Islamist Who Lobbied Congress Lauds Brotherhood Luminary

Ayat Oraby

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  May 18, 2017:

One of the Muslim Brotherhood supporters who recently tried to lobby Congress to cut off aid to Egypt’s military regime is lauding an Islamist ideological architect who inspired Osama bin Laden‘s thinking.

Ayat Orabi joined the Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ) Capitol Hill lobbying mission earlier this month. In a Facebook post Tuesday, she calls Sayyid Qutb a martyr and “the most knowledgeable master of intellectual output in the history of modern Islamic movements.”

It’s consistent with Orabi’s previous radical statements. She claimed last September that Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority had declared “war on Islam,” a message that often incites violence.

Qutb taught that the Muslim world had degenerated into a state of apostasy that he called jahiliyyah, and that insufficiently Islamic regimes should be violently replaced. His manifesto Milestones advocates using jihad of the sword to clear the way for Islamic preaching. He also denounced Muslims who taught that jihad could only be used defensively as “defeatists” in his commentary, In the Shade of the Quran.

“As for those who are in a land hostile to Islam, neither their lives nor their properties are protected unless they have concluded a peace treaty with the land of Islam,” Qutb wrote.

Qutb is often praised by other EAFJ leaders. President Hani Elkadi, for example, posted an Internet meme emblazoned with Qutb’s picture on his Facebook page in 2015.

“There has to be a sacrifice, There has to be a calamity, We must be tested, Because cheap victory does not last … and no one is capable ‘to carry it’ except the mighty—Giant of Islamic thought, the martyr: Sayyid Qutb,” the post said.

EAFJ spokesman Mahmoud El Sharkawy cited Qutb later in 2015, invoking In the Shade of the Qur’an. It reads: “The banner of Allah is still there awaiting the arms that will raise it and the nation which under this banner will advance towards righteousness, guidance and success. #Sayyid Qutb #In the Shade of the Quran.”

Other American Islamists laud Qutb or see him as a role model.

“Curious u feel qutb extreme how exactly / do u mean it was his ideas=extreme?” former Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council member Mohamed Elibiary asked on Twitter in 2013.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Chicago listed Qutb next to Malcolm X as his two favorite modern personalities on his personal website. “(martyred for what they stood for, same year!)” Rehab wrote.

Milestones is included in a recommended reading list by the Islamic Circle of North America’s Southern California chapter.

It’s clear that Qutb’s influence continues in so-called “mainstream” American Muslim groups, not just among violent jihadis.

‘The Real Bomb Is in Islam’s Books’

Front Page Magazine, by Raymond Ibrahim, May 3, 2017:

During his visit to Egypt last week, “Pope Francis visited al-Azhar University, a globally respected institution for Sunni Islamic learning,” and “met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of the government-run Al-Azhar mosque and an Islamic philosophy professor.”  This has been reported by several media and with much fanfare.

The problem is that Sheikh Tayeb, once voted “world’s most influential Muslim,” and Al Azhar, the important madrassa he heads, are part of the problem, not the solution.  Tayeb is a  renowned master of exhibiting one face to fellow Muslims in Egypt—one that supports the death penalty for “apostates,” calls for the totality of Sharia-rule, refuses to denounce ISIS of being un-Islamic, denounces all art as immoral, and rejects the very concept of reforming Islam—and another face to non-Muslims.

Consider, for instance, the words of Islam al-Behery—a popular Egyptian Muslim reformer who frequently runs afoul of Islamists in Egypt who accuse him of blasphemy and apostasy from Islam.  The day after the suicide bombings of two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, the Muslim scholar was interviewed by phone on a popular Egyptian television program (Amr Adib’s kul youm, or “Every Day”).  He spent most of his time on the air blasting Al Azhar and Ahmed al-Tayeb—at one point going so far as to say that “70-80 percent of all terror in the last 5 years is a product of Al Azhar.”

The reformer knows what he speaks of; in 2015, al- Behery’s televised calls to reform Islam so irked Al Azhar that the venerable Islamic institution accused him of “blaspheming” against Islam, which led to his imprisonment.

Now Behery says that, ever since President Sisi implored Al Azhar to make reforms to how Islam is being taught in Egypt three years ago, the authoritative madrassa “has not reformed a single thing,” only offered words.  “If they were sincere about one thing, they would have protected hundreds, indeed thousands of lives from being killed in just Egypt alone, said al-Behery.

