RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY AND TERRORISM
"How do you win a cosmic war? By refusing to fight in one." (Reza Aslan)
Normally, mainstream religions eschew violence, and are embarrassed when their theology is abused. Religion is supposed to represent the codification of values in a society; i.e., the things that stand for peace and harmony, a better future, a system of best behaviors, etc. However, what is idealistic can also be cynical. What can support life can also support death. What supports peace can also perpetuate war. What sets religious terrorism apart from ordinary terrorism is NOT the obvious fact that some peaceful, mainstream theology is being abused or usurped (there will always be dozens of different theological interpretations and misinterpretations), but that religious terrorism goes straight to the core of what it takes to die for a cause. All sorts of unconscionable, unconstrained violence can be justified. Certain militaristic thinking captures some of this "at-all-costs" diehard tactic, but only religious zealotry can justify a cosmic, never-ending war that goes on even in the afterlife. Religious terrorism is known for its constant target expansion (Martin 2012), and it doesn't really care, as secular terrorism does, about popular support and sympathy.
Tragically, all major religions can justify violence. They are set up to exert an enormous influence on families for generations. They are also centrally concerned with the difference between good and bad. All religions continuously ponder over whether it is right to use evil to fight evil, and/or when all the ethical restraints come off in order to carry out God's command. Religions also concern themselves heavily with notions of justice and self-defense. There may even be some kind of connection between attachment to the idea of a God and a proclivity toward violence. This is implicit in such beliefs as: God-given rights, magical protections, mystical signs, and a no-holds-barred attitude toward enemies. Religions often claim to be inclusive, but in reality constitute an exclusive community of believers, true believers, and fence-sitters. This diversity among the types of believers in any religious group is itself dangerous. It doesn't protect anybody to say that "one should not stereotype" or that "bad apples exist in any crowd." Religious terrorists know how to play that card very well, because the rationale for their actions is always a moving target. They will adapt, change, or modify any part of their religious interpretation to avoid attribution, as long as the slightest string of a connection exists with an ethics which justifies violence.
Exactly how religions justify violence is often subtle. It may be that the most common resort to violence occurs when a group feels threatened or deprived of its rightful share of resources. Less common may be an obvious reference to the right to slaughter in the name of one's deity (although this impulse does occur). Degradation of women appears to be a common theme in many religions, ostensibly for protection of sexuality purposes, but most likely for resource protection purposes. Otis (2002) says that religious terrorists are always misogynist and homophobic. In such ways, religions can be said to be simply disguised forms of political economy. They are designed to carve out niches of economic and political power. They have intimate and intricate connections with law, and although there are no good legal definitions of religion, there are sociological and anthropological ones, such as: "a unified set of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden, which unite all who adhere to them into one single moral community" (Durkheim 1915: 37) and "a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic" (Geertz 1985: 4).
Political economists of religion (Neibuhr 1957; Weber 1963) usually start their analysis with a distinction between monotheistic and polytheistic religions (and the various churches, ecclesia, and denominations within). The most frequently studied groups are "established" or state religions. Traditional or "established" religions are often closely allied with the state and secular powers (frequently being enmeshed or intermingled with them). They always have to reconcile or compromise with secular powers for the "routinization of charisma" which helps them carry on after their leaders die. Routinization of charisma involves the development of standardized rites and rituals which help the religion become more hierarchical, bureaucratic, and theoretically "pure." Far more interesting are the less bureaucratic entities known as sects and cults, which are usually treated as ideal types using the Weber/Troeltsch church-sect typology (Troeltsch 1992) although Weber and Troeltsch only distinguished between church-types and sect-types and it was Becker (1932) who introduced the concept of a "cult" to denote the more loosely organized and mystical type of sect. As Lofland and Stark (1965) have noted, some sort of "subcultural deviance or tension" always exists between sects and cults and the rest of society.
Religions often spawn sects and cults just as parent terrorist groups tend to spawn offshoots and factions. Sects and cults tend to be quite dogmatic, believing they hold the "one true way" to truth and salvation (Wallis 1976). They typically have strong ideologies and worldviews. Sociologically, a sect is a protest offshoot of an established religion, and its leaders tend to come from a lower socio-economic class than the members of the parent denomination. In fact, one of the most common characteristics of a sect is a disdain for the habits of the wealthy. Sects almost always either die off or expand into what is called a institutionalized sect, which is a sort of halfway point in becoming an established denomination. Sectarian dissolution or expansion is determined by how well the group embraces or or tries to manipulate the political world (outer-worldliness). When a sect is in manipulation mode, it can be quite aggressive (sectarian violence).
A cult, on the other hand, can form without breaking off from a parent group. It will either claim a belief in something completely new and fantastic OR it will claim to have discovered something lost and forgotten. It's leadership tends to be drawn from the middle or upper classes, and in all cases involves charismatic leadership. This means that cults frequently come to a sudden demise when the leadership dies. A cult is much more likely to play the role of victim, not the aggressor (although some of them can be quite dangerous, especially if they have a doomsday orientation). A cult, as opposed to a sect, is usually quite interested in controlling the private thoughts and feelings of its members (inner-worldliness). Although homicidal and suicidal tendencies can exist in both sects and cults (and even the worship of terrorist methods in what might be called a terrorism cult), cults are usually more dangerous than sects, with the caveat that cults are not to be rigorously distinguished from sects.
WHEN RELIGION GOES BAD
There are four warning signs of a dangerous religious group:
(1) apocalyptic thinking, or eschatology, that the world is coming to an
end, and true believers will enjoy unique rewards at endtime
(2) charismatic leadership where the leader dominates the followers spiritually, emotionally, and sexually
(3) paranoia and demonization of outsiders, accompanied by intellectual isolation within a cloistered community
(4) preparations of an unusual nature, usually indicated by a buildup of guns, poisons, and/or weapons of mass destruction
Many terrorist experts (Lewy 1974; White 2002) regard apocalyptic thinking as the first and most important danger sign. However, it may very well be the indoctrination phase (warning sign #2) is the most dangerous point. Unfortunately, little is know about religious indoctrination patterns and effects, but it has always been assumed cult indoctrination is worse because it borders on mind control. Far more visible is the paranoia warning sign, especially with sects and cults, and for cults in particular. Many cults start out with the publication of some book or treatise by the leader, usually rich in paranoia. In this phase, they are called "audience cults" and membership only consists of those who have read the book, but have never met. The "book" may call for the establishment of leaderless cells or something, but it will definitely produce a marketable effect in controlling membership. In the next phase, the audience cult becomes a "client cult" which describes a group of regular customers who seek to purchase more products, goods, or services that are associated with the leadership. By the time the group becomes organized, one individual at a time, the membership becomes ready for preparations and mobilization. In this phase, a cult movement is said to have started.
Kimball's (2003) book, When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs, is also informative. His five warning signs include:
(1) absolute truth claims
(2) blind obedience
(3) establishing the "ideal" time
(4) the end justifies the means
(5) declaring holy war
An "evil" religion is an intolerant religion, meaning it is disrespectful of other faiths. This is the meaning of absolute truth claims. Blind obedience means a preference for an authoritarian-like, unquestioning attitude toward religious authority. Establishing the "ideal" time means that the religion envisions an ideal utopia of some kind, some day (the name and place of the utopia being unimportant). However, what is important is warning signs #4. A religion becomes truly evil and corrupt when it violates its own moral precepts, and it does this by saying that because sometimes the goal of religious salvation can NOT be disconnected from life in this world, it is sometimes necessary to take radical or extremist action to bring the world of salvation more into balance with the world of everyday life. This is the point at which religion says it's OK for the end to justify the means. Kimball (2003) pretty much treats the concept of holy war as a type of patriotism, and it should be noted that students of Islamist jihad will be disappointed in reading his book because he underemphasizes it and overemphasizes Christian excesses.
Let's briefly examine some of the major world religions:
|CHRISTIANITY: The most popular religion in the world (33%) and the one with the most historical record of violence, much of it in-fighting. A person becomes Christian by being born again (Conservatives), baptized (Protestants and Catholics), reciting the Apostles' creed (Catholics), or having a personal relationship with Jesus (Liberals). Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the Apostles' creed. The strongest bond involves interpretation of the New Testament, although Fundamentalists (Extreme Conservatives) believe the Bible is inerrant and not subject to modern interpretation. Evangelism (aka missionaryism) is also biblically oriented, but emphasizes a personal conversion experience and sharing one's faith or applying it to some cultural issue.|
|ISLAM: The world's second largest (20%) and fastest growing religion (by birthrate). The word Islam is derived from the word "salam", meaning peace or submission. Allah is a word meaning one true God. Muslim is a word meaning a person who submits to the will of God. A person becomes Muslim by becoming a follower of Islam, attending a mosque (all are non-denominational), reading the Qur'an, holding six beliefs (involving God, angels, messengers, Satan, Day of Judgment, and Jesus was no son of God), and practicing five pillars (reciting a creed, praying 5 times a day, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage). Sikhism is a cross between Islam and Hinduism that rejects elitism and cherishes ceremonial weapons. So-called Islamism is the ideologization of Islam, drawing upon various strands which see God as irrationally all-powerful and Allah's religion as primarily concerned with force and power.|
|HINDUISM: The world's third largest (13%) religion and the oldest organized one. The word Hindu comes from the Persian, from the Indian name for the river Indus - Sindhu. The Persians commonly replaced the S sounds with H sounds, and Hindus to them were people who inhabited the areas bounded by the Sindhu river. It is a religion without a founder, and a person becomes Hindu by reading the sacred texts, recognizing the holy trinity (Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer), and practicing various hymns, incantations, and Yoga to commune your soul with the unity of all reality. Most Hindus (80%) regard Vishnu as the ultimate deity, although there are many sects. Hindus believe in transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation, in judgment for good and bad acts.|
|BUDDHISM: The world's fourth largest (6%) religion, founded by Buddha in 535 BC. Buddha is a term meaning one who is enlightened or has awakened. In Buddhism, there is no God, savior, sin, or heaven or hell, only a state of Nirvana achieved by meditation and avoiding extremes of mortification and hedonism. Many practicing Buddhists are monks, but there are many "schools" of Buddhism and not one or two guiding texts but many sutras. Southeast Asia practices Southern Buddhism which emphasizes karma. China, Japan and Korea practice Eastern Buddhism, which celebrates festivals and social class standing. Tibet, Mongolia, and Russia practice Northern Buddhism (the Dalai Lama being the ruler) which emphasizes pilgrimages to holy sites. A variety of traditions are often mixed with local culture. Most Japanese (85%), for example, mix it with Shinto, an ancient nature worship religion, and Shintoists also follow Confucianism (love of family) or Taoism (the force that flows thru life).|
|JUDAISM: Not one of the world's largest (0.2%) religions, but one of the most influential. The history of the Jews is chronicled in the Old Testament, which corresponds to their sacred texts, the Torah being only five chapters of it. Jews believe in an incorporeal God who is all-powerful (i.e., monitoring everything on earth, but also merciful and just). There is no savior in Judaism, and the Jews are the chosen people not because they think of themselves are superior but because they believe, theologically, they have received more difficult responsibilities and will receive more punishments if they fail. Judaism's conception of redemption from sin involves a turning over of the natural order predicted by the Prophets. Synagogues are governed by the congregation, the Rabbi being someone well educated. The main forms are Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative (an intermediate position between Orthodox and Reform).|
Professor Huntington (1996) in his book Clash of Civilizations makes the argument that religion determines culture and that at least eight separate culture clashes are occurring in the world today. The Middle East, of course, goes without saying, and he points to the Balkan (Yugoslavian) region as a place where clashes between Christianity, Orthodox Christianity and Islam often erupt into violence. Japan is another area ripe for conflict, as is the Indian subcontinent and Hindu region. Latin America and Africa will have emerging clashes, mostly Christian in-fighting, or in the case of Africa (which is 40% Christian and 40% Muslim), an ultimate battle clash.
Established religions can often provide a mantle or cloak of respectability for terrorism. The JUST WAR DOCTRINE is a religious precept, and as old as war itself. Parts of the Bible hint at it, and St. Thomas Aquinas synthesized it in Summa Theologicae. While some argue that nuclear weapons have made the doctrine outmoded, it might be illustrative to review the basic principles here:
A just war is only a last resort; all non-violent options must have been exhausted
A just war is carried out by an authority with legitimacy; some society must sanction it
The only permissible reason for a just war is to redress an injury or wrong suffered
A just war should only be fought if there is a reasonable chance of success
The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace
Violence in a just war must be proportional to the violence of the injury suffered
The weapons of a just war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants
Equally as important as just war theory is in understanding religious terrorism, there is a need to understand the morality of religious warfare, which in many ways is like the morality of asymmetric warfare. Take, for example, the following quotation from Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Reformation in Christianity -- "It is both Christian and an act of love to kill the enemy without hesitation, to plunder and burn and injure him by any method until he is conquered, except that one must beware of sin and not to violate wives and virgins." The point of the discussion here is that there are always moral constraints to religious warfare. They may not be the same kind of constraints reflected in just war principles, but they are constraints nonetheless, and represent a particular kind of restraint (e.g., not violate wives and virgins) which reflects a moral superiority against overpowering odds (asymmetric power situation). Religious terrorists may cross the boundaries of fair play, but they are almost always convinced in their own minds of the moral superiority of their actions. However, this is not morality in the usual sense of having a broad social base. What makes religious terrorism so dangerous, so interested in apocalypse and catastrophe, is that the morality is usually personality-driven. In this sense, one either has the vision or they don't. Religious terrorists are often their own constituency, having no external audience for their acts of destruction (Morgan 2007).
