Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Genesis of Islamic Terrorism

We live in a time when stories of terrorist attacks by Islamic fanatics monopolize our daily news, a fact which prompts question like, where did this fanaticism come from? Why now?

Strategy Page has a brief history of the genesis of modern Islamic terror that will repay the ten minutes or so it'll take to read. Here's the opening:
Where exactly did the current crop of Islamic terrorists come from? Basically, they came from oil rich Arabia, mainly Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabi sect of Islam had always been among the most strict and intolerant and it comes from Arabia. The Saud family owed their power, in large part, to a 19th century alliance with the Wahhabi sect.

Holy Warriors from the Wahhabi tribes provided the crucial muscle that enabled the Sauds to conquer Saudi Arabia and establish their kingdom 70 years ago. But the Sauds realized that the more reactionary attitudes of the Wahhabis would hurt the kingdom in the long run. For example, many Wahhabi clerics were opposed to modern technology (unless it was a weapon). Radio, automobiles, and all manner of gadgets were resisted. The Sauds were constantly haggling with the Wahhabi clerics.

Finally, in the 1970s, after a serious outbreak of Islamic terrorism, the Sauds made a fatal deal with the Wahhabi clerics. The Wahabbis could control education in the kingdom, and have their own "lifestyle police" to enforce proper Islamic standards on Saudis, in return for keeping Islamic terrorism under control.

Then came the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Wahhabi clerics saw this as an assault by communist atheists (which is what Islamic conservatives considered the Soviets) on an Islamic state. The Wahhabi declared jihad (holy war, although a more appropriate translation would be “crusade”) against Russia. Billions of dollars and thousands of Arabs (most of them Saudis) went off to help the Afghans fight the Russians.

The Pakistanis cooperated because, at about the same time, the generals running Pakistan had seized on Islamic conservatism as a cure for the corruption that was making the country ungovernable and bankrupt. The Wahhabis, and their money, were welcomed. The Americans were there as well, as the "Afghan Freedom Fighters" were popular in the United States. The Americans provided some high tech weapons, intelligence, and trainers but most of the aid, and weapons, came from the Saudis.

In addition to guns, the Saudis also brought in Wahhabi preachers to set up religious schools for the millions of Afghan refugees. Pakistanis were allowed to attend these schools as well. The result was that some of the Pushtun tribes on both sides of the Afghan border were radicalized with Wahabbi beliefs. At this point Saudi Arabia was also exporting billions of dollars, and thousands of Wahhabi preachers, to many other Islamic countries in Asia and Africa. Some of that money went to Moslem communities in Europe and the Americas as well.
The article brings the state of affairs closer to the present day and concludes with this:
So how do you fight Islamic terrorism these days? Can't use the old ("kill 'em all") methods, so all you can do is keep the killers out of your own territory and wait for the madness to die out naturally, as it has done many times before....Another nasty aspect of Islamic terrorism is that, while only a small percentage of Moslems are willing to become Islamic terrorists, a larger percentage (ten percent or more, even among Moslems in the West) will support the Islamic terrorists and a majority of Moslems will, if asked, say they believe Islamic terrorism is justified when used to “defend Islam.”

Unless the Arab world reforms itself, the terrorism will keep returning until it does because the appeal of Islamic terrorism has, for over a thousand years, continually inspired young Moslem men to step up and kill for the cause. Because the victim populations, especially non-Moslem ones, will not stop fighting back, it’s either Islamic reform or continued mayhem.
Saudi Arabia made a bargain with the devil and has been exporting Wahabbism for thirty years. The world has been paying the price ever since.