A study of Indian Muslim mind on 26/11, global terror

By M Hanif Lakdawala,

What do 13.81-crore Indian Muslims, who constitute 13.4% of the Indian population as per the Census 2001 figures, think about the terrorist attack in Mumbai? Unfortunately Indian intelligentsia and authorities are neglecting this multitude in the crucial war against terror.

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Muslim participation in war on terror

How can India successfully fight a war without knowing what Muslim thinks and without active participation from one of its major communities?

The war against terror cannot be fought without understanding the Muslim mindset and their active participation in that war. The crucial regions in war against terror have a huge Muslim population.

The highest proportions of Muslims are in the tiny islands of Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea: 97% of a population of around 60,000. Then comes Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslims form 67% of the 10 million souls. Next is Assam where Muslims comprise 31% and are a majority in three districts; then comes West Bengal where Muslims form 25% of the population; followed by Uttar Pradesh with 18.5% and Bihar with 16.5%. These states have a huge porous border and the role of Muslim in fight against terror is very crucial.

Study of Muslim mind on 26/11

First question first: what does Muslim think about 26/11 attacks in Mumbai? A survey was conducted by Trend Research and Analysis Centre (TRAC) to dig into the Muslim’s deep, hidden underlying attitudes and feelings about the terrorist attacks in general and 26/11 attack in particular.

A total of 127 respondents across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Patna and Chennai, were exposed to closed ended questionnaire. Six focus groups consisting of 8 to 12 respondents were exposed to issues related to terror attacks in India.

All the respondents were Muslim between the ages 18 to 54 years. One condition that was applied for selecting the respondents was that respondents were in touch with either a newspaper or television news channel.

Certain myth regarding the origin of terror attacks in India were debunked during the study. One of the reason reported in the media, quoting a survivor that was held as a hostage in Taj, as stated by the terrorist for the attack was, “revenge for the Gujarat carnage and Babri Masjid demolition. 94% of the respondent doesn’t agree with the reason.

During the focus group discussion respondents argued that if it was so then why now, after years? Also who are the terrorists to take revenge on behalf of Indian Muslims? 88% of the respondents said that Indian Legal system provides them with enough safeguards.

Muslim youths being brainwashed for Jihad?

Although it’s clear that there was no local involvement in 26/11 there is one burning issue which Indian Muslim cannot afford to neglect. According to 54% respondents the most serious issue for the Indian Muslim is the involvement of a minuscule but substantial section of the community in the terrorist activities. These Muslim youths have been brainwashed by the fanatics and exploited to achieve their heinous agenda. These respondents agreed that a distorted version of Islam is presented to trap the Muslim youth in the name of Jihad. The community should not hesitate to discuss the issue openly and do all that is possible to save these Muslim youth from the clutches of fanatic and extremist groups.

Mariam Abou Zahab and Olivier Roy in their book Islamist Networks, explaining the recruitment process of jihadi organizations say “it is Pakistan, where “the fate of the last jihadists” trained and inspired before Sep. 11 “is being played out.” The “Pakistanization of al Qaeda,” as the authors call it, is rooted in 20 years of collaboration between elements of the Pakistan army and intelligence service and the radical Islamist movements that birthed and nurtured bin Laden’s organization. In the aftermath of Sep. 11, contradictions long submerged and unresolved in Pakistan are surfacing as open conflict – as in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

India is a plural country and communal temperature between various communities is affected with every terrorist attack. Only 29% respondents agreed that these terrorist attacks have increased the barrier between Muslims and Hindus. Majority of the respondents opine that common Indians have learned to handle such heinous attacks and don’t allow them to affect their relationship between members of other community.

What prompted these youths to resort to gruesome killing that too in the name of Islam? 59% of the respondents agreed that it’s the propaganda, that Muslims world over are the persecuted and waging a war is the last resort. This propaganda distorts the reality and affects the psyche of few Muslim youth making them fanatic.

These respondents believed that much of the increase in terror attacks worldwide has been a direct result of the anger in the Arab and Muslim world at the US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the killing and imprisoning of hundreds of thousands of innocent persons in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the imprisonment without trial of several thousand Muslims in the US after 9/11.

Why across the world there is a sustained campaign that Muslims are being persecuted without a concrete initiative to end this persecution? Does Islam promote pessimism and negative mindset or Islam stands for optimism and positive attitude? Is violence and mass protest the only option? Is there no guidance in Quran, Hadith and beloved Prophet (SAW) life? These were the questions asked by the Muslim youths who participated in the study.

91% of the respondents opine that Islam has nothing to do with these terrorist attacks. Terrorist have their own agenda for which they convert themselves into human bomb killing innocent people.

Robert A. Pape, a well-known American expert on terrorism and the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, said after the London train bombings that the “sustained presence of heavy American combat forces in Muslim countries is likely to increase the odds of the next September 11, 2001”. He said that his research had shown that what 95 per cent of all suicide bombings around the world since 1980 had in common was not religion but a clear, strategic objective: “to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from a territory that the terrorists view as their homeland”.

Why terror attacks in India?

Going by the study of Robert Pape, we can extrapolate that the terrorist attacks in India has nothing to do with Indian Muslims issues or Islam. The genesis of all the terrorist attacks in India is still to be probed. The big question: what is the strategic objective of forces which planned, and triggered terrorist attacks in India?

Logically there are various forces which do not want to see a stable and economically powerful India, which means that India will play proactive role in global socio-economic sphere to the detriment of quite a few forces.

Also enmity between India and Pakistan will increase the demand for arms and ammunition in the region benefiting the powerful lobby which deals in the arms, ammunition and military software.

There are forces which take oil rates to $150 per barrel, and then take it to other extreme at below $40 per barrel. Indian stock markets were irrationally inflated to more than 20,000 Sensex and in short time it was made to crash to below 9000 Sensex. There are various forces which have socio-economic agenda in India.

Also strategically India is very important to quite a few forces as it has the second largest Muslim population in the world. These forces would be interested in the deterioration of the Hindu-Muslim relationship.

Zahab, a French specialist on Pakistan, and her colleague Roy, an accomplished scholar on political Islam, argue that in Pakistan – unlike in other countries where al Qaeda has recruited and thrived – “the state and the Islamist movements had common interests,” namely, political control of Afghanistan and Islamic revolution in Kashmir.

Zahab and Roy argue that unless negotiations on Kashmir issue succeed, Pakistan’s army “need the jihadis to put pressure on India,” time to time, reviving the cycles of violence .Thus this so called jihad as nothing to do with Islam. It is pure political agenda of various forces having vested interest.

Indian mainstream Media and Intelligentsia is working overtime to simplify the 26/11 attacks as India Pakistan issue. No doubt involvement of Pakistan is beyond doubt. Circumstantial evidence makes it clear that all ten terrorists were indeed Pakistanis. Also there are enough evidence to establish the link with the extremist and fanatic organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and others.

73% of the respondents opine that terrorist attacks in India should not be just seen from India- Pakistan perspective. There are other forces involved which need a detailed and systematic research.

Why 26/11?

94% of the respondents opine that Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and section of ISI and Pakistani Military are hand in gloves with the forces responsible for the terrorist attacks.

68% respondents agreed that entire 26/11 attack is planned to provoke India and engage it at Indian frontier away from Afghan border as Pakistan army no longer has the stomach to fight the Pakistan Taliban and the other tribal insurgents in the Northwest Frontier, leaving it to US forces.

The fact is Pakistan army has got a bloody nose in the northwest and would like to exit, leaving the war to the American across the Durand Line. Pakistan government is under tremendous pressure to disengage itself fighting its own people in the northwest. Taