In a research under the title “The Qur’an and War: Observations on Islamic Just War,” from 2012, Dr. Joel Hayward says that his purpose is to analyze the holy text which underpins Islam and articulates its mandatory codes of conduct in order to determine what that text, the Qur’an, actually requires or permits Muslims to do in terms of military violence….
This article is intended to be useful — sufficient to dispel any assumptions that the Qur’an advocates the punishment, subjugation or even killing of “infidels” as well as to reveal its key concepts governing justice during wartime…
Even a cursory reading of the Qur’an will draw the reader’s eyes to hundreds of scriptures extolling tolerance, conciliation, inclusiveness and peace, but also to a few scriptures that seem to be more aggressive…
“my conclusion (and that of every authoritative Islamic scholar) that the Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are prohibited from aggressive violence and are compelled, should war prove unavoidable, always to act within a code of ethical behavior that is closely akin to, and compatible with, the western warrior code embedded within Just War.
Hayward chooses to confirm his above-written assertions by trying to analyze verses that are used as warmongering by the “enemies of Islam.” He claims that “many critics assert that verses 9:29 and 2:190-194 directs Muslims to wage war against any and all disbelievers anywhere who refuse to embrace Islam or at least to submit to Islamic rule.” However, he says “they do not mandate Muslims to wage aggressive war or to inflict disproportionate or indiscriminate brutality.”
Then surprisingly he turns to analyze the abrogation doctrine. He claims that “The Qur’an itself states in several Surah that Allâh’s words constitute a universally applicable message sent down for ‘all of mankind’ and that it was a ‘reminder’ (with both ‘glad tidings and warnings’) to ‘all’ of humanity (Surah 34:28, Surah 39:41 and Surah 81:27). But what is the connection between abrogation and Islamic just war?
Hayward tries to prove the abrogation doctrine is non-existent. How he does so? Very simple: he just dismisses all Islamic classical exegetes and totally relies on the fresh new Islamic propagators in the West. Here is the main problem: the disqualification of Islamic classic and most important exegetes. In his words: “certainly most Islamic authorities on the Qur’an and Muhammad today, as opposed to scholars from, say, the more ambiguous medieval period (author’s emphasis), are firm in their judgement that the most warlike verses in the Qur’an, even those revealed very late in Muhammad’s mission, do not cancel out the overwhelming number of verses (author’s emphasis) that extol tolerance, reconciliation, inclusiveness and peace.
Who are the exegetes that cancel these most important doctrine? Well, the oracles of Hayward are three, in fact four:
The British scholar Dr Zakaria Bashier (War and Peace), who claims that “all the beautiful verses throughout the Qur’an which instruct Muslims to be peaceful, tolerant and non-aggressive are No reason exists at all to think that they have been overruled.”
The “Prolific British scholar Louay Fatoohi (Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source), arguing that “overwhelming number’ of Muslim scholars reject the abrogation thesis regarding war (author’s emphasis). Fatoohi highlights the fact that throughout history the Islamic world has never acted in accordance with this extreme view, that Muslims have co-existed very well with other faith communities and that the 1600 million peaceable Muslims in the world today clearly do not accept the view otherwise, if they did, they would be at war as we speak.”
Muhammad Abu Zahra (Concept of War in Islam), an important and influential Egyptian intellectual and expert on Islamic law, summed up the mainstream Islamic view by rejecting any abrogation thesis pertaining to conflict and stating that “War is not justified… to impose Islam as a religion on unbelievers or to support a particular social regime. The prophet Muhammad fought only to repulse aggression.”
Sohaib Nazeer Sultan (The Koran for Dummies) makes the same point that the martial verse and the sword and those like it do not abrogate the more numerous peaceful, tolerant and inclusive verses.
However, not only we do not have any corroboration for these claims, we just have to believe they know better than Ibn Salama, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Nahhas, al-Nasikh Wal-Mansukh; al-Baydawi, Anwar at-Tanzil wa-Asrar at-Ta’wil; al-Zarkasi, al-Burhan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; al-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; and Lubab an-Nuqul fi Asbab an-Nuzul; Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir; Ibn Hazm, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf; al-Tabari, Tafsir; al-Wahidi, Kitab Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir.
You see, all these esteemed exegetes, biographers of Muhammad, highly acclaimed interpreters of Qur’an in Islamic religious history are put aside and thrown away by the new scholars of the 21st century, who use Da’wah as a diplomacy of deceit to mislead the infidels. It is as if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson have not written the US constitution, or that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay have not written the “Federalist.” Even better say, it is as if these personalities have nothing to do with the US constitutional and political establishment, and they all must be null and void compare to new propagators claiming totally the opposite about the history of the US.
Then, Hayward turns “the so-called ‘verse of the sword of Surah 9:5.” He claims
“Bin Laden certainly did draw upon the verse of the sword and other seemingly militant Qur’anic scriptures in his August 1996 ‘Declaration of War against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places’ as well as in his February 1998 fatwâ.”
