Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Roots of Apostasy

There are two major theories regarding the spiritual cancer currently afflicting Islam. They might be referred to as the Wahhabi and Salafist Theories. The Apostates trace their ideology back to Muḥammad ibn 'Abdu'l-Wahháb, but the evidence points towards Salafism. While the prevalence of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia certainly facilitated the Apostasy's spread into that kingdom, the Apostasy originated outside Saudi Arabia, among the Salafists. In any case, the two terms have since become nearly synonymous.

When Salafism got its start way back in the 19th Century, it was actually not a bad thing. The original source of the idea can be traced to one Siyyid Jamálu'd-Dín-i-Afghání. He was, surprisingly, a Shiite, and in many ways what we would refer to as a liberal. He lived in the twilight of the Caliphate, and lamented the passing of supremacy from the lands of Islam to the European powers. He believed that the reason for this was the splintering and ossification of Islam. He asked, "What would the early Muslims do now?", although his ideological descendants would warp this into "What did the early Muslims do then?", and somehow even get that wrong.

Afghani eventually died, as historical figures are wont to do, and his teachings were further developed by Muḥammad Abduh, who had studied under him at the grand and glorious Azhar University in Cairo, which would end up being the incubator for all this. Abduh's ideas were inherited by a student of his, Rashid Rida, and this seems to be where darkness begins to creep into the picture. The previous Salafists, who are also referred to as Islamic Modernists in order to distinguish them from their mutant spawn, had criticized both westernization and stodgy old conservatives within Islam. Rida put most of the blame on westernization.

One of Rida's most fervent admirers was Hassan al-Banna. He went even further than Rida had, and it is with him that we begin to see the "Islamism" we all know and love. In 1928, Banna founded what has come to be known as the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood's rise was meteoric, it rapidly became a major force in Egyptian politics. Enter Sayyid Qutb.

It was with Sayyid Qutb that Salafism's descent into Apostasy was completed. He was a high ranking member of the Brotherhood, and it was he who first raised the call for jihad. His Apostasy infected large parts of the Brotherhood, many of which split off to become full fledged terrorist organizations. Understandably alarmed, the Egyptian government took action against the Brotherhood, executing Qutb in 1966. Unfortunately, much of the faculty of al-Azhar University were by that time Apostates; they, in turn, churned out little Apostates, one of whom was Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.

Azzam went on to teach at a prestigious school in Saudi Arabia. When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, he issued the fatwa declaring jihad and formed the group Maktab al-Khadamat to train and equip jihadis. When he learned that a like-minded (and rich) former student of his, Osama bin Laden, had just moved into the area, he asked him for help. Osama said sure, and they became co-leaders of the group. Then, one day, Azzam was assassinated. The culprit was never firmly identified, but it had bin Laden's style. Osama then took sole command of the group.

Thus was al-Qaeda born.

Note: It's one in the morning as I write this, so I'm not going to proofread it yet. I will tomorrow.

Afghan air strike kills dozens

An air assault by Nato-led forces has killed at least 25 Afghan civilians, police officials said. Twelve members of one family were believed to have been killed in the joint Afghan-foreign forces strike in Helmand province on Thursday night. Up to 20 Taliban fighters were also among the dead.

Nato forces called in air strikes after being attacked by Taliban fighters based in a compound north of Lashkar Gah. Nato's International Security Assistance Force issued a statement saying it was "investigating reports that a small number of civilians may also have been in the compound".

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Smith, a Nato spokesman, said he was concerned about reports of civilian loss of life. "However, it must be noted that it was insurgents who initiated this attack, and in choosing to conduct such attacks in this location and at the time, the risk to civilians was probably deliberate." The Taliban confirmed its fighters from the group had ambushed troops in the area but said its fighters "left the area before the air strike", Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman, said.



I actually believe the Taliban this time, though not exactly in the way that they would hope. I suspect that what they have done is select a nice, densely populated area, launch an attack from it, and skedaddle as fast as their legs can carry them. If the Coalition strikes back, it will kill plenty of innocent civilians, thus further upsetting the general populace; if it doesn't strike back, the Taliban will have carried out a raid without suffering a single casualty. Either way, they win, except for the part where their souls burn for all eternity. The teachings of Islam, however, have never played all that important a part in the Taliban's strategy.

This seems like as good a time as any to introduce my idea for a non-lethal chemical weapon, which might be used in situations like this. The active ingredient would be ethanethiol (C2H5SH). Ethanethiol is a readily available substance that is tied with butyl seleno-mercaptan (skunk spray) as most foul smelling molecule known to man. Anyone whose pet has ever been sprayed — or, God forbid, has been sprayed themselves — will understand how useful this could be. My principle concern is that ethanethiol is known to be flammable at sufficient concentrations, so a certain amount of fine tuning would be in order.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Heartbeat of War

In creating and maintaining this site, I have come to a better understanding of why news organizations cover the war so little. The daily bombings, suicide attacks, ambushes and mortar fire are the heartbeat of the war. They occur with such regularity that you expect them to occur. It's like they're one long event, rather than innumerable single ones. When you hear of one, you don't think to yourself, "Aha, something has just happened," you think, "Aha, something is continuing to happen." Since they seem like one event that is merely continuing, it's difficult to think of them as "news," since news is, by its very definition, new. No journalist wants to write the same story over and over again.

