H.R. McMaster Endorsed Book That Advocates Quran-Kissing Apology Ceremonies

AP/Alex Brandon

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Aug. 20, 2017:

TEL AVIV — A book on terrorism endorsed and touted by H.R. McMaster, the embattled White House National Security Adviser, calls on the U.S. military to respond to any “desecrations” of the Quran by service members with an apology ceremony, and advocates kissing a new copy of the Quran before presenting the Islamic text to the local Muslim public.

The book’s author further demanded that any American soldier who “desecrates” the Quran be ejected from the foreign country of deployment, relieved of duty and turned over to a military judge for “punishment.”

“Desecration” of the Quran, according to the McMaster-endorsed book, includes such acts as “letting the Quran fall to the ground during a search, or more blatant instances.”

The book, reviewed in full by this reporter, was authored by U.S. military officer Youssef H. Aboul-Enein and is titled Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat.

McMaster provided a glowing blurb for the book jacket, referring to Aboul-Enein’s book as “an excellent starting point” for understanding terrorist ideology.

McMaster also promoted the book in ARMOR, the journal of the U.S. Army’s Armor Branch, published at Fort Benning, Georgia, where McMaster served as commanding general at the Ft. Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence.

McMaster wrote in his blurb for the book: “Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

In the blurb, McMaster revealed his own views on terrorism, claiming that “terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.”

Aboul-Enein is listed as a senior adviser and analyst at the Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism at the Defense Intelligence Agency, a position that he also held under the Obama administration. He is an officer in the Navy Medical Service Corps and Middle East Foreign Officer, and an adjunct military professor and chair of Islamic studies at the National Defense University.

Besides endorsing Militant Islamist Ideology, McMaster also wrote a forward for another Aboul-Enein book, this one titled Iraq in Turmoil: Historical Perspectives of Dr. Ali al-Wardi, From the Ottoman Empire to King Feisal.

Quran ‘Desecration’

In the book, Aboul-Enein warned that “incidents of desecrating the Quran, such as letting the Quran fall to the ground during a search, or more blatant instances, allow our adversary to capitalize on outrage and to score points in the arena of public opinion.”

Any such “desecration” of the Quran, the author wrote, “would be considered an offense not only by Militant Islamists but by Islamists and wider Muslim community as well.”

Aboul-Enein recommended that “desecrations” of the Quran should be “quickly acknowledged, with unconditional apologies and reassurances to the public that the accused do not represent the United States or its military, that they have been ejected from the country and referred to their service’s judge advocate general for punishment.”

Besides ejecting the service member from the country of deployment and turning the soldier over to a judge for “punishment,” Aboul-Enein pointed to a May 2008 incident in which a U.S. Army sniper reportedly used the Quran for target practice. He upheld the response by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, as forming, in Aboul-Enein’s opinion, the minimal official U.S. military reaction to such desecrations.

The response included an “apology ceremony” at which a U.S. official kissed a copy of the Quran before presenting the text to the local community as a “humble gift.”

Aboul-Enein writes that Hammond took the following steps, “which in my opinion formed the basis by which American officials and Iraqi tribal leaders fighting al-Qaida can at least alleviate the emotionalism of such an event”:

  • Hammond held “an apology ceremony, not a press conference, and he issued this statement, flanked by Iraqi Sunni leaders of the Radwaniyah District, where the incident had happened: ‘I come before you here seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.’”
  • A U.S. official “kissed a new copy of the Quran and ceremoniously presented it to the tribal leaders.”
  • Hammond read the following letter from the shooter: “I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. … My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious.”
  • The offending sniper was “relieved of duty and reassigned.”
  • Hammond himself commented, “The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior. … I’ve come to this land to protect you, to support you—not to harm you—and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable.”

The section on Quran “desecration” is not the only controversial part of the book. Breitbart News reported last week that Aboul-Enein’s book also calls Hamas an “Islamist political group” while failing to categorize the deadly organization as a terrorist group, and refers to al-Qaida attacks and anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance.”

The work frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” such as waking up early in the morning to recite prayers. It argues that groups like al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have hijacked the concept of jihad to wage war using such tactics as suicide bombings.

Hamas an ‘Islamist Political Group’

Throughout the McMaster-endorsed Militant Islamist Ideology book, Aboul-Enein struggles to properly categorize Hamas; but at no point does he call Gaza’s murderous Islamist rulers a terrorist organization.

