Guns, Gold and God
Anthrax Is Spread by Resentment
Our true nationality is mankind.
- H G Wells
by Anthony Daniels
It was H G Wells who, only a few years after the development of the germ theory of disease, first realised the value of bacteria for terrorist purposes. In 1895, he published a story called "The Stolen Bacillus," in which an anarchist revolutionary worms his way into the confidence of a bacteriologist in order to obtain cholera germs to put in London's water supply. The bacteriologist, little suspecting his visitor, expatiates on the dangers of the cholera that he shows him in a test-tube: "Yes, here is the pestilence imprisoned. Only break such a little tube as this Into a supply of drinking-water ...and death - mysterious, untraceable death, death swift and terrible, death full of pain and indignity - would be released upon this city, and go hither and thither seeking his victims."
Wells also tells us what is going on in the mind of the anarchist revolutionary as he exultantly escapes with the deadly culture of germs that he has stolen: "How brilliantly [he told himself] he had planned it, forged his letter of introduction and got into the laboratory, and how brilliantly he had seized the opportunity! The world should hear of him at last. All those people who had sneered at him, neglected him, preferred other people to him, found his company undesirable, should consider him at last. Death, death, death! They had always treated him as a man of no importance. All the world had been a conspiracy to keep him under."
Here we have the resentment and grandiosity that, often allied to one gimcrack utopian theory or another (of which, of course, fundamentalist Islam is but one), usually motivates the terrorist. The problem is that resentment and grandiosity is almost the normal condition of modern man. Feeling himself deprived of that to which he is by right entitled, and also feeling that, according to the doctrine of equality, there is nothing and nobody in the world more important than his own glorious self, he sets about rectifying the injustices that have been done to him by indiscriminate deeds of vengeance.
Often in my practice I meet people through whom resentment bubbles like sulfurous gas through molten lava. Not long ago, for example, I met a man, ominously attired in combat dress, who was so infuriated by the suffering of animals consequent upon the consumption of meat that he felt he wanted to go into the nearest supermarket and shoot everyone dead with a Kalashnikov. He had joined a gun club to learn how to shoot with maximum effect, and I had little doubt that he was thoroughly in earnest and that he could see no moral objection to his proposed slaughter of the shoppers.
Another man became infuriated with a chocolate company whose products he had consumed in immoderate quantities. When he was diagnosed as a diabetic, he became convinced that the chocolate company was to blame, for it had "addicted" him and was therefore responsible for his illness (and, of course, the illness of countless others). His demands for compensation fell on deaf ears, and to prevent the company from harming anyone again, he proposed to poison the chocolate.
The righting of a grievance, real or imagined, is the nearest many people can come nowadays to a transcendent purpose in life; and the number of people with grievances escalates as sectional historiographies - Islamist, in this case - grow ever more dominant and numerous. Soon everyone will be able to nurse a historic grievance of his own. Indeed, how many people will admit in decent company to having had a happy childhood?
Moreover, for many years the intellectual and moral worth of a member of the intelligentsia has been measured by the vehemence of his criticism and rejection of the accomplishments of the past. Only anger over wrongs and injustices is considered a generous or constructive emotion; admiration for past achievement has been relegated to the status of swinish complacency, which is itself the passive handmaiden of oppression. And in an age dominated by mass media, it is hardly surprising that such an attitude should have communicated itself to the whole of society. The identity of anger with virtue and generosity has become complete.
Not long ago, Britain's Guardian newspaper published a discussion about "outing," the practice by which militant homosexuals publicly expose people who wish to keep their homosexuality private. The journalist, Bea Campbell, said that the lesson that outing had taught her was that "anger was its own justification." In other words, the angry person, the person with a grievance, the person who considers himself a victim, can do no wrong. Normal moral restraints do not apply to the enraged, because rage is inherently generous and holy.
The number of people with access to the technical means with which to cause harm on a mass scale has increased pari passu with the kind of abstract resentment that is possible only for the educated or semi-educated. Perhaps we should be a little more careful in the future about the way we stir up resentments by constant reference to wrongs and injustices, without any counterbalancing appreciation of historic achievements. If you want poison in the water supply, teach a generation that it is heir to nothing but oppression and injustice, and one of its members will oblige.
