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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Collision: Jewish-Zionist, Arab-Islamic Transnational Politics

Myth versus Fact

Political scientists tend to focus on substate local or regional politics, national politics of state, or international politics between states. Only a few scholars study transnational politics even though major issues like Polish independence and Zionism have involved political organizing and conspiracies across state borders.

Even though al-Qa`ida needs to be studied as an expression of transnational Arab and Islamic political development since the 1950s, the discussion has been dominated by scholars like Daniel Pipes, who carefully craft analysis to serve a pro-Israel agenda.

Pipes has been developing his framework since the overthrow of the Shah. Sometimes he makes reasonable points. He suggests in The Rushdie File that Khomeini may have been more concerned about Salman Rushdie’s parody of the Iranian Revolution than about any specific blasphemy in The Satanic Verses. Probably because Pipes is aware that the Jewish scholar and jurisprudent Maimonides sanctions Jewish taqiya (prudential dissimulation), he generally rejects anti-Muslim taqiya accusations. (See Taibbi, Kol Nidre, Jewish Taqiya.)

According to Pipes the Iranians serve as the fist of global jihad while the Saudis subvert intellectually and financially. Pipes seems to define subversion of the US as any discourse that pertains to the ME but is unmediated by American Jews in agreement with Pipes.

Arab and Muslim contributions to universities or establishment of think tanks strike him as particularly dangerous, and he worries about stealth or legal Islamists, who are Muslims living in the West, practicing Islam, observing Sharia and possibly proselytizing.

Over the years Zionists like Rachel Ehrenfeld and Matthew Levitt elaborated the propaganda. They have tended to focus on growing Islamic economic power throughout the world and associated effects on international finance and philanthropy.

The concept of the global Islamic conspiracy did not get much traction within the US government until 9/11

  • because Islam's minority Shiite population simply did not seem like much of a threat to the USA in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war,
  • because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are extremely loyal US allies, and
  • because Americans generally have a positive attitude toward wealthy investors and donors.

After 9/11 a veritable cottage industry sprang up to connect fabricated dots with fictitious links in order to put the US into a state of war with an Islamic world penetrated in every nook and cranny by the fantastic mammoth of al-Qa`ida even though by 2001 the group of former anti-Soviet Arab Jihadis surrounding Usama bin-Ladin was a dwindling remnant living on past glories of the struggle to free Afghanistan from communist invaders.

All references before 1998 to a jihadist organization called al-Qa`ida (The Base) are questionable. The name itself is probably a fund-raising or marketing gimmick and probably refers to a 1988 article written by the Palestinian Jihadist activits Abdullah Azzam and entitled “al-Qa`ida (al-Sulba).” In it Azzam describes the solid basis of Jihadi principles.

In a 2002 Guardian article Giles Fodan suggested the name of Usama Bin-Ladin’s organization may really come from the title of the Arabic translation of The Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Because of the background of Bin-Ladin and some of followers, this hypothesis is not completely fanciful albeit improbable because Arab Jihadi movement founders Azzam, Kamal al-Sananiri, Bin-Ladin, and Dr. Ayman al-Dhawahiri (MD) are or were all serious men of exceptional integrity and honor like Sayyid Qutb, who is their mentor in spirit because he more than anyone else is the founder of modern Arab-Islamic politics including indirectly transnational Arab-Islamic Jihadism.

Although not a member of the Muslim Brothers, Qutb admired the organization for its efforts at revitalizing Egyptian Islamic society by educating, by unionizing, by providing social services, by resisting foreign imperialism, and by opposing government corruption. While Qutb was visiting the USA in 1949, he was deeply shocked to learn of the assassination of Muslim Brothers found Hassan al-Banna.

Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright describes the situation: “Banna’s voice was stilled just as Qutb’s book Social Justice in Islam was being published – the book that would make his reputation as an important Islamic thinker.”

Qutb was an acute social critic, who identified the alienation and spiritual malaise in American society before such terms became common in American social criticism. He despised American racism and was disgusted that he was afforded privileges as a black Egyptian that black Americans were denied.

Qutb predicted that the struggle between Islam and materialism would define the modern world. He proposed to prepare the Muslim community via

  • introduction of Western science, technology, and scholarship consistent with Islamic ideals (Westernizing Islamism),
  • returning to Islamic fundamentals (salafism), and
  • jihad to Islamicize Egyptian society (revolutionary Islamism).

After the overthrow of King Farouk, apparent congruence of Qutb’s goals with some of Nasser’s thinking led Qutb into temporary alliance the Egyptian government, but opposition to Nasser’s materialism and socialism brought him martyrdom in 1966 on the eve of the 1967 war.

After the Israeli victory Gazan Muslim Brothers leader Abdullah Azzam fled first to Jordan, then to Egypt and finally to Jidda, which was a center of International Islamic Organizations focused on philanthropy and education. Azzam was rather unique among Palestinian Islamic leaders because he actively studied Zionism and tried to understand Zionist successes.

A chance 1979 encounter with the soon to be martyred Egyptian Muslim Brothers leader Kamal al-Sananiri inspired Azzam to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he was transformed by the courage and piety of Afghan Muslims struggling against the Soviets.

When Azzam returned to Saudi Arabia, he started from Qutb’s ideas but revised them to focus on Muslims threatened by external non-Muslim invasion.

