We Seek a Wider War?
There's been a lot of rattling on in Central Asia lately about Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that has not been tied to any terrorist attack, yet seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia. Most recently they were banned in Uzbekistan as a terrorist group, and have been blamed by the Karimov regime for a series of terror attacks in Uzbekistan, including July attacks in Tashkent on the Israeli and U.S. embassies that it vigorously denied any involvement in. More perplexing about the Karimov government's attempt to pin the attacks on HuT is the fact that an upstart group, Islamic Jihad of Uzbekistan claimed responsibility for the bombings.
Further muddying the waters is the fact that the HuT operates openly in several countries, such as GWOT ally Great Britain. See, for example, this interview with Jalaluddin Patel, head of HuT in England. Some samples of the exchange:
MA: Give a brief account of HT's activities in the UK.
JP: In the UK, HT works on 2 levels. Firstly with the Muslim community, explaining the duty to work for the Khilafah (Caliphate) state, living by Islam in the West without loosing our identity and projecting a positive image of Islam in Western society. Secondly with the wider community, by articulating the cause of the Muslim world, presenting a case for the Khilafah state as a valid model for the Muslim world and explaining Islam as a political and intellectual system. We have had numerous conferences, seminars and debates to achieve this, as well as opening up a line of dialogue with Western thinkers.
MA: Give an account of how HT assesses 9/11 and its consequences.
JP: As far as the events are concerned, in particular the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we said that such attacks are not condoned by the Shari'ah. We immediately declared that this is not the proper or even effective method of fighting Western imperialism. We do see Western imperialism as the key factor in the continuing decline of the Islamic world and we do impress upon Muslims that they have to confront this imperialism. However that confrontation should be well planned and should not involve actions that are not only against the Shari'ah but are in fact self-defeating. The correct method is to establish a strong, modern and viable Islamic state, i.e. the Khilafah state, and the manner by which we can achieve this is to remove the rulers of the Muslim world.
MA: You mentioned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; how do you see the resistance in these countries? Is this resistance legitimate according to HT ideology?
JP: We say that such resistance is condoned by Islam. Islam permits Muslims to resist the occupation of their land. The American invasions of these 2 Muslim countries are no different than the Serbian war against the Muslims of Bosnia back in the 1990s.
MA: HT maintains that Jihad is only permissible if it is sanctioned by the Khalifah (Caliph). How does this square with violence undertaken in the name of Jihad in various Muslim countries, particularly those recently invaded and occupied by the Americans?
JP: I should elaborate more on the concept of Jihad. Jihad as a defensive enterprise can be undertaken with or without an Amir and with or without an Islamic state. This is because it is the duty of every Muslim to defend his land and property. Therefore the defensive Jihad requires no authority to sanction it.
MA: Are you making a distinction here between defensive and offensive Jihad?
JP: I am yes.
MA: Where does HT's doctrine of non-violence come from?
JP: HT works to re-establish the Khilafah state. In this endeavor we are obliged to emulate the Prophet Muhammad (PBUM) in his struggle to establish the first Islamic state in Medina 1425 years ago. The Prophet established this Islamic state without resorting to violence against the Quraish. Instead he worked to mobilize public opinion in favor of Islam and endeavored to sway the political and intellectual elites of the time. This was despite the provocations, the persecutions and boycotts of the Muslims and the threats to his own life. We adhere closely to this struggle because we believe this is the correct and effective way of reviving the Islamic state.
MA: Can we still speak of a single, coherent HT today?
JP: Yes we can. We have one leadership, one global strategy to revive the Khilafah state and we are all unified in that objective.
MA: Going back to the question of violence, please provide a final critique of Islamic groups that have taken up arms against their governments, particularly in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
JP: Islam mandates that the method to re-establish the Khilafah state is to establish it through intellectual and political work. The Prophet (PBUH) never raised up arms to establish a state, rather he worked according to a fixed method in emulation of this. To raise up arms against the regimes contradicts the Islamic method, in our opinion. Furthermore it does not address the problem correctly, as the regimes are one component, albeit very critical, to the present set-up. We need to convince the sincere members of the elites of the viability of Islam so that the Islamic state arises upon a strong powerbase.