Hamas is a terrorist group responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians. Hamas’s official charter calls for the obliteration of the Jewish state, and proclaims that there is “no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” Hamas leaders routinely demand the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.

Yet Aboul-Enein struggles to properly classify Hamas. At one point, Aboul-Enein differentiates between “militant Islamists” and Hamas, grouping the latter among “Islamist political groups.”

In the book’s introduction, he writes:

Militant Islamists alienate not only the United States but even Islamist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It is time for a more nuanced definition of the threat.

At another point, the author calls Hamas an “Islamist” group. He writes (page 131): “For instance, Zawahiri condemns Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas for participating in the electoral process.”

Despite its clear terrorist activities, Aboul-Enein suggests (page 2) that Hamas does not “fit into a neat category.” He asks an open question about whether Hamas “is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group,” but he does not provide an answer.

He writes (page 3):

There are also Islamists who do not fit into a neat category, such as the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. On one hand, Hamas provides social services, won 44 percent of the electorate in 2006, and is the government of the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, it has failed to compromise effectively with other Palestinian rejectionist and secular groups to form a governing coalition, and it has failed to provide social services for a wider Palestinian populace. In addition, it has conducted suicide operations directed against Israeli civilians – though it has not widened its campaign beyond targeting Israel. Further, al-Qaida senior leaders have viciously attacked Hamas for participating in electoral politics. The question for Americans is whether Hamas is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group.

Aboul-Enein fails to note that the U.S. government already answered that so-called question, designating Hamas as a foreign terrorist group.

In another section of the book, Aboul-Enein defines (page 193) Hamas as straddling “the Islamist and Militant Islamist divide, using its proficiency in suicide-bomber operations to strike at Israeli targets, yet it is currently in government.” He also writes (page 215) that Hamas “is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant organization and political party.”

Al-Qaida, Palestinian ‘Resistance’

In the book, Aboul-Enein refers to the deadly terrorism of al-Qaida in Iraq as “resistance.” Besides its worldwide mayhem, Al-Qaida has been responsible for countless terrorist attacks across Iraq that have targeted civilians, U.S. troops and Iraqi government institutions.

Aboul-Enein relates a struggle between the goals of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and those of the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) in terms of “resistance” locally versus a global fight against the West.

Aboul-Enein writes (page 101):

In post-Saddam Iraq, among the Sunni insurgency there are other stressors that undermine al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), such as the tensions between the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and al-Qaida in Iraq. The IAI struggles with AQI over the concept of this fight being for Iraq’s Sunnis and not a wider pan-Islamist struggle; the IAI has narrower objectives than AQI. It is a tension between Jihad as muqawama (resistance) and Jihad for a wider pan-Islamist objective.

He refers to support for “resistance” against the U.S. presence in Iraq. He does so when documenting the rise of Muslim Brotherhood political parties and public criticism of an al-Qaida hotel bombing in 2005 in Amman, Jordan.

He writes (page 46):

This has split the Muslim Brotherhood, as there is deep hostility toward the U.S. presence in Iraq, support for muqawama (resistance) and for the Muslim Brotherhood concept of wasatiyah (moderation), and recognition of the need for grassroots representation of the Ahl-al-Sunnah (formal term for Sunni Muslims).

Aboul-Enein also categorizes deadly terrorist raids on Jewish settlements in the 1930s as “resistance,” even though those operations targeted and killed civilians.

He states: (page 138)

No study of Militant Islamist ideologues and the cleavages between Militant Islamist and Islamist groups can be complete without delving into the life, actions, theories, and legacy of Abdullah Azzam. Militant Islamist operatives take the nom de guerre “Abu Azzam” in his honor. A witness to increased Jewish immigration into Palestine in World War II, Azzam was reared on the stories of resistance by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which led guerrilla raids against the British and then Jewish settlers.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is currently the namesake of Hamas’s so-called military wing. Aboul-Enein was referring to deadly attacks carried out by the original Brigade, founded around 1930 by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian Muslim cleric who popularized the concept of jihad against Jews during the British civil administration of Palestine.

