Monday March 25, 2019
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Paris Attacks: Islamic terrorism, Islam and the usual denial

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Photo: www.eonline.com

By Nithin Sridhar

In the last few years, a misleading trend can be observed in the discourse on terrorism that follows any major terrorist attack across the world. Whenever such an attack takes place; be it in India, the UK, or anywhere else, almost immediately claims like ‘terrorism has no religion’ or ‘ISIS has nothing to do with Islam’ are propagated by the media and intellectuals across the world.

The same trend can be observed in the Paris attack that took place on Friday as well. What is shocking is how the discourse on terrorism was diverted being concerned about assessing the causes and effects of the present attack to trending in twitter the hashtag: #MuslimsAreNotTerorist.

Of course, all Muslims are not terrorists, nor is Islam as such is a religion of terrorism and barbarism. But, this does not mean terrorism, as practiced by ISIS or terror groups like LeT or Al-Qaida, has no connection with Islam. The fact is that each of these groups is well versed in Islamic scriptures and history and they, not only take inspiration from Islam but also try to strictly adhere to their understanding of the tenets of Islam.

There can be debates and discussions within the Muslim community regarding the validity of such interpretations of the Islamic scriptures, but it is undeniable that there are as many Islamic scholars who provide support for the violent interpretation of the Islamic scriptures, as there are scholars who are against it.

What is also undeniable is that Islam has been invariably associated with violence in one or the other forms throughout the history. Whether it is the wars fought by Prophet Mohammed himself for establishing Islam in Arabia, or the wars fought by various Caliphs and their armies be it in Persia, or India. Highlighting this, Taslima Nasreen, the famous Bangladeshi author tweeted:

 

 

Therefore, every such argument that tries to dilute and whitewash the relationship that the Islamic terrorism shares with Islam by saying the terrorists are ‘misguided’ people, or that they have ‘misinterpreted’ the scriptures, or that they have been brainwashed in false interpretation of Islam holds no ground.

In fact, these arguments are actually preventing a genuine discourse about the root causes of terrorism from taking place. What the Islamist apologists don’t realize is that the fact that by vehemently trying to portray terrorism as not being rooted in Islam whenever a terrorist attack happens, they are showing how deep down even they realize that there is indeed a connection between terrorism and Islam and hence, the need for them to dilute it or whitewash it every time.

Unless and until the governments, as well as people, do not discuss and debate the root causes, no effective and long-term solution to terrorism can be arrived at. This was highlighted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, activist and author of books like Heretic as well:

 

Therefore, the very first step towards resolving the issue of terrorism is to recognize that terrorism is indeed rooted in religion. More specifically, the terrorism carried out by Islamic terrorist organizations are indeed rooted in Islam.

Shadi Hamid, who recognizes that such a connection indeed exists between terrorism and Islam, asks: “ISIS’s rise to prominence has something to do with Islam, but what is that something?” In answer to his own question, he writes: “ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of a caliphate—the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition—is a powerful one, even among more secular-minded Muslims.

Thus, Islamic history and religion do have notions, beliefs, and institutions on which ISIS or terror organizations further build up their ideology. In fact, ISIS is rooted in Jihadi-Salafism movement within Sunni Islam. This Salafism movement was started many centuries ago for purifying Islamic faith by purging the faith of its non-Islamic elements.

The second step should be the recognition of the fact ISIS is not a terrorist organization. It is an Islamic Caliphate that derives its political and religious legitimacy from Islam and which calls for the allegiance of every Muslim irrespective of their geographical location. This understanding that ISIS is a Caliphate is most crucial in dealing with ISIS. The world leaders at present appear to be ignoring or at least downplaying this aspect. As a result, their response to the threat of ISIS has had a limited and short-term impact.

It is high time that, the world boldly recognize this intricate relationship between Islamic terrorism and Islam, so that a credible solution to the threat posed by ISIS and other radical Islamists can be arrived at. India should also properly assess the threats posed by ISIS to India and should take proper countermeasures accordingly.

Also Read:

Jihadi-Salafism: The Islamic ideology of ISIS

Why India should not ignore IS threat

Next Story

U.S.-Backed Syrian Democratic Forces Celebrate The Death Of Self-Declared “Caliphate”

“The threat remains,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter. “The fight against terrorist groups must continue.”

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Syria
Smoke rises from a strike on Baghuz, the last of the Islamic State group's holdouts in Syria, March 22, 2019. VOA

For consecutive nights, bombs rained down on the last scraps of Islamic State-held territory, lighting up the night sky over the northeastern Syrian town of Baghuz.

By Saturday morning, all that remained was a landscape littered with burned-out vehicles, abandoned campsites and other provisions the last of the terror group’s fighters and their families left behind.