Unfortunately, this mindset, which I have found myself to be falling into, is deeply flawed. Each new attack is happening for the first time. Each person who dies had been alive before; each shattered world had been intact. This is not some endlessly repeating cycle. When a bomb goes off, something new is happening, and as it is new, it is also news. We must never forget that.

It is with this in mind that I have added a news feed. Even if an attack is not mentioned here in the main blog, it will still be in the sidebar, reminding us of fresh lives lost.

In other news, three more NATO soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb yesterday, and the Apostasy again demonstrated its pure and unsullied love of Islam by bursting into a mosque and shooting seven people even as they prayed to God, as they had been commanded to do in the Glorious Qur'án. Three people were thusly martyred, and the other four will for the rest of their lives bear the scars inflicted on them by those who war against God. With each such martyrdom, each civilian cut down for no reason other than pure malice, the true nature of the Apostasy is made even more evident to the rest of the world.

Speaking of which, this is a story that must be told.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Those who have joined partners with God

"An Iraqi al-Qaeda-led group meanwhile said it had killed 14 Iraqi army and police personnel and posted an internet video showing a masked man shooting the kneeling men in the head. 'After the deadline given by the Islamic State in Iraq expired the sharia court decided to implement God's ruling against those apostates,' the group said on the video."
—Excerpted from an article by Al Jazeera

I must say, this is a new low for the Apostacy. "God's ruling"? Unless God was a part of that court I don't see how the ruling could have come from Him. The ruling, of course, came from the court itself, and it knows it. Apparently, they now believe that their judgment is God's judgment, as though they sit on the same throne. The Qur'án, in chapter 4, verse 48, says,
"Lo! God forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to God, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin." This refers to the worship of multiple deities. Now, though, the Apostates have done the Qur'án one better by actually setting up themselves as God's partners. This is the second deepest into apostacy you can sink, the lowest being the Faustian belief that you are superior to God. It chills me to think that someday they may even descend to that level.

May God have mercy on their souls.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blasts at Iraq's Askariya shrine

A series of blasts have destroyed two minarets at an already damaged Shia shrine in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra. The explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Askariya mosque at about 9:00am (0500 GMT) on Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

"The explosion targeted the two golden minarets. They have been damaged ... This is a criminal act which aims at creating sectarian strife," Saleh al-Haidari, the head of the Shia endowment in Iraq, said. The two minarets toppled on Wednesday even as security forces were guarding the holy site.

Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has blamed the attack on al-Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s former president.



I'm not one normally given to swearing, but ███!

This is the clearly the work of al-Qaeda. Maliki's contention that the Baathists had something to do with it is, with all due respect to the Honorable Prime Minister, bull. The Baathists are fighting because they want to rule Iraq, not because they want to destroy it. The only group with that objective is al-Qaeda. To quote Shaykh Umar Mahmud Abu Umar
“Here it is necessary to caution against the error of the call of some of the leaders of worn-out groups for the necessity of preserving the national fabric, or the national weft, or national unity. This saying not only contains the doubt of unbelieving nationalism; it also indicates that they do not understand the Sunna method for the fall of civilizations and their construction.”

Al-Qaeda already succeeded in igniting the current sectarian conflagration the last time they struck the mosque. Let us hope they are not so successful this time.

¹"Articles Between Two Methods", translated with funding from the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

For U.S. Unit in Baghdad, An Alliance of Last Resort

BAGHDAD, June 8 -- The worst month of Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl's deployment in western Baghdad was finally drawing to a close. The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq had unleashed bombings that killed 14 of his soldiers in May, a shocking escalation of violence for a battalion that had lost three soldiers in the previous six months while patrolling the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah. On top of that, the 41-year-old battalion commander was doubled up with a stomach flu when, late on May 29, he received a cellphone call that would change everything.

"We're going after al-Qaeda," a leading local imam said, Kuehl recalled. "What we want you to do is stay out of the way."



It really is scary just how fool-proof al-Qaeda's plan was. The one weak point was al-Qaeda's belief that since their goal was so lofty, they could do no wrong (Bush seems to have a similar attitude). They would have succeeded if they had been on God's side in deed as well as in word; as it is, their evil actions prevented the populace from rising up and embracing them, and the plan fell apart.

Thanks to vermontdave for pointing me to this article.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

1967 and the rise of extremism

Forty years after Israel defeated the combined armies of Jordan, Syria and Egypt in the 1967 war, some Middle East analysts argue that the conflict has helped to fuel the rise of Islamist ideologies.

Prior to the war, Arab nations such as Egypt, Iraq and Yemen overthrew monarchies and established military-backed socialist governments.

Arab nationalism and unity were touted as the ideological instruments to liberate occupied Palestinian lands and guide Arabs towards modernity. But the speed of Israel's victory shocked the Arab world and shattered the idea of Arab military might, as well as the region's military governments.

