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Defensive or Offensive Jihad: Classical Islamic Exegetes vs. Contemporary Islamists’ Propagation

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The main objective of Islam is to implement Allah’s divinely ordained religion on Universe in its entirety. It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated; to impose its belief system on all the nations, not to be imposed upon religiously; and to extend its power to the entire planet, not to be governed by infidels.

To achieve its objectives, Islam justifies all means by the use of Jihad against the infidels. Claiming they do it for the defense of their religion, the Muslim lands, and the Muslims’ honor, Jihad is permitted and lawfully justified.

The issue at stake is the deep gap between the horrific acts of terrorism coming from the World Islamic Jihad groups, and at the same time the propagation coming from the Islamists, Muslims and Westerners. Firstly, they claim that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, hijacked by extremists; secondly, that there is only one Jihad, the spiritual, that means to worship Allah; and thirdly that the Muslims are ordered to fight their enemies only defensively.

The stunned Free World witnesses the atrocious acts of terrorism, slaughtering and beheadings, and at the same time is being told that this is only retaliation to the Western colonialism and neo-imperialism, that these groups are only a small minority, weeds; that the threats of demolishing modernity and bringing it back to the 7th century are only because World Islamic Jihad wishes to defend its lands, its lives and honor against Western aggression. However, as Muslims see it, Islam is for everyone in the human race and should be expanded as a winning religion, until all human beings proclaim that “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

Jihad appears 41 times in 18 Sûwar in the Qur’ān, mostly coupled with fi-Sabīlillāh (in the way of Allah), which gives it a religious sanctioning. There are 527 verses in the Qur’an that show deep intolerance towards the infidels, and 109 verses straitfully call to fight the infidels, with all kinds of slaughtering. Contemporary world statistics is very clear and horrifying: over 90% of world terrorism and over 70% of world violence is perpetrated by Muslims. As for 2015, the statistics is stunning and dramatic: 451 of 452 suicide terror attacks in 2015 were perpetrated by Muslims. The remaining one in Turkey was perpetrated by a Russian woman. It is now investigated that she was radicalized by Wahhabi ideology.

Jihad is universally understood as war on behalf of Islam, and its merits are described plentifully in the most-respected religious works. It is sometimes called “the neglected duty” or “the forgotten obligation,” and regard as the sixth pillar of Islam. Lewis finds that “overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists and traditionalists… understood the obligation of Jihad in a military sense.” The elevation of Allah’s word cannot be achieved without Jihad (al-Baqarah, 2:251; al-Nisā’, 4:75; al-Anfâl, 8:39; al-Hadīd, 57:25).

All four Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence (Madhāhib al-Fiqh) and most of Islamic exegetes agree that the aims of Jihad are at removing the infidel’s oppression and injustice; eliminating the barriers to the spread of Allah’s truth; and establishing Islamic justice universally. There are four different ways in which the believer may fulfill his obligations: a) by his heart; b) by his tongue; c) by his hands; d) by the sword. They are aimed at establishing Allah’s rule on earth, until either the infidels embrace Islam; or submit to Islamic rule and agree to pay the tax poll, the Jizyah; or be killed in the battleground by Jihad war.

From the Islamic vantage point, all wars in Islam are religious; there is no concept of secular war” and Jihad is the only just war known. So, even according to Islamic Jurisdiction, one can wage the most aggressive war using atrocious evil deeds and still see it as a defensive war. Muslim legal theory states that Islam cannot exist together with idolatry. This is Shirk, meaning association of other gods and idols with Allah (al-Nisā’, 4:48, 166; al-Qasas, 28:17; al-Luqmān, 31:13; Yā Sīn, 36:74; al-Sāfāt, 37:158). According to a Hadīth related to Muhammad, he declared: “I am ordered to fight polytheists until they say there is no god but Allah.” Muslims are under the Qur’an Commandments’ obligation to slay the idolaters (al-Baqarah, 2:193; al-Taubah, 9:5; al-‘Imrān, 3:167-168; al-Nisā’, 4:84, 88-89). Terrorizing Islamic enemies is Allah’s commandment (Bukhāri, 1:24, 6:19).

There are four Qur’an “sword verses” relating to different types of people against whom Muslims are obliged to fight: a) Surah 9 verse 5: Fighting the Idolaters; b) Surah 9 verse 29: Fighting the People of the Book, Ahl al-Kitāb; c) Sûrah 9 verse 73: Fighting the Hypocrites and the infidels; and d) Surah 47 verse 4: Fighting the Enemies of Islam whoever they are and whenever they can be found. Most Islamic exegetes claim that Surah 9 verse 5 abrogates 114 or 124 other un-militant verses from Mecca.