However, Bin Laden “is not representative of Islamic belief or behaviour.” For Hayward
“It is quite true that, taken in isolation, Surah 9:5 seems an unusually violent pronouncement for a prophet who had for twenty years preached tolerance, peace and reconciliation (my emphasis). Yet it is equally true that, when read in the context of the verses above and below Surah 9:5, and when the circumstances of its pronouncement by Muhammad are considered, it is not difficult for readers without preconceptions and bias to understand it more fully… It is thus not as bloodthirsty as Robert Spencer and his colleagues portray it… it would only nowadays have any relevance and applicability if polytheists and idolaters ever tried to undertake and re-establish pagan practices in the Saudi Arabian cities devoted only to Allâh: Mecca and Medina. In other words, in today’s world it is not relevant or applicable (author’s emphasis and double emphasis).
Moreover, Hayward says Ibn Kathir said no such thing that the verse of the sword abrogates all peaceful verses ever previously uttered by the prophet, as Spencer claim: “Spencer mistakenly extrapolates this to claim, baselessly.”
Well, the reader in Arabic and in English who reads Ibn Kathir classical Tafsir, is sure Ibn Kathir said verse 9:5 abrogates all the so-called peaceful verses. If one wonders how Hayward misunderstands what Ibn Kathir said, well here is Hayward’s interpretation to another warmongering verse (4:89), which clearly claim to “seize and slay the infidels wherever you find them.” This verse, Hayward says,
“is surrounded by so many other explanatory and qualifying verses that its superficially violent meaning is immediately moderated by its context of tolerance and understanding. First, it threatened violence in self defence only … Secondly, it stated that, if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way… The verse not only offered peaceful co-existence to those who formally made peace with the Muslims, but also to anyone…”
Well, this is indeed an interesting interpretation, yet it has nothing to do with the reality. What ridicule the situation is Hayward own words: first, there is a war against the infidels, but it is only “self-defense.” Second, “if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way” (my emphases). In other words, if those “aggressors” yield to the Muslim demands, than peace prevails according to the Muslims’ terms. This “coexistence” has one meaning: a total defeat and surrender to Islam, as those aggressors must to live under Muslims’ terms. This is not exactly a peaceful coexistence.
Hayward is right when claiming that Surah 22:39 contains that first transformational statement of permission to fight in self-defense. However, he could not avoid using Da’wah, diplomacy of deceit, by claiming “Interestingly, it even extols the defense of houses of worship, including the churches of Christians and the synagogues of Jews.” Where from he has taken this false statement?
Hayward continues by claiming that
“In every Qur’anic example in which warfighting (qital) is encouraged for protection against oppression or violence, verses can be found that stress that, should the wrongdoers cease their hostility, then Muslims must immediately cease their own fighting.”
Well, the root q-t-l (noun Qitāl) means slaying, killing, fighting, slaughtering. It appears 123 times in the Qur’an, of which thirty-four times in the Meccan Sûwar and eighty-nine times in the Medina Sûwar, and it reveals the warlike character of the Arab Islamic political culture. The purpose and rules of Jihād Fī-Sabīlillāh and Qitāl merge together, being an inseparable part of Islamic roles, motivations, and targets. Both have the same objectives to make Islam dominant over all other religions. That is why Jihad is the inspiration, the call to bring Islamic religious and political superiority, while Qitāl is the earthly act of fighting and slaughtering the infidels.
As a propagator of Islam, Hayward could not escape praising Muhammad as a pacifist tender person and anti-war hero:
“Muhammad was no warmonger and forgave and pardoned mortal enemies whenever he could. This “reluctant warrior,” to quote one scholar, urged the use of nonviolent means…
Muhammad recognised that wars were so unpalatable to his peace-loving community that, even though the causes of Muslim warfighting were just, he had to go to extra lengths…
However, the truth is unfortunately very different. Hayward have to learn the three best and most acclaimed biographers of Muhammad: Ibn Ishaq, Sīrat Rasûl Allāh; al-Tabari, Ta’rīkh al-Rusûl wal-Mulûk; and al-Waqidi, Kitāb al-Maghāzī, as to really realize the way and the character of the wars conducted by Muhammad and his believers. Even personally, the list of Muhammad’s killing is long.
Hayward states that “the Qur’an repeatedly enjoins Muslims to remember that, whenever possible, they should respond to provocations with patience and efforts to facilitate conciliation.” But he does not mention that this command was true only to the Meccan period, when Muhammad and his community of believers were small, weak and vulnerable, compare to the Meccans. This is something to recall: after 12 years of religious preaching at Mecca there were only 150 believers, including women and children. However, to introduce the war-like character of the Arabs, 10 thousand joined Muhammad’s ranks after his victory in the Badr War, in March 624.
Only at the end of his research, Hayward refers to topic, mainly “Observations on Islamic Just War.” He claims that
“The reasons for going to war expressed within the Qur’an closely match those within jus ad bellum, the Just War criteria which establishes the justice of a decision to undertake combat. The criteria include Just Cause, Proportionality and Last Resort” (my emphasis).
