Today’s Helsingin Sanomat carries once again the column of Gwyne Dyer, (though in Finnish and subscription only, the English version is available here) who believes that he has the answers to solving the problem of international terrorism, and the home grown phenomenon of “revert” jihadis. According to Dyer, if western society doesn’t over react, continues to use normal intelligence gathering methods while biding their time, islamist terrorism will eventually play itself out.
No need to get up tight with worry about the islamojihadis, Dyer offers the “Hashishin (Assassins) of the 12th century Middle East to the anarchists and Bolsheviks of 20th century Europe”. as proof that historically, these nihilistic movements eventually burn themselves out. We just have to be patient!
Dyer’s, and subsequently the Helsingin Sanomat’s assertion that these former movements offer a blueprint of hope where present day jiahdists are concerned, is faulty at best and naive at worst. While it’s true that these movements shared a similarity with present day jihadism –in that they too were willing to use terror and die for their causes– they differ nonetheless from today’s jihadists, not due to the lack of idealism, but in opportunity.
The anarchists and Bolsheviks –having been inspired by the literary giants of past and present in their day– were fascinated with visions of “death and glory” for their ideals, they literally craved it. Paul Berman, in his book “Terror and Liberalism” explains the 19th century literary evolutionary process from which the two nihilist groups drew their ideas and strength.
That said, the time period in which they operated is entirely different from the modern age, which not only sees a violent ideology having over 300 million supporters in the world’s population of 1.3 billion Muslims, but also that it’s gaining a foothold in the non-Muslim world as well. Importantly, the two groups infatuation with the glorification of suicide terrorism drastically limited outside appeal. The growing number of people fascinated with their utopian ideals were unwilling to put ideology above their own lives. They realized that death…means just that.
The “Assassins” perhaps, represents a somewhat more realistic comparison with the present day jihadists than with the anarchists and Bolsheviks. While it’s true that they were both religiously and politically inspired, very secretive, highly lethal and caused much terror, they were small in numbers, never enjoyed wide support and did not commit suicide. They preferred to be killed by their captors.
Gwynne Dyer is simply drawing at straws here, and while its interesting to note some similarities between these violent movements, they do not compare in size of numbers, financial wealth or in international support.
That Dyer wishes to exclude Islam from Islamism, shows gross ignorance of the role that Muslim populations –in and outside the Islamic world– play in the present day jihadist phenomenon. Whether it be an active or passive role, Islam and the words of the prophet they revere, offer ample ammunition (literally) to the Islamists.
They too (islamists) realize that sharia, or Islamic law, is believed to be inseparable from their faith, and that no (good) Muslim would ever be willing to criticize, or allow criticism of the actions or words of their prophet, no matter how anti-modern and anti-human rights they may be. An unreformed Islam, that refuses to divest itself from any of the anti-modern portions of the Qu’ran and (sharia) its (Sunni) Sunnah and Hadiths, will continue to create future jihadists.
Also of importance, is that the international jihadis need continued funding to keep their imperialist campaign rolling, good looks alone (even if they had them) are not enough. That Saudi petrol dollars continue to bankroll the jihadist enterprise, through spending vast sums of money, not on modern universities etc, but on Wahhabi madrassas….is the fault of the west. More pressure on Saudi Arabia needs to be exerted.
Islamism is indeed Islam, just minus the window dressing. *L* KGS
Note: Dyer’s wave of the hand at jiahdists leaving for Pakistan to train in the arts of war, is also ignorant as well as naive. Though their training might not be as “effective” as they hoped, and only a small portion are successful in their attacks, when they are successful, the results can be devastating.
Though Dyer is indifferent to their traveling abroad for training, (due to a number of western friendly moles in these camps that relay information to western intelligence) of equal importance is the denying of these potential jihadists any opportunity to create contacts that would naturally occur from being in these jihadi training camps.
Denying the Islamojihadist the opportunity to create a greater number of networks is a wise policy, regardless of whether the network operates independently (working under the pirate flag of al-Qaida only) or in direct chain of command. Both scenarios are extremely dangerous.