Date: 8/20/2005


The Al-Qeada wishlist /// By: Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta/// What do they want anyway? I extracted all the demands made by Al Qaeda in various guises, pronouncements and various spokesmen (no women please, for them it's haram!) and arranged them in terms of strategic objectives and tactical objectives, cut out the obvious foam and spittle, to produce a list which was fascinating to behold. The thud of my jaw hitting the desk and my eyeballs popping out and skittering on the floor was clearly audible in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan. If we have to defeat these terrorists, then we have to understand their objectives. Once we have understood their objectives (howsoever lurid and eye popping they may be), that makes us see their ideology in greater detail and then we are on our way to combat their pernicious influence over their sympathisers and turn the already committed terrorists. /// On pulling up my research files and getting my sister to help out on some research, this is the list of jehadi demands that I collected. It is difficult to define all what Al-Qaeda/jehadi's encompasses, but assuming that it relates to the direct statements by Osama Bin Laden, his direct subordinates like Zarqawi in Iraq, and the assorted Islamic terrorist groups who were and are based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere. This comprises of long term or final objectives as well as short term ones./// Long term ones are to establish a Caliphate as the rule in the world, implement Sharia as the only law and for every person to be a Muslim and part of the ummah. Short term ones range from the removal of all infidels from the holy land (Saudi Arabia); expulsion of all Jews from Israel and establishing a Muslim rule over Palestine (specially Jerusalem); wiping out the humiliating defeat and expulsion from Spain; removing infidels from a range of countries (or establishing independent Muslim rule) ranging from Chechnya, Bosnia, India, Afghanistan, Iraq etc.; punishing the crusaders (UK, USA etc. etc.); removal of all the assorted tin-pot dictators/generals/sultans/kings/emirs etc., who are currently ruling the various Muslim lands; obliteration of every Muslim sect except for the very narrowly defined Salafi / Wahhabi sect and removal of Capitalism and replacing it with a Sharia based economic system. /// I am going to rely on John Maynard Keynes pithy comment, "in the long run - we are all dead". As far as the strategic long term goals are concerned, they could be dreaming of having a salafi outpost in Mars and then contorting into tortured paroxysms of analysis on how to determine the direction to Mecca for prayers from there and I would not break a sweat. What happens in three centuries or thirty centuries is slightly out of scope for me. The concern is more on the here and now, so we concentrate on the tactical and short term objectives. /// It is very obvious once we put them together, that there are few common elements which we can identify. First, a proselytising angle is strong in their demands and speeches. Second, they are also trying to build a constituent base within the Muslim community. Third is that they have a very long memory of any injuries or defeats. Fourth is that their reading of the Quran is a very strict literalist one. Fifth is that their tolerance levels for anybody who does not follow their line is akin to the tolerance level of my sister to bruised apples being flogged by her local grocer. Sixth is that their idea of handling other people's faith is to give them a choice between conversion or death. Seventh is that they do not fear death themselves and martyrdom is the preferred option. /// We have to be very precise here if we are not going to bump up against faith. Going up against religious faith is a silly and frankly stupid game, because it does not work. A secular, liberal democratic country cannot go to war against or defeat religion. That is a given. On the other hand, it can and has gone to war successfully against an extremist ideology. What's the difference? An extremist ideology can be based upon religion, but if you knock away the essential support, then it reduces itself to an ideology which is supported by a relatively few number of people and lead by an even fewer number of people. (Think Cult!) Why am I talking about this? Because Al-Qaeda's objectives themselves have their seeds of destruction built into them, if only the group and militant Islam's objectives are seen and countered in an ideological way. /// Once we put the common elements and the ideology together, we can see the objectives for what they are and what can be done about them. Let us take them one by one. The first one is the removal of all infidels from Saudi Arabia. There is a big dichotomy between the stated objective and the facts on the ground. While the militants want all infidels out of the country, they only mean the white westerners and not the Indians, Pakistani's, Filipino's etc. who actually run the country. Heaven forbid any of these warriors have to make their own cup of tea or wash little Abdullah's clothes. The infidelity is only for the white westerners who are providing security or living in compounds. Frankly, this is a pipe dream. /// The Saudi government has been trying to apply the Saudisation (replacement of expatriates with citizens) for the past countless years and it has not gone anywhere at all. If all the expatriates do leave at once, the country will collapse into a giant, sandy quivering heap of incomprehensible incompetence. So this is not really what they want. What they want is to remove any VISIBLE sign that it is actually outsiders who are running the holy land. The local Saudi's are mainly what is called in the trade as "rentiers" (Living off either natural resource or by trading/franchising, no production or value addition as such). The other perspective is a purist perspective to say that only Muslims can live in the Holy Land. This is such a ludicrous situation that you might as well as think of this as discrimination of the highest order. So what does one do? One takes an indirect tack by pushing Saudi Arabia to make it easier for non-Muslims to take citizenship, acknowledge the fact that it is mainly non-Muslims who built and