Anthony Daniels is a British physician and contributing editor to City Journal.
Source: The Wall Street Journal Monday 15 October 2001
The righting of a grievance, real or imagined, is the nearest many people can come nowadays to a transcendent purpose in life? Anger is its own justification? Unfortunately, that sword can sometimes cut in the wrong places.
The following curiously prophetic article was published in January 2001.
Meeting with the Muj
by Jessica Stern
Last June I visited Jamia Manzoor ul Islamiya, a radical religious school (madrisa) in Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistan is a poor country whose plight has been worsened by a series of corrupt regimes. In many rural areas free government schools are not available. By educating, clothing, housing, and feeding the poorest of the poor for free, the madrisas fill a desperate need. Pakistan has tens of thousands of madrisas. Often the students learn only the Koran. They will not be taught much math and probably no science or literature - or any other secular subject regarded in the West as important for functioning in modern society. Many of these schools preach jihad - holy war - with varying degrees of militancy. Pakistani officials estimate that 10 to 15% of the country's madrisas promote extremist ideologies.
The principal of Jamia Manzoor ul Islamiya is Pir Said ulla Khalid. He met me in a large receiving room lined with bookshelves, but the shelves were devoid of books. Four hundred and fifty students lived at the school and another 100 were day students. Most of them, Pir Khalid said, came from families so poor they could not feed their children. I asked Pir Khalid how he had come to be the principal of a school. He had studied in a madrisa, he said. Did he have a favourite book? The Koran is the best novel, he replied.
I mentioned a popular Sufi singer, Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan, and asked whether he knew of him. "I don't need music. Music is for those who have an addiction within them." We moved to science. Had he heard of Albert Einstein? No, he told me, he saw no need for science. "I want to talk to you as I would talk to my own daughter," he suddenly said. "You believe too much in science. Science turns a cheap thing like a piece of metal into something valuable, like an airplane. Have you ever thought that you could become precious yourself? The way for a human being to become precious is to obey the principles of the one who created us. The way to become precious is through jihad. Nobody knows when he will die, so you must start the journey toward Islam," he told me kindly.
I found two students at Pir Khalid's madrisa who wanted to be doctors rather than mujahideen. Pir Khalid was embarrassed. They had only been there a few months. "By the time I've worked on them for a year, they will want to be mujahideen too." I believed him; he was an intense man with near-hypnotic power. A poor child might do anything to please him. Although some madrisas claim to offer a broader curriculum than Jamia Manzoor ul Islamiya, the teachers are often barely educated. One teacher I interviewed at another school was able to add but unable to multiply 7 x 8.
Decades ago, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, Pakistan's most important Islamist and founder of the political party Jamaat i Islami, warned of the disadvantages of a system of education that focused exclusively on religious subjects. "Those who choose the theological branch of learning generally keep themselves utterly ignorant of [secular subjects, thereby remaining] incapable of giving any lead to the people regarding the modern political problems," he argued in First Principles of the Islamic State, published in 1960.
Although Maududi's observations seemed sensible to me, several principals of madrisas scolded me for being so picky, for having an "obsession" with science and math. Sami ul-Haq, the chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqania, said Pakistani critics of madrisas, who frequently call for a broadening of the curricula, were simply playing "a game of diplomacy with the West." Besides, the chancellor added, "America has assessed Pakistan's army wrongly. The army is now Islamic. It is committed to the madrisas. This is the first time," he added giddily, "that I am revealing the truth to a foreigner."
The supply line
As part of a research project on violent religious extremism, I have been interviewing Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim militants around the world for the last two years. Last June I returned to South Asia to visit the Line of Control, the always tense and often bloody border between Indian-held and Pakistan-held Kashmir. I wanted to meet with mujahideen and to learn more about Pakistan's radical madrisas, which churn out so many of the mujahideen, boys who court death in the name of god. I also met with families of "martyrs," Pakistani boys who have lost their lives fighting in Kashmir. I had been communicating with a few mujahideen over the past two years, trying to understand what motivates them to become cannon fodder in what appears to be a losing battle.
Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Inqalabi, a leader of Pakistan's Sunni sectarian party, Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan, told me that the United States had finally figured out that madrisas comprise the base for jihad. Because of that, the United States was pressuring Pakistan to shut them down. It won't work, he said. "Madrisas are the supply line for jihad. Where the state controls madrisas, as in Egypt and Jordan, the voices for jihad are shut down. Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the only countries where it is possible to preach jihad in the schools. The terrorist activities in America, like the World Trade Center bombing and Mir Amal Kansi's attack at the CIA, are a reaction to the US attempt to impose a new world order on the rest of the world. America is trying to crush jihad, but this will only lead to more terrorism. We are also training foreigners to preach Islam and fight in jihad in their own countries. It would be against Islam for us not to teach them. We have no intention of giving in to the whims of the US government by expanding our curricula."
What happens to families whose children become martyrs? Most of the mothers I interviewed said they were happy to have donated their sons to jihad because their sons could help them in the next life - the "real life." Syed Qurban Hussain, the father of a martyr, said, "Whoever gives his life in the way of Allah lives forever and earns a place in heaven for 70 members of his family, to be selected by the martyr." Families of martyrs become celebrities after their children die. "Everyone treats me with more respect now that I have a martyred son," Hussain added. "And when there is a martyr in the village, it encourages more children to join the jihad. It raises the spirit of the entire village."
Foundations have been set up to help the families of martyrs. For example, the Shuhda-e-Islam Foundation, founded by Jamaat i Islami, claims to have disseminated 13 million rupees in Pakistan since 1995. One family I visited lived on a street lined with open sewers. But the house, which is made of unpainted concrete, was partly paid for by the foundation. It is a large improvement over their earlier home, a mud hut. After son Zafar Iqbal died in Kashmir, the foundation helped pay the family's substantial debts, and it helped Habeeb Iqbal, the martyr's father, to start a business. He now owns two shops in the village.
When Zafar Iqbal died, 8,000 people attended his funeral in Kashmir, his mother told me. "God is helping us out a lot," she said, pointing to her home and smiling. They also plan to donate their youngest "to God," her husband added, pointing to their 10-year-old son. After completing 5th grade in a government school, the boy will study in a madrisa full time to prepare himself mentally and physically for jihad. I asked the boy what he wants to do when he grows up. "Be a mujahed," he said.
A jihadi culture is forming in Pakistan, the roots of which are entangled in the Afghan civil war in the 1980s, when the United States set up camps in Pakistan to train mujahideen to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan. "The Soviet forces left Afghanistan in 1989 but the idea of jihad - an armed struggle of Muslim believers that had all but died out by the 20th century - had been fully resuscitated," the late Pakistani scholar Eqbal Ahmad explained. By financing and training the Afghan mujahideen, the United States created what it now regards as a major threat to its own security. "Sensing its enormous opportunity, traders in guns and drugs became linked to the phenomenon, creating an informal but extraordinary cartel of vested interests in guns, gold, and god," Ahmad wrote in 1999.
Since the 1980s, jihad has become a way of life for unknown numbers of Pakistanis and Arab-Afghans. Smuggling weapons has become big business, now fueled largely by the war in Kashmir. Through negligence more than active intervention, the Pakistani government allows the jihadi culture to grow. Despite government warnings of the dangers of "religious exploitation" of public sentiment, Pakistan's Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf continues to allow the jihadi groups and madrisas to indoctrinate Pakistani youth, sending them to fight in a losing war in Kashmir.
It is not possible to promote jihad in Kashmir without inadvertently promoting sectarian violence within Pakistan, because the two movements - jihad against the Indians in Kashmir and jihad against the Shia in Pakistan - are inextricably linked. Sectarian terrorists have killed or injured thousands of Pakistanis over the last 10 years, even attempting to murder then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last year.
Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan, the Sunni sectarian party, has a "profound influence on all Deobandi madrisas," according to Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Inqalabi, one of the party's leaders. Deobandi madrisas provide "mental training" to a significant fraction of the mujahideen in Kashmir.
Pakistan's most wanted sectarian terrorist, Riaz Bazra, spends at least part of his time hiding out at an Afghan camp that trains mujahideen for Kashmir, according to Pakistani officials. The sectarian terrorists arrested in connection with the plot to assassinate Sharif had reportedly been trained at a camp at Khost, which the jihadi group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen used to train mujahideen for Kashmir. In June, I met militants who had moved from Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan to groups fighting in Kashmir, without any apparent ideological or political difficulty.