So it sounds to me like what we have here is a group that is right on the cusp between the people we need to blow up and the people we need to cultivate as assets for use against those who we need to blow up. We would probably do well to keep a close eye on these guys, and flip a few of them so that we can work the marginal folks who may be receptive to attacking the Far Enemy. (That's us.)
Comes nowAriel Cohen, Central Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation, and the Nixon Center, to call for HuT to be added to the State Dept's list of terrorist organizations. Cohen, for his part, writes up the indictment of HuT thus:
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan also claimed the attackers may have been past members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir al-Islami, a global radical Islamist party with a presence throughout the Middle East and Europe, reportedly headquartered in London. Hizb foments antigovernment unrest, advocates overthrowing secular regimes throughout the Muslim world, and fights for creating a Califate, a military theocracy aimed at waging total war on the "land of the sword" — the non-Muslim world.
During congressional testimony in 2003, Cohen advocated that:
to prevent Hizb ut-Tahrir from destabilizing Central Asia and other areas, the U.S. should expand intelligence collection on Hizb.
He went on:
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami is an emerging threat to American interests and the countries in which it operates.
He then quotes extremely selectively from a scary-sounding tract:
Britain and their allies are leading a crusade in Afghanistan…These
acts by America and Britain reflect their deep hostility toward the
Muslim Ummah. It means that they are enemies. The relations
between them and the Muslims constitute a state of war, and therefore,
according to Islamic canons, all problems with regard to them should be
dealt in accordance with war laws. This state of war also applies to
countries that have formed an alliance with these two states. The
war of America and her allies against Islam and the Muslims has shown
the corrupt nature of her civilization and her colonial world-view. The
War on Iraq…has demonstrated that America and her allies only strive to
colonize and plunder the resources of the Islamic world, not to bring
about justice and security... America is intending to deceive you…she is inherently weak as her ideology is false and corrupt… The time has come for Islam not just in Iraq but in this entire Ummah. It is time for the Islamic State (Khilafah) to lead the world and save the world from the crimes and oppression of the capitalist system.
But he leaves out entirely the context and additional clauses in the statement in question. Such as, for instance:
America, Britain and their allies are leading a crusade in Afghanistan…These acts by America and Britain reflect their deep hostility toward the Muslim Ummah. It means that they are enemies. The relations between them and the Muslims constitute a state of war, and therefore, according to Islamic canons, all problems with regard to them should be dealt in accordance with war laws. This state of war also applies to countries that have formed an alliance with these two states.
The war of America and her allies against Islam and the Muslims has shown the corrupt nature of her civilization and her colonial world-view. The War on Iraq…has demonstrated that America and her allies only strive to colonize and plunder the resources of the Islamic world, not to bring about justice and security...
America is intending to deceive you…she is inherently weak as her ideology is false and corrupt…
The time has come for Islam not just in Iraq but in this entire Ummah. It is time for the Islamic State (Khilafah) to lead the world and save the world from the crimes and oppression of the capitalist system.
The rules of this Message forbids any aggression against civilian non-combatants. They forbid killing of children, the elderly and non-combatant women even in the battlefield. They forbid the hijacking of civilian aeroplanes carrying innocent civilians and forbid the destruction of homes and offices which contain innocent civilians. All of these actions are types of aggression which Islam forbids and Muslims should not undertake such actions.
Anyone who read Cohen's testimony or his article on HuT would be astonished to find out the argument above or the information in the interview came from its leadership. I am perplexed as to why on Earth Cohen and the Nixon Center would call for escalation against a group that has credibility among America-hating Muslims and simultaneously says that attacks that kill civilians are unacceptable for Muslims. Perhaps Cohen and the Nixon Center know something about this that I don't, but I doubt it.
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