The Shahīd is one who is killed and has achieved martyrdom in the battle of Jihad, and he is granted seven glorious gifts. Islamic exegetes take the Qur’an statements that the Shuhadā’ are alive living beside Allah and enjoying all his grace (al-Baqarah, 2:154; al-‘Imrān, 3:169).

Muslims view peace as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective, by defeating the enemy. Peace constitutes a temporary break in the ongoing war against the enemy, until Islam controls the whole world. They might come to terms with the enemy, provided that they should resume the Jihad after the expiration of the treaty. By their very nature, treaties must be of temporary duration, for the normal relations between Muslim and the infidels are not peaceful, but warlike.

In spite of the extensive agreement among Islamic classical exegetes based on the Sharī’ah, Islamists in the West emphasize the milder verses from the Qur’an, actually showing the abrogated `Meccan Islam’ in order to camouflage the living `Medina Islam’. They state that Islam is defensive and the fighting injunctions in the Qur’an are only in self-defense. They carefully hid the unconscionable and intolerable verses that litter from all the Medinan Sûwar by saying that ‘those verses were taken out of context’ and that they were not applicable to the infidels. Ali Cheragh brings verses from the Qur’an which he claims are limited or conditional, and “only two verses in the Qur’an containing an absolute or non-conditional injunction for making war against the un-believers.” however, for Cheragh it is very simple: wherever you find verses contradictory to his opinion about the interpretation of the Qur’an, it is ruled out as non-operative. Therefore, if Muslims summon their enemies to embrace Islam and they refuse to accept it, then all the Islamic wars are defensive by definition. All those who disagree with him are “wrong in history, chronology, as well as in understanding the general scope of the Qur’an and the tenor of the Sûwar.”

Mahmoud Shaltut comments are also indicative: “People would do well to learn the Qur’an rules with regard to fighting, its causes and its ends, and recognize the wisdom of the Qur’an. The role of the Qur’an is to summon humanity to submit to Allah, as the natural process. As about war verses, they all deal with the defense of the Islamic community, and are fully legitimate.

Jamal Badawi, a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, claims that Jihad is a struggle against inner desires and a fight against social injustices. Combative jihad is not only restricted in terms of what may or may not justify it, and also strictly regulated. War should not be resorted against peaceful and just but to stop aggression or oppression. There must be a declaration of war by a legitimate authority after due consultation; noncombatants should not be hurt; and Prisoners of war and the injured must be treated humanely.

The main of the Muslim propagators is to clearly lie and mislead the ignorant infidels of the meaning of Jihad, claiming it means the spiritual struggle of the believer to Allah. This is untrue. j-h-d, on the first Arabic conjugation, means indeed to make efforts, to strive. However, Jihad and Mujāhadah are the noun of the third conjugation, Jā-h-d, which means to fight, to make war against. Muslim propagators know Arabic and they just evade the truth. They also ignore the physical military aspect of Qitāl, as fighting and slaughtering to make Islam prevail over all other religions and governmental systems.

Indeed, these statements are pure fraud propagation. Of all the Islamic duties (A’māl), Jihad is considered the noblest, next to belief (Imān) and prayer (Salāh). The one who died without waging Jihad against the infidels, nor intended to fight Jihad in the way of Allah in his heart, he died like a hypocrite (Munāfiq). From its beginning, the Islamic movement had struggled aggressively to subdue religiously, to conquer politically, and to expand territorially other peoples and to bring the Islamic mission to all mankind. This was an offensive Jihad proper, and nobody recognized any other kind of Jihad.

Stage one: defensive Jihad ordered

At Mecca, Muhammad kept moderation with regard to war, preaching to Arabs on the spiritual level. Being small in number the followers of Muhammad would have been wiped out if they had tried to retaliate. The Arabs of Mecca resisted Muhammad’s preaching, and treated him as if he was crazy or storyteller (Saba’, 34:45-46; al-Tûr, 52:33; al-Mudaththir, 74:24-25; al-Mutfiffīn, 83:13). They claimed that these were old stories which were written by others and read to him (al-Furqān, 25:4-5; al-Tûr, 52:30; al-Haqqāh, 69:41).

Muhammad tried hard to convince them that all his words were true and this can be testified and substantiated by the evidence of the People of the Book (al-Baqarah, 2:146; al-Mā’idah, 5:44, 48; Yûnus, 10:94; al-Shu`arā’, 26:196-197; al-Qasas, 28: 52-3; al-Ahqāf, 46:10; al-Takvīr, 81:19-23). He told the Arabs what happened to those who did not listen to the prophets: the deluge generation and Noah, the Sodom people and Lot, and Pharaoh destiny (al-Shu’arā’, 26:10-12; al-Qamar, 54:17-19, 32-34). Yet, the people of Mecca asked him to show them the Book from which he told these stories (Bani Isrāīl, 17:93). He responded that it is the same as the Book of Moses, kept beneath the Tablets of Testimony (al-An‘ām, 6:7; al-R`ad, 13:43; al-Nahl, 16:101-103; Bani Isrāīl, 17: 88-90; al-Mu’minûn, 23:96; Hā Mīn al-Sajdah, 41:42; al-Zukhruf, 43:1-4; al-Ahqf, 46:12; al-Waqi`ah, 56:78-79.

The tiny Muslim community in Mecca was an object of oppression by the Quraysh, continuously subjected to torture, repression and persecution. They were ridiculed and assaulted, they were mocked and beaten. Others were boycotted and even denied access to the Ka`bah to fulfill their religious obligations. Muhammad’s message to the believers was clear: to be patient and bear with those who deny the truth; wait patiently in the knowledge that they are constantly under Allah’s eyes, care and protection.

When Muhammad found it critically dangerous to his community to continue staying in Mecca, and his life was threatened, he fled with his followers to Yathrib (later called Medina), where he hoped to find a much more open and tolerant approach to his religion, since there were Jewish tribes there. The Hijrah marked a turning point in the career of Muhammad and a revolution in Islam.

Stage Two: Defensive Jihad requested

the idea of Jihad as the legitimate just war against the infidels was raised, between March 623 and August 623: Permission is granted to those who fight because they were oppressed (al-Hajj, 22:39). The expedition to Nakhlah, on December 623 has become the general Jihad declaration against the infidels (al-Baqarah, 2:216-217). In late January 624, in a Friday sermon, Muhammad made the Islamic congregation pray facing Mecca, as the new direction (Qiblah). War became a religious obligation, permissible in self-defense.

The first battle was in Badr, in March 624, signified the new era of fi-sabīlillāh. Everything can be done for the sake of Allah: “They ask you of war in the holy month. Tell them to fight in that month is a sin. But a greater sin in the eye of Allah is to hinder people from the way of Allah…” (al-Baqarah, 2:217). Muhammad ordered to instill terror into the hearts of the infidels. The victory of Badr was labeled by Muslim exegetes as the day of deliverance (Furqān). Jihad became the most important slogan, and the Jews were the first victim: the deportation of Banu Qaynuqa’ tribe.

From that event on, Muhammad put strong emphasis on ideological commitment to fighting Jihad wars in the way of Allah by repeated promises of rewards in glorious paradise and living with Allah. Now there was a definite list of the enemies of Islam: first, the idolaters, the Kuffār; second, the hypocrites (Munāfiqûn); and in the third place, the Jews, by refusing to accept Muhammad as the seal of all prophets. As a symbol, Muhammad deported the Jews of Banu al-Nadir tribe.

Stage Three: Offensive Jihad Commanded

The most important outcome from the Trench War, in year 627, was that from a defensive situation Muhammad had moved to an offensive Jihad. From that time on until the year 743, the offensive holy war, Jihād fi-sabīlillāh, was the customary, characterizing phenomenon of Islam. Jihad as a holy war against the infidels, became the only accepted instrument of the Muslim’s policy, the only means for the spread of Islam as a grand strategy. The spirit of Jihad was to reorder matters according to their religious values. This was marked by Muhammad’s declaration: from now on, we will attack them and they will not attack us (Bukhāri, 3:33).

The orders were clear-cut: Strike terror in the hearts of the infidels; attack them and never turn back; keep on fighting until the persecution vanishes and Islam is established worldwide; Kill anyone who opposes Muhammad; continue killing and do not take prisoners until the land is subdued; and enjoy the war booty, mainly women. Those who retreat from the battleground, Allsh will punish them and send you to Hell-fire. Those who are killed in the way of Allah are in fact not dead, but alive, enjoying Paradise and the virgins there. Those who win in the battleground enjoy great rewards of booty and take women captives as concubines.

