|HOME||September-October 2009 Featured Stories||Background Information||News On The Web|
Terrorism has been playing havoc with the civilized world now for several years. It has already taken a heavy toll of life and property in dozens of countries and threatens to undermine and destroy all civilizational norms, democratic institutions and pluralistic societies. Islamist terror derives sustenance from the controversial doctrine of jihad enunciated by Prophet Muhammad in the medieval times. The Jihadi fervour, especially among the young educated Muslims, has now been on a roll for several decades across the globe. What is more disturbing is that the malaise of Islamist terror is growing phenomenally. Unfortunately most of us have become helpless spectators to the frequent bouts of suicide bombings and senseless raw violence committed day in and day out by the purveyors of terror. Perhaps the civil society was never so helpless as it has been during the last ten years.
There were many imperatives for undertaking this study, but the major provocations were two. First, the September 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of New York which took a heavy toll of human life and shocked the civilized world. And second, the audacious attack on the Indian Parliament, barely three months later, on December 13, 2001, which had the potential of wiping out almost the entire political leadership of India. Those two events, frozen till date in my memory, awakened me to the rising sound of the footfalls of Islam's long march. In writing this tract I have made use of certain empirical conclusions arrived at by the well known author, Samuel Huntington, whose research on the clash of civilizations in early 1990s gave a wake up call to the civil society about the growing menace of Islamist terror. An earlier alert sounded by Sir Vidia Naipaul in early 1980s through his celebrated tome, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, somehow did not register much with the world community.
This book, though formally rooted in the present, is essentially about tomorrow and the day after. The intention is to forewarn the civil society about the long march of Islam which is tourbo driven by the increasing percentage of Muslim population in many countries and regions and their growing numbers worldwide. As explained in the two chapters on demographic developments, the population of Muslims is increasing at a fast pace, almost exponentially, both in the Islamic and non-Islamic countries. Our past experience show that any far reaching changes in the religious composition of a country have the potential of triggering major faultline conflicts, especially where the Muslims happen to be the community gaining in population. Because of Islam's divisive postulates of Dar-ul Islam (the land of peace where Islam rules) and the Dar-ul Harb (the land of conflict where Islamic rule needs to be established), all such demographic changes have the potential of destabilizing the concerned nation states due to the likely clamour by Muslims for secession from the parent country. Another important factor promoting the secessionist trait in the Muslim societies is the concept of 'ummah' which transcends the ideal of nation-state and coalesces the entire fraternity of Muslims worldwide into one single entity, "the Nation of Islam", as opposed to "the Nation of Kufr" which comprises the rest of the world, i.e., the infidels.
It has been experienced that as soon as the percentage of Muslims in any country reaches the benchmark of 30-40 per cent of the total population, frequent faultline conflicts start erupting which often culminate in violent secessionist wars. Some classical examples of this phenomenon are the partition of India in 1947, the Greco-Turkish stand off over Cyprus, the civil war in Lebanon, the separatist terrorism in Chechenya, Jammu & Kashmir and the Philippines and the ugly bloodbath in Kosovo and Bosnia. Historically Islam has always been a clash and conquest oriented religion, though the word 'Islam' does mean 'peace'. The concept of jihad which forms core of the Islamic faith lies at the root of the hostility of Muslim societies towards neighbouring civilizations.
The importance of jihad for Muslims has been succinctly summed up by the well known journalist and author, M.J. Akbar, who calls it as "the signature tune" of Islamic history. As claimed somewhat proudly by a Pakistani scholar Akbar S. Ahmed, in his book Islam under Siege, even today Muslims are at war with every civilization, every religion of the world. Possibly in the coming decades the Indian sub-continent and many other regions of the world could become major theatres of religion-based faultline conflicts.
The growing threat of Islamist terror has acquired a massive reach starting with the U.S.A. through the Europe (notably the Balkans), Chechenya (Russia), countries of the Maghreb and North Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (especially the state of Jammu and Kashmir), Bangladesh and Indonesia, extending right upto the Philippines. During the Afghan campaign of 2001 the U.S. forces had captured more than 760 jihadi warriors belonging to 42 countries of whom 600 are still held for interrogation at the Guantonamo Bay Naval Base camp. Evidently the contagion of Islamist terror has already spread to at least forty two countries, if not more.
Radical Islam has been on a long march since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Allama Iqbal, a celebrated Urdu poet and author of the popular song, "Saare jahan se accha Hindustan hamara", was the idealogue of Pakistan. He also played a major role in propagating the pan-Islamic movement in a bid to restore the lost grandeur of Islam through his soul-stirring magnum opus "Shikwa" (the Lament) and another poetic composition "Tarana", which is a jingoistic one, laying claim to China and India on behalf of Islam. Iqbal's Tarana has been very popular with the hordes of jihadis being trained in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and terror-training camps of Pakistan. It is also a compulsory 'must-read' gospel prescribed for the students of government schools upto class V in Pakistan who are also expected to give talks on the importance of "jihad" and understand the differences between the Muslims and the Hindus. Thus the government of Pakistani has been indoctrinating the young minds during the very first five years of schooling in the idealogy of jihad against the infidels. This devious mode of poisoning the young minds of Pakistani children, though widely known to well informed Indians, was finally confirmed in June 2003 in an article by the well known columnist of Pakistan, Ardeshir Cowasjee. That clearly shows the highest level of official priority accorded by the Pakistani rulers to the jihadist campaign against the infidels, especially the Hindus.
Iqbal's 'Shikwa' was translated into Arabic by Effendi and then into several other languages, including the Indonesian Bhasa, to spread the message of militant Islam. It has been winning converts to the Islamist cause now for almost fifty years. The state of Pakistan was born through enormous bloodletting in the sub-continent, virtually by a gory caesarean, resulting from the rabid call for 'jihad' given by the Muslim League in August 1946 through a printed proclamation, first circulated in Calcutta (now Kolkata, in West Bengal), a few days before the Direct Action Day.
The Pakistani army and the ISI have played a pivotal role in promoting radical Islam by training thousands of jihadis whom they started infiltrating into Kashmir as early as 1965. The general impression, created by the repetitive chants of political analysts, that Islamic terrorism is a post-Laden phenomenon, is altogether incorrect. The strategy to destabilise Kashmir for debilitating the Indian nation through terror tactics by training ten thousand jihadis had been discussed in a high level meeting of the Pakistani establishment in August 1953. A suggestion to this effect had been made by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas, a former President of the so-called Azad Kashmir. After skilful fine-tuning, the strategy was deftly implemented in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in mid 1960s, i.e., several years before bin Laden appeared on the Islamic screen. When Russia occupied Afghanistan in 1979, the same strategy was successfully sold by Pakistan to the Saudis and the CIA for winning the Afghan war. Several billion dollars were extracted from the CIA and the Saudi government for waging jihad against the Russians. And the strategy succeeded superbly, thanks to the massive funding by the CIA and the Saudis.
Osama bin Laden was essentially an occasion-produced leader, though he certainly possesses tremendous courage, charisma and organising ability. Yet without the total support of the ISI and Pakistani army he could not have achieved much certainly not the kind of success and the name which he now has. The terror tactics being used by the Islamist outfits bear the unmistakable stamp of the ISI and the Pakistani army who indoctrinated and trained jihadi hordes in hundreds of thousands. Charisma and the enormous zeal for waging holy war to spread the faith of Prophet Muhammad were bin Laden's main contribution to the long march of jihadist Islam.
The consequences of Islamic militancy for the civil society, especially the future generations, could be very damaging. It is infinitely more dangerous and deeply rooted than the Nazi idealogy or communism neither of which had the support of a religion based one billion strong following across the globe, nor could they promote the cult of mass murders and suicide bombings. The Nazis, even in their heydays, just could not promote the fanatical zeal of the kind displayed by the jihadist storm troopers.
Interestingly the two nation theory about which endless columns have been written by the Indian litterati and which is incessantly talked about in the drawing rooms of India's capital, New Delhi, was neither the invention of Mohammed Ali Jinnah nor Veer Savarkar. The concept of two separate nations has its roots in the rigid orthopraxy of Islam which bifurcates the world into two compartments: Dar-ul Islam (the land of peace) and Dar-ul Harb (the land of conflict) which are in perpetual conflict. Even Louis Farrakhan, that fiery leader of America's Black Muslim movement, calls it the 'Nation of Islam' an entity altogether different from the American nation. As pointed out by Pendrel Moon in his book, Divide and Quit, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University, was the first Indian to propound the thesis that the Hindus and the Muslims were two different nations due to which reason, after the departure of the British, India will have to be partitioned into two countries. Obviously for arriving at that conclusion Sir Syed Ahmed had taken inspiration from the divisive idealogy of Islamic scriptures wherein the concepts of Dar-ul Islam and Dar-ul Harb have been expounded with considerable clarity and finality. It has been the refrain of Muslim leadership worldwide now for over eighty years, right from Sir Syed Ahmed to Allama Iqbal to Rehmat Ali and onwards to Alija Izetbegovitch (the idealogue of the Muslim nation of Bosnia), that Muslims are a separate nation with a different cultural identity. Therefore they cannot live peaceably with other religious groups. This doctrinaire belief, widely prevalent among the Muslims of both Islamic and non-Islamic countries, is the single most important cause of the present civilizational conflict.
One of the most important events of the twentieth century was the stupendous increase in the population of Muslims worldwide, almost unprecedented in the history of mankind. And the increase is still continuing. Muslims are likely to constitute 30% or more of the total world population by the year 2025 A.D. A huge worldwide flow of youthful Muslims is likely to burst across the globe during the next 2 to 5 decades. In all probaility, this massive increase in Muslim numbers will continue into the next millenium. That could spell a defining increase in the population of Muslims worldwide. If this trend of sharp growth of Muslims continues into the next millenium, it will have the potential of changing the course of human history. The reasons for the exceptionally high fertility rates of Muslim societies are three: non-acceptance of the small family norm on religious grounds; non-emancipation of the Muslim women; and the scriptural sanction for multiple wives, though not more than four at one time. Intensive proselytizing activities of the Tablighi Jamaat are another important reason. Some examples of high Muslim fertility rates are: Yemen multiplying on a fertility rate of 7 children per woman, Saudi Arabia 6.15, Afghanistan 5.6, Nigeria 5.4, Pakistan 4.1 and so on. In sharp contrast, the fertility rates of European countries are very low, ranging between 1.20 and 1.50. Most of the European countries have a trend of declining populations. Russia is already trapped in a depopulation crisis comically dubbed as the "do it yourself genocide". The last thirty years have seen large scale influx of Muslims into a number of countries and regions, e.g., the U.S.A., the Europe and India (from Bangladesh) due to their sharply growing population. The situation has been compounded by the appalling indifference of many soft states, including India, to the growing avalanche of illegal Muslim immigrants.
Several regions of the world like the Middle East, the Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Russia are likely to face growing religion-based faultline conflicts because of the sharp upswing in Muslim populations and their influx into the neighbouring countries and regions in search of pastures greener. The population of almost every European country is in a declining mode resulting in rapidly declining numbers of indigenous Christian citizens. Even India has a declining fertility rate of 2.91, while Pakistan and Bangladesh have fertility rates of 4.1 and 3.2 respectively. The population growth rate of India is 1.47 percent as against 2.1 per cent of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Within the Indian Union the growth rate of Muslims is nearly one-and-a-half times higher than that of the Hindus, Sikhs and Budhists, counted together. There has been a silent invasion of Muslim migrants from the Islamic-majority countries and regions into non-Muslim countries during the last thirty years. With the increasing pressure of the sharp growth in the Muslim numbers, the population profiles of many countries, including India, are bound to undergo radical changes in the decades ahead. For that reason India and many other countries are likely to face more religion-based conflicts.
The Muslim societies and their radical leaders have become highly conscious of their higher population growth. The Islamists are jubilant on this score because they hope to overwhelm the world through sheer force of growing numbers in due course of time, may be within the next few decades. The massive growth in Muslim numbers in the Middle East and North African nations like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Sudan and countries of the Maghreb is already impacting Europe. It is visibly reflected in the growing presence of large numbers of Muslims in the Balkans, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and the U.K. Their dramatic growth can be seen all over the Europe. India, too, is being flooded by the growing influx of Bangla Muslims who have overwhelmed many districts of Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal and whose growing presence in large clusters is visible in scores of Indian cities.
Due to this unprecedented increase in the population of Muslims, both in the Muslim and non-Muslim countries, four regions of the world are under acute Islamist pressure: the West Asia where Israel has remained in constant embattlement with Palestinian terror groups, aided by neighbouring Muslim countries; the Balkans and the Western Europe where Christian population is in a tailspin and the heavy out-migration from North Africa and the Middle East towards Europe threatens to overwhelm the Christian Europe; the Indian sub-continent where the aggregate Muslim population of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India is likely to outgrow the total non-Muslim population of the Indian Republic by the year 2061, or even earlier; and the depopulating Russia which has a vulnerable soft underbelly dotted with a number of Muslim countries having higher population growth and where the militant Islam is in an ascendant mode.
In percentage terms the population of Hindus in India has been declining now continuously for the last 110 years. After partition of the country in 1947 this trend has gathered more speed. In percentage terms, during 1981-91 the Muslims grew at a rate nearly one-and-a half times compared to that of the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, counted together.
The growing population invariably needs extra space, additional economic opportunities for earning livelihood, greater say in the affairs of the concerned country and also in the world affairs. It generates religion-based tensions and creates new cultural schisms. The changed religious profile of a country's population has often led to eruption of civil strifes of the kind experienced in Lebanon in the Middle East, Kosovo and Bosnia in the Europe and Chechenya in Russia. The Muslim majority province of Chechenya has been causing serious concern to the Russian people because of its high population growth, while the rest of Russia is trapped in a freefall of population.
Within the Indian Republic the rising percentage of the Muslim population and a corresponding percentage decline in the aggregate population of the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists has the potential of escalating the religion-based faultline conflicts. The dice of demography is heavily loaded against the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists. At this rate, the Indian civilization could ultimately head for a Lebanon-like situation where Muslims outpaced Christian numbers within six to seven decades and Lebanon became a Muslim majority nation by 1970-75, amidst a raging civil war. A repeat of that kind of tragic scenario in India could take a little longer, but the contours of a latent threat are already visible. In Lebanon the Christians who formed a whopping 77% of Lebanon's population in the year 1900, were reduced to 35% by 1975. Similarly in the Balkans, Kosovo and Bosnia were converted into Muslim majority territories within a few decades. A fate similar to that of Bosnia might overtake Macedonia during the next three to four decades, or even earlier.
India, too, might face major religion-based faultline conflicts or civil war like conditions, triggered by demographic changes, say in another 30 to 40 years just as Lebanon and Bosnia had. Ultimately after one hundred years or so, even certain parts of India could follow the trend set by Lebanon, Kosovo and Bosnia. What should cause greater concern is that a massive upheaval resulting from the drastic demographic changes, could plunge the Indian nation into a civil strife of the kind witnessed in the Balkans where roughly 15 percent of the total population was displaced and forced to move out to save their lives. Pushed to the wall by climactic demographic changes India could even break up into a number of States in accordance with the changed religious configuration of different areas. We have seen how the Muslim state of Bosnia was born in the Balkans after a massive bloodbath. In India the presence of three crore Bangla Muslims and their progeny could act as a trigger for the balkanization of the country, perhaps starting with certain districts of Assam and West Bengal.
Historically Muslim populations have a high propensity to secede from their parent countries. It springs from the concept of ummah which transcends the ideal of nation-state. As soon as the percentage of Muslims reaches the benchmark of 30 to 40 percent in any country, large scale faultline conflicts start erupting and the battle cry of jihad is raised which often results in violent secessionist wars. Some classic examples of this phenomenon are the partition of India in 1947, the Greco-Turkish dispute over Cyprus, the civil war in Lebanon, the separatist insurgency in Chechenya and the Philippines, and the bloody civil strife in Kosovo and Bosnia. More recently violent jihadist campaigns have erupted in Thailand and Nigeria, too.
