Misunderstood al-Qaeda still the biggest threat to Islam & the Western World

Mar 01 2011

Misunderstood al-Qaeda still the biggest threat to Islam & the Western World

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The biggest misconception and weakness that Western countries like the United States is the ignorance towards understanding the inner workings of Al-Qaeda are strictly based upon religious authenticity. Unlike President Obama‘s attempt to “make peaceful” relations between great Muslim leaders of the current corrupted Middle East such as, King Abdullah, leader of Saudi Arabia known to be torturous and conductor of murders to his own people (similarly to the reputation of Saddam Hussein) has continued to give leverage to the Al-Qaeda constructs for destruction against the imperial Western powers who fear of another 9/11 attack.

Moreover our constant concern over political correctness and oversensitivity towards offending others because of drastic difference in views ultimately targets Western societies to jihadist-like responses. Dalia Mogahed, reporter for New Europe states the obvious:

To better understand this finding it is useful to examine the message of Al Qaeda affiliated violent extremists. The religious authenticity of the terrorists group, as well as the inevitability of conflict between Muslims and the West, are cornerstones of Al Qaeda’s narrative. Violent extremists who wave a religious banner do so to legitimize their movement and bolster its claims to moral superiority. Therefore, when pundits cast these violent activists as religiously motivated, they only reinforce the terrorist appeal to religion.

Moreover, if these tensions are indeed unavoidable, the extremists’ narrative continues, then dialogue is useless and force is necessary. Once a clash is the only option, the extremists’ claim that for their own survival people must support those fighting on their behalf Western thought-leaders would therefore do well to refute, not reinforce, the idea of inevitable religious war.

Religion remains one of the most powerful forces in majority Muslim societies, with the vast number affirming its importance in their daily lives. Like any group wishing to mobilize followers and recruit support, Al-Qaeda knows its audience and attempts to appeal to their points of reference. Framing these violent extremists as religious zealots rather than violent political activists supports both their credibility and their key message.

These aren’t people to be reasoned with as we can see in most recent complications with the growing Muslim population in Europe. For some time now France and other European countries have had to keep security on high alert considering research over Al-Qaeda’s future terrorist plans involve major cities like Mumbai, India in 2008 where Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT (an al-Qaeda ally) organized an attack and successfully killed 160 people. Thanks to Der Spiegel (German news) about al-Qaeda other European countries are more up-to-date regarding in which al-Qaeda will play out. According to Der Spiegel, al-Qaeda recruit “disaffected” Muslims in Europe and help attack other “soft targets” in several European cities consecutively. They also predict that al-Qaeda has plans to take in hostages in return for the release of several Guantanamo prisoners’ release.

Al Qaeda has long had its eyes on the Guantanamo detainees and often promised to avenge their imprisonment. Just this last June, Osama bin Laden, issued a message promising that if KSM is ever sentenced to death, al Qaeda would make American captives pay. Was this an indirect warning that al Qaeda is prepared to take captives to trade for his release?

This month bin Laden issued a message addressed to the people of France, who have had several of its citizens recently abducted by al Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Bin Laden warned that France will see more hostage-taking unless it reverses its plans to ban Islamic burqas and withdraws its troops from Afghanistan.

So I have to ask, why hasn’t the European Union included Turkey yet? According to recent history Turkey has become this neutral territory in which Arabs see as a recognizable refuge especially for those who have up and left the Northern states of Africa currently fighting for political freedom such as, Tunisia and Libya. It has worked on much of its system to better it’s citizens like closing the economic gap between the rich and poor as well as improve the educational system. Since Turkey is a “soft power” to North Africa the country has many good relations with some of those territories fighting against the long-standing governments.

In terms of the security outlook between the French Embassy and Turkish Embassy in Tunisia, saying the former was heavily fortified with barbed wire and sandbags while the latter was pretty much open to the public. “Out of respect for Turkey, Tunisians were saluting the Turkish Embassy when they passed by the embassy building,” he said. The same stories can be found in many other trouble spots in the region. During the mass evacuations from Libya for example, both the government forces and rebels were extending protection to Turkish expats. In the Darfur region of Sudan where I visited with State Minister Faruk Çelik last month, I heard stories that most people were seeking treatment at Turkish-run medical centers because they did not trust to the ones run by Westerners. The rumors, albeit unsubstantiated, of medical experiments by doctors from the West were widespread among the Sudanese there, making the jobs of the aid workers from Western countries more difficult.

Turkey will inherently become pacifier to those countries in need of refuge. So why isn’t a country like Turkey recognized for its efforts and utilized to help the EU states with the al-Qaeda problem? The middle east is a complicated arena of religious conflict, political domination, and massive destructive tendencies. However, the first step to recovery and redevelopment is to deal with the issues presented and why not do so with allies at the center of it all.

The battle we face isn’t just with what al-Qaeda has planned against European countries and the West but to learn that this isn’t going to be a quick fix. For the protection of our own the United States needs to get involved and quit taking the backseat in the argument because we fear attack. We must do so with understanding. Mogahed makes a few good suggestions as to what would be necessary for the U.S. to relieve the West of potential erratic attacks.

European leaders who stand firm on the need to improve relations with Muslim societies may also have more of the public on their side. A large proportion of the European public agrees that conflict between Muslim and Western societies is avoidable. Europeans and Arabs are also most likely to see tensions as stemming primarily from political rather than religious differences. Because European public opinion generally rejects the notion that Western and Muslim societies are doomed to violent clash, it is likely to be more receptive to constructive engagement and to those leaders who call for it.

Western societies should not therefore look to inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue as the primary ways to ease Muslim-West tensions, despite their inherent merit. Their political leaders would be better off to directly address the roots of tension by engaging in dialogue on issues of political fairness. Of course religious leaders still have a vital role to play as they are best positioned to steer their congregations away from religious interpretations of political conflict. Men and women of faith must emphasize their tradition’s ethical teachings and respect for differences.

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