By way of examples, the scholar of Islam pointed out that Al Azhar still uses books in its curriculum which teach things like “whoever kills an infidel, his blood is safeguarded, for the blood of an infidel and believer [Muslim] are not equal.”  Similarly, he pointed to how Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb claims that ISIS members are not infidels, only deluded Muslims; but those whom they kill—such as the bombed Christians—are infidels, the worst label in Islam’s lexicon.

Debating Behery was an Al Azhar spokesman who naturally rejected the reformer’s accusations against the Islamic madrassa, adding that the source of problems in Egypt is not the medieval institution, but rather “new” ideas that came to Egypt from 20th century “radicals” like Hasan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb, founding leaders/ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Behery’s response was refreshing; those many Western analysts who follow the same line of thinking—that “radicalism” only came after thinkers like Bana, Qutb, Mawdudi (in Pakistan) or Wahhab (in Arabia) came on the scene—would do well to listen.  After saying that “blaming radicalism on these men is very delusional,” the reformer correctly added:

The man who kills himself [Islamic suicide bomber] today doesn’t kill himself because of the words of Hasan al-Bana or Sayyid al-Qutb, or anyone else.  He kills himself because of what the consensus of the ulema, and the four schools of jurisprudence, have all agreed to.  Hasan al-Bana did not create these ideas [of jihad against infidels and apostates, destroying churches, etc.]; they’ve been around for many, many centuries….   I am talking about Islam [now], not how it is being taught in schools.

By way of example, Behery said if anyone today walks into any Egyptian mosque or bookstore and ask for a book that contains the rulings of the four schools of jurisprudence, “everything that is happening today will be found in them; killing the people of the book [Christians and Jews] is obligatory.  Let’s not start kidding each other and blaming such thoughts on Hassan al-Bana!”  Moreover, Behery said:

There is a short distance between what is written in all these old books and what happened yesterday [Coptic church bombings]—the real bomb is in the books, which repeatedly call the People of the Book “infidels,” which teach that the whole world is infidel…  Hassan al-Bana and Sayyid al-Qutb are not the source of the terror, rather they are followers of these books.  Spare me with the term Qutbism which has caused the nation to suffer terrorism for 50 years.

Behery does not blame Al Azhar for the existence of these books; rather he, like many reformers, wants the Islamic institution to break tradition, denounce the rulings of the four schools of law as the products of fallible mortals, and reform them in ways compatible to the modern world.  He said that, whereas Egypt’s former grand imam, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), had “without even being asked removed all the old books and placed just one introductory book, when al-Tayeb [who days ago embraced Pope Francis] came, he got rid of that book and brought all the old books back, which are full of slaughter and bloodshed.”

In short, Behery called on the Egyptian government—and here the Vatican would do well to listen—not to rely on Al Azhar to make any reforms, since if anything it has taken Egypt backwards.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 

Klein: New York Times Lobbies for Muslim Brotherhood

Daniel Berehulak/Getty

Daniel Berehulak/Getty

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, February 10, 2017:

TEL AVIV – The New York Times in recent days has run numerous articles and opinion pieces advocating against designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization amid reports the Trump administration is debating doing just that.

The Muslim Brotherhood openly seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on Sharia law. While many Brotherhood wings reject the use of violence as a strategic tactic, preferring instead a sophisticated gradualist strategy to achieve their aims, the Brotherhood has spawned terrorist organizations – most notably Hamas – that adhere to its philosophy of a world order based on Islam. The Brotherhood was also a central player in the so-called Arab Spring, revolutions punctuated by violence across the Arab world.

Designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization would add the U.S. to the growing list of nations to do so, including Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Times’ propagation of the Brotherhood culminated in an editorial board piece published Thursday titled, “All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy.”

In the editorial, the newspaper warned designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization “would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam.”  The paper claimed that the possible designation “appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears by promoting a dangerously exaggerated vision of an America under siege by what they call radical Islam.”

The Times’ advocacy for the Brotherhood is particularly noteworthy since it separately posted a full Arabic document from 1991 in which an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member set forth a strategy for “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” with emphasis on operations inside the U.S.

In Thursday’s editorial, the newspaper laid out its case for the Brotherhood:

There are good reasons that the Brotherhood, with millions of members, doesn’t merit the terrorist designation. Rather than a single organization, it is a collection of groups and movements that can vary widely from country to country. While the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, it renounced violence decades ago, has supported elections and has become a political and social organization. Its branches often have tenuous connections to the original movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

Addressing the Brotherhood’s support for the electoral process and purportedly becoming a political organization, an extensive report on the Brotherhood by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies explained the group’s use of some tools of democracy to advance the aim of achieving a world ruled by Sharia law, which is by definition anti-democratic.

Drawing from founding Brotherhood documents and original literature by Brotherhood leaders, the Center explained:

Unlike the militant factions of other Islamist movements, which completely rule out democracy on the basis of it being a Western, pagan, and ignorant idea, the Muslim Brotherhood does use the term “democracy.” In its view, however, it has two main connotations: a tactical, instrumental means of taking over countries through the use of the democratic process, and an “Islamic democracy” based on Sharia law (i.e., Islamic religious law) and a model of internal consultation within the leadership

[Brotherhood Founder Sheikh Hassan] Al-Banna listed seven stages to achieve these objectives, each to be carried out in a gradual fashion. The stages are divided into social and political: the first three are based on educating the individual, the family, and the entire society of the Muslim world to implement Sharia laws in every aspect of daily life. The next four stages are political in nature, and include assuming power through elections, shaping a Sharia state, liberating Islamic countries from the burden of (physical and ideological) foreign occupation, uniting them into one Islamic entity (“new caliphate”), and spreading Islamic values throughout the world.

Sharia law is explicitly anti-democratic. For example, under Sharia, non-Muslims cannot rule over Muslims; a Caliph can come to rule through force and seizure of power; a woman inherits half that of a man and non-Muslims cannot inherit from Muslims.

In the Times editorial, meanwhile, the newspaper claimed that those “advising Mr. Trump seem unwilling to draw distinctions” between the Brotherhood and its violent adherents.

The paper continued:

Stephen Bannon, the chief White House strategist, once called the Brotherhood “the foundation of modern terrorism.” And Frank Gaffney Jr., an anti-Muslim analyst who heads a small think tank, recently told the Times that the Brotherhood’s goals are “exactly the same” as those of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Both of these statements are true. The Brotherhood’s historic ideological principles of establishing a worldwide Caliphate are indeed shared by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, although their tactics greatly differ. And Brotherhood ideology has served as the foundation for groups like al-Qaeda.

The defining works of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, ideologue and theorist Sayyid Qutb, considered the Brotherhood’s intellectual godfather, greatly influenced Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda doctrine.

An extensive March 23, 2003, article in the New York Times magazine by Paul Berman dissected Qutb’s writings as they relate to terrorist ideology.

In the article titled “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” Berman documented the centrality of Qutb’s influence on al-Qaeda:

The organization (al-Qaeda) was created in the late 1980’s by an affiliation of three armed factions – bin Laden’s circle of ”Afghan” Arabs, together with two factions from Egypt, the Islamic Group and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the latter led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s top theoretician. The Egyptian factions emerged from an older current, a school of thought from within Egypt’s fundamentalist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the 1950’s and 60’s. And at the heart of that single school of thought stood, until his execution in 1966, a philosopher named Sayyid Qutb – the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda, their Karl Marx (to put it that way), their guide.

In recent days, the Times has featured numerous other articles arguing against branding the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

An article on Tuesday warned, “Officially designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would roil American relations in the Middle East. The leaders of some American allies — like Egypt, where the military forced the Brotherhood from power in 2013, and the United Arab Emirates — have pressed Mr. Trump to do so to quash internal enemies, but the group remains a pillar of society in parts of the region.”

“Critics said they feared that Mr. Trump’s team wanted to create a legal justification to crack down on Muslim charities, mosques and other groups in the United States,” added the Times. “A terrorist designation would freeze assets, block visas and ban financial interactions.”

A Times article on February 1 was titled, “Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making.”

The article lamented a worldview that “conflates terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State with largely nonviolent groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots and, at times, with the 1.7 billion Muslims around the world.”

A January 26 editorial titled “‘I Think Islam Hates Us’” informed readers the Trump administration “reportedly is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood, which is involved in Muslim politics in a number of countries, as a terrorist organization. Some experts see the move as a chance for the Trump administration to limit Muslim political activity in the United States.”

 Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Pentagon in Internal Struggle Over Calling out Salafi Jihadism

The Pentagon. (Photo: © Creative Commons/David B. Gleason)

The Pentagon. (Photo: © Creative Commons/David B. Gleason)

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, October 2, 2016:

From time to time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country’s most senior military officer below the commander-in-chief himself, puts out a National Military Strategy. This document is intended for senior American military commanders around the world and sets out big picture strategy guidance for how the U.S. military ought to cope with the myriad threats it may face in the line of duty.

New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine General Joseph Dunford is compiling a new National Military Strategy. Special Operations Command (SoCom), the branch of the military charged with hunting down and killing terrorists, is providing input and expertise to the report.

