, by SOROOR AHMED
SOROOR AHMED traces the history of rise of fascism and terrorism in the West, its introduction in the Muslim world, and explains what is what. He stresses that these two originally Western phenomena are alien to Islam and should be fought against by
In this Section
The two World Wars gave birth to two evilisms. While Fascism owes its birth to the World War-I – Italy under Mussolini was the first to go fascist in 1922 – terrorism can be dubbed a post-World War-II development. The mushroom growth of handy and sophisticated fire arms in the war years contributed immensely to its rise. The Zionists were the first to resort to this tactics in 1940s against the Palestinians and in some cases even against the British, who otherwise were their well-wishers, and helped create the state of Israel.
The Stern Gang, the terrorist organisation of the Zionists, killed Lord Moyne, the British minister of state, in the then British occupied Palestine on November 6, 1944. The other Zionist outfit, Irgun, too unleashed a reign of terror against the Arabs just before the creation of Israel. Even after Israel came into being the Zionist terrorists assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish diplomat and the son of King Gustav, who was a UN mediator. He was killed on September 17, 1948. He was the first UN envoy to lose his life while mediating between the warring Israel and Arab countries.
However, streaks of fascism and terrorism can be traced even before the World War-I and World War-II respectively. In fact the World War-I owes its origin to the killing of a prince, which was an act of terror. But that may be an isolated instance and terrorism, as an organised action, actually took root in 1940s. By 1960s and 1970s it took the world by storm.
But when the world was facing the scourge of terrorism, the United States of America was the evident exception. This notwithstanding the fact that it was responsible for the state terrorism – that goes to the extent of getting Presidents and rulers of a number of countries killed.
In spite of all this it never witnessed any big terror attack on its soil till February 26, 1993 when a huge explosion rocked the World Trade Centre killing six and injuring 1042. The blast, which took place in the basement, badly affected five floors of the building. However, the 9/11 attack on WTC and Pentagon were the worst kind of terror attacks anywhere in the world.
The expression Islamic Terrorism started gaining currency in 1990s, that is, after the first attack on the World Trade Centre. After 9/11 the western media started highlighting it as Global Islamic Terrorism. The attack on the US soil made it Global.
Europe under Terrorism, Fascism
It is not that the world was free from terrorism earlier. In 1960s and 1970s ultra Left outfits of Europe Baader Meinhoff of Germany, Red Brigade of Italy, Red Army of Japan, Shining Path of Peru, etc. carried many an attack killing hundreds – even thousands – of people. Separatist movements like the Irish Republican Army wreaked havoc in the United Kingdom. Prominent among those who lost their lives include the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten. He was killed in an IRA attack. The Basque separatists of Spain also took a huge toll of lives.
If central Europe was in the grip of the worst kind of terrorism the western most countries of Spain and Portugal were still in the control of the fascist forces till 1975. The fascists of Italy and Germany were defeated in 1942 and 1945 respectively but in these two nations of this continent they ruled with ruthless ease for four decades. In the World War-II they largely remained neutral.
The tall claims that Europe is the cradle of democracy get exposed as in the 20th century, when the world witnessed such a sensational growth in the human thinking, men like General Franco ruled Spain "by the grace of God" – as the coins of that country proclaimed – till November 1975. Similar was the terror of the prolonged Salazar regime of Portugal. If the four important countries witnessed worst types of fascism for so many years in the 20th century the eastern half of the most civilized continent of the world, that is Europe, was under the control of Communism, where too there was no freedom, democracy and multi-party system. As now, there was no effort whatsoever to impose democracy in Spain or Portugal. In fact fascist Portugal was inducted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the military alliance of western countries by the United States. George Bush is more keen to ‘thrust democracy’ on Afghanistan and Iraq by hook or by crook.
It is not that fascism breathed its last in Europe in 1975 after developments in Spain and Portugal. In 1990s it surfaced again in Serbia, which remained under its control for about a decade. Neighbouring Croatia, to some extent, too falls under the same criteria. The war in Bosnia is the worst example of the post-modern fascism.
Fascism in the western tip of Europe, that is Spain and Portugal, was tolerated by the United States and even the United Kingdom because they were then pitted against the greater enemy, the Communists, on the eastern flank of the same continent. But how could the West condone the behaviour of Vatican then. The then Pope strongly supported fascist General Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war of 1930s – after which he came to power – because their opponents, the Republicans in the words of Pope, were engaged in "the Satanic hate of God."