Within the next few decades there could be a further increase in faultline conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims in India. The intensity of such religion-based clashes could be very high because of the long history of persecution suffered by the Hindus during the long Muslim rule. As and when the Muslim percentage in certain regions or States of India approaches the benchmark of 30-40 percent, the problem could become more acute. Again, say around 2040 or 2050 A.D., when combined population of the Hindus and Muslims in the sub-continent could be more than 2.5 billions, the sheer size of the absolute numbers of the two communities getting involved in a civil strife could spell a human disaster of unimagineable magnitude. That grim possibility should be a cause for concern at least to the saner leadership of the two communities.
Islamists have already declared jihad against the U.S.A., Israel and India since 1998 and these three nations are on their hit list. Powered by the concept of 'ummah', today Islam is the biggest union of nearly 60 countries comprising almost 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. Islam being a religion demanding transnational loyalty, even beyond allegiance to the motherland, the Islamists are able to enlist support for their cause across the globe. The Islamic 'ummah' is like a multinational corporation, flush with petro funds, 57 member countries and more than 1.2 billion members call them shareholders, if you will. The Muslims are not bound by the concept of loyalty to their motherland. Their only loyalty is to their religion and 'ummah', i.e.,to their co-religionists anywhere in the world. That being the reality no single country can face the Islamist terror effectively. In medieval times only a coalition of Christian kings could prevent the jihadi warriors of Islam from overrunning the Europe. The Islamic armies were routed convincingly in 732 A.D. in the battle of Tours-Poitiers (France) and in 1683 at Vienna (Austria), the latter being the seat of the rich and powerful Hapsburg rulers. In sharp contrast, the Persian civilization was decimated and Hinduism badly battered and bruised because neither the Persians nor Hindus could understand the unique bonding of ummah and the resolve of jihadi warriors to destroy all neighbouring civilizations.
By undertaking this study I have tried to project the hidden threat which is likely to confront the Indian people tomorrow and the day after. It is time for the national leadership to wake up to the twin threats of the violent terrorism of radical Islam reflected in its long march and the likely adverse consequences of the dynamics of demography on the future of Indian nation. There is a prima facie need for evolving a pragmatic population policy which should be reviewed every five years by taking into account the manpower needs of the defence services, the national targets of economic growth and the need to meet any adverse geopolitical developments. The Indian people must avoid getting trapped in the Russian-style "do it yourself genocide" crisis.
Unlike dictatorships, democracies are governed by the numbers game called elections, based on universal franchise the principle of one-person-one-vote. If the present demographic trends continue, there might be large scale religion-based faultline conflicts in India, and perhaps in the entire sub-continent within the next three to four decades. The hostility between the two major communities is already growing at a fast clip and communal clashes are increasing.
As spelt out by Bernard Lewis, once Islam becomes a majority
religion in any country that nation is likely to be taken over by the
radical Islamists. Votes may be cast and counted only once. Thereafter
democracy might just disappear and an Islamic caliphate or
dictatorship established, just like most other Islamic countries.
There is no tradition of democracy in Muslim majority countries
perhaps there could never be unless Islam sheds its dogmas and
intolerance. Thus the danger to the future of Indian democracy and our
pluralistic secular order could be both immense and imminent.
"It is the day of the bad boys running wild".
A line from the Rockers Scorpion.
The world is in turmoil. After America's two successive high voltage military campaigns against Afghanistan and Iraq, both Muslim countries, in a bold bid to stem the rising tide of Islamic militancy, there is rampant rage across the Islamic street. The October 2001 war against the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, code named 'Operation Enduring Freedom' was a direct consequence of the Al Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon headquarters in the U.S.A. on September 11, 2001. However, the attack on Iraq was believed to have been occasioned by the widespread fear that Iraq's Baathist ruler, Saddam Hussein, was producing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. But the attack on Iraq, if seen in the backdrop of the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia, may be viewed as part of a grand strategy evolved by the ascendant policy-making group of neo-conservatives to protect America's global interests. And if we add to these millitary campaigns of considerable geo-political significance, the recent warnings given by the U.S. establishment to Iran to desist from following its nuclear programme, we might be able to assess the high degree of angst among Islamic nations against America and the world coalition against terror. Should the spat between the U.S.A. and the fundamentalist Shia regime in Iran result in another armed conflict in future, it will cause a huge groundswell of hostility against the West in the Islamic world. Post September 11, 2001, the famously controversial analysis of the ongoing faultline conflicts by the Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, in his acclaimed book Clash Of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has drawn compelling attention of political scientists, intellectuals and scholars across the world to the growing threat of Islamist terrorism. Like a catastrophe foretold, slowly but surely, the prophesy made by Huntington appears to be coming true. Huntington has classified the conflicts facing the mankind broadly under four categories, namely
(ii) the conflicts between nation-states which started occurring after the French Revolution, when the concept of nation-state became universally popular;
(iii) conflicts between competing idealogies like communism, fascism, democratic liberalism, etc., which were caused by desire of the respective protagonists to improve their ideological base, as happened during the times of cold war; and
(iv) the conflicts between civilizations which are likely to increase in frequency and would continue to dominate the geo-political scene in the coming years.
According to Huntington during the cold war era nations or countries were described largely in terms of their political, economic, and technological progress. The standard terminology used for classification was the developed or developing countries or the first, second and third world countries. He feels that in today's world, nations should be classified in terms of their culture and civilization because these two components of our social milieu have always played an important role in the history and progress of mankind. Huntington argues that the western civilization, which has been dominating the modern world, has been losing its prime postion after the end of the cold war era and lately the centre of gravity has been shifting in favour of non-Western civilizations. This change has altered the political equations due to which non-western civilizations, which had earlier been subjugated by the western regimes, have become more active and might even become dominant players in the foreseeable future. Every civilization is based on certain cultural values, religion, language, history, customs, social institutions plus certain objective factors, e.g., the manner in which the people belonging to that civilization define themselves, or relate to their reference group. Civilization and culture both refer to the overall way of life of a people, and a civilization is a culture writ large.(1)
Throughout the history of mankind religion has been a defining characteristic of all civilizations. It has always been an important component of every culture. In a nutshell, every civilization is like a broad stream of homogenous cultural entity with which a group of people identify themselves. Virtually all the major civilizations in the world in the twentieth century either have existed for a millenium or, as with Latin America, are the immediate offspring of another long-lived civilization. Huntington emphasizes that while civilizations endure, they also evolve. By virtue of being dynamic, they rise and fall and merge and divide. Civilizations also disappear and get buried in the sands of time. At present, broadly speaking, there are eight major civilizations in the world. Huntington has listed these as the Western, the Slavic, the Sinic (i.e., the Sino-Confucian), the Japanese, the Hindu, the Latin American, the Islamic, and the African. He does not include the Jewish civilization in this list, because in terms of numbers, Judaism is not a major civilzation although with the creation of Israel, Jews have acquired all necessary features of a civilization: religion, language, customs, literature, institutions, and a territorial and political home.(2) But Huntington's premise to overlook the Jewish civilization because of their small numbers is somewhat flawed and unacceptable. It would be most unfair to exclude Judaism from the list of contemporary civilizations if we consider the excellence achieved by the Jews in the fields of science, arts and culture throughout history and their enormous contribution to the world civilization. In terms of antiquity, Judaism is older both to Christianity and Islam and looking at the dour manner in which Israel has defended itself against terror attacks of Palestinian groups, backed by radical Islam, shows that it cannot be ignored or written off. Despite long spells of persecution, the Jewish civilization has displayed high visibility and a strong survival instinct throughout history. It is well known that Jews have bagged a very large number of Nobel prizes in science, arts and literature and achieved many other intellectual distinctions quite disproportionately in excess of the percentage of their population numbers.
On the basis of the recent world history of wars and violent clashes, which he calls 'faultline conflicts', Huntington zeroes on the Islam as the most militant and clash-prone civilization. In reaching this conclusion he has cited the examples of the Afghan and Gulf wars, the recent Bosnian war between the Serbs and the Muslims, the long festering conflict between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus and several religious clashes between the sub-nation states of the former U.S.S.R. many of which are now independent countries. If one looks at the long list of the current 'faultline conflicts', a new terminology used by Huntington, starting from the Balkans in the Europe and then running through North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South East Asia and thence to the South Pacific, one does realize that a number of Islamic nations are caught in the throes of violent clashes and are engaged in wars with their neighbouring civilizations. And that scenario reinforces Huntington's analysis. The historical evolution of the faultline conflicts between the Islamic and the Christian civilizations could be traced to the attempts of Islam in the eighth century to conquer Europe. That made the European kings close their ranks and culminated in the launching of a series of crusades by the Christian Europe in the eleventh century to wrest back the holy city of Jerusalem. It was the beginning of the centuries old faultline wars between the two civilizations.