SoCom is pushing for Salafi jihadism to be discussed in the report as the branch of Sunni Islam responsible for most global terrorism in the world today. It is the ideology shared by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

“If you look at threat doctrine from that perspective, it’s a much bigger problem because it’s not just the violent jihadists, it’s the non-violent jihadists who support them,” one person knowledgeable about the National Military Strategy told The Washington Times. “Pretending there is no relationship between the violent jihadists and Islam isn’t going to win. We’re completely ignoring the war of ideas. We’re still in denial. We’re pretending the enemy doesn’t exist.”

Dunford’s staff declined to comment on the upcoming report, which will be classified. The last National Military Strategy, by the previous chairman, General Martin Dempsey, was released publicly on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website.  It did not make mention the ideological roots of terrorism.

Sources close to the team responsible for preparing the National Military Strategy told The Washington Times  Dunford’s staff was not persuaded on the merits of including the term.

Quintan Wictorowicz, one of the architects of Obama’s national counter extremism policy, charted the relationships between Salafi jihadist groups (although he did not use that term) and other sects of Islam in a 2005 academic paper entitled A Genealogy of Radical Islam.

“Al Qaeda and the radical fundamentalists that constitute the new ‘global jihadi movement’ are not theological outliers. They are part of a broader community of Islamists known as ‘Salafis’ (commonly called ‘Wahhabis’).”

He distinguished between violent and non-violent Salafis saying “The jihadi faction believes that violence can be used to establish Islamic states and confront the United States and its allies. Non-violent Salafis, on the other hand, emphatically reject the use of violence and instead emphasize propagation and advice (usually private) to incumbent rulers in the Muslim world.”

Wictorowicz details several important theological points that distinguish this movement, notably the use of takfir to brand the enemies of the jihadi movement as apostates deserving of death and the concept of jahilliya which posits that the contemporary Muslim world is not really Muslim because they follow man-made laws and are therefore akin to the pagans who ruled Arabia before the time of Mohammed.

He names Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb as a central figure in the development of this doctrine.

Understanding this application of radical theology to the political sphere helps us to identify why certain groups are dedicated to fighting the United States and helps in setting out clearly the differences between Salafi jihadism and Sunni Islam in general.

UK GOV: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY

obama_6-4b

“The Muslim Brotherhood organised itself into a secretive ‘cell’ structure”

Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Dec. 25, 2015:

The Muslim Brotherhood has been running much of its operations out of the UK and pressure mounted on the British government to investigate. While Obama’s official line is that the Salafist organization is a “moderate” group, the British government report that has been issued gives a much more accurate picture.

The British government report notes the similarity between the Muslim Brotherhood and its ISIS and Al Qaeda offspring and how one influenced the other.

The Muslim Brotherhood was established in Egypt in 1928. The founder and first Supreme Guide (spiritual leader), Hassan al Banna, called for the religious reformation of individual Muslims, the progressive moral purification of Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a Caliphate under sharia law. ..

We’re not talking about a political democratic system here, but a Caliphate. Just like ISIS. Brotherhood activists have tried to sell the notion of a kinder, gentler Caliphate in the West. But that’s like a kinder, gentler Thousand Year Reich.

The report also addresses the similarity between the Muslim Brotherhood and classical terror and totalitarian organizations which used cells and covert setups.

From its foundation the Muslim Brotherhood organised itself into a secretive ‘cell’ structure, with an elaborate induction and education programme for new members. It relied heavily on group solidarity and peer pressure to maintain discipline. This clandestine, centralised and hierarchical structure persists to this day.

From at least the 1950s the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also developed an international network, within and beyond the Islamic world. Europe became an important base for the
growing Muslim Brotherhood global network. International Muslim Brotherhood organisations received financial and other support from the Gulf. National chapters developed individual concerns and tactical approaches, but shared a common ideology

The key phrasing is that while the MB may run for office, its endgame is totalitarian.

Sir John concluded on this complex subject that, for the most part, the Muslim Brotherhood have preferred non violent incremental change on the grounds of expediency, often on the basis that political opposition will disappear when the process of Islamisation is complete. But they are prepared to countenance violence

So there’s no moderation to see here, just incrementalism.

Influenced by his personal experiences in 1940s Egypt, in the US and in prison under Nasser, the key Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, drew on the thought of the Indo-Pakistani theorist, Abul Ala’a Mawdudi, the founder of the Islamist party Jamaat-eIslami, to promote the doctrine of takfirism. This has consistently been understood as a doctrine permitting the stigmatisation of other Muslims as infidel or apostate, and of existing states as unIslamic, and the use of extreme violence in the pursuit of the perfect Islamic society…

Qutb’s views have at times been reinterpreted by some in the Muslim Brotherhood. But they have never been institutionally disowned. They continue to be explicitly endorsed by many senior Muslim Brotherhood figures, including leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. They remain central to the Muslim Brotherhood’s formational curriculum. Qutb’s thinking led to a resurgence of takfiri ideology, and has inspired many terrorist organisations, including the assassins of Sadat, Al Qaida and its offshoots

The Takfiri accusation is significant for Muslims. Terrorism doesn’t matter. But killing other Muslims does. It’s telling that a British government report emphasizes the “Fitna” aspect of the Brotherhood, but then so many Western countries these days also pray toward Mecca. And there’s no doubt that Gulf Arab states who broke with the Brotherhood were a key force in making this report happen.

But the linkage between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda is important because it’s straightforward and yet hardly mentioned. Unfortunately the report implies that the Muslim Brotherhood is not Salafist. It does however link it to terror and support for terror.

senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and associates have justified attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan;

some members of the Muslim Brotherhood (mainly in non Muslim countries) have strongly criticised Al Qaida. But leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood have claimed that the attacks on 09/11 were fabricated by the US, and that the so called ‘war on terrorism’ is a pretext to attack Muslims.

.The Hamas founding charter claims they are the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood treat them as such. In the past ten years support for Hamas (including in particular funding) has been an important priority for the MB in Egypt and the MB international network.

The report largely focuses on the UK, but finds that the MB operates in the UK under covert organizations and has the same Islamizational goals.

In the 1990s the Muslim Brotherhood and their associates established public facing and apparently national organisations in the UK to promote their views. None were openly identified with the Muslim Brotherhood and membership of the Muslim Brotherhood remained (and still remains) a secret. But for some years the Muslim Brotherhood shaped the new Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), dominated the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and played an important role in establishing and then running the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

Material still being promoted by UKIM as of July 2014 continued to explicitly claim that it is not possible for an observant Muslim to live under a non-Islamic system of government (and anticipated the forthcoming ‘victory’ of Islam over communism, capitalist democracy and secular materialism).

– the Muslim Brotherhood historically focused on remodelling individuals and communities through grassroots activism. They have engaged politically where possible. But they have also selectively used violence and sometimes terror in pursuit of their institutional goals. Their public narrative – notably in the West – emphasised engagement not violence. But there have been significant differences between Muslim Brotherhood communications in English and Arabic;

– much about the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK remains secretive, including membership, fund raising and educational programmes. But Muslim Brotherhood associates and affiliates here have at times had significant influence on the largest UK Muslim student organisation, national organisations which have claimed to represent Muslim communities (and on that basis have sought and had a dialogue with Government), charities and some mosques. Though their domestic influence has declined organisations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood continue to have an influence here which is disproportionate to their size;

Its final conclusion is that, “aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national
security.”

Plenty of counterjihadists will find this report too weak for their taste, but it labels the Brotherhood as a hostile, foreign, covert and dangerous organization. It contains the kind of language that existed only in law enforcement circles of the government here, and which was thoroughly purged from them under Obama and his CVE programs. Its conclusions, even disguised in mild language, are fairly similar to what you would find at IPT.

It will prove vital to the work of combating Islamic terrorism and will likely be cited by Counterjihadists for some time to come, not because it’s perfect, but because a major Western government has restated the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is not moderate, that it maintains front groups, that it seeks to take over and that it backs terrorism. All of these are denied or ignored here not only by Obama, but much of the Republican establishment.

Grandmasters of Jihad

gmjThe Gorka Brief, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, may 14, 2015:

Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Al Nusra Front, and ISIS all share the same goal and ideology. They all want to reestablish the theocratic empire of Islam – The Caliphate – that was dissolved in 1924, and they all see Holy War, or Jihad, as the only way to do so. Where does this ideology come from?

Just like America and the Western military world, the Global Jihadist Movement (GJM) has its grand strategic thinkers, their own Clausewitzs and Mackinders. The three most important are the Egyptian, Sayyid Qutb; the Palestinian Jordanian, Abdulah Azzam; and the Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik.

What did these three founders of the GJM have to say about Islam’s relationship to terrorism?

  • Qutb is perhaps the most important person to the Muslim Brotherhood after its founder, Hassan al Banna. After spending two years in the US and deciding that we are a heretical nation that must be destroyed, Qutb wrote his guide to Jihad, the manual on how to destroy us. Entitled Milestones, this text has been found on high-value terrorist targets killed or captured in every theater that jihad is currently being fought in. In it, Qutb is explicit: Muslims have lost their way, Islam must be purged of ignorance of Allah (jahiliyyah), and the only way to do so is through a jihad in which the infidel (kuffar) is subdued or killed. Qutb added that all democracies must be destroyed because in any system in which men make the laws, the sovereignty of Allah has been undermined. The Koran is the only constitution a Muslim needs or is allowed to follow.
  • Next there is Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s boss and spiritual guide. After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets in 1979, Azzam issued a fatwa, or religious decree with the title: Defense of Muslim Lands. In it, he stated that, since the Caliphate had been dissolved in 1924 and that there was no longer an Islamic Emperor who could declare war against such invaders, Jihad was now fard ‘ayn, or an individual and universal obligation upon all followers of the Muslim faith. Importantly, because Azzam held a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence from the Al Azhar in Cairo, the most important Sunni theological institution in the world, he was fully qualified to issue such a decree, and it was duly endorsed by the greatest names in the Sunni religious establishment. Azzam is not only important because of his making Holy War a duty for all Muslims, but because he created an organization called the Services Bureau (MAK in Arabic) which recruited Muslims from around the world to come fight the infidels in Afghanistan. Not long after its founding, Azzam hired bin Laden as his deputy and it was bin Laden who would inherit the MAK upon Azzam’s death and rename it Al Qaeda.
  • The last and most important Jihadi strategist is the late Brigadier Malik. Also interestingly in 1979, Malik wrote a book which has become the most influential treatise on why Jihad is necessary and how it must be fought. The Quranic Concept of War is a long text on what the faithful Muslim can learn from the way Mohammad fought the infidels and non-believers when he established the empire of Islam. In it, Malik states three things: i) All war must only serve the realization of Allah’s sovereignty on this Earth through the reestablishment of the Caliphate. ii) The only target that matters in warfare is the soul of the infidel: the kuffar must be converted to Islam or be killed. iii) Because the soul is the only target that matters, terror is the best mode of warfare. In other words, it is events like 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo shootings, or the Fort Hood massacre that are the best way to defeat the infidel. (Note this wasn’t a fringe text when it was published – nor is it now – given that the introduction was written by the equivalent of the Attorney General of Pakistan and the preface which endorsed all that was in the book, was signed by none other than General Zia ul Haq, the Commander of all Pakistan’s Armed Forces and at the same time the President of Pakistan.

In other words, the greatest minds behind the threat groups we face today, the authors that shaped the ideology behind the atrocities we witness day in and day out, are all in agreement: Islam has lost its way and Jihad must be used to cleanse the world of disbelief until the theocratic empire reigns supreme.

Whatever our government believes, it is clear what Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of ISIS/The Islamic State believes.

Last September 11th, I was invited to brief an element of the US Intelligence Community that stills holds to the professional standard that one has to be honest about what the enemy says and what they are doing.

In the brief, I took the speech Abu Bakr made earlier in the Summer of 2014 from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul, in which he declared the reestablishment of the Caliphate, and represent it as a “word cloud,” the visual representation of a text in which words are given a larger size and put closer to the center of the diagram the more often they are used.

This is the result:

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It is clear that our greatest current enemy has no question about why and what he is fighting for.

Also see:

Understanding History’s 7 Stages of Jihad

7-stages-jihad

The Gorka Briefing, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Dec. 8, 2014:

The post-9/11 debate on the meaning of “jihad” has often floundered at a superficial understanding of the term. Jihad is often simply referred to as either “striving” or “holy war.” Jihad, however, must be understood to consist of four varieties of human activity agreed upon by Islamic theologians and jurists. The first is the jihad of the heart, the so-called “greater jihad” of fighting evil within oneself. The second and third definitions involve the jihads of the mind and tongue, the condoning of “right” behavior in others and counseling those who have gone astray. Finally, there is jihad of the sword. Jihad of the sword is most relevant for the counterterrorism community today because it rests at the foundation of the global jihadist ideology.

The concept of jihad of the sword has been repeatedly reinterpreted and redefined since the days of the Prophet Muhammad. During this extensive time period, jihad by the sword has been used by protagonists to rally co-religionists in the pursuit of a political objective. Al-Qa`ida and the broader Salafi-jihadi movement have also reinterpreted this concept to justify the direct targeting of civilians in terrorist attacks.

To properly understand the historic significance of al-Qa’ida, it is relevant to review the contextual evolution of the concept of jihad and the great success al-Qa’ida has had in redefining it for the current conflict.

Since the days of the Prophet Muhammad, jihad by the sword has been shaped by seven, historically-shaped political conceptualizations of jihad, occurring in the following order:

  1. empire building;
  2. the suppression of apostate subjects;
  3. the revolution against “false” Muslim leaders;
  4. the anti-colonial struggle and “purification” of the religion;
  5. countering Western influence and jahiliyya;[1]
  6. guerrilla warfare against secular invaders; and finally
  7. the direct targeting of civilians in terrorist attacks.

This article will identify each contextual interpretation and the significance of jihad as terrorism.

SEVEN SWORDS OF JIHAD

Each of the contextualizations of jihad of the sword has been dictated by the desire to have jihad fill a real, specific and political need for Muslims in a given age and facing a specific threat. When the Prophet Muhammad was building a completely new state, he used the concept of jihad to justify the expansion of Islam. Although the Qur’an does not use the term jihad to refer directly to empire-building in the military sense, sura 25 verse 52 stipulates “obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost endeavor.” Understood in the context of Muhammad’s return to Mecca from Medina, and the ensuing conflict with the Meccans that is reflected in the latter half of an earlier sura, it is clear that striving is in this instance connected to military combat post hijra,[2] as Muhammad returns to Mecca and enforces his new writ. This constitutes the first offensive use of the concept, referring to the conflict to establish order among the Arab tribes around Mecca, through the use of force if necessary.

When Muhammad’s successor, Abu Bakr, faced recalcitrant tribes on the Arabian Peninsula that were threatening the order Muhammad had previously established, the second meaning of jihad was born: ridda, or the war against apostasy, against one’s own subjects. In the Western world, this would be equivalent to a war against rebels.

The third contextual definition of jihad came centuries later after the eclipse of the Abbasid Caliphate’s strength, starting in the second half of the 13th century. It is this reworking of the meaning of holy war, most significantly by Ibn Taymiyya, that has the greatest consequence for today’s context. The motivation for this redefinition was the need to provide Muslims with the right to revolt against their own leaders, specifically the Mongols. Islam had previously prohibited revolution against Muslim rulers. Ibn Taymiyya’s answer was to remove the prohibition; he argued that jihad is permissible against one’s own leaders if they do not live as true Muslims and if their rule does not conform to the requirements of Shari`a. He said,

And it is known by necessity from the din (religion) of the Muslims, and the agreement of all the Muslims, that whoever permits the following of a din other than Islam or following a Shari`a other than the Shari`a of Muhammad then he is a kafir (unbeliever), and it is like the kufr (blasphemy) of one who believes in part of the Book and disbelieves in part of the Book.[3]

Since the fusion of Mongol, Turkic and Tartar power was occurring at the same time that Ibn Taymiyya was writing, he was specific about the threat to “pure” Islam and how Muslims must respond:

Fighting the Tartars, those who came to the land of Shaam is wajib (religious duty) according to the Book and the Sunna, for indeed Allah said in the Qur’an: And fight them until fitna (schism/ blasphemous upheaval) is no more, and the din becomes all for Allah.[4]

Therefore, in the Middle Ages jihad became legitimate revolution based upon a new mechanism by which the people could denounce their leaders as un-Islamic.

The fourth political reconceptualization of jihad occurred four centuries later, starting in the early 1700s. As the European powers pushed militarily and politically into North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, the threat to Islamic societies was two-fold. Empires such as the British had to be physically resisted. At the same time, the West’s cultural influence upon the purity of the Islamic faith was growing and had to be countered. During this period, jihad was defined as anti-colonial resistance.

This new interpretation of jihad was typified by the pronouncements of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabi Islam. Its practical and military consequences were amply demonstrated during the decade-long resistance to the 1830 French invasion of Algeria led by `Abd al-Qadir and also by the Sudanese resistance to the British led by the self-proclaimed mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. The second, non-military element of this redefinition of jihad—what author Noor Mohammad has described as Islam’s internal “housecleaning”—was represented by Shah Waliullah’s call to spiritual revival and the purification of India’s Muslims under British control.[5]

This definition of jihad would lead directly to the next interpretation, one that relies heavily on the principles laid down hundreds of years prior by Ibn Taymiyya, including the doctrine of takfir (excommunication). This fifth version of jihad was fathered and later developed by Abu al-A`la Mawdudi in India (then later Pakistan) and Sayyid Qutb in Egypt. This time the threat was embodied by the post-WWII Arab leaders of the Middle East and the influence of Western “soft power,” which together equaled a new jahiliyya, or age of polytheism and ignorance. Apostate leaders were to be resisted once more (and removed if possible), Islam purified and Shari`a re-imposed.

HOLY WAR AS AN INTERNATIONAL BRAND

With the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, jihad would no longer be limited to resistance against the cultural and political influence of the secular West or un-Islamic Arab rulers. Although it is true that within Afghanistan, among the Afghans, the motivation to resist Soviet domination did not have to be couched in terms of theology but simply in terms of survival and sovereignty, to the Arab mujahidin recruited by the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam, jihad was a crucial concept, a brand Azzam assiduously built in his travels around the world. Most importantly, Azzam built his jihadist brand in a way that negated earlier requirements for holy war to be declared by a legitimate authority, as he redefined military resistance as an individual duty.

In his introduction to “Defense of Muslim Lands,” he plainly stated that

…if a piece of Muslim land the size of a hand-span is infringed upon, then jihad becomes fard `ayn (a personal obligation) on every Muslim male and female, where the child shall march forward without the permission of its parents and the wife without the permission of the husband.

Azzam invoked Ibn Taymiyya by name to justify his version of self-declared jihad and then warned his audiences of the price they would pay if they did not follow the path of military resistance. Quoting from the Qur’an, sura 9 verse 39: “If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you with another people, and you cannot harm Him at all, and Allah is able to do all things.”[6] By the late 1980s, Azzam’s rebranding of Muslim holy war in a new political and geostrategic context was so successful that even in the West jihad would become synonymous with guerrilla resistance to communist invasion and dictatorship.

Only after the eventual defeat of the Soviets, the end of the Cold War and the outbreak of the first Gulf War would the seventh and most important redefining of jihad of the sword be born. With Azzam’s death in 1989, his organization of Arab guerrillas, the Mujahidin Services Bureau (MAK), was taken over by his deputy Usama bin Ladin. Rejected by his own government when he offered to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraq with his Arab fighters, Bin Ladin would change the mission and name of his organization. The “godless” Russians had been defeated, the bipolar world order replaced by the hegemony of a victorious United States, a country that had been invited to bring its troops and influence into the Arabian Peninsula to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraq. Guerrilla warfare within Saudi Arabia against the apostate House of Saud and against U.S. targets was impractical, if not impossible.

Several influential figures who had followed the teachings of the original Muslim Brotherhood and its leader Hassan al-Banna, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, had, after the severe crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, joined the MAK. Bin Ladin’s Wahhabi understanding of jihad would be suffused with the ideology of the Egyptian Qutbists. What resulted was al-Qa`ida and a new indirect approach to violent jihad. Subsequently, the meaning of jihad was expanded for a seventh time since Muhammad built his empire in the seventh century. The fight would be focused less on irregular warfare in countries where Muslims were suffering and more on the “far enemy,” which they identified as supporters of tyrannical regimes in the Muslim world. With the East Africa embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack and then finally the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Bin Ladin successfully defined jihad as willful targeting of civilians by a non-state actor through unconventional means. The seventh political definition of jihad, therefore, is terrorism.

CONCLUSION

It is crucial for analysts and strategic planners to fully understand this mutation and evolution of the concept of jihad over time. It is incorrect to see jihad solely as a religious concept referring to the striving of the individual to be pure, because jihad of the sword is referenced in the hadith in multiple instances. It is clear that the meaning of violent jihad has been shaped during the centuries to fit the needs of those espousing holy war and calling their co-religionists to the battlefield. Usama bin Ladin’s great historical significance is that he managed to turn jihad from referring to guerrilla resistance against military oppression of the 1980s to mean the killing of mass numbers of civilians on the soil of non-Muslim lands. Understanding this contextual evolution is critical in the effort to find strategies to weaken al-Qa`ida’s ideology.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka teaches irregular warfare and counterterrorism at the College of International Security Affairs of the National Defense University, Washington D.C. He is an Associate Fellow of the Joint Special Operations University (USSOCOM) whose first degree was in Philosophy and Theology. Most recently, he co-authored, with David Kilcullen, “Who’s Winning the Battle for Narrative: Al-Qaida versus the United States and its Allies,” in Influence Warfare (Praeger 2009). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense or any other government agency.

[1] Jahiliyya refers to the age of polytheism and “unbelief” that existed before the Prophet Muhammad.[2] The hijra refers to the migration of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina.[3] Ibn Taymiyya, “Rulings of Fighting the Mongols,” fatawa, 28/524.[4] Ibid.; See also Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Shaykh al-Imam: Al-Siyasah al-Shariyah fi Islah al Raiwa Rajyah (Cairo: Dar al-Shab, 1976).[5] Noor Mohammad, “The Doctrine of Jihad: An Introduction,” Journal of Law and Religion 3:2 (1985): p. 396.[6] This is otherwise known as part of the Sura at Taubah (Repentence).

(Originally published 3 October 2009 in the CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point)