AIR MARSHAL ASHOK GOEL (Retd.)
PVSM AVSM VM
P.O. Rohilkhand University,
Global peace is now threatened by western-educated, middle-class freelance soldiers who have bought into the Al Qaeda way of thinking. Is India immune?
His Jehad is His Very Own
Not a Pak-Afgan-bred radical, the new Islamic warrior could be a regular American guy, swayed by Al Qaeda, but not part of it.
When Faisal Sahzad parked his SUV at the Time Square in New York in the diabolic hope of exploding it, he joined the growing list of ‘normal dudes’ who inexplicably turn radical Islamists, willing to stake their lives or riches for waging Jehad against the world particularly America and its allies. Faisal had everything going for him: an MBA degree, a cushy job which he resigned from just a few months ago and a suburban lifestyle he shared with his wife and two kids. And then the madness, the rush of blood, leaving Americans gasping at the thought of the devastation the bomb could have wreaked had it exploded.
The New Faces of Jehad
Who they are whom they oppose
v Al Qaeda is now more a state of mind than a formidable terror organization. A state of mind shared by those Muslims who believe in violently opposing what they perceive as the injustices of the world.
v Primary directed against the West, particularly the United States. But it is also aimed against those countries seen to be oppressing Muslims-Russia, Israel and India, for example.
v Willing to target Muslim countries aligned to the West or fighting Musllim terror-Saudi Arabia, Egypt, even Pakistan.
v There is a war without boundaries-any country which is frequented by westerners, for instance, is considered a legitimate enough target.
What they seek to achieve
v No longer aims at establishing Islamic states. But wants a just world order, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
v Its anti-West agenda has been expanded to include the politics of environment. Osama bin Laden’s last speech accused the West of damaging environment.
v It’s also opposing globalization, portraying it as a ploy of the developed world to exploit underdeveloped nations.
v Primary impulse is to weaken sole superpower. All other changes will ensue on their own.
v Become an umbrella group for other militant groups fighting different governments. Provide moral support and ideological justification for violent action.
How the new recruit is different
v He’s a Muslim living in western societies. Also in non western countries where Muslims nurse grievances.
v Belongs to affluent, educated families, often a product of Western educations institutes.
v Bilingual. English is the preferred language of global jehad.
v Voracious reader. Sources info from Islamic literature and doctrines, and from western philosophers and political figures.
v Not religious. Adapted to western lifestyle, drinks, gambles, even has white partners.
v Gets indoctrinated through the net. Downloads bomb-making manuals. Or, if he can, heads to Pakistan’s badlands or yamen.
The worlds can changes, argues Al Qaeda, only if the West, particularly America, is brought down to its knees. This idea was mooted in the late ‘90s by Osama’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who cited the close link between the collapses of the Soviet empire to its defeat in Afghanistan. If one superpower could be defeated, he argued, why not the US?
To fight the US though, Al Qaeda has to first transform itself into a global organization. It did this through the twin attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es0Salaam in 1998, integrating it at once into the global security regime administered by America. With 9/11, the group carved out a space for Islam in the West.
The battle against radical Islam is complicated. With Al Qaeda stressing on ethical issues to justify its acts of violence, many desperate Muslims in the West of elsewhere are likely.
To find their inspiration and redemption in jehad. The West, in turn, is likely to strengthen its already stifling security apparatus at the cost or eroding ideas it is associated with: of freedom of speech, expression and free movement. Curtailment of these rights would be akin to an Al Qaeda win. The West is also expected to intensify the war in terror-and the ensuing bloodshed will only help bolster the Al Qaeda campaign. The best way out for Washington is to resolve the Palestine-Israel issue and cease supporting discredited Muslim regimes.
“To get radicalized, one doesn’t have to go to a madrassa or a training camp in the Pak-Afghan badlands. Internet chat room are good enough.”
Abdul Bari Atwan
Editor, Al Quds al Arabia, London
“They (the new radicals) are outliers, who can cause massive damage and get massive response. But they don’t belong to one group or movement.”
Author, ‘Landscape of the Jehad’
“The perception of occupation in Iraq, Afganistan, and Kashmir continues to be a catalyst exploited in terror organizations’ rhetoric/ideologies.”
John L. Esposito
Georgetown University, Washington
Adapted form Out Look May 24, 2010
Observations on Shahjad and Terror
This so called new trend of Jehad is really not new. The elite class joining the global terrorism has surfaced even in the mid and the later part of nineties. I am reminded of my visit to Israel in may-June 1997. The very departure to TelAviv from Mumbai can never be forgotten. Reporting time was four hours and the check in area at the airport was surrounded by Israeli security personnel and the sniffer dogs. I was interrogated for nearly 2 hrs as I was a criminal in spite of the fact that I was holding an official passport and was on the invitation of Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI). The experience was most horrendous.
After reaching TelAviv, the IAI chairman and MD had invited me for a dinner. I mentioned this extra ordinary security measure at the time of my departure from Mumbai to TelAviv. He narrated one incident One Palestinian Youngman educated in UK and settled, was married to a Jewish girl. This girl (wife of Palestinian boy) was flying from London to TelAviv for her first delivery. During security check at London airport a bomb was detected in the suitcase of the Jewish girl. Her husband had planted the Bomb. One can imagine the frame of mind of this Palestinian boy who was ready to kill his wife and the expected child. That was the height of mindset of these educated class of the people even at that time.
ü Even the event of 9/11, the nineteen pilots of different nationalities (All Muslims) had gathered and planned highjacking of four American airliners. Two of them had flown directly into the Twin Towers in New York, and other two had crashed deliberately. Causing biggest catastrophe of this century. All these nineteen pilots were well educated, highly trained and leading a fairly high quality standard life style.
ü There are innumerable cases of elite class of people indulging in such activities, Shahjad son of an Air Vice Marshal, western educated, well settled in life, married ,father of two children, indulging into a terror act should not surprise the world.
ü The US never took a serious note of the terror activity globally, or the cross border terrorism perpetuated by a country like Pakistan and bleeding India day and day out.
ü I am reminded of a visit of US defence team headed by a Mej Gen during Feb 2001 to Defence Services Staff College Wellington (DSSC). Where I was posted as Chief Instructor Air. The US defence team made a presentation on their (US), global engagements. During that time the security environment in Afghanistan was bad and getting worsened. During question hour one of the senior officers of the faculty asked a question “why US is not interfering in Afghanistan”. The head of the US team responded “how US is interested in Afghanistan”.
ü If 9/11 hadn’t happened US would not have declared a Global War on Terror. However, after 9-11 US launched a “global war on terror” by massive aerial bombing of Afghanistan (from 07 Oct. 2001). Nearly 9 years have lapsed with hardly any sign of “global war on terror” getting even contained. If 9/11 hadn’t happened US would have kept aloof of this so called War on Terror. If US had indulged in a serious thought to fight about 20 years back (late eighties), the terrorism wouldn’t have risen so whemently globally and specially so in South Asia.
Now is the time that we have to evolve new strategies globally, regionally, nationally, to contain and manage this greatest menace of Terrorism.