Estimates of the size of the jihadi groups vary widely, but most US, Pakistani, and Indian experts believe there are tens of thousands of trained mujahideen ready, if necessary, to go to Kashmir. Indian officials claim to have a slightly better handle on the number of trained mujahideen already inside Indian Kashmir: between 2,000 and 4,000.
The Indian government claims that the jihadi groups have become more violent and more sophisticated in recent years. They have switched from guns and bullets to remotely detonated explosives. They communicate with encrypted wireless systems, changing signals and locations constantly. (I first learned of this system from the fathers of two mujahideen, who had to travel to Muzzaferabad to speak to their sons.)
The sources of guns and explosives, which are smuggled in, are often unknowable, Indian officials say, because AK-47s are made in 19 different countries, and because there are no taggants in the explosives to identify their origin.
A leader of one Pakistani group active in Kashmir told me how his organisation recycles men from active fighting to undercover work. "Our troops swim across the river Ravi from Azad Jammu into Indian-held Jammu. A typical mujahed will kill 9 or 10 Indian border policemen. Then we make him a 'sleeper.' He takes an apartment in a residential colony in Jammu, takes a job, and tries to disappear." After staying in Jammu for some time, the sleepers "often move to Delhi, where they try to pass as Punjabi Hindus." The number who actually make it to Delhi depends on how much help the Pakistani Interservice Intelligence Agency provides, he added. "The movement of our sleepers is so scientific that no Indian agency can even smell them."
Once they get to Delhi, he said, "they seek out the poorest Kashmiri Muslims in India to teach them about their constitutional rights. Some labourers, for example, live in small rooms fitted with 8 beds. Each tenant gets one 8-hour shift per day, so that 24 people sleep in each room. "My sleepers help these people. Some of them are ignorant of Urdu. Some of them were converted to Hinduism or Sikhism. We provide them with religious literature, we help them come back to Islam."
It is a difficult process, he says, because worldly temptations are everywhere. "Young Rajasthani girls and alcohol are available [for small amounts of money]. They think they are in heaven. They don't want to go back to Kashmir and face the poverty there. We want them to support Kashmir, to earn money, and to send some of it back to help Kashmiris. When [Hindu nationalist organisations] announced their plan to build a temple in place of the destroyed Babri Mosque, my sleepers were involved in organising Muslims."
Jihad or terrorism?
Pakistani Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf's ambivalent attitude toward fundamentalism is nowhere more evident than in his government's relationship with the mujahideen. The Pakistani government denies supplying material support to the jihadi groups, a claim challenged by the US State Department in its most recent annual report on terrorism. But Pakistani officials do admit, at least privately, to "facilitating" the activities of jihadi groups, including assisting them in crossing the Line of Control into Indian-held Kashmir. If Musharraf intends to ensure that a "moderate Islam" guides Pakistan's future, as he claimed in his first speech after coming to power last October, he will have to start by ending this assistance.
So far, there is little evidence that he plans to do so. He will also have to persuade the radical madrisas to change their curricula and stop preaching violent jihad. Although officials claim to be cracking down on the madrisas, especially when speaking to Western reporters, few of the radical principals I talked to had any intention of complying with the government's demands.
More important, Pakistani officials admit privately that Pakistan needs the mujahideen to persuade the Indian government that a military solution to the Kashmiri conflict is impossible. Although India's conventional forces vastly outnumber those of Pakistan, Indian security forces "suffer from a siege mentality," according to a Pakistani commander at the Line of Control. That makes their spirit "weak." Meanwhile, the mujahideen, he says, have a just cause and a stronger spirit. Although they are far less numerous than the Indian Army at the Line of Control, man for man they are much stronger. The idea that the Indian Army fears the "muj" is common not only among boastful mujahideen, but also in Pakistani military circles.
Musharraf calls the mujahideen "freedom fighters," not terrorists, castigating the West for confusing jihad with terrorism. But there are problems with this line of argument. To begin with, incursions by the mujahideen are not lessening India's determination to hold on to Kashmir. On the contrary, they have hardened India's views toward Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has repeatedly stressed his refusal to hold talks with Musharraf until Pakistan curbs the violence of the mujahideen.