“Islamist” vs. “Militant Islamist”

The core of Aboul-Enein’s endeavor, and one that may help to elucidate McMaster’s views, is to differentiate between what he terms “Islamist” and “Militant Islamist,” and to show that “militant Islamists” present a distorted, dishonest view of Islam. The thesis might clarify McMaster’s aversion to using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

In seeking to differentiate between “Islam,” “Islamist,” and “Militant Islamist,” Aboul-Enein comes up with the following basic definitions:

  • Islam is “the religious faith of Muslims, involving (as defined in Merriam-Webster’s) belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.”
  • He defines Islamist as “a group or individual advocating Islam as a political as well as a religious system. Chief Islamist objectives include implementing sharia (Islamic) law as the basis of all statutory issues and living as did the earliest adherents to Islam. Many Islamists also assert that implementation of sharia law requires the elimination of all non-Islamic influences in social, political, economic, and military spheres of life.”
  • Militant Islamists, Aboul-Enein claims, consist of a “group or individual advocating Islamist ideological goals, principally by violent means. Militant Islamists call for the strictest possible interpretation of both the Quran (Muslim book of divine revelation) and the hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s actions and deeds). This narrow interpretation opposes the beliefs of Muslims and non-Muslims alike; Militant Islamists stand against Western democracies, Middle Eastern institutions of government, and Islamist political parties that participate nonviolently in elections.”

Defining Jihad

Aboul-Enein frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” a term that has been hijacked by “militant Islamists” to wage extremist warfare.

Aboul-Enein posits, for example, that jihad “can be as simple as struggling to get up in the early morning to say your dawn prayers or struggling to learn and improve yourself spiritually or intellectually. It also can mean struggling in the path of God, which does not necessarily mean engaging in warfare but might be making time to teach Islam to children or providing financial support for an Islamic project.”

Jihad, in other words, is a struggle to fulfill one’s obligations to Allah, according to the author.

Islamists, he states, define jihad as a “means to expend every effort fighting against the disbelievers.” However, Aboul-Enein attempts to cloak this violent struggle in the shroud of morality.

He writes (page 34): “Islamists delineate who can fight and when; unlike Militant Islamists, they generally set rules and limits for engaging in fighting in the name of God. … It makes Jihad obligatory upon all Muslims only if the enemy has entered Muslim lands and if the imam calls for Jihad.”

Some Islamists, he relates, “prescribe a protocol of warfare in which a noble Muslim warrior should be free of arrogance and conceit,” and espouse “etiquette” such as “warnings not to kill noncombatant women and children.”

Aboul-Enein describes the seemingly legitimate, moderate jihad as different from the jihadist views advocated by “militant Islamists,” who “use women, children, and the mentally infirm as suicide bombers, who reduce Jihad to fighting or supporting the fighting through financial means, and who make Jihad incumbent upon all Muslims, with no distinction between communal and individual responsibility.”

Islam experts, meanwhile, have pointed out that mainstream Islamic scripture advocates a violent jihad to spread Islam worldwide.

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Why Did NPR Lie About the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas?

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 19, 2017:

In the ongoing debate over the possible terror designation of the Muslim Brotherhood the media cartel has outdone itself pushing fake news and false propaganda regarding the group.

One such example was a puff piece by Jane Arraf at NPR back in February, who in noting the debate over the terror designation issue, painting the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate in Jordan as “mainstream” moderates pursuing peace and democracy.

That fake news was exposed by an incident earlier this week, where Hamza Mansour, a senior leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, openly encouraged suicide terror attacks, even by young children:

This is not the first time that Mansour has made news, such as his refusal in 2015 to call ISIS terrorists as they were engaged in widespread genocide and religious cleansing in Iraq and Syria:

Arraf’s NPR agitprop also conveniently fails to mention the symbiotic relationship between the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and the designated terrorist group, Hamas.

Also missing is the fact that the Jordanian government has already all-but banned the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down its headquarters and most of its activities.

These can be seen as deliberate omissions intended to give a false impression to NPR listeners. Lying, in other words.

For years Hamas has operated as an arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, as this 1998 intelligence report on Hamas by the South African National Intelligence Agency noted (HT: John Rossomando):

In fact, the Hamas senior leadership lived and worked out of Amman until 1999, when King Abdullah expelled them in one of his first major moves during the first year of his reign.

Since 2008, Hamas has been directly affiliated with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, operating more independently.

Despite the expulsion of Hamas from Jordan, the group still relies on the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood for support, such as the discovery of their storing weapons for the terror group back in 2006. The weapons cache included rockets, C4 explosives and small arms.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) rose to Hamas’ defense, claiming the weapons cache was a set up and a conspiracy theory.

Since then, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood has made no secret of their support for Hamas.

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How to deal with Muslim Brotherhood triggers Trump White House infighting

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The Washington Times, by Guy Taylor, March 27, 2017:

President Trump has — for the time being — put on the back burner an executive order designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, according to U.S. officials close to a heated debate inside the administration over the status of the global Islamist movement.

