ZAHID JAMIL discusses what the Muslims, and also American citizens should do to defeat the forces of terrorism, whether individuals or groups or governments.
USA has been playing the pivotal role in International politics since its rise as a superpower more than 50 years ago. It has been extremely successful in gradually increasing its dominance all over the world. Its secret service CIA has been playing its cards very smartly to weaken any opposition and not to allow the rise of any new threat to its supremacy. During 40 years of the cold war, its agents infiltrated the USSR and other Communist regimes of Eastern Europe and took advantage of their weakening political and economic situation, eventually causing the fall of not only the great USSR but also its allies in Eastern Europe.
The newly found oil wealth prompted some Muslim leaders to gather in Lahore for the OIC meet in 1974 to realise their dream of developing a powerful Muslim bloc. These leaders – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Shah Faisal, Shah of Iran, Colonel Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein – were no Islamists but they had a burning desire to make the Muslim nations a force to reckon with in today’s world. Americans sensed their motives and found ways to either eliminate or manipulate them; they succeeded in vanquishing the great Muslim dream even before it could begin to materialise. French nuclear reactor was returned from the Iranian ports following the fall of Shah; the new dispensation being Islamic in nature would not earn French approval. Few years later, Iraqi nuclear plant was destroyed by an Israeli attack. USA had not experimented Islamists in modern context. At times, USA did not become a major obstacle in their coming to power; sometimes it even created them to serve its interests. The Democratic president Jimmy Carter did not take extreme action to prevent the Islamic revolution in Iran while in Afghanistan, USA created Islamic movement by establishing madrasas in Pakistan, armed them and prepared them for Jihad to counter the USSR.
At this stage, USA had not realised that once such an ideological fervour reached the human heart, they could not be purchased at any material cost. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, later found in America’s policies of discrimination towards Middle East a fertile ground to enhance and convert the already intoxicated jihadist ideology to a poisonous terrorist ideology. Americans, through their actions such as landing of armed forces in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait and blind support to Israel provided these terrorist organisations with ample ammunition to recruit jihadis cum terrorists from around the world. Some unfavourable tactics of CIA angered one of its agents, the rich and resourceful Osama, who turned against them and developed a plan to poison hundreds of young brains. He successfully attacked American interests around the world, which peaked with 9/11, if what is being alleged happens to be true. This provided the right wing American president, who happened to be in power then, good enough reason to take extreme actions against Muslim nations, in the pretext of securing USA.
Islamic resurgence, which had begun in late sixties and early seventies in several Muslim countries, gained momentum with the Iranian revolution. Not only Shiites, but also Sunni fundamentalist organisations propped up throughout the world. Ordinary Muslims started joining these movements, which gained political strength in many Muslim countries. Religious leaders who had little experience in politics led these movements. They failed to understand the political intricacies of dealing with the West. The need of the hour was to avoid confrontation with the powerful West in the early days of this resurgence, more so due to the fragile and weak Muslim militaries. Though many Islamists may not agree with me, Ayatollah Khomeini’s blunt declaration of ‘America the greatest Satan’ and taking of American hostages in Tehran was, in my view, a glaring example of this political immaturity. Our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) did not choose confrontation during Makkan campaign; even after garnering some power, he entered into treaties with Jews and Christians to consolidate his position. However, Muslim leaders could not understand the simple logistics at critical times.
The purpose of the above preview was not to give detailed political analysis of events, which are now history, but to prepare a ground for what is to be said later in the article.
It is important to clarify that like other secular democracies, USA also has diverse ideological movements: religious and ultra-religious, secular, left wing, right wing, extreme right, extreme left, etc. While its desire to maintain its supremacy does not diminish with the change of power equations, the ways to achieve it vary greatly depending on who is in control in US Congress. Thus to make a blunt statement that USA and West have always been anti-Muslim is immature. There is visible difference in US policies when leftist Democrats are in power compared to when right wing Republicans control the White House. Only 10 years ago, Democrat president Bill Clinton had sent NATO forces to Balkans to protect Muslims against Christian Serbs and the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial for committing crimes against Muslims. Clinton tried hard to bring peace to Middle East through the historical pact between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. The fundamental beliefs of Democrats are diagonally opposite to those of Republicans. Democrats support the weak and the working class, believe in co-existence of all as opposed to Republicans, who are a party for rich and preach aggression against opponents.
It is unfortunate that the past decade has witnessed the rise of extreme right in USA, as the neo-conservative movement gained strength and momentum. This movement could never become a mass movement, but its members are extremely powerful financially and are heavily represented by Zionist Jews and evangelical Christians. The voices of moderate Jews as well as moderate Christians did not find any place in US media during this period. While for most of the past 50 years, US policies were determined more or less by capitalist and imperialist desires, increased influence of Zionists and evangelists resulted in an ideological fight taking the front seat for past few years. Their religious belief that, for the Second Coming of Christ, establishment of Greater Israel is a precondition, is influencing many US policies. They view the rise of Islamic fundamentalism as a great challenge, which they are determined to crush by all means.
Not only Muslims living in East but even Muslims living in the West and USA, who mainly arrived there in past few decades, fail to critically analyse the complexities of US politics. They fail to understand the difference between Jews and Zionists, between Catholics and Protestants and other Christian sub-sects and most importantly between right and left wing political parties. Muslims voted for George Bush and not for Al Gore in 2000 simply because the vice presidential candidate of Al Gore happened to be a Jew. They did not know that a leftist Jew is lot more moderate than a right wing evangelist or Zionist. Extremely narrow victory margin of George Bush might well have been due to a couple of million Muslim votes.
We now stand at the crossroads. It is now extensively campaigned in the West that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism which is “responsible” for the global terrorism is a form of Islamic Fascism. There may be some truth in such a claim as some Islamic movements, Taleban being one of them, were not only extremely conservative but also intolerant and repressive during the short duration of their rule. However, it is unfair to pass such a judgement as these Islamic movements have not been given sufficient time and it is unknown that once they consolidated their position, how they might or might not have behaved. Iranians, despite huge pressure of West, have done pretty well. While there may have been some incidents of persecution of some minorities following the revolution, now a good percentage of Iranian people are happy with their lives. Iranian government has enjoyed good relationships with Russia, India, China as well as several European nations. Most interestingly, more than twenty-five thousand Jews in Iran still live happily and have no desire to migrate to Israel despite an open invitation from the Zionist state. Hizbullah, another fundamentalist political party, enjoys good relations not only with Sunnis but also with Christians and Druz in a very complex Lebanese political structure.
Since coming to power Hamas is prepared to negotiate at all levels with the opposition Fatah party. It is also willing to be part of talks with Israel for a long term but respectable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite an open hostility by international community in cutting all aids, and despite Israeli aggression on Gaza and capture of many of its parliamentarians by Israel, Hamas did not send a single suicide bomber into Israel since coming to power. Instead of rewarding Hamas for diluting its stance, USA is bent on punishing ordinary Palestinians in order to weaken the political strength of Hamas. Is it not a pity that Saudi Arabia, which pays billions of dollars to US armament industry for purchasing arms that Saudi army personnel will never learn to operate, is unable to make up for the loss of aid to Palestinians from USA and its allies? It only amounts to half a billion dollars a year without which the handicapped Palestinian government is unable to pay the wages to its employees for several months. Obviously Saudis have been instructed by their masters in Washington to keep their purses tight. The corrupt Fatah party gets support from West while the honest and true representative of Palestinian people does not. It will not be unfair to say that now US wants to impose sanctions on the hearts and minds of Muslims.
Terrorists are nothing but terrorists and whatever the West wants to call them, it can. However, The efforts of Bush and company to label any organisation with Islamist tendencies as fascist need to be confronted head-on. White House needs to judge its own actions before calling others fascist. They have created a new phenomenon of international fascism where no state can feel safe unless it submits to the wishes of a few right wing neo-conservatives sitting in White House. These fascists are prepared to go to any length in telling lies, blackmailing the governments, persecuting thousands in their torture cells, overrunning the UN, invading the nations and threatening anyone in any manner without any regard of the international laws. Any Non-neo-con, such as Colin Powell, finds it hard to survive amongst them. On the other hand, despite serious allegations by top defence officials, Rumsfeld, an extremist neo-con, cannot be removed. This bunch of neo-conservatives has not only taken the Republican Party but also the entire nation of US a hostage, and is determined to continue with its extremely dangerous game as long as it is in power. Thus while, at the most, a few reactionary and frustrated splinter groups amongst Muslims may be acting as fascists, the most powerful government of the world has certainly been captured by a fascist group threatening international security and stability.
Let us now analyse what ordinary Muslims and their leaders have not done in these difficult times. The powerful and the weak, both have weaponry at their disposal and both have the option of using legal and illegal weapons. The legal weapons will generally prove more effective while illegal weapons will only cause death and destruction. The illegal weapon of the weak is terrorism, which has been extensively used by a few frustrated brainwashed Muslims during past few years. It is not only against all international conventions and human values but also against the principles of Islam when it targets innocent civilians. We do know that Muslim governments, good or bad, do not have the courage to cut off trade ties with US. Thus mass movements, which should always be totally peaceful, need to be organised to force these governments to expel all American companies operating in their countries and impose total ban on import of American goods. The peaceful mass movements can block concerned ministries, ports and offices of American companies. The oil refineries in Gulf countries can very well be run by local and migrant technicians now. American companies are doing so only as an appeasement exercise. Muslim nations, companies and individuals should also transfer their accounts to European banks, which promise security. Such actions will be equivalent to imposing economic sanctions by UN.
As UN cannot do so against a country holding permanent seat in Security Council, the masses can force such a sanction. If such sanctions can be imposed against Iraq for invading Kuwait, why should it not happen against US for invading Iraq without UN approval? While poor people of Muslim countries can tolerate the painful sufferings of economic sanctions for years, American people and major corporations cannot take it even for a short period. Such an action will hit where it hurts most, and will bring this fascist bunch to its knees. Throwing away of puppet regimes will incur bloodshed but limited peaceful mass movement can force these governments to do one right thing. It only needs a few Muslim leaders to have some courage and show the direction the Muslim masses need. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi achieved much bigger successes through such peaceful movements. Saying that such an action is not practical is only an excuse for inaction.
Ordinary Muslims have no direction. Many of them clap or express pleasure as a young boy or girl, disillusioned from his/her life after losing many loved ones and brainwashed by some lunatic disguised as sheikh/mullah blows himself/herself apart to kill innocent westerners, thinking that he/she has taken the revenge. Certainly, it is neither revenge nor a victory. At times, Muslim leaders incite masses to violence to express anger on some teasing by western media, which they now seem to increasingly enjoy. Factional fighting does not seem to die down. Some Shias in Iraq have been working as informants to US army against Sunni insurgency. Similarly, Saudi regime and extremist Wahabi clerics have been quick to blame Hizbullah for miscalculated adventures as they were tired to undermine great Hizbullah resistance against Israeli aggression.
Muslims living in the USA should work on various platforms. They should support anti-neo-con lobby groups who are now gaining some momentum. They should also engage with Church groups who find actions of current government against the fundamentals of Christianity. In the long term, Muslims throughout the world need to start putting some effort to build themselves through hard work in whatever fields they may be engaged. Be it a factory worker, a farmer, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a solicitor, a scientist, a businessperson, big or small, all need to excel wherever they are. Excellence in education has to be the key objective of the young. In the poor communities of third world countries, welfare programmes should be run to elevate the communities and ensure that their children are sent to schools.
The most sensible action will be the rise of ordinary Westerners and ordinary Muslims against the forces that have created an atmosphere of war and insecurity around the world. We have, now clearly identified these forces and it is high time the masses rose against them. They must either be eliminated or made ineffective so that all of us can live in peace on our planet. The Nation of America has to rise against neo-conservatives who have taken their government hostage and have forced them to do heinous crimes against the Muslim world contrary to the principles of freedom and human rights USA claims to stands for. Muslims need to rise against the terrorists who brainwash the young to do heinous crimes against innocent civilians in the name of a noble religion. I sympathise with these young people who tear themselves apart and give such a big sacrifice, thinking it to be a just cause, but end up doing a heinous crime. The real criminals are those who twist the meaning of Qur’nic verses and destroy the holiness of holy Jihad in brainwashing the young. Similarly my heart goes out to young Americans who, in the name of nationalism, are made to put their lives at risk, and are sent to illegally invade countries and commit extreme atrocities against the people of other nations.
The challenge is much bigger for American nation as it has to fight against an enemy which is extremely powerful politically and financially but unless that happens Muslims are unlikely to be motivated to do their bit. Neo-conservatives, being the initiators and ongoing perpetrators of crimes against many nations have to be restrained and then reactionary terrorists need to be eliminated. Both are equal criminals and I would not mind if the two evils fight against each other and destroy each other. However, in doing so the collateral damage they cause to ordinary people is so huge that now ordinary people have to take matters in their hands and destroy the evil in its own camps.
Once, ordinary Americans and ordinary Muslims, instead of falling prey to the false and misleading propaganda by these evil forces, realise the facts and rise against them, the achievement of peace and tranquillity for all the nations on earth will become a real possibility.