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The Armies of God

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                          The Armies of God




Novem ber 20, 1979, was a d ay th at Mu slim s arou n d th e world
h ad awaited , th e d awn of Islam ’s fifteen th cen tu ry. At 5:30 A. M . as
over forty th ou san d worsh ip p ers p rayed th e d awn p rayer in th e
Gran d Mosq u e in Mecca, th e largest Islam ic sh rin e in th e world ,
th eir sacred sp ace an d tim e were sh attered by th e p rofan e. Sh ots
reverberated th rou gh th e m assive cou rtyard an d a you n g m an fell
d ead . A p owerfu l force of arm ed m ilitan ts, n ot on ly Sau d is bu t
also Egyp tian s, Ku waitis, Ban gladesh is, Yem en is, an d Iraq is, p u sh ed
t h eir way in t o t h e p rayin g cro wd an d d eclared t h at t h e lo n g-
awaited Mah d i h ad arrived .
   Th e m ore th an th ree h u n d red m em bers of th is m ilitan t ban d
an d th eir fam ilies were led by Ju h aim an al-Utaiba, th e broth er-in -
law of th e self-d eclared Mah d i, wh o h ad com e to clean se Islam
before th e en d of th e world . Ju h aim an an d h is followers h ad been
bitter critics of th e Sau d i govern m en t, its allian ce with th e West,
an d its d isru p tive m od ern ization p rogram s. Th ey called for th e
overth row of th e sin fu l an d u n ju st Sau d i regim e, th e establish -
m en t of a tru e Islam ic state, th e erad ication of Western cu ltu ral
in flu en ces, an d th e en d of oil exp orts to Am erica.1 Th e m ilitan ts
barricad ed th em selves in th e m osq u e an d h eld ou t again st gov-
ern m en t forces for five d ays before bein g forced to retreat to th e
cellars an d tu n n els below th e m osq u e wh ere th ey rem ain ed for
an oth er n in e d ays.
   Th e Sau d i govern m en t d ebated lon g an d h ard abou t h ow to
best resp on d to th is very d elicate situ ation . Th e u se of arm s or
72                                                                 Unholy W ar


figh tin g in th e m osq u e is strictly forbid d en . It h ad been u n th in k-
able th at Mu slim s wou ld violate th e san ctu ary. Ju h aim an ’s ch oice
of th e Gran d Mosq u e was a fatal strategic error. W h atever its sym -
bolic valu e, th e grou p ’s action sh ocked an d offen d ed m an y, wh o
were h orrified by th e sh ed d in g of blood in th e sh rin e h old in g th e
Kaaba, th e ston e m arkin g th e cen ter of Islam , th e direction to wh ich
Mu slim s world wid e tu rn to p ray. However legitim ate th eir griev-
an ces, th eir action s were haram , forbid d en an d th u s illegitim ate.
After in itially h esitatin g, th e kin g fin ally obtain ed a fatwa from
Sh aykh Abd u l-Aziz Bin Baz, h ead of th e govern m en t’s Cou n cil of
Ulam a an d th e m ost p owerfu l religiou s lead er in th e kin gd om .
Bin Baz ap p roved th e u se of force with in th e Gran d Mosq u e. Th e
siege was fin ally en d ed after two weeks. Its lead ers, wh om th e gov-
ern m en t h ad rid icu led as Khawarj (like th e Kh arijites, th e first sig-
n ifican t Islam ic extrem ist m ovem en t, th ey h ad seced ed an d tu rn ed
on th eir ru ler), were eith er killed in th e battle th at en su ed or cap -
tu red an d later execu ted .
     Th e ch arism atic Ju h aim an al-Utaiba h ad stu d ied at Med in a Un i-
versity, wh ich was fou n d ed by m em bers of th e Egyp tian Mu slim
Broth erh ood wh o h ad fled Nasser’s Egyp t. He h ad also atten d ed
lectu res by Bin Baz, wh o was kn own as a very learn ed bu t extrem ely
con servative sch olar. Ju h aim an h ad left th e u n iversity with a grou p
of followers in 1974 an d began to p reach fiery serm on s an d bu ild
h is n ew organ ization . In 1978, h e an d a large grou p of h is follow-
ers were arrested for d istribu tin g h is p am p h lets callin g for op p osi-
tion to th e Hou se of Sau d an d con d em n in g th eir corru p tion an d
u n -Islam ic lifestyles. Few in th e West took n ote of th e fact th at th e
m ilitan ts wh o in vad ed th e Gran d Mosq u e to p rotest again st th e
Sau d i regim e an d Western in flu en ces were n ot on ly Sau d is bu t
also m em bers of Islam ic activist grou p s in Egyp t, Ku wait, th e In -
d ian su bcon tin en t, Yem en , an d Iraq .
     To Western observers, th is affair was bafflin g. An Islam ic grou p
was attem p tin g to overth row th e govern m en t of Sau d i Arabia, an
Islam ic state an d p rotector of Islam ’s h oliest sites, in th e n am e of
Islam ? Th e Hou se of Sau d was bein g ju d ged an d con d em n ed as
T he Arm ies of God                                                           73


corru p t an d u n -Islam ic by th e very Islam ic yard stick th at it u sed
to legitim ate itself.
   Th is in cid en t brou gh t togeth er m ilitan ts from m an y cou n tries.
It was a p recu rsor of ch an ges th at wou ld becom e ap p aren t in th e
Soviet-Afgh an war, th e globalization of jih ad m ovem en ts with h oly
warriors d rawn from m an y p arts of th e um m ah com in g to th e “d e-
fen se of Islam .” No on e im agin ed th en th at th e govern m en t of
Sau d i Arabia an d Sau d i d issid en ts wou ld in th e n ext few years be-
com e so in tim ately con n ected with th e globalization of jihad an d
its tragic terrorist trajectory.
   Twen ty years later Osam a bin Lad en an d al-Qaed a’s d eclaration
of war again st Am erica wou ld brin g togeth er m an y elem en ts from
Mu slim h ist o ry (m ilit an t jih ad , eigh t een t h -cen t u ry revivalist s,
Wah h abi Islam , an d con d em n ation of Western allian ces with au -
tocratic Mu slim lead ers) an d ad d an oth er d im en sion , th e greatly
en h an ced p ower th at globalization afford s to terrorist grou p s—
th e ability to h arn ess religion an d m od ern tech n ology to strike
an ywh ere, an ytim e, an d an yp lace. Th is d ark sid e of globalization
n ow stren gth en s th e th reat of Islam ic rad icalism to ou r stability
an d secu rity an d forces u s to recogn ize th at th e growin g th reat of
terrorism in th e n am e of Islam is p art of a m u ch bigger p ictu re.
   Th e terrorist s resp on sible for t h e at ro cities o f Sep tem ber 11,
2001, are th e rad ical frin ge of a broad -based Islam ic jih ad th at
began in th e late twen tieth cen tu ry. Islam ’s p ower an d th e id ealis-
tic con cep ts of jih ad h ave been “sp u n ” to becom e th e p rim ary
id iom of Mu slim p olitics, u sed by ru lers an d ru led , by reform ers,
p olitical op p osition , an d terrorists.
   Man y violen t rad icals ju stify th e h orrors th ey com m it by recit-
in g a litan y of d eep ly felt Mu slim grievan ces again st th e West.
Historic m em ories of th e Cru sad es an d Eu rop ean colon ialism , th e
creation of Israel, th e Cold War, an d Am erican n eocolon ialism —
all th e action s of a m ilitan t Ch ristian West—get su perim posed u pon
cu rren t even ts: th e secon d Palestin ian in tifad a, th e p resen ce of
Am erican troop s in th e Gu lf, th e d evastatin g im p act of san ction s
on Iraq i ch ild ren , jih ad s of resistan ce an d liberation in Kash m ir
74                                                                  Unholy W ar


an d Ch ech n ya. Th ese m em ories feed resen tm en t, ign ite n ew an -
ger, an d d eep en an ti-Am erican ism , n ot ju st am on g terrorists bu t
also in th e broad er Mu slim world . A clim ate of su sp icion an d an i-
m osity toward th e West is reflected in th e com m on u se of word s
like Ch ristian Cru sad ers, n eocolon ialism , an d Zion ist exp an sion -
ism . An d it is strikin gly illu strated by th e u n fou n d ed ru m ors th at
swep t across th e Arab an d Mu slim world , Eu rop e, an d Am erica
th at th e W TC attacks were p erp etrated by Mossad an d th at fou r
th ou san d Jews wh o work in th e W TC d id n ot sh ow u p for work on
Sep tem ber 11 d u e to a tip from Israeli secu rity. 2


          Fro m t h e Cru sa d e s t o We st e r n Im p e ri a l i sm

Th e Cru sad es an d Eu rop ean colon ialism h ave h ad a u n iversal an d
lastin g im p act on th e Mu slim im agin ation . I u sed to joke abou t an
even t wh ose sign ifican ce is clearer to m e n ow. I was at a n ation al
p rofession al con feren ce on th e m od ern Mu slim world . We were
ru n n in g late. Th e p an el ch air, to assu re th at th ere wou ld be en ou gh
tim e for th is n ervou s you n g p rofessor to p articip ate, asked h is col-
leagu es to skip th e first p art of th eir p ap ers den ou n cin g th e Cru -
sad es an d Eu ro p ean co lo n ialism fo r t h eir lo n g-last in g n egat ive
legacy. At th e tim e, it seem ed m erely h um orous. Today, som e twen ty-
five years later, it h as p roven en d u rin gly revealin g.
     For m an y in th e West, th e Cru sad es for th e liberation of Jeru sa-
lem were a sh in in g m om en t of religiou s fervor in th e d efen se of
Ch ristian ity. Western sp orts team s, m arketin g firm s, an d m ed ia
h ave lon g u sed im ages of Cru sad ers as brave an d p owerfu l war-
riors, lofty sym bols of self-sacrifice, h on or, an d valor. Few of u s
kn ow or rem em ber th at Pop e Urban called for th e Cru sad es for
p olitical rath er th an h is osten sible religiou s reason s or th at, on bal-
an ce, th e Cru saders u ltim ately were th e losers n ot th e victors. Th e
sign ifican ce of th e Cru sad es is less a case of wh at actu ally h ap -
p en ed th an wh at th e stories tau gh t u s to believe. Each com m u -
n ity looks back with m em ories of its com m itm en t to d efen d its
T he Arm ies of God                                                        75


faith an d to h eroic tales of bravery an d ch ivalry in stru gglin g again st
“th e in fid el.” Both Mu slim s an d Ch ristian s saw th e oth er as d eter-
m in ed to con q u er, con vert, or erad icate th e oth er, an d th u s as an
en em y of God . For Western ers, Islam is a religion of th e sword , of
h oly war or jih ad . For Mu slim s, Ch ristian ity is th e religion of th e
Cru sad es an d h egem on ic am bition s. Th e last segm en t of a BBC
series on Islam , wh ich covered colon ialism an d p ostcolon ialism ,
gave su p p ort to th is belief in its title, “Th e Fin al Cru sad e.”
   Presid en t George W. Bu sh ’s u se of th e word cru sad e in a sp eech
abou t th e war again st terrorism , an d th e p rotests an d ap ologies
th at followed , h igh ligh ted th e d istan ce between Mu slim an d West-
ern h istorical m em ories. Mu slim s won d ered , Wou ld Am erican sol-
d iers en t erin g Afgh an ist an b eco m e t h e first st ep in a b ro ad er,
m ilitan t agen d a? Wou ld Am erica rep eat Eu rop ean colon ialism an d
attem p t to in filtrate, d om in ate, an d u ltim ately red raw th e m ap of
th e Mid d le East on ce again ?
   No on e wh o h as traveled in or stu d ied th e Mu slim world can be
obliviou s to th e ten d en cy of m an y to attribu te th eir p ast an d cu r-
ren t p roblem s in large p art to th e secon d trau m atic even t affect-
in g Islam an d th e West, th e legacy of Eu rop ean colon ialism . Again ,
th eir m em ories are d ifferen t from ou rs. Man y of u s h ave forgotten
wh at th e twen tieth -cen tu ry m ap of th e Mu slim world reveals. Th e
n am es of region s (th e Mid d le East) an d cou n tries as well as th e
bou n d aries an d ru lers of cou n tries were created by Eu rop ean colo-
n ial p owers. Th ose wh o wou ld u n d erstan d th e state an d state of
m in d of th e Mu slim world tod ay sh ou ld start by exam in in g th e
exten t of foreign d om in an ce an d Mu slim su bord in ation to Eu -
rop e in th e recen t p ast: th e Fren ch in North , West, an d Eq u atorial
Africa, an d th e Levan t (Leban on an d Syria); th e British in Pales-
tin e, Tran sjord an (n ow Jord an ), Iraq , th e Arabian Gu lf, an d th e
In d ian su bcon tin en t; an d in Sou th east Asia, th e British in Malaya
(Malaysia, Sin gap ore, an d Bru n ei) an d th e Du tch in In d on esia.
   Th e Ayatollah Kh om ein i sp oke d ram atically o f th e d ep th o f
Western p en etration an d exten t of its th reat to Mu slim societies:
76                                                                              Unholy W ar


     Th e fo u l claws o f im p erialism h ave clu t ch ed at t h e h eart o f t h e
     lan d s o f t h e p eo p le o f t h e Q u ran , wit h o u r n at io n al wealt h an d
     reso u rces bein g d evo u red by im p erialism . . . wit h t h e p o iso n -
     o u s cu lt u re o f im p erialism p en et rat in g t o t h e d ep t h s o u r t o wn s
     an d villages t h ro u gh o u t t h e Mu slim wo rld , d isp lacin g t h e cu l-
     t u re o f t h e Q u ran .3


     Eu rop ean colon ialism reversed a p attern of Mu slim ru le an d
exp an sion th at h ad existed from th e tim e of th e Prop h et. As th e
balan ce of p ower an d lead ersh ip sh ifted to Eu rop e, m u ch of th e
on ce d om in an t Islam ic civilization fou n d itself eith er d irectly ru led
or d om in ated by th e Ch ristian West, th reaten ed by crown an d
cross. Man y Eu rop ean s believed th at m od ern ity was evid en ce of
th e in h eren t su p eriority of Ch ristian ity as a religion an d cu ltu re.
Britain sp oke of th e “wh ite m an ’s bu rd en ” an d Fran ce of its “m is-
sion to civilize” to ju stify Eu rop ean im p erialism as th ey colon ized
m u ch of Africa, th e Mid d le East, Sou th an d Sou th east Asia.
     Eu rop e’s th reat to Mu slim id en tity an d au ton om y raised p ro-
fou n d religiou s as well as p olitical q u estion s for m an y in th e Mu s-
lim w o rld : W h at h ad go n e w ro n g? W h y h ad M u slim s fallen
beh in d ? W h y h ad Mu slim fortu n es been so th orou gh ly reversed ?
Was it Mu slim s wh o h ad failed Islam or Islam th at h ad failed Mu s-
lim s? How were Mu slim s to resp on d ? More th an a cen tu ry later,
th ese sam e q u estion s an d issu es rem ain . Com bin ed with a Mu s-
lim belief th at th eir societies m u st be reform ed in every age, th ey
m ake a com bu stible m ixtu re th at read ily ign ites in to th e flam e of
d esire for a n ew world an d th e will to take rad ical action to m ake
th is vision of reform a reality.