While the White House has declined to comment publicly, officials speaking on condition of anonymity say the administration backed down from a plan to designate the Brotherhood last month after an internal State Department memo advised against it because of the movement’s loose-knit structure and far-flung political ties across the Middle East.

The memo “explained that there’s not one monolithic Muslim Brotherhood,” according to one of the officials, who told The Washington Times that while the movement may well be tied to such bona fide terrorist groups as Hamas, its more legitimate political activities would complicate the terrorist designation process.

The Brotherhood has prominent political factions engaged — at least perfunctorily — in democracy in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and several other Muslim-majority nations, and the State Department memo coincided with high-level pressure placed on the Trump administration from at least one of them.

Senior diplomats from Jordan — a close U.S. ally — are believed to have weighed in heavily against the idea of adding the Brotherhood to the State Department’s foreign terrorist organizations list, said the official, because the movement’s political arm in Amman currently holds 16 Jordanian parliament seats.

But debate over the Brotherhood’s status remains biting in Washington, where hard-liners in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism say former President Barack Obama erred for years by failing to target the organization’s promotion of extremist ideology, and that President Trump is now badly fumbling a chance to rectify the situation.

A small but vocal group of Republicans on Capitol Hill is pushing legislation that would direct the State Department to either designate the Brotherhood, as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as terrorist organizations or justify why they are being kept off the list.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who reintroduced the Muslim Brotherhood portion of the legislation last month with a House version backed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, says listing the movement would “codify needed reforms in America’s war against radical Islamic terrorism.”

“This potent threat to our civilization has intensified under the Obama administration due to the willful blindness of politically-correct policies that hamper our safety and security,” the Texas Republican said in a statement at the time.

“This bill would impose tough sanctions on a hateful group that has spread violence and spawned extremist movements throughout the Middle East,” added Mr. Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican.

While hard-line groups have rallied behind such assertions for years, the legislation also has a number of more moderate backers, including Qanta A. Ahmed, a Muslim British physician and author, who argues that the Brotherhood “birthed modern-day Islamism” as a “supremacist totalitarian ideology that seeks to undermine pluralist societies and impose hardline theocratic regimes.”

“Founded in Egypt in 1928 and with branches or affiliates in over 70 nations, the Muslim Brotherhood today masquerades as a legitimate Islamic institution and a benign democratic actor,” Ms. Ahmed argued in an article published this month by the National Review.

“It is neither,” she wrote, adding that the movement has “well-documented links to the financing of terrorism” and that “the United States should designate [it] as a foreign terrorist organization.”

Missing the nuances

Current and former State Department officials say those calling for the designation of a movement as broadly based as the Muslim Brotherhood are ignoring a host of complex factors that could undermine the designation’s legitimacy.

The Brotherhood, analysts say, exists as a vast and loosely knit political and social organization, with millions of followers and dozens of factions spread across the Muslim world.

Few question its promotion of Shariah or Islamic law, or that some of its followers have embraced terrorism — the most notable example being the Palestinian group Hamas, whose official charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas was put on the terror list in 1997 and has stayed there since.

But away from Hamas, many Brotherhood leaders were known during the 1970s to renounce violence in favor of politics. And recent decades saw factions of the movement embrace democracy to gain legitimacy in various Middle East nations, as well as to try to topple dictatorships.

Following the 2011 overthrow of Egypt’s authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was — albeit briefly — democratically elected to power in Cairo before the nation’s military ousted the movement’s national leader, Mohammed Morsi.

While several Gulf Arab monarchies view the Brotherhood as an internal political threat, the movement’s factions are seen as part of the democratic landscape in other places, including Turkey, where many see the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a distant Brotherhood affiliate.

Creating problems

“If you’re talking about just broadly listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, you’re going to run quickly into a serious definitional problem,” says P.J. Crowley, who served as an assistant secretary of state for public affairs under President Obama.

“Certainly, if you look at Hamas, it’s part of the Muslim Brotherhood family,” Mr. Crowley told The Times. “But the Brotherhood is also a distant cousin of the AKP in Turkey, so once you start down that road, you get into an immediate problem that could create significant diplomatic issues. And what about Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia?

“The one thing that distinguishes the Muslim Brotherhood from groups like al Qaeda is that al Qaeda wants to blow up any democratic process, while the Brotherhood is theoretically prepared to participate in the democratic process,” he said.

