A Must Read Article By Amir Taheri -- DoctorZin
ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS RECANT
By AMIR TAHERI
October 10, 2003 -- ENOUGH is enough! This is the message of a new book selling like hotcakes in Egypt. The authors are eight senior sheiks (leaders) of Gamaa al-Islamiyah (Islamic Society), a terrorist organization that waged a bloody campaign against the Egyptian state for 20 years. The campaign claimed thousands of lives, including hundreds of Western tourists.
The book's purpose is better explained by its subtitle "Theological Revisions by the Islamic Society," rather than its almost romantic title, "River of Memories." It is a summary of discussions held by the movement's leaders and militants over a period of 10 months, while serving prison terms of between five and 22 years.
Egypt's government has released 1,000 of the group's members in recent days - in good part because of the sentiments expressed in the book.
The sheiks write: "Egyptians should not shed the blood of Egyptians . . . What happened was wrong and should not happen again." They add, "Women and children should not be killed, even in war."
They sheikcall for "a complete and unconditional end to any act of violence, including verbal violence, against the Egyptian authorities inside or outside the country."
The book contains a discussion about the attack organized by the terror movement against tourists in Luxour in 1997, in which almost 60 Westerners, mostly Germans, were blown to pieces.
"In Luxour we killed men, women and children, young and old - innocent travelers who had come to visit our land," the book says. "It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Islam does not permit the murder of innocent civilians for any reason."
The sheiks attribute the 9/11 attacks to the Israeli secret service Mossad, and claim that no Muslim would have planned and carried out an operation that claimed the lives of "thousands of innocent people." To back their claim, they recall the Islamic rule that identified suicide as a grave sin on par with the denial of the oneness of God. Thus Mohamed Atta and his gang could not have been Muslims.
The sheiks also condemn the recent terrorist attack in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, which killed almost 50 people - but, this time, do not blame it on Mossad.
The sheiks claim that they had misunderstood and misused the concept of jihad in Islam. They enumerate the classical rules concerning jihad, which has been wrongly interpreted by many commentators to mean "holy war." They admit that they had ignored those rules, but do not express regret. "What is past is past," they insist. They assert that the issue of jihad is "too delicate, too complex" to be handled by "unqualified individuals acting on the basis of raw emotions."
They add that jihad could be interpreted as an order to war only if it is based on theological consensus, something almost impossible to achieve, and even then only in self-defense.
The sheiks call for an end to armed struggle and a new strategy of "re-Islamicizing" Egyptian society through example and preaching.
Leading the discussions was Karam Muhammad Zohdi, who spent 22 years in prison after being found guilty of participation in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in October 1980. The authorities released Zohdi from jail last month and allowed him to promote the new book.
The movement's most senior leader, Zohdi was joined by other sheiks, notably Najih Abdallah, the movement's ideologue, and Hamdi Abdel-Azim. Missing from the group is Ayman al-Zawahiri - now al Qaeda's No. 2, and hiding either in Iran or in Pakistan.
The sheiks describe the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as weird and its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, as "a warlord," and not a theologian. They shed no tears for the deposed Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein and say that "not anyone who bears arms is a fighter for Islam."
What should one make of this strange turnabout? Here are eight men who have blood on their hands and whose organization is responsible for countless tragedies, and yet they seek reintegration into a society that they terrorized for a generation.
Some of them describe themselves as tawwabin - "the repenting ones" - and refer to classical Islamic rules that allow forgiveness for those who confess their sins and dedicate their lives to repairing the effects.
There are, nevertheless, several troubling points.
* The sheiks claim that Egyptian society needs to be "re-Islamicized." This presupposes the existence of an ideal Islamic model, known only to the ex-terrorist leadership.
* They call for a campaign of "persuasion and encouragement" aimed at promoting "Islamic values." This means intimidating women into wearing the type of hijab (headgear) that has become the symbol of Islamist terrorism since the mid '70s. It also means ostracizing men who do not grow their beards in the form mandated by the terrorist leaders.
Beyond these outwards symbols, it also means an atmosphere in which people who do not wish to live their lives the way the sheiks deem fit would constantly feel threatened.
* Finally, the sheiks are careful not to abandon such goals as making Islam the sole religion of all mankind, wiping Israel off the map and destroying "deviant" Muslims - such as Shiites, a majority in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon - like "evil weeds."
In military terms, the Egyptian terrorist movement has lost the war it unleashed against the state. But it intends to pursue a political, social and cultural war in which psychological terror is the prime weapon.
The Gamaa's new strategy is, in a sense, not new at all. It has been practiced by the Ikhwan al-Moslemeen (The Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt and half a dozen other Arab countries for years.
Allied to the despotic regimes in place, the Brotherhood promises not to challenge the political authority of the state. In exchange, it gets a free hand in "Islamicizing" society the way it likes.
In some countries, including Egypt, the strategy has worked. Today, many Egyptians feel less free than 25 years ago. Also compared to 25 years ago, Egypt is becoming a cultural desert upon which blows the murderous wind of bedouinisation.
Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of 10 books on the Middle East and Islam. He's reachable through www.benadorassociates.com. http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/7721.htm
Another informative Amir Taheri article.
Dunno why this (ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS RECANT By AMIR TAHERI) got pulled as an independent thread, Doc. But I was glad that during its brief existence, I was able to come here and see it. I agree that it is a must read.
The Iranians are hard-working, intelligent, and mostly decent people. They will be free, and soon.
The US will never attack Iran. The Iranian people can free themselves of oppression -- and they will. Freedom-loving Americans, and people of all nations, stand with freedom-loving Iranians, now and in their hour of need.
Criminal Number 18F