WAR NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO WIN
Half of the world's thirty most dangerous terrorist groups claim religion as their motivation. This motivation involves believing that their religion mandates acts of terror as sacred duty in an endless, cosmic struggle for the best way to please God. Religious terrorism has no military objective. A holy war, or jihad, is endless because it has a spiritual objective. No one ever knows when God is pleased enough, and when the situation in heaven matches the situation on earth. Nobody cares who or how many get killed in spiritual warfare. It for this reason that experts say religious terrorism might not be the world's most dangerous type, but it certainly is the most dedicated and unpredictable (Juergensmeyer 2001). While some are, most religious terrorists are NOT part of a sect or cult. Instead, most religious terrorists are devout, fundamentalist, "true" believers in their mainstream religion. The divine mandate for destruction is regarded as the "neglected duty" within the mainstream religion, and implied, directly or indirectly, in the sacred texts, or at least their interpretation of those sacred texts. Religious terrorists also do NOT consider themselves terrorists, since they say they do not enjoy violence for the sake of violence. They regard themselves as religious activists or militants. Religious terrorists always seem to be spiritually "prepared" for violence, and they have long past the point of having second thoughts or doubts about it.
Religious terrorism is not countered by the same factors that counter other forms of terrorism. Neither military nor diplomatic solutions seem to work. Cease fires and negotiations also don't work, for example, with organizations containing no "secular" wing. Only a few religious organizations (like the IRA) maintain a secular, or political front. Hoffman (1999) argues that even groups with secular wings will act unconstrained because they are playing to God and no one else. It's also plausible to argue that religious terrorists don't want to win, since religion is at base an underdog philosophy which needs an overpowering demonized enemy, or Great Satan. In many ways, religious terrorism wants to fail because it adheres to some martyrdom notion of being the world's "loser." This kind of losing ideology is called fatalistic suicide, and is more common that egoistic and altruistic suicide. The greatest fear that most analysts have is if weapons of mass destruction get in the hands of religious terrorists -- they have no fear of destroying themselves and everybody else in the process.
The model known as Irish terrorism is also a model for nationalistic terrorism, but here, we will only consider the religious elements of it, and patterns that have emerged between the Catholics (GREENS) and Protestants (ORANGE). Historically, most Catholics were republicans living in the South, and Protestants were unionists (also landlords and industrialists) living in the North. Each side had been arguing and arming themselves since the 19th century. The first major conflict erupted on Easter in 1916 when the unionists called in British help, and the town of Dublin was demolished by British artillery. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was formed that day, and led by Michael Collins, a student of Russian anarchism and terrorism. Murder and mayhem followed until a brief peace came after creation of independent Southern Ireland (the Republic of Ireland) in 1921. The struggle then shifted to Northern Ireland, where the British tightened their hold by creating the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a sort of semi-military police force, which became the favorite target of the Provisional IRA (a Northern Ireland spin-off group affiliated with the Sinn Fein party -- another spin-off group being the Irish Continuity Army, dedicated to international terrorism, not just within Ireland). The Provisional IRA committed sporadic acts of terrorism until 1994 when peace talks began, and a cease-fire was agreed to. During the cease-fire (which some see as surrender), another spin-off group emerged - the Real IRA, which is the group officially recognized as the present foreign terrorist organization although there are still active elements of the Continuity IRA.
There are many theories of the Irish conflict, but any understanding must admit that religion, politics, and economics are inseparably mixed. The three main denominations in Ireland are Catholic, Church of England, and Presbyterian - all religions of providence that emphasize the need for God's approval of secular affairs. Competition for political influence runs high, and people vote along religious lines. Economic discrimination (for jobs) also tends to revolve around religion. Everyone wants to control the state for reasons of deeply felt religious and economic deprivations, and this desire permeates all aspects of everyday life. Religion may not be the root cause of Irish conflict, but it is definitely the fuel that flames the passions. Most Irish terrorism is in the name of retaliation or retribution, and this kind of retaliation is driven by spiritual conceptions of vengeance. The GREENS believe they are protecting their homeland from human rights abuses at the hands of an illegitimate British government which is unaccountable under any rule of law (Bloody Sunday being a reminder of this). The ORANGE believe they are being betrayed by a peace-seeking British government and must retaliate for more lethal, indiscriminate, and evil terrorism (the Omagh bombing being a reminder of this).
MICHAEL COLLINS (1890-1922): Irish revolutionary, soldier, politician, and founder of the IRA. He was disgusted at the defamation and oppression Irish suffered at the hands of the British, and studied the hit-and-run tactics of the Boers in South Africa while in prison during 1916. Elected to the Sinn Fein executive committee in 1917, he formed intelligence networks, loan programs, and assassination squads (the Twelve Apostles). He excelled at fund raising, arms smuggling, and helping comrades escape from jail. The Twelve Apostles effectively wiped out the British secret service presence in Ireland. He helped create the first Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921, but was shot by a ricocheting bullet during an ambush by anti-treaty forces.
THE REAL IRA (OMAGH BOMBING): In August of 1998, just weeks after peace talks looked like they were going to finally settle the Irish conflict once and for all, a car bomb went off in a crowded shopping center of Omagh, a town that is roughly 60-40 Catholic-Protestant. The high-tech device killed 29 innocent civilians, including Protestants, Catholics, a Mormon and two Spanish visitors. The victims ranged in age from unborn children to grannies. Both republicans and unionists were killed, including a prominent member of the Ulster Unionist Party, a team from the Gaelic Athletic Association, and students from the Irish Republic who were up north on a day trip. The bombing sparked a trip to Northern Ireland by President Clinton to jump-start the peace talks once again, but in 2001, the U.S. declared them a terrorist group and froze their assets.
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN THE SOUTH ASIAN CONTEXT
Very often, religious terrorism is mixed with ethnic conflict. That is the situation on the Indian subcontinent and throughout much of South Asia where one identifies as ______-speaking, ______-believing. Sri Lanka, a poor island south of India formerly known as Ceylon, is a good example (see IISS Armed Conflict Database on Sri Lanka). There, about 75% of the people are Sinhalese-speaking, Buddhist-believing, 12% of the people are Tamil-speaking, Hindu-believing, and 8% of the people are Arab-speaking, Muslim-believing. The Tamils have long hated the Sinhalese practice of infusing Buddhist philosophy into politics, but there are moderate factions within the Tamils who believe that the Sinhalese can be bargained with. The Tamil Tigers (highlighted below) appear to have admitted defeat in 2009, but had a distinctive legacy.
TAMIL TIGERS, or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), are a uniformed terrorist group with their own web page who fight the Sri Lankan and Indian governments, as well as any moderate Tamils who oppose their cause, which is ostensibly a Tamil homeland, but in reality involves ethnic and Hindu fanaticism (spiritualism, sexual asceticism, and cult of suicide). Since 1975, they killed thousands of people and assassinated two world leaders -- the only terrorist group in the world to do so. They invented the suicide belt and pioneered the use of women. Their fighting force is estimated at 10,000 (including women and children). They maintain international headquarters in London and Paris, receive training in Lebanon, and are known for their on-again, off-again truces of peace. Recognized as one of the most effective guerrilla fighting forces in the world (on the Chinese-Cuban pattern), they have for years virtually ruled the Jaffna peninsula (Northernmost part of Sri Lanka). They possess modern high-tech weapons, including computers, SAM missiles, and their own small navy. They operate numerous corporate business fronts which smuggle arms, drugs, and other commodities. They are among the most dangerous and deadly terrorist groups in the world, and proud of the "terrorist" label.
South Asia (which includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal) has the highest population densities in the world (Bombay = 127,000 people per sq mi. - NYC only 24,000/sq mi), there are dozens of languages, low life expectancies, and not enough food to go around (people believing more children means better chance of growing food). After Mohandas Gandhi led a non-violent war of independence in 1947, North India (which was primarily Islamic) became partitioned off from South India (which was primarily Hindu), and Pakistan was born out of a mass migration. In 1971, a ethnic conflict centered in Pakistan led to another mass migration, this time forming Bangladesh. Since 1975, the Sikhs have controlled the "emergency zone" Punjab region. India has experienced domestic terrorism at the hands of groups like Assam (United Liberation Front of Assam) in the Bengali region. The result is a region with scattered ethno-religious groups, all trying to exercise political clout or self-determination in one way or another. The Kashmir conflict is a good example of this kind of struggle or conflict.
KASHMIR, an area on the northern borders of India and Pakistan, and officially known as Jammu & Kashmir, is about 70% Muslim (convertees at one point in their history) and the rest include Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Both India and Pakistan have claimed and fought over Kashmir since 1948. Since 1989, Kashmiri militants, suspected of Pakistani backing, have taken up arms against the Indian military presence. Three main groups - Hizbul Mujahideen; Lashkar-e-Toyeba; and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen - are reluctant to stipulate in detail what they are fighting for, beyond the removal of India from Kashmir. Recently a Pan-Islamic group - Jaish-e-Mohammad [Army of Mohammad] - has emerged to join the cause, and religious jihad is regularly practiced by other Islamist groups there. More than 30,000 men, women and children have died in the past decade, with some estimates as high as 60,000 people. It is one of the world's most dangerous places. India deploys more than 500,000 security personnel in the area to combat the insurgency. India and Pakistan have repeatedly come close to war there with both sides nuclear armed.
Adherents of different religions often claim they cannot live with one other in the same area. Buddhism tends to be practiced by people living in highland areas, Hindu by lowland people, and Islam by city folk. In Buddhism, everything and everyone is equal. In Hinduism (as well as Confucianism), everything is born unequal - some people are born noble, others are not. Islam and Christianity tend to fuel the mix by adding elements of fundamentalism, most notably in the notion of martydom, which is highly attractive to the Asian region because it has the highest suicides rates of anywhere in the world. Ethno-religious terrorism in the region baffles most experts. It is difficult to distinguish religious and nonreligious motivation, and South Asian terrorism tends to be heavily mixed with a criminal element, both organized and unorganized. Ahmad (2002) is most likely right: the world probably has more to fear from a "Hindu bomb" than the "Muslim" bomb one so frequently hears about.
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN THE BALKAN CONTEXT
The Yugoslavia region and the neighboring Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, and Romania) [see larger map of region] have long been a region of ethnic and religious conflict. There are over 10 million Balkan Muslims (Kosovo, Bosnia, and Bulgaria have over 2 million each), and anti-Muslim hatred runs high as does anti-Christian hatred (the Serbs are Christian). Balkan Muslims are not your average Muslims. They drink, smoke, celebrate Easter and Christmas, and are the descendants of Christians who converted to Islam in the 15-16th century to avoid persecution by the Ottoman Empire. Their sworn enemies are those of Serbian and Slavic descent who happen to be decended from Orthodox Christianity who see their job as protecting Europe from Muslim invasion. In the words of the Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic, they're "dirty rotten Turks who breed like rabbits, run drugs, flood Slav lands with their alien offspring, and deserve to be sent back to Mecca where they belong."
The Balkans War was fought from 1991 to 1999, with America and
NATO involved in the middle of it, first with Croatia
(1991-1995) where we backed the Muslims, then with Bosnia
(1992-1995) which is still under U.N. occupation, and then with
Kosovo (1999) where we bombed Belgrade and other
Yugoslav cities, accidentally hitting a Chinese embassy in the process.
The Balkan war is regarded by most U.S. experts as a tragic mistake. There
are an abundance of books on the subject, along the lines of "NATO's
Blunder" (Carpenter 2000). It was the first time American bombers struck
European cities since World War II, and it was the first first netwar of
propaganda, as charges of "real" terrorism and genocide bounced across the
Internet. In retrospect, all sides to the conflict committed atrocities.
Croatia had a large Serbian population in the middle of the country, and
they fought hand-to-hand until NATO helped march the Serbs out at
gunpoint. In Bosnia, the town of Sarajevo was devastated, and U.N.
peacekeepers observed such things as "ethnic cleansing" where Serbian
soldiers tried to impregnate non-Serbian women. In the late 1990s, over
5000 Kosovar people (a term coined by NATO - Kosovars consider themselves
Albanians or Kosovo Albanians), were killed by Serbian police and
military, and another 1.5 million became refugees in nearby Albania,
Macedonia, and Montenegro. The
Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) were regarded as terrorists by Serbians, and the world is
judging Milosevic and the Serb leadership as terrorists. The Arab world
tends to see U.S. and NATO involvement in the conflict as an example of
Christianity trying to wipe out Islam in one last, great crusade. Today
(2004), Kosovo is still officially a province of Serbia and Montenegro,
although it is governed by a UN regime (UNMIK)
and patrolled by NATO forces (K-FOR
troups, consisting mostly of German soldiers). Violence is an almost
everyday event, most of the time involving Muslim Albanians killing
Christian Serbs or burning down Christian churches.
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN THE EURASIAN CONTEXT
The former Russia (Russian Federation) and its Caucasus region have long experienced terrorism which escalated in 1999 with the start of Russia's war on terrorism in Chechnya. The Chechens are a Muslim people (again not your average Muslims) who hate the Russians, declared their independence in 1991, and beat the Russians in a ground war from 1994-1996. Their cause has become the cause of Muslims everywhere. In fact, the idea of an international mujahidin can be traced to the Chechnya conflict. There is evidence of a Chechen connection to an al-Qaeda terrorist network, and Chechen militants fought alongside al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Chechen terrorism has spread throughout the region into Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Moscow itself. One of the groups involved in spillover violence is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), but Chechnya produces plenty of its own militant groups. The region is used as a base for financial and logistic assistance to terrorist groups worldwide. The Islamic charity organization known as the Global Relief Foundation had a headquarters in Chechnya, and is a known front for financing terrorist groups. Russian organized crime is also heavily active in the region and involved in arms smuggling. The Arab news network al-Jazeera frequently broadcasts pictures of Chechen civilians killed in the Russian war on terrorism. Numerous pro-Chechnya websites can be found on the Internet.
The Chechen terrorists are financed by the Chechen mafia as well as with Saudi money (for building mosques) and Arab relief fronts. There are some 150 Chechen mafia groups operating in or near Moscow, and they seem to prefer London, rather than Switzerland, as their money laundering center. They are constantly engaged in gang warfare with other Russian gangs, most notably the Solntsevskaya, and of course, in making whatever profit they can from criminal activity. Chechen terrorism is largely successful because the Chechen mafia obtain and pass on intelligence obtained from bribing Russian military personnel. Both Chechen and Russian mafia groups have been involved in the nuclear black market, smuggling depleted plutonium, cesium, and other radioactive material that makes "dirty" bombs. An in-depth analysis of Chechen terrorism is called for.
In-depth Analysis of Chechen Terrorism
The main terrorist group is called Riyadus-Salikhin
Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM).
The Chechens are a traditionalist Muslim
ethnic group that has lived for centuries in the mountainous Caucasus
region near the city of Grozny and has consistently resisted
Russian subjugation. In terms of religion, they have been most influenced
by significant divisions among the Sufi sects and brotherhoods of Islam,
particularly the more militant strands of Sufism, and in recent years, by
extremist varieties of Wahhabism. Chechen Muslims are determined to build
a "pure" Muslim society which would be organized and regulated according
to the Shariat law, and consist of a larger Islamic state in the Northern
Caucasus which would include Daghestan, Ingushetia and possibly other
Russian regions. [For religious background, see JMU's Islam in the
North Caucasus at
http://www.jmu.edu/orgs/wrni/islam1.htm.] The Chechens have a long
hatred of the Russians. During World War II, the Soviet dictator Stalin
accused the Chechens of cooperating with the Nazis and forcibly deported,
starved, or killed tens of thousands of them. After the Soviet Union
collapsed in 1991, Chechnya, along with 14 other breakaway republics
(Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tadjikistan, Turmenistan, and
Uzbekistan) declared independence. The Soviets let these other 14 go
peacefully, but not Chechnya. Russia fought two (2) wars against
(2) the second Chechen war (1999-present)
was precipitated by the Chechen incursion into Dagestan (a Russian
Federation country to the East strategically located next to oil in the
Caspian Sea), but Dagestan was also a country Chechnya wanted to
Islamicize, and did, somewhat successfully, since about half the
population in Dagestan has joined Chechnya in its "holy war" against
Russia and the other half of the population are refugees attempting to
flee somewhere. International aid organizations attempting to help the
refugees are handicapped by the prevalence of kidnapping in the region,
and Chechen-Dagestani rebels have not hesitated to kidnap or execute any
relief workers, journalists, or foreign nationals who enter the area.
Dagestani government forces fight alongside Russian soldiers, but mainly
do border patrol work. So far, 60,000 civilians have been killed in this
war, and it shows no signs of ending, although the Russians have declared
it officially over and want several hundred refugees in Ingushetia to
return to Chechnya. [Wikipedia article:
|Strategy, Tactics, and
Hit-and-run attacks are primarily used against the Russian military and Russian civilians. Chechen terrorism demonstrates an amazing ability to defeat the toughest of Russian security measures, presumably through deception, bribes, advanced technology, or inside intelligence. Roadside bombs, for example, are often placed along where a target is sure to travel, and Chechen terrorist training camps [video available at http://www.intellnet.org/resources/chechen_terrorists/6.html] are not only well-equipped, but technologically sophisticated, as e-mail and cell phone communication is quite common. Suicide attacks seem only to be used as a last resort, or at times when public sympathy is needed. Extortion, gun-running, counterfeiting, and kidnapping-for-ransom are internal sources of revenue, and external funding is received by al-Qaeda, Islamic charities, and reportedly Saudi Arabia. Popular support for the Chechen cause among the Muslim world is widespread. The Arabic satellite news network al-Jazeera frequently broadcasts reports of Russian abuses, often accompanied by graphic footage of dead or wounded Chechen civilians. The United States stands by Russia's right to subdue the Chechen rebellion, and the U.S. frequently downplays Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya. At any given time, Chechen terrorists hold about 700 international hostages, and at least 4 American citizens have been taken hostage and killed. Some Chechen terrorist ideology is strongly anti-American.
|The photo to the left is of a 1999 Russian Apartment Building blast that killed 64 residents. Two other similar bombing attacks occured that year. From 2000-2002, numerous bombing attacks on Russian parades and shopping markets were made, culminating in a October 2002 57-hour seizure of a Moscow theater where some 700 people were attending a performance. Russian special forces launched a commando raid, and the opium-derived gas (fentanyl) they used to disable the hostage-takers killed more than 120 hostages, as well as many of the terrorists. The Chechens turned to suicide bomber tactics shortly after this. [Navy report: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/may03/russia.asp]|
|The al-Qaeda Connection
The late Chechen warlord Khattab (killed in 2002) fought alongshide Osami bin Laden during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Other Chechen militants joined Taliban forces against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance during the Afghan War, and the Taliban was the only government to recognize Chechen independence. The 9/11 ringleader, Muhammad Atta, initially planned to join the fight in Chechnya. Zacarias Moussaoui, the “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks was a recruiter for al-Qaeda-backed rebels in Chechnya. Most experts put the number of al-Qaeda fighters or foreign mercenaries in Chechnya at approximately 200. The current leader, or field commander, of RSRSBCM is Shamil Basayev, known as "The Che Guevera of Russia," the "Most Wanted Man in Russia," or the "Top of Interpol's Most Wanted List." [See dossier at http://www.diacritica.com/sobaka/dossier/basayev.html and Army Intel Report at http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/fmsopubs/issues/shamil/shamil.htm]. Basayev has also been declared an "international terrorist" by the U.S. State Dept. He has a reputation for being resistant to being killed (despite numerous attempts), and ideologically, he regards Palestinian terrorist groups as being too "peaceful" and easy on their enemy, and has vowed to come down to the middle east after he "liberates" Chechnya and free Palestine. Some Basayev quotes appear below:
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN THE NORTH AFRICAN CONTEXT
Sudan is the largest country in Africa (roughly the size of Europe), and located south of Egypt. It has been a war zone since it's independence from Britain in 1954. Years of dictatorships and military coups have been the norm, with the situation escalating in the 1990s to genocide. Northern Sudan (the safer region) consists of 8 million Arabic-speaking Muslims, and an indigenous black Nuba population which the current government has been trying to exterminate. Southern Sudan consists of 6 million black Africans who are Christians or animists (animism is a primitive religion that every object, even a rock, has a soul). The current government's goal is to become Africa's first all-Islamic nation, so Islamic Law and Jihad are used to persecute and execute any non-believers. Christians, in particular are regularly murdered, raped, maimed, or forced into slavery. The National Islamic Front regime which holds the capital city of Khartoum regards Christian missionary activity as Western invasion. Osama bin Laden hid for many years in Sudan. Next to Iran, Sudan is one of the world's largest sponsors of terrorism, but it is trying to change that, and began cooperating with America's war on terror in 2002, but American intelligence and diplomatic officials are quite suspicious of Sudan's sincerity in this regard.
SUDANESE TERRORISM: Government officials wear NIF (National Islamic Front) emblems. Soldiers wear GoS (Government of Sudan) emblems. The main extremist group sometimes wears PDF (Popular Defense Force) emblems. All three are government-sponsored, and the larger PDF is filled with Muslim fanatics. Militia groups use names like Mujahadeen (holy warriors) or Murahaleen, and fight alongside government forces. These groups wipe out an average of 10 villages a year. Sudan harbors a number of terrorist groups, including remnants of old ones like Abu Nidal, and Hamas, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Egypt's Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya all have headquarters in Sudan. Other groups have safe haven. Training camps have supported terrorist movements throughout Africa. The Sudanese government is supported by Iran which sees Sudan as a bridgehead for the penetration of Iranian Fundamentalism into Africa.
