May 1, 2016

El Mercurio Interview on Al-Qaeda and ISIS

[I was recently interviewed by Javier Méndez about Al-Qaeda and ISIS for an article in Santiago’s  El Mercurio newspaper. Here are my answers to his questions.]

Q. What is the difference between Al Qaeda and ISIS?

A. Al-Qaeda is a network of militants seeking to violently overthrow the rulers in the Muslim world and has declared war on the Western powers they see as sustaining those rulers, while ISIS has declared itself to be a restoration of the Islamic “caliphate” currently operating as a state in Iraq and Syria but intent on eventual world conquest. Al-Qaeda has not sought to impose immediately its harsh interpretation of Islamic law in order to cultivate support among Muslims living in the areas it seeks to affect, while ISIS seeks to impose its interpretation of the law in full upon taking any territory in the belief that its harshness, like its brutality, is a recruiting tool. Both have tried to inspire terrorist acts against the West, but some analysts believe that al-Qaeda is more hands-on in managing such attacks while ISIS simply promotes them (primarily through social media) and then takes credit when those they inspire act.

Q. Do you think that there is an existent relationship between Al Qaeda and ISIS?

A. The current relationship between al-Qaeda and ISIS is one of rivals. They occasionally clash as when ISIS fights al-Qaeda affiliate Jubhat-al-Nusra. A claim once made by someone in ISIS that at one time Baghdadi was a member of al-Qaeda has been denied by al-Qaeda and appears to be a reference to the fact that Baghdadi was the head of a group allied with its now disaffiliated offshoot al-Qaeda-in-Iraq against the American occupation of Iraq shortly before that group (under Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi) rebelled against its parent group (under Ayman al-Zawahiri).

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

April 30, 2016

News and Analysis (4/30/16)

“Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said … his office is considering options to obtain and publicly disclose an estimate of the number of U.S. persons caught incidentally in Internet surveillance intended for foreign targets” …

… while beyond the constitutionality of FISA itself, privacy groups want the court to scrutinize the “technique, in which network providers turn over copies of any messages … [of] people whose unrelated message data is processed through it”:

Donald Rumsfeld said he was “if not the number two, very close to the number two person” in Al Qaeda.” Actually, he was completely innocent …

… as was this one — and his American torturers knew it:

If you won’t drink wine and beer and don a beret and lederhosen, the French and Germans don’t want you there. “67 percent of French people and 60 percent of Germans blamed on a refusal to adapt to local values and customs” …

… “It will take one or two generations of students before most approach Islam as an intellectual subject”:

After three white “Christians” firebombed a local mosque, “Christians, Jews, and others mobilized to support the members of the destroyed center,” causing one Muslim leader to conclude that the definition of community “is “people who hold the same values in their hearts”:

zarifah

“Zarifeh received the ultimate symbol of teenage acceptance: She was crowned prom queen after her non-Muslim friends campaigned for her by wearing hijabs in solidarity”:

“The Iran-allied Houthis and Yemen’s Saudi-backed exiled government are trying to broker a peace and ease a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country where conflict has drawn in regional powers and killed at least 6,000 people”:

The “Iowa-born convert to Islam” found her book release “coinciding with the Boston Marathon bombing, in which two radicalized Muslim brothers killed three people and wounded more than 250. Reviewers wouldn’t touch a Muslim love story set in Boston”:

“The protests Saturday come just days after a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, who said he was in Iraq to shore up national unity”:

“Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz called the results a “decisive victory” for the moderate-reformist bloc. ‘It is now clear that they are more popular than hard-liners, even in the remote areas'”:

April 29, 2016

Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani’s Last Article

[The passing of Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani was a great loss to scholarship in the ummah. I can think of no better epitaph than his last article, which was publicly read by his grandchildren at a program at Howard University on March 8. This is our transcription of his article.]