                            Fro m H i jra a n d Ji h a d t o
                   Mo d e r n i z a t i o n a n d Isl a m i c Re f o r m

Fou r Mu slim resp on ses to colon ialism form th e fou n d ation s for
m u ch of wh at we see tod ay: resistan ce an d warfare, with d rawal
an d n on coop eration , secu larism an d Western ization , an d Islam ic
T he Arm ies of God                                                               77


m od ern ism . Resisters sou gh t to follow th e exam p le of th e Prop h et:
em igration (hijra) ou t of a territory n o lon ger u n d er Mu slim ru le
an d jih ad , figh tin g to d efen d th e faith an d lan d s of Islam . Em igra-
tion for large n u m bers of p eop le was im p ractical, h owever, an d
h o ly war again st Eu ro p e’s o verwh elm in g m ilit ary st ren gt h was
d oom ed to d efeat. For m an y religiou s lead ers, th e p ractical alter-
n ative was sim p ly to refu se to d eal with th e n ew colon ial m asters,
to sh u n th eir com p an y, sch ools, an d in stitu tion s.
   Oth ers th ou gh t th eir su rvival d ep en d ed on followin g Eu rop e’s
lead . Th e Egyp tian m odern ist Tah a Hu sayn (1889–1973) exm p lified
th is p osition . A brillian t stu d en t, born blin d , h e atten d ed al-Azh ar
Un iversity for ten years bu t th en wen t on to th e Egyp tian Un iver-
sity in Cairo followed by fou r years of stu d y in Fran ce. He becam e
a d om in an t an d at tim es con troversial figu re in in tellectu al an d
acad em ic circles. His book The Future of Culture in Egypt (1938)
ep itom ized th e orien tation of m an y em ergin g elites wh o ad vo-
cated a liberal secu lar reform p rogram in em u lation of th e West.
Man y ju d ged Islam as eith er th e cau se of d eclin e or in cap able of
m eet in g t h e n eed s o f m o d ern life. Th ey t h erefo re ad vo cat ed a
m od ern ization p rogram th at borrowed h eavily from Western m od -
els of p olitical, social, an d legal ch an ge.
   Tah a Hu sayn align ed Islam with Ch ristian ity an d m ain tain ed
th at Egyp t’s m od ern ren aissan ce was based on Eu rop e:


   Th e essen ce an d so u rce o f Islam are t h e essen ce an d sou rce of
   Ch ristian ity. So far h as th e Eu rop ean id eal becom e ou r id eal th at
   we n o w m easu re t h e m at erial p ro gress of all in d ivid u als an d
   gro u p s by t h e am o u n t o f bo rro win g fro m Eu rop e. 4


   Mu slim ru lers in th e Ottom an Em p ire, Egyp t, an d Iran h ad been
q u ick to clim b on to wh at th ey h op ed wou ld be a bu llet-train to
m od ern ization . Sch olars an d stu d en ts were sen t to Eu rop e, n ew
u n iversities an d cen ters were created at h om e. Mu slim s stu d ied
lan gu ages, scien ce, an d p olitics, tran slated an d p u blish ed Western
works. New western ized elites accep ted a secu lar ou tlook th at re-
78                                                                 Unholy W ar


stricted religion to p erson al life an d tu rn ed to Eu rop e to “m od ern -
ize” th eir Mu slim societies. Th e trad ition al Islam ic id eology th at
h ad for cen tu ries given legitim acy to Mu slim societies was slowly
altered as im p orted secu lar m od els from th e West took over.
     In Mu slim society, th is tren d toward western ization created a
growin g social sp lit. Mod ern secu lar sch ools fu n ction in g alon g-
sid e trad ition al religiou s in stitu tion s p rod u ced two classes of Mu s-
lim s livin g sid e by sid e bu t d evelop in g d ifferen t world views an d
p rosp ects for th e fu tu re: a m od ern , western ized , elite m in ority an d
a m ore trad ition al, Islam ically orien ted m ajority. In a very real
sen se, th ere was a clash of cu ltu res, on e of skills an d valu es as well
as of p ower an d p rivilege. Th is d ivision h as rem ain ed a m ajor cau se
of th e crisis of id en tity an d resu rgen ce of religion in m an y Mu slim
societies.
     A fou rth resp on se to th e ch allen ge of th e West, Islam ic m od -
ern ism , tried to brid ge th e gap between Islam ic trad ition alists an d
secu lar reform ers. Islam ic m od ern ism , like m u ch of th e Mu slim
resp on se to th e West tod ay, d isp layed an am bivalen t love-h ate at-
titu d e toward th e so-called Su ccess of th e West. Th ey ad m ired Eu -
rop e for its stren gth , tech n ology, an d id eals of freed om , ju stice,
an d eq u ality bu t rejected its colon ialist goals an d p olicies. Mod -
ern ists wan ted to d evelop an Islam ically based ration ale for ed u -
cation al, legal, p olitical, an d social reform in ord er to p rom ote a
ren aissan ce for th eir com m u n ity an d a first step to n ation al in d e-
p en d en ce an d p ower.
     Islam ic m odern ism was both a success an d a failure: it reawaken ed
a sen se of p ast p ower an d glory, argu ed th e com p atibility of Islam
with m od ern reform , an d d istin gu ish ed between Western id eas
an d tech n ology an d Western im p erialism . Reform ers offered an
Islam ic altern ative to eith er rejectin g or u n critically assim ilatin g
th e West. Th eir id eas an d valu es becam e p art of Mu slim d iscou rse
an d m ain stream Mu slim th ou gh t. However, th e m od ern ist in tel-
lectu al m ovem en t d id n ot p rod u ce organ ization s to p ass on , d e-
velo p an d im p lem en t t h eir id eas in a su st ain ed m an n er. So m e
d iscip les of th e great m od ern ist th in kers tu rn ed to a m ore secu lar
p ath . Most im p ortan t, Islam ic reform ism was n ot su fficien tly in -
T he Arm ies of God                                                        79


tegrated in to th e cu rricu la of religiou s sch ools (m adrasas) an d th e
train in g of religiou s sch olars an d lead ers. As late as th e 1970s an d
1980s, Mu slim an d n on -Mu slim sch olars writin g abou t Islam an d
m o d ern it y o r Isla m ic refo rm ism w o u ld co m m o n ly p o in t t o
Mu h am m ad Abd u h wh o d ied in 1905 an d Mu h am m ad Iq bal wh o
d ied in 1938. W h ile th eir role an d legacy are im p ortan t, th e fact
th at th ey h ad been d ead for d ecad es seem ed a tacit com m en tary
on th e failu re of Islam ic m od ern ism to in sp ire n ew lead ers an d
take h old with in th e broad er com m u n ity. Tod ay th e term “salafi,”
wh ich h ad on ce been u sed to refer to Mu h am m ad Abd u h ’s Islam ic
m o d ern ist m o vem en t wit h it s em p h asis o n Islam an d rat io n al
m od ern ism , is in stead ap p lied to som e of th e m ost extrem e, an ti-
Western grou p s.


                      Isl a m a n d t h e Mo d e rn St a t e

After World War II, th e su ccess of in depen den ce m ovem en ts in over-
th rowin g Eu rop ean ru le an d th e creation of m odern Mu slim states
brou gh t p rid e an d h igh exp ectation s for a stron g an d p rosp erou s
fu tu re. Nation bu ild in g in th e Mu slim world with its artificially
d rawn bord ers su p erficially u n itin g p eop les with diverse cen tu ries-
old id en tities an d allegian ces was a fragile p rocess th at bore th e
seed s for later crises of iden tity, legitim acy, p ower, an d au th ority.
   W h en we ask tod ay wh y m u ch of th e Mu slim world rem ain s
p olitically u n stable or u n d erd evelop ed , we n eed to rem em ber th at
m ost m od ern Mu slim states are on ly several d ecad es old , carved
ou t by th e n ow-d ep arted Eu rop ean p owers.
   Th e fragility of n ew n ation -states was dem on strated tim e an d
again . In Sou th Asia, for exam p le, th e British divided th e In dian
su bcon tin en t in to In dia an d th e n ew Islam ic Rep u blic of Pakistan .
Kash m ir was a state with a Mu slim m ajority bu t led by an In dian
m ah araja wh o acceded to In dian ru le, an arran gem en t th at h as been
con tested by Pakistan ever sin ce. Th e m ajority of territory, th e 54,000
sq u are m iles of Jam m u Kash m ir, was taken by In dia wh ile Pakistan
ru led a sm aller p arcel of 32,000 sq u are m iles, Azad Kash m ir.
80                                                                  Unholy W ar


     Th e creation of In d ia an d Pakistan resu lted in com m u n al war-
fare th at left m illion s d ead . Ten s of th ou san d s of Hin d u s an d Mu s-
lim s were fo rced t o em igrat e, Hin d u s t o In d ia an d Mu slim s t o
Pakistan . Pakistan proved equ ally fragile. East Pakistan (later Ban gla-
d esh ) an d West Pakistan were sep arated by 1,000 m iles of In d ian
territory. Th e difficu lty of establish in g a stron g sen se of n ation alism
in cou n tries with su ch en orm ou s eth n ic, tribal, lin gu istic, an d cu l-
tu ral diversity can be dedu ced from th e fact th at in both In dia an d
Pakistan th e vast m ajority of th e citizen s in each cou n try cou ld n ot
sp eak th eir n ation al lan gu age (Hin d i an d Urd u resp ectively). Th e
blood y resu lts of colon ial m ap m akin g an d n ation creation were
evid en t yet again in th e bru tal 1971 Pakistan civil war wh ich led to
th e creation of Ban gladesh , an d in th e bloody eth n ic clash es th at
h ave th reaten ed th e stability of Pakistan to th e p resen t day. In Kash -
m ir, th e creation of a Mu slim m ajority state with in In dia resu lted in
wars between In dia an d Pakistan in 1947 an d 1965. Sin ce 1987,
Kash m iri sep aratists h ave been locked in a stru ggle again st In d ia’s
ru le th at h as brou gh t as m an y as 750,000 In d ian troop s to Kash -
m ir to carry ou t a bru tal war. To th e p resen t d ay, Kash m ir con tin -
u es to be a m ajor in cen d iary issu e in relation s between In d ia an d
Pakistan .
     In th e Mid d le East, th e Fren ch created m od ern Leban on by tak-
in g som e p ortion s of Syria, wh ile Britain set th e bord ers an d ru lers
for Iraq an d Ku wait. Th ese arbitrary bord ers fed eth n ic, region al,
an d religiou s con flicts th at h ave th reaten ed n ation al u n ity or sta-
bility in n u m erou s cou n tries. Th e Leban ese Civil War (1975–1990)
p itted Ch ristian an d Mu slim m ilitias again st each oth er an d also
resu lted in Syria’s in terven tion an d occu p ation . Iraq ’s 1990 in va-
sion of Ku wait was ju stified by Sad d am Hu ssein ’s claim on Ku -
wait i t errit o ry. In t h e p o st –Gu lf war p erio d , Sad d am Hu ssein ’s
savage rep ression of Sh ii an d Ku rd s reflected th e artificiality an d
fragility of th e Iraq i n ation , a cobbled -togeth er state led by a Su n n i
ru ler with a lon g h istory of rep ressin g Iraq ’s m ajority Sh ii p op u la-
tion in th e sou th an d its (Su n n i) Ku rd s in th e n orth . Both Sad d am ’s
action s an d th e in itial relu ctan ce of th e first (George H.) Bu sh
T he Arm ies of God                                                           81


ad m in istration to in terven e were based on fears of Iraq ’s breaku p or
“Leban ization .” Oth er cou n tries, like Tran sjord an (Jord an ), were
totally n ew British creation s. A p op u lar story h as Win ston Ch u rch ill
sp en d in g a lazy Su n day h u n ch ed over a m ap , sm okin g a good cigar,
wh ile d rawin g th e bou n dary lin es for h is n ew “cou n try” of Jordan .
   Often th e claim s an d legitim acy of ru lers were eq u ally artificial.
Th e Hash im ite fam ily of Arabia p rovid es an in terestin g exam p le.
Th e British created Tran sjord an an d Iraq as states to be ru led by
th e Hash im ite fam ily. Prin ce Abd u llah from Arabia was m ad e em ir
(p rin ce) o f Tran sjo rd an . (He lat er u p grad ed t o kin g o f Jo rd an .)
Abd u llah ’s bro t h er, Faisal, wh o se ru le in Syria h ad been en d ed
q u ickly by Fren ch in terven tion , was th en m ad e kin g of Iraq by
Britain ! An d th e m ost volatile exam p le of Eu rop ean n ation bu ild -
in g in th e Mid d le East rem ain s th e creation of Israel am id st com -
p etin g an d still-u n resolved religiou s, n ation alist, an d territorial
claim s wh ich resu lted in th e bitter legacy of th e Arab-Israeli wars.
   By th e m id -twen tieth cen tu ry, m ost of th e Mu slim world h ad
ach ieved p olitical in d ep en d en ce. Most ru lers, even in th ose cou n -
tries wh ere Islam p layed an im p ortan t role, h ad ch osen th e m ore
Western -in flu en ced secu lar p ath . Neverth eless, lookin g across th e
Mu slim world , you cou ld see th ree m od els for n ew states: Islam ic,
secu lar, an d Mu slim .
   Sau d i Arabia was a self-d eclared Islam ic state. Th e m on arch y of
th e Hou se of Sau d legitim ated its d om estic an d foreign p olicies by
claim in g to govern an d be govern ed by th e Qu ran an d Islam ic
law. At th e oth er en d of th e sp ectru m , Tu rkey, th e on ly rem n an t
of th e Ottom an Em p ire, op ted for a secu lar state an d severely re-
stricted religion to p erson al life. Tu rkey u n d er th e lead ersh ip an d
d irection of Mu stafa Kem al (p op u larly kn own as Atatu rk, Fath er
of th e Tu rks, d . 1938) em barked on a com p reh en sive p rocess of
Tu rkification , western ization , an d secu larization .
   Most Mu slim cou n tries fell in to a m iddle position . Creatin g m od-
ern states m od eled on Western p arad igm s, th ey su p erficially in -
jected Islam ic p rovision s in to con stitu tion s req u irin g th at th e h ead
of state be a Mu slim or th at Islam ic law be recogn ized as “a” sou rce
82                                                                 Unholy W ar


of law even wh en it was n ot, in reality, recogn ized at all. Th ese
govern m en ts sou gh t to con trol religion by in corp oratin g sch ools,
cou rts, an d m osq u es in to th eir m in istries of ed u cation , law, an d
religiou s affairs. In som e Mu slim cou n tries, lan gu ages for govern -
m en t, th e cou rts, an d u n iversities were Eu rop ean . In d ivid u als an d
in stitu tion s were “m od ern ” to th e d egree th at th ey were West-
ern —in lan gu age an d d ress, m an n ers an d valu es, arch itectu re an d
in frastru ctu re.
     Few q u estion ed th e accep ted wisd om th at m od ern ization m ean t
t h e p ro gressive west ern izat io n an d secu larizat io n o f so ciet y. A
m od ern ed u cation was th e su rest ticket to resp on sible p osition s in
govern m en t, bu sin ess, th e p rofession s, an d acad em ia. Close in ter-
n ation al ties were forged between th e govern m en ts, th e m ilitary,
oil com p an ies, an d ban ks of th e Mu slim world an d th e West an d
set th e stage for d ecad es of ed u cation al an d tech n ical exch an ges
as well as p olitical, econ om ic, an d m ilitary allian ces. Th e Un ited
States, lackin g th e n egative baggage of colon ial p owers, en joyed a
certain p rid e of p lace. It becam e a m agn et for d ip lom ats, bu reau -
crats, m ilitary, an d secu rity forces wh o received u n iversity an d
p rofession al ed u cation th ere, an d a h aven for m an y wh o escap ed
p o vert y o r p ersecu t io n u n d er au t h o rit arian regim es. It seem ed
reason able to exp ect th at every d ay in every way western ization
an d secu larizat io n were m akin g t h in gs b et t er an d b et t er. Ho w
wron g th at exp ectation tu rn ed ou t to be!
     Du rin g th e 1950s an d 1960s wid esp read d issatisfaction with th e
track record of Western -in sp ired liberal n ation alism took its toll.
Mon arch s an d govern m en ts tu m bled from p ower an d n ew gov-
ern m en ts em erged in Egyp t, Libya, Syria, Su d an , Iraq , an d Algeria.
All were based on som e form of Arab n ation alism / socialism with
its p op u list ap p eals to Arab-Islam ic roots, stress on Arab u n ity, criti-
cism of th e failu res of liberal n ation alism an d th e West, an d p rom -
ise of far-reach in g social reform s. At th e sam e tim e, th e Mu slim
Broth erh ood attracted ten s of th ou san d s of m em bers in Egyp t an d
Su d an as well as Syria, Jord an , an d Palestin e. Both Arab n ation al-
ism / socialism an d th e Broth erh ood were p op u list m ovem en ts th at
T he Arm ies of God                                                        83


cap tu red th e im agin ation s, h op es, an d asp iration s of m an y in th e
Arab world an d beyon d . Mu slim govern m en ts an d societies con -
tin u ed to rely h eavily on th e West bu t n ow tilted m ore to th e
Soviet Un ion . In itially, Arab n ation alist lead ers su ch as Egyp t’s
Gam al Abd el Nasser an d h is ad m irers su ch as Su d an ’s Jafar al-
Nu m eiry an d Libya’s Mu am m ar Qaddafi seem ed to be in th e driver’s
seat, con trollin g, m argin alizin g, or rep ressin g Islam ic activism . By
th e 1970s, h owever, Arab n ation alism / socialism was d iscred ited
by th e d isastrou s Arab d efeat in th e 1967 Arab-Israeli war, th e fail-
u re of econ om ic p olicies, an d govern m en t corru p tion . In resp on se,
govern m en ts in all th ree cou n tries were forced to tu rn to Islam to
bu ttress th eir legitim acy an d d eal with risin g Islam ic reform an d
op p osition m ovem en ts.


