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Egypt's homegrown terrorists

01 August, 2005

By Yasser Latif Hamdani


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The British Muslim connection to 7/7 was expected. After all proliferation of the radicalized Salafi Islam within expatriate communities is no secret. It has been going on for the last 20 years.

The rise of organisations like Hizbut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun in the United Kingdom and elsewhere was viewed with alarm but no solid intellectual movement was organized within the Islamic sphere to counter them. Their connection to seminaries in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar was also to be expected.  Most British Muslims happen to be of South Asian origin and we as Pakistanis had allowed the American sponsored Jehad against Godless Soviet Russia to flourish from our heartland. So London bombing and the connection to Pakistan was logical. However what was not logical was that the Egyptian government would turn around and blame the terror attacks on its soil on Pakistan as well. It would therefore be worthwhile to dwell on the history of Islamic revival and radical Islamism in the Muslim world.
   
Egypt is where it all started as early as 1928. Indeed it was not as much a reaction to non-Muslims or even colonial rule as it was opposed to its own co-religionists. According to Albert Hourani, the 1930s saw the Muslim world as a whole enter a liberal age when Muslim nationalism grew exponentially on the premises of modernism and reform.  Ikhawan-ul-Muslimeen or the Muslim Brotherhood was organized around the premise of Islamic revival in order to combat the menace of this liberal Muslim nationalism, which threatened to liberate women and reform Islamic societies all over.  The Ikhwan gave an alternative to this Muslim Nationalism. It sought a return to Islam as practiced by the "Salaf" and to wage "Jehad" against the enemies of Islam. At first the Ikhwan was enlisted by the Egyptian government under Gemal Abdel Nasser to make common cause against Israel and its western allies, but later he repressed them.  They were given a new lease of life by Nasser's successor, Anwar Saadat, but it cost him his life. Since Saadat's assassination, Egypt has followed a strict policy of exerting state control over religion, while tolerating extremist religious groups on the fringe. Though, after the 1997 bombing, Hosni

Mubarik went after the Islamists with significant resolve, the latest bombing in Egypt is a manifestation of those fringe groups. Ikhwan's condemnation of terrorism notwithstanding, it can hardly be denied that this movement of Islamic revival, persecuted and cornered into a movement of radicalism and terrorism, is the motivation behind the terrorist attack on Sharm Al Sheik. The victims were not Americans, Britons or Israelis but Egyptians themselves, mostly Muslims, whose only fault was that they were having a good time at a resort.   Indeed something is amiss in al-Masr.  The 9/11 mastermind Muhammad Ata was from Egypt.  So is Aiman Al Zawahiri, the number 2 man in the Al Qaeda terror network. Mr Zawahiri once part of the Ikhwan and was imprisoned for his role in the Saadat Murder case. It is therefore alarming that the regime in Egypt would cynically seek an easy scapegoat in Pakistan, instead of looking for clues within.

There are three very important lessons to be learnt from the Egyptian terror bombing. First:  Autocratic governments in Muslim societies more often than not create conditions for Islamic revival and radicalism even if inadvertently.  This is as true of Egypt as of Iran, Algeria or even Pakistan.  Second:  Repression has its limitations. This is why democracy is the preferred alternative.

Democracy forces fringe groups to compromise and tone down their rhetoric and extremism as real politic dictates it.   The Muslim masses have shown on numerous occasions that their concerns are this worldly as opposed to otherworldly which is why religious clerics have never won at any free polls in the Islamic world. Third and perhaps the most important lesson for Pakistanis:  We must realize that Pan-Islamism is a spent force.  Our Muslim brothers are always the first ones to send us down the river and we have already been bitten one too many times.   In recent times, Libya, Iran and now Egypt all have ratted the first opportunity they got.  So it is time we place Pakistan's well-being and its future before that of a chimerical Ummah.

 

End.

Reader Comments:

I'm sorry

MUSLIMS ...USMC Lt Gen. Pitman's "Apology"

MUSLIMS ...USMC Lt Gen. Pitman's "Apology" , This Letter of Apology was written by Lieutenant General Chuck Pitman, US Marine Corps, Retired:

"For good and ill", the Iraqi prisoner abuse mess will remain an issue. On the one hand, right thinking Americans will abhor the stupidity of the actions while on the other hand, political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day massacre..

I humbly offer my opinion here:
I am sorry that the last seven times we Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth, it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.).

I am sorry that no such call for an apology upon the extremists came after
9/11. I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Islamic Arabs
I am sorry that most Arabs and Muslims have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth. I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools, mosques, and government-controlled media.

I am sorry that Yassar Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and high-jacked the Palestinian "cause." I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians.

I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA for all their problems.

I am sorry that our own left wing, our media, and our own brainwashed masses do not understand any of this (from the misleading vocal elements of our society, like radical professors, CNN and the NY TIMES).

I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered. I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death.

I am sorry that those same bombers are brainwashed thinking they will receive 72 virgins in "paradise."

I am sorry that the homicide bombers think pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly and other noncombatant civilians are legitimate targets.



