Vital Perspective has another short post: “Yemen Vows to Strike al-Qaeda with ‘Iron Fist’ After Statement by Terrorists”. This is also worth reading.
This should demonstrate how militant Islamist terrorist networks (or however/whatever one wants to call such entities) threaten not only The West and its states and allies but also Muslim states. We don’t really imagine a God-forsaken country like Yemen to be one of our allies such that it would attract the attention of militant Islamist terrorist networks, but such it is. Remember that USS Cole was off the coast of Yemen when it was attacked by terrorists: this shows that Yemen plays a role in The United States’ Armed Forces infrastructure.
But this should also demonstrate why more Muslim states’ governments and, indeed, their people ought to be more active in opposing, destroying, and eliminating militant Islamist terrorist networks. Such networks threaten them as well.
One may ask: why do such networks threaten Muslims? This is a good question, one that I would like to explain by explaining this issue of targeting Muslims a bit further.
I was reading a book by a militant Islamist terrorist group wherein it was explained why the group did not attack Muslim states. According to what they had written, they were asked why, along with programs and operations against infidel invaders (Hindus in Kashmir, Christians in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, et cetera), the group did not target and attack corrupt and (as some see them) anti-Islamic governments of Muslim states. The reasoning went that Muslims had an obligation to remove “hypocritical” Muslims who posed as an obstacle to implementing a truly Islamic (read: Islamist) state. This groups went on explaining why they refrained from attacking the governments and forces of Muslim states, even when the government and/or forces oppress and hinder Islamist activity, by stating that attacking the infidels is a higher obligation and more dire need. After all, despite being “hypocrites,” they still are Muslims. They drew on the example of Muhammad, where he worked with “hypocrites” and even infidels. This, they say, permits them to likewise work with “hypocrites.” To be frank, the explanation was not very satisfactory. The real answer, which they did not mention, was that they did not attack the government or forces of Muslim states so that by refraining from doing so the state would have fewer incentives and motives to go against them. If they kept a low profile, regarding interaction with the state, the state could leave them alone. And, indeed, this is what happened: the Pakistani government refused to ban the group under discussion, despite it being clear that this group was very active in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
I write the above to show that there are some militant Islamist terrorist networks that target non-Muslims exclusively. But the question asked of the above group also reveals that there are many people who believe that Muslims are just as legitimate as targets as non-Muslims.
In order to understand this, one must understand what is meant by a “hypocritical Muslim.” The Arabic term is (منافق, munāfiq; plural: منافقون, munāfiqūn (nominative); منافقين, munāfiqīn (oblique)). This refers to a certain type of Muslim: this Muslim says he is a Muslim and that he believes in Islam, but in reality he does not believe and very often even frustrates Muslims’ goals and purposes and operations. The Arabic word can also be translated as “dissimulator”: thus he claims to be a Muslim when he really is not.
It is universally believed that such Muslims (I refer continue to refer to these Muslims as “hypocritical” Muslims as this is how the word is most often translated) are bad, bad people. Muslims ought to instill in them a fear of God and bring them into sincere belief in Islam. Muslims are also obligated to watch out for their insidious plans and plots. (There is often a belief that “hypocritical” Muslims who disrupt Muslims’ plans are operating under the control or command of Jews and/or Christians.) Many consider them in the same category as non-Muslims, but more often than that they are considered to still be Muslims by virtue of their declaration of Islam’s statement of faith.
There is a dispute as to how “hypocritical” Muslims are to be treated or dealt with. Some believe they deserve no special treatment. Others believe they must be treated harshly, and this because the “hypocritical” Muslims disrupt Islam’s march to victory.
The latter theory came about soon after Muhammad’s death. In the early history of Islam, there was a group known as the Kharijites (Arabic: الخوارج, al-khawārij, “those who have split or dissented,” in other words, “Splitters”). This group split off from the Shiites when Ali ibn Abi Talib (whom the Shiites supported as the rightful leader after Muhammad of the Muslim community) agreed to negotiate with Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, who contested Ali’s claim the caliphate. According to the Kharijites, the caliphate was a duty mandated by God. As such, there could be no compromise or negotiation. Ali was the rightful caliph by order of God, and so his decision to negotiate over this mandatory duty meant that Ali rejected God’s command and, thus, committed a major sin. The Kharijites believed that a Muslim who committed a major sin had in effect renounced Islam and becomes an apostate and non-Muslim, and thus liable to be killed if he does not repent. Having declared Ali an apostate and non-Muslim, the Kharijites began to attack Ali to execute him. Ali fought back, but he was assassinated by a Kharijite while in a mosque.
The Kharijites introduced into Islam a very stringent, strict, inflexible, intolerant, and violent strain. “Hypocritical” Muslims were lumped in with non-Muslims along with lax Muslims, weak Muslims, inactive Muslims, apostates, so and and so forth. What made this strain particularly dangerous was that all of these people were judged liable to be executed.
Although the Kharijite movement disappeared, the doctrines, beliefs, practices, rules, rulings, and other such accoutrements of an Islamic movement remained in Islam’s psyche, so to speak, and reappears in Salafi (also known as Wahhabi) Islam.
A number of militant Islamist terrorist networks have taken to heart this ultra-strict set of standards and rules. In a way, their experience makes sense out of such a violent policy: they are trying to remove “oppressive” and anti-Islamic infidel forces, and Muslim authorities are hindering the “true” Muslim forces. What’s more, these supposedly Muslim authorities are oppressing and persecuting “true” Muslim forces. Indeed, what more proof is needed that such “hypocritical” Muslims are stridently against Islam and God, and therefore worthy to be killed? Not only would their execution be considered permissable, it would be considered laudable. Killing any and all obstacles to Islam is, after all, laudable.
And so these militant Islamist terrorist networks, including their supporters and enablers, also turn their focus and attention on fellow nominal Muslims, threatening their safety, security, and peace of mind. Remember, the Afghanis in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan did not abide by the Taliban’s strict rules because they liked them; they obeyed because the Taliban enforced the rules with force.
All of this makes Muslims’ support for and silence regarding militant Islamist terrorist networks puzzling, if not frustrating. Any logical person can see that such networks threaten them also. But perhaps our mistake is assuming logic plays a role in Muslims’ policies and attitudes.
At the very least, it is nice to see Yemen take a strong stand against militant Islamist terrorist networks, even if takes being directly threatened to produce such a stand.