On the basis of several empirical studies Huntington has identified Islamic civilization to be the most violence-prone. He concludes that as a rule, Islamic societies have a relatively higher propensity to take recourse to violence for solving the crisis and conflict situations facing them. Between 1928 and 1979, Muslim countries used violence to resolve their problems in 76 instances of crises out of a total of 142 in which they were involved. In almost fifty percent cases violence was the primary method of dealing with the crises, and in 41 percent instances they resorted to full scale war.(3) As a rule Muslim societies are more militarized, both in terms of hardware and manpower, than other societies. Muslim bellicosity and violence are facts of late twentieth century which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny(4).
In support of his conclusions Huntington has cited six examples where Islamic countries have been involved in civilizational clashes, referred to by him as faultline wars, with their neighbours. These were the Afghan war, the Gulf war, the war between the Serbs and the Albanians, the confrontation between Turkey and Greece, religion-based wars and clashes in the former U.S.S.R. and the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Islam has been at war in each one of these conflicts. No other societal group or civilization has a comparable record of being involved in so many faultline clashes. Interestingly, a well known Pakistani scholar, Akbar S. Ahmed, now based in America, has referred to the fact of Islam being in simultaneous confrontation with all major religions of the world as a unique event. He has alluded to this all round confrontation as if it were a matter of great pride.(5)
One might find fault with Huntington's thesis here and there. Yet there is a lot of truth in his assertions. This is also an incontrovertible truth that today worldwide ninety-five percent of the gun-totting terrorists and almost ninety-nine percent of suicide bombers are Muslims. Several political analysts and columnists have been arguing that Muslims are angry because they have some genuine grievances which need to be addressed, especially the demand for a Palestinian state. The Pakistani President, General Musharraf, has also been singing the same tune when he says that the real causes of terrorism like the Palestinian and Kashmir issues should be resolved in order to redress the grievances of Muslims; only then terrorism can be countered. That is a lame excuse.
There are some very pertinent questions which need to be answered by those holding brief for terrorism. Are Muslims the only community in this wicked, wide, world who have grievances which need immediate redressal? What about the long lists of grievances of the people belonging to other faiths? Is it that Muslims have an a priori claim for grievance redressal over similar claims of other groups? Many communities have long standing grievances about the atrocities committed by Muslim countries and Islamist groups, too. How about redressal of the grievances of the Christian minority in Indonesia where thousands were killed in Mulukus and Sulawesi islands by Laskar Jihad and other radical outfits of Muslims? Why not address the grievances of the Christians of Pakistan? Just look at the squeeze on the hapless Maronite Christians of Lebanon who in the year 1900 formed approximately 77 per cent of Lebanon's population but now stand reduced to less than 30 percent, after remaining under siege by the Islamists for decades. They were in a state of incessant embattlement from 1970 to 1990 during which period they suffered heavily. Just now the Christians have practically no say in the governance of Lebanon.
Again no one has been able to prevent the ongoing decades old ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Jammu & Kashmir or redress their grievances. Similar ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan went on for several years till most Hindus were thrown out of that country or forced to convert to Islam. And spare a thought for the hapless Hindus and Buddhist Chakmas of Bangladesh who have been repetitively subjected to gross atrocities by militant Muslim outfits with open connivance of the Islamic government and on whose womenfolk unspeakable indignities were heaped, as vividly described by that brave Muslim woman writer, Taslima Nasreen, in her famous book "Lajja" (i.e., 'Shame'). She was declared an apostate and faces death on return to her motherland. Hundreds of thousand Hindus and Chakmas have been driven out from Bangladesh, but no one cares for them. How is the plight of Bangladeshi Hindus less worthy of attention than that of the Palestinians or Chechens?
Then there is a litany of ghastly profanities committed by the Taliban and the Al Qaeda against innocent men and women, including the repulsive manner in which they destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas which hurt the religious susceptibilities of more than one billion Buddhists and Hindus across the globe. One more question, an important one: are the grievances of the Muslims of Palestine, Bosnia, Chechenya, Kashmir and Philippines really so huge as the length and breadth of the entire earth and so overwhelming as to warrant the unleashing of multiple terrorist attacks from New York to New Delhi and onwards to Indonesia and the Philippines? Many communities and groups have much bigger and more serious problems. Perhaps the real problem is not about redressal of the grievances of the Muslims, e.g. in Palestine or Chechenya. It is with the mindset of radical Islamists who want to overrun the globe by undermining and overturning the soft states by recourse to bombings and killings, while raising the battle cry of jihad at the drop of a hat in a bid to hold the civil society to ransom. Huntington has referred to it as the ' bellicosity' of Islam.
Every community has its long list of woes and grievances. But Muslims seem to be the only group which takes recourse to violent means for redressal of theirs. This attitude has given rise to serious security concerns about the safety of the civil society in several countries. Radical Islam is now an international phenomenon for which reason it ought to be called "international Islamist terrorism" a comprehensive expression which connotes its global dimensions. Although most world leaders, ranging from George Bush, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin to our own Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, have been proclaiming that the war against "terror" has nothing to do with Islam, the truth is that militant Islamists worldwide have become the torch bearers of jihadi terrorism largely due to the machinations of the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan (ISI) and Osama bin Laden. For obvious reasons the denials of non-Muslim political leaders, mostly members of the world coalition against terror, about complicity of Islamists in terrorist activities have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Their soft pedalling of the issue of association of Islam with the terror trail across the world is nothing more than mere posturing, some kind of half hearted attempts at staying on a politically correct course. Perhaps such denials are quite necessary, nay eminently desirable, to prevent the possibility of racist reprisals against innocent Muslim residents of several western countries as well as those living under the democratic and secular political dispensations of Asia. More importantly it is equally desirable for the secular nations not to alienate their innocent peace-loving Muslim populations from the mainstream. These two important consideration appear to have weighed heavily with the Indian political leadership, too, because Muslims constitute a sizeable proportion of India's population.
But credit must be given to Salman Rushdie, that fiery literatteur, for speaking out truth, when he questioned: "This isn't about Islam." He criticised the world's leaders for repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West and partly to ensure that the efforts of America to maintain its coalition against terror was not impaired by linking Islam with terrorism in any way.(6) Rushdie candidly pointed out that the trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. "If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghnistan frontier answering some mullah's call for jehad?" He further asked that how was it that the war's first British casualties were three Muslims who died fighting on the Taliban side? He even questioned the bonafides of the Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan who wanted that the evidence of Al Qaeda's guilt should be shown while turning a deaf ear to the self-incriminating warning of Al Qaeda's spokesman to Muslims in the West not to live or work in tall buildings because there will be "a rain of aircraft from the skies".(7) Rushdie had no hesitation in admitting that this paranoid Islam which blames outsiders, "infidels," for all the ills of Islamic societies and whose proposed remedy is to close all Muslim societies to modernity, is presently the fastest growing version of Islam in the world. Rushdie is honest, being an intellectual and a literatteur. But then politicians and intellectuals have always been poles apart. The ground reality is that today's international terrorism, grandly proclaimed as jihad, or "holy war", launched in 1998 against 'infidels' by bin Laden and his followers, and adroitly engineered by the Pakistani establishment, has become the turbo engine of the fast expanding Islamic militancy. Lately the 'universal civilization', the more appropriate term used by Sir Vidia Naipaul to describe the western civilisation, has been shaken by the daring and determination of Islamist terrorist groups to launch attacks of vicious intensity across the globe, ranging from the destruction of twin towers of New York to the terrible attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi and from bloody mayhem in a Moscow theatre and killings in Grozny in Chechenya to Kuta beach in Bali in October 2002 and on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in August 2003 plus the frequent bombings in the far away Philippines. The August 2003 attack on J.W. Marriot, Jakarta, a prestigious hotel run by Americans, appeared to be directly aimed at the U.S. tourists and western clientele who prefer staying there. This attack came barely one month after the U.S. embassy held its July 4 Independence Day bash in this very hotel.
