The logic of Islamist terrorAmerican Consulate in Istanbul where the shootout took place.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today’s militant Islamists violate the traditional rules of Islam to
maximize their violence. Because their motivation comes from politics in the
first place, not religion

Mustafa AKYOL
http://www.turkishd ailynews. php?enewsid= 109670

Wednesday’s bloody shootout at the American Consulate in Istanbul is still
not totally solved. No organization claimed the attack, which left three
Turkish policemen dead and two injured. But the evidence collected by the
Turkish security forces so far makes it reasonable to assume that there was
an Islamist motive in the mind of the attackers. Actually three of them died
right on the spot, and the fourth one turned out to be a paid driver. So
there is no interrogation- based information. But the police found out that
one of the dead terrorists had traveled to Iran and Afghanistan. The other’s
father was arrested in 1999 for links with the shadowy “Turkish Hizbollah,”
a Kurdish Islamist terror group. The general impression in the Turkish media
is that the attackers were at least ideologically linked with al Qaeda. So,
this seems to be a case of “Islamist terror.”

But is that an appropriate term at all?

Islamic versus Islamist:

I think, yes, it is. What I would object to would be an apparently similar
but actually quite unalike term: “Islamic terrorism.” The difference between
“Islamic” and “Islamist” is crucial, because while one refers to a religion,
the other refers to an ideology. While Islam teaches the path to win God’s
consent by being a righteous believer, Islamism envisions a roadmap to
establish a totalitarian political system. And while Islam has existed since
the early seventh century, Islamism has been around only since the early
20th century.

To contrast the two – Islam and Islamism – let’s see what their judgments
would be on terrorism, which I define as deliberate attacks on civilian
targets for political purposes.

It is true that Islam has a concept of jihad, which is sometimes
translated as “holy war,” but it is not a war without rules. The Koran told
Muslims to “Fight in the way of God against those who fight you,” yet it
also warned them: “But do not go beyond the limits.” (2:190) These “limits”
were explained by Prophet Mohammed in the orders he gave to Muslim armies.
“Do not kill the very old, the infant, the child, or the woman,” he
reportedly said to his soldiers. Abu-Bakr, the prophet’s closest companion
and successor as the first caliph of Islam, is also on the record for
saying: “Do not kill a young child, an old man, or a woman. Do not uproot or
burn palms or cut down fruitful trees… You will meet people who have set
themselves apart in hermitages; leave them to accomplish the purpose for
which they have done this.”

That’s why Muslim jurists of the Middle Ages developed a doctrine of just
war, according to which the life of non-combatants was valued and respected.
In his book, “Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror,” Bernard Lewis,
one of the prominent Western experts on the history of Islamic Middle East,
notes the following:

“Fighters in jihad are enjoined not to kill women, children, and the aged
unless they attack first, not to torture or mutilate prisoners, to give fair
warning of the resumption of hostilities after a truce, and to honor
agreements. The medieval jurists and theologians discuss at some length the
rules of warfare, including questions such as which weapons are permitted
and which are not. There is even some discussion in medieval texts of the
lawfulness of missile and chemical warfare, the one relating to mangonels
and catapults, the other to poison-tipped arrows and the poisoning of enemy
water supplies. Some jurists permit, some restrict, some disapprove of the
use of these weapons. The stated reason for concern is the indiscriminate
casualties that they inflict. At no point do the basic texts of Islam enjoin
terrorism and murder. At no point – as far as I am aware – do they even
consider the random slaughter of uninvolved bystanders.”

But today’s militant Islamists – from al Qaeda to Islamic Jihad – openly
advocate and practice the random slaughter of uninvolved bystanders. Osama
Bin Laden
repeatedly said that his followers should “kill American and
Jews,” without making any distinction between civilians and combatants.
That’s why al Qaeda terrorists unhesitantly hit the World Trade Center on
Sept. 11, 2001. They knew they were killing civilians, but they did not care
about the prophet’s call for “not to kill women, children, and the aged.”
And the gunmen who hit the U.S. Consulate last Wednesday would probably
target the diplomatic personnel had they been able to break into the

But why is that? Why do today’s militant Islamists violate the traditional
rules of Islam to maximize their violence?

Hear what Carlos says:

They do this because their motivation comes from politics in the first
place, not religion. Bin Laden tried to justify his call for indiscriminate
killing by arguing, “American history does not distinguish between civilians
and military, and not even women and children. They are the ones who used
the bombs against Nagasaki.” This is a political argument, not a religious
one. It is about the role of America in the world; not the status of
non-Muslims in the Koran. A communist militant could have made the same

It is no accident that there is indeed some ideological connection between
Marxism-Leninism and Islamism. And no one proclaimed this as bluntly as
Carlos the Jackal, who, from his prison cell, penned recently a book titled
“Revolutionary Islam.” This brand of Islam, argued the veteran terrorist,
“attacks the ruling classes in order to achieve a more equitable
redistribution of wealth” and is the only “transnational force capable of
standing up to the enslavement of nations.”

This is, again, an argument about not God and salvation, but politics and

The problem is, in other words, Islamism but not Islam. Therefore the
fight against terror in the name of Islam has to be focused on two goals:
First one is detaching Islam from Islamism. This does not necessarily mean
to separate Islam and politics all together, as secularists assume. Islam
indeed can influence politics, and that’s all welcome as far as this takes
place within the framework of democracy. If it is possible to synthesize
Islam with totalitarianism as the Islamists do, then it is possible to
synthesize it with liberalism as well.

The other goal should be to solve the political problems of the Muslim
world – such as the Arab-Israeli conflict – which act as engines of
radicalization. The main battle cry of Islamist militants is “Islam is under
attack!” And the best antidote to this is to reduce the Muslim’s perception
of being under attack. The next U.S. president should keep that very much in

C 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc. www.turkishdailynew


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