        B a c k t o t h e Fu t u re : Th e Isl a m i c Re su rg e n c e

Iran ’s Islam ic revolu tion of 1978–1979 abru p tly detou red th e m arch
toward Western m odern ization . Leadin g m odern izin g govern m en ts
in Iran , Egyp t, an d Leban on seem ed to be exp erien cin g th e re-
ven ge of God . Th ey were n ot alon e. Islam ic revivalism p rod u ced a
wave of fu n d am en talist m ovem en ts from Egyp t, Su d an , an d Iran
to Pakistan , Afgh an istan , an d Malaysia.
   Th e cau ses of th e resu rgen ce vary by cou n try an d region , bu t
th ere are com m on th read s: wid esp read feelin gs of failu re an d loss
of id en tity in m an y Mu slim societies, as well as failed p olitical
system s an d econ om ies. Overcrowd ed cities with in su fficien t so-
cial su p p ort system s, h igh u n em p loym en t rates, govern m en t cor-
ru p tion , a growin g gap between rich an d p oor, an d th e breakd own
of trad ition al religiou s an d social valu es p lagu ed m an y n ation s.
Israel’s cru sh in g victory over th e com bin ed forces of Egyp t, Jor-
d an , an d Syria in th e 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day war sym bolized
th e d ep th of Arab an d Mu slim im p oten ce an d th e failu re of m od -
ern n ation -states in th e Mu slim world . Israel seized m ajor p ieces
of territory, in clu d in g th e Sin ai p en in su la an d Gaza Strip from
Egyp t, th e Golan Heigh ts from Syria, an d th e West Ban k an d East
84                                                                 Unholy W ar


Jeru salem from Jord an . Th e loss of Jeru salem , th e th ird h oliest city
of Islam , wh ich em braces m ajor Mu slim h oly sites, th e Dom e of
th e Rock an d th e al-Aq sa Mosq u e, was p articu larly d evastatin g to
Mu slim s arou n d th e world , m akin g Palestin e an d th e liberation of
Jeru salem an Islam ic, n ot ju st an Arab or Palestin ian , issu e.
     Th e year 1967 p roved a tu rn in g p oin t for m an y in th e Mu slim
world wh o blam ed Western p olitical an d econ om ic m odels for th eir
m oral d eclin e an d sp iritu al m alaise. Disillu sion m en t with th e West
an d in p articu lar with th e Un ited States, its p ro-Israel p olicy, an d
its su p p ort for au th oritarian ru lers like Iran ’s sh ah fed an ti-West-
ern feelin gs. Mu slim religiou s lead ers an d activists believed th eir
m essage h ad been vin d icated , m ain tain in g th at th e failu res an d
trou bles of Mu slim s were a resu lt of tu rn in g away from God ’s re-
vealed p ath an d relyin g on th e West. From th e 1970s on ward , re-
ligiou s revivalism an d th e role of Islam ic m ovem en ts becam e a
m ajor force in Mu slim p olitics.


                   B u i l d i n g t h e Ar m i e s f o r Go d

Mod ern Islam ic m ovem en ts h ave been th e d rivin g force beh in d
t h e resu rgen ce o f Islam . As d iscu ssed in t h e p revio u s ch ap t er,
Mu slim s h ave a rich legacy of trad ition s th at call u p on th em to
reform th eir societies in every age. Given th e vision of early Is-
lam ic p ower an d su ccess an d th en its d eclin e for several cen tu ries,
it is n ot su rp risin g to see a p roliferation of Islam ic m ovem en ts in
th e twen ty-first cen tu ry strivin g to create a better world . Non vio-
len t revolu tion ary ch an ge from below an d violen t revolu tion to
overth row establish ed u n -Islam ic govern m en ts h ave rem ain ed th e
twin p ath s of con tem p orary Islam ic m ovem en ts. Both seem ed to
sp rin g u p in th e 1970s an d sp read like wild fire across th e Mu slim
world .
     Th e two p ion eer Islam ic m ovem en ts d escribed earlier, Egyp t’s
Mu slim Bro t h erh o o d an d Pakist an ’s Jam aat -i-Islam i, sp read t o
Su d an , Jord an , an d th e Gu lf, Ban glad esh , In d ia, an d Kash m ir an d
in sp ired a p roliferation of sim ilar m ovem en ts across th e world .
T he Arm ies of God                                                              85


W h ile all h ave been com m itted to a jih ad to tran sform Mu slim so-
cieties, th eir form ation , develop m en t, strategy, an d tactics h ave re-
flected th e d iverse p olitical, econ om ic, an d social en viron m en ts in
wh ich th ey arose. Th e direction of th at jih ad, wh eth er it followed a
n on violen t or violen t p ath , h as often been in flu en ced as m u ch by
govern m en ts as by Islam ic organ ization s. A m ajority of Mu slim re-
form organ ization s h ave op erated above grou n d, workin g with in
th eir societies; a radicalized m ilitan t m in ority h as en gaged in a vio-
len t jih ad to seize p ower or attack Mu slim govern m en ts, Am erica,
Eu rop e, an d Israel.
   As Osam a bin Lad en an d al-Qaed a h ave rem in d ed u s, wh at h ap -
p en s “over th ere” d oes in fact h ave an im p act h ere in th e Un ited
States an d elsewh ere in th e West. Cou n tries su ch as Afgh an istan ,
Egyp t, Israel/ Palestin e, an d Algeria h ave p roven fertile grou n d in
wh ich th e seed s of violen ce an d terrorism h ave th rived . No cou n -
try better d em on strates th e m an y faces of p olitical Islam , violen t
an d n on violen t, dom estic an d in tern ation al, th an Egyp t. Th e birth -
p lace of th e Broth erh ood , of its p ath s of p olitical p articip ation
an d violen t revolu tion ary jih ad , Egyp tian society h as p rod u ced a
lon g list of reform ers an d terrorists, th e p rogen y of Hasan al-Ban n a
an d Sayyid Qu tb, exten d in g from Mu h am m ad Farag, th e id eologu e
for Islam ic Jih ad , th e assassin s of An war Sad at to Dr. Aym an al-
Zawah iri an d oth er al-Qaed a lead ers of th e jih ad again st Am erica.


                      Eg y p t a n d t h e Ra g e f o r Go d

                                “I have killed Pharaoh and I do not fear death”
                               Kh alid Islam bu li, t h e assassin o f An war Sad at


Egyp t h as lon g been a lead er in th e Arab an d Mu slim world , a
lon g-tim e ally of th e Un ited States. It is a m ajor d estin ation for
foreign tou rists wh o are fascin ated by its p yram id s, p h araoh s, an d
m u m m ies. Egyp t’s m arketin g im age an d m ajor tou rist sites th at
featu re an cien t Egyp tian h istory, h owever, h ave lon g m asked its
d eep Islam ic id en tity, ch aracter, an d cu ltu re.
86                                                                  Unholy W ar


     Th e m ost m od ern an d m od ern izin g of cou n tries, p olitically, cu l-
tu rally an d religiou sly, Egyp t h as also been th e m ost p rom in en t
site of both Islam ic reform an d rad ical extrem ism . Egyp t’s Islam ic
m ovem en ts h ave sp an n ed th e sp ectru m from th e m od ern ists in
th e late-n in eteen th an d twen tieth cen tu ries to recen t extrem ist
grou p s su ch as Takfir wal Hijra, Islam ic Jih ad , an d Gam aa Islam iyya
wh o h ave terrorized Egyp tian society, in sp ired Osam a bin Lad en ,
an d becam e p art of h is al-Qaed a n etwork. Th e Egyp tian exp eri-
en ce offers a fu ll-blown exam p le of p olitical Islam from its p io-
n eers to its m ain stream an d terrorist frin ges tod ay an d reflects th e
iron ic fact th at som e of th e m ost d evelop ed cou n tries in th e Mid d le
East h ave exp erien ced an d been victim s of sign ifican t violen ce an d
terrorism . W h at can we learn abou t th e n atu re of p olitical Islam
an d th e role of violen ce an d acts of terror? W h at is th e legacy of
Egyp t’s m ovem en ts for global terrorism in th e twen ty-first cen -
tu ry? Recen t h istory will h elp to an swer th ese q u estion s.

                T H E BELI EV ER- P RESI D EN T AN D JI H AD

W h en An war Sad at su cceed ed Gam al Abd el Nasser as p resid en t of
Egyp t, h e faced a form idable task. He rep laced an en orm ou sly p op u -
lar ch arism at ic lead er, in flu en t ial n o t o n ly in Egyp t b u t also
th rou gh ou t th e Arab world . In som e Arab cou n tries, you m igh t
see m ore p ictu res of Nasser th an of th e local p resid en t. At first
Sad at’s p ortrait was h u n g n ext to Nasser’s to bolster h is legitim acy.
Later, h owever, to escap e livin g in Nasser’s sh ad ow, Sad at sh ifted
gears an d m ad e stron g ap p eals to Islam . Sad at wish ed to d istan ce
h im self from Nasser’s p arty, h is failed socialist id eology, p olicies,
an d allies, an d to d efin e h is own p ath an d p olicies.
     Sad at assu m ed th e title th e Believer-Presid en t, an allu sion to
th e Islam ic calip h ’s title Com m an d er of th e Faith fu l. He began
an d en d ed h is sp eech es with verses from th e Qu ran . TV broad -
casts freq u en tly featu red h im in a m osq u e, cam eras zeroin g in on
h is p rom in en t p rayer m ark, a callou s cau sed by tou ch in g th e fore-
h ead to th e grou n d in p rayer. Sad at en cou raged th e growth of Is-
lam ic stu d en t association s on cam p u s an d was able to gain en ou gh
T he Arm ies of God                                                        87


con trol over th e sh aykh (rector) an d lead in g religiou s sch olars at
al-Azh ar Un iversity to be able to cou n t on th eir su p p ort for th e
Egyp tian -Israeli p eace treaty. Th is treaty won h im great p raise in
th e West an d a Nobel Peace Prize. However, d esp ite gen erou s aid
from th e Un ited States followin g th e Cam p David Accord s in 1978–
1979, th e stan dard of livin g for m ost Egyp tian s con tin u ed its steady
d eclin e, an d th e Palestin ian s, always th e sym bol of th e su ccess or
failu re of Arab lead ersh ip , rem ain ed stateless an d p ersecu ted u n -
d er m ilitary occu p ation .
   It soon becam e clear to Sad at th at ap p ealin g to Islam was a two-
ed ged sword . Usin g strict Islam ic criteria, activists ju d ged Sad at to
be a h yp ocrite an d traitor for h is relation s with th e West, h is fail-
u re to im p lem en t th e Sh ariah as th e official law of Egyp t, an d h is
liberal fam ily-law reform s, wh ich critics, wh o saw th em as West-
ern rath er th an Islam ically in sp ired , sarcastically d u bbed “Jih an ’s
laws” after Sad at’s h alf-British wife.
   By th e m id -1970s, th e q u iet ach ieved by Nasser’s 1960s su p -
p ression of th e Mu slim Broth erh ood was gon e. New m em bers wh o
were attracted to em ergin g organ ization s in clu d ed th ose wh o h ad
believed in western ization an d m od ern ization , bu t wh o were n ow
d isaffected by th e con tin u in g econ om ic d eclin e. Th ey in clu d ed
th e m ajority of th e u n em p loyed you n ger gen eration as well as
form er secu larists. Th e Mu slim Broth erh ood was back an d so were
n ew ext rem ist s, secret revo lu t io n ary gro u p s like Mu h am m ad ’s
You th , Takfir wal Hijra (Excom m u n ication an d Fligh t), an d Islam ic
Jih ad p rom otin g th eir jih ad of violen ce an d terrorism . Th ey seized
bu ild in gs, kid n ap p ed an d execu ted govern m en t officials, an d tried
to assassin ate Sad at an d d eclare an Islam ic rep u blic.
   In a n ation wid e crackd own , th e govern m en t arrested 620 m ili-
tan ts; 454 were tried by sp ecial m ilitary cou rts an d im p rison ed .
Th e lead ers of Mu h am m ad ’s You th an d Takfir were execu ted . Man y
m ilitan ts wen t u n d ergrou n d on ly to reem erge as n ew grou p s, th e
Arm y of God (Ju n d Allah ) an d Islam ic Jih ad (Jam aat al-Jih ad , or
Holy War Society).
88                                                                       Unholy W ar


     In creasin gly, Sad at resp on d ed to all of h is Islam ic critics, m ain -
stream an d rad ical alike, with a h eavy h an d . He warn ed : “Th ose
wh o wish to p ractice Islam can go to th e m osq u e an d th ose wh o
wish to en gage in p olitics m ay d o it th rou gh legal in stitu tion s.” 5
Th e govern m en t tried to im p rison all op p osition , gain con trol of
all m osq u es, an d ban Islam ic stu den t association s. Sadat also m oved
to silen ce oth ers: in tellectu als, jou rn alists, lawyers, u n iversity p ro-
fessors, form er cabin et m in isters wh o h ad criticized h is p olicies.
W h en food riots sh ook Cairo in Jan u ary 1977, Sad at blam ed Marx-
ists an d Leftists, an d con tin u ed to arrest an y op p osition . W h ile h e
was bein g p raised in th e West as a p rogressive Mu slim lead er, for
m an y in Egyp t Sad at’s n ew econ om ic op en -d oor p olicy ju st m ean t
greater Western (esp ecially Am erican ) econ om ic in volvem en t. It
m ean t lin in g th e p ockets of m u ltin ation al com p an ies an d Egyp -
tian elites, n ot solvin g basic econ om ic an d social p roblem s:


     Ho w can t h e p easan t , t h e h ard wo rkin g Egyp tian fellah , m ain -
     t ain h is d ign ity wh en , after sweatin g in th e h ot su n all d ay lon g,
     h e h as to stan d in lin e to receive a frozen Am erican ch icken ? . . .
     As h e sit s in t h e even in g wit h t h e fam ily to watch th e television
     t h at h is so n h as p u rch ased fro m t h e fru it s o f labo r in Sau d i
     Arabia, t h e in t rigu es o f J.R. Ewin g an d Su e Ellen on Dallas strip
     h im o f wh at is left o f h is legit im acy as a cu ltu re bearer in h is
     o wn cu lt u re. Bet ween p ro gram s, h e is told in En glish th at h e
     sh o u ld b e d rin kin g Sch wep p es o r in d u b b ed Arab ic t h at h e
     sh o u ld u se d eo d o ran t , an d t h at all h is p roblem s are cau sed by
     h avin g t o o m an y ch ild ren —a t o t al p ackage of im p orted id eas. 6


Th e Sep tem ber 1978 Cam p David Accord s were viewed by Arabs
an d Mu slim s at h om e an d abroad as an op p ortu n istic cap itu lation
to Israel an d its Am erican p atron . Sad at’s foreign m in ister resign ed ,
an d p rotest d em on stration s th rou gh ou t Egyp t d en ou n ced th e ac-
cord s as a treason ou s act of an “u n believer.” On ly Egyp t seem ed
to ben efit from th e accord s, as Israel even tu ally with d rew from
th e Sin ai, an d Egyp t got m assive aid from th e Un ited States as a
T he Arm ies of God                                                               89


reward for sign in g. However, Israel’s occu p ation of Palestin ian ter-
ritories on th e West Ban k an d Gaza, as well as of Syria’s Golan
Heigh ts, rem ain ed in p lace. Al-Azh ar’s en d orsem en t of th e p eace
agreem en t was seen as sim p ly recon firm ation th at it h ad becom e
a p u p p et of th e govern m en t. Alth ou gh th e Mu slim Broth erh ood
in itially resp on d ed cau tiou sly, by March 1979 it h ad called for a
h oly war again st Israel.
   In early Sep tem ber 1981, faced with m ou n tin g d iscon ten t an d
o p p o sit io n , in a sen sat io n al m o ve t h e go vern m en t lau n ch ed a
m assive d ragn et, arrestin g m ore th an 1,500 p eop le. Secu lar an d
Islam ic op p osition p u blication s were ban n ed . Th ose im p rison ed
rep resen ted th e en tire p olitical sp ectru m , from extrem e righ t to
extrem e left, Mu slim Broth ers an d m ilitan ts, as well as Marxists,
Mu slim s, an d Cop ts, you n g an d old , jou rn alists, writers, p rofes-
sors, an d oth er p rofession als. Th ey in clu d ed Dr. Nawal Saad awi,
th e p rom in en t Egyp tian au th or, fem in ist, an d form er cabin et m in -
ister. In a television ad d ress, Sad at m ain tain ed th at h e was savin g
Egyp t from p olitical an d religiou s “sed ition .” Man y believed th at
p olitically h e h ad sign ed h is “d eath warran t”; tragically, th is p re-
d iction wou ld p rove to be literally tru e.7 Like th e sh ah of Iran wh en
faced with m ou n tin g op p osition , Sad at becam e m ore au tocratic
an d in creasin gly id en tified th e Egyp tian state with h is own p er-
so n alit y an d will. As Saad Ed d in Ib rah im h as n o t ed ,


   Sad at in izat io n o f Egyp t was exp ressed in alm ost every son g on
   rad io an d t elevisio n . . . . Two p ro cesses were at work: a Sad atan i-
   zat io n o f Egyp t o n t h e o n e h an d an d a d eification of Sad at on
   t h e o t h er—t h e rebirt h o f t h e Egyp t ian p h araoh . 8


   Desp ite th e growin g ten sion s in Egyp tian society, few exp ected
wh at h ap p en ed on October 6, 1981. An war Sad at, ad orn ed in h is
gold -braid ed u n iform sat am id st two th ou san d d ign itaries from
all over th e world viewin g a weap on s d isp lay th at com m em orated
th e “su ccess” of th e 1973 war. As th ey sh ield ed th eir eyes from th e
blazin g su n , th ey watch ed figh ter-p lan e aerobatics above an d a
90                                                               Unholy W ar


slow-m ovin g p rocession of artillery tru cks below. Su d d en ly, fou r
gu n m en , ap p earin g from beh in d th e tru cks, fired th eir au tom atic
rifles an d th rew th eir gren ad es at th e reviewin g stan d . Th e Be-
liever-Presid en t, stru ck by at least five bu llets as well as sh rap n el,
d ied alm ost im m ed iately. Sad at was assassin ated by m em bers of
Jam aat al-Jih ad or Islam ic Jih ad , th e organ ization th at d evelop ed
from an abortive cou p staged by Mu h am m ad ’s You th . Th eir lead er,
a m ilitary officer, cried ou t, “I am Kh alid Islam bu li. I h ave killed
Ph aroah an d I d o n ot fear d eat h !” Years later Kh alid ’s bro th er,
Moh am m ed Islam bu li, wou ld su rface with Osam a bin Lad en in
Afgh an istan . Sad at’s state fu n eral was atten d ed by a h ost of celeb-
rities, p resid en ts, an d p olitician s from Eu rop e an d Am erica. How-
ever, Arab lead ers were p rom in en tly m issin g, an d th e p eop le of
Egyp t d id n ot m ou rn for th eir Believer-Presid en t.

                             I SLAM I C JI H AD

Th e Egyp tian Islam ic Jih ad h as h ad a lon g track record of violen ce
an d terrorism . Its well-edu cated m em bers h ave com e from th e presi-
d en tial gu ard an d m ilitary in telligen ce an d in clu de civil servan ts,
rad io an d television workers, u n iversity stu den ts, an d p rofessors.
Th ey were recruited from religious societies an d Qu ran stu dy grou ps.
Th eir social cen ters p rovided stu den ts with free books an d tu torin g
an d fam ilies with m u ch -n eeded food, cloth in g, an d h ou sin g.
     Th e m ission of Islam ic Jih ad was to create a tru e Islam ic state
an d society in Egyp t. Th is was to be th e first step in ach ievin g
th eir lon g-term goal: a sin gle Mu slim govern m en t u n d er a tru e
Islam ic calip h ate. Th ey h ave ration alized th eir h oly war again st
Egyp t’s “ath eist” state an d ru lers as req u ired , th e obligation of all
tru e believers.
     Islam ic Jih ad ’s war is waged again st all n on believers, Mu slim
an d n on -Mu slim alike. Extrem ist grou p s like Jih ad reject Islam ’s
trad ition al toleran ce of th e p rotected com m u n ities of Jews an d
Ch ristian s, Peop le of th e Book (dhim m i). Like Osam a bin Lad en ,
th ey see Jews an d Ch ristian s as p art of a h istoric battle or Cru sad e
con n ected with Eu rop ean colon ialism an d Zion ism , an d th ey re-
T he Arm ies of God                                                        91


gard Israel as a Trojan h orse of th e West, a fifth colu m n with in
Mu slim societies. 9 On ce p eop le h ave been con d em n ed as u n be-
lievers wh o m u st be su bject to th e sword , th ey forfeit th eir righ t to
life, secu rity, an d p rop erty. Sh aykh Om ar Abd el Rah m an , sp iritu al
ad viser to Islam ic Jih ad an d Gam aa Islam iyya, issu ed a fatwa san c-
tion in g th e killin g an d p lu n d erin g of Ch ristian s in Lu xor in 1997
becau se th ey were an ti-Mu slim . Th is ou tlook h as been p assed on
to oth er grou p s in th e Arab an d Mu slim world wh o believe th at
in tern ation al con sp iracies, Jewish Zion ism , th e Ch ristian West, an d
ath eistic com m u n ism all in ten d to d ivid e th e Mu slim world an d
d estroy Islam . In p u blic p rotests th ey ch an t: “Holy war again st
lackeys—Jews, Ch ristian s, an d Ath eists” an d “No to Am erica! an d
No to Israel!”
   After Sad at’s assassin ation , Islam ic Jih ad regrou p ed an d declared
jih ad again st th e n ew govern m en t of Hosn i Mu barak. Th ey re-
em erged in th e 1990s alon g with Gam aa Islam iyya to th reaten th e
secu rity of Egyp tian society. Dr. Aym an al-Zawah iri retu rn ed from
th e Afgh an jih ad an d brou gh t m an y oth er Arab Afgh an s with h im
an d righ t in to th e Jih ad organ ization . Egyp tian s h ad m ade u p a
large proportion of th e foreign ers figh tin g th e Soviets. Th ey return ed
to Egyp t with n ew ideas, exten sive m ujahidin creden tials, an d th e
taste of victory again st overwh elm in g odds. Th ey brou gh t Egyp t’s
Islam ic Jih ad an d Gam aa Islam iyya a n ew ideological dim en sion ,
tran sform in g th e m ore lim ited n ation alist agen da to create an Is-
lam ic state in Egyp t in to a com m itm en t to wage global jih ad.
   Islam ic Jih ad ’s activities reflected th eir rage an d th eir agen d a.
In 1990, five Jih ad m em bers were arrested for killin g th e sp eaker
of th e Nation al Assem bly. Jih ad m em bers wh o u n su ccessfu lly at-
tem p ted to assassin ate th e in terior m in ister an d th e p rim e m in is-
t er in 1993 were believed t o be beh in d t h e 1995 assassin at io n
attem p t on Presid en t Mu barak in Ad d is Ababa, th e bom bin g of
th e Egyp tian em bassy in Islam abad , an d th e slau gh ter of fifty-eigh t
tou rists at Lu xor in 1997—a crim e for wh ich al-Zawah iri was sen -
ten ced to d eath in absentia. Jih ad ’s sp iritu al ad viser, Om ar Abd el
Rah m an , was exiled to th e Un ited States, bu t con tin u ed to in flu -
92                                                                 Unholy W ar


en ce Jih ad as well as Gam aa Islam iyya. He was im p licated in th e
1993 World Trad e Cen ter bom bin g an d im p rison ed for p articip a-
tion in a con sp iracy to com m it oth er bom bin gs in Am erica. Jih ad
sp lit in to two win gs, on e loyal to Abbou d al-Zam ou r, on e of th e
origin al fou n d ers, an d th e oth er, Van gu ard s of Con q u est or th e
New Jih ad Grou p led by bin Lad en p rotégé al-Zawah iri, wh o wou ld
m erge h is grou p with al-Qaed a.
     Th e Gam aa Islam iyya (Islam ic Grou p ) began du rin g th e Sadat
era as stu d en t Islam ic grou p s active on u n iversity cam p u ses an d h as
evolved in to a terrorist n etwork. It becam e an u m brella organ iza-
tion for violen t extrem ists’ clan destin e cells active in Cairo, Alexan -
d ria, an d Up p er Egyp t. It attracted you n ger, less-edu cated followers
from m ore desperate con dition s of poverty an d u n em ploym en t wh o
esp ou sed a m ore radical ideology an d en gaged in m ore ran dom acts
of violen ce to destabilize th e govern m en t p olitically an d econ om i-
cally. Th ey attacked tou rists, a m ajor sou rce of Egyp t’s foreign rev-
en u e, bom bed an d bu rn ed govern m en t bu ildin gs an d ban ks, as well
as th eaters an d video an d book stores th at p op u larized Western cu l-
tu re. Th e Gam aa esp ecially targeted Ch ristian s, bom bin g an d bu rn -
in g ch u rch es an d h om es, robbin g, beatin g, an d m u rderin g Ch ristian
Egyptian s. Th e Gam aa’s oth er targets in cluded colum n ist Farag Foda,
wh o was killed in 1992, an d Egyp t’s Nobel lau reate writer Nagu ib
Mah fu z, wh o in 1994 was stabbed in order to silen ce an d in tim i-
d ate ou tsp oken critics of fu n dam en talists.

                        A D U AL REV O LU T I O N :
               M AI N ST REAM AN D M I LI TAN T JI H AD

Du rin g t h e Mu barak years ext rem ist s an d go vern m en t secu rit y
forces an d p olice h ave been locked in an all-ou t u n h oly war in
wh ich both sid es u se d ead ly force an d terrorism again st th eir en -
em y. Th e stru ggle h as cost m ore th an on e th ou san d lives an d led
to ch arges by h u m an righ ts organ ization s, in tern ation al m ed ia,
an d p olitical exp erts th at th e effort to cap tu re an d eradicate ex-
trem ists h as degen erated in to in discrim in ate state rep ression . More
th an twen ty th ou san d Islam ists h ave been im p rison ed, m an y de-
T he Arm ies of God                                                           93


tain ed with ou t ch arge an d su bjected to tortu re. Extralegal m ilitary
cou rts th at exclu de th e righ t of ap p eal were created; laws were en -
acted to restrict freedom of th e p ress, take con trol of m osq u es, an d
p reven t elected Islam ists from leadin g p rofession al association s.
   Like oth er au th oritarian regim es in th e Middle East, th e Mu barak
govern m en t seized th e op p ortu n ity to u se its war again st terror-
ism to silen ce both extrem ists an d m ain stream legal op p osition ,
n ot on ly th ose m ovem en ts th at h ave carried ou t violen t attacks,
bu t on e, n am ely th e Mu slim Broth erh ood , th at h ad becom e d om i-
n an t in u n iversity facu lties, labor an d p rofession al association s,
an d m an y m u n icip alities. 10
   By 2000 th e Mu barak govern m en t’s strategy h ad clearly p aid
off. Im p rison ed lead ers of Gam aa Islam iyya h ad d eclared a u n ilat-
eral cease-fire; th e govern m en t released th ou san d s of d etain ees.
Islam ic Jih ad in Egyp t, sign ifican tly weaken ed , m an y of its lead ers
im p rison ed or in exile, soon followed su it. Bu t Islam ic Jih ad abroad,
in p articu lar Aym an al-Zawah iri an d Islam ic Jih ad lead ers in Af-
gh an istan , rejected th e ceasefire an d con tin u e th eir global jih ad .

      M AI N ST REAM FU N D AM EN TALI SM AN D T H E STAT E

Desp ite th e ap p aren t su ccess of th e Mu barak govern m en t in con -
tain in g Islam ic rad icalism , it is n ot resp on d in g su ccessfu lly to th e
d eclin in g stan d ard of livin g, h igh u n em p loym en t, an d d ecreased
freed om an d d em ocratic righ ts. As a con seq u en ce, Islam ic revival-
ism h as h ad a sign ifican t im p act on m ain stream Egyp tian society.
Egyp tian society h as itself becom e m ore Islam ized at th e grass-
roots level. New Islam ic tren d s are seen in n ew ed u cated religiou s
lead ers wh o h ave m ass followin gs from m id d le- an d u p p er-class
au d ien ces. Ph ysician s, jou rn alists, lawyers, p olitical scien tists, m en
an d wom en write an d sp eak ou t on issu es of Islam ic reform su ch
as p lu ralism , wom en ’s righ ts, an d social ju stice. Islam ic belief, sym -
bols, an d valu es in form th e govern m en t, cou rts, p rofession s, d ress,
an d valu es of society (m od ern as well as trad ition al sectors) coun-
tering th e exp ectation s of secu lar m od ern ization th eory an d th e
p olicies of th e Mu barak govern m en t.
94                                                                        Unholy W ar


     Th e Mu slim Broth erh ood exem p lifies th e q u iet social revolu -
tion th at h as been takin g p lace in Egyp t’s cities an d town s. Islam ic
act ivism h as beco m e in st it u t io n alized . Islam ic sch o o ls, clin ics,
h osp itals, an d social services, as well as Islam ic ban ks an d p u blish -
in g h ou ses, are p art of m ain stream society, an altern ative set of
social in stitu tion s an d services. Th ey p resen t an in d irect in d ict-
m en t of th e govern m en t’s failu re to resp on d to p eop le’s n eed s.
Th e p erform an ce of Islam ists at th e p olls h as been eq u ally im p res-
sive. Preven ted by law from p articip atin g as a legal p olitical p arty,
t h e Mu slim Bro t h erh o o d fo rm ed co alit io n s an d allian ces an d
em erged as th e lead in g op p osition in th ose p arliam en tary elec-
tion s in wh ich th ey p articip ated .
     Th e story of Egyp t, an ally of th e Un ited States, is on e of th e
m an y exam p les of h ow p olitical an d econ om ic con d ition s cou p led
with rep ression sp awn m ilitan t op p osition m ovem en ts th at m is-
u se Islam to m otivate an d legitim ate violen ce an d terrorism .


                      Th e Ji h a d i n P a l e st i n e : H a m a s

     If so m eo n e co n fiscat ed yo u r lan d , d em olish ed you r h om e, bu ilt
     set t lem en t s t o p reven t yo u fro m co m in g back, killed you r ch il-
     d ren an d blo cked yo u fro m go in g t o work, wou ld n ’t you wan t
     t o figh t fo r yo u r co u n t ry?11


Major Islam ic m ovem en ts arise in resp on se to failu res an d crises
in th eir societies an d to vacu u m s in effective lead ersh ip . Nowh ere
h as th is been m ore d ram atically visible th an in Israel/ Palestin e.
Th e late 1980s p rod u ced two m ilitan t Islam ic resp on ses to th e fail-
u res of th e Israeli an d Palestin ian lead ersh ip —Ham as an d Islam ic
Jih ad . Ham as, th ou gh always a m in ority, h as p roven th e m ore ef-
fective, h arn essin g religion with p olitical an d social activism , an d
in creasin gly u sin g acts of terrorism in th e escalatin g violen ce an d
terror of th e Palestin ian -Israeli con flict.
     Ham as is an offsh oot of th e Palestin ian Mu slim Broth erh ood . It
was creat ed in 1987 d u rin g t h e Palest in ian u p risin g (intifada)
T he Arm ies of God                                                          95


again st Israeli occu p ation an d ru le in Gaza an d th e West Ban k.
Th e Broth erh ood ’s su p p ort h ad d win d led , esp ecially am on g th e
you n ger gen eration , after th e Arab d efeat in th e 1967 Arab-Israeli
war. Its ap olitical p ath , focu sed on ru n n in g sch ools, you th cam p s,
an d social welfare services, d id n ot ad d ress th e core cau ses of th e
con tin u ed d isen fran ch isem en t of th e Palestin ian s an d so fell sh ort
of th e d esp erate m ood of th e tim es. Leavin g th e Broth erh ood on
th e p erip h ery, th e m ajority of Palestin ian s tu rn ed to Yasser Arafat’s
Fatah an d th e Palestin ian Liberation Organ ization (PLO), th e coa-
lition of Palestin ian grou p s of wh ich Fatah is a m em ber.
   However, wh en th e in tifada eru p ted in 1987, th e Broth erh ood
m oved q u ickly, takin g advan tage of Arafat’s failu res an d th e ou t-
p ou rin g of fru stration an d rage again st Israel to establish its rel-
evan ce d u rin g t h e u p risin g. Th e Bro t h erh o o d creat ed Ham as,
(“fervor”), an acron ym for th e Islam ic Resistan ce Movem en t; Ham as
q u ickly took on a life an d m ission of its own , assu m in g a m ajor
lead ersh ip p osition du rin g th e in tifada. Fillin g a vacu u m , it p ro-
vid ed a m ilitan t Islam ic altern ative to th e secu lar n ation alism of
th e PLO. Becau se of th e Broth erh ood’s size, broad-based activities,
an d in flu en ce, Ham as becam e th e p rin cip al altern ative to th e PLO.
   From th e begin n in g, Ham as’s stru ggle to en d th e Israeli occu p a-
tion was con du cted as a jih ad, a m u ltifaceted stru ggle of p olitical
action , social welfare, an d m ilitan t resistan ce, in clu din g acts of vio-
len ce an d terrorism . Ham as com bin ed its religiou s m essage with
social reform , wh ich attracted th e older gen eration , an d with resis-
tan ce an d jih ad, wh ich sp oke to th e fru stration s an d fu ry of Pales-
tin ian you th . Ham as’s su ccess oversh adowed th e Broth erh ood an d
ch allen ged Yasser Arafat an d th e PLO’s leadersh ip in th e stru ggle.
   Ham as, like oth er Islam ic m ovem en ts, is en gaged in a p rocess
of dawah (th e call to becom e better Mu slim s) an d jih ad (th e call to
figh t again st o p p ressio n ). Th e p red icam en t o f t h e Palest in ian
p eop le, th e h egem on y of Israel, is attribu ted to loss of faith an d
d ep artu re from th e straigh t p ath of Islam . Ham as calls all Mu slim s
to give u p th eir secu lar cu ltu re an d lifestyles an d retu rn to reli-
giou s observan ce: p rayer, fastin g, Islam ic d ress, m oral an d social
96                                                                 Unholy W ar


valu es to re-create a p rop er Islam ic society so th at Mu slim society
can again becom e stron g an d wage a su ccessfu l jih ad to liberate
Palestin e from Israeli con trol.
     As its ch arter states, Ham as “fou n d itself at a tim e wh en Islam
d isap p eared from life. Th u s, ru les were broken , con cep ts were vili-
fied , valu es ch an ged an d evil p eop le took con trol; op p ression an d
d arkn ess p revailed , coward s becam e tigers; h om elan d s were in -
vad ed , p eop le were scattered . . . wh en Islam is absen t from th e
aren a, everyth in g ch an ges.” 12 From th is p ersp ective, Israel’s occu -
p ation is seen as a p u n ish m en t from God for d eviation s from Is-
lam . Th u s, in d ep en d en ce, civil an d p olitical righ ts, d ign ity, an d
d evelop m en t will all be ach ieved on ly by a retu rn to Islam , a re-
Islam ization of Palestin ian Mu slim society.
     Ham as views th e Mu slim claim to th e lan d of Palestin e as reli-
giou sly an ch ored an d im m u table: “Th e Islam ic Resistan ce Move-
m en t believes th at th e lan d of Palestin e h as been an Islam ic W aqf
[religiou s en d owm en t] th rou gh ou t th e gen eration s an d u n til th e
d ay of resu rrection . . . . th is waq f will en d u re as lon g as h eaven
an d earth last.” Islam is com bin ed with Palestin ian an d Arab n a-
tion alism in Ham as’s m ission ; Ham as’s jih ad is th e d efen se of Pal-
estin e, a com p lem en t ary com bin at ion o f p o litical an d m ilitary
activities, in cu m ben t on all Mu slim s to liberate Palestin e from Is-
raeli occu p ation : “Noth in g is loftier or d eep er in n ation alism th an
wagin g jih ad again st th e en em y an d con fron tin g h im wh en h e
sets foot on th e lan d of th e Mu slim s. . . . W h en ou r en em ies u su rp
som e lan d s, jih ad becom es a d u ty on all Mu slim s.” 13
     Th e PLO ch arter, on th e oth er h an d, iden tifies th e en em y as Zi-
on ism , th e Eu rop ean Jewish m ovem en t to create th e state of Israel,
wh ich d isregarded th e righ ts of Palestin ian s wh ose lan d was n eeded
to establish th e state. Th e PLO goal is a secu lar state with eq u al
righ ts for all citizen s, Mu slim s an d Ch ristian s (a sign ifican t m in or-
ity of th e Palestin ian p op u lation ). In con trast, Ham as rejects th e
d istin ction between Ju daism an d Zion ism , seein g th e Palestin ian -
Israeli con flict in religiou s term s as a con fron tation between Islam
an d Ju d aism as rep resen ted by th e religiou s state of Israel. In th e
T he Arm ies of God                                                         97


word s of Ham as’s leader Mah m ou d Zah ar: “Th ey [th e Jews] m ade
th eir religion th eir n ation an d state. . . . Th ey h ave declared war on
Islam , closed m osq u es an d m assacred defen seless worsh ip p ers at al-
Aq sa an d in Hebron . Th ey are th e Mu slim -killers an d u n der th ese
circu m stan ces we are obliged by ou r religion to defen d ou rselves.” 14
   Like Takfir wal Hijra an d Islam ic Jih ad as well as Osam a bin
Lad en ’s al-Qaed a, Ham as sees th e Palestin ian -Israeli con flict as th e
m ost recen t iteration of an age-old stru ggle between Islam an d
Ju d aism , d atin g back to th e Jews’ rejection of Mu h am m ad an d
Islam in th e seven th cen tu ry. 15 Like m an y Mu slim grou p s it d raws
on Western an ti-Sem itic literatu re, esp ecially The Protocols of the
Learned Elders of Zion, an ap ocryp h al book th at d escribes a ficti-
tiou s Jewish con sp iracy to d estroy Ch ristian civilization an d es-
tablish Jewish h egem on y, to bolster its in dictm en t. Th u s, for Ham as
th e Palestin ian stru ggle is a jih ad in th e fu llest m ilitan t sen se of
th e term , a h oly war between Mu slim s an d Jews based on con flict-
in g religiou s an d territorial claim s.

                      M EM BERSH I P AN D AC T I V I T I ES

Ham as was fou n d ed by Sh aykh Ah m ad Yassin , th e ch arism atic
p arap legic lead er of th e Palestin ian Mu slim Broth erh ood . Its lead -
ersh ip h as in clu d ed religiou s officials (im am s), bu t m ost m em bers
are p rofession als an d tech n ocrats train ed in m ed icin e, en gin eer-
in g, scien ce, or bu sin ess. Mem bers are recru ited from a n etwork of
m osq u es, sch ools, an d ch aritable in stitu tion s in to th is religiou s,
social, p olitical, an d m ilitary m ovem en t. Th e com bin ation of p o-
litical an d social activism with gu errilla warfare earn ed th e fin an -
cial an d m oral su p p ort of m an y Palestin ian s an d oth ers in th e
broad er Arab an d Mu slim world . Its exten sive n etwork of com m u -
n ity an d ch aritable p rojects an d p rogram s—kin d ergarten s, sch ools,
sch olarsh ip s, su p p ort for stu d en ts stu d yin g abroad , libraries, so-
cial an d sp orts clu bs, an d oth er social welfare services—was a p ri-
m ary reason for its p op u larity an d followin g.
   Ham as h as en gaged in p olitical ed u cation , m obilization , an d
p rotest, ch allen gin g th e legitim acy an d p latform of th e PLO, claim -
98                                                                Unholy W ar


in g to offer a m ore au th en tic an d eq u itable Islam ic altern ative.
Political foru m s, p am p h lets, an d cassettes, as well as m ass d em on -
stration s an d strikes, h ave been effective p olitical in stru m en ts for
th em . Of cou rse, th eir p op u larity an d su p p ort, th eir ability to get
votes from th e m ajority d ep en d on p rogress or, m ore correctly,
lack of p rogress, in th e p eace p rocess. W h en relation s between
Israel an d th e Palestin ian s d eteriorate, th e p op u larity of Ham as
can d id ates in m u n icip al, p rofession al association s, ch am bers of
com m erce, an d u n iversity stu den t election s soars becau se th e dom i-
n an t PLO is blam ed for con tin u ed failu re. Ham as, in th is sen se,
ben efits from th e con tin u in g d ead lock between th e Palestin ian s
an d Israelis. Th ose two p owers are blam ed for th e con tin u ed h u -
m iliation of th e Palestin ian p eop le an d fru stration of th eir d esire
for p olitical an d civil righ ts. Ham as p rom ises to get tou gh with
Israel in ord er to ach ieve Palestin ian righ ts: th at is th e p u rp ose of
its m ilitan t an d terrorist acts.

            N AT I O N ALI ST M O V EM EN T O F RESI STAN C E
                  O R T ERRO RI ST O RG AN I ZAT I O N ?

W h atever th e accom p lish m en ts of Ham as as a social an d p olitical
m ovem en t, on ly its violen t activities are kn own in th e West. Mem -
bers of Ham as p articip ated in th e everyd ay con fron tation s with
Israeli forces d u rin g th e in tifad a. Th e Qassem Brigad e, a sp ecial-
ized m ilit ary win g fu lly o p erat io n al by 1992, en gaged in well-
p lan n ed gu errilla w arfare again st Israeli m ilit ary an d p o lice.
Qassem ’s m em bers worked in sm all clan d estin e cells. Th eir id en -
tity was u n kn own to th e m ajority of Ham as m em bers an d th ey
fu n ction ed with relative au ton om y.
     W h en Israel an d th e Un ited States con dem n ed Ham as as a ter-
rorist organ ization , Ham as leaders resp on ded by sayin g th at th e u se
of violen ce is both legitim ate resistan ce an d retaliation th at was
restricted to p olitical an d m ilitary targets in th e occu p ied territo-
ries. Th eir action s were a resp on se to Israel’s occu p ation an d its u se
of u n restrain ed violen ce an d terror again st Palestin ian s. Th is p osi-
tion ch an ged dram atically after th e 1993 Oslo Accords an d in re-
sp on se to two even ts in Israel an d th e West Ban k an d Gaza.
T he Arm ies of God                                                           99


   On Febru ary 25, 1994, a Jewish settler n am ed Baru ch Gold stein
walked in to th e Mosq u e of th e Patriarch in Hebron , op en ed fire,
an d killed 29 Mu slim worsh ip p ers d u rin g th eir Frid ay con grega-
tion al p rayer. In resp on se, Ham as in trod u ced a n ew typ e of war-
fare, th e su icid e bom bers. Th eir attacks in creased exp on en tially.
Prom isin g swift reven ge for th e Hebron m assacre, th e Qassem Bri-
gad e u n d ertook five op eration s with in Israel itself in Galilee, Jeru sa-
lem , an d Tel Aviv. Th e m ost d ead ly took p lace on October 19, 1994,
in th e h eart of Tel Aviv with th e bom bin g of a bu s th at killed 23
an d in ju red n early 50 p eop le. Th e Israeli assassin ation of Yah ya
Ayash , a su icid e-bom b m aker, resu lted in an oth er series of retalia-
tory su icid e-bom b attacks. Peace n egotiation s in Ju ly 1997 were
again disru p ted wh en su icide bom bers killed 13 an d wou n ded m ore
th an 150 in a Jeru salem m arket.
   W h at d rives you n g Mu slim s to becom e su icid e bom bers? Man y
Palestin ian s h ave seen gen eration s grow u p in refu gee cam p s or
u n d er Israeli occu p ation sin ce th e creation of Israel in 1948. Th eir
sen se of op p ression an d victim h ood h as been com p ou n d ed as th e
p rom ise of th e Oslo Accord s evap orated , like th ose of Cam p David ,
u n d er Yasser Arafat’s Palestin ian Nation al Au th ority. Th e in creased
u se of force u n d er th e Ariel Sh aron govern m en t sp arked th e sec-
on d in tifad a, wh ich began in Sep tem ber 2000. Growin g u p op -
p ressed an d u n d er siege, facin g a fu t u re wit h lit t le h o p e, h igh
u n em p loym en t, an d en d em ic p overty can p rod u ce an an ger an d
d esire for reven ge again st th ose resp on sible. Ju st as am on g in n er
city you th in th e Un ited States, som e of th ose you n g p eop le lose
all h op e. For oth ers, religion h old s th e an swer. For a sm all m in or-
ity, su icid e bom bin g seem s a p rou d an d p owerfu l resp on se.
   Com p letely ou t of th eir leagu e m ilitarily wh en com p ared to
Israel, th ese m ilitan t Palestin ian s boast of th eir n ew an d m ost ef-
fective d ead ly weap on . As stu d en t p osters at u n iversities in th e
West Ban k an d Gaza d eclare: “Israel h as n u clear bom bs, we h ave
h u m an bom bs.” 16 Su icid e is forbid d en in Islam , bu t m ilitan t Pal-
estin ian s d o n ot see th is as su icid e. It is self-sacrifice for th e cau se
of Palestin ian freed om . Th e sim p licity of th e act en ables an oth er-
100                                                                  Unholy W ar


wise im p oten t in d ivid u al to slip in to a crowd u n n oticed an d th en
with a sim p le d eton ation wreak h orren d ou s carn age. Th e u se of
con cep ts like jih ad an d m artyrd om to ju stify su icid e bom bin g p ro-
vid es a p owerfu l in cen tive: th e p rosp ect of bein g a glorified h ero
in th is life an d en joyin g Parad ise in th e n ext.
   Su icid e bom bin g h as taken th e con flict beyon d th e m ilitary an d
in to th e streets; Ham as h as stru ck an u n p aralleled sen se of vu ln er-
ability an d terror in to Israeli society. Becau se it is so effective, its
u se h as escalated alon g with th e Sh aron govern m en t’s escalation
of violen ce, bom bin gs, m issile attacks, an d assassin ation of Pales-
tin ian lead ers. W h ile th e Palestin ian s are n o m atch for Israel in
n u m bers or weap on s, Dr. Abd el Aziz Ran tisi, a sen ior Ham as lead er,
believes su ch attacks en su re th at “Israelis will h ave n o stability
an d n o secu rity u n til th e occu p ation en d s. Su icid e bom bers are
Israel’s fu tu re.” 17
   Th e n ew tactics of su icid es an d slau gh ter of civilian s op en ed
d eep p olitical cleavages with in Ham as an d su m m on ed both su p -
p o rt a n d co n d em n a t io n o n religio u s gro u n d s in t h e b ro a d er
Mu slim world . Som e Ham as lead ers say targetin g civilian s is cou n -
terp rod u ctive; “Th e tru th is th at it d id a lot of d am age to Islam ’s
im age in th e West. . . . An y tim e you kill civilian s th at h ap p en s.” 18
Oth ers cou n tered th at Ham as was respon din g legitim ately to Israel’s
war again st Palestin ian civilian s, its “illegal occu p ation ” of th e West
Ban k an d Gaza, an d it s “b arb aric t reat m en t ” o f Palest in ian s. 19
Sh aykh Yassin , fou n d er of Ham as, an d m an y oth er Palestin ian re-
ligiou s lead ers h ave argu ed th at su icid e bom bin g is n ecessary an d
ju stified . Oth er in tern ation al Islam ic lead ers h ave been d ivid ed in
op in ion . Sh aykh Tan tawi, th e gran d m ufti of Egyp t, d efen d s it,
wh ile Sh aykh al-Sh eikh , th e gran d m ufti of Sau d i Arabia, h as con -
d em n ed all su icid e bom bin g as u n -Islam ic.
   Th e attem p t to distin gu ish between th e p olitical an d th e m ili-
tary win gs of Ham as, esp ecially wh en it com es to su icide bom bin gs
an d terrorism , h as been con ten tiou s. Critics reject th e distin ction
as d isin gen u ou s. Both th e Clin ton an d George W. Bu sh adm in istra-
tion s h ave p laced Ham as on th eir lists of terrorist organ ization s an d
T he Arm ies of God                                                       101


ou tlawed all con tribu tion s to Ham as by Am erican s or Am erican -
based organ ization s, refu sin g to ackn owledge an y distin ction be-
tween its social welfare an d h u m an itarian work an d its m ilitia.
   Un like extrem ist organ ization s like bin Lad en ’s al-Qaed a, th e
h istory of Ham as, like th at of m an y oth er Islam ic m ovem en ts,
d em on strated an ability to balan ce id eology an d a p ragm atic ac-
tivism th at resp on d s to p olitical an d social realities. At n o tim e
h as th is been clearer th an in th e p ost-Oslo years, wh en Ham as was
ch allen ged on m an y fron ts. Alth ou gh th e PLO’s lead ersh ip of Pal-
estin ian s h ad been seriou sly q u estion ed sin ce th e 1980s, th e Oslo
Accord s d em on strated th at Yasser Arafat an d th e PLO h ad n egoti-
ated with Israel in th e n am e of th e Palestin e p eop le an d th u s h ad
obtain ed official recogn ition as lead ers of th e Palestin ian p eop le.
Ham as, th e m ost viable op tion to th e PLO, was cau gh t off gu ard
by th e q u ietly an d p rivately n egotiated settlem en t. Its con tin u ed
op p osition to Arafat an d th e accord s an d its call to con tin u e th e
Palestin ian stru ggle again st Israel n ow p u t it at od d s n ot on ly with
Israel bu t also with th e PLO an d th e n ewly establish ed Palestin ian
Nation al Au th ority (PNA). Prior to th e accord s, th e PLO an d Ham as
both h ad been d ism issed as terrorist organ ization s. With th e “re-
h abilitation ” an d legitim ation of Yasser Arafat an d th e PLO by th e
in tern ation al com m u n ity, Arafat th e “terrorist” n ow becam e Arafat
th e statesm an . In con trast, Ham as becam e th e com m on en em y of
Israel an d th e PLO, th e p rim ary obstacle to p eace, an d rou n d ly
d en ou n ced as extrem ist an d terrorist.
   Th e p o st -O slo p erio d saw gro win g d ivisio n s wit h in Ham as.
You n ger m ilitan ts, esp ecially in th e Qassem Brigad e, were con -
vin ced th e Oslo Accord s wou ld fail to brin g Palestin ian in d ep en -
d en ce, ju st as Sad at’s Cam p David Accord s h ad . Th ey believed th ey
were ju st an oth er ru se by Israel wh o wou ld fin d an excu se to aban -
d on th em an d blam e th e Palestin ian s. Rath er th an a p rocess, th ey
wan ted th e occu p ation en d ed com p letely an d im m ed iately. Un -
like th e PLO, wh ich h ad accep ted th e legitim acy of th e state of
Israel with in its p re-1967 bou n d aries in accord an ce with UN Secu -
rity Cou n cil resolu tion s an d in tern ation al law, Ham as n ever ac-
102                                                                 Unholy W ar


cep ted th e legitim acy of th e state of Israel. Th ey th erefore wan ted
to step u p th e arm ed stru ggle again st Israeli occu p ation an d con -
tin u e th e in tifad a. Ham as boycotted th e Palestin ian Nation al Au -
th ority election s, an d th e m ain p olitical win g grap p led with th e
fact th at n on p articip ation in election s wou ld fu rth er m argin alize
th em . Som e wan ted to form a p olitical p arty to assu re th at Ham as’s
voice was a p resen ce in th e PNA govern m en t an d Palestin ian p oli-
tics. Ham as fou n der Sh aykh Yassin , in a series of letters from p rison ,
reflected on th ese ch oices an d cau tiou sly op ted for p articip ation .
   Yassin ’s p ragm atism was em braced by th e gen eral Ham as lead -
ersh ip , wh o accep ted Arafat’s election as p resid en t of th e PNA an d
d isassociated th em selves from m ilitan ts wh ose rad ical rejection
h as led to con tin u ed arm ed stru ggle. W h ile rejectin g th e accord s,
a m ajority ad ap ted to th e p olitical realities, ren ou n cin g violen ce
an d en gagin g in d irect p articip ation in p olitics. A sm all m in ority
con tin u es to esp ou se violen ce an d terrorism to liberate th e wh ole
of Palestin e.


            Al g e ri a : Th e Ar m y v s. t h e Arm y o f Go d

W h ile for m an y in th e West th e 1980s were d om in ated by fears
th at “Islam ” wou ld com e to p ower th rou gh revolu tion s or th e vio-
len t overth row of govern m en ts by clan d estin e grou p s, Algeria saw
th eir Islam ists su cceed th rou gh th e ballot box. Bu t th is in itial Is-
lam ist p o lit ical su ccess gave b irt h t o a sp iral o f vio len ce an d
cou n terviolen ce th at h as th reaten ed th e very fabric of Algerian
society. Followin g blood y an tigovern m en t riots in October 1988,
th e Algerian govern m en t, lon g regard ed as th e m ost m on olith ic,
sin gle-p arty p olitical system in th e Arab world , felt con strain ed to
h old m u ltip arty election s th at in clu d ed th e Islam ic Salvation Fron t
(FIS), North Africa’s first legal Islam ic p olitical p arty. Islam ic op -
p osition p arties h ad flou rish ed wh en Algerian state-socialism failed
to resolve its social an d econ om ic p roblem s.
   Th e FIS, with a n ation al organ ization an d an effective m osq u e
an d social welfare n etwork, em erged as on e of th e stron gest op p o-
sition p arties. Its su p p ort in clu d ed sm all-bu sin ess own ers an d p ros-
T he Arm ies of God                                                         103


p erou s m erch an ts, civil servan ts, u n iversity p rofessors, p h ysician s,
lawyers, an d oth er p rofession als. Th ey con stitu ted a n ew an d d if-
feren t elite, with m od ern ed u cation s bu t a m ore Islam ic orien ta-
tion , lookin g for a n ation al id en tity th at reflected Algeria’s religiou s
an d cu ltu ral h eritage an d a govern m en t th at resp on d ed m ore ef-
fectively to th e cou n try’s p olitical, econ om ic, an d m oral failu res.
Oth er su p p ort cam e from th e u n em p loyed , socially m argin alized
you th , called th e “h ittists” (th ose wh o lean again st th e walls), wh o
h ad becom e fixtu res on th e streets an d in th e alleyways.
   In th e Ju n e 1990 m u n icip al election s, th e first m u ltip arty elec-
tion sin ce in d ep en d en ce from Fran ce in 1962, th e FIS scored a
stu n n in g victory, cap tu rin g 54 p ercen t of th e vote, wh ile th e FLN
ru lin g p arty garn ered 34 p ercen t. Even after arrestin g th e FIS lead -
ers an d gerrym an d erin g to red raw d istricts m ore favorably, th e FLN
failed to p reven t an even m ore su rp risin g electoral victory by th e
FIS in th e Ju n e 1997 p arliam en t ary electio n s. Am id st eu p h o ric
celebrat io n s o f Islam ist s wit h in Algeria an d acro ss t h e Mu slim
world , th e Algerian m ilitary in terven ed , forced th e resign ation of
th e Presid en t, arrested FIS lead ers, im p rison ed m ore th an 10,000
in d esert cam p s, ou tlawed th e FIS, an d seized its assets.
   Th reaten ed by th e p erform an ce of th e FIS, th e Algerian m ili-
tary tigh ten ed th eir con trol on p ower an d m oved q u ickly to re-
p ress an y sign ifican t legal o p p o sit io n o r p o lit ical alt ern at ive
th rou gh arrests an d trials before sp ecial m ilitary cou rts, trials th at
were d en o u n ced b y in t ern at io n al h u m an righ t s o rgan izat io n s.
Havin g d riven FIS lead ers in to exile or u n d ergrou n d , th e Algerian
m ilitary h ad set in m otion a cycle of violen ce an d cou n terviolen ce.
Origin ally m od erate, n on violen t FIS m em bers wh ose lead ers h ad
been im p rison ed or exiled becam e an FIS m ilitia, th e AIS (Islam ic
Salvation Arm y). Th e resu lt was a p rotracted civil war. Th e m ajor-
ity of Algerian s were cau gh t in th e m id d le, victim s of terror be-
t ween a fact io n o f h ard -lin e m ilit ary an d secu rit y fo rces (t h e
éradicateurs), wh o rejected d ialogu e an d wou ld on ly be ju stified by
t h e erad icat io n o f Islam ism , an d t h e eq u ally u n co m p ro m isin g
Arm ed Islam ic Grou p (GIA, Grou p e Islam iq u e Arm é). Th e GIA, a
rad ical extrem ist m ovem en t, em erged after th e rep ression of th e
104                                                               Unholy W ar


FIS; its m em bers in clu ded Arab Afgh an s, m en wh o h ad retu rn ed
from th e jih ad in Afgh an istan , an d it becam e on e of th e m an y cu r-
ren ts with in th e FIS. 20 Th e m ilitary’s in terven tion , abrogation of
th e FIS victory, an d su p p ression of th e FIS radicalized th ese battle-
season ed Afgh an veteran s an d triggered th eir m ilitan t jih ad. Th e
failu re of th e FIS’s aborted electoral victory h ad global im p lication s:
it was u sed by jih ad grou p s again st m ore m oderate voices to argu e
th at p articip ation in election s is a u seless strategy. Th ey p oin ted to
th is as yet an oth er exam p le th at even if Islam ic p arties p revailed in
election s, au th oritarian “u n -Islam ic” states, with su p p ort from th eir
Western allies, wou ld block th em from com in g to p ower p eacefu lly.
   Th e h ard -lin ers p revailed in 1995 wh en th e govern m en t refu sed
to p articip ate in or to recogn ize a su m m it of Algeria’s m ajor secu -
lar an d Islam ist lead ers an d p olitical p arties sp on sored by th e St.
Egid io Cath olic com m u n ity in Rom e. Th e p arties’ fou rteen -p oin t
agreem en t, ap p roved by th e Un ited States an d Fran ce, a close ally
of Algeria, was rejected by th e m ilitary as a cap itu lation to th e
Islam ists.
   By th e late 1990s, th e n u m ber of fatalities from th is p rotracted
stru ggle h ad risen to 100,000. In 1997 an d 1999, n ew p arliam en -
tary an d p resid en tial election s were h eld an d a cease-fire was called
between th e govern m en t an d th e AIS, th e m ilitary win g of th e FIS.
Parliam en tary election s were m arred by criticism s from UN ob-
servers an d ch arges of m assive frau d by losin g p arties as Presid en t
(form erly Gen eral) Liam in e Zerou al’s Nation al Dem ocratic Rally
won 156 of 380 seats. Alth ou gh th e FIS was p roh ibited from p ar-
ticip atin g, two oth er Islam ic p arties, th e Movem en t for Society
an d Peace an d th e Ren aissan ce Party, won 69 an d 38 seats resp ec-
tively. Presid en tial election s in Ap ril 1999 were flawed by th e last-
m in u te with d rawal of all six op p osition p resid en tial can d id ates,
wh o ch arged th at th e m ilitary h ad rigged th e election s in favor of
Abd elaziz Bou teflika, wh o received less th an 30 p ercen t of th e votes
cast by th e less th an 25 p ercen t of registered voters. 21
   W h ile th e m ilitary-backed govern m en t rem ain s in con trol, con -
d ition s for n ation al recon ciliation an d stability rem ain fragile. Th e
T he Arm ies of God                                                                105


m ilitary con tin u es to d om in ate if n ot con trol th e p olitical p ro-
cess, an d th e GIA con tin u es its blood y jih ad . Bou teflika h as m ain -
tain ed h is refu sal to lift th e eigh t-year ban on th e FIS an d h as
d on e very little to sign ifican tly stren gth en civil society. Algeria
con tin u es to be p lagu ed by severe lon gstan d in g econ om ic an d
social p roblem s: an official u n em p loym en t rate of 30 p ercen t (som e
p u t it at 50 p ercen t), an acu te h ou sin g sh ortage, an u n resolved
n ation al an d cu ltu ral id en tity crisis, an d a “gap between a tin y
m in ority of su p errich an d th e overwh elm in g m ajority of th e p eop le
im p overish ed by risin g p rices an d cu ts in social ben efits.” 22
   Th e electoral p erform an ces of Islam ic m ovem en ts d efied th e
con ven tion al wisd om th at Islam ists wou ld be rejected at th e p olls.
Iron ically, th e su ccesses of Islam ic m ovem en ts with in th e d em o-
cratic p rocess were viewed as an even m ore d an gerou s th reat th an
arm ed revolu tion . W h ile m an y world lead ers were on gu ard again st
“oth er Iran s,” th e FIS victory in Algeria raised th e sp ecter of an
Islam ic m ovem en t com in g to p ower th rou gh ballots, n ot bu llets.
Yet, as on e Algerian exp ert n oted :


   Th ere is n ow a p rep on d eran ce of evid en ce from Algeria’s last six
   years to in d icate th at th e h u m an su fferin g, en viron m en tal d ev-
   astation an d poten tial region al destabilization h ave been in fin itely
   greater th an th ey cou ld h ave been u n d er an y im agin able scen ario
   in volvin g an Islam ist regim e com in g to p ower th rou gh u n iversal
   su ffrage. It is h ard to d isp u te th at th e fu n d am en tal sou rce of con -
   flict is a d en ial of p op u lar legitim acy. To p ortray it as cu ltu ral or
   id eological, secu lar or fu n d am en talist, is m islead in g an d p lays
   in to th e h an d s of extrem ists an d an ti-d em ocrats alike. W h at is at
   stake is an in crease or d ecrease of p ower an d p rivilege. 23