Terrorism Outside Europe
As mentioned above the Zionists were among the first to adopt the violent methods to achieve political goals. However, by 1960s various Palestinian factions, in response to the state terrorism of Israel, tried to pay back the Zionist nation in the same coin. Apart from the Palestinians the other Muslim movement which resorted to violence was the Moro Liberation Front of Philippines. Both Israel and Philippines are the American stooges. In North East of India too many insurgent groups took up arms to liberate themselves from India.
Bush on Islamic Fascism
Whatever be the history of fascism and terrorism, President George W. Bush once again made a foot-in-the-mouth remark. Immediately after 9/11 he mouthed off the word Crusade. Later, God knows why, he retracted. Exactly five years later he equated Islam with fascism. This time he did not withdraw, that is, stood by what he said. He conveniently forgot that fascism is essentially a European phenomenon.
Bush-II needs to be reminded that Fascists believe in the centralisation of the powers in the hands of a few. Like the neo-cons and Republicans they are ultra-rightist and ultra-nationalist forces and believe in strict discipline and training – even military – for all the people including the children. Anyone who opposes them is declared outlaw. The voice of dissent is ruthlessly crushed. They adopt terrorism as a means to gain their political end, but sometimes they are voted to power, such as Hitler. They try to gain power with the help of bullets and ballots both. Bush, may have been elected to power, but substantial tinge of fascism can be traced in him.
Terrorism means the use of violence and terror to achieve the political goal. Till 1990s no Muslim groups except the Palestinians and Moros, had been resorting to this tactic. On the other hand the entire Europe, South America and a large part of Africa and Asia had been in the grip of worst types of terrorism ever since the end of the World War-II.
In the heyday of terrorism, that is between 1960s and 1980s, the Palestinian militant outfits never boasted of having any Islamic link. They were either ‘nationalists or communists’ and followed the pattern of European terrorist groups. The famous international terrorist, Carlos, also collaborated with them.
Guerrilla war is not terrorism
By 1990s, that is after the disintegration of the Communist Soviet Union, terrorism started acquiring a new dimension. The Liberation Tiger of Tamil Elam (LTTE) emerged in Sri Lanka after violent clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils in that island country in 1983. Like a true fascist party, it emerged as a strong militant organisation. It not only carried attacks on the Sri Lankan government and the civilians but also eliminated the other Tamil political groups and militant organisations. It ruthlessly suppressed all the voices of dissent. Women and children also took part in their operation and the LTTE was the first to start the suicide attacks in the South Asia. Top leaders of both Sri Lanka and India, including former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, died at their hands.
But the western media, intentionally ignoring the facts, holds the Afghan War against Soviet Union – between 1980 and 1988 – responsible for the growth of terrorism first in the region then all over the world. Like them many in Pakistan too blame the then President, General Zia-ul-Haque and Afghan Mujahideen, for the start of the Global Islamic Terrorism. This appears to be far from truth. The western media in the later years used this allegation to malign the efforts of 1.3 million Afghans who laid down their lives to beat the Soviets back to their own country. In the eight years of Afghan war the world never witnessed a single act of terrorism anywhere outside the Afghan soil. Even in Afghanistan the attacks were carried out against the Soviet Army only. The Mujahideen did not carry out a single operation against the civilians inside the Soviet territory. Post-9/11 the western media deliberately started confusing the guerrilla war with terrorist actions.
Similarly Hizbullah in 1983 carried out suicide attacks on the occupying American and French troops in Lebanon. They adopted the same guerrilla tactic to beat back the Israelis in 2000 and halted their invasion in 2006. They in fact fought the Israeli Defence Forces with their own guerrilla method.
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated much later i.e. and that is after the prolonged civil war among the warlords. In fact it was none else but the Americans who played a crucial role in complicating the situation in that Central Asian country. Even the militant struggle in the Kashmir Valley started in December 1989, that is, much after the Afghan war and the plane crash which took the life of Gen Zia on August 17, 1988. Throughout the Zia years, it was Sikh terrorists and not Islamic terrorists, who were involved in the terror acts in India and even abroad – for example blowing up a plane over Atlantic. Zia can, at most, be blamed for fanning Sikh terrorism and not Islamic terrorism as it is now made out by the western Press.
The earlier Kashmir militants, for example the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, were ‘nationalists and have little to do with Islam. The ‘nationalists were involved in the abduction of Dr Rubiya Sayeed, daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, only hours after he was made the Union home minister on December 1, 1989. Later they killed the vice chancellor of Kashmir University, a Muslim from outside the state. The Islamists, for example Hizbul Mujahideen, emerged stronger and resorted to violence later. The Lashkar-e-Taiyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad started their operation much later.
The manner in which the 1987 assembly election was rigged played a crucial role in the deterioration of situation in Kashmir. The then governor, Jagmohan, too mishandled the situation which gave a boost to militancy.