A report by NPR recently maintained that the Brotherhood became popular among Middle East university activists in the 1960s and 1970s — and when some immigrated to the United States with student visas, they brought the movement’s ideology with them.

“They were helped even by our State Department,” Hossein Goal, who emigrated from Iran during the period, told NPR. “They gave them sanctuary to come here.”

It follows that members of the movement had significant roles in establishing mosques, Islamic schools and other U.S.-based Muslim organizations. NPR suggested that, over the years, the situation fueled debate over the whether the movement’s true aim was to participate in American life or to advance an Islamist political agenda in the U.S.

Seeking truth

One prominent U.S. Muslim organization says the push to get the Brotherhood listed as a terrorist organization today is a ruse. “We believe it is just a smokescreen for a witch hunt targeting the civil rights and civic participation of American Muslims,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Sponsors and supporters of the designation have for many years falsely linked the majority of mainstream American Muslim organizations and leaders to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mr. Hooper told The Times. “[This] will inevitably be used in a political campaign to attack those same groups and individuals, to marginalize the American Muslim community and to demonize Islam.”

One of the strongest advocates for designating the Brotherhood says that’s nonsense.

“It is a terrorist organization,” says Frank Gaffney, who heads the Center for Security Policy think tank in Washington. “It’s the leading edge in this country and elsewhere in the West for Shariah supremacism.”

Mr. Gaffney, who drew liberal ire during the Obama years for claiming the former president was secretly a Muslim, told The Times that U.S. policy has long been afflicted by thinking the “Brotherhood is part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

“We are in the fix we’re in today, 16 years since 9/11 and having basically lost two wars, not due to military inadequacies but due to this incoherent understanding, or nonunderstanding, of the nature of the enemy,” Mr. Gaffney said.

“One of the things that was most important about Donald Trump’s claim that he understood the nature of the enemy was that he seemed to recognize that it involves the Muslim Brotherhood — and, for that reason, he should designate it a terrorist organization.”

Muslim Brotherhood Protests Removal of Jihad Verses From Jordanian Curriculum

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Ali Waked, Fe. 5, 2017:

JAFFA, Israel – Dozens of Quranic verses have been removed from the Jordanian national curriculum, including those referencing jihad, prompting criticism from the Muslim Brotherhood and its representatives in Jordan.

Huda Alatoum, an educator and high-profile MP for the Muslim Brotherhood, said that “far-reaching changes” have been introduced in Jordan’s school program that remove verses and hadiths (oral traditions) “pertaining to Prophet Mohammed’s life.”

“About 40 percent of the curriculum about Arabic language and Islam have been changed, including the removal of all reference to jihad and opposing the occupation of Palestine,” she charged, adding that “325 verses and 75 Islamic texts have been removed.”

She concluded by warning that “even worse changes” are ahead.

Alatoum said she decided to hold a press conference after her protest efforts in parliament met with failure. In her addresses to the plenary, she repeatedly claimed that the amendments were decided without the approval of parliament’s Education Committee.

Al-Monitor reported on the curriculum changes:

A religious and political dispute continues to brew in Jordan over a controversial move by the Ministry of Education to revamp the curricula of the three elementary grades. According to Deputy Prime Minister Jawad Anani, the changes are part of the government’s strategy to combat extremism in society.

Changes to school textbooks introduced this year involve coverage of Islam, history, Arabic and civics. For example, in civics, reference is made to acknowledge Christians as a demographic component of the population with pictures of churches as well as mosques. In religion, entire verses from the Quran and sayings by the Prophet Muhammad have been removed, while in Arabic literature, a picture of a veiled woman was replaced with one showing an unveiled woman. In Arabic-language textbooks for the third grade, a Quranic verse was replaced by a text on swimming. No changes were made to books on the sciences, mathematics and art.

The issue of extremism in the school curricula and the reforms proposed are dividing the country. Conservatives, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front (IAF), which contested the Sept. 20 Lower House elections, have denounced the move “as an affront to our heritage and values aimed at distancing future generations from its religion, its Arab identity, its history and traditions.”

Alatoum’s campaign became a sensation on social media.

“That’s what the West wants, a generation that knows nothing about its religion except prayer and fasting,” Misbah tweeted. “They amend the curriculum pretending to root out extremism, but they introduce only corruption instead.”

“Allah bless Huda Alatoum,” Ibrahim Altamimi tweeted after a speech she gave in December.

Mohammed Bilal called the new curriculum “American Islam,” saying, “Dr. Huda Alatoum, MP, talks about effectively teaching American Islam in her country. Allah forbid.”

Another user protested “the Jordanian liberals’ attempt to change the curriculum.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II visited the United States last week and met several officials from the new administration, including President Donald Trump.

The king’s visit came against a background of growing concerns that terrorist organizations, especially the Islamic State, will seek to settle along Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria following their retreats from Raqqa and Mosul.

Jordanian writer shot dead outside court after being charged with insulting Islam

Nahed Hattar was killed after being charged with offending Islam

Nahed Hattar was killed after being charged with offending Islam

Telegraph, by Sept. 25, 2016:

Aprominent Jordanian writer was shot dead by a suspected Islamist gunman on Sunday outside the courtroom where he was due to stand trial for offending Islam by sharing a cartoon on Facebook.

Nahed Hattar, a 56-year-old intellectual from Jordan’s Christian minority, was gunned down on the steps of a courthouse in Amman in what appeared to be a religiously motivated attack.

The gunman was arrested at the scene and a Jordanian security source identified him as Riyad Ismail Abdullah, a 49-year-old imam who was wearing traditional Islamic robes at the time of the shooting.

The alleged shooter recently returned from making the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the source said. The gunman is believed to have acted alone rather than as part of an organised group.

The high-profile murder is a fresh blow to Jordan’s image as a bastion of stability amid the sectarian violence that is wracking much of the Middle East and the latest in a long string of killings across the world linked to cartoons about Islam.

Mr Hattar was arrested in August for sharing a cartoon on his Facebook page which showed a jihadist smoking in bed with two women while Allah waits attentively at the window for him.

The jihadist orders Allah to fetch him some wine and take away the dirty plates while demanding the archangel Gabriel get him some cashew nuts.

Mr Hattar said the cartoon was intended to mock jihadists and their twisted interpretation of Islam but Jordan’s government charged him with insulting the faith and “provoking sectarian rifts”.

The writer rejected the charges and planned to fight the case. If convicted, he could have faced up to three years in prison.

“I am mocking the terrorists and their conception of hell and heaven,” Mr Hattar wrote shortly before his death. “I’m not insulting the supreme Allah, at all, on the contrary, I’m against the type of God that the terrorists worship.

Nahed Hattar was shot outside a courthouse and died in hospital in Amman CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RAAD ADAYLEH

Nahed Hattar was shot outside a courthouse and died in hospital in Amman CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RAAD ADAYLEH

Mr Hattar’s family immediately blamed Jordan’s government for failing to protect the writer, saying the decision to publicly charge him with offending Islam had made him a target for Muslim extremists.

“We hold the Ministry of Interior responsible,” said Jamal Attar, a cousin. “This is the first assassination in Jordan that targets a person over nothing but his opinion, for freedom of speech.”

Jordan’s government condemned his murder, calling it an “ugly crime” and promised “investigating the incident and holding the criminal accountable for his offense”.

Christians make up only around 4 per cent of Jordan’s 8 million residents but they live in relative affluence and usually in peace with country’ Muslim majority.

Nine seats in the 130-seat parliament are reserved for them and they hold prominent positions in the business sector and Jordan, a key Western ally, presents itself as a staunch defender of minority groups.

During his speech to the United Nations last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah said: “Every citizen is guaranteed the state’s protection for their lives, families, properties, honour, privacy, and freedom of religion and thought.”

But many diplomats and analysts worry that that the Jordanian government’s tolerant rhetoric is at odds with wide swathes of religious extremism in the country.

“Jordan’s leaders are reticent to acknowledge domestic radicalisation, including self-radicalisation,” the US State Department said in a report in June.

Around 2,000 Jordanians crossed the border to fight in Syria in 2015, according to the Soufan Group, making Jordan one of the largest per capita sources of foreign fighters.

Mr Hattar was a regular columnist for al-Akhbar, a pan-Arab newspaper based in Lebanon, where he wrote regularly against Islamic extremism.

The Left-wing writer was also a staunch supporter of the Assad regime in Syria. Most of the Jordanian public opposes the Assad regime and supports the opposition and armed rebel groups.   He was arrested several times in Jordan in the 1970s for his outspoken criticism of the Jordanian government.

On a Facebook group formed after his death, some people compared him to other recent artists and intellectuals who fell victim to violent extremism, for example the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo who were killed by gunmen in January 2015.

Others spoke critically of the decision to bring charges against him in the first place.