On August 13, 2003, just eight days after the attack on Hotel Marriott, the American Ambassador summoned a meeting of American residents in Jakarta to caution them about the possibility of future terrorist attacks. "The unprecedented decision to hold this town meeting at the embassy is based on our assesment that it is currently the most secure environment in Jakarta to hold a large gathering of American citizens," Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce said in his message announcing the Meeting.(8) He told the Americans that if they left the meeting a little more concerned, even more frightened, then it meant that they got the message which he wanted to convey. There was a determined group in Indonesia with access to bomb-making material. Therefore it was safe to presume that there will probably be more terrorist attempts.(9) It was no pure coincidence that the bombing was staged when the high-profile criminal trial of Islamic militants involved in the October 2002 Bali bomb blast came up for hearing, including that of Abu Bakr Bashir, a powerful leader of Jemmah Islamiah. Perhaps the blast was organised by design on that specific day. The Marriott Hotel terrorist attack was a sort of defiance, or call it a challenge to the U.S. by the Islamist warriors a grim reminder that they were alive and kicking. Interestingly just a week earlier Washington had issued an alert saying that the terrorists were planning a new hijacking or suicide bombing in America or somewhere abroad. After Pakistan, Indonesia seems to be emerging as another hotspot of terror proliferation.One reason could be that like Pakistan, Indonesia too has an abnormally large number of Islamic seminaries, called madarasas, where hatred against infidels is preached and the Islamic doctrine of jihad openly propagated among Muslim youth.
The phenomenon of indoctrinating the youth in jihadi ideology was first started in Pakistan in the fifties of the last century primarily to target the so-called Hindu India by means of jihadist campaigns, but soon it spread worldwide, both in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, due to the enormous funds provided by the petro-dollar rich Saudi Sheikhdoms to advance the cause of pan-Islamism. And lo! and behold whenever and wherever a terror crime takes place, Pakistan's role comes up first and foremost, almost without fail! According to the Indonesian Defence Minister the perpetrators of the deadly car bombing at Jakarta's Marriot Hotel had been trained with the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan; he felt that there were many more terrorists in the country. "Each one of them has special abilities received from training in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Matori Abdul Djalil claimed. He said that the bombers were linked to a group of people arrested last month in Semarang and alleged to be members of the Al Qaida linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.(10) Surely most of the pan-Islamic terrorist groups operating worldwide have strong links with radical Islamic outfits of Pakistan.
It is well known that the ISI of Pakistan, acting in close collaboration with the Al Qaeda, was the major sponsor of Islamic militancy and terror in different parts of the world. The recent testimony of John S. Pistole, Deputy Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), before a Senate panel in the last week of July 2003 confirming the eventual tracing of the 9/11 terror attacks to Al Qaeda accounts in Pakistan has further reinforced the mounting evidence of Pakistan's complicity in promoting the cause of radical Islam. Presently America, Israel and the 'Hindu India' are the three main countries on the hit list of the Islamist oufits. Unfortunately it took the western nations quite sometime, almost three decades, plus the shocking experience of the Black Tuesday, to comprehend that all terrorist organisations operating against India, more specifically in Jammu & Kashmir, had been openly nurtured, trained and armed by Pakistan. For instance, the Muttahida (United) Jihad Council, a conglomerate of 17 Pakistan-based terrorist outfits has been operating with impunity in Kashmir and some other parts of India from its bases in Pakistan, and Pak-occupied Kashmir. Ever since the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, Pakistan has been targeting India primarily due to their visceral hatred of the Hindus.
After the emergence of bin Laden as a role model for Muslims, the virulent virus of Islamist terror, spawned by the Pakistani establishment and the Saudis, captured the imagination of Muslim youths in a number of countries. No wonder today the world stands at the cross roads of mankind's history although not many nations, nor world leaders were able to comprehend what civilizational values were at stake at this critical juncture, till Samuel Huntington gave a wake up call to the world. Earlier in 1979-80, V. S. Naipaul had sounded an alert when he wrote about the growing virus of Islamic fundamentalism in his book, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey. Unfortunately that did not register with the world community and intellegentsia certainly not in India. The vast geographical span and the increasing frequency of the depredations of Islamist militants, actively backed by more than one hundred thirty five organisations of radical Islam across the globe, and covertly supported by Pakistani and Saudi regimes, have recorded an exponential growth in recent years. Just now at least 135 radical Islamic outfits, enumerated in Appendix-I, straddle dozens of countries across the globe.The menace is no longer limited to any specific country or geographical region. The jihadi movement has won wide support in dozens of Muslim countries, and on a conservative count, the killer contagion has already struck roots in at least forty-two countries or perhaps more. Some analysts place the figure as high as eighty, including both Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
Systematic use of violence to create a climate of fear among civillian population has been a regular feature of mankind's history, especially in the twentieth century which saw the rise of several terrorist idealogies in various parts of world. The rise in terror activities has been facilitated by rapid advancements in science and technology and sophistication of modern weapons. But there is a qualitative difference in the objectives, methodology and reach of the terrorist acitivities of Islamists and those of the country-specific radical groups whose activities are limited in terms of their goals, ambitions and geographical reach. For instance, the Irish Republican Army, which is confined to Northern Ireland, or the Basque insurgency limited to Spain, or the leftists groups like Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) in Columbia, the Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger Elam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, or the Maoists in Nepal. They are all localized terrorist groups with no global ambitions or extended reach. The ambition of Islamist terrorists, who have acquired global reach, belongs to an altogether different genre. They have displayed tremendous organisational skills, rare unity, enormous raw courage and have set before themselves the ideal of restoring through jihad the old grandeur of Islam, reminiscent of the medieval times. In terms of sophisticated operational network, trans-continental geographical spread, financial clout and availability of committed manpower imbued with ruthless militancy, the radical Islam is miles ahead of all other terrorists groups put together, or any other comparable radical international movement in modern times.
The threat posed by its long reach and proven capacity for unremitting violence through organised terrorism is far greater than that posed in the last century by the Nazis under Hitler or for that matter, even by the erstwhile communist movement which had led to major upheavals in several parts of the world during the cold war. Today thanks to the vast network of Jihadi manufactories in Pakistan there are hundreds of thousand jihadi warriors spread all over the world, across many continents. It is no surprise that the West perceives Islamic terrorism to be as great a threat as communism was 50 years ago. No political analyst can differ with the former North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Willy Claes and the former chief of British MI 5, Stella Remington, who had "called radical Islam as the geopolitical menace of the future."(11) The fascist doctrine of Nazi ideology, though dangerously ruthless, remained mostly confined to Germany, Italy and a major part of the Europe which Hitler was able to over-run. Although German and Italian troops did make massive forays into North Africa, their reach could never extend to Asia or America. Hitler launched a massive attack on the Soviet Russia in a bold bid to enslave that huge country but got bogged down at Stalingrad and was unable to subjugate the Russian people. Undoubtedly the Nazi storm troopers of Hitler were as determined and ruthless as today's Islamists are but the geographical reach of the Nazi campaign was only a fraction of the sweep of today's Islamists. Though Hitler's army did manage to cross the Mediteranean and fought savage wars in the desert of North Africa, they were not allowed by the Allies to overrun Egypt, nor seize the Suez canal.
The ideology of Nazis could not grow across the world in the manner in which the radical Islam has. The creed of communism was much more widespread and popular especially in poverty-stricken societies, but relied heavily on the trade union movement in most countries, and peasant struggle in China. Neither the Nazi ideology, nor the Communist campaigns in different countries, were able to take the dangerous route of serial terror attacks on innocent civillians for achieving their goals in the manner in which the Islam's soldiers are doing today. There is, however, an uncanny resemblance between the beliefs and the thought process of Nazis and the warriors of Islam. Both professed and preached that they were a superior people, a group which was a cut above the rest and had a right to impose their ideology on lesser mortals, the hoi polloi of the world. The Nazis unabashedly claimed that the blue-eyed Aryan race was the fountain-head of all knowledge and power owing to which they were destined to rule the world. The Islamic theologians go one step further and proclaim that the faith of prophet Muhammad is the only genuine religion which could provide salvation to mankind. They believe that Muslims have both the divine right and a holy obligation to convert the entire world to Islam.The Islamists have a world view of re-ordering the entire world into Dar-ul-Islam. According to their philosophy the goal of converting every 'kafir' to Islam must be achieved, if necessary by violence, through jihad. It may be recalled that neither the Nazis nor communists were able to develop the kind of global culture of Klashnikov, RDX and suicide bombings which the Islamist terrorists have successfully promoted. To that extent the Islamist terror is much more deep rooted and widespread and far more deadly and dangerous than the Nazi threat or the communist movement of the twentieth century.