John Calvert of Creighton University writes:

Azzam … appreciated the conservative, literalist approach of Saudi Islam, [but] he believed it had lost its penchant for jihad. Therefore, during his time in Saudi Arabia, Azzam joined with other Saudi-based Muslim Brothers in propagating Egyptian-style Islamism among elements of the Saudi population. The result was the seeds of a hybrid ideology that would mingle the political activism of Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb with the strict Sharia-mindedness of the Wahhabi discourse. This ideology, premised on the confrontation of absolute good threatened by its absolute opposite, would soon energize the most significant jihad movement of modern times.

Yet because Azzam was focused on the external oppression of Muslims, his ideas were no threat to the Saudi government or any Muslim state. In fact, Azzam was so distressed by the secular Nasserist orientation of the Palestinian resistance that he was reluctant to apply his thinking to the Israel Palestine conflict.

In general Azzam rejected terrorist attacks on civilians and had reservations with regard to the ideas of people like Islamic finance expert Taqi Usmani about offensive Jihad, which is -- to be frank -- is far less radical a concept than the Bushite or Neocon policy of aggressive preventive war.

In a fatwa entitled “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Iman,”Azzam describes his opinion that jihad to defend Muslims against non-Muslim invasion is the obligatin of every Muslim individually (i.e. fard al-`ayn or الواجب العربي).

Azzam reversed Qutb, who would have prioritized the struggle of Egyptian Muslims to transform Egypt into a virtuous Islamic state over the obligation of individual Egyptians to come to the aid of Afghans threatened by the Soviets.

The eminent Saudi Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Baz endorsed Azzam’s ideas in a preface to Azzam’s writings but did not sign this fatwa. Many Saudis, Egyptians and Arabs from other countries joined the anti-Soviet Jihad, which was strongly supported by the USA and especially CIA director William Casey.

Because there was considerable overlap of the Arab Jihadi program with that of the US government and even of the Neocons, Arab jihadis worked in the friendly environment of International Islamic Organizations while they traveled frictionlessly throughout the world from Afghanistan to Peshawar in Pakistan to Hijaz, and thence to the USA (especially Boston).

The Afghan Mujahideen did not always welcome Arab Jihadist aid, which was sometimes seen as a distraction, but the exploits and courage of the Arab Afghans energized the whole Islamic world and became legendary. Many miraculous events are associated with Arab Afghan martyrs.

Three years after the Soviets left Afghanistan and Azzam was assassinated in 1989 (probably by the Mossad), Bin-Ladin relocated to Sudan in 1992. At the time it is unlikely that he was the undisputed commander of anything more than a small group, which became even smaller after he lost practically all his money and returned to Afghanistan in 1996.

While the Taliban welcomed Bin-Ladin because of the mystique of the Arab Jihadi struggle against the Soviets, the Taliban government did not really owe him anything because he left Afghanistan during the post-Soviet internal Muslim civil war, at whose conclusion the Taliban had gained control of the government.

In 1997 Bin-Ladin met Khaled Sheykh Muhammad in Peshawar, Pakistan, but there was no clear close connection between the two men, who had practically nothing in common.

After the Ugandan and Tanzanian embassy attacks in 1998 Bin-Ladin’s group began to call itself al-Qa`ida , but there is no real evidence connecting al-Qa`ida to this operation or any of the numerous attacks for which it has been blamed and which could easily have been financed by non-Muslim agents provocateurs trying to intensify enmity between the USA and the Arab or Muslim world.

Because so many Muslims and non-Muslims have become ever angrier as the US has drawn closer to the State of Israel, the common belief in al-Qa`ida responsibility has probably helped Bin-Ladin’s fundraising even if the organization has never been and certainly is not today an immensely powerful terror organization commanding legions of devoted suicidal followers and controlling Islamic banks and charities throughout the world.

Al-Qa`ida maintained training camps where Muslims could get a taste of Jihadism by undergoing basic training rather as American Jews get a taste of Zionism by doing military service with the IDF. Al-Qa`ida may have raised money on the basis of the number of trainees. Because many of the trainees went on to serve US interests in Central Asia (e.g. Xinjiang), a lot of the money probably came directly from Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and therefore indirectly from the USA.

In spring 2001 Jama`at al-Jihad leader Dhawahiri joined Bin-Ladin in Afghanistan in an effective admission of the failure of revolutionary Qutbism in Egypt and perhaps in response to Bin-Ladin’s worsening health.

After 9/11 Neocons inside and outside the government found the traction for their fantasies and went into high gear in an immense effort to arrest leading Arab and Muslim Americans in business, charity and finance as the US government began to incinerate one Arab or Muslim country after another either directly or via proxy.

While Neocons introduced Israeli-style torture into the US legal and military system to make sure that detainees told stories that conformed to the Neocon narrative, the US War effort had the secondary effort of temporarily covering up Wall Street looting of the US economy during the 1990s and of setting the stage for one last financial bubble that collapsed in 2008.

Now when the USA desperately needs investment, foreigners (especially Arabs and Muslims) will put their money elsewhere as Neocons have always wanted, and careful examination of the history of transnational Arab politics including Jihadism indicates that the USA has been making war on good, honest, decent, and often courageous Arabs and Muslims, who were in many cases American citizens, while the real enemy in positions of power throughout the US political, economic, and academic system has been hard at work to steal or to destroy the fabric of the American way of life. (See Rich American Jews & Geert Wilders and Felon Advises Merkin on Fund Management - While in Federal Prison.)

Neocons and the Israel Lobby get away with this sort of machination because scholars and reporters barely acknowledge or cover either transnational Jewish or Arab-Islamic politics and their interactions in any sort of reasonable or serious fashion.

[PS. Harvard Kennedy School Fellow Thomas Hegghammer is one of the rare highly skilled specialists in transnational Arab-Islamic politics. Everyone should read his review of The Mind of Jihad.]

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