I am sorry that our troops die to free more Arabs from the gang rape rooms and the filling of mass graves of dissidents of their own making. I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group. I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state. I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy cutters on Fallujah. I am sorry every time terrorists hide they find a convenient "Holy Site." I am sorry they didn't apologize for driving two jets into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of our Holy Sites. I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the murders and beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, etc....etc! I am sorry Michael Moore is an American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa.



America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that is what we do.
We hang out our dirty laundry for the entire world to see. We move on.
That's one of the reasons we are hated so much. We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology.

Deep down inside, when most Americans saw this reported in the news, we were like - so what? We lost hundreds and made fun of a few prisoners. Sure , it was wrong, sure, it dramatically hurts our cause, but until captured we were trying to kill these same prisoners. Now we're supposed to wring our hands because a few were humiliated?

Our compassion is tempered with the vivid memories of our own people killed, mutilated and burnt amongst a joyous crowd of celebrating Fallujahans

If you want an apology from this American, you're going to have a long wait!
You have a better chance of finding those seventy-two virgins.
Chuck Pitman Lieutenant General US Marine Corps (Retired)
Semper Fi


Chuck, United Kingdom - 05 August, 2005

As a friend of the US...

I've always admired the United States and the wonderful values of freedom, equality and justice it stands for. Indeed the American values are very similar to the values we all aspire to. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln (though with all those new accusations one has to rethink), Roosevelt, Kennedy and Nixon (despite watergate) are names which inspire universal respect amongst Pakistanis regardless of what people might say.

The letter however does not reflect American values... it reflects the same Jehadi mentality that Ossama Bin Laden and most of our Mullahs suffer from. It is this mentality that waged a "jehad against the godless soviets" and today is leading a "crusade" against "Moslems"... These values are as unamerican as Tora Bora.
Shame on you Lieutenant General Chuck Pitman of the US Marine Corps... you belong with Ossama Bin Laden.

Lone Wolf

Lone-Wolf, Pakistan - 08 August, 2005

Brilliant!!

When i read this opinion posted by Chuck i thought that there would be a flood of reactions from all those self appointed keepers of 'purity' justifying terrorism in one garb or the other and perpetually complaining about how muslims get the wrongend of the stick.
urprisingly , there was none!! Is it that they are still figuring out what to counter in his honest admissions?? Or are they wallowing in the thought of meeting these 72 virgins??? By the way is it the same 72 virgins that meet up with all the guys who blow themselves up??

aarvey, Hungary - 08 August, 2005

Reforming Egypt

As an active enthusiast extolling the virtues of Islam and dreaming of a sort of "United States" of Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia, I drew great strength from the American free enterprise gospel. I wrote a letter to President Gamal Abdel Nasser extolling the American role model to integrate the Arab countries through the development of their economies. I cited many examples of stunning corporate success stories of immigrants that came to the United States and catapulted the country in a showcase of economic and social role model. Take one example: An immigrant from Sweden tried to sell automobiles. The one motorcar that he had in his showroom failed to find a customer. He took it out and launched a public transport service. From that small and insignificant beginning, he developed the spectacular "Grey Hound" buses service. A story in the Reader's Digest glorified the unique experiment by highlighting that "Grey Hound" operated in both Canada and America, from coast to coast, and carried 210-million commuters annually. Gamal Nasser must have been attracted towards the American system, but ground realities in his country led him to portray this picture in his reply of May 9 1959: "Thank you for your letter of 3rd April 1959. I agree with you that the main problem we are facing now is economic. It seems to me, however, that you do not take into consideration that our country is situated in such a way that makes it a possible passage for ambitious forces into Africa and even a jumping board from Africa to South America. The Communists in their attempts to conquer the Arab Nationalism are doing this to reach the Atlantic coast from where Communism can spread Southward to Africa and Westward to Latin America. The West on the other hand is aware of the fact that our independence movement, as well as our ideology, that demands political and economic freedom from all, is a threat to their vested interests in the Middle East and Africa. Thirdly, the Zionist movement is so ambitious that it claims for the boundaries of Israel to extend from the Nile to the Euphrates. This claim finds support in a certain section of the American population, and I regret to say that all these three forces; namely, Communism, Imperialism and Zionism are interested in the destruction of our movement.

And so you see that we are conscious of the fact that our main problem is economic, but we cannot ignore the dangers that surround us which spring mainly from political sources.”

