You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » Columnists » B Raman
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

The citizen jihadi
B Raman
Get news updates:What's this?
May 23, 2007
Jihadi terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is undergoing a disquieting metamorphosis. More and more individual Muslims are taking to jihad and suicide terrorism out of their own volition. They were not made into suicide terrorists, with offers of money, women or a place in heaven by their religious leaders.

One has been seeing this not only in Afghanistan, but also in the North-West Frontier Province, NWFP, and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas, FATA, in Pakistan.

Traditional pan-Islamic jihadi organisations allied with Al Qaeda in its International Islamic Front, IIF, such as the Pakistan-based Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, the various brands of the Taliban of the tribal areas of Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, LET, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, HUM, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-Al Islami, HUJI, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, JEM, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, LEJ, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami, HEI, have been claiming credit for the acts of terrorism of these citizen jihadis. They are also trying to give an impression as if all that has been happening in the areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been orchestrated by them.

It is true that these organisations continue to play an active role in the further radicalisation of the people of these areas and in egging them on to join the ongoing jihad. At the same time, an increasing number of incidents being reported from these areas is the result of individual jihadi initiatives by persons unconnected with any of the known organisations.

That is why the Pakistani police has not been able to make much headway in its investigation of the acts of suicide terrorism, which have been taking place at regular intervals in different parts of the NWFP.

New leaders, new cadres, new groups and new mullahs are coming up almost every other week and taking to jihadi terrorism. Old fundamentalist leaders of the 1980 Afghan war vintage such as Qazi Hussain Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami, JEI, Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam, JUI, of Pakistan, Maulana Samiul Haq of another faction of the JUI, Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed of the LET, Maulana Masood Azhar of the JEM, Fazlur Rahman Khalil of the HUM and Qari Saifullah Akhtar of the HUJI no longer command the kind of influence and obedience they commanded in the past.

Fatwas of the mullahs of the past do not carry much weight with these citizen jihadis. They have recently ignored with contempt a fatwa against suicide terrorism against fellow Muslims issued by a group of old mullahs.

The traditional organisations of the Afghan vintage were exploiting factors such as the alleged foreign occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the perceived occupation of Muslim lands in Palestine, Jammu and Kashmir, Chechnya, southern Philippines, southern Thailand, the Arakan area of Myanmar etc by non-Muslims, violation of the human rights of the Muslims etc for motivating their recruits and making them take to suicide terrorism.

The citizen jihadis, who see no television, Internet and video players which they regard as evil, have no way of seeing with their own eyes what is happening in other lands and far-away places. They are being influenced more by what they hear on the hundreds of FM radio stations operating in the tribal areas.

Every mullah, who is some mullah in the tribal areas, has his own FM station. These stations have been propagating highly exaggerated accounts of the humiliation allegedly being inflicted on Muslims all over the world and of the evil impact of cultural globalisation on their religion, their men, women and children.

The news of Nilofer Bakhtiar, who resigned as Pakistani minister on Sunday, letting herself be hugged by her French gliding instructor has spread far and wide in the tribal areas through such FM stations. Stories of the evil influence of foreign culture on the Islamic way of life, trivialisation by foreign analysts of what is projected as the glorious instances of martyrdom by suicide terrorists etc are adding to the number of citizen jihadis.

The Internet may be playing an active role in the spread of pernicious ideas and calls for action in the Western world and in other countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria etc, but in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where the literacy rate is very low, it is the word of mouth and the FM broadcasts, which are instigating individual Muslims to acts of terrorism in the name of jihad.

General Pervez Musharraf's government is unwilling as well as unable to deal effectively with these jihadi communes which have sprung up in the NWFP and FATA and even in the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad, the capital. These jihadi communes bring to mind the communes of Paris in the wake of the French Revolution -- with each quartier having its own commune, its own tribunal, its own guillotine and its own executioners.

That is what has been happening in these jihadi communes of Pakistan. Groups of citizen jihadis are taking religion and law into their own hands and going round meting out punishments to those considered apostate, suppressing practices considered un-Islamic and enforcing their own version of Islamic laws.

The relentless spread of these jihadi communes across Pakistan and the helplessness of the Musharraf regime make one shudder to think what could happen to the military grade enriched uranium produced at Kahuta and the nuclear-capable missiles stored in Sargodha if Lal Masjids spring up in their midst and take religion, law and nuclear control in their own hands tomorrow.

B Raman
 Email this Article      Print this Article

© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback