Mumbai a stain on Islam by Usha Nellore
Real 'jihad' means fighting perpetrators of terror: Jamiat leader Mehmood Madni
Jihadistan: A guerrilla nation that Pakistan cannot control
British Muslims have become a mainstay of the global 'jihad' By Kim Sengupta
The scourge of terror: Islamic extremism is the enemy
Israelis began Shabbat mourning the Mumbai dead
A cloud over India's Muslims by Martha Nussbaum
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Mumbai a stain on Islam
By Usha Nellore, Nov 29, 08
I am heartbroken as I watch the magnificent Taj Hotel in Mumbai burning, smoke billowing from its windows. I hear an Indian reporter for the Times of India, his voice choking with incredulity describe the scene. “Terrorists strike India again!”
I am chilled to my marrow about the brazenness of the attacks, the intelligence failure, the rampage of the assassins, the gun battle they waged on the streets and the helplessness of the Indian police. There have been many such attacks in India recently. They are not even covered in American newspapers.
In Hyderabad, in Bangalore, in a marketplace in Delhi, in historic and exquisite Jaipur, Islamic militants have struck repeatedly and fearlessly. Some are home-grown terrorists and others interlopers from scattered parts of the Islamic world, young Muslim men belonging to groups with creative names like SIMI or Student Islamic Movement of India, Indian Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and now the Deccan Mujahideen.
They seem to sprout from the soil like weeds. Whack one and another takes his place at lightning speed. Those who have been caught are educated, highly adept at computers, many with engineering degrees, unapologetic about their violent activities, imbued with zeal and a sense of purpose about their war against humanity.
They have an assortment of grievances. They are furious about India’s hold on Muslim Kashmir, India’s presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, India’s cooperation with the United States in the war on terror and India’s treatment of her Muslim minority. To them their jihad is righteous because it exterminates Hindus who are idolaters and pagans. A few incidental Muslim casualties are sacrifices that must be made to advance the supremacy of Islam and avenge Islamic lives lost in Chechnya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan.
But if they had nothing to avenge, if the world rolled over at their feet and capitulated they would still fight. Fundamentally these men are bored with their lives. There is so much more excitement in striking fear across the world while global leaders look helpless, in chuckling over the defeat of entire squadrons of intelligence agents, police forces and armies, in being guerrilla warriors across cityscapes than there is in staying home, studying hard, being responsible and making something useful out of themselves.
Most young Islamic militants spring from moderate Islamic homes where parents seem asleep at the wheel. When their sons wear the Muslim garb, read the Koran and attend a mosque, many are hoodwinked into believing that this is a sign of deep spirituality. It may be the first sign of deep hate.
Extreme Islam is no more than a cult, it has the allure of addictive drugs, in its believers it causes the dysfunction of megalomania, it promises a utopia but it can only deliver a dystopia, and moderate Muslim parents must wake up to these facts. They should counsel their children better, stop sending them to dubious places of worship, supervise them more closely and teach them a different Koran from the one Osama bin Laden would have them learn.
Instead moderate Islam’s practitioners invent excuses for their inaction. They harp that Islam is peaceful and Muslims are unfairly demonized by the rest of the world. They blame the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, the decadent and discriminatory West, the still to be settled Palestinian problem, the Kashmir issue, the Bush doctrine, anything but their own parental ineptitude for the Islamic terrorism that now grips the world in its diabolical arms.
Unless moderate Islam wages a successful war against the medieval forces of darkness for the hearts and minds of its misguided sheep, we are all lost. This war cannot be waged with guns and arms. It is a psychological war, a war of words and ideas, a war that should be fought and won within the four walls of each Muslim home.
I weep for beautiful Mumbai. It is a city that never sleeps, a city of lights and laughter, a vibrant place where rascals and saints, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs struggle together for a better India. I am distraught and filled with a sense of doom as I was seven years ago on another fatal day, now simply known as 9/11.
Usha Nellore is a columnist living in Bel Air. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Real 'jihad' means fighting perpetrators of terror:
Jamiat Ulema leader Mehmood Madni
New Delhi: Describing the terror attacks in Mumbai as deplorable, a prominent Muslim body leader has said terrorists are using religion to justify their action with fundamentalist and extremist thoughts.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind leader Mehmood Madni while stating that the government should see as to where it has failed in its intelligence, and thoroughly probe the reason behind the attacks, said terrorists are motivated by fundamentalist thoughts instilled in them by misinterpreting religion.
“It is for the government to find out who planned these attacks and what was the reason behind them, but I would like to say terrorists use religion as a tool to justify their actions. They are motivated to commit such acts as fundamentalist and extremis t thoughts which are instilled in them by misinterpreting religion,” Madni said.
“I want to put this in absolutely clear terms that Islam does not preach violence. In fact, the so called 'Jehad' that terror groups talk about, is not what they think it is. Real 'Jihad' in fact means fighting the perpetrators of terror,” the cleric said.
Madni, however, refused to comment on the recent arrests of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt-Col Shrikant Purohit by Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorist Squad for their alleged involvement in the Malegaon bomb blasts, and BJP's subsequent attack on the UPA government for reportedly trying to establish the existence of Hindu terrorism.
“I'd not like to comment on all this. There is already too much tension in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. Terrorism has many aspects, these can be discussed at an appropriate time,” the former general secretary of Jamiat said. The terrorists involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, which started on Wednesday evening, are suspected to be cadres of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. - PTI
Jihadistan: A guerrilla nation that Pakistan cannot control
November 30th, 2008
In the face of the mounting military, political and ideological threats emanating from the Taliban-Al Qaeda sanctuary in the tribal areas of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, it is wrong to think that the US should sit on its hands while Pakistan makes timorous efforts to rein in the Islamic extremists. Yes, the US must exercise caution and circumspection in dealing with Pakistani political sensibilities. At the same time, if Pakistan won’t act with sufficient force in the region, the US is at least justified in hotly pursuing insurgent bands into Waziristan and other tribal areas of Pakistan, and continues the search for Osama bin Laden and the other terrorist leaders finding protection in these areas.
To be sure, the US should do whatever it can to encourage and vitalise Pakistani efforts to pacify and control the region. In doing so, we must recognise that elements in Pakistan’s security forces are sympathetic to the insurgents and more interested in protecting than pursuing them. This has indeed been the case since the Taliban emerged out of the Pashtun cultural matrix and the Al Qaeda arrived on the scene to inject global ideological spice into their cause.
It also is fair to say the duplicitous machinations of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have made it nearly impossible for all recent Pakistani governments - no matter what their political complexion - to deal effectively with the insurgents.
But there is another element of political reality in the tribal lands that must be acknowledged. It is that a form of quasi-state formation has occurred in the Hindu Kush. The region is no longer under meaningful Pakistani suzerainty, not even of the nominal kind that it had enjoyed in the past.
The Taliban and Al Qaeda have carved out a virtually autonomous political entity, melding together under the rubric of Islamic fundamentalism many of the indigenous tribes inhabiting Waziristan; they have formed a loose confederation whose tribal leaders acknowledge Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden as their spiritual and political Emirs.
They have established in most of the region a functioning, loosely integrated governmental system viable enough to impose taxes, issue permits to businesses, maintain an agricultural economy (based upon massive, lucrative opium poppy cultivation), operate a judicial system based upon Shariah law, inaugurate an educational system (madrassas) adapted to their fundamentalist proclivities, and sustain a guerilla military with sophisticated weaponry and a manpower base numbering in the tens of thousands.
I have given the name “Jihadistan” to this guerilla nation.
Under these circumstances, it is naive to insist that the only thing the US, the coalition forces, and the Afghans can do is to just sit passively on the Afghan side of the border, absorbing an increasing quantum of death and destruction from this Jihadi state. They have to find ways to effectively fight back, to attack and neutralise the terrorists’ growing military capabilities and their ramifying politico-economic influence.
Inevitably this has to involve strategies that endeavour to penetrate Jihadistan both with selective, surgical military strikes, and through systematic efforts to undermine the hold over the hearts and minds of the tribal communities now in the thrall of the Taliban and Al Qaeda through an admixture of economic, political and ideological initiatives. This is where Pakistan comes in.
Publicly, the current Pakistani leadership, for understandable reasons, is proclaiming that it will resist any and all proactive measures taken by the US and its allies to interdict the capacity of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to attack Afghanistan from its Jihadistan sanctuary.
But the US must realize that there are ways, some subtle and some not so subtle, of inducing the Pakistani leadership to rein in this jingoistic posture and bring it around to the policies that the present political realities in the Hindu Kush demand.
What are these procedures? Certainly, a major key is making continued economic and military assistance to Pakistan contingent on the willingness of President Zardari and his political coalition to agree to more decisive collaborative military action (as opposed to winging it on their own with limited results) against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
This policy would be a start in the face of Pakistan’s current economic circumstances, and in the face of the fact that President Zardari’s recent trip to China in search of greater material and moral support failed to yield tangible results. Ditto, their overtures to Saudi Arabia. This means that the Pakistani leadership really have no other place to turn but the US.
Yes, this implies the use of more aggressive political pressure than some advocate, arguing that it would lead to a complete breakdown in what is left of the US-Pakistani relationship.
Past precedents, however, suggest that this is not necessarily so. It would not be the first time that gentle persuasion has been undertaken by the US in its dealings with Pakistan, with results that proved satisfying to everyone’s perceived strategic interests.
Lyndon Johnson employed stern pressure on Ayub Khan in 1965 to terminate Pakistan’s attack on India. Relations between the two countries were strained for a while but in the end larger strategic and practical considerations enabled them to get over it.
In 1999, Bill Clinton, in concert with the international community, came down hard on Pakistan over the Kargil incident and induced then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to abort it despite disgruntlement in the army. This eventually led to the coup by General Pervez Musharraf. Once again, both sides got over it, and Musharraf for a while became America’s principal non-NATO ally.
The claim, in other words, that putting pressure on Pakistan to make a deeper commitment to more active collaboration with the US coalition in Afghanistan is not as far-fetched as some contend.
Decisive political and economic pressure has worked in the past and there is no reason to believe that it would not work in this instance. Pakistan, after all, has much to gain by seriously joining in the quest to wrest Jihadistan from the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
A successful collaboration with US and coalition forces will increase Pakistan’s chances of neutralising, if not eliminating, the Jihadist quasi-state now in control of the Hindu Kush. It would also materially improve the chances for the Pakistani middle-class and the moderate political environment that recent elections set in motion to complete the task of bringing Pakistan into the mainstream of democratisation now enveloping global society.
(Harold Gould is a visiting scholar in the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia. He can be contacted at Harold.Gould4@verizon.net)
British Muslims have become a mainstay of the global 'jihad'
Kim Sengupta, Nov 29, 2008
More than 4,000 British Muslims have passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to security agencies, providing a fertile recruitment pool for the Islamist international jihad.
Men from the UK's Kashmiri community have joined groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, the prime suspects in the Mumbai attacks, which have been fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir. Others from a Pakistani background are in the ranks of the Taliban and other groups taking part in action against British and Nato forces in Afghanistan.
A former commander of the British force in Helmand, Brigadier Ed Butler, has revealed that his troops had come across British Muslims in southern Afghanistan. "There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar," he said. "There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands, but the British public does not."
Last year, RAF Nimrod intelligence-gathering aircraft tracking Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan heard insurgent fighters speaking with Yorkshire and Midlands accents.
As well as fighters joining their ranks, groups such as Lashkar also benefit from funds raised on their behalf in the UK by the Muslim community. It has also been claimed that some of the aid money donated for the earthquake disaster relief three years ago was siphoned off for militant groups.
Lashkar, previously known as Jaish-e-Mohammed, has forged links with al-Qa'ida in Pakistan and are said to have shared training camps. One of their most famous recruits was Rashid Rauf, accused of being a key member in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, who was recently reported to have been killed in an American missile strike.
British Muslim recruits have also been involved in other conflicts. Asif Hanif, 21, from London, killed three people and injured 55 by blowing himself up in Tel Aviv. A companion, Omar Sharif, 27, from Derby fled the scene after explosives strapped to his body failed to detonate and was later found dead, his body washed up on an Israeli beach.
Somalia's transitional government has accused Britain of being the main source of money and men for the fighters of the Islamist Courts Union (ICU), a fundamentalist group, in the country. The then deputy prime minister, Hussain Mohammed Aideed, declared: "The ICU's main support was coming from London, paying cash to the ICU against the government. Among those who died in the war with the ICU wereBritish passport holders."
The Independent, in Mogadishu after the Somali capital was taken over by Islamist forces last summer, discovered a significant number of young Somalis who had returned to fight for the Islamists from the Diaspora in the West. Half a dozen young men, including two brothers from Wood Green in north London, were acting as bodyguards for Sheik Yusuf, one of the main Islamist commanders. One of the brothers, Hamid, said at the time: "The true Muslims are the only ones who are honest and who are patriots. We are doing our duty by fighting for the cause of Islam, which is above all countries."
Britain has also been accused of being the centre where a number of terrorist plots abroad were planned. Moutaz Almallah Dabas, a Syrian-born Spanish citizen accused of helping those who took part in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, was extradited from London to Spain after the discovery of links between the attack and an alleged cell in England.
The scourge of terror: Islamic extremism is the enemy
Israelis began Shabbat mourning the Mumbai dead
Israelis began Shabbat knowing that the siege at Chabad House in Mumbai had ended disastrously. On Saturday night, though, the full scope of the devastation was revealed: Nine Jews were murdered, seven of them Israelis. We still do not know if there are additional Israeli or Jewish victims among the other casualties.
The toll of this mega-terrorist attack - which began Wednesday night and did not end until Saturday morning - is estimated at about 200 killed, including some 20 foreigners. Hundreds were wounded. These figures may yet climb.
Most of the victims, it should be noted, were Indian citizens, and this newspaper reiterates its condolences to their families and government. Throughout Mumbai, hundreds of households are in mourning.
Though we are a nation of only some seven million souls, we well appreciate that even in a nation of more than 1 billion, every human life is precious.
But naturally the murders of our compatriots and coreligionists, and the bereavement of their families are, today, foremost on our minds. A two-year-old boy, Moshe Holtzberg, will grow up an orphan. The anniversary of the death of his parents, Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his rabbanit, Rivka, will in perpetuity coincide with his birthday.
This will be a week of funerals in Israel, and in Jewish communities abroad, for the Mumbai victims. Psalms will be recited - "Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow…" The kaddish prayer will be chanted. And those offering condolences will pray that the families of the deceased are "comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
There will be time to reflect on each individual life that was taken. But even now, one thing is plain: Those killed at the Chabad House were murdered because they were Jewish or Israeli.
The terrorists did not inquire whether their victims were haredi, Orthodox, traditional or secular. Nor did the killers ask about their politics. All that really mattered was that they were living representatives of Jewish civilization.
Each of them died sanctifying God's name.
Israeli officials are right to argue that the civilized world is under attack. This time the assault came in India, next time it will come somewhere else. The enemy is Islamic extremism. Its immediate goal is to vanquish - by any means necessary - Western symbols and values from those parts of the world it claims as Muslim.
IT WILL take time for all the facts associated with this attack to come out. For now, there are more questions than answers.
1. How many terrorists were involved? Authorities say at least nine were killed and one - a Pakistani national - captured.
But there is every reason to believe that the number of terrorists and facilitators who brought Mumbai to a halt is far greater. This was an operation that was meticulously planned and executed. It stretches credulity to believe that these individuals were acting alone.
2. Could the security operation at the Chabad House have been better executed? Might the hostages have been rescued?
It is possible that the terrorists murdered their victims within minutes of storming the facility. And Indian forces may have been stretched too thin and were operating without several of their top commanders who had been killed at the outset of the assault on Mumbai. Rather than second guess their efforts, we prefer to wait until more is known.
3. And finally, even though this was clearly an assault against innocent civilians and exclusively against civilian targets - hospitals, hotels and a train station - why does much of the British media, including the BBC and SkyNews, label the killers "militants" instead of terrorists? Why does The Guardian join Al-Jazeera in calling them "gunmen"?
This may sound like a marginal concern, but nomenclature matters: The primary, often only, target of terrorists are civilians. Anti-civilian warfare is a key tool of Muslim extremists. Terrorism is a cruelty that has become the scourge of modern civilization and changed the way we live. It has debased humanity.
The international community, together with responsible elements in the media, should show zero tolerance for the kind of depravity manifested in Mumbai.
And a vital step to confronting it effectively is to recognize terrorism and call it by its name.
A cloud over India's Muslims
By Martha Nussbaum
November 30, 2008
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be indelibly linked to the country's Muslims, despite the likelihood of outside influence.
By Martha Nussbaum, November 30, 2008
If, as now seems likely, last week's terrible events in Mumbai were the work of Islamic terrorists, that's more bad news for India's minority Muslim population. Never mind that the perpetrators were probably funded from outside India, in connection with the ongoing conflict over Kashmir. The attacks will feed a powerful stereotype of the violent and untrustworthy Muslim, bent on religious conquest, who can never be a good democratic citizen. Such stereotypes already shadow the lives of Indian Muslims, who make up 13.5% of the population.
But it's important to consider Indian terrorism in a broader context.
Terrorism in India is by no means peculiar to Muslims. A string of recent incidents has been linked to Islamic groups, most of these with foreign ties and pertaining to Kashmir. However, the most bloody recent example of terrorism in India was the slaughter of as many as 2,000 Muslim civilians by Hindu right-wing mobs in the state of Gujarat over several months in 2002.
This horrendous pogrom was portrayed at the time as retaliation for an alleged Muslim torching of a train car carrying mostly Hindu passengers. Two independent inquiries have since concluded that the fire was, instead, a tragic accident caused by passengers' kerosene stoves.
But even if that was not known at the time, most of those killed -- or raped or beaten -- lived long distances from the original incident and could have had no connection to it. Moreover, there was copious evidence of pre-planning: Hindu right-wing groups had kept lists of Muslim dwellings and businesses.
Evidence that Gujarat's state government egged-on the perpetrators was also overwhelming and led to the U.S. State Department in 2005 denying a visa to Narendra Modi, Gujarat's chief minister. Recently, the Indian investigative journal Tehelka uncovered even more proof of government complicity in the murderous, anti-Muslim attacks. A Tehelka reporter using a hidden camera interviewed participants in the Gujarat violence, who described how bombs were manufactured in factories owned by members of the Hindu right; how arms were smuggled from other states; how the police were instructed to look the other way.
One leader of the Bajrang Dal (a paramilitary Hindu right-wing group) described his own role with pride: "There was this pregnant woman, I slit her open. ...They shouldn't even be allowed to breed. I say that even today. Whoever they are, women, children, whoever, nothing to be done with them but cut them down. Thrash them, slash them, burn the bastards. ... The idea is, don't keep them alive at all; after that, everything is ours."
The revelation that members of the Hindu right have embraced ethno-religious cleansing should amaze nobody. Since the 1930s, their movement has insisted that India is for Hindus, and that both Muslims and Christians are foreigners who should have second-class status in the nation.
This year, in the eastern state of Orissa, members of the Bajrang Dal have murdered scores of Christians who refused to reconvert to Hinduism. (Most Indian Christians are descendants of converts, often from the lowest Hindu castes.) Peaceful villages have been reduced to ashes; a church-run orphanage was torched; dozens of churches have been destroyed; missionaries and priests have been murdered in cold blood. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes, and at least 30,000 are homeless. The rallying cry: "Kill Christians and destroy their institutions."
In August, the Catholic bishops of India closed Catholic schools across the country "as a protest against the atrocities on the Christian community and other innocent people." Such actions, aimed at transforming India's pluralistic democracy into an ethnocentric regime, pose a grave threat to India's future.
All of this is terrorism, but most of it doesn't reach the world's front pages. When it does make it into newspapers outside India, the word "terrorism" is rarely used. The result is a perception, in India and abroad, that Muslims are the bad guys in every incident of terrorist violence.
Such stereotypes are so prevalent that many state bar associations in India refuse to defend Muslims accused of complicity in terrorism -- despite the fact that India's constitution guarantees all accused a cost-free defence.
Meanwhile, Muslim youths are often rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence, an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States.
Some Muslims are criminals. However, this does not justify demonizing Muslims, any more than the violent acts of the Hindu right justify stereotyping all Hindus as rapists and murderers. Let's go after criminals with determination, good evidence and fair trials, and let's stop targeting people based on their religious affiliation.
Martha Nussbaum is a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. Her books include "The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future" (2007) and "Liberty of Conscience: In Defence of America's Tradition of Religious Equality" (2008).