WAR ON TERROR
Notes of a Bystander
Jihad (ji h?d; Mid-19th century. From Arabic jihad, "effort.") is divided into two parts: Jihad Bin-nafs (JBN) and Jihad-e-Asgar (JA). JBN, also known as the prime Jihad, is waged against the shaitan within oneself. Islam requires its followers to fight the evil that corrupts the soul; through fasting and prayers Muslims kill the satanic forces that drive us towards evil.
Qur'an puts less emphasis on JA that, according to Hadith, refers to the struggle for self-preservation and self-defence. The reason is understandable: if the soul is not purified enough one will not be able to overmaster the bigger evil.
Neither Qur'an nor Hadith mentions to what extent Muslims are allowed to fight Jihad-e-Asgar. But it is presumed that, like any other modern religion, Islam does not allow its followers to kill themselves to attain any religious goal. The Prophet always tried to avoid war; all the battles Muslims under his leadership had fought were, in fact, forced on them.
So why do some Muslim men and women blow themselves up in public places to kill fellow humans for the religion that they claim they have been working, prohibits both suicide and killing?
Mohammed Atta a German-US educated Saudi, the alleged September 11 attack's main plotter.
Interestingly, before the Intifada began in 1987 on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Muslims have never known to have carried out any suicide attack on enemy forces. During World War II British RAF pilots flew on suicide missions to keep the English sky off Hitler's blitzkriegs. Giving one's life for what one believes is not a purely occidental phenomenon. Kamikaze pilots crashed explosive-laden aircrafts into enemy targets, often ships, in the same war. Kamikaze means Holy Wind in Japanese and the airmen who laid down their lives to inflict maximum casualty on enemy lives and property are still revered in different Shinto temples.
When the US tried to colonise Vietnam and was butchering innocent civilians in the name of democracy, a band of Vietcong sappers cut their way through the barbed wire around the US airbase in Pleiku, blew up 24 aircraft, and set fire to the fuel storage tanks. All the Vietminh soldiers died in the suicide attack.
In its struggle for an independent Tamil homeland, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) launched numerous suicide operations. The Black Tigers (BT), as they are known, are chosen from orphans and rape victims. Hundreds of BT members, most of whom are young women, have so far blown themselves up in numerous operations.
But what makes "Muslim suicide bombers" unique is that for the first time in history the Occident has been targeted by the once-colonised people. The US has so far participated in numerous wars, invaded an equal number of countries, but, save for the Japanese bombing on Pearl Harbour, the country has never had to fight a war on its own soil. American hinterland, in fact, does not know how it feels to wake up everyday to see foreign soldiers at the footstep or to see enemy tanks crawl through the known landscape of its cities. Before the September 11 terrorist attack, US mainland has never come under enemy gunfire.
There is, actually, no conclusive evidence to verify the US claim that those four Arab men, in fact, had hijacked the planes to attack different US installations. They were Arabs and all of them took flying lessons in a club--these two slabs of information are heaved at us to digest. After the Police killing of an innocent Brazilian on suspicion that he was a suicide bomber, one has every reason to get wary of British or US intelligences' modi operandi. The reason why Mendez, the innocent Brazilian, got killed was that he was dark-skinned, and, to make it even worse, the young man was wearing a jacket that people usually do not wear during summer. No-one in fact saw the four alleged London bombers plant those bombs-full haversacks in the underground or on the double-deckers. Like Charles d' Mendez, they were dark-skinned, and, more ominously, were young Muslim men, some of whom had visited Pakistan once or twice. For the New Scotland Yard that, it seems, is enough to prove the case.
If those four Saudis had actually participated in the September 11 carnage and if these British Muslims had indeed placed bombs in public transports to kill fellow countrymen then the events have a much wider implication. It is not a poor Bangladeshi Madrasa student who has unleashed his anger at the sheer might and unambiguous injustice of the US Empire, it is Mohammed Atta, a Saud, a German-US educated anthropologist who led the army of Faithful in the Jihad. All the September 11 hijackers studied in the US, they were given visas by the US authorities and all of them had a burgeoning upper middle class upbringing in a country which the US considered an ally. One of them would have made a good civil engineer; both the planes were rammed into the middle of the Twin Towers to cause the maximum damage, and the hijackers also chose long-distance flights to make sure that the fuel tanks had adequate oil to make these passenger flights as deadly as any US-made B52 bomber.
Interestingly one of the would be bombers, on the night before his day of glory went to the nearest store to buy some rated films; all of them, in fact, were prototypal young men, submerged in Americanism, had steady girl friends, were heavy drinkers and were never seen around a mosque in their sojourns abroad. Every one of them looked for and had enjoyed "the moral decadence and soulless sensualism" that the US culture offers to its own citizens. It was not the promise of virgins in Heaven that drove these petrodollar-loaded Arab men to mass murder, because if they had wanted the 9/11 hijackers would have got a couple of them at the nearest discotheque in Florida.
The reasons for the suicide-attacks lie elsewhere: the US "occupation" of the Holy Land, the US's armed and moral supports to Zionist Israel and, on top of it all, the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Young Muslim men, disillusioned with Western values, become soft targets for different Jihadi outfits.
It is not a classical Marxian class struggle we have been witnessing; but to thrive, global capitalism exploits the majority of the world's population, most of whom happen to be Muslims. Militants have quickly taken their cues and have made significant headway among Western Muslims.
It is in fact the West's foreign and economic policies that drive a horde of young men and women to become suicide bombers. "Militant Islam" works just as a catalyst.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005