Sunday, July 10, 2005

Amir Taheri: What the London Terrorists Want

Amir Taheri is an Iranian exile who has written many books and articles on the resurgence of Islam and its implications for the modern world.

Taheri has written an excellent article for The Times, a British newspaper. It is available online in the July 8th edition of the Times or reprinted for Taheri's webpage at the Benador Associates website.

Being an expert on Islam and politics, Taheri was contacted for interviews again and again after the recent London bombings. Those requesting interviews posed one recurring question about the terrorists:

"What do they want?"

With ordinary terrorists -- and there's an expression that I never expected to use -- the aims are limited. Withdrawal of an occupying force. Autonomy for an ethnic province. Liberty to an oppressed nation. These are their usual strategic aims.

Taheri emphasizes that strategic aims such as these are not the goals of those who planned the London bombings, nor were they the aims of those who plotted the World Trade Center attacks. The Islamists behind these attacks do not have the strategic aims of ordinary terrorists.

They do have grievances, of course, and they will express these in ways that imply limited aims. Withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Self-determination for the Palestinian people. Autonomy for the Uighurs. Freedom for the Chechens. Liberty for the Achehnese. Independence for the Kashmiris.

These Islamist aims, however, are merely tactical ones. Addressing their grievances and complying with their demands in response to bombings will alter nothing. Why not? Because the Islamists' strategic aims are all-encompassing. They want everything.

Here is how Taheri expresses our situation:

"[Y]ou are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you."

Total control is the strategic aim of the Islamists. They will settle for nothing less than our dhimmi souls or our kufr deaths.


At 4:12 AM, Blogger The Root said...

Great post. The thing that I find most frightening about the sweeping growth of Islam is the fact that, contrary to what many contemporary Muslims say, the religion was founded upon aggression, dominance, and subjugation and is having an incredibly difficult time slowly disseminating its founding from its role in the modern world. It's an odd thing to hear Islamic scholars talk of all the messages of peace in the Koran (which there are, not disputing that), but to also know of all the verses that speak of destroying nations and the inevitable world-conquering of Islam. It almost seems like a religion with conflicted literature. A friend of mine believes that Islam is simply "behind the curve in religious evolution" as far as it relates to its amicability in modern, pluralistic societies. What do you think?
Another problem it encounters with pluralism is its interconnected ideas of religion and government. How can this be reconciled?
Great blog, by the way. I linked to it on my own. Cheers. :)

At 6:55 AM, Blogger The Root said...

"Differentiating," not "disseminating." I'll type slower next time. :)

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for posting a comment.

In my view, a religion with a founder bears its founder's imprint.

Islam was founded by a man who combined the roles of prophet, lawgiver, ruler, and warrior, and his followers are urged to model their own behavior on that of Mohammad. Muslims cannot be prophets, but they can attempt to model him in other ways. Sometimes, 'modeling' amounts to innovation, but just where imitation ends and innovation begins is not always easy to say.

Anyway, I make an analytical distinction between Muslims and Islamists. I say "analytical" because in practice, they're often hard to distinguish clearly.

Ordinary Muslims just go about their day-to-day lives, much like everyone else.

Islamists are actively engaged in extending the boundaries of Islam and are willing to use violent coercion to do so. Their recent intellectual forebears are Muslim thinkers such as Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, Sayyid Qutb, or Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.

So, yeah, I'd agree that there's a conflicted literature in Islam, and it represents a conflict within Islam today. The problem is that the Islamists have the stronger voice, for they can find Qur'anic verses and Hadith traditions to support their views, whereas ordinary Muslims have difficulty doing so.


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