Perhaps the combined threat of the Nazis and the communist movement could not have matched the ferocity and determination of today's terror. The rapid advance of the pan-Islamic movement after the creation of Pakistan provided a strong motivation to growth of militant Islam, while the ISI and the Pakistani establishment managed to put together a solid infra-structure and trained committed manpower for carrying out terror attacks. At the right moment Osama bin Laden appeared on the scene to provide the necessary leadership.That is how the menace of international Islamist terror was born. This international terrorism is sustained by a vast network of jihadi cells and action stations functioning in scores of countries. Thanks to the nefarious game-plan of the ISI, funded by the Saudis, the radical Islam has been on a roll for several decades and is now well entrenched worldwide. The civil society had never witnessed the ugly spectacle of daily bombings and senseless killings on such large scale. We have become accustomed to brutal killings, including those of children, and mass destruction on day to day basis, whether it is in the West Asia, Chechenya, Indonesia or Kashmir. The extremist ideology has poisoned the minds of young Muslims with such intense hostility against the so-called infidels that even moderate Muslim regimes find it difficult to rein them.
The Islamist terrorists are already using all kinds of deadly strategies against the target-civilizations and countries. There is little doubt that they will not hesitate to use deadly non-conventional weapons like the nuclear devices and other Weapons of Mass Destruction, whenever they come to possess them. Not long ago a number of anthrax-laden letters were sent through the American postal system but the origin of that mischief could not be traced. It is believed that at least one or two of those anthrax letters were mailed from the area where Mohammed Atta, the key suicide bomber of September 11, 2001, had resided. The very fact that Islamist terrorists like Mohammed Atta, who are new role models for many Muslim youths, had a religious belief that by killing innocent non-Muslims he was carrying out the command of Allah, places them in a category altogether different from the Nazis or the communists. Apparently moderate Muslims appear to have lost both their voice and initiative; perhaps they never had either. It looks as though they never counted for anything in Islamic societies. A moderate Muslim remains a non entity. This impression is reinforced by the recent events in France which showed how in a liberal socialist country the leadership of the Muslim community has passed into the hands of radicals. The French society has a tradition of treating every community and ethnic group in a just and fair manner. A strong belief in democracy, human rights, respect of individual freedom, gender equality, freedom of speech, expression and worship and equality of opportunity are inviolable aspects of the French political system. But the precipitate growth in Muslim population, estimated to be between 3 to 5 million, in recent times has stirred a major debate on whether or not Muslims can be integrated into the liberal, Republican mainstream of France.(12) Many French thinkers believe that Islam is intrinsically hostile to democracy, human rights, women, to freedom of expression and intolerant of non-believers and dissidents within its own ranks. The deep commitment of Muslims to the ummah or the unique indivisible community of believers is also considered to be incompatible with the modern idea of a nation state. "With more and more young, educated, French speaking Muslims lending a sympathetic ear to radical Islamic preachers, fears have been expressed that France's republican tradition can no longer be sustained."(13)
Another school of thought, however, contends, that Muslims can and do come to terms with these traditions as is evident from the example of Tunisia's Muslim community. They assert that while Quran cannot be tampered with, the sharia and other theological texts should be seen in their historical contexts. These can be interpreted in a manner which should enable Muslims to fully adhere to the humanitarian demands of the modern world. But the reformists were soon proved wrong. In April 2003 the first ever elections were held for the general assembly and the central committee of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, set up on the lines of similar bodies for the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities. It was hoped that the representative body of French Muslims will be persuaded to function in accordance with the country's liberal republican ethos. That turned out to be mere wishful thinking because soon, much to the chagrin of the secularists, it was seen that the hardliners, some of them affiliated to the fanatic Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections in the new body hands down.(14)
Our own experience in India has been quite similar to the French episode. Post-independence leadership of the Muslim community in India has always remained in the hands of the fundamentalist radical elements just as it was during the pre-partition days! The radical Muslim groups of India saw to it that Rushdie's book,Satanic Verses, was banned. In another case, that of famous Shah Bano, they launched a campaign to ensure that the verdict of the Supreme Court was overturned through a new legislation. The Muslims of India have been opposing the singing in schools of Vande Matram, a vintage patriotic song, which was the heartbeat of the independence movement. They had opposed it during pre-partition days and continue to do so even in independent India. These facts add another complex dimension to the divisive politics of India and the threat of Islamist terror. We see almost every day, in the visual and print media, the daily toll of killings and bombings staged by terrorists either in Jammu & Kashmir or Maharashtra or Gujarat or in and around Delhi itself. A daily dose of terror-laden news is now a regular feature of every Indian's humdrum existence. The communal politics and frequent terror strikes have provided a quantum jump to communal tensions and accelerated polarisation between the Hindus and the Muslims.
As mentioned earlier, India has been a major target of terrorist outfits, launched at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan, which played a leadership role in promoting pan-Islamic movement in most parts of the world. As a direct result of their recourse to terror tactics, there has been a complete ethnic cleansing in the Kashmir valley by terrorising Hindu minority in flagrant violation of human rights supposed to be upheld by the United Nations. More than three hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus have been driven out of the valley by now. On a rough estimate during the last three decades, the ISI and Pakistani army have recruited, trained and equipped approximately three to four hundred thousand militant youths, mostly Pakistanis, Arabs and Afghans, albeit with a liberal sprinkling of thousands of volunteers belonging to more than two dozen countries including the U.K. and Bosnia in Europe, Algeria, Somalia and Sudan in Africa and half a dozen countries of Asia, going right up to Sulu and Mindnao islands in the far away Philippines. Initially quite a few thousand jihadis had been trained by the ISI in in early 1960s to fight in Kashmir. On the basis of that experience massive numbers were trained in 1970s and 1980s for waging holy war against Russian occupation of Afghanistan with the financial and tactical support provided by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Saudis. Later on many of them were used by the ISI for supplementing the insurgents and terror groups already infiltrated into the State of Jammu & Kashmir since 1960s. But due to sheer over production of militants in the terror camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and their burgeoning zeal for jihad, from 1990s onwards a large number of these battle-hardened holy warriors were directed to participate in the campaigns launched in various parts of the globe. As explained by a Pakistani political analyst, Mohammed Amir Rana, in his investigative treatise 'Jihad-e-Kashmir and Afghanistan' (published in Urdu by Masha'l Books, Lahore), the jihadi culture in Pakistan was inspired by the Iranian Revolution spearheaded by Ayatollah Khomeini. Soon it struck deep roots mainly due to the collaboration between the ISI and the CIA.
America invested huge resources in the Islamic war against Russian occupation of Afghanistan.(15) In the summer of 1979, the U.S. President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzerzinski, made Carter sign a secret directive for extending covert aid of $500 million to fund the activities of Muslim mujahideens for throwing out the Russians from Afghanistan for freeing the Middle East of all communist influence. With this money a secret operation code-named "Operation Cyclone" was planned entailing an expense of $4 billion,a part of which was used by the ISI for establishing a chain of madarasas in Pakistan. Before 1980 the big madarasas in Pakistan numbered 700 which increased at the rate of 3 per cent per year. "This rate galloped to a whopping 136 per cent in 1986. And now the number of big madarasas (i.e. madarasas that give degrees of M.A. & Ph.D) is 7,000." (16) According to Rana the zealots of the Islamic groups from Pakistan were also sent to the training camps of the CIA in Virginia where they learnt the first lessons in terrorism. That is how the future members of Al Qaeda were born. Some youths were imparted training in terrorism in the Brooklyn Islamic School. In Pakistan they were trained by the officers of the British MI 6 and the ISI. Osama bin Laden's personal wealth and his charismatic leadership provided greater extremist orientation to the jihadi movement and the Talibans added their fundamentalist muscle to it. The ISI was remodelled to meet the goals of Operation Cyclone, and the war against Russia was directed and controlled by the CIA and the ISI jointly. Incidentally, the American establishment has denied that groups of mujahideen were trained in America, or by the CIA. But such routine denials appear to be a mere formality.