still run the kingdom. Facts on the ground should become visible and acknowledged. If this isn't done, then you may well see ethnic/religious cleansing. /// One can take this argument forward and extend it to the removal of the Jews from Palestine/Israel. Same thing, for them - infidels are either to be second class citizens or converted. The fact that the Jews created a state and have walloped the rear ends of a huge assortment of Arab armies and are strong enough to sustain the state they created is a running sore on the tip of these chap's noses. It is a continual reminder that they are weak on almost every count, and the only way that they can fight this is by blowing up seventy year old Mr. Shlomo in a bus. What is the way forward? A very simplistic reading is, withdraw to the green line, do a Belfast/Berlin to Jerusalem and keep on being very strong. Give the Palestinians their state, which will remove the majority from sympathising with the jihadi's and then one can concentrate on them. As I pointed out in an earlier column, this root cause is a pipe dream ( and as is with Kashmir, Israel will not go away. Live with it! /// This running sore has a whole series of associated weeping pustules around the jehadi's noses. Take for example Spain. Having gotten kicked out of Spain has seriously put their noses out of joint. Bosnia, Kashmir and now Thailand are all examples of the weeping pustules, evidence that despite struggling for centuries or years, their dreams of having Muslim ruled lands in these places remains a fantasy. These are the borders of the Muslim world which are bleeding (with due apology to Professor Huntington). These jehadi's are waging war on the borders where the interface with the infidels is the sharpest. I suppose you can see their paranoid behaviour, it's their us-and-them feeling. A hankering after lost glory, we ruled over India for centuries and now we are not, to add insult to injury or picking the scab over the weeping pustules, it's a secular regime in India which has done it. As we know, for the jehadi's, if there is anything worse that an infidel - it's a secularist. /// Not content with the borders, they also have a desire to change their existing rulers who are a motley collection of geriatric, incompetent and corrupt lot generally (generally - as in military general, as in the sheer number of military coups as in a sad pun). For them, the ideal ruler is a Caliph. Needless to say, the fact that the first four rightfully guided caliphs were towering examples of compassion, love, just rule, enlightened moderation (a dig intended and you know who it is for) is ignored comprehensively. What they mean actually is to have a Caliph who is along the lines of OBL, not Abu Bakr or Umar. That said, I have a certain sympathy with this view. Every nation down the ages has had its mythical hero king, whose reign was a golden period. Whether its Ram Rajya or Akbar for India, Arthur for England, Roosevelt, JFK or dare I say Bill Clinton for USA, or Charles de Gaulle for France or Adenauer for Germany or even Cavour for Italy, each of their reigns has now become a mythical golden age. When one looks around the current lot of politicians, one is obviously comparing all of them against those mythical great men. /// But the desire in these countries to overthrow is tempered by the fact that each individual has a vote and they theoretically could throw out (usually) corrupt or incompetent idiots. More importantly, the general populace is empowered in handling bad rulers. This is not something which is applicable in the countries where jehadi's roam. So they have, frankly, no other choice but to choose violent action. The situation actually gets worse - that this ideology permeates British Muslim bombers for example. If they have a problem with UK foreign policy, the way to change it, is through the ballot box, not the boom-boom Tupperware box. See the damage that the extremist ideology can do? /// But I digress; the issue is around their objective. This is where pushing democracy is the only way out. Take the wind out of the sails of these jehadi's. Give the common person power to elect their leaders, and suddenly the power of the religious right and jehadi's disappear. Yes, I know that these guys themselves may be voted into power (think Algeria!) and may well be in power for a long period of time. So be it. That will be the will of the people, as has happened with the NWFP in Pakistan and Khomeini in Iran. These goons are usually so hung up on medieval rituals and arcane thoughts that they forget the main objective, to produce an environment that makes people happy. Look at the clerics in Iran and then go ask the common man. He and all others don't care about the piety, but they care about the food, the environment, jobs, economy and the like. Religiosity is a great thing for morals and the afterlife, but a horrible way to run a country. Just like having a Sharia based economic system (the last demand) which is simply very difficult to establish in a capitalist based world economy. Some bits could be implemented, like Islamic mortgages, Islamic loans, Islamic mutual funds and other odd sounding financial instruments, but from an overall perspective - no. /// Bottom line is that these fellows are hankering after some utopia and while on the way to this utopia, they want to settle old scores. In other words, they want a heaven on earth and they don't care if they depopulate most of the world to get to it. The world and its ideas are so far away from their objectives, that there is simply no reason to negotiate with them. You have to dig them out, I am afraid. Going after the jehadi's from a police / military angle may well be the ostensible way to go about it, but the bigger and long term fight is to attack this from all angles and mainly target their ideology through making it impossible for them to achieve their objectives. In any case, Louis Althusser said that: "Ideology has very little to do with "consciousness".... It is profoundly unconscious." In a succeeding column, we will take a look at a cleric's fight in Yemen against this extremist ideology using their own tools and beating them at their game./// All this to be taken with a grain of salt! /// Also available at,004300140003.htm /// ......................000000000