“The Jordanian authorities who charged Nahed Hattar with ‘insulting Islam’ and the social media storm aroused by the cartoon he shared may not have murdered him but they provided his killers with the ideological ammo to shoot him,” wrote Khaled Diab, an Egyptian-Belgian writer.

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Here is the offending cartoon:

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Also see:

Is the Muslim Brotherhood Collaborating with ISIS in Jordan?

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All in for the Caliphate?

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Sept. 7, 2016:

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State (ISIS) share things in common – one being the major driving force for their respective groups, which is Sharia law. Although they are rivals, it would make sense for the Brotherhood to be at least sympathetic to ISIS’s cause and even partner with them when necessary. We may be witnessing this taking place or at least at a rudimentary level in Jordan with the Muslim Brotherhood allegedly operating a militant camp for “underage children[,]” showing them “semi-ISIS” type activities. TheJewishPress.com reports on the details of the camp stating:

The camp is allegedly located on the outskirts of Amman, and photographs on Ammon News show a group of young boys in the camp jumping over fire, doing pushups and crawling on the ground. Apparently the term “Semi-ISIS training” refers to combat training inspired by ISIS’ YouTube videos.

A Muslim Brotherhood leader named Zaki Bani Rushaid has denied the report affiliating his organization with the camp. He told Saraya News, “We stand to gain nothing from establishing such camps and it’s impossible that our group would carry out such actions.”

Even though the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is allegedly illegal in Jordan, whose government shut down Brotherhood’s Amman headquarters in April, it still has a considerable influence within the country.  It also has an interest in fomenting anger with Jordanians – especially with young Palestinians that feel slighted by their government. In fact, one can argue that the more discontent the Brotherhood stirs up the better positioned they become to demand political concessions from the government – especially when many people have been calling for changes to King Abdullah II’s government such as more democratic reforms.

Some people may write off this sort of militant camp as managed by just an extreme group of individuals within the Muslim Brotherhood, but national security analyst Kyle Shideler finds these kinds of training camps may not actually deviate that much from Brotherhood doctrine. Tweeting a passage from Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s (a leading spiritual figure of the Muslim Brotherhood) book Islamic Education and Hassan Al Banna, (page 67) Shideler reveals how the Brotherhood supports “Crusader-like training” which encompasses the spiritual aspect in addition to the physical:

kyle

Furthermore, TheJewishPress.com adds:

Blogger Eman Nabih points out that the link between the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS is no longer a speculation, as different Arab and Egyptian sources have revealed that the link between MB and ISIS is a reality. The two groups may focus on different Arab countries for the time being, but the ideological connection between them is clear, and, apparently, the operational ties are starting to be revealed.

Not to dismiss the nuances between various Muslim Brotherhood branches throughout the world, but people need to start asking why are there so many terror links with Brotherhood groups if they are the ‘moderate’ organization portrayed by much of the media? Why don’t all Brotherhood groups flat-out reject Hamas and cut off any ties to them? The Muslim Brotherhood/ISIS connection doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all.

Jordan is Fighting ISIS. So Why Did the Government Punish a Non-Muslim for Posting an Anti-ISIS Cartoon on Facebook?

Screen-Shot-2016-08-18-at-3.27.58-PMWhy is ‘division’ or Fitna such a serious crime in Islam?

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Aug. 18, 2016:

In the West, some  tend to dismiss the threat of Sharia law, claiming incorrectly that it applies only to Muslims.

However, this is far from the truth. Let’s take a look at a recent example from the ‘moderate’ country of Jordan. Nahed Hattar, a Jordanian writer, turned himself into authorities after Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki called for an investigation of an ‘offensive’ cartoon that surfaced on Facebook.

This cartoon which allegedly shows the “God of Daesh” serving a jihadi in paradise is translated by Anwar el-Iraqi, an Arabic Affairs analyst for the Clarion Project:

In Green: In paradise…

Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

Hattar– who is a non-Muslim— said he posted the drawing to ridicule terrorists and their perspective on God and heaven and did not intend for it to be an insult to God.

Another article by Al Jazeera reveals that, in addition to mocking ISIS, Hattar was also exposing the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (which has demonstrated support for Hamas) is a major Islamist force within Jordanian society and has been known to stir up social unrest and exploit the anger of Palestinian Jordanians for the Brotherhood’s political gain.