The United States has spent about $30 million in covert aid to the rebel forces in Sudan while at the same time sending $100 million in humanitarian aid. U.S. officials deny that the covert aid was military, describing it as 'non-lethal' - radios, uniforms, boots, tents, etc. The rebel groups are split and factionalized, the strongest one being the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Other include the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and its armed wing, the SPLM/A (A for Army), the Sudanese Allied Forces (SAF), and the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF). In the opinion of most military experts, none of these rebel groups ever has a chance of winning against the stronger, government NIF/GoS forces.
Many religious cults tend to form in Africa, and much of it involves distorted forms of Christian fundamentalism which mix witchcraft with what might be called Pentecostalism. This is prevalent in Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria, but we'll focus on Uganda, a country located directly below Sudan. Like many Africans, Ugandans believe in witch-doctors, who not only attempt to heal the sick (usually by cutting off a body part), but provide financial and marital advice. Christian missionaries in the region usually report having a hard time explaining things like witches and devils. Africans, however, are intensely interested in anything to do with salvation and putting troubles behind you to start a new life. At least one terrorist cult group, the LRA, has exploited these desires. The LRA, in existance since 1989, has an agreement with the National Islamic Front/Government of Sudan (NIF/GoS) that they would support the NIF/GoS in their jihad against the Southern Sudanese, if the NIF/GoS would support the LRA.
|THE LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY, or LRA, represents a mix of Christian cult, Islam, and native African religions. It is also an armed terrorist group fighting the Ugandan government, with backing from Sudan and Christian charity foundations. They seek to establish a state based on a somewhat twisted version of the Ten Commandments. Their leaders have called themselves Charismatic Pentecostals, but they pray like Muslims, and the group is under tremendous pressure from their main sponsor, the Sudan, to Islamicize. Their possibly-insane leader, Joseph Kony, has promised followers immunity from bullets if Holy water, certain ointments, and religious insignia are applied to their bodies. They kidnap about 12,000 boys and girls every year, raising the boys to become warriors and the girls to become domestic sex slaves. Millions of other people have been displaced from their homes by LRA action. Mass suicides sometimes occur during church services. One of their fatalistic beliefs involves hastening doomsday by spreading AIDS through the rape of girls and women. Another involves training boys to attack their home villages, kill their childhood family and friends, and cannibalize boiled body parts. The Uganda government has been trying to wipe out the LRA (and occasionally declares success), but it is hard to fight a war against forces where 80-90% of the troops consist of abducted, indoctrinated children|
Joseph Kony - profile - Nephew of a Voodoo Priestess, former Catholic altar boy, and educated as a social worker, Kony rose to the ranks of "Major-General" in the LRA and is a self-proclaimed spirit medium who says he talks directly to the Holy Ghost and has issued standing orders to "Kill all clergy" and turn nuns into sex slaves. Child captives are taught his vision of an apocalyptic "The Silent World" where all guns will fall silent and only those knowing how to use crude weapons, like stones, spears, and machetes, will survive. The LRA is obsessed with the idea of supernatural intervention and battlefield fighting with primitive weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3,4). LRA indoctrination and punishments consist of beatings, rapes, the severing of limbs, lips, and ears, and unspeakable other atrocities. [see Joseph Kony's Spirit War]
RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN THE MIDDLE EASTERN CONTEXT
At last count, there were 57 separate nations with Islam as the official religion. These nations belong to a group called the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which has gone on record saying there's no such thing as separation of church and state. There is even no such thing as a secular religion, like the official Church of England religion in Great Britain. There appears to be three schools of Muslim thought on this matter. One group believes that it is the sacred mission of Islam to rule the world by use of the sword if necessary. Another group accepts cohabitation with other religions as long as Islam is the world's pre-eminent religion. A third group, the moderates, advocates co-existence primarily because of the economic benefits it brings. Bearing the scars of life and an inability to develop constitutional democracies, Middle Eastern countries have long been violent, terrorism-prone places. Underlying it all is the sub-plot of sectarian violence (i.e., Sunni-Shiite conflict) which has been going on for years.
Most countries in the region take particular umbrage at the existence of Israel, which they regard as a trespasser or usurper of Palestinian lands. The area known as Palestine is an ancient land which has always been populated by Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, and Arab Jews. In 1917, the British promised to help create a Jewish "national home" in Palestine. Arab protests began in 1920. In 1919 there were 568,000 Muslims, 74,000 Christians, and 58,000 Jews in Palestine. Fifteen thousand Jews a year immigrated during Hitler's rise to power, and some 100,000 death camp survivors came later. Today, there are 1,091,000 Muslims, 614,000 Jews, and 146,000 Christians in Palestine. Wars have been fought in 1948–49, 1956, 1967 (The Six Day War), 1973–74 (The Yom Kippur War), and 1982 between Israel and the Arab states. Most of these wars have been about land, but the Six Day War was about water, with Israel winning control over 60-80% of the replenishable water resources (the West Bank Mountain aquifer and the Sea of Galilee), and doling out the remainder to Palestinians at allegedly inflated prices.
The Israel-Palestine conflict centers on two Israeli-controlled territories. The West Bank, which has the largest percentage of Arab Muslims. The animus there revolves around the status of Jerusalem (the center of three great religions). The other territory is the Gaza Strip, where intifadah (grassroots) uprisings often begin, and living conditions are much worse than in the West Bank. The religious backdrop to the situation is heavily mixed with anti-U.S. sentiment, where the U.S. is seen as blindly supporting Israel and only interested in oil. Further, the U.S. is seen as being responsible for militarizing the region (the Middle East is the most militarized region in the world) and propping up corrupt Arab governments. In addition, American culture is seen as hopelessly racist, or at least stereotypical, in the way it portrays Arabs - as the bad guys in movies, cartoons, war films, and popular conception, up to and including the latest way Americans easily roll the words "Islamic terrorism" off their tongues.
