millions are on the march, trekking across the continents of Africa and Asia, heading towards Europe.
The bigwigs of Europe are utterly helpless and rudderless. They are banging their heads together in grand gatherings of heads of states, but to no avail. They are behaving like headless chickens bleeding and screaming but failing to come to any sensible arrangement to stem the unremitting flow of migrants.
And while Europe’s leaders talk and talk, their countries are gradually being inundated with migrants and jihadists – exactly as planned by the modern day caliph.
The caliph sensed the soft underbelly of the European Union. The small boy whose body washed ashore on the beach of a Turkish holiday resort paved the way for hundreds, if not thousands, of jihadists, disguised as war victims, to enter Europe.
The guilt/conscience of the general public of Europe, particularly of Germany, will make them open up their homes and hearths, set up reception centres up and down the country to welcome the influx from Asia and Africa.
While the political leaders of Europe keep parroting, “We will manage it,” more and more migrants will knock at their doors. Western leaders will toil and sweat to accommodate them, afterwards feeling successful in “managing” them.
And the caliph, sitting comfortably in the desert monitoring the situation, will throw in more challenges to the European leaders to “manage”!
Why now is this large influx of migrants coming to Europe? The war in Syria had been going on for over four and half years. Iraq war is well over 12 years old and Afghan war has been ongoing for nearly 14years. There is no upsurge of violence in any one of these regions or, for that matter, in any other region in the Middle East. So there is simply no reason now why these people would suddenly find their own countries so intolerable in which to live. What rationale is there to risk their lives in the rough seas of the Mediterranean?
The answer can be found in the pronouncements of the caliph. But to understand these pronouncements, we need to look back at what made the Islamic State come into existence in the first place. When ISIS splintered out of the al-Qaeda gang over two years ago, it was done by the extremists on the pretext that al-Qaeda was not strong enough or brutal enough to tackle the situation.
These die-hard extremists held the ideology called Wahhabism, a particularly vicious and virulent form of Islam. Wahhabism states that anybody who does not follow this strict Sunni fundamentalist ideology can be killed. Thus, not only Christians, Jews, Yazidis and other non-Muslims but also Shias (a major Muslim denomination) are included on their death list.
Infidels would be summarily beheaded, quite often publicly, to spread fear among the enemies and their wives, daughters and sisters would be taken as sex slaves. Occasionally, out of “mercy,” infidels would be given a last option to embrace the Sunni religion. Enemy soldiers, regardless of their religious affiliations, were to be beheaded in public. All these treatments are meted out as per Wahhabi doctrine!
When al-Baghdadi declared himself as the caliph of the Caliphate of Islamic State, he did not do it vacuously. Based on my reading of numerous documents, news items, public pronouncements by politicians, he had the financial backing of rich Arab States, in particular, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I believe other Gulf States also supported him, but more covertly.
Al-Baghdadi had a vicious band of jihadists, far more ferocious and monstrous than al-Qaeda, drawn from various parts of the world. Military support and hardware also came from Arab states, overtly and covertly.
When the Islamic State started overrunning Iraqi outposts, towns and cities, Iraqi soldiers just dropped their arms and surrendered lock stock and barrel. The Islamic State was thus able to acquire a large cache of arms and military hardware without even a fight. They occupied town after town, military barracks, oil fields, etc. Success bred success.
At one stage, nearer the end of last year, the Islamic State was on the verge of overrunning Baghdad itself and, at the same time, taking over the whole of Syria. However, their success was halted a bit by American and British bombing.
But the caliph has not been occupied solely with military conquests; he started to establish his caliphate politically also. He gradually set up new Islamic State wilayats (provinces), as they used to be called in the “Golden Age” of Islam.
The Islamic State leader in the Sinai Peninsula was one of the first to declare allegiance to al-Baghdadi’s caliphate. The Libyan branch had three wilayats, dividing the country into three distinct regions – each was headed by an Islamic State leader. The January 27, 2015 attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, which left five foreigners dead, was a show of barbaric commitment of this franchised branch.
Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and became the caliphate's Algerian province. The Pakistan Taliban commander, Hafiz Said Khan, pledged his allegiance and became the Islamic State leader of the Khorasan province covering Afghanistan, Pakistan and “nearby lands” (meaning Iran). Nigeria’s Boko Haram became the “West Africa Province” of the Islamic State.
The group of jihadists who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis on March 18, 2015 had also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The militants in the Russian Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria became the “Caucasus Province” under the Dagestan rebel leader, Rushtam Aselderov.
The barbaric and cowardly Islamists who killed a number of unarmed secularists and foreigners in Bangladesh did so in order to establish their credentials as vicious jihadists so they could be accorded an Islamic State wilayat in Bangladesh.
All these demarcation of provinces and subsequent assignment of Islamic State leaders show that there is a sleek administrative setup to carry out the central Islamic State directives under the supervision of the caliph.
When there is a surge of migrants coming from all remote corners of Africa and Asia to cross Mediterranean Sea into Europe, it does not happen just by accident. There is a hand directing the whole operation.
The libertarian European public may be swayed by the suffering of innocent men, women and children in war-torn regions, but it must also be appreciated that there is a sinister game that is being played out by the perverse Islamic State strategists to send jihadists mingled with the migrants to Europe. These jihadists are the “Trojan Horses” of the Islamic State.
Islamic State leaders, under the direction of the caliph, are doing exactly what they said they would do – overrun Europe with jihadists and make Europe Muslim. If the European leaders fail to understand the strategy, it is very unfortunate and deplorable.
Why now? The war in the Middle East was at a critical juncture, with Russia hell bent on destroying the Islamic State. There was no time to spare, according to the Islamic State. The caliph acted, true to his word, and the outcome will be there for all to see.
Dr. A Rahman is a retired nuclear scientist and a columnist.
U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal (Photo: © Reuters)
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the land of two holiest mosques in Islam, is in abject moral decline. The country holds the pivotal position in the Islamic world, but it spews out poisonous religious doctrines which ferments internecine conflicts within Islam.
It spent more than 50 billion dollars over the past 45 years or so promoting a fundamentalist religious ideology called Wahhabism throughout the whole world. At the same time, it spent many hundreds of billions of dollars aiding and abetting jihadism and supporting terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State), Taliban, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and so forth against the “infidels.”
The duplicity of Saudi Arabia is just breath taking.
To understand Saudi duplicity properly, one has to look back at the root of Saudi monarchy and its proclaimed legitimacy. After Abdulaziz ibn-Saud conquered Riyadh and established the 3rd Saudi State in 1902, he needed the religious legitimacy to further his political ambition to conquer the fractious regions of Arabia. He revived an alliance drawn between Mohammad ibn Saud (the founder of 1st Saud dynasty) and the preacher Abd-al Wahhab in 1744 whereby ibn Saud and his heirs would use and promote Wahhabism in exchange of retaining the proprietary right over this Wahhabi ideology and giving protection to Wahhab dynasty.
This Wahhabism is an extremely vicious and virulent form of fundamental ideology, intolerant to other religions or even towards other denominations of Islam itself. Nonetheless, it suited Abdulaziz ibn-Saud and his band of warriors to rule over Arabia with total autocracy in the name of Islam.
The present day Saudi Arabia (called officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) was founded by Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1932 when the four major regions of Arabia were conquered and united and the country was named after this Saud dynasty. This ruler and his subsequent heirs kept their promise of promoting and propagating Wahhabism by contributing financially to establish mosques, Islamic congregations, Islamic schools, madrassahs, Islamic centres and so forth throughout the whole world.
In some developing countries, Saudi Arabia have managed to have absolute free hand, in exchange of large donations to the governments, to propagate Wahhabism and attempt to establish sharia laws. Islamic schools, colleges, universities, Islamic banks, Islamic medical centres etc. proliferated in those countries.
Alongside those apparently innocuous humanitarian and economic activities, there were covert political activities when Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islam, Taliban, Laskhar-e-Taiba, etc. were also established. The aims were to wrest political control and establish Islamic states whereby sharia laws, advocated by Wahhabi ideology, could be enforced. Needless to say, political objectives without military backup are like tigers without teeth and claws.
While all these activities were going on under the banner of Islam, Saudi Arabia turned a blind eye to the sufferings of Muslims worldwide. While millions of Palestinians had been squatting in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia felt no guilt conscience or moral obligation to give sanctuary to any of these unfortunate people. Although in the world forum, Saudi Arabia always takes up the role of leader in the Islamic world. Admittedly, they occasionally feel the need to shed crocodile tears; but that is as far the country would go.
The country, on the other hand, would spare no occasion to undermine the Shia (Shiite) sect of Islam. With their vast wealth of petro-dollars and the armoury that money can buy, they started whipping up anti-Shia sentiments and politico-religious barbarity. Over the last few years, they even started spreading covertly the message that Shia is anti-Islamic. Beginning last year, Saudi Arabia even started asking in the Hajj application form if the applicant belongs to Shia sect!
The recent spawning of ISIL/ISIS from the ruins of so-called Arab spring in Syria has been actively supported not only by Saudi Arabia but also by other Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, UAE and Qatar). What can be more pleasing than having a band of vicious jihadi fighters doing their bidding in promoting Wahhabi ideology?
Subsequently realising the adverse reaction worldwide to the beheading of innocent civilians by barbarian ISIS jihadists, Saudi Arabia has pulled back a little from its overt support. Under American pressure, the country had even reluctantly given access to their airspace to American bombers and sent two of their fighters to bomb ISIS targets! Nonetheless, money and military hardware are flowing from the GCC countries unabated to ISIS. Saudi Arabia is definitely looking both ways.
The Syrian war, sectarian killings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, war in Yemen are all directly or indirectly funded and militarily aided by Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled from their homes and hearths and became refugees in the neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. After years of suffering, these unfortunate people – victims of the Wahhabism – had to undertake the most perilous journey across the Mediterranean to reach European shores. Although some of these “refugees” may have the blood of “infidels” in their hands, European libertarian conscience gave them food, water and shelters.
And what is Saudi Arabia -- with its hundreds of billions of petro-dollars in their coffers and vast uninhabited lands -- doing to help these refugees? Zilch, nil. Not a single person from the war-torn regions of the Middle East had been given sanctuary in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia may be the instigators of these wars encouraging block-headed morons to fight the religious wars, but they are not prepared to help the refugees one iota. Religion is to them a political weapon to be used to their advantage.
Even though they may not be helping these refugees with food and shelter, it has been reported that the Saudi king is willing to fund up to 200 mosques in Germany. Thus, the king is proposing to propagate his poisonous religious virus, which has forced these refugees to leave their own homes in the first place.
Saudi vulgarity, duplicity and inhumanity are mind-boggling and unforgivable.
Dr. A Rahman is a retired nuclear scientist and a columnist.
The identity card of Bishoy Boulos
An Egyptian Christian who reported attacks against churches is still behind bars weeks after other journalists were pardoned.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the release of two Al Jazeera journalists jailed after reporting unrest. They were on a list of 100 people pardoned ahead of the current UN summit in New York.
But one broadcaster who remains behind bars is Bishoy Boulos, a convert to Christianity who was imprisoned for reporting attacks against churches.
Bishoy Armia Boulos is also known by his former Muslim name, Mohamed Hegazy. He was arrested on December 4, 2013, in the Egyptian city of Minya.
The security service claimed he was working for The Way TV, a Coptic, Christian-owned, US-based religious television channel. They accused him of contributing to a “false image” that there was violence against Christians in Minya.
The charge asserted that reporting the burnings of churches and attacks against Christians would in some way “harm the national interests of the state.”
Two related charges were dismissed on appeal. Bishoy should have been released in May. But then a second charge was levelled against him of blasphemy against Islam. And that case is still under investigation.
“Bishoy’s continued detention probably has more to do with his earlier conversion from Islam than to any alleged offence connected with reporting,” says Paul Robinson. Robinson is the Chief Executive of the UK-based Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world.
“Release rejects the charge that reporting church burnings somehow created a ‘false image’ of the troubles facing Christians in Egypt,” he adds. “Minya has been the site of numerous well-documented attacks on Christians, church buildings and Christian-owned properties. A fact-finding visit by Release International in 2013 confirmed reports that scores of churches had been burned.”
According to Bishoy’s lawyer, his client has been badly beaten in Tora prison, as well as being dragged across a concrete floor. His head has been shaved, a punishment normally reserved for violent criminals.
The blasphemy charge for which he is awaiting trial is linked to his attempt to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID card. Bishoy has faced a long history of opposition, harassment and detention for asserting that right.
Born in 1982, Bishoy converted to Christianity in 1998. After his conversion he was arrested several times and tortured to try to make him recant his faith.
He received international media attention in 2007 as the first Egyptian Christian convert to file a lawsuit to try to change his religious status.
As a result, he was threatened with death. Islamic scholars demanded his execution and the Egyptian minister for religious endowments publicly affirmed the legality of executing Muslims who converted to Christianity.
Bishoy’s wife, Christine, also changed her faith. According to press reports, parents on both sides of the family threatened to kill the couple, who have been ostracized by other family members. They were forced into hiding with their daughter, Miriam.
Bishoy’s lawyer asserts that the time allotted for investigations into the “blasphemy” charge has now elapsed. He has filed a formal complaint with Egypt’s attorney general about his client’s treatment and continued detention.
“Bishoy’s case casts doubt on assurances of religious freedom in Egypt’s new constitution, and reflects the continuing vulnerability of Christians in Egypt – especially those from a Muslim background,” says Robinson.
Release has launched the campaign #everyright to call on the Egyptian government to make good its pledge of religious freedom for all, which is guaranteed in the constitution.
The Release campaign #everyright includes an online petition, which can be signed at releaseinternational.org
“The continued persecution of Bishoy Boulos reveals two things,” says Robinson. “The authorities are reluctant to face the truth about continuing attacks against Christians, and converts to Christianity remain at serious risk despite the country’s new constitution, which is supposed to protect religious freedom.