But there is too much confusion about the Afghan involvement in the Kashmir militancy. True, some Afghans did enter the Valley, but that was not only when Taliban were in power but even before. The famous Afghan terrorist in the Valley was Mast Gul. He hogged the limelight much before the Taliban took over Kabul. At that time the people who form the present day Northern Alliance – now our friends – were ruling Kabul. Our relationship with the then Northern Alliance government in that country was not at all cordial as they came to power after overthrowing Communist Dr Najibullah, whom we always consider our friend.
Both the first attack on the basement of the World Trade Centre and the Mast Gul phenomenon were the pre-Taliban developments. In fact, when the first attack on the WTC took place on February 26, 1993 there was no trace of Taliban whatsoever in the plains and on the hills of Afghanistan.
In fact, the first big attack on the US interest during the Taliban years took place in the embassies in Nairobi and Dar-us-Salaam on August 7, 1998. President Clinton retaliated a week later by raining missiles from warships on Afghanistan. It was for the first time that the world really came to know about Osama Bin Laden. The western media then started weaving fantastic stories regarding his arrival in Afghanistan way back in 1980. The Press highlighted that he was in fact hired by the CIA to wage the American Jihad in that country. This is simply nonsense. In 1980 he was only 23 years old and a non-entity. Like Mujahideen from 38 countries he too volunteered to fight against the Soviets. Osama was never an American stooge as it is made out. In fact way back in 1980 he opposed the US-backed Iraqi invasion on Iran.
After the suicide bombing of embassies came the attack on the US warship SS Cole on October 12, 2000. Seventeen US soldiers were killed and many injured. It took place in the port city of Aden, Yemen, the country to which Osama’s father originally belonged.
Changing Scenario in India
Meanwhile India witnessed a new wave of terrorism outside the Kashmir Valley. On March 12, 1993 serial bomb blasts took place in Mumbai killing 257 people and injuring many times more. This was said to be in retaliation to demolition of Babri Masjid and the large scale violence throughout the country. Thousands of Muslims were killed and honour of women looted. It is even alleged that in Surat Muslim women were stripped naked and paraded and photographed. The Gujarat of 2002 only witnessed the repeat of that performance. The fascist Sangh Parivar was involved in all these carnages.
Communal riots in India were not a new phenomenon. In Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, for example, a group of policemen on duty went berserk and fired indiscriminately, killing a large number of Eid Namazis in August 1980. Even then the country never witnessed any retaliation like the one which took place in Mumbai. On the same day, that is March 12, 1993 a huge explosion blew up a building in Kolkata killing over 100 people. Nothing much was heard about that incident. The victims were mostly Muslims.
The police did not blame any local Islamic group for the explosions in Mumbai. In fact they held the smugglers and underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim, Abu Salem, film star Sanjay Dutt, among others, responsible for the crime. Dawood, Salem and some others flew out of the country. As in Kashmir – where the ‘nationalist’ forces initially played in the hands of Pakistani agencies – here in Mumbai the criminals were hand in gloves with them.
Though the alleged involvement of SIMI was a much later phenomenon – a UP court even ordered the release of its top leaders last month – yet throughout the post-1993 years the media, both in India and abroad – have been blaming the Islamic terrorists for whatever was happening in Mumbai and the rest of India. It is a known fact that these criminals and smugglers-turn-terrorists had good links with some of the political bigwigs of Maharashtra before the bomb blasts. Why were they allowed to grow their empire is a million dollar question.
It is not that some Muslim youths, both in India and abroad, are not responsible for the act of terrorism. But the above examples suggest that in most of the cases these terrorists have nothing to do with Islam or any Islamic organisation. The name of SIMI too figured about a decade after the Mumbai blasts. These acts were either the handiwork of criminals, smugglers or ‘nationalist’ forces. The truth is that even if anyone is taking the name of Islam to cause bloodshed, he or she is doing a great disservice to this great faith.
When Europe had been rocked by terrorism in 1960s and 1970s the perpetrators were all Christians yet the world never heard the expression Christian terrorism. Similarly, one never dubs the LTTE a Hindu terrorist outfit. In India the Press even restrains itself from calling Bajrang Dal a Hindu terrorist organisation. Various warlords and drug cartels are controlling South America. All are Christians yet the prefix Christian is never attached to them. Thus there is no scope for coining phrases like Islamic terrorism or Islamic fascism.
The need of the hour is to look into fascism, terrorism and guerrilla warfare in proper perspective and not get confused by the propaganda of Bush and company. Muslims will have to fight the scourge of fascism and terrorism, the two evil isms of the West, on their own and not at the behest of the Western media. After all these two isms are totally alien to Islam. They have only harmed Islam.