Huda Awad, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign affairs, told Al Jazeera: "What happened in 1967 shook the military prestige in the Arab world." "The cradle of authoritarianism was rocked and that repealed its legitimacy."



So-called "Islamism" is hardly a recent phenomenon — such fanatics played a roll in the fall of 'Ali and the destruction of the Islamic Empire over a dozen centuries ago — but it is interesting how the current Apostate movement, which is worldwide in scope, all seems to go back to this one individual, Siyyid Qutb. The origins of Apostacy have long intrigued me; I will have to research the "family tree" of modern Apostacy, and see if I can discover what it is that made this siyyid tick. His motivations, and/or the motivations of those that motivated him, have profound implications for both human nature and the nature of Apostacy. I will post more on this later.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

'Osama Bin Laden alive and well'

Osama Bin Laden is alive and well and issuing orders to his commmanders, says the new military leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, Mansour Dadullah, whose brother led military operations for the Taliban until his death in May, said he has received a letter of condolence from Bin Laden.

Mansour said: "Sheikh Osama Bin Laden is alive and active. He’s carrying out his duties. "The latest proof that he alive is that he sent me a letter of condolences after the martyrdom of my brother. He advised me to follow my brother’s path."



I suspect that the Taliban may be losing contact with Osama bin Laden. It's been well over half a year now since he last issued a videotape. Dadullah 1.0 felt the need to offer that ridiculous lie about Osama being directly involved in planning a random suicide attack. Dadullah 2.0 feels the need to offer us "proof" of OBL's continued relevance, and the fact that he himself thinks of it as proof suggests that even he might harbor some doubts.

So what's the story? Is Osama bin Laden not alive and well? Something tells me this is not the case; that if he died the Taliban's reaction would be different. I suspect that what's happening is that his safe haven amongst the tribes is no longer quite so safe. One of the lessons al-Qaeda has somehow never managed to learn is that if you want the masses to rise up in support of you, it's generally a bad idea to start executing their friends and neighbors. Al-Qaeda learned this the hard way a few months ago when the tribesmen in the vicinity of Kana annihilated an Apostate Uzbek force that had been enjoying their hospitality and assassinating their leaders. I suspect that Osama no longer feels safe in Pashtunistan, and has consequently withdrawn further into hiding. He may even be contemplating leaving the area, though I can't imagine where he would go.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Shelling resumes at Lebanon camp

Two soldiers have been killed during clashes between Lebanese troops and Fatah al-Islam fighters in Nahr al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, security sources said. Artillery shelling continued to pound the camp on Friday as dozens of army tanks surrounded the camp for a possible ground offensive to end the 13-day standoff.

Lebanese security sources told Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr that 10 Lebanese soldiers were wounded during Friday clashes. Buildings collapsed under heavy shelling and residents of the camp said they did not have any electricity or water - medical aid was also unable to enter the camp, she said. [More]


This does not relate directly to the War on Terror (since Fatah al-Islam is not part of al-Qaeda), but anyone who thinks the Palestinian situation is irrelevant to anything in the Middle East, up to and including the relative humidity, needs to get their head checked.

The events unfolding at Nahr al-Bared are disturbing, not only because of the death and destruction, but because of the light they shine on the Arab governments' relations with the Palestinians. I had always assumed that relations were good, that because of the Arab regimes' anger and horror at the Nakba (the mass Palistinian exodus of 1947-48) would cause them to be kindly disposed towards its victims. Apparently, I was wrong.

It turns out that the regimes have a long history of at best mistreating, and at worst oppressing, the Palestinian refugees. The former head of the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency has said, "The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die." The former prime minister of Syria, Khalid al-Azm, evidently agrees with him. In his memoirs, he wrote:
Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees ... while it is we who made them leave.... We brought disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave.... We have rendered them dispossessed.... We have accustomed them to begging.... We have participated in lowering their moral and social level.... Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children-all this in the service of political purposes ....

Both of the preceding quotations, as well as most of the data in this post, come from the Wikipedia article Palestinian refugee.

If the regimes have this semi-pathological apathy towards the Palestinians, what's their beef with Israel? That the Israelis displaced the Palestinians and continue to mistreat those that remain cannot be the reason; the regimes themselves do the same things (e.g. the 1990 expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians). That they want access to the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock doesn't make much sense either. The Temple Mount is owned by an Islamic waqf, Jewish law prohibits any Jew from entering it, and under Israeli law, enforced by Israeli police, only Muslims are permitted to pray there.

I suspect that the Israelis are being used as scapegoats, to focus the people's anger away from the government. This is a tried and true method of social control, and the Arab regimes seem to have perfected it. By preventing the Palestinian refugees from integrating into their countries, they have managed to keep this fire burning for sixty years, even after most of the original refugees — those who actually were driven from their homes, who actually remember what the Cisjordan was like before Israel — had died of old age. I hope that I'm wrong, but I'm not sure what else to make of the evidence.

NOTE: This post was about the Palestinians and the Arab regimes. It was not about Israel. I'm not trying to say that it's all the Arab's fault and Israel's blameless, nor am I saying that it's all Israel's fault, because I'm not talking about Israel. If I want to talk about Israel I will post something for that purpose.