“Unless there is a clear mechanism to enforce the rights of the country’s Christian minority, those rights are likely to remain every bit as theoretical as they have been in the past,” he added.
See related article: Imprisonment, Torture in Egypt: The Case of a Christian Convert
UN inspectors take samples to determine if Syrian President Bashir al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. (Photo: © Reuters)
The United States is about to trample all over international law and very soon we can expect cruise missiles to rain on Syria, a country that has done America no harm.
It’s true, the barbaric dictator of Damascus has massacred his own people, but which Arab king or dictator has not?
If Syria is in America’s crosshairs, then why isn’t Saudi Arabia? After all, isn’t Riyadh the international sponsor of jihadi terror and home to the men who attacked America on 9/11?
But it’s Damascus that will be hit. Damascus, the city of jasmine that has survived many a slaughter in its history, has sunk to level of barbarity few of us can reconcile.
A few years before he died in 1998, Syria’s greatest poet of modern times, Nizar Qabbani penned a provocative poem titled, “When will they announce the death of the Arabs?”
If someday they announced the death of the Arabs … Then where would they be buried?
And who would cry over them?
They have no daughters … They have no sons … And there is no grief, And there is no one to grieve!!
On Aug. 21, very close to where Qabbani is buried in the ancient cemetery of Bab al-Saghir in Damascus, hundreds of boys and girls gave testimony to the truth of Qabbani who wrote in his epic poem, “The nations who call themselves Arabs are all dead, but no one has yet dared to sign the death certificate.”
Gasping for breath, the children of Damascus saw their lives being sucked out of them in a gas attack, not by their sworn enemies the Jews or America, but by their fellow Arabs.
Impotent fools of the Arab League and their servants running the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) have been sitting around huge conference tables twiddling prayer beads in one hand and sipping Turkish coffee with the other, overseeing Arab-over-Arab atrocity, fuelling Shia vs. Sunni Muslim conflict while denouncing the Jew and the West for the crimes they themselves commission.
Having said that, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration cannot escape responsibility for the crimes against humanity that have unfolded before our eyes.
In Iraq we were lied to, while in Syria the supposed truth coming out of Washington is so lame even the British Parliament couldn’t stomach the facts offered to MPs. Across the world people not only doubt and distrust the words of Obama, they laugh at his lack of resolve and his failure in resolving any conflict anywhere in the world.
After sabre-rattling for a week and invoking his imaginary “red line,” Obama took an eraser and wiped the line clean.
Lt. Cmdr. (retd) Zuhdi Jasser of the U.S. Navy is a Syrian-American physician whose family fled the Baath Regime in Syria to settle in the U.S. in the early 1960s. He, too, is highly critical of his president.
“President Obama has not had a strategy in Syria. Three months into the revolution we were calling for decisive action to support the opposition and enact a no-fly zone which would have given the opposition room to defeat the Assad regime long before it became a full client state of Iran and unleashed the hell of al-Qaida and Hezbollah,” he said in e-mail.
Jasser, who heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said: “There was no Al-Nusra Front before 2012 in Syria. Now that the atrocity has turned to nerve gas the Obama administration is finally, finally waking up. However, instead of doing something they take the case to the U.S. Congress? We are turning into a laughing stock.”
Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
14 year old Ahmed Mohamed. (Photo: Screenshot from Video)
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, built a digital clock himself, and brought it to his Texas school to show his teacher. Instead, he was interrogated first by staff and then arrested and questioned by police, who thought it was a bomb.
There is every reason to be careful and cautious regarding Islamist extremism and terrorism. So far this year many Islamic State-related plots have been foiled in the U.S. and there is no doubt there are those who would relish the opportunity to set off a bomb in an American high school.
It is here that we must balance caution with prudence and common sense. Just because some children are at risk of radicalization, does not mean all Muslim children are radicalized. Just because a small minority of Islamist Muslims are terrorists, doesn't mean one should treat every Muslim as a potential threat. Doing so will only further the growing rift between Muslim communities and other faith groups in America.
A 14-year-old would-be suicide bomber acts very differently to a 14-year old proudly showing off his science project. Any science teacher worth their salt should have been able to tell very rapidly that a clock and a bomb are very different things.
A Texan pastor has just shown how an adult lone wolf jihadist can be talked down without firing a shot. An innocent 14-year old could and should have been treated far more humanely.
Since the story broke thousands of people around the world have showed their support for Ahmed Mohamed using #IStandWithAhmed.
Human-rights activists on the forefront of the fight against Islamism including Faisal Saeed al-Mutar, Maajid Nawaz and Ali A. Rizvi have stood behind Ahmed on their Facebook pages.
They have all suffered personally from Islamism first hand and know all too well the necessity of defeating that toxic ideology.
What happened to Ahmed was not defence against terrorism. It was racist.
We have to know how far is too far.