On one of the few buildings that still stood, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces raised their flag and celebrated the death of a self-declared caliphate that inflicted terror and death on the people it tried to rule.

“After five years of fighting, we stand here to declare the physical defeat of ISIS and the end of its public challenge over all humanity,” SDF Director General Mazloum Kobani told officials and coalition partners at a ceremony to mark the long-awaited victory, using an acronym for the group.

FILE - Mazloum Kobani, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), speaks during an interview in the countryside outside the northwestern Syrian city of Hasakah, in a province of the same name, Jan. 24, 2019.
Mazloum Kobani, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), speaks during an interview in the countryside outside the northwestern Syrian city of Hasakah, in a province of the same name, Jan. 24, 2019.. VOA

“We announce today the destruction of the so-called Islamic State organization and the end of its ground control in its last pocket in Baghuz region,” he said.

Yet in between the applause and the music of a marching band, SDF commanders and coalition officials paid tribute to the SDF forces, which paid for the victory in blood and treasure — an estimated 11,000 killed in the campaign to roll back IS, which at its height controlled nearly a third of Syria and almost as much of Iraq.

And even until the end, sometime Friday night into Saturday morning, IS put up a vicious defense, using suicide bombers and even children as human shields in an attempt to cling to one last scrap of land over which they could fly their black flag.

The fate of the last of the IS fighters, perhaps several hundred of the terror group’s most hardened and devoted followers, was not clear Saturday.

Observers on the ground said some appeared to have surrendered following the airstrikes that began Thursday night, targeting IS positions next to the Euphrates River and another sliver where IS fighters were backed up against a cliff overlooking the town.

By early Saturday, the airstrikes seemed to focus solely on the area by the cliff, where SDF and coalition officials said the IS fighters might have access to an extensive system of tunnels that helped to hide tens of thousands of people, the last of whom surrendered earlier in the week.

The first indications the fight against IS in Baghuz had ended came early Saturday, said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali, using Twitter to announce the “total elimination of so-called caliphate.”

Only about 12 hours earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump made a similar declaration, telling reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One that IS had been “100 percent defeated.”

But Trump’s announcement was quickly rejected by U.S. defense officials and the SDF, who said fighting had not yet ended and more airstrikes were being called in.

On Saturday, Trump again hailed the victory over the terror group in Baghuz.

“ISIS’s loss of territory is further evidence of its false narrative, which tries to legitimize a record of savagery that includes brutal executions, the exploitation of children as soldiers, and the sexual abuse and murder of women and children,” he said in a statement.

“While on occasion these cowards will resurface, they have lost all prestige and power,” he added. “They are losers and will always be losers.”

On Saturday, the SDF’s Kobani was careful to note that while IS’s caliphate had finally been brought down, the danger was far from over, with numerous IS “sleeper cells, which continue to present a great danger in our region and the wider world.”

Top U.S. defense and intelligence officials repeatedly have warned that the terror group had long been planning for the demise of its caliphate, and that a clandestine insurgency already had taken root.

“While this is a critical milestone in the fight against ISIS, we understand our work is far from complete,” acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a statement. “We will continue our work with the Global Coalition to deny ISIS safe haven anywhere in the world.”

One senior defense official warned IS still has, at minimum, “tens of thousands” of fighters and supporters across Syria and Iraq, and that much of the group’s senior leadership, including self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains at large.

FILE - Men suspected of being Islamic State fighters wait to be searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 27, 2019.
Men suspected of being Islamic State fighters wait to be searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 27, 2019. VOA

There also are concerns that IS has thousands more supporters and sympathizers — including upward of 60,000 people who have surrendered since the SDF and coalition launched their final assault last month.

So, too, there are concerns about more than 1,000 foreign fighters being held by the SDF, which has asked repeatedly that they be taken back and prosecuted by their home countries.

“These folks are unrepentant,” the official said. “The seeds for a future caliphate or certainly a persistent clandestine insurgency exist in these large numbers of people who … are looking to reposition for future perpetuation of ISIS in some form or fashion.”

Speaking Saturday at the victory ceremony near Baghuz, the U.S. adviser to the coalition pledged Washington would not abandon the SDF or its other partners, even though Trump has said most of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria will be leaving.

“We will continue to support the coalition’s operations in Syria to ensure this enduring defeat,” William Robak said. “We will do what is necessary in the region, including here in Syria and across the globe, to ensure the defeat of this threat.”

France and Britain also reaffirmed their commitment, though disagreements with the U.S. over the next steps remain.

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“The threat remains,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter. “The fight against terrorist groups must continue.”

“We will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people, our allies and partners from the threat Daesh poses,” said Prime Minister Theresa May, using an alternate acronym for IS. (VOA)