He has done nothing to prove this claim. He claims that
“Muhammad would instruct them to fight honourably, not to hurt women and children, not to harm prisoners, not to mutilate bodies, not to plunder and not to destroy trees or crops.”
However, from reading Muhammad’s biographers and other Islamic reliable sources, the picture is the opposite. I have referred to these, only from Islamic exegesis in the first chapter of my book: Islam and the Infidels.
From reading his research it is doubtful if Hayward knows Arabic well, which a great fault is. However, he is also mistaken by claiming that
“Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, compiled the Qur’an’s and the prophet’s guidance on the conduct of war into a code that has served ever since as the basis of Islamic thinking on the conduct of battle” (my emphasis).
Well, Abu Bakr lived only two years, and only Uthman, the third Caliph, compiled the Qur’an, in 644. To be more accurate, this period of the four first Caliphs, al-Khulafā’ al-Rashidûn, prove the warmongering character of the Arabs: in less than 30 years, there were two civil wars; the great rift separation in Islam, between the Sunnah and the Shī’ah, and three of the four Caliphs were murdered.
Hayward is now back to the issue of Jihad. He claims:
“Interestingly, given that jihad is now associated with extremists who are full of hatred, like Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, the Qur’an does not allow hatred to form the basis of a military or other armed response to perceived injustices” (5:8; 3:134).
Well, he should read the paper published in Modern Diplomacy (January 19 and January 27, 2016), concerning hatred. Yet, he continues by misquoting verses 2:256 and 5:32. These verse were dealt very extensively in my Da’wah papers on Modern Diplomacy (February 22, and March 4, 2016).
Hayward adds insult to injury by claiming that
“Despite rejection by several powerful Jewish tribes, Muhammad remained convinced that the Jewish and Christian faith communities (as opposed to individual tribes which acted treacherously) were eminently acceptable to Allâh.”
Well, the truth is that the three Jewish tribes of Medina were deported and massacred, their women and children were forcefully Islamized, and their belongings were seized and taken. The truth is that in Arabia the Jews were passed through process of genocide and ethnic cleansing, being the “worst enemies of Allah;” “like apes and pigs.”
Again, Hayward makes his work cheap by claiming that
“jihad, far from meaning some type of fanatical holy war against all unbelievers, is the Arabic word for “exertion” or “effort” and it actually describes any Muslim’s struggle against the things that are ungodly within him or her and within the wider world.
Well, this is incorrect. Jihad comes from the third conjugation of the root j.h.d. and it means war. From here comes Mujāhidûn and Jihād. Indeed, it is mentioned (not in the Qur’an and not in an authentic, Sahīh, Hadīth) there is al-Jihād al-Akbar (the spiritual Jihad as compare to al-Jihād al-Saghīr, but it is also clear that al-Jihād al-Akbar will be practiced only after al-Jihād al-Saghīr is finished, meaning there will be infidels and Islam prevails.
Hayward concludes his research by bringing a long statement
This article is not an attempt at religious apologetics. It is written by a scholar of military strategy and ethics for a military audience in an endeavour to demonstrate that the world’s second largest religion (only Christianity has more adherents) includes at its core a set of scriptures that contains a clear and very ethical framework for understanding war and guiding the behaviour of warriors” (Author’s emphasis).
Well, it is the right time to directly refer to the subject matter raised by Hayward, which was unfortunately highly apologetic and misleading.
Just war in Arabic is Sīyār. Reading the Islamic Four School of Jurisprudence (Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and Hanafi), and the Sharī’ah (Ahmed ibn Naqib al Misri, ’Umdat as-Sālik; Ibn Rushd, The Distinguished Jurists Primer; and Abu Zakariya Yahya, Riyad al-Sālihīn), clearly reveal there is no concept of “Just War” in Islam as in Western, Judeo-Christian thinking. From Islamic vantage point, any war which is directed against the infidels is morally justified and religiously legitimized. It comes even from the names: Islamic wars are not Hurûb (plural of Harb), but rather Futûhāt (plural of Fath), which literally means opening the world to the call of Islam.
Muslims wage Jihad in order to occupy the world and bring it under its fold, and/or to disseminate the religion to all humanity. This is why it is a just war to achieve a legitimate and a sacred cause. They wholeheartedly believe that their territorial expansion and their use of force and coercion against the other is not aggression but a fulfillment of the Qur’anic command to spread Islam to all humankind. The distinction is clear: every war activity in Islam is described as totally defensive, and every move of the infidels is defined as totally and undoubtedly aggressive.
The normal and justified relationships between Dār al-Islām, the domain of Islam, and Dār al-Harb, the domain of war, where the infidels reside, is a state of infinite war. The Muslims are totally justified in their state of belligerency against the infidels. Dār al–Islām is conceived as any territory conquered by force in the history of Islam, to become Waqf. By this reasoning, all territories of the infidels in Dār al-Harb, must be subdued or eliminated.
A lasting peace between Dār al-Islām, being a religious and political community, and Dār al-Harb is impossible, until Dār al-Harb no more exist. When the entire world has become Dār al-Islām, submission (Islām) to Allah will become the law of the nations. Until then, war is the normal and lasting state. Dār al-Sulh or Dār al-‘Ahd exist only when Muslim power is weak and they cannot win over the infidels. Arab-Islamic political culture institutionalizes the conflict as the natural state of affairs. The word Salām denotes a state of security within the Muslim community (Ummah) and only those coming under its rule and governance. Everything is temporary and subject to change, in accord with Muslim values and interests.
Majid Khadduri, a world leading authority on Arab definitions of peace and war states clearly: Arabs and Muslims view peace with infidels only as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective. It is a valid instrument only if it serves the Islamic interests. Peace constitutes a temporary break in the ongoing war against the infidels, and it is clearly seen from the intriguing 1,400 year sequence of wars, terrorism, alliances and violent violation of agreements and treaties between Arabs and Muslims and others. Muslims might come to terms with the enemy, provided that they should resume Jihad after the expiration of the treaty, or according their interests. By their very nature, treaties must be of temporary duration, for the normal relations between Muslim and non-Muslim territories are not peaceful, but warlike.
Islam could not abolish the warlike character of the Arabs who were constantly at war with each other. It indeed reaffirmed the war basis of inter-group relationship by institutionalizing war… transforming inter-Muslim war into a holy war designed to be ceaselessly declared against those who failed to become Muslims (pp. 53-4). This change, as a matter of fact, did not imply abandonment of the Jihad duty; it only meant the entry of the obligation into a period of suspension… There is no permanent compromise with non-believers (pp. 64-5).
This is summarized in a statement by the renowned Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)
In the Muslim community, Jihad as the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in Islam, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time.
Muhsin Khan, The Translator of Sahīh al-Bukhārī into English states
So, it is incumbent upon Muslims to follow the path which Allah’s Messenger adopted to avoid polytheism and heresy in all its shapes and to take the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions as torches in front of us to guide us. We have to teach our brethren and convey the message to non-Muslims all over the world as much as possible in order to save them from the Hell-fire. We have to prepare ourselves to stand in the face of our enemy and to possess the means of power and to participate in the progress of useful industries in order to protect our religion and be powerful enough to face our enemy, as Allah ordered.
Mounting Cyber Espionage and Hacking Threat from China
Earlier this month a ransomware attack on America’s Prospect Medical Holdings, which operates dozens of hospitals and hundreds of clinics and outpatient centres across the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Southern California was forced to shut off its centres in several locations as the healthcare system experienced software disruptions. In June India’s premier hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) faced a malware attack on its systems which was thwarted by its cyber-security systems. This is not the first time that the premier hospital’s data was breached. In November 2022, AIIMS had experienced a cyberattack within weeks of announcing that from January 2023, it would operate on a completely paperless mechanism. The cyber attack which involved ransomware, designed to deny a user or organisation access to files, lasted for nearly a month affecting the profile of almost 4 crore patients – affecting registration, appointments, billing, laboratory report generation, among other operations of the hospital. Regarding the quantum of data that was compromised, the government revealed that “five servers of AIIMS were affected and approximately 1.3 terabytes of data was encrypted.”
Till June this year, Indian Government organisations faced over one lakh cyber security incidents and financial institutions saw over four lakh incidents. Data presented by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which has the mandate of tracking and monitoring cybersecurity incidents in India, indicates rising Cyberattacks to government organisations. or systems year on year. From 70798 in 2018, to 112474 in 2023 (up to June) incidents of cyber attacks have been on the rise, on a year on year basis. Presenting this data at the Parliament, Minister for electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw said, “With innovation in technology and rise in usage of the cyberspace and digital infrastructure for businesses and services, cyber-attacks pose a threat to confidentiality, integrity and availability of data and services, which may have direct or indirect impact on the organisation.”
A lot of the hacking activity points towards China. Western intelligence agencies are becoming increasingly wary of digital intrusion by hacking teams that they believe are being backed by China’s government. Almost a decade ago, American computer security firm Mandiant had made the startling claim that these hacking groups are operated by units of China’s army. The firm was able to trace an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organisations and government agencies to a building on the outskirts of Shanghai. Mandiant made the case that the building was one of the bases of the People’s Liberation Army’s corps of cyberwarriors. US intelligence analysts have detected that a central element of Chinese computer espionage is Unit 61398 which targets American and Canadian government sites. Mandiant, which was hired by The New York Times, found that hacker groups like “Comment Crew” or “Shanghai Group” were behind hundreds of attacks on U.S. companies, focusing “on companies involved in the critical infrastructure of the United States — its electrical power grid, gas lines and waterworks” thereafter bringing that information to the military unit 61398.
In their defence the China’s authorities simply denied any form of state-sponsored hacking, and have in turn dubbed the US National Security Agency (NSA) as “the world’s largest hacker organisation.”
Nonetheless, since the 2013 revelations, Chinese hacking teams have generated a lot of interest and Western cybersecurity companies and intelligence agencies have accused them of global digital incursion. They allege that Chinese government-backed hackers attempt to target everything from government and military organisations to corporations and media organisations.
Most recently in the footsteps of the incident involving the Chinese spy balloon Microsoft claimed that in an ongoing effort Chinese state-sponsored hackers group ‘Storm-0558’ was forging digital authentication tokens to gain unauthorised access to Microsoft’s Outlook accounts and urged users “close or change credentials for all compromised accounts”. On May 24, Microsoft and US intelligence state-sponsored hackers of ‘Volt Typhoon’ were engaged in ongoing spying of critical US infrastructure organisations ranging from telecommunications to transportation hubs, using an unnamed vulnerability in a popular cybersecurity suite called FortiGuard, and had been active since mid-2021.
According to US cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks cyber espionage threat group ‘BackdoorDiplomacy’ has links to the Chinese hacking group called ‘APT15’and they are all involved in cyber intrusions and financially motivated data breaches for the Chinese government. During the visit by then-US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, APT27 initiated a range of cyber attacks targeting Taiwan’s presidential office, foreign and defence ministries as well as infrastructure such as screens at railway stations. Television screens at 7-11 convenience stores in Taiwan Began to display the words: “Warmonger Pelosi, get out of Taiwan!”
Mara Hvistendahl’s article in Foreign Policy, 2017 ‘China’s Hacker Army’ estimated China’s “hacker army” anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 individuals, but rejected the belief that it was a monolithic cyber army. Mara contends that Chinese hackers are for the most part dangerous ‘freelancers’ whose ‘causes neatly overlap with the interests of the Chinese government’ and these hackers are left alone as long as they target foreign sites and companies.
Although cyber attacks have gone up globally, data by Check Point, an American-Israeli software company, reveals that weekly cyber attacks in India have gone up by 18 per cent this year, which is 2.5 times more than the global increase. Furthermore the cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated as hackers try to weaponize legitimate tools for malicious gains. For instance the use of ChatGPT for code generation, enables hackers to effortlessly launch cyberattacks.
Last year in a massive case of cyber espionage, Chinese-linked hackers broke into mail servers operated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in February 2022 and stole sensitive data. At the recent ‘Conference on Crime & Security on the theme of ‘NFTs, AI and the Metaverse’, current G20 President India, has highlighted the need for cooperation to build cyber-resilience in an increasingly connected world. Both cyber attacks and cyber crimes have national security implications.
In India, investigations into the cyberattack, which had crippled the functioning of India premier health institution AIIMS, revealed that “the IP addresses of two emails, which were identified from the headers of files that were encrypted by the hackers, originated from Hong Kong and China’s Henan province”.
Earlier this year, US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray had an alarming metric, – that Chinese hackers outnumber FBI cyber staff 50 to one. Addressing a Congressional panel he said, China has “a bigger hacking programme than every other major nation combined and has stolen more of our personal and corporate data than all other nations — big or small — combined.”
China is today home to some of the most sophisticated hackers, whose capabilities have only improved with time. Their motivations and actions might be independent but are conveniently entwined. However, much more needs to be understood about the hacker culture from China in recent years, if the menace of cybercrime and ransomware is to be mitigated successfully .
Whistleblowers: the Unsung Heroes
Whistleblowing is a bribery and corruption prevention strategy that does not receive the credit it deserves. In fact, rather than relying exclusively on laws, regulations, and resolutions, whistleblowing can be considered a highly effective method to combat bribery and corruption in any field, including government or corporate settings. Whistleblowing often leads to sustainable solutions, as it involves voices from various levels, ranging from grassroots to top-tier management. However, there are plethora of challenges whistleblowers face when they blow the whistle. Nonetheless, whistleblowers play a crucial role in preventing bribery and corruption, and this pivotal role enables preserving the security of any nation.
As stated by the National Center for Whistleblowing (2021), at its core, a whistleblower is an individual who discloses instances of wastefulness, fraudulent activities, misconduct, corruption, or hazards to public well-being, with the intention of prompting corrective actions. While whistleblowers are often affiliated with the organization where the wrongdoing occurs, it is not a prerequisite; anyone can assume the role of a whistleblower as long as they reveal information about the wrongdoing that would otherwise remain concealed. In simple terms, a whistleblower is a person who acts responsibly on behalf of themselves as well as others. Whistleblowers play an extremely imperative role in any society, as they stand for justice, promote accountability, and advocate transparency.
When looking at its link to national security, whistleblowers play a crucial role. One prominent action is whistleblowers exposing imminent and occurred security threats. They are capable of disclosing breaches of security, illegal surveillance, and in situations where individuals or entities are attempting to divulge material information. Whistleblowers uncover injustices, misconduct, and beyond-the-scope activities of decision-makers within government or private entities. If individuals engage in unethical practices, illegal actions, or actions jeopardizing integrity, whistleblowers blow the whistle. One such example, as reported by St. Francis School of Law in 2022, is whistleblower Frank Serpico’s case. He was the first police officer who openly testified about corruption within the New York Police Department, reporting instances of police corruption, including bribes and payoffs, despite facing numerous obstacles. His revelations contributed to a 1970 New York Times story on systemic corruption in the NYPD, leading to the formation of the Knapp Commission. In 1971, he survived a suspicious shooting during an arrest, raising concerns about potential attempts to harm him. Serpico’s bravery emphasized the importance of accountability and transparency in law enforcement.
Whistleblowers also contribute by facilitating accountability by bringing into light corrupt practices such as mismanagement of money. An example is, in 1968 when A. Ernest Fitzgerald, known as the “godfather of the defense movement,” exposed a staggering $2.3 billion cost overrun related to the Lockheed C-5 transport aircraft. His courageous testimony before Congress shed light on issues in defense contracting and resulted in substantial government savings. Fitzgerald’s contributions went beyond the immediate case, playing a crucial role in the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. This results in a culture of accountability where representatives of the public are answerable to their actions. Whistleblowers uphold the rule of law and promote justice by defending the rights of the citizens. It fosters democracy.
However, whistleblowers are often subjected to criticism for standing up against injustice. They fear retaliation, as guilty parties may try to silence them out of revenge. Additionally, companies or institutions may not take whistleblowers seriously, leading them to avoid addressing the reported issues. In many cases, this happens because governments or authorities in power might be involved in bribery and corruption. Public recognition and appreciation of whistleblowers’ contributions to society are vital and should not be perceived as excessive. In addition, there are situations where groups of individuals create sub cultures within organisation and act against rules and protocols jeopardising inclusive culture. In such situations, reporting to a superior will be seen as favoritism or being overly devoted to the institution. This toxic environment demotivates valuable employees or those willing to stand against injustice. The lack of adequate legal protection further compounds the challenges faced by whistleblowers. Moreover, the courage to stand against bribery and corruption is in dire need, as many individuals may lack the moral fortitude to do so.
Whistleblowers are internationally and domestically protected, primarily through the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Other international agreements, such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and the Organization of American States Inter-American Convention against Corruption, also demonstrate a commitment to whistleblower protection. Various influential international organizations, including the G20, OECD, and APEC, have played a role in promoting whistleblower laws and best practices worldwide. On the domestic front, countries like Sri Lanka have specific laws dealing with corruption, while OECD findings highlight countries with comprehensive whistleblower laws such as the United States, Canada, Japan, and others.
Despite these efforts, there are still some ambiguities and gaps in provisions that hinder effective whistleblowing. For instance, the proposed anti-corruption bill in Sri Lanka allows public officers to accept gratifications authorized by written law or employment terms, which undermines the core objectives of the bill and enables influential individuals to evade accountability for corrupt gains. In Russia, whistleblower protection is limited, with unsuccessful attempts to establish protective measures in 2017. This puts Russia behind the EU, which has implemented robust whistleblower protection through the Whistleblowing Directive.
It is evident that whistleblowers play an indispensable role in combatting bribery and corruption, acting as a highly effective strategy to preserve the security of any nation. Despite facing numerous challenges, these individuals contribute significantly by uncovering wrongdoing, promoting accountability, and upholding transparency. By exposing imminent security threats and holding corrupt practices accountable, whistleblowers safeguard the rule of law and foster democracy. However, to harness the full potential of whistleblowing, it is crucial to address barriers to reporting and remedy afore mentioned legal hurdles. Encouraging a whistleblowing culture and recognizing their contributions will enable society to effectively mitigate and combat bribery and corruption, by creating a more just and transparent environment. To accomplish this, organizations can embrace a culture of whistleblowing, by conducting awareness campaigns, implementing training programs, and fostering a safe and supportive environment for whistleblowers to come forward. In addition, implementing technical measures and policies to ensure whistleblower protection, authorities can demonstrate their commitment to supporting those who expose wrongdoing. These collective actions will strengthen the pivotal role of whistleblowers in preserving security by combating bribery and corruption, fostering a safer and more ethical society for the future.
Breaking the Grip: Comprehensive Policy Recommendations to Defeat Drug Cartels
In 2022, drug overdoses claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans. The primary sources of illegal drugs flooding into the United States are the Mexican drug cartels, who exploit a network of corrupt politicians, police officers, and military personnel in Mexico. Within Mexico itself, these cartels are responsible for a staggering level of violence, including tens of thousands of homicides each year. Within the United States, the cartels establish distribution cells, collaborating with either Mexican gangs or affiliated criminal organizations.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the Mexican drug cartels to be the number-one threat to the United States. Among them, the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) are the richest and most powerful. Their exceptional earnings allow them to invest in soldiers and weapons, as well as payoffs and bribes, enabling them to expand their territorial control.
To effectively address the challenge posed by the cartels, the United States should adopt a comprehensive set of policy measures. These include securing the southern border, fostering enhanced cooperation with the Mexican government, implementing immigration reforms, bolstering drug enforcement efforts domestically, designating the cartels as terrorist organizations, imposing targeted financial and economic sanctions, and considering if limited military intervention is necessary.
While these measures hold significant potential, there exist political barriers that hinder their implementation.
Secure the Southern Border
Since January 2020, over five million people have illegally crossed the southern border. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identifies protecting the border from illegal movements of people and drugs as being essential to homeland security. Transnational criminal organizations, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG, are responsible for most of the drugs entering the country. On an average day, CBP seizes 1,797 pounds of illegal narcotics. In 2022, CBP seized a total of “more than 1.8 million pounds of narcotics and 14,700 pounds of fentanyl.” Preventing the cartels from being able to transport drugs into the United States would take away their income, causing their soldiers and friendly politicians to stop cooperating with them.
In order to better secure the border, CBP has created a preparedness plan which consists of a number of crucial elements, such as increasing the number of personnel, while improving technology and infrastructure. In addition to new hires, the number of personnel can be augmented through increased cooperation with other branches of law enforcement and the military. In May, President Biden, in response to a request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees CBP, ordered an additional 1,500 troops to the border for a 90-day deployment. This was on top of the 2,500 already in place. Texas Governor Ron Abbot deployed his national guard and the new Texas Tactical Border Force to the border. North Dakota and Tennessee, as well as other states, also sent members of their national guard to Texas. In addition to national guard troops, the state of Florida sent a mix of state law-enforcement officers from varying branches. To effectively control the border, however, and have a major impact on illegal immigration, the number of troops will have to be drastically increased and the deployment would have to be permanent.
The technological improvements called for by the DHS include increased use of high-tech assets for aerial surveillance such as drones and manned aircraft. They also want sensors on border barriers, land sensors, cameras, radar, and autonomous surveillance towers. This technology will allow the DHS to better detect, monitor, and track unauthorized border crossings. Additionally, improved data analytics and artificial intelligence would help with screening and processing of legal entrants as well as illegals who have been apprehended.
The DHS has called for improved infrastructure towers, as well as facility expansion and upgrades. Some U.S. lawmakers would also like to see the border wall completed, particularly along vulnerable areas. A wall would impede illegal entry to the country, while making it easier for officials to spot illegal crossings.
Plans to secure the border have been rejected on a number of grounds. First, it would be expensive to station the necessary number of personnel at the border. Increased infrastructure, particularly the wall, would also be very costly and would not provide a 100-percent solution. Even more, it would be seen as racist, with Bloomberg calling the border wall a monument to White Supremacy.
Increased Cooperation with Mexican Government
One part of the cooperation with Mexico has to include Mexico’s willingness to help staunch the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. Mexican President López Obrador formed a national guard tasked with this purpose, but the group has been condemned by human rights activists. Furthermore, the national guard, like other elements of Mexico’s law enforcement and military, suffers from corruption.
If migrants were turned away by the U.S. in large numbers, Mexico would have to stand ready to accept them. Mexico would also have to form agreements with other countries in the chain of drug transit, from Colombia, through Central America, to the U.S. border. These countries will have to similarly agree to help prevent migrants from entering Mexico and they will have to stand ready to receive those migrants returned by Mexico.
Inside of Mexico, the Mexican government must actively fight the cartels, disarming them, disbanding them, and loosening their hold over both territory and people. This includes targeting high-profile cartel leaders. This will create command and control vacuums which historically have caused in-fighting among cartel members. Large cartels would then splinter into independent and warring groups with considerably less power. Changes within Mexico, however, would be dependent on reducing corruption, and these policies would be very unpopular among politicians, police, and military officers who benefit from the status quo.
Because of the massive corruption and the influence the cartels have over the Mexican authorities, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has abandoned any hope of cooperating with the Mexican government, calling the country “a failed narco-state.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has similarly given up on the Mexican government, saying that the U.S. should notify Mexico that the cartels will soon be designated as terrorist organizations.
The screening process for legal immigrants must be strengthened, while backdoor avenues, such as illegal entry and asylum-seeking, must be curtailed. Under the Biden administration, anyone arriving at the southern border can claim to be seeking asylum. This allows them to remain in the United States awaiting their asylum hearing. Republicans see this as an enticement for people wishing to enter the country, bypassing normal immigration procedures. Rights groups, on the other hand, complain that Washington should not curtail its acceptance of asylum seekers. In this case, asylum seekers should be returned to Mexico to await their court date. Knowing that they cannot get a free pass into the U.S. would reduce the number of people seeking to exploit the system. This change in immigration procedure would have to be coordinated with Mexico, however, as the undocumented would be entering Mexican territory.
Increased Drug Enforcement in the U.S.
Drug laws in the U.S. must be rigorously enforced in order to reduce the demand for drugs. Law enforcement must be strengthened, including additional training, and increased investigation and prosecution of drug-related crimes. Intelligence gathering must be enhanced through the creation of specialized units and task forces. The DEA reported that drug cartels are exploiting social media to sell fentanyl and methamphetamine. The authorities should closely monitor these social media in order to identify and arrest buyers and sellers. Furthermore, the DEA must coordinate with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to increase arrests of people selling or buying illegal drugs.
Beyond law enforcement and prosecution, there must be comprehensive drug prevention and treatment programs, education campaigns, addiction treatment, and rehabilitation programs. Opponents of strict enforcement claim that enforcement does not work because drug use has increased during the 50 years that the U.S. war on drugs has been going on. The war on drugs has cost $1 trillion, and roughly one in five incarcerated people were arrested on drug charges. Opponents also complain that prisoners are disproportionately Black and Latino. Although only 13.4 percent of the population is African American, about 25 percent of all persons arrested for drugs are African American adults.
Identify Cartels as International Terrorist Organization
The cartels are known to cooperate with international terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, Taliban, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and al-Qaeda, in order to sell their drugs in other parts of the world. They also aid terrorism by smuggling terrorists into the United States. To launder their illicit income, they employ the services of Chinese criminal organizations which pose their own threat to the United States. U.S. lawmakers have proposed designating the cartels as terrorist organizations, because they use violence and threats of violence to influence and control judges, politicians, and lawmakers. Designating the cartels as terrorist organizations would facilitate U.S. government seizure of cartel assets. It would make it easier for the U.S. to arrest cartel members inside of the United States, and possibly inside of Mexico. The U.S. could deport or bar from entry persons associated with the cartels. A terrorism designation would also enable the U.S. to deploy the military, even inside of Mexico.
However, there would be a number of disadvantages. First, violence would most likely increase, particularly if the U.S. military became involved. Next, it would effectively destroy U.S.-Mexico relations. The U.S. would be able to sanction or arrest high-ranking members of the Mexican government and security forces, which might be perceived as an act of war. These types of purges might destabilize the Mexican government and would, at the very least, cause a breakdown in cooperation between the two nations. Furthermore, bilateral trade, valued at $800 billion and accounting for millions of jobs on both sides of the border, would dry up. Increased violence, a destabilized government, and a loss of jobs would increase the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw and other U.S. lawmakers have called for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to target Mexican drug cartels, saying “We must start treating them like ISIS – because that is who they are.” Those who back an AUMF point to the fact that the cartels are responsible for more American deaths each year than the entire Vietnam War. An AUMF would provide the president with the sophisticated hardware and expert personnel of the U.S. military, more powerful assets than those possessed by law enforcement or the DHS. Supporters of an AUMF also make the point that the soldiers would be engaging foreign hostiles in a foreign nation and, therefore, would not be infringing on the civil rights of U.S. citizens.
In addition to arresting or killing key cartel members, military intervention could disrupt drug supply chains by destroying growing fields and drug labs. The government of Mexico has protested discussions of U.S. military operations in his country, calling it an offense to the Mexican people. Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador said that he would not “permit any foreign government to intervene in our territory, much less that a government’s armed forces intervene”.
Another disadvantage of U.S. military operations in Mexico would be an increase in violence. Inevitably, civilians would suffer, and the U.S. would be portrayed as the villain in the international and liberal press. The threat of cartel violence against Americans would also increase. Historically, the cartels have tried to avoid killing Americans, for fear of provoking Washington’s wrath. If the U.S. military began engaging in cross-border operations, the cartels would most likely declare all-out-war on Americans. Cartel violence within the U.S. would also accelerate as the cartels would be risking nothing by upping the ante.
Increased Financial and Economic Sanctions
Financial and economic sanctions can be powerful tools to break the cartels and to punish those who assist them. This includes enforcement of anti-money laundering laws, as well as targeting financial institutions that handle cartel money. Cartel assets held in banks around the world could be seized if U.S. allies also participated in the sanctions. If Mexico is legitimately interested in curbing corruption in their own government, this intense scrutiny would also help them to discover which public officials were accepting bribes.
Sanctions have already been used against the cartels: In 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department, in cooperation with their Mexican counterparts, brought sanctions against a cartel member who was trafficking weapons from the United States. Under the sanctions, Obed Christian Sepulveda Portillo had his property in the U.S. seized. U.S. Entities and persons from the U.S. are also prohibited from doing business with him or completing transactions on his behalf. Those who violate these sanctions may face criminal charges or civil lawsuits. In July 2023, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against ten individuals, including several Sinaloa Cartel members, as well as one Mexico-based company, for their role in the production of illicit fentanyl and the precursor chemicals necessary for fentanyl production. Under the sanctions, all of their properties and interests in the U.S. were seized. Americans were banned from doing business with them. Companies in which they had a direct or indirect stake of 50 percent or more were also prohibited from doing business in the U.S. or with Americans. These are good examples, but to break the cartels, these types of sanctions would have to increase in scope, hitting large numbers of people participating in criminal networks.
From an efficacy standpoint, the above policy recommendations, if taken together, would result in a decrease in the supply side, a decrease in the demand side, and a long-term reduction in drug deaths and violent deaths in both the U.S. and Mexico, eventually leading to the stabilization of Mexico. Breaking the hold the cartels have on the country would allow Mexico to develop economically. This would benefit the entire population and the United States. But this success, which could take painful years to achieve, would come with a political and human cost which politicians may not be willing to pay.
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