INTERNATIONAL ISLAMISM & JIHADIST TERRORISM
IN SOUTH ASIA: AN INDIAN PRE-9/11 PERSPECTIVE
ON THE WORLDWIDE ISLAMIC JIHAD
By B. Raman
Islam is a religion which, like other religions, preaches the virtues of mercy and compassion. However, the Islamists of Pakistan do not preach mercy and compassion. They preach hatred and violence, not only against non-Muslim "infidels," but also against other Muslims and Islamic nations, who, in their perception, do not adhere to the precepts of Islam, as interpreted by the Ulema, and do not recognise the Ulema as the ultimate repositories of wisdom, whether it be relating to the religion, politics, economy, social welfare or statecraft.
When Pakistan became independent in 1947, it had about half a dozen Islamic organisations dabbling in politics and in political crusades. Today, it has over 80. Not all Islamic organisations in Pakistan are extremist or terrorist. But all extremist and terrorist organisations sprouting out of Pakistan exploit Islam and calls to Islamic solidarity as motivating factors in their worldwide jihad.
For the Islamists, Islam is not just a religion through whose propagation people can be made more pious and virtuous. It is a weapon of coercion and intimidation, a weapon with which to subjugate the "infidels" and the non-practising Muslim states and to establish the dictatorship of the Ulema.
For the Islamists, Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political ideology, an economic theory; a treatise on statecraft, and a training manual for the jihad.
Until the 1980s, the security agencies of the democracies looked upon International Communism as one of the principal threats to national security and closely monitored its activities.
It was not because they viewed the Communist ideology as a possible threat to national security. Quite the contrary. As an ideology, Marxism-Leninism, or Communism, had a positive content. The poor and developing nations of the world and the under-privileged classes of societies were inspired by that content yesterday, and many of its aspects seem valid even today.
What the security agencies were worried about was International Communism, as preached from Moscow and Beijing, because of three pernicious aspects.
The same pernicious concepts are the intrinsic components of International Islamism, as propagated from Pakistani soil today:
What do these forces, which are in the forefront of the socalled jihad in Jammu-Kashmir, say? They propagate that:
Since the beginning of 1999, the importance of the Ummah possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) for using them in the Islamist jihad against the non-Muslim "infidels" has become an important item of the Islamists' debate, whether it be in inner-party deliberations, during religious discourses in the mosques and their madrasas, or in the conventions of their Ulema. The issue was first raised by Osama bin Laden in two interviews, and it has subsequently been picked up by others. During this debate, the Islamists have been saying that:
In the past, the Islamic parties were against the popularization of the study of science and technology, apparently lest independently-thinking minds resulting from such studies start questioning the logic and the validity of the teachings of the Ulema and their interpretation of the Holy Koran. Now, in a reversal of this policy, some of them have been calling for greater attention to a study of Information Technology (IT) and for the development of an Islamic IT capability in order to use it as one more weapon in their jihad world-wide.
The Islamists have been depicting intellectual property rights as a Western conspiracy to keep the Islamic world permanently backward in the digital world and, therefore, have been encouraging software piracy as another weapon in the Islamist jihad against the U.S.A.and as a means of rapidly bridging the IT divide between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds and between Pakistan and India.
Practically all the Islamic extremist and terrorist movements of today, whether they be in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), the Chechnya and Dagestan areas of Russia, the Xinjiang area of China, the the Indian state of Jammu-Kashmir or in the southern Philippines, were born out of ideas conceived in the battle-fields of Afghanistan of the 1980s and spread from the mosques and madrasas of Pakistan subsequently.
These movements could not have maintained the intensity and the ruthlessness of their activities without the support, instigation, and encouragement received by them from the soil of Pakistan and Afghanistan. And such support, instigation, and encouragement from Pakistani soil would not have been possible without the active involvement of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment in the case of the terrorist movements directed against India and without its complicity or acquiescence in the case of terrorism directed against other countries.
While one is not surprised by its active involvement in the terrorist movements directed against India, the tolerance by the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment of the operations of the movements directed against the other countries -- and particularly against Saudi Arabia and China -- defies logic and understanding.
The tolerance is partly a quid pro quo for the Islamists' role in assisting the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment in its efforts to keep the Indian security forces bleeding at no cost to Pakistan's Armed Forces and partly out of fear that any strong action against their activities directed against other countries might make them turn against the military-intelligence establishment.
It is a mistake to think that the terrorist movements directed against other countries could be attributed to the Taliban only. Today, Afghanistan is nothing but a veritable colony of Pakistan and the Taliban. Despite its retrograde concepts in matters such as women's rights, much to the embarrassment of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment, Afghanistan is nothing but an appendage of Pakistan.
The idea for the creation and use of the Taliban as an instrument to achieve Pakistan's strategic objectives in Afghanistan was the brainchild of Major Genweal (retired) Nasirullah Baber, the Interior Minister in the Cabinet of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, General Pervez Musharraf, who was the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) under her, and Lieutenantt General Mohammad Aziz, now one of the two Corps Commanders in Lahore, who was then the Deputy Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and in charge of the ISI's operations in India and Afghanistan.
It suits the present military regime in Islamabad that the international community blames the Taliban and not Pakistan for what is happening in countries other than India. The Pakistani regime should not be allowed to get away with this. The international community should hold Islamabad squarely responsible for what has been happening elsewhere too.
The Taliban's militia is officered, trained and guided by Pakistani ex-servicemen. The administration in the Taliban-controlled areas is largely run by retired Pakistani bureaucrats. The budget of the Taliban government, which has no source of revenue except heroin, is heavily subsidized by the Pakistani exchequer.
The control over Afghanistan, through the Taliban, not only serves the strategic objectives of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment; it also serves to keep the Pakistani state and economy afloat through the heroin money. Since General Musharraf seized power, there has been a dramatic decrease in the areas under opium cultivation and in the production of heroin in Pakistani territory. But, this has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the areas under opium cultivation and in heroin production in the Taliban-controlled Afghan territory.
What the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment has done is to transfer the opium-heroin assets of Pakistan to colonised Afghanistan so that Islamabad could avoid pressure from the U.S.A. on the narcotics count, while continuing to enjoy the benefit of the heroin dollars.
The entire opium cultivation-heroin extraction-smuggling of the product chain in Afghanistan is in Pakistani hands. The heroin dollars constitute the life-supporting system of the Pakistani state and economy and of the internationally-ostracised Taliban. They add to the jihad-making potential of International Islamism.
The extent of Pakistani involvement in the heroin trade would be evident from the following:
The solidarity of the extremists and terrorists of International Islamism has not been matched by a solidarity of the victim-states in confronting them effectively. There has been a mushrooming of intelligence-sharing mechanisms in the form of Joint Working Groups, the Shanghai Five, etc. But the ineffectiveness of the victim-states in dealing with this menace cannot be blamed only on inadequate intelligence.
A more important factor has been a lack of lucid analysis of the dimensions of the menace and the absence of a political will to strike at the source of the menace through individual and joint operations. Any such joint operation has to start with repeated and coordinated attacks on the opium fields and heroin refineries of Afghanistan in order to deny this important source of funds for the State of Pakistan, the Taliban, and International Islamic terrorists.
Such attacks might not mean the end of the terrorism, but could mark the beginning of the weakening of it.
The Middle East & the Arabs
The Far East & U.S. Foreign Policy
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
B. Raman is a retired Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India. Presently, he is Director of the Institute for
Topical Studies, Chennai, India. The foregoing presentation by Raman is based on a talk on Islamic terrorism, delivered by him, on
November 25, 2000, in New Delhi.
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