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Islam and Sectarianism ( 18 Jun 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Continuing Dangers from Expanding Wings of Al-Qaeda: It Not Only Attacks the West but Also Instigates Sectarian Violence among Muslims



By Peter O' Connor

Contributing Columnist

17, 06, 2013

In view recent events and in line with our need to remain always vigilant, a brief resume of the principal enemy might just be in order,

Al-Qaeda (pron.: /ælˈkaɪdə/ al-KY-də; Arabic al-qāʿidah, , translation: “The Base” and alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa’ida) is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with its origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afghanistan. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad and a strict interpretation of Sharia law. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and various other countries (see below). Al-Qaeda has carried out several attacks on non-Muslims, and other targets it considers kafir.

Al-Qaeda has attacked civilian and military targets in various countries, including the September 11 attacks, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and the 2002 Bali bombings. The U.S. government responded to the September 11 attacks by launching the War on Terror. With the loss of key leaders, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s operations have devolved from actions that were controlled from the top-down, to actions by franchise associated groups, to actions of lone wolf operators.

Characteristic techniques employed by al-Qaeda include suicide attacks and simultaneous bombings of different targets. Activities ascribed to it may involve members of the movement, who have taken a pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, or the much more numerous “al-Qaeda-linked” individuals who have undergone training in one of its camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Sudan, but who have not taken any pledge Al-Qaeda ideologues envision a complete break from all foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new world-wide Islamic caliphate. Among the beliefs ascribed to Al-Qaeda members is the conviction that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam.  As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of civilians is religiously sanctioned, and they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of civilians and internecine fighting. Al-Qaeda also opposes man-made laws, and wants to replace them with a strict form of Sharia law.

Al-Qaeda is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims. Al-Qaeda is intolerant of non-Sunni branches of Islam and denounces them by means of excommunications called “Takfir”. Al-Qaeda leaders regard liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretics and have attacked their mosques and gatherings.  Examples of sectarian attacks include the Yazidi community bombings, the Sadr City bombings, the Ashoura Massacre and the April 2007 Baghdad bombings. (Wikipedia)

“Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may not have had direct links with al Qaeda’s offshoot in Chechnya, the Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus.  But investigators are looking into it, including a Russian press report that last year in Dagestan he tried to join and was seen with known militants.  Tsarnaev was certainly influenced by Russian – language websites inspired by the movement.”  (Editorial, Wall Street Journal – May 1, 2013)

“Hours after the Boston bombers were identified as Chechens, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president called Barack Obama to offer help with his investigations.  Mr. Putin has long argued that Russia faces the same threat of radical Islam in the north Caucasus as the West does elsewhere.”  (The Economist 4-27-13).  That British newspaper goes on to say that all agree that the two Tsarnaev brothers acted on their own.  Maybe.  Nationalism in Chechnya was superseded by Islam after 1994, when post Russia’s victorious war against Chechnya’s independence movement 50,000 was left dead.  The Economist concludes, “The Boston bombs may create sympathy in America for Russia’s tough policy in the north Caucasus.  But in the long run, suppression alone is unlikely to bring greater security to Russia.”   Nor, I suspect, to others.

Back to the greater threat – from the Journal piece; “Reports of the terrorist group’s imminent defeat are greatly exaggerated.”  “Seven weeks after Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, President Obama declared al Qaeda was ‘on a path to defeat.’  He has redeployed the phrase often to justify leaving Afghanistan and slashing defence.  Al Qaeda meanwhile mocks predictions of its imminent defeat.”  More;“even as the U.S. has ‘decimated’ (the President’s word) al Qaeda’s  senior leadership – killing or capturing 13 of the top 20 most wanted terrorists – it pops up in new locales and forms.  In recent months, al Qaeda has revived or started terrorist franchises in Iraq and Syria, across northern Africa and in Nigeria.  It lost a haven in Afghanistan but set up bases in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.”

The Journal again, “Perhaps the biggest current prize for al Qaeda is in the Levant.  After America’s complete withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, many al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants were released from jail and reunited.  Without a U.S. military presence, they killed more Iraqi civilians in violent attacks last year than in 20ll.”

This looks like continuing tough stuff.  Back long ago when I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, that Kingdom was apparently peaceful.  The known enemy was Iran, just across the Arabian (not Persian) Gulf.  The Royal family was, and is, Sunni; although many in the oil producing Eastern Provence were, and are, Shia.  Political conflicts were mainly masked from our ex-patriot (and therefore infidel) eyes and ears.  The Brotherhood had some obvious members among our co-workers.  These were not taken seriously; or so we thought.  I suppose those were more innocent days, for all.  It now pays to pay attention.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Wendell Phillips, (1811-1884), abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator,  in a speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852, according to The Dictionary of Quotations edited by Bergen Evans.