The war against the Jews of Khaybar, the richest fertile oasis in Hijāz, marked the first aggressive-offensive Jihad war. The climax of Muhammad’s achievements was the conquest of Mecca on January 11, 630, almost without resistance from the Meccan army. The Khudaybiyah affair and the conquest of Mecca were a crucial turning point in the history of Islam, according to all Islamic exegetes, and they identify it with the term Fath, opening, and hence conquest. Mecca came under Islamic rule, and Muhammad established his control over most of the area of Arabia as a head of a religious community and a military leader. The army became the melting pot of the new community, and the Jihad war was the chief means to the Islamic ends.

It is no longer just defensive fighting, but aggressive Jihad against the infidels, which serves as the arbitrator line between Dār al-Islām and Dār al-Harb. Indeed, what we find in the Qur’an is a gradual, developmental and staged strategy, according to Muhammad’s situation and achievements: in the first period he ordered withdrawal, forgiveness and summoning; in the second period, he ordered to fight Jihad in self-defense; and in the third period, he ordered to fight Jihad war aggressively for territorial and religious expansionism.

Stage Four: Total Offensive Jihad under the Khulafā’

After Muhammad’s death, on June 8, 632, at the age of 62, his four successors, al-Khulafā’ al-Rāshīdûn, started with a long period of Islamic Jihād wars that extended much of Western Asia, North Africa and parts of Europe. The official purpose of the polity of Islam was to expand the ideology of Jihad as the main instruments of foreign policy. The Arab empire under the Khulafā’ carried on the doctrine of Jihad, the struggle to establish Allah’s rule on earth, through continuous military wars against the infidels. Almost to the end of the Umayyad caliphate, the policy of Jihad was applied all the way, as the main underpinnings of the Islamic state.

The emphasis put on Jihad from its earliest times is one of the best attested facts of Muslim history. He who wishes to comprehend the Arab spirit of violence, that the sword has never stopped being employed in Arab-Muslim politics, the rebellious character of the Arabs, will find the fact that three out of the first four Khulafā’ al-Rāshīdûn were murdered; that between 632, after Muhammad’s death, and 690, there were three large revolts, as national domestic wars, and one huge schism: the division of the Shi’ite from the Sunnah. We can examine this from another angle: the expansion of the Arab empire had stopped in 743, after Jihad, as the spirit of the Arab conquerors’ foreign policy, had disappeared.

Khalid Blankinship puts it very clearly: in view of its ideology, the simplicity of its functions, and the actual course of its history, the Islamic state through Umayyad times is the Jihad state par excellence. From 632 to 740, the Muslim state was engaged in hostilities against all those who were defined as infidels.

The conclusion for our contemporary situation is clear. Jihad is the Islamic war against all the infidels wherever and whenever they are, and it is offensive with the means of controlling the entire world: humanity must come under Islamic rule and the Shari`ah must be the only constitution and law for all humanity. Those who reject this clear will of Allah must put to death in Jihad. The Judeo-Christian Golden Rule and moral values do not exist in Islam, as it is atomistic approach: anything that Allah commands is perfect and moral and must be followed without questioning. This also applies to Jihad. Never in Islamic history has Jihad been defensive, but always a religious command to fight the other, to conquer territories and to subdue humanity.

Islam is a violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation of other faiths and cultures. It is political even more then it is a religion, and it seeks to impose its Sharī’ah over the entire world and humanity. The only peace that Islam seeks is a world united by the Islamic faith in which all other faiths and political regimes have been suppressed or eliminated.

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Terrorism

The Family that Slays Together: She Blew Up Herself and Her Two Girls to Murder Christians

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D

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Authors: Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

The deadly attacks during Sunday services in Indonesia were the work of a whole family. They reportedly had returned from ISIS-land—a cautionary lesson as others seek to head home.

While Mother’s Day was being celebrated in the United States, Canada and Australia, a gruesome “celebration” of another kind took place in Indonesia: three nearly simultaneous suicide attacks on three separate churches in Surabaya, all carried out by the members of the same family.

The wave of carnage aimed at killing morning service goers rocked the Indonesian city, killing at least 11 people, and injuring another 40, adn people around the world asked how a mother, Puji Kuswanti, could strap bombs on herself as well as on the bodies of her two daughters, Fadila Sari, 12, and Pamela Rizkita, nine, and take them to the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church to blow themselves and others up.

Meanwhile, the family’s sons, Yusuf, 18, and Alif, 16, rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church, and detonated explosives they were carrying. Their father, Dita Sopriyanto, drove his bomb-laden car into the grounds of Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church where he self-detonated.

The so-called Islamic State already has claimed credit for the attack while Surabaya Police Chief Tito Karnavian confirmed to the BBC that the family belonged to an Indonesian ISIS-inspired network, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). While al Qaeda killed 202 persons in the Bali bombings in 2002, since then ISIS attacks in Indonesia have been smaller scale and foiled. Recent prison riots set off with ISIS incitement may have spurred these attacks.

The family of six suicide attackers is thought to be among more that 500 Indonesian ISIS sympathizers who have returned from Syria and Iraq. If true they must have imbibed the ISIS Takfir ideology according to which all those who do not adhere to ISIS’ strict interpretations of Islam are enemies worthy to be killed, even if they are other Muslims.

The members of this family, or at least the parents, believed they were taking a short-cut to Paradise, faithful to the militant jihadi teaching that “self-martyrdom” and the killing of the enemies of ISIS brings about the instant reward of bypassing the Judgment Day, forgiveness of all sins, 72 virgins for male martyrs, and eternal beauty for females. This also includes the opportunity for the “martyr” to grant entry to Paradise to another 70-plus family members.

Thus far no Indonesian women or children have taken part previously in terror attacks—this one now opens the door for such participation and underlines the dangers of female and child returnees from ISIS.

The issue of ISIS returnees remains a hotly debated topic. Many governments worldwide are openly expressing their concerns over a flood of weapons-trained ideologically militant men returning home since the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and much of Syria. While that deluge has not materialized—most of the men have been killed, arrested, or remain at large in the region—the question of how to deal with women and children returnees has no clear answer.

Governments facing the problem of female returnees are trying to decide on a case-by-case basis. The debates continue over whether they should be allowed to return home at all, and if so, whether they might represent a danger to society. Questions also linger over whether they need to be prosecuted—in the case of adult women—and if they can be successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated, in the case of both women and children.

Given that ISIS routinely separated boys as young as six from their parents in camps where they were ideologically indoctrinated and weapons trained, it is not inconceivable that teenage male returnees might pose a grave danger. ISIS also routinely invited foreign fighters’ wives to join the dread ISIS hisbah (morality police), in which they were issued Kalashnikovs, were given great power over others, and took part in brutally abuse of other women for violating ISIS-mandated dress codes and other infringements.

Similarly, foreign women were invited to become ISIS’ online recruiters, writing blogs, contacting others online, and seducing them into joining. And our interviews doing research for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism make it clear that some women were also combat trained, particularly as ISIS faced the U.S.-led coalition’s onslaught, with women being trained to throw grenades, place and detonate explosives, and fire rifles. Some were issued suicide vests and were also sent to detonate themselves.

Whether that was the case with Puji Kaswanti is still not clear, and it is too early to say whether her suicide and the martyrdom of her children will be the exception or the rule for mothers and children indoctrinated by the blood cult that is ISIS.

Reference for this Paper: Speckhard, Anne & Shajkovci, Ardian (5-13-2018) The Family that Slays Together –  Mother’s Deadly Day: She Blew Up Herself and Her Two Girls to Murder Christians. The Daily Beast

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Beyond Bombs and Bullets: A Comprehensive Approach Needed to Defeat ISIS

Zakir Gul, Ph.D.

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Many articles with similar ideas have been written about the current situation with ISIS and what will happen to the terrorist organization in the future. Most of these articles, however, ask incomplete or incorrect questions, which leads to inaccurate assessments of the safety of the world when ISIS is defeated. The articles typically ask questions such as: Can it be claimed that removal of ISIS from the territory in which it operates mean the end to ISIS, or is it only the displacement of terrorism? Shall we celebrate the defeat of ISIS or still be concerned about it? These questions, unfortunately, are incomplete and do not address key elements of the issue. The critical, and more appropriate, questions to ask are: Will the violent and extreme mindset and ideology end when ISIS is defeated? Is it possible that ISIS will transform itself or merges with another terrorist group? Is hard power the solution?

ISIS is just another body into which the violent and extremist ideology of jihadi Salafism has entered. The body dies, but the soul does not. When the body dies, the bad soul will enter another body of a different name. In the case of a defeated ISIS, the organization will die physically but survive as others take up its cause. As long as the violent and extremist ideology and dark soul of ISIS survives, there will always be a body for the soul to wear. The jihadi Salafist ideology will live a new life in a body transformed into another shape and structure.

Failure to ask the right questions means being unable to see and diagnose the problem correctly, intervene correctly, respond correctly, offer the correct solutions, and correctly assess the outcome rightly. In other words, a mistaken first step often leads to subsequent missteps and dire consequences in the long run. For example, when tar is on fire, the expected and first response would be to douse the fire with water; however, the compounds in the tar render water ineffective in putting out the fire and may even make the situation worse.In terms of terrorism, ISIS is the tar, and the commonsense first response would be to use all power available to eradicate the organization.

The literature on terrorism acknowledges that terrorism and radicalization are complex and multidimensional concepts that involve social, psychological, political, financial, and educational issues. Given this mix of factors, could a military and/or law enforcement intervention be the solution to terrorism and radicalization? The answer is “no.” Could the hard power be the solution to some psychological factors (i.e., alienation) or political factors (i.e., political exclusion and oppression) of joining terrorist groups? Again, the answer is “no.” The answer will always be “no” until the solution offered addresses the multiple dimensions of the problem with a comprehensive, but individualized, approach. A reliance on bombs, bullets, and warfare alone will not suffice.

For example, if an individual joins a terrorist group because of a family issue—such as forced marriage, domestic violence, or alienation from close relatives, lack of love and respect among family members—then the approach should focus on family structures and family environments. If an individual whose spouse, children, or extended family members were killed by government security forces longs for revenge and is recruited as a suicide bomber, a military/law enforcement solution alone will not solve the underlying problem. Nor is it the correct approach when an individual has joined a terrorist organization in response to the lack of democratic and human rights. If militants are recruited and exposed to propaganda in virtual environments, then the counterterrorism approach should address those virtual environments to neutralize the terrorist indoctrination. If potential militants are easily swayed by radicals misinterpreting and exploiting religious scriptures because they are poorly educated and lack religious awareness and knowledge, then the counterterrorism approach should focus on counter-narratives and religion-awareness programs. A continued emphasis on tanks, gunfire, and bombs, is a waste of precious money, time, and effort, and lives and, worse yet, justification of terrorist narratives.

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Jihadists of Katibat Imam al Bukhari are afraid of the US strike

Uran Botobekov

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The US State Department added Central Asian jihadist group Katibat Imam al Bukhari (KIB) to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorist organizations on March 22, 2018.

As noted in the statement “the Department of State has designated KIB as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes strict sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. This designation seeks to deny KIB the resources it needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of the group’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.”

It is already common knowledge that,KIB is fighting in Syria as part of the al Qaeda-linked rebel coalition Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham. The KIB detachment was created in Afghanistan on the basis of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. KIB also operates in Afghanistan and has pledged loyalty to the Taliban, who are in turn tight allies with al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network. After the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2012, KIB, on the recommendation of Al-Qaeda, moved to the province of Idlib and distinguished itself as one of the major rebel groups fighting against the regime of Bashar Assad. A group of the jihadists of the KIB is also based in Afghanistan today and is fighting together with the Taliban. About 200 militants are known to fight in the KIB. The propaganda materials of the group are actively disseminated in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Three days after the decision of the US State Department to include KIB in the list of global terrorist organizations, Shura of the KIB issued its own statementin response. In itsown statement, which was released via Telegram on March 25, 2018, KIB protested their designation as terrorists by the State Department. KIB states that it “was surprised by the American resolution to enlist the Imam al Bukhari Brigade on the world terror list notwithstanding that we do not have ideological or intellectual ties with any faction internationally enlisted.”

It is most interesting that Shura of the KIB, for its protection, used a lot of peaceful terms in their response such as «international law», «rights of freedom», “murderous Assad regime”, “struggle for а decent life of the Syrian people”, etc.

KIB claimed in their response, that their volunteers from many Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, formed their brigade “as a result of the war’s long duration in Syria and the increasing number of expats.”Shura of the KIB described his mission in the Middle East as protecting the simple and peaceful Syrian people from the bloody regime of Assad and his external sponsors, Hezbollah, Iranian Shiite militants and Russia.

KIB also claimed that they’ve been fighting with the Free Syrian Army to protect civilians against threats like ISIS, “which pushed ISIS to assassinate our previous leader (Sheikh Salahuddin).””The classification of Imam al-Bukhari Brigade by U.S., turns a blind eye on thousands of the Iranian-backed foreign Shiite militias that commit war crimes against the Syrians, and proves that the U.S. applies double standards and it is only concerned about its interests,” KIB continued.The Shura of group vowed to stay the course “in spite of pains and problems whether in our country or by the world order.”

In this regard, it should be noted that the “justifiable arguments” of the KIB that its fighters are fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and precisely because of this fact they should not be included in the list of world terrorist groups does not make sense.Firstly, not only the numerous factions of armed revolutionaries and the fragmentary Syrian opposition are fighting against the regime of Bashar Assad, but also the world jihadist groups ISIS and Al-Qaeda.However, their goals are completely different. If the peaceful Syrian opposition wants to build a democratic state in Syria in the future, then ISIS and Al Qaeda are fighting for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East.Al-Qaeda backed KIB that affiliated with Jabhat al Nusra, completely shares the position of his patrons.

Secondly, radical Salafism and militant Takfirism are the fundamental basis of the jihadi ideology of the KIB.In accordance with the ideological doctrine of KIB that was recently published on its Telegram channel, the group considers its goal the construction of an Islamic state in Central Asia, the overthrow of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the protection and spread of jihadi ideology around the world by force.

Jihadists of Katibat in training

Thirdly, jihad is the main tool for KIB in achieving its goals, that is, in building the Islamic Caliphate.In their propaganda materials, KIB leaders urge Muslims to wage jihad against the godless regimes of Central Asia and the West.After President Trump decided the U.S. Embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, KIB leader Abu Yusuf Muhojir posted on his Telegram page a pledge to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque and wage jihad on the West.

The Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) — a joint venture formed by Ahrar al-Sham and the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Movement in February — has joined KIB in denouncing the State Department’s designation as well.In its statement the SLF argues that the KIB is an “independent” faction comprised of Uzbeks who were “forced out of their country” and who now fight against the Assad regime and ISIS. It is known that Ahrar al-Sham is an al Qaeda backed Salafi-jihadi group who fought alongside Al Nusrah Front in the past.The SLF also points to the assassination of KIB leader Sheikh Salahuddinlast year, alleging that ISIS cooperated with “Russian intelligence” in the killing.

In this regard, it should be noted that the assassination of the leader of KIB Sheikh Salahuddin is related to the confrontation between ISIS and al-Qaida, which led to internal fighting among the Central Asian jihadists in Syria.His real name was Akmal Jurabaev and he was born and grew up in the Uzbek town of Namangan. He shared the religious views and Salafi ideology of the Taliban and al Qaeda. On April 27, 2017, during the evening prayer in the mosque of a Syrian city of Idlib, Sheikh Salahuddin was killed by an Uzbek militant who was a member of ISIS. The Islamic State distributed the following statement via Telegram messenger in this regard, “The emir of detachment of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari, Sheikh Salahuddin, was punished according to the Sharia law for all the betrayals he committed.”

The Uzbek militant from Tajikistan, known as Abu Yusuf Muhojir, was appointed the new leader of the group. The Uzbek social networks have characterized him as the distinguished military strategist who has implemented a series of successful operations against the army of Bashar Assad. After the comprehensive analysis of his public speeches in the audio format published on the Telegram, we can draw the following conclusions: Abu Yusuf Muhojirhas the deep religious knowledge, knew the nuances of the Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) and jihad.

It is no accident that in their statements, KIB and SLF appealed to the fact that the leader of the Uzbek jihadists, Sheikh Salahuddin,was assassinated by ISIS militants.Using this argument that Uzbek militants are fighting with ISIS and their leader has fallen by the hands of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi supporters, KIB is trying to justify its terrorist activities and to avoid international persecution in accordance with the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

This is not the first time that the United States has designateda Central Asian jihadist group on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) list.After designation of a terrorist group in the list of global terrorists, the US special services are allowed to carry out operations to eliminate the leaders of those terrorist groups, to take decisive measures to destroy financial schemes and to effectively put international pressure on them.

As is already known, the US State Department has designated the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan(IMU) in the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list on September 25, 2000.As a result, the leader of the group Tahir Yuldash (2009) and the military commander of the group Juma Namangoni (2001) were killed as a result of US missile airstrike.

On June 17, 2005, the US State Department designated the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) to the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.The IJU is a splinter faction of the IMU, and a substantial number of its members are from Central Asia.The IJU has been waging jihad in the Afghan-Pakistan region for more than a decade. It maintains close ties with al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The US has killed several top IJU leaders, including its emir, Najmuddin Jalolov, in drone strikes in North Waziristan 2009.

On December 29, 2004, the US State Department designated Uyghur Salafi-jihadi group the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (the Turkestan Islamic Party) to the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL).As a result, leaders of the Turkestan Islamic Party Hassan Mahsum (2003) and Abdul Shakur al-Turkistani (2012) were killed in US drone strike.

Based on this, we can assume what fate awaits the leaders and militants of the KIB in the near future. The designation of the KIB in the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list testifies to the US Government’s determination to combat the jihadist ideology of Salafism worldwide.This is a tangible support to the governments of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, which are facing a real threat of transnational terrorism.After all, the backbone of the KIB is made up of people from the Ferghana Valley of Central Asia, mainly of Uzbek nationality.

According to the Soufan Group, out of 5,000 people who left Central Asia for Syria and Iraq, about 500 jihadists in the ISIS ranks went back to their homes. But among the returnees, there are almost no militants KIB, Katibat al-Tawhidwal Jihad (KTJ), IJU and TIP, which are affiliated with al Qaeda. After the fall of ISIS, it is the militants linked with the al Qaeda that pose a big threat to the countries of Central Asia. Therefore, the emergence of two theatres of war for al Qaeda backed Central Asian militants in Syria and Afghanistan and the relative ease of transit between these two theatres via Turkey increases the threat that jihadists can return to Central Asia at an opportune moment, such as at a time of political, social or economic crises.This would be dangerous for the regimes of Central Asia.

Therefore, the designation of the KIB by the US government into the list of global terrorist organizations gives a positive impetus to the efforts of the Central Asian countries in respect to counterterrorism.But so far the Central Asian governments have not openly reacted to the initiative of the US State Department. Perhaps such a reaction followed through diplomatic channels, which are closed to the public.

The war in Afghanistan and in the Middle East over the past 17 years has shown that the United States is in the forefront of the fight against transnational terrorism and religious extremism. Therefore, it would be difficult for the Governments of Central Asia to do without US assistance in combating the radical ideology of Salafism and world jihadism.

The Central Asian states are in a bind insofar as there is little they can do to stymie the growth of the KIB, KTJ, IJU and TIP in Syria given their lack of influenceand likely also their lack of intelligence.As a result, the Central Asian governments will likely need to develop comprehensive national security strategies with allies both within the region and abroad to manage the complexities of emerging threats.To achieve results in the fight against jihadism, the Central Asian countries need to solve three main tasks.

First, to intensify cooperation with the United States and the exchange of intelligence data.Successful coordination between law enforcement agencies will help to block the channels of financial, material and military assistance to the jihadist groups from Central Asia, affiliated with al Qaeda.Joint cooperation will contribute to the dismantling of bases, camps and training centers for Central Asian jihadist groups in Syria and Afghanistan, neutralizing prominent leaders and identifying commercial organizations and foundations that subsidize them. The fight against Al Qaeda is a more difficult than with ISIS, as it does not have its own territory, which can be hit. In the fight against Al-Qaeda, the United States has significant anti-terrorist experience, effective intelligence tools and advanced technical capabilities.

Secondly, given the increased role of another Uzbek group Katibat al-Tawhidwal Jihad in the global jihad and their successful terrorist acts in Russia (the explosion of the metro in St. Petersburg) and in Kyrgyzstan (the explosion of the Chinese embassy in Bishkek), the governments of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan should lobby the US to include the KTJ in the list of global terrorist organizations.

Thirdly, for successful international coordination of anti-terrorist efforts, security agencies and special services of the countries of Central Asia need to get rid of block thinking and anti-American sentiment, which is a legacy of the Soviet empire and which is being initiated by Russia.Kremlinis known to consider Central Asia as an area of its influence. Putin is imposing its anti-American ideology on the countries of the region, which impedes the joint struggle against world jihadism. The confrontation between Russia and the West on the activities of the Taliban and the future regime of Bashar al-Assad enable jihadist groups from Central Asia to successfully assimilate into a global jihad. Therefore, the governments of Central Asia must work out their own self-position, which allows them to actively cooperate with the US in the fight against the global jihadist threat in the world and stop being a Putin’s “whipping boy”.

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