The jihad promoted by Pakistani radicals is a misinterpretation of the term, a senior Pakistani official conceded to me in June. Mainstream Islamic scholars interpret the Prophet Muhammad's teachings as emphasizing that spiritual jihad - the inner struggle to follow God's will - as the "greater jihad"; holy war is the "lesser" one. Islamic scholars argue further that the Koran prohibits killing civilians under any circumstances, including in a defensive jihad. Human rights organisations claim that both parties to the Kashmiri conflict - the Indian security forces and the mujahideen - have increasingly targeted civilians in random attacks since the early 1990s.
Several Pakistani operatives, when captured, have confessed to carrying out operations inside India, according to Indian interrogation reports. Tufail Rashid Rajput was reportedly caught trying to explode a bomb at the Bombay Central Railway Station in 1993. Abdul Matin, captured in 1997, reportedly confessed to the bombing of the Jaipur Stadium in January 1996, as well as to the murder of a Swedish tourist at Agra at about the same time. Matin also disclosed a plot by Harkat-ul-Ansar, a mujahideen organisation, to blow up the Taj Mahal to draw attention to the Kashmiri issue. Human rights organisations report that jihadi groups also carry out random attacks inside Kashmir, bombing buses, stores, and other public places.
Is this terrorism? When jihadi groups attack noncombatants, the answer is "yes," according to both Islamic and Western just-war traditions. Under jus ad bellum criteria, war is permissible when there are no better means for securing the peace - if the cause is just and if the good achieved by the war would exceed the unavoidable harm caused by fighting it. Both Islamic and Western traditions also require decisions made by the right authority. Maulana Abul A la Maududi argued in the late 1940s that as individuals, mujahideen could not legitimately declare jihad.
Similarly, jus in bello requires that the belligerents' methods be proportional to their ends and that they not directly target noncombatants. Islamic just-war theory implies similar requirements. The mujahideen have a far broader definition of legitimate targets. They consider Indian government officials to be combatants and they also target Kashmiris whom they consider to be "collaborators." This is clearly at odds with international law. Moreover, when alleged collaborators are attacked in markets or on buses, innocent bystanders often die in large numbers, a predictable outcome. The jus in bello criteria apply equally to Indian security forces, however. By these standards, terrorism is being perpetrated by both sides in Kashmir.
Terrorism thrives in much of the world - not only in lingering conflicts, but in areas where the state fails to provide basic services, especially education. Solving this problem will therefore require a lot more than resolving the conflict in Kashmir. It will require curbing the jihadi culture that took root in Afghanistan in the 1980s and is now spreading to Pakistan. That culture is fuelled by money from all over the world.
There are winners and losers in this jihad. For the winners - the gun-runners, the leaders of militant groups, and the managers of the training camps - jihad is, at least in part, a profit-making business. The mujahideen "believe their bosses are motivated by pure religious principles," a disillusioned mujahed explained to me. "They expect their followers to live by strict moral standards, but they have a different set of standards for their own behaviour."
The countries - particularly the United States - that planted the seeds of the jihadi culture in the 1980s ought to be thinking seriously about how to promote its end. Helping to educate Pakistani youth might turn out to be among the wisest investments the United States could make.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani conflict with India continues, deepening an already tragic cycle. Pakistan feels it must spend more than a quarter of its budget on defense, leaving little money for educating the poor. The poor, in turn, send their children to the free madrisas, where they learn a dangerously virulent version of jihad. "The rich donate money," a disenchanted mujahed told me, "and the poor donate their sons."
Meet the Players
Last spring the US State Department announced in its annual report on terrorism that South Asia had replaced the Middle East as the leading "locus of terrorism." Yet very little is known in the West about the Pakistani mujahideen, in part because many of the groups have only recently emerged and, in part, because attention has been focused elsewhere.
Further, leadership crises, mergers, and splits are regular occurrences, making the accuracy of any typology short-lived. Even Pakistani intelligence officials have difficulty keeping the groups straight. Given those caveats, here is a brief description of the major groups.
Jessica Stern is a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of The Ultimate Terrorists (1999) and a Bulletin board member.
Source: thebulletin.org January/February 2001 Volume 57, Number 1, pages 42-51 ©2001 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
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