The American interest came to an end with the exit of the Soviet army from the area, but the war had far reaching implications for Pakistan. One obvious manifestation of this was the growth of jihadi culture that has taken roots there. Another was the increase in the sectarian clashes between the Shias and the Sunnies. Subsequently in 1987 Pakistan decided to organize a militant movement in the Kashmir Valley (the reference here is to Indian Kashmir).(17) For this purpose leaders of Jamat-e-Islami and Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) kept meeting Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's President, and in 1989 the militancy was intensified and jihadi organisations of Pakistan took advantage of this and reached Indian Kashmir, ostensibly to help the local people for stepping up insurgency and terrorism. Amir Rana estimates that during the last twenty years nearly 30,000 Pakistani youths died in Afghanistan and Kashmir, 2000 sectarian clashes occurred in Pakistan and about 12 lakh youth took part in the activities of jihadi and religious organisations. (18) The very fact that during the last ten years more than thirty thousand Pakistanis have laid down their lives in the cause of jihad and that another 1.2 million youth have at one point or another actively participated in jihadi and radical Islamist activities clearly points to the direction in which the sub-continent is likely to move in the decades ahead. These are formidable statistics depicting the massive growth of the philosophy of terror among the people of Pakistan, and bodes ill not only for India and Pakistan but for the entire world community.
Apparently neither the ubiquitous Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) nor the strategic think tanks of U.S.A., could fathom the intensity of hatred and hostility which Muslim militants had developed towards America and the western civilization nor assess their enormous capacity for hitting the so-called 'kafir America' across the Atlantic, though the U.S. establishment had been aware for at least eight years, more specifically since 1993, of the threat of radical Islam looming large on their horizon. The 9/11 stunning bombing of the World Trade Centre (WTC) woke up the Americans from their deep slumber. It was a mind boggling experience not only for the U.S.A. but for the entire civil society when in a spectacular suicide mission 19 Muslim terrorists, 14 of them Saudis, hijacked 4 commercial planes from U.S. airports and crashed two of them into the twin towers of World Trade Centre in New York and one into the Pentagon office in Washington D. C., while the fourth plane crashed near Pittsburgh. The crashes resulted in the total destruction of the twin towers, demolition of a part of the southern wing of the Pentagon office, took a toll of 266 persons aboard the hijacked planes and caused almost three thousand deaths in the WTC buildings and nearby areas.
These attacks had been master-minded and deftly executed by a handpicked group of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda militants, trained, financed and supported by the good offices of the ISI of Pakistan. It was only then that the grim consequences of playing poker with the radical Islam dawned on the U.S.A. They learnt at a very heavy cost, both in terms of life and property, that experience is a harsh teacher; she gives test first, lesson afterwards. In one go, the Black Tuesday announced with a bold hard knock the arrival of Islamist terror at the gates of the western civilization and awakened them to the likely shape of things to come. Incidentally subsequent investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation led to filing a criminal charge in the Federal Distict Court in Alexandria, against one Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national, said to be the twentieth bomber. He had been assigned the mission of bombing the White House on the fateful Black Tuesday but could not. Though part of the plot, he was arrested earlier in August 2001 on unlawful immigration charges, having aroused the suspicion of his instructors at a flight school in Eagan, Minnesota. The prosecution alleged that Mr Moussaoui "was keenly aware of why he was here it was to fly a plane into White House."(19) Though the role played by the Pakistani establishment and their intelligence outfit, ISI, in training hundreds of thousands jihadi warriors and sending them across dozens of countries for waging jihad is well known, the biggest surprise has been the use by the Muslim terror groups of a number of European countries as sanctuaries as well as training centres. They took full advantage of the Europe's commitment to democracy and freedom. Add to this scenario the highly controversial and fundamentalist activities and fiery preachings of Abu Hamza-al Misri, a naturalised British citizen and supporter of jihad, who formerly preached from London's Finsbury Park mosque and took the risk of losing his British passport for acts seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of Britain. And then came the shocking news of the involvment of two Pakistanis, holding British citizenship, Omar Khan Sharif, 27, and his accomplice Asif Mohammed Hanif, 21, who blew himself up while kiling three others during a suicide attack on a café in Tel Aviv on the night of April 29, 2003. Grim British pundits recalled the earlier example of a British passport bearing Pakistani terrorist Omar Ahmad Sheikh who was engaged in fighting a "jihad for Kashmir" and was awarded the death penalty in Pakistan for the murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.(20)
These incidents caused considerable dismay amid rising fears that soon the U.K. might be perceived as the world's western capital of terrorism. Meanwhile, in the customary inflammatory tirade the extremist Britain-based Islamist group, Al-Muhajiroun, applauded the suicide attacks on Israel. The group's general secretary Anjem Choudhary insisted that the two British bombers were engaged on "a jihad that can be rightly fought in Kashmir or Chechenya too".(21) That shows the extent of open support by the U.K.-based radical Islamists to the current Islamist terrorism. To rub salt into the wounds of the chatterati of the liberal Europe, recently on the occasion of the second anniversary of 9/11, Al Muhajiroun brought out colourful posters openly eulogising the martyrdom of the "magnificient 19", the notorious suicide bombers. They also announced plans for holding a meeting of the Muslim groups in the memory of those nineteen magnificient martyrs.
These developments clearly show that the seeds of Islamist militancy have been sown quite deep in the U.K. and the unmistakable imprint of Pakistani connection runs through all such events, because a large number of Pakistani diaspora are known to be ardent supporters of Al Muhajiroun. Perhaps more such instances will come to notice in the years ahead. But then U.K. is not the only European country to be afflicted by the lethal virus of jihadi terror. There are many more countries across the Europe suffering from the same malaise. The Pakistani diaspora has spread it far and wide, all over Europe and America. Investigations have revealed that over the years many European nations, including the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany and France have served as training ground for Muslim terrorists operating in different countries, including the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India. Two militants who received training and attended sermons in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, were killed by the Indian troops in the Jammu & Kashmir last year i.e. in 2002.(22) The notorious Al Qaeda terrorists linked to the September 11 attacks on WTC had also received indoctrination in radical Islam in Eindhoven, Netherlands. There are indications that similar training centres preaching radical Islam also exist in Germany and France.The fresh evidence of global links of J&K militants has only vindicated New Delhi's claims that "the violence in Kashmir is not a freedom struggle" but sheer terrorism being practised in the name of jihad.(23)
One of the most active Islamic group providing training to militants in Europe is the extremist Al-Waqf-al-Islami foundation which arranges sermons in the Al-Furqan mosque in Eindhoven and is reportedly funded by wealthy Saudis and other fatcats of oil-rich Sheikhdoms of the Middle East. Even some of the Al Qaeda militants suspected to be behind September 11 violence had attended sermons in the Al-Furqan mosque in Eindhoven.(24) Ever since 1980s the radical sermons at the Al-Waqf have been drilling extremism into the heads of thousands of Muslim youth coming from all over the Europe. The most infamous attendees of these Islamist sermons were the six terrorists from Hamburg, Germany, who had allegedly plotted the notorious Black Tuesday attacks. Similarly in France intelligence officials have expressed concern about the goings on at the L'institut European des Sciences Humanies at the Chateau-Chinon in the Burgundy region. At least one member of the Hamburg terrorist cell had taken a correspondence course provided in the institute. In Germany, an Islamic seminary, the Hans des Islam, in the small town of Lutzelbach near Frankfurt is under observation of German intelligence. This organisation had been established sometime in 1980s, perhaps with the help of cash smuggled from the Middle East.
It is believed that many radical Islamists who fled Afghanistan are currently safely ensconsed in many cities of Pakistan, especially Karachi and Lahore. It may be recalled that during the operations in Afghanistan an American Taliban, John Walker Lindh, had been arrested. His interrogation had revealed that he had been trained and indoctrinated in a camp in the Himalayas, across the road from a Pakistani military base and that Pakistani intelligence officers regularly came to the training camp to impart instructions. Apparently he had been trained by the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, under the tutelage of the ISI, to fight in Jammu & Kashmir before he was shifted to a base in Afghanistan for jihad against the Russians. In a nutshell Pakistan, proudly procalimed as the fortress of Islam by Musharraf, has become the nucleus of the Jihadi Highway to Dar-ul Islam, charted by Islamists, which meanders through the U.K. Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chechenya, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, India (Kashmir), Bangladesh, Malayasia, Indonesia and right into the Philippines. All these countries, thirty in all, have witnessed grand revival of jihadist movement and scores of radical outfits have come up in each one of them to wage holy war in the cause of Allah.
Any assessment of the geo-political implications of the long reach of radical Islam and the consequences of their global designs for the civil society of "tomorrow and the day after" should take into account three important aspects. First, at present there are 135 militant Islamic organisations involved in jihadi campaigns worldwide which is a mind-boggling figure.(25) They are playing havoc with the law and order and security apparatus of dozens of countries from America to the Philippines, by keeping them in a state of constant embattlement. In the process, over a period of time many nation states, certainly the soft variety, are likely to disintegrate and disappear, while the remaining ones will be considerably debilitated. That will make the task of jihadi groups much easier, say after a decade or two, whenever they decide to go for the kill. Second, during the Operation Enduring Freedom, i.e., the war against Al Qaeda waged by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, more than 760 Muslim militants belonging to a whopping forty two countries were captured and taken to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantonamo Bay for interrogation by the CIA. Since these forty two countries have already been sucked into the vortex of terrorism, they will transmit the contagion to their neighbouring nations which could have a major destabilizing effect on several regions of the world. But the third aspect is the most important one.
During the twentieth century there has been a phenomenal increase in the world population of Muslims who are likely to comprise something like thirty per cent of the global population by the year 2025 A.D., perhaps even earlier. The increasing Muslim numbers will have the potential to cause serious major upheavals in several parts of Asia, Europe and Africa due to eruption of multiple intra-civilization faultline conflicts on large scale. More importantly, those pushing for the jihadi culture are very much conscious of the fact that the numbers of Muslims are growing fast and that is what makes them gung-ho about the future of radical Islam. In specific terms, the cult of Islamist terror has already won hundreds of thousand ready recruits in more than forty two countries, willing to wage holy war and ready to die. Just now the majority of these holy warriors happen to be concentrated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and most countries of the Middle East and in Indonesia and the Philippines. But their ranks are growing rapidly, as the contagion spreads far and wide in Asia, Africa and Europe. The widespread commitment of Muslims to jihad was demonstrated by the sympathetic reactions to the death of a notorious Saudi militant, Khallad al-Madani, killed in Chechenya in February 2000 while fighting the Russians. In the course of one day, messages of support for al-Madani's family poured in from South Africa, the United States, Lebanon, Malaysia, Canada, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, and India.(26) Apart from Kashmir, the global character of radical Islam's "mission jihad" is also reflected in the Chechen holy war which is being waged against Russia since 1991. The foremost leader of the Chechen war has been a notorious Saudi militant named Khattab who had earlier fought in Afghanistan under the banner of bin Laden. Chechens honed their battle skills in Afghan training camps and graduates of Pakistan's religious schools fight alongside the rebels in Chechenya.(27) It is well known that many Chechen Islamists have fought alongside Pakistanis and Afghans in Kashmir. Barcelona in Spain is reported to have already become the point of passage for Jihadists moving between Europe and Chechenya. (28) Recently on the occasion of the second anniversary of 9/11 there was a spontaneous show of sympathy by a group of Muslims in the United Kigdom for the so-called 'Magnificient 19", the Islamist suicide bombers who had attacked the WTC and Pentagon.The rising tide of militant Islam in many parts of Europe, including the U.K. and the Balkans, across the African nations of Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, several West Asian countries and Indonesia underline the visible contours of the coming faultline conflicts of varying dimensions in several parts of world. As a sequel to 9/11 and the consequential military build up ordered by the U.S. establishment, there was a huge groundswell of rage in many Islamic countries. Sinister threats were held out to American tourists and citizens in parts of Indonesia, mostly central Java, and it was reported that hotels were being 'searched' for them.
These are ominous signs. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population and has seen a dramatic resurgence of radical Islam during the last two decades. A number of Indonesian Islamists and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) secessionists of Philippines have received training in the camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, run by the ISI and the Al Qaeda, and were initiated into terror tactics and suicide bomb attacks during the Afghan jihad against Soviet troops. The clerics of Indonesia have been highly critical of the U.S.A. The Secretary General of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), Din Syamusddin, gave a call on September 26, 2001, to Muslims the world over to wage a jihad should the U.S. and its allies go ahead with with their planned aggression against Afghanistan.The U.S.A. was not deterred and rightly so.
But such 'fatwas' regularly issued by Muslim clerics, point to the turbulent times ahead for the civil society. That the Islamist contagion has spread far and wide is evident from the broad spectrum of the nationalities of detainees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. According to New York Times "roughly 660 detainees from 42 countries are suspected of links to the terrorist network of Al Qaeda or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime".(29) Originally more than 760 Muslim terrorists had been arrested in Afghanistan, out of which 600 are still under interrogation. Prima facie the ideology of jihadi terrorism has already struck roots among Muslims of dozens of countries of the world and there may be many more nations whose Islamist volunteers could not be captured in Afghanistan by the coalition forces. In this age of easy access to the new frontiers of science and technology the possibility of Islamist terrorists seizing nuclear assets of Pakistan, or using chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, for achieving their pan-Islamic terror objectives, cannot be ruled out.
To meet this threat it is necessary for the strategists of the world coalition to monitor both the overt and covert operations of innumerable terrorists cells planted in a number of countries, perhaps anything between fifty to eighty nations, both Islamic and non Islamic. That is a huge task. It is equally important to devise and execute effective strategies to counter this rapidly growing threat. The concern expressed by the U.S. President, George Bush, about the attempts by the Iranian government to develop nuclear weapons, and the strategic thinking of the neo-conservatives to confront the Islamists on their home turf in the Middle East have to be viewed in the context of these global threat perceptions.
Footnotes for Chapter 1.
1. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, ch. 2, p. 41.
2. Ibid, ch. II, p.48, footnote.
3. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order, 1997, p.258, ch. 10.
5. Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam Under Siege, p. 7, Introduction.
6. Salman Rushdie, Yes, this is about Islam, Sunday Hindustan Times, November 4, 2001.
8. Raymond Bonner, U.S.Envoy in Indonesia Warns Americans of Future Attacks, The New York Times, August 13, 2003.
10. The news Item 'Bombers were trained in Pak: Indonesia', Sunday Times of India, August 10 2003,p.13.
11. Joginder Singh, Intelligence: Spy versus spy, The Pioneer, p.6, March 31, 2003.
12 Dileep Padgaonkar, Islam in France, The Sunday Times of India, New Delhi, p.14.
15. CIA's Cyclone spawned Pak madrasas, The Pioneer, New Delhi, March 31, 2003.
19. Phillip Shenon, White House Called Target of Plane Plot, The New York Times, August 9, 2003.
20. Rashmee Z. Ahmed, Britain jolted over Terror Links, Times of India, New Delhi, May 2, 2003, p.13.
22. 'U.S. media pins Europe as training ground for terror', The Economic Times, New Delhi,April 17 2003, p.2.
24. U.S. media pins Europe as training ground for terror, The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 17, 2003, p.2.
25. Appendix-I at page 417.
26. Peter L. Bergen, Holy War Inc, p.42, (While America Slept)-Source: azzam.com/html/storieskhalladmadani. htm).
27. Peter L. Bergen, Holy War Inc, p.44.
29. Bruce Crumley, Time, March 10, 2003.
29. The New York Times, news item 'A Nation at War: Briefly noted; Detainee attempts suicide', April 2, 2003.
Ram K. Ohri is a retired senior police officer of the Indian Police
Service (IPS) and author of "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect"
and "The Bell Tolls: Tomorrow's Truncated India."
The first part of this essay is the Introduction to Mr. Ohri's book, "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect". The second part is Chapter 1. The book was published by Manas Publications in New Delhi in 2004. Its ISBN # is 817049186X. It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. The rest of the book will be serialized, one each issue. There are 10 chapters.
|HOME||September-October 2009 Featured Stories||Background Information||News On The Web|