It's hard to walk the line between cultural sensitivity and stereotype. Suffice it to say that opinions vary, but some believe Islam doesn't mean peace, but submission - to the will of Allah to "fight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war" (The Koran, Surah IX:5). If these viewpoints are true, then there really is such a thing as an unique type of Islamic terrorism driven by material gain. Curtis (2009) informs us that Islam has long been recognized as a materialist movement, even by Karl Marx. As a world domination movement, it romanticizes the great "breakout" of Islam during the 7th Century that resulted in the long-lost Arab "golden age." On the other hand, it may be that Islam is an idealist movement, as Burgat (2010) argues, and only interested in carving out an anti-Western approach to authentic identity. There is perhaps more evidence for it being a backward-looking, materialist movement, at least given the pronouncements of Muslim clerics who aren't kept quiet by their governments. Clearly, restoration of something long-lost is the goal of al-Qaeda, and in the Philippines and Malaysia, a similar goal exists among the Abu Sayyaf group. In Algeria there's the Armed Islamic group, and in Egypt there's Al-Gam'a al-Islamiyya and Al-Jihad. Lesser goals involve the complete and utter destruction and removal of Israel. Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestinian Liberation Front represent this fanatical obsession. Such obsessions at least explain the terrorist origins of the PLO.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the coordinating council for all Palestinian organizations, founded in 1964 at the first Arab summit meeting. The dominant group was Fatah, headed by late Yasir Arafat [see psychological profile] who formed a group of warriors known as fedayeen, and became chairman of the PLO in 1968. Fatah-related groups included Black September, Tanzim, Syrian-backed As Saiqa, the Marxist-oriented Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Islamic Jihad, and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Since its founding, the PLO was committed to the destruction of Israel, and over the years engaged in many acts of terrorism. It toned down its rhetoric and action in 1974 when it received UN recognition as a government in exile, but continued to train and export terrorists. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to disperse many PLO terrorists, and again in 2002 in the West Bank. At one time, Abu Nidal was part of the PLO, but a rift with Arafat developed, and the two became mortal enemies. Arafat was long unable to control HAMAS, founded in the Gaza Strip during 1987 as the main Palestinian rival to the PLO. Hizbollah was also unfriendly to the PLO, primarily on command of their Iranian sponsors. Some date the beginning of the terrorist war against America to the Iranian embassy seizure in 1979 or the barracks bombing in Beirut by Hezbollah in 1983, but Arafat is the true father of this war and an early populizer of jihad. The PLO had been killing Americans since 1973, but strangely enough Arafat was the most frequently-invited foreign leader to the White House over many years and even got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. When Arafat died (of AIDS) in 2004, the U.N. hung its flag at half-mast. Arafat's homosexuality and predilection for young boys and hunky blond Scandinavian bodyguards were open secrets to most insiders. Late in his life Arafat took a wife for the purpose of keeping up appearances, but neither she nor authorities can find all his embezzled billions of dollars. Nonetheless, the widow Arafat gets $22 million a year from the Palestinian Authority. The Fatah leader (Prime Minister) who currently runs things for the PA is Salam Fayyad, who is considered a bit too pro-Western to Hamas, but he keeps the jirzyah payments to the Palestinians coming from gullible donors in the EU, UN, and America.
Other Middle Eastern groups are more closely linked to Muslim fundamentalism than the Palestine issue, and fundamentalism of certain varieties can be quite anti-American - an outright hatred of American values and culture couched in the language of religion. A few leaders of these groups have openly called for the deaths of Americans on a global scale. The foremost character in this regard is Osama bin Laden and his group, al-Qaeda, who are perhaps marginal players compared to the cornucopia of Islamist threats, but undoubtedly the group who has delivered on its threats the most. Expert opinion varies over this; see the 2005 CRS Report entitled Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment (pdf).
OSAMA BIN LADEN: A multi-millionaire who runs a private terror network from a hideaway in Pakistan, Afghanistan or parts unknown. Born into a wealthy Saudi family in 1957 as the 7th of 50 children, he joined the Afghan Mujahedin in 1979 and together with Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Abdullah Azzam, set up several Afghan terrorist training camps and later extended his global reach to Somalia, the Balkans and Chechnya. Middle East involvement came after the first Gulf War when he became incensed that Saudi Arabia allowed American troops on its soil, and came to hate America for the problems of Palestine and other reasons. The Saudi regime deported him in 1992 and revoked his citizenship in 1994. From 1991 to 1996, he operated out of Sudan. In 1996, he issued a fatweh, or religious decree, to kill American soldiers, and in 1998, that all dutiful Muslims should consider killing American civilians and their allies, including women and children, as their legitimate, sacred duty [read fatweh]. Osama bin Laden is the self-admitted mastermind behind the 2001 plane attacks of 9/11 against the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Several Islamic jihad groups around the world have affiliated with Osama Bin Laden's network (known as al-Qaeda) and its call to "kill Americans everywhere." According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the following eleven (11) groups have been the primary al-Qaeda affiliates: Egyptian Islamic Jihad; The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen); Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad (Iraq); Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir); Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group (Algeria); Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines); and Jemaah Islamiya (Southeast Asia).
Al Qaeda ideology, to which Osama Bin Laden and others like him represent, is an admixture of various Koranic misinterpretations and a hatred of the U.S. and/or all westernized things. The following is an excerpt of the entire Introduction to the Al-Qaeda Training Manual (UK/BM Translation, captured by the Manchester England Metropolitan Police during a search of a home, found in a computer file described as the "military series" related to the "Declaration of Jihad; the manual was translated into English and was introduced at the embassy bombing trial in New York).
Martyrs were killed, women
were widowed, children were orphaned, men were handcuffed, chast women’s
heads were shaved, harlots’ heads were crowned, atrocities were inflicted
on the innocent, gifts were given to the wicked, virgins were raped on the
WHO WILL REPLACE BIN LADEN?
A lot of speculation exists as to who will replace Osama bin Laden. Al- Qaeda's by-laws are very specific about the succession issue, so the "first deputy" and bin Laden's top "theological" advisor, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri should inherit the title of Amir of al Qaeda. But, who will replace him? The terrorist group known as al-Qaeda is so structured that really anyone, anybody, anywhere around the world could rise to the top leadership position (once al-Zawahiri is out of the picture, of course). It may well be that al-Qaeda is a hydra (more than a snake), so decapitation of the head won't end their horrible menace. Everyone knows that the best way to kill a snake is by chopping its head off, but Hercules killed the hydra by decapitating each head and burning each stump so they wouldn't grow back. Attention needs to be paid to the up-and-coming, rising "stars" of al-Qaeda. Toward this end, four (4) candidates present themselves, as follows:
|Some experts (e.g., Jamestown Foundation) think that Osama's son, 28-year old Saad bin Laden, is next in line to the throne. Saad has long followed in his father's footsteps, and although the CIA suspects (with 80-85% certainty) that he was "taken out" in a Predator strike in 2009, others suspect that he, along with other key al-Qaeda leaders, have been hiding out in Iran where comfort and safety are provided in a form of "house arrest." According to one report, the Iranians have sent Saad to train with Hezbollah and are allegedly giving him command responsibilities. Osama also has another son, Hamza bin Laden, who was the only one who escaped the 2011 raid that took out OBL. Interrogation of OBL's surviving wives revealed Hamza was the designated successor.|
|Other experts (see West Point's AQ Misadventures in the HOA) think that a strategist and terror camp organizer named Saif al-Adel will eventually become the top leader. He has long been indisputably al-Qaeda's No. 3, and nobody really knows his birthdate or real name. He's shadowy and good at terrorist military-style operations. He may or may not be under house arrest in Iran, but anyway, Sayf is often spotted around the world. His diary was discovered in 2004 and yielded a treasure grove of information. Several detainees at Gitmo have said Sayf was their leader. Bill Roggio has collected a series of essays on Sayf, and John Pike has a more complete profile. One interesting tidbit is that he's fairly homophobic toward Dr. Zawahiri.|
|Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah is a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda who grew up in the United States, worked as a school teacher, and pretty much disappeared after 9/11. He is an expert in computer engineering as well as nuclear weapons. His family (in Florida) insist he doesn't belong on the Most Wanted List, but there is sufficient evidence not only of his involvement in many plots and scouting targets for AQ, but that he may in fact be in charge of operations. Waterboarded Gitmo detainees have identified him as such, whom they know by the name of Jafar al-Tayyar. He has been spotted off and on at various places around the world, including Japan, Honduras, and Mexico. His family says he has married and settled down in Morocco.|
|The U.N., the Brookings Institution, and some US officials, as well as NBC News think that Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri is the natural-born leader of al Qaeda. He is the main terrorist mastermind in Pakistan, trained by the ISI, and at home in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has carried out numerous plots in Europe and was the handler for American traitor David Headley, so he knows how to infiltrate America. Twice (in 2009 and 2011), he has been thought dead by Predator drone strike, but each time he might have escaped (although there is 99% certainty a June 2011 strike took him out).|
THE EVOLUTION OF AL QAEDA
Al Qaeda is growing, and fast. Judging simply from the many changes to the Wikipedia Entry on them, one might get the impression they are "everywhere, all the time." What baffles most experts is how they evolve and keep evolving. There are different ways to approach this. First of all, when speaking of al-Qaeda, one should strive to be clear if they are speaking of: (a) traditional al-Qaeda, the group which attacked the US on 9/11; (b) ideological or doctrinal al-Qaeda, the leaderless followers who simply believe in the same ends; or (c) the new al-Qaeda, which is part of the global insurgency and targeting all sorts of things, including other Muslims. The second type is likely to be rather unpredictable, and the third type is likely to be very dangerous. Newer, younger members seems to come along regularly in great numbers, and many of them may see the old, core members as something of an anachronism. Among newer members, there is a tendency to try and carry the torch further. One of the lessons regarding religious terrorism is that it almost always involves change in the form of "transmutation" or what White (2002) awkwardly calls "transmogrification." It is therefore difficult to characterize such a "moving target."
Al-Qaeda has, in fact, "morphed" at least three times since 9/11. According to Bergen (2002), the following three phases can be identified, with the last phase best called al-Qaeda 3.0:
hierarchical -- the original and first version of al-Qaeda (AQ 1.0)
inspirational -- the decentralized, virtual, anywhere version (AQ 2.0)
empowering -- the current, reconstituted, grassroots version (AQ 3.0)
Al-Qaeda 3.0 (or "al-Qaeda once removed") consists of multiple insurgencies and large, homegrown terrorist cells around the world supported by facilities in Pakistan and elsewhere. These facilities are not old-style training camps, but support, intelligence, logistical, financial, and propaganda functions. They are where al-Qaeda "trains its trainers" and then sends them out to train others and hit soft targets in "near enemy" places around the Middle East. Stratfor analysts refer to AQ 3.0 as the "al Qaeda 3.0 operational model" using operatives without external funding or direct operational guidance. Examples of this model include the 1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the 2002 El Al Airlines ticket counter massacre, and the 2005 London bombings. No experienced commander was involved with any of these attacks. Bruce Riedel, who is a frequent commentator on AQ 3.0 says the fastest growing group of this kind is in Syria, taking advantage of all the chaos and turmoil going on throughout the Middle East. They have learned to avoid open association with their brand name, so they call themselves something other than al-Qaeda.
It is also customary and popular to refer to al-Qaeda as a "franchise" organization (similar to the way a brand-name fast food restaurant operates). According to this approach, some small start-up terror group has to earn the right to be called an al-Qaeda group. No official criteria exist, but it appears such groups must try hard to accomplish at least three things: contribute to AQ's overall goals, including an Islamic Caliphate; expel infidels from Islamic lands; and target U.S. interests. Chris Harnisch of AEI's Critical Threats has identified four (4) main franchises (the first four below), but as many as fifteen (15) FRANCHISE GROUPS may exist, as follows:
al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -- located in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, this is the group that hid Anwar al-Awlaki (top talent recruiter); experts think this is the group that will attack the U.S. first
al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) -- this group consists of former members of the Algerian Salafist Call and Combat group but has expanded its membership and gotten rich off the kidnapping of Westerners
al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) -- this was an insurgency group in Iraq consisting mostly of well-financed foreign fighters which peaked around 2004 and today mostly resembles a mafia; note also that another group, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), claims to be the umbrella group for all Iraqi jihadists
al Shabaab -- this is an insurgent group in Somalia that controls most of the capital, Mogadishu, and in 2010 finally admitted they had "close ties" to al-Qaeda
Abu Sayyaf -- this is a group of kidnappers and pirates who have been around since 1991 in the Philippines and Malaysia
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) -- this is a group that has been around since 1993 and operates in Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) -- this group, out of Kashmir, are the "usual suspects" (besides HUM, another group) in most attacks against India
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) -- this is the main Islamic group that helped overthrow Col. Qadhafi, and has cells in the UK, France, and Italy
Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) -- only around since 2001, this group operates in Morocco, but also in Canada and the UK
Ansar al-Islam -- this is a Kurdish group along the Iran-Iraq border that has existed since 2001
Jundallah -- this is the name for the Sunni insurgents in Iran, not to be confused with another group by the same name in Pakistan
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi -- this is one of the two largest terror groups in Pakistan which control almost all the mosques
Sipah-e-Sahaba -- this is one of the two largest terror groups in Pakistan which operate mainly in the city of Karachi
Jabhat al Nusra -- this is the cover name for the al-Qaeda faction among the rebels in Syria
Ansar al Dine -- this is the extremist group in Mali, affiliated with AQIM, that controls two-thirds of the nation
Windrem (2007), a NBC investigative producer, estimates that on any given day, there are about 20 al-Qaeda attacks carried out around the world, and Riedel (2007), a Brookings fellow, says that the number of al-Qaeda websites number around 4,500 and are growing daily. This results in what are called "resilient networks" where terror plots can be supported globally, and of particular importance is England (note: travel is unimpeded between Britain and Pakistan) where disaffected Muslim youth (like Bangladeshi immigrants to England) are often recruited and linked up with training and communications possibilities. Besides Europe, al Qaeda also seems to have an interest in South America. The speed of their evolution and growth belies the traditional notion that religious terrorists have patience and will "wait" for the right opportunity to come along. This group, al Qaeda, seems to make its own opportunities. They have shown an amazing ability to regroup in different, reconstituted forms. The terrorist phenomenon known as al-Qaeda is particularly well-placed to threaten global security for many years to come.
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CNN Special Report on the Status of Jerusalem
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Field Manual of the Christian Militia
Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
History Guy's Links on Conflict in Northern Ireland
LTTE Terrorist Attacks and Related News
Overview of the Kashmir Conflict
Perlmutter's summary of occult religions
PsyBC Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism
Religious Populations of the World
Ritualistic and Occult Crime
Terrorism on the Indian Subcontinent
The Arab-Israeli Wars
The Jewish Post of New York
The Northern Ireland Conflict (1968-present)
The Spiritual Meaning of Jihad in the Muslim Religion
Watchman Fellowship's List of Cults
WebQuest of Balkan Conflicts
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Wikipedia Talk: List of Organizations in Religious Terrorism
Yahoo Coverage of Hague War Crimes Tribunal
Yahoo's List of Buddhism Links
Yahoo's List of Hindu Links
Zipple: The Jewish SuperSite
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Last updated: Dec. 06, 2012
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Citation: O'Connor, T. (2012). "Religious Zealotry and Terrorism," MegaLinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3400/3400lect04.htm.