I had little knowledge of Zionism then but Gamal Nasser's pragmatic views sparked a flame inside my heart to seek answers to the dark clouds hovering over the Muslim world. It took a long time during which I got a chance of studying the blessed Qur'an. I was so inflamed by the divine messages and their implications that I read various commentaries of the Book one after the other. Finally, it came to Maulana Ashraf AliThanvi's “tafsser”. One thing that is most striking is Islamic literature printed on cheap newsprint paper and copied translations in Urdu from Arabic and Persian sources. The literature on Islam will take us in the past and imprisons us there. Take for instance, the conditions that prevailed in Gamal Nasser's Egypt, or for that matter in Hosni Mubarak's time. What solution do the Islam-friendly elements have on offer other than to throw their full weight and fury to replace Mubarak and grab power? Once in power, these extremist elements would fill the hearts and minds of the common people with hatred against Zionism and America. That is what is happening in Iran. Iran doesn't hide its hatred of the duo Israel and America. It has vowed to annihilate Israel. If this is not madness, what else would you call it? The Mullahs in Iran wield power, though not prestige even in its own people. But elsewhere as in Egypt and Pakistan the route to salvation as propounded by Islamists lies in going back to the basics, whatever that means.

We live in a world that is governed by democracy. But the Islamists by nature are autocratic and short on fuse. They have little chances of survival in a system that requires tolerance and patience.

Sher Mohammad.
Email: sher_apr@yahoo.com

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 14 August, 2005

A Selection from the Media Pack of Hizb ut-Tahrir:

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global Islamic political organisation that was established in 1953 under the leadership of its founder - the honourable scholar, thinker, able politician, and judge in the Court of Appeals in al-Quds (Jerusalem), Taqiuddin an-Nabhani.

In the Muslim world, Hizb ut-Tahrir works at all levels of society to bring the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life under the shade of the Khilafah (Caliphate) State following an exclusively political method.

In the West, Hizb ut-Tahrir works to cultivate a Muslim community that lives by Islam in thought and deed, adhering to the rules of Islam and preserving a strong Islamic identity. The party does not work in the West to change the system of government, but works within the boundaries of the system.

The party also works to project a positive image of Islam to Western society and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, policymakers and academics.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is convinced that the change we seek must start in the minds of people and we do not accept for people or societies to be forced to change by violence and terror. Consequently, Hizb ut-Tahrir does not advocate or engage in violence. The party strictly adheres to Islamic law in all aspects of its work. It is an Islamic intellectual and political entity that seeks to change people's thoughts through intelligent discussion and debate. We consider that Islamic law forbids violence or armed struggle against the regime as a method to re-establish the Islamic State.

Numerous articles produced by a variety of media outlets including Reuters, Itar-Tass, Pravda, AFP, AlHayat, AP and RFERL to name just a few, have clearly pointed out that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent organisation that has ruled out armed struggle or violence as part of its methodology.

Some quotes include:

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is a completely non-violent organisation." [Craig Murray, the ex-British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Al-Jazeera, 17/5/05]

"…it advocates the restoration of the Islamic caliphate. It differs from jihadi groups which share this objective in abstaining from violent activity." [International Crisis Group, 2/3/05]

"Hizb ut-Tahrir [HT] is an independent political party that is active in many countries across the world. HT's activities centre on intellectual reasoning, logic arguments and political lobbying. The party adheres to the Islamic Shariah law in all aspects of its work. It considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, a violation of the Islamic Shariah." [Restricted Home Office Documents 19/8/03, Released to Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain 1/6/05 under FOI Act]

"Hizb ut-Tahrir - Lines to take if extensive coverage is given in the media: Freedom of thought and speech key element of our society. Our tradition that there is a place for those who disagree with the way we do things – unless they espouse violence as a way to achieve their ends." [Restricted Home Office Documents 19/8/03, Released to Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain 1/6/05 under FOI
Act]

"We have yet to see convincing evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir as an organisation advocates violence or terrorism. Nor are we aware of any co-operation between it and Al Qaeda." [UK FCO Minister Bill Rammell, Hansard, 19/4/04]

"It will be impossible to see Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation. If Hizb ut-Tahrir resorts to violence then it can be described as a terrorist organisation. Further more Hizb ut-Tahrir, as it stands, cannot be proscribed as a terrorist organisation." [Verdict Turkish Second State Security Court, 13/4/04]

"Hizb ut-Tahrir does not advocate a violent overthrow of Muslim regimes... Instead HT believes in winning over mass support, believing that one day these supporters will rise up in peaceful demonstrations and overthrow the regimes of Central Asia." [Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: the Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia]

"Hizb ut-Tahrir quite explicitly disavows violence as its means for achieving power." [John Schoeberlein, Director of Harvard University's Central Asia program]

"Hizb ut-Tahrir has shown dissatisfaction on the policies of the [Pakistan] government which is the right of each and every citizen…I am unable to understand as to how distribution of these pamphlets in the general public was termed as terrorism or sectarianism.” [Multan Bench, Lahore High Court, March 2005]

"Ata Abu Rushta, spokesperson for the Hizb ut-Tahrir, Liberation Party in Jordan, a party seeking to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in February by the State Security Court for lese-majesty under Article 195(1) of the Penal Code in connection with an interview he had given to the newspaper al-Hiwar. The statements on which the charges were based did not advocate violence." [Amnesty International Report, 1997]

Source: Media Pack [Hizb ut-Tahrir] http://www.hizb.org.uk/press/index.php?id=2207_0_45_0_M96

Omar, - 14 August, 2005

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