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Terror Transcending Territories by Lt Gen Kamal Davar

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Author: Lt Gen Kamal Davar PVSM, AVSM (Retd)
The ‘global jihad’ is a much abused term employed by many jihadi leaders to motivate their flock to acts of extreme violence and its foot soldiers to willingly sacrifice their lives whilst on suicidal missions. Most Muslim scholars emphasise that Islam is a religion promoting peace and harmony and unequivocally condemn the acts of violence against innocents being undertaken by some in the name of ‘jihad’. Though some anti-terror experts feel that the impact of global jihadism has been exaggerated in the past, a glance at worldwide statistics on this issue confirms the growth of this phenomenon.


Islamic terrorism spanning increasingly wide swathes of the globe is one of the harsh and enduring realities of our age. The term ‘global jihad’ has seen distinct conceptualisation and usage for the perpetrators of this extreme form of violence have diabolically overworked to give it a religious and worldwide connotation to mask their evil agendas and spread its poisonous ideology. The instrument of unbridled terror fuels this so-called ‘jihad’.

The inhuman kidnapping of 236 innocent school girls in Nigeria recently by a  Muslim terror outfit, the Al Qaeda inspired Boko Haram, the bombing of a shopping centre in the same energy rich nation the other day inflicting 80 fatalities among innocents, terrorists of the China banned Al Qaeda-supported East Turkestan Islamic Movement carrying out a major terror attack in Urumqi the provincial capital of China’s restive Xinjiang province and the latest attack on the Indian consulate in Herat in Afghanistan by  Pakistan’s ISI-sponsored  LET terrorists (as confirmed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai) are the latest manifestations of this growing scourge of Islamic terror  successfully locating newer playgrounds all across the globe to  spread their  inhuman  footprint.   

 

Interpretation Of Jihad

The ‘global jihad’ is a much abused term employed by many jihadi leaders to motivate their flock to acts of extreme violence and its foot soldiers to willingly sacrifice their lives whilst on suicidal missions. Simply translated, the Arabic word ‘jihad’ means a ‘struggle’ and in its wider interpretation, ‘jihad’ implies ‘a struggle in the way of Allah.’ Many Muslim scholars opine that ‘jihad’ has two forms, the first and the most important being an  “inner spiritual struggle to fulfill one’s religious duties and needs” and the second  being “an outer physical struggle” which is against the enemies of Islam and may assume either a violent or non-violent form. However, nowhere is the killing of innocents, the aged, women or children permitted by the tenets of Islam. In its violent form, those who wish to misinterpret the meaning of ‘jihad’ dub it as “a holy war.” Most Muslim scholars emphasise that Islam is a religion promoting peace and harmony and unequivocally condemn the acts of violence against innocents being undertaken by some in the name of ‘jihad’. 

Serious security problems also surfaced in Iraq and Afghanistan consequent to massive US intervention in both these nations. Former CIA officer and later adviser to President Barack Obama, Bruce Reidel, has succinctly opined that the US has had a role in “creating this monster” and promoting “a fertile ground for global jihad”

Though armed jihad has been an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith since time immemorial, in recent times it got a fillip as part of pan-Islamic revivalism in the world, primarily directed against Western thought and its attendant influences dubbed “evil” by certain fiery clerics in the Muslim world. In the early 80s, Islamic fundamentalist ideologies commenced picking up spearheaded by the Al Qaeda network, early on in Saudi Arabia and then elsewhere. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 marshalled guerrillas of many Islamic hues predominantly Sunnis. Jihadism with an international pan-Islamist scope was the natural corollary subsequently and got referred to as global jihadism. However, in some Muslim nations there have been some fratricidal sectarian tensions which also led to Sunni-Salafist terrorism against other forms of the Islamic faith namely the Shias, Sufis and the Ahmadis.

Escalation

In recent years, asymmetrical  conflicts have also arisen between the Muslim Chechens and the Russian government, the Aceh and the Indonesian government, Philippine government and extremist Muslim movements in its Mindanao region, besides conflicts, some fratricidal and others externally abetted in Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Egypt (Muslim Brotherhood), Bosnia, Bangladesh (primarily HuJI elements), Myanmar, Malaysia among other nations.

Serious security problems also surfaced in Iraq and Afghanistan. These problems have resulted in frequent violent incidents in these nations owing to a host of factors – externally driven and linked to jihadi terror consequent to massive US intervention in both these nations. Former CIA officer and later adviser to President Barack Obama, Bruce Reidel, has succinctly opined that the US has had a role in “creating this monster” and promoting “a fertile ground for global jihad.”

In addition and importantly, Pakistan, universally acknowledged as the incubator and epicentre of global terror is itself now suffering from the many terror outfits existing in Pakistan. The same terror machine it raised and perfected  in pursuance of its nefarious designs in its neighbourhood (India and Afghanistan) has come home to roost and thus levels of near daily violence, most with clearly fundamentalist religious overtones, have been dangerously elevated in Pakistan threatening its very existence.

Nevertheless, global jihad, remains, by and large, stateless, unstructured and independent of any monolith organisation but its linkages, support and inspiration to many local and regional fundamentalist organisations, across many nations, is only increasing by the day.

Indian Subcontinent: Earlier History

Undivided India, then home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the world, since centuries remained peaceful, barring stray incidents whether among Hindus and Muslims or between Shias and Sunnis. A few communal riots in the pre-independence period had occurred more on local issues than any major differences. The national freedom movement to rid India of the British yoke, largely non-violent, had the willing participation of its Muslim population and the struggle was embellished by many nationalist Muslim leaders. In the mid-20s, a Muslim cleric, Maulana Maududi founded the Jamiat-e-Islami in India. It was he who exhorted his followers that ’jihad’ was pre-eminent to all duties ordained by Islam. His message did find resonance among some in the Indian subcontinent and many seminaries of the Sunni faith in India were influenced by his teachings in the following years.


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