Khaled Qudah, a media expert, explains to The Jordan Times that, “Hattar can be detained pending further investigation for violating article 150 of the Penal Code that bans contempt of religions and also for violating the Electronic Crimes Law[.]” Qudah continues,

What Hattar did incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division… Preserving national security and social harmony and the public interest comes before freedom of expression even in international law. [Emphasis added]

Outside the context of Islamic law, we might be incredulous about be how a cartoon aimed at exposing radical Islam could be considered a threat to a Muslim nation’s national security.

To understand what he meant in the Islamic context, though, requires a closer look at the words used to describe the offense. The mocking cartoon, Qudah said, “incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division.”

The incitement of division is a primary concern in Islam, as it relates to the stability of the Islamic regime. This concept is called “Fitna.” In the Historical Dictionary of Islamic Fundamentalism, Mathieu Guider defines it this way:

The Arabic term fitna refers to a division within a Muslim nation (umma) that includes a test of faith that can even lead to rebellion, chaos, or sedition. Historically, it is derived from the first Islamic civil war that occurred following the assassination of CaHph Uthman in 656. This war, which lasted from 656 to 661, was called the fitna. The term has since been used to describe a period when a Muslim community becomes unbalanced and then fragmented.

Moreover, it can mean that a person or group intentionally causes upheaval between people to create a situation to test the peoples’ faith. Fitna is also often used to illustrate a group that has undergone extreme moral and emotional grievances that then may compromise their faith and lead to a greater focus on material or worldly gains rather than spiritual ones.

For example, the Arab Spring has been qualified in Saudi Arabia as a fitna because it can weaken the community from within. The duality that occur s when being affected by a rebellion or a revolution is what can tempt Muslims to shy away from or even deny the authority of the Muslim leaders who are ruling in the name of Allah. Also, the temptations brought on by Western societies are another example of how division can occur.

The fear of fitna by the fundamentalists is a major reason why secular or pluralist governments are forbidden by sharia (Islamic law). The elements of such forms of government are seen to give too much temptation and lead to an inevitable division among the umma. For Islamic fundamentalists, there is only one true party: the Party of Allah (Hizbullah). This is so important because the Islamic state is based on the rhetoric of solidarity and unification. [Emphasis added.]

Especially when we see the seriousness with which this offense is taken in Islam, it’s clear that fitna is a concept that has a lot more in common with what we would consider the “political” rather than the religious.

Another major reason for such laws is essentially to protect Islam – which is why we aren’t seeing Muslims being thrown in jail for blaspheming the name of Christ, for example. Or when a member of Jordan’s Parliament, Khalil Attieh, displayed his hatred of Jews on television in 2014 by stating, “By Allah, it is an honor to incite against the Jews…”

We have seen before how Jordan’s King Abdullah has declared,

I am a Muslim and we are all Muslims, and extremists do not represent Islam. Our duty is to protect the reputation of Islam and Muslims.

Abdullah sees ISIS as on the periphery of Islam and seeks to delegitimize them; however, his government is going after an image that mocks ISIS’s alleged view of God and heaven.

Apparently, ISIS’s views on these matters aren’t as twisted as Jordan claims them to be in regards to Islamic beliefs.

If Jordan is seriously attempting to represent a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, why won’t they make this an opportunity to show how jihadists– who murder people so they can enjoy fleshly desires in paradise while being catered to (as portrayed in the cartoon)– have no place in their version of Islam?

Jordan is essentially upholding blasphemy laws that legitimize ISIS’s radical Islamic ideology. Just how disgusting is this ideology? It justifies the boiling of six men in containers of tar for being “accused of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces[,]” and the killing of twenty-five people by forcing them in a tub of nitric acid for supposedly “spying and collaborating with Iraqi security forces[.]” Shouldn’t these be the guys Jordan seeks to prosecute?

According to Al Bawaba, public outcry over the cartoon ensued on social media and not only were some Twitter users insulted, but also seemed concerned about “civil order[.]” Of course, being in a Muslim majority country they seem well aware of the hyper-sensitivity of mocking Islam, which is ultimately found in Islamic texts:

Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. –Quran 33:57

Narrated ‘Ali: The Prophet said, “Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the Hell-fire.” –Sahih Bukhari 1.3.106

Jordanian officials like King Abdullah help further advance this sentiment by denouncing insults to Islam like cartoons mocking Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and intimidating those who think about doing such things.

So, we have a supposed ‘moderate’ country in Jordan that punishes Muslims as well as non-Muslims for matters like blasphemy at fitna.

Even in places in Europe Sharia might not be the law of the land but because of fear of Muslim outrage the governing authorities may discourage or even punish those who make offensive or insensitive remarks about Islam – creating de facto blasphemy laws.