“I sanctify justice, celebrate freedom, and honor humanity. While demonstrating gentleness with the weak, I remind the strong that there is always someone who is stronger than they. I advise the rich to fulfill the rights of the poor, while I remind the poor that the rich among them have been entrusted with God’s wealth to fulfill the rights of the poor.  I love goodness and gentleness and reject evil. I invite to goodness and reject violence. I cling to the rope of guidance and uphold the truth. I fight lies and deceit and forbid corruption. I seek reconciliation to the extent possible. I yearn for peace and despise war. I love humanity and strive for a good life. Death beckons, yet I believe that this a bridge I must cross, to cross from a fleeting life to one that is eternal. I desire the best ending and seek refuge in God from the contrary. I love heaven and detest hell-fire. I seek security and hate instability. I hat authoritarianism. I am not profane, destructive, or corrupt. My lineage extends from Adam and Hawaa (Eve), for Adam is my father and Hawaa is my mother. All members of humanity are sisters and brothers. I do not disdain, betray or humiliate a single human being. Rather, I work to guide human beings, light their path, and walk with them along that path to paradise. I seek to be a roadblock between them and hellfire. I love the universe and belong to it. I love my neighbors in the universe, including its trees, plants, rocks, animals, mountains, and rivers. God, most Majestic, has created me from this earth. To this earth He will return me, and from this earth He will restore me once again. To this earth I belong, and for its cultivation I call. My desire is to raise the truth; my goal is to spread peace and security in it; my means is to struggle with my own soul in order for peace to be realized and security to  prevail. I invite to God, to Whom is my ultimate return.  Peace is my objective. Security is my desire. Terrorism is my enemy. Conflict is my adversary, Inner peace is my pursuit.

“Do you recognize me? Do you know on this earth anyone who parallels this description? I am a Muslim.”

— Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani

April 27, 2016

News and Analysis (4/27/16)

“[D]emonstrators … marched from central Baghdad to an entrance to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government has its headquarters, chanting that politicians ‘are all thieves’.” One said that the government “did not bring … anything but poverty and killing”:

Does Turkey’s polarization reflect a debate over the secular constitution governing a nation 97% Muslim or over Erdogan’s desire to institute an “Islamized” version Attaturk’s dictatorship?

“The law against insulting religion, imposed when Britain ruled the Indian Subcontinent, is rarely used and aimed at preventing communal clashes and inciting violence”:

“A government based in eastern Libya has shipped its first cargo of crude in defiance of authorities in the capital Tripoli, a bold move that could deepen the divisions that have brought chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi”:

Only  when she interacted with Muslim women did this feminist acquire a “genuine understanding of the extent to which Islam empowers women to be educated, productive members of society” — to such an extent that she became a Muslim:

Only hours earlier PM Sheikh Hasina tried to blame her political opponents for the attack on the US AID worker advocating that Ansar-al-islam “said it targeted … because they were ‘pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality'”:

“Rouhani has warned officials against misusing “infiltration” as grounds to curb social freedoms, but his hands are tied as such arrests are carried out by an intelligence apparatus and a judiciary that act independently of his government”:

“The survey found that 83 per cent of Muslims reported being ‘very proud’ to be Canadian, an increase of 10 points since 2006. This was in contrast to non-Muslim Canadians — only 73 per cent of whom said they were ‘very proud’ to be Canadian”:

“‘There were no taxes to pay, health care was free and they used a lot of alternative medicine, cures never seen in European health care. But life there was very expensive, and the money were not enough. She said she was never treated violently but she felt like a prisoner”:

April 24, 2016

News and Analysis (4/24/16)

As in Western countries that prohibit the sale of alcohol (or other drugs) , the punishment for non-Muslims is jail time, but this Christian women elected to be treated equally with Muslim offenders in the “only province in the country that punishes … boozing … with lashes”:

“[I]t was the first time Muslim clerics [in Indonesia] have broken Jewish Matzah bread with Jews in Hamotzi (blessing) ceremony. Cleric Zawawi Suat said all religions should avoid threatening others’ rights to practice their beliefs”:

“If London were [Muslim], the population would bathe regularly, have a better-dressed dinner for [its] money, and prefer water to wine or brandy, gin or beer” — British diplomat David Urquhart:

“You probably already knew that Islam was having a scientific golden age during Europe’s middle ages…. (Which is why we use words like “algebra.”) But you might not know that some of the earliest proto-science fiction came from the Islamic world”:

For founding the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights, he “was convicted of inciting people to breach public order, insulting the judiciary, defaming the kingdom’s senior religious clerics and establishing an unlicensed organization”:

The Elmwood Park Board of Education’s president has confirmed that the Board w:ill accept the resignation of the member who urged Muslims to “stay in your desserts (sic) and follow your religion in your own countries”:

“So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the death of Rezaul Karim Siddique … [and] accused him of ‘calling to atheism’. But his daughter Rizwana Hasin told the BBC that her father believed in God, and that she had no idea why he was targeted”:

“[W]hen atheists disassociate from people like Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins and then are quick to connect all Muslims with some outspoken and firebrand Mullah, it appears they have forgotten a lesson they learned for themselves”:

Beyond interfaith dialog is interfaith action. “Muslim and Christian women will work together sprucing up the dining room at First Step’s domestic abuse shelter this month”:

April 21, 2016

News and Analysis (4/21/16)

Gulf states are “upset by’ reports that Obama “cast them as ‘free-riders’ in U.S. security efforts” while he wants them “to offer more democratic reforms and improve human rights” and Congress threatens action over alleged Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks” 

The Saudi government tries to suppress those [religious groups] who propose any kind of peaceful reform. Some religious groups … propagate popular demonstrations as legitimate ways of drawing attention to a given cause, like prisoners’ plight in Saudi jails”:

She doesn’t deny saying, “Stay in your desserts and follow your religion in your own countries.” My favorite dessert is apple pie, which is as American as my country, which is the USA. Or did she mean Palestine? Sorry, but the Israelis wouldn’t let me immigrate even if I wanted to:

“She is outspoken in her belief that Australia’s leaders just don’t get why so many young Muslims are becoming radicalised and choosing to fight with ISIS.” She says, “[Y]oung people are looking for answers, so it’s important … to listen, understand and reach out to our youth”:

“Mazen Mokhtar, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Dallas, said it was ‘an alarming development’ that a presidential candidate would express ‘bigotry against their own constituents, essentially'”:

The Taliban showed their ability to pull off a direct strike at the heart of the country’s ruling elite…. By hitting the VIP protection squad, the Taliban were targeting both the national security apparatus and individuals with close ties to ministers and senior officials”:

“In 1923, the region’s affairs were settled by a vast separation between Christians and Muslims. In 2016, for better or worse, such a separation no longer seems possible, either of the living or the dead”:

April 18, 2016

News and Analysis (4/18/16)

“Turkey’s state-run news agency … said police had arrest warrants for of 140 people, including businessmen and former employees of the Gulen-linked Bank Asya, which was seized by the government last year”:

One passenger, whose family was granted asylum after his own diplomat father was killed by the regime of Saddam Hussein, was left in tears by the incident while another just asked to trade seats on the airline famous for  not assigning seats in the first place:

“Islam dominates the culture of countries populated mostly by Muslims, but any claim to political legitimacy with reference to a religion is problematic, as religious political authority is no more than political power masked by ‘sacredness'”:

“If you’re in danger, if someone is pointing a gun at you, you can justify – in your own mind – shooting someone. But if you’re sitting in Kandahar, you’re confronted with a screen where you watch people day in, day out – you might even start to realise they’re not bad people”:

“[T]he dynamics are roughly the same as you would find in any co-ed college classroom, albeit with an unusually high level of gender parity: men and women spoke roughly equal time over the course of Mirza’s lecture, never once interrupting each other”:

A “UNESCO resolution stated that the Temple Mount and holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem are an ‘integral part of Palestine.’ The organization also criticized Israel, ‘the occupying power,’ for planting fake graves in Muslim cemeteries”:

“Arab countries led the way in pledging reconstruction aid” after Israel’s 2014 devastated Gaza, but “a new report released Monday by the World Bank shows that Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab donors have delivered only a small fraction of what was promised”:

“[B]uilding trust with Muslim communities is a better approach them surveilling them[, … but] the federal government does not have the credibility to force Muslims to cooperate in confronting extremism” …

… “Muslims are often relied upon in the intelligence process. [RAND Corporation Senior Economist Radha] Iyengar notes that Muslims were involved in approximately half of all cases of foiled al-Qaida plots in the U.S., from 2009 to the present”:

April 15, 2016

News and Analysis (4/15/16)

“The new poll, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,500 respondents ages 18 to 24, suggests that young Arabs are both increasingly fearful of the terrorist group and less swayed by its propaganda, compared with previous years”:

“[W]hen you look at that list of people you see everything that makes the American Muslim community pretty freaking awesome. People keep asking ‘Why aren’t the Imams denouncing terrorism?’ The American Muslim community is nt complacent in the face of ISIS”:

A county public library learns how to have a civil and informative discussion on Islam even when angry villagers show up with pitchforks:

“Mauro has promoted the discredited myth of Muslim no-go zones across the West and … watchdog organization Media Matters warned in 2014 that “Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia”:

“A U.S. citizen born to a Muslim-American family, the infant was at an airport when his ‘boarding pass was first stamped with the ‘SSSS’ designation,’ indicating that he had been targeted for extra surveillance”:

“She had been qualified to run … [by] the powerful guardian council…. But the controversial body of clerics and jurists has changed its mind, nullifying her votes even though election officials endorsed the results in Isfahan and found no major discrepancy in the counting” …

… meanwhile, the Saudis say a soccer-players “hair-do violated a saying of the Prophet Mohammed” but don’t care that their (sound) policy of selling water at the market price contradicts a hadith against selling public water:

“After two years of unfulfilled government promises of their imminent rescue, the new video has been met with cautious expectations ‘ perhaps due to the Nigerian government’s shortcomings, Western biases about Africa, and the world’s short attention span”:

“Jim Dunning, the debate coach at Broad Run High in Loudoun County, said students voted unanimously to skip the event on principle and because of safety concerns for their Muslim teammates…. ‘It wasn’t appropriate to send anyone there given the rhetoric and the weapons”:

“Quite simply, most prosecutors will conclude that pursuing a defamation claim against Böhmermann in defense of a foreign head of state who shows little interest in human rights laws in his own country is a dubious use of time, money, and resources”:

April 12, 2016

News and Analysis (4/12/16)

Although “practised for decades now, the unilateral instant triple talaq is clearly an aberration – … Islamic scholars say the Koran clearly spells out how to issue a divorce – it has to be spread over three months which allows a couple time for reflection and reconciliation”:

“Islam is not a monolith. There is great diversity within Islam. When you travel and talk to Muslim youth, you hear many different voices of what it means to be a Muslim woman. Muslim millennials do not want to be pigeonholed….” —  Farah Pandith, Council on Foreign Relations:

Most of Cuba’s Muslims are converts (including some former atheists) who think Islam is “a little bit more true or pure religion than others” or for whom it provides a practical way of dealing with “more personal and specific” matters such as avoiding alcohol:

“He is a sorcerer. He is Satan,” says the mother of the Molenbeek man who radicalized her son, a man “more versed in the ways of the street than in those of the mosque” and focused on “channeling the criminal energies of young delinquents”:

Turkey and Egypt kowtow to the Saudi king: the former by giving him highest state medal and the other by selling him part of the country:

“[T]he Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (an OIC affiliated international institution headquartered in Istanbul) have convened a youth summit not just to coincide with, but to be an official part of the 13th Islamic Summit in Istanbul this week”:

Non-Muslim local resident John Poage started the petition to show it “doesn’t represent what this community stands for”, and a local imam agrees, saying, “[W]e do have freedom of speech and anybody can post or say anything they want, but in St. Augustine, we love everyone”:

“If it was a Jewish girl, she wouldn’t stay in prison for even one hour because it is forbidden according to the Israeli law” –Abeer Baker, a lawyer for the for the girl commenting on the double standard in Israel’s apartheid system:

Plaintiffs charge that when Jetstream took over ground services from Air Serv Corporation they prohibited Muslim from wearing religious headscarves and long skirts, insisting they ‘only wear the company uniform, which consisted of tan pants, a green shirt, a vest and a cap” with company logo:

April 9, 2016

News and Analysis (4/9/16)

Pretending “that Muslim women can be liberated from patriarchal structures through Western military intervention” is based in “an Orientalist perspective that sees Muslim women as passive victims without agency;” nor should we deny that ISIS is the product of U.S. interventionism:

The Appeals Court disagreed with the judge’s ruling that damages were unproven and that lower court award of “$1 in symbolic damages” for the state trooper’s mental anguish and emotional distress is wholly inadequate,” given the state police’s “egregious” conduct:

“[I]f you’re happy with yourself and you’re in total surrender with the creator, then you are Muslim really, regardless of what label you put on yourself” — Palestinian immigrant Emad Al-Turk:

The “fighting words” exception to First Amendment protection is narrowly defined: “Fighting words are not a means of exchanging views, rallying supporters, or registering a protest; they are directed against individuals to provoke violence or to inflict injury”:

“He said every Muslim was a demon. As he calls himself a Christian, I was embarrassed. Everything he said is a contradiction to the song, ‘They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love'”:

“Dressed in colorful clothing that reflects local styles and able to speak three languages – Dari, Pashto, and English – Zari is the first Afghan character in “Sesame Street” history. ‘Baghch-e-Simsim’ … [is] the most popular children’s television program in” Afghanistan:

“IS’s Amaq news agency said on Friday the group freed nearly 300 workers, but had executed four of them for being from the Druze minority”:

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