                           Th e Wa h h a b i Th re a t

Alth ou gh origin ally associated with Sau d i Arabia, Wah h abi Islam
or Wah h abism h as com e to be u sed p op u larly, alth ou gh in accu -
rat ely, as a blan ket t erm fo r Islam ic fu n d am en t alism , religio u s
106                                                                 Unholy W ar


extrem ism , an d radicalism . For th is reason , som e p refer th e term s
Salafi or Salafiyyah m ovem en t. Th is h as th e advan tage of both re-
flectin g th e activists’ claim to be retu rn in g to th e p ristin e Islam of
Mu h am m ad an d th e first gen eration of Mu slim s (salafi, or p iou s
an cestors) an d of in dicatin g, m ore accu rately, th at th is u ltracon ser-
vative, rigid, an d exclu sivist worldview is com m on to m an y grou p s
an d organ ization s. Sau di Arabia’s Wah h abi Islam is bu t on e stran d.
Ultim ately, both Wah h abi an d Salafi can be m isleadin g, as th ey are
used as um brella term s th at in corporate diverse ideologies an d m ove-
m en ts, m edieval an d m odern , n on violen t an d violen t.
   Sin ce th e late-twen tieth cen tu ry, th e term Wah h abi h as been
ap p lied to m ilitan t m ovem en ts th at h ave taken u p arm s again st
existin g govern m en ts. Th is p articu lar labelin g is n ot all th at n ew.
In n in eteen th -cen tu ry colon ial In d ia, th e British labeled in d ig-
en ou s, an ti-im p erialist, Islam ic revivalist m ovem en ts, Wah h abi.
In recen t years, Wah h abi Islam h as been id en tified n ot on ly with
th e Taliban an d Osam a bin Lad en ’s al-Qaed a bu t also with Islam ic
op p osition m ovem en t s in ot h er areas, in p articu lar Ru ssia, th e
Cau casu s, Ch ech n ya, Dagestan , an d Cen tral Asia.
   First an d forem ost, Wah h abi d escribes Sau d i Arabia’s u ltracon -
servative, p u ritan ical bran d of Islam : literalist, rigid, an d exclu sivist.
Presen tin g th eir version of Islam as th e p ristin e, p u re, u n ad u lter-
ated m essage, th e Wah h abi seek to im p ose th eir strict beliefs an d
in terp retation s, wh ich are n ot com m on ly sh ared by oth er Su n n i
or by Sh ii Mu slim s th rou gh ou t th e Mu slim world .
   Th e Wah h abi vision wen t in tern ation al in th e 1960s in resp on se
to th e th reat p osed by Arab n ation alism an d socialism . It was fu eled
by p etrod ollars, esp ecially th e wealth from skyrocketin g reven u es
after th e 1973 oil em bargo. Sau di Arabia an d oth er m on arch ies were
th reaten ed in p articu lar by Nasserism an d in gen eral by radical Arab
socialist govern m en ts th at cam e to p ower p rom isin g a social revo-
lu tion for th e m asses an d con dem n in g con servative Arab m on ar-
ch ies. Un der th e leadersh ip of Prin ce (later Kin g) Faisal, th e Sau dis
ch am p ion ed a p an -Islam ic p olicy again st Nasser’s “secu lar, social-
ist” p an -Arabism with its ties to “ath eistic com m u n ism ” in th e So-
T he Arm ies of God                                                        107


viet Un ion an d Eastern Eu rop e. Sau di Arabia asserted its global Is-
lam ic lead ersh ip as cu stodian of Islam ’s two h oliest sites an d m ade
com m on cau se with oth er Mu slim govern m en ts in th e stru ggle
again st Nasser an d h is discip le, Libya’s Mu am m ar Qaddafi.
   Sau d i Arabia created state-fin an ced in tern ation al Islam ic orga-
n ization s to p rom ote its Wah h abi-based , p an -Islam ic vision an d
id eology. Establish ed in 1962, th e World Islam ic Leagu e vigorou sly
en gaged in an en ergetic in tern ation al dawah , p reach in g an d p rop a-
gatin g Wah h abi Islam to oth er Mu slim s (as well as n on -Mu slim s),
fin an cin g th e bu ild in g of m osq u es, sch ools, libraries, h osp itals,
an d clin ics. It train ed an d su p p orted im am s for m osq u es, d istrib-
u ted ten s of m illion s of Sau d i-ap p roved tran slation s of th e Qu ran
an d religiou s literatu re. Oth er Gu lf cou n tries like Ku wait an d th e
Un ited Arab Em irates followed su it.
   Th e Jed d ah -based Organ ization of th e Islam ic Con feren ce (OIC)
was created in 1969 to p rom ote Islam ic solid arity am on g m em ber
states, to safegu ard th e h oly sites of Mecca an d Med in a, an d to
su p p ort th e “stru ggle” in Palestin e an d th e “stru ggle” of all Mu s-
lim p eop le. In th e 1970s, th e OIC created th e Islam ic Develop -
m en t Ban k to p rom ote th e d evelop m en t of an Islam ic ban kin g
system an d fin an ce d evelop m en t p rojects in Mu slim cou n tries.
Th ro u gh su ch o rgan izat io n s, t h e Sau d i go vern m en t an d m an y
wealth y Sau d i bu sin essm en h ave exp orted Wah h abi Islam to th e
rest of th e Mu slim world as well as to Eu rop e an d Am erica.
   Th e Sau d i govern m en t also d evelop ed close ties with m ajor Is-
lam ic m ovem en ts su ch as th e Mu slim Broth erh ood an d th e Jam aat-
i-Islam i. Desp it e sign ifican t d ifferen ces, t h ey sh ared a religio u s
vision based on a retu rn to th e fu n d am en tals of Islam an d an an -
tip ath y to com m on en em ies—Nasserism , secu larism , an d com m u -
n ism . Sau d i Arab ia gave asylu m t o M u slim Bro t h ers su ch as
Mu h am m ad Qu tb, th e broth er of Sayyid Qu tb, wh o fled Nasser’s
su p p ression of th e Broth erh ood in th e m id-1960s. Th e Sau di gov-
ern m en t an d oth er Gu lf cou n tries p rovided sign ifican t fu n din g for
Islam ic m ovem en ts an d con feren ces. Petrodollars becam e a m ajor
en ablin g m ech an ism for th e m ovem en ts to in tern ation alize an d
108                                                                   Unholy W ar


sp read organ ization ally, to tran slate th e writin gs of al-Ban n a, Qu tb,
Mawd u d i, an d later to p rod u ce au d iotap es to be d istribu ted arou n d
th e world , creatin g an in tern ation al Islam ist d iscou rse. In ad d i-
tion , m an y Islam ists from oth er cou n tries, well ed u cated an d p os-
sessin g n eed ed p rofession al an d tech n ical skills, were em p loyed
in th e Gu lf an d cou ld sen d fu n d s back to th eir h om elan d s to su p -
p ort m ain stream an d clan d estin e m ovem en ts. Sau d i fu n d in g to
Islam ic grou p s world wid e accelerated d ram atically after th e Ira-
n ian revolu tion , in ord er to cou n ter th e ch allen ge from Iran ’s al-
tern ative revolu tion ary Islam ic system . Iran ’s call an d su p p ort for
a global (Su n n i an d Sh ii) Islam ic revolu tion an d its fu n d in g of Sh ii
grou p s in th e Mid d le East an d Sou th Asia to cou n ter Sau d i in flu -
en ce th reaten ed Sau d i Arabia’s Islam ic lead ersh ip .
   Sau d i in itiatives p rod u ced a rap id growth of Islam ist grou p s an d
th e d issem in ation of th eir world view an d fu n d am en talist in ter-
p retation of Islam in m an y cou n tries. Th e Islam ists’ in form al alli-
an ce with th e Sau d is an d th eir accep tan ce of refu ge or p atron age
was in fact a m arriage of con ven ien ce, sin ce m an y regard ed th e
m on arch y to be an u n -Islam ic form of govern m en t an d were criti-
cal of th e u n -Islam ic beh avior an d corru p tion of m an y royals.
   Man y of th ose ben efitin g from Sau d i largesse learn ed th at it
cam e with a h efty p rice tag, th e p u rification or erad ication of local
belief, p ractice, an d cu ltu re. Particu lar targets for p u rification are
Su fism an d Sh iism . Mu ch as Sau d i arm ies d estroyed m ajor Sh ii
sh rin es in th e n in eteen th cen tu ry, Sau d i aid agen cies h ave been
resp on sible for th e d estru ction or recon stru ction of m an y h istoric
m osq u es, libraries, Qu ran sch ools, an d cem eteries in Bosn ia an d
Kosovo becau se th eir Ottom an arch itectu re, d ecoration s, frescoes,
an d tom bston es d id n ot con form to Wah h abi icon oclastic aesth et-
ics th at regard statu es, tom bston es, or artwork with h u m an rep re-
sen t at io n s as id o lat ry an d p o lyt h eism . To t h e ext en t t h at t h e
Taliban reflected th is p u ritan ical, m ilitan t m en tality—seen in th eir
strict ban on television an d m u sic, th eir in sisten ce on th e veilin g
an d p u blic segregation of wom en , th eir u se of religiou s p olice to
en force Islam ic beh avior, an d th eir d estru ction of Bu d d h ist m on u -
T he Arm ies of God                                                         109


m en t s—t h ey h ave b een lab eled Wah h ab i. Ho wever, Sau d i an d
Taliban strict con trols on som e m od ern tech n ology su ch as th e
In tern et or satellite d ish es h ave often been d riven less by religiou s
con cern s th an by secu rity con cern s. Th ey certain ly can n ot rep re-
sen t a com p lete rejection of m od ern tech n ology; Islam h as n ot
p roven to be an obstacle in th eir u se of oth er m od ern com m u n i-
cation s tech n ology, weap on s, an d tran sp ort.
   Th e in flu en ce of Wah h abi Islam on th e Taliban was cu ltivated
an d rein forced th rou gh th e m ad rasa system of Islam ic sch ools an d
sem in aries, m an y of wh ich were set u p in Pakistan after th e So-
viet-Afgh an war. Pakistan ’s m ad rasa system h as for m an y d ecad es
en joyed su bstan tial fu n d in g from Sau d i Arabia an d th e Gu lf, an
im p ortan t reason wh y th e n u m ber of m ad rasas in Pakistan h as
grown from 147 in 1947 to m ore th an 9,000 tod ay. In th e 1970s,
Sau d i Arabia was worried abou t th e in flu en ce of th e Left in Paki-
stan , ep itom ized by Prim e Min ister Zu lfiq ar Ali Bh u tto, a Berke-
ley- an d Oxford -train ed secu lar socialist. However, wh en Bh u tto
n eed ed to rebu ild Pakistan after th e 1971 civil war in wh ich East
Pakistan broke away to becom e Ban glad esh , h e tu rn ed to th e oil-
rich Arab states, ap p ealin g to th eir com m on Islam ic h eritage. In
exch an ge for fu n d in g from th e Gu lf, Bh u tto recast h is socialism as
Islam ic socialism , in trod u ced Islam ic laws, an d su p p orted Islam ic
in stitu tion s an d p rojects. Th e growth of m ad rasas in creased exp o-
n en tially d u rin g th e ru le of Bh u tto’s su ccessor, Gen eral Zia u l-Haq ,
wh o seized p ower u sin g th e n am e of Islam to overth row, try, an d
execu te Bh u tto an d im p lem en t an Islam ic system of govern m en t.
Zia p rovid ed gen erou s p atron age to th e ulam a an d em barked on
an am bitiou s exp an sion of th e m ad rasa system with gen erou s as-
sistan ce from Sau d i Arabia an d oth er Gu lf states.
   After th e Afgh an war, m ad rasas con tin u ed to th rive both as p art
of Sau d i Arabia’s on goin g exp ort of its id eology an d as a m ean s to
create a stron g Su n n i wall again st Iran ’s exp ort of its revolu tion .
Govern m en ts, th eir religiou s agen cies, an d wealth y m em bers of
th e bu sin ess com m u n ity p u m p ed in large am ou n ts of m on ey to
bu ild an d su p p ort m ad rasas. In Pakistan , a cou n try of som e 150
110                                                                  Unholy W ar


m illion with a n early two-th ird s illiteracy rate an d an an n u al aver-
age per capita in com e of $450, th e m adrasas provided m u ch -n eeded
sh elter alon g with free edu cation for m illion s of Afgh an s wh o fou n d
refu ge th ere as well as for Pakistan is wh ose state (secu lar) ed u ca-
tion al system h ad collap sed d u e to lack of fu n d in g.
   Pakist an ’s Deo b an d i est ab lish ed h u n d red s o f m ad rasas. Th e
Deoban d i m ovem en t began in In dia in th e n in eteen th cen tu ry as a
reform ist m ovem en t th at attem p ted to h arm on ize tradition al or
classical Islam with m odern life. Pakistan ’s Deoban di, h owever, h ave
in creasin gly esp ou sed a m ore rigid an d m ilitan t con servatism , forg-
in g close id eological an d p olitical ties with Sau di Arabia an d with
its Wah h abi u lam a. Most of Pakistan ’s m ain stream m adrasas offer a
sou n d classical Islam ic edu cation su p p lem en ted by a m odern cu r-
ricu lu m . Deoban di m adrasas, h owever, are often ru n by religiou s
teach ers with little kn owledge of or ap p reciation for classical Islam
an d wh ose ch ief task was p rom otin g a m ilitan t jih adist vision an d
cu ltu re. Th e Deoban di vision becam e jih adist an d global in scop e,
in toleran t of com p etin g or altern ative Su n n i beliefs, an d fan atically
an ti-Sh ii. Th eir m adrasas train ed Taliban an d ten s of th ou san ds of
Pakistan is, m an y wh o wen t off to figh t th e jih ad in Afgh an istan .
Oth ers becam e religiou s leaders an d teach ers. Som e estim ate th at as
m an y as 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistan is train ed in Pakistan ’s m adrasas
an d fou gh t in Afgh an istan between 1994 an d1999.24
   Th e Deoban di are rep resen ted by a m ajor religiou s p olitical p arty
th at h as been active sin ce th e creation of Pakistan , th e Jam iyyat-i-
Ulam a-i-Islam (JUI). In 1996 th e Taliban tu rn ed over train in g cam p s
for th e ed u cation an d train in g of Pakistan is an d Arab m ilitan ts to
JUI p artisan s; in Ju ly 1999, th e JUI issu ed d eath th reats to all Am eri-
can s in Pakistan if Pakistan extrad ited bin Lad en to th e Un ited
States. 25 Two radical JUI offsh oots, Sipah -Sah aba Pakistan (Pakistan ’s
Arm y of th e Com p an ion s of th e Prop h et) an d Lash kar-e-Jh an gvi
(Jh an gvi’s Arm y), becam e n otoriou s for th eir acts of violen ce an d
t erro rism , in clu d in g t h e slau gh t er o f h u n d red s o f Sh ii. W h en
Pakistan ’s p resid en t Nawaz Sh arif cracked d own on th eir organ i-
zation s after two alleged attem p ts to assassin ate h im , th eir lead ers
T he Arm ies of God                                                        111


fled to asylu m in Kabu l. Th e Taliban -JUI allian ce for m an y years
ben efited from sign ifican t su p p ort from Sau d i Arabia an d from
th e in telligen ce agen cy of Pakistan (th e ISI).

                      T H E W AH H ABI T H REAT I N
                      RU SSI A AN D C EN T RAL ASI A

W h ile t h e p rim ary u se o f t h e n am e Wah h abi d esign at es Sau d i
Arabia’s ultracon servative Islam , Wah h abi’s secon d an d m ore overtly
p olitical m ean in g is Islam ic extrem ism , radicalism , an d terrorism ,
with a d irect con n ection to th e Taliban an d bin Lad en . Th is u sage
is exp loited by m an y govern m en ts, in clu d in g th ose of Ru ssia an d
th e Cen tral Asian rep u blics. Govern m en ts fin d th e label “Wah h abi”
esp ecially u sefu l becau se it im p lies a foreign sou rce for in d igen ou s
p roblem s an d eq u ates th eir p olitical op p osition with an “Islam ic
th reat.” Local con d ition s an d grievan ces (failed econ om ies, cor-
ru p tion , an d self-in terested p ower h old ers), an d local op p on en ts
(esp ecially th e you n ger gen eration wh o wan t to rep lace or over-
th row th e old , corru p t system s) are p laced u n d er th e “Wah h abi
Th reat” u m brella an d are th ereby m ore easily d ism issed or ign ored .
   Th e blan ket u se of Wah h abi to d escribe m ilitan t jih ad grou p s
obscu res m ore th an it en ligh ten s. Organ ization s an d m ovem en ts
are bran d ed as Wah h abi becau se th ey p ossess com m on “fam ily
resem blan ces” su ch as u ltracon servative, literalist, p u ritan ical, an d
exclu sivist religiou s doctrin es. However, m an y of th ese m ovem en ts,
as well as Osam a bin Lad en , actu ally owe m ore to th e m ilitan t
id eology of Sayyid Qu tb or Egyp tian rad ical grou p s su ch as Islam ic
Jih ad , Takfir wal Hijra, an d Gam aa Islam iyya th an to Sau d i Arabia’s
Wah h abi trad ition , wh ich by an d large is religiou sly an d p oliti-
cally con servative rath er th an revolu tion ary. Th at said , Sau d i p oli-
cies o f su p p o rt in g Wah h ab i-o rien t ed sch o o ls wo rld wid e h ave
resu lted in u n in ten d ed con seq u en ces as witn essed by th e Taliban –
bin Lad en allian ce an d jih ad i m ad rasas.
   Desp ite Soviet d om in ation an d an ti-Islam p olicies in Cen tral
Asia, Islam rem ain s a core com p on en t of in d ivid u al an d com m u -
n ity id en tity an d an im p ortan t p art of religiou s an d cu ltu ral life.
112                                                                   Unholy W ar


Followin g th e breaku p of th e Soviet Un ion , Islam h as been in te-
gral to th e p rocess of n ation bu ild in g in p ost-in d ep en d en ce Cen -
t ra l Asia , co n t rib u t in g t o t h e d evelo p m en t o f n ew n a t io n a l
id en tities, valu e system s, gu id elin es for social an d p olitical life,
an d n ew relation s with th e Mu slim world .
   Th e attitu d e of Cen tral Asia’s p ost-in d ep en d en ce ru lin g elite
t o ward Islam h as flu ct u at ed sin ce 1992. At first , go vern m en t s
coop ted Islam an d Islam ic sym bols as a com p on en t of n ation al
id en tity. However, as soon as Islam em erged as a p oten t p olitical
force, cou n tries like Uzbekistan an d Tajikistan m oved from coop ta-
tion to rep ression , resu ltin g in a d evastatin g civil war in Tajikistan
an d rep ression an d arm ed con flict in Uzbekistan .
   Like m an y oth er p arts of th e Mu slim world , Cen tral Asia h as in
fact in recen t years faced a religiou s revival th at h as affected both
faith an d p olitics. Th e p ost-in d ep en d en ce boom in th e bu ild in g
of m osq u es, sch ools, an d libraries, th e d istribu tion of Qu ran s an d
oth er Islam ic m aterials, an d th e activities of m ission aries from oth er
Mu slim cou n tries like Sau d i Arabia, th e Gu lf, Pakistan , an d Tu rkey
h ave brou gh t greater p iety, religiou s d ivision s an d con flicts, an d
Islam ic p olitical activism an d op p osition m ovem en ts.
   Militan t grou p s h ave been esp ecially active in Uzbekistan an d
Tajikistan , wh ose govern m en ts h ave been th e m ost rep ressive. Most
began as p rotest an d op p osition m ovem en ts again st govern m en ts
led by form er com m u n ist officials. Am on g th e m ore p rom in en t
h as been th e Islam ic Ren aissan ce Party (IRP) in Tajikistan , th e first
p op u list Islam ic m ovem en t in Cen tral Asia, brin gin g togeth er a
cro ss-sect io n o f religio u s lead ers, p ro fessio n als, an d d isaffect ed
you th to op p ose com m u n ist ru le. It em p h asized sp iritu al ren ewal
an d p olitical an d econ om ic in d ep en d en ce. Hizb al-Tah rir al-Islam i
(Th e Islam ic Liberation Party) is an im p ort from th e Mid d le East,
with roots in Jord an an d Sau d i Arabia. Its global goal h as been th e
establish m en t of an Islam ic calip h ate. Havin g en tered Cen tral Asia
in th e m id -1990s, it h as worked to sp read its in flu en ce first in th e
Fargh on a Valley, wh ich bord er both Tajikistan an d Uzbekistan , an d
th en th rou gh ou t Cen tral Asia.
T he Arm ies of God                                                         113


   Th e m o st feared m ilit an t gro u p is t h e Islam ic Mo vem en t o f
Uzbekistan (IMU), wh ich h as op erated in Uzbekistan , Tajikistan
an d Kyrgyzstan . In late Sep tem ber 2001, th e Un ited States govern -
m en t d eclared th e IMU both a foreign terrorist organ ization an d
an al-Q aed a m em b er, reit erat in g t h e p revio u s ad m in ist rat io n ’s
d esign ation of Sep tem ber 2000. Alth ou gh th e IMU grew as an op -
p osition m ovem en t in Uzbekistan , wid esp read rep ression u n d er
Presid en t Islam Karim ov’s govern m en t led to violen t con fron ta-
tion s in th e 1990s. IMU lead ers fou n d refu ge with an d su p p ort
from th e Taliban an d Osam a bin Lad en in Afgh an istan . Like m an y
oth er m ilitan t grou p s, th ey began as op p osition with in th eir h om e
cou n tries an d on ly wen t to Afgh an istan wh en in n eed of h elp an d
train in g or to set u p th eir own train in g cam p s. Man y obtain ed
train in g an d fou gh t with th e Taliban bu t th en retu rn ed h om e to
con tin u e th eir d om estic jih ad . In 1997, after several p olice offic-
ers were killed in Nam an gan , Uzbekistan , th e govern m en t arrested
h u n d red s on ch arges of belon gin g to extrem ist grou p s.
   Th e IMU was blam ed (as were all op p osition grou p s in itially)
for bom bin g attacks in Febru ary 1999, p art of an alleged assassin a-
tion attem p t again st Presid en t Karim ov of Uzbekistan wh ich led
to a blood y crackd own . Th e IMU stru ck back with a n u m ber of
h igh ly visible attacks in clu din g kidn ap p in gs of Jap an ese an d Am eri-
can s. By th e late 1990s, its ran ks h ad been swelled with figh ters
from Cen tral Asia, Ch ech n ya, an d Pakistan , reflectin g th e grow-
in g global jih ad cu ltu re. Blocked in Uzbekistan , IMU lead ers sh ifted
th eir activities to Kyrgyzstan in Au gu st 1999, takin g con trol of
som e areas in sou th ern Kyrgyzstan th at bord er Uzbekistan an d
Tajikstan . In Novem ber 2001, its legen dary leader Ju m a Nam an gan i
was rep orted killed in h eavy figh tin g n ear th e n orth ern Afgh an
city of Ku n d u z.
   It is n ot easy to assess th e p resen ce, growth an d vitality of reli-
giou s extrem ist grou p s in Cen tral Asia an d th e n orth ern Cau casu s.
Hard d ata are d ifficu lt to com e by becau se of th e grou p s’ clan d es-
tin e n atu re bu t even m ore becau se of th e ten d en cies of regim es to
exaggerate terrorist grou p s’ p resen ce an d th reat.
114                                                                   Unholy W ar


   All m ajor con flicts or op p osition m ovem en ts ten d to be in ter-
p reted as an Islam ic th reat to Ru ssia an d Cen tral Asia via Afgh an i-
stan . Th e alleged Taliban -Wah h abi fu n d am en talist th reat was th e
basis for a p act am on g Ru ssia, Uzbekistan , an d Tajikistan in 1998,
d e sig n e d t o p r e v e n t Isla m fr o m d e st a b ilizin g t h e r e g io n .
Uzbekistan ’s p resid en t Islam Karim ov referred to “th e th reat wh ich
is com in g to u s from th e sou th . . . a th reat of aggressive fu n d a-
m en talism , aggressive extrem ism , an d above all Wah h abism .” 26
Presid en t Karim o v’s sweep in g d efin it io n o f fu n d am en t alism as
religion th at in terferes in p olitics m ean s th at m ere in volvem en t
in p olitics, with ou t an y com m itm en t to violen ce an d terrorism ,
con stitu tes fu n d am en talism . Karim ov h as p resen ted h im self as th e
p rotector of Uzbekistan from Islam ic fu n d am en talism ’s th reat to
an d sp read in Cen tral Asia. Eq u atin g fu n d am en talism with rad i-
calism is so p ervasive th at even th ose Ru ssian an d Cen tral Asian
observers wh o strive to p resen t a balan ced accou n t ten d to d efin e
an y Mu slim op p osition to govern m en t as Islam ic rad icalism . Ru s-
sian p resid en t Vlad im ir Pu tin p rovid ed a vivid exam p le of th e ex-
p loitation of th e rh etoric of “Islam ic th reat” wh en h e u sed th e
specter of Wah h abi fu n dam en talism an d Taliban -train ed m u jah idin
in th e Cau casu s to ju stify lau n ch in g a war to reassert Ru ssian au -
th ority over Ch ech n ya. A veteran h u m an righ ts activist wh o vis-
ited Grozn y, th e cap ital of Ch ech n ya, early in th e war d isp u ted
th e ch arges, d ism issin g official Ru ssian accou n ts as a “m on strou s
lie” an d was eq u ally d ism issive of th e claim s th at th ree h u n d red
Afgh an m u jah id in fou gh t fiercely again st th e Ru ssian troop s in
Grozn y. Visitin g all th e p laces in Grozn y wh ere th e Ru ssian gov-
ern m en t claim ed th ere were Afgh an m u jah id in , h e fou n d n o evi-
d en ce of th eir p resen ce.
   Ch ech n ya’s p resid en t Aslan Maskh ad ov also u sed th e th reat of
Wah h abism to crack d own on d om estic p olitical op p osition . In
an October 1998 speech before th e Con gress of th e Ch ech en People,
Presid en t Maskh ad ov rep u d iated Wah h abism as an u n welcom e
im p ort p reach ed in Ch ech n ya by foreign ers, alien to Ch ech n ya’s
trad ition al Islam , an d resp on sible for acts of violen ce.
T he Arm ies of God                                                           115


   Th e actu al size an d th reat of rad ical Wah h abi-in sp ired m ove-
m en ts is h otly con tested an d d ifficu lt to verify. Ru ssian an d Cen -
tral Asian govern m en ts ch arge th at Wah h abis train ed at bases in
co u n t ries su ch as Afgh an ist an , Pakist an , an d Su d an in filt rat e
m osq u es, Islam ic teach in g cen ters, an d ch aritable organ ization s
to in d octrin ate an d recru it. Wah h abi-in sp ired grou p s are accu sed
of wagin g a jih ad of violen ce an d terrorism , su icid e bom bin gs,
an d attacks on m arketp laces, sch ools, offices, an d p laces of wor-
sh ip th at resu lt in civilian casu alties, an d of u sin g d ru g m on ey to
fin an ce terrorist cam p aign s. Dru g t raffic is believed to h ave fi-
n an ced th e d evelop in g global terrorist n etworks, th e p u rch ase of
weap on s an d su p p lies, an d th e creation of social welfare organ iza-
tion s u n d er th e gu ise of m ain stream Islam ic activism .
   Religiou s lead ers in cou n tries th at claim Wah h abi in flu en ce of-
ten criticize Wah h abism for ch allen gin g th eir religiou s au th ority
an d rejectin g trad ition al an d local Islam ic beliefs an d p ractices.
Th ey say Wah h abism breaks on e of th e card in al ru les of warfare in
Islam —th at Mu slim s sh ou ld n ot figh t oth er Mu slim s. Th e Wah h abi,
th eir critics ch arge, get arou n d th is by d ivid in g th e world strictly
in to believers an d n on believers wh o m u st be fou gh t.
   Alth ou gh govern m en ts h ave clearly exaggerated th e th reat for
th eir own p u rp oses, Wah h abi religiou s id eology h as fou n d fertile
soil in societies wh ere econ om ic d evelop m en t is p oor an d m oral
an d p olitical d ecay are ram p an t. Its claim th at retu rn in g to a p u rer,
m ore m oral way of life will restore law an d ord er can be very at-
tractive to th ose su fferin g from ch ron ic p overty an d p olitical re-
p ressio n . Th e Wah h abi co m p are very favo rably in ed u cat io n al
levels to local religiou s lead ers in Cen tral Asia; Soviet p olicy an d
p ersecu tion h ad a d evastatin g im p act on th e recru itm en t an d train -
in g of Islam ic sch olars. Th e you n ger gen eration , stru gglin g in au -
th oritarian states with a scarcity of jobs an d h ou sin g, is attracted
to Wah h abism as a m ean s to reject th e statu s q u o (th e Soviet-era
com m u n ist elite cu ltu re) in favor of an ap p aren tly m ore in d ig-
en ou s sou rce of id en tity, n ation alism , an d valu es. Prosp erou s m er-
ch a n t s a n d o t h ers a re so m et im es a t t ra ct ed b y t h e Wa h h a b i
116                                                              Unholy W ar


em p h asis on law an d trad ition al m orality again st in d ivid u alism ,
liberalism , an d m ass cu ltu re.


Th e p owerfu l sym bolism an d revolu tion ary m ean in g of jih ad dom i-
n ates m od ern Mu slim p olitics to an exten t u n p aralleled in h is-
tory. Islam ic m ovem en ts an d organ ization s h ave becom e p rim ary
veh icles for its sp read an d im p lem en tation . If m an y th ou gh t th at
Iran ’s revolu tion was a sin gu lar even t, su cceed in g d ecad es h ave
d em on strated th e force an d p ervasiven ess of an Islam ic activism
th at h as m oved from th e p erip h ery to th e cen ter of Mu slim societ-
ies. Islam ic exp erim en ts in Egyp t, Palestin e, Algeria. an d Cen tral
Asia h ave also revealed th e m an y faces an d voices of p olitical Is-
lam an d th e d iverse u n d erstan d in gs of jih ad . Peacefu l or violen t,
all sh are a com m on com m itm en t to an Islam ic revolu tion , a jih ad
or stru ggle to im p lem en t an Islam ic ord er or govern m en t.
   Th e “arm ies of God ” h ave p assed th rou gh several stages, be-
com in g ever m ore global in ou treach . In itially, m ost grou p s fo-
cu sed o n t h eir o wn co u n t ries. Th ey were p rim arily Egyp t ian ,
Algerian , or Tu n isian m ovem en ts. Th e Afgh an jih ad again st So-
viet occu p ation m arked a tu rn in g p oin t as Mu slim s in record n u m -
bers traveled to Afgh an istan to join in th e jih ad again st op p ression
of Mu slim s. Th e exp erien ce an d su ccess of th at jih ad created a
n ew, m ore global jih ad sen tim en t an d cu ltu re em bod ied in Arab
Afgh an s—Arabs an d oth er Mu slim s wh o h ad fou gh t in Afgh an i-
stan —an d in a sen se of solid arity, wh ich su bseq u en tly brou gh t
Mu slim s from variou s p arts of th e world to p articip ate in jih ad s in
Bosn ia, Kosovo, Kash m ir, Cen tral Asia, an d Ch ech n ya. Som e few
h ave becom e m ercen aries in th e m ore rad icalized efforts n ot ju st
to d efen d Mu slim s again st op p ression , bu t to overth row world
p owers believed resp on sible for th eir su fferin g, th rou gh terrorist
strategies. Jih ad tod ay h as th u s becom e th e evocative sym bol an d
rallyin g cry for m obilization in h oly an d u n h oly wars, in wars of
resistan ce an d liberation as well as in global terrorism .
   Jih ad s exp ressin g a “Rage for God ” h ave in creased an d h ave
sp read . From Algeria an d Egyp t to Afgh an istan an d Cen tral Asia,
T he Arm ies of God                                                       117


govern m en ts, often au th oritarian , fou n d th em selves u n d er siege
in th e 1990s. Afgh an istan an d Pakistan becam e p rim ary cen ters
for th e globalization of jih ad an d th e cu ltu re of jih ad th rou gh
n etworks of m ad rasas an d train in g cam p s. Th e Taliban an d al-
Qaed a p rovid ed refu ge an d train in g for m ilitan ts, m an y of wh om
h ave h ad to flee th eir h om e cou n tries, from Egyp t, Algeria, Yem en ,
Sau d i Arab ia, Malaysia, Th ailan d , t h e Ph ilip p in es, Uzb ekist an ,
Tajikist an , Kyrgyzst an , Ch ech n ya, as well as Uigh u rs fro m t h e
Xin jian g provin ce in Ch in a. A h ith erto little-n oted part of th e world
sp awn ed a Taliban –al-Qaed a allian ce th at becam e th e base for a
n etwork of organ ization s an d cells from across th e Mu slim world
th at h ijacked Islam , in d iscrim in ately slau gh terin g n on -Mu slim s
an d Mu slim s alike.
   Sep tem ber 11, 2001, m arked a tu rn in g p oin t, sign alin g th e abil-
ity of terrorists to lan d a d evastatin g strike on its p rim ary in tern a-
tion al target, th e Un ited States, at h om e. In th e m id -1990s both
Paris an d New York h ad been attacked by terrorists. North Am eri-
can an d Eu rop ean cou n tries h ad been m on itorin g terrorists an d
p oten tial terrorist grou p s. However, few h ad an ticip ated so m as-
sive an attack, a d iabolical act th at carried ou t bin Lad en ’s d eclara-
tion of war an d m arked th e global exp an sion of al-Qaed a’s u n h oly
war of terror to th e West.
   Havin g rou ted th e Taliban an d al-Qaed a in Afgh an istan , wh ere
d o we go from h ere? Sep tem ber 11 h as resu rrected old q u estion s,
givin g th em a n ew u rgen cy: Is th ere a clash of civilization s be-
tween Islam an d th e West? W h y d o th ey h ate u s? Is th ere a d irect
con n ection between Islam , an ti-Am erican ism , an d global terror-
ism ? Are Islam an d m od ern ity in com p atible? We n ow tu rn to th ese
an d oth er issu es th at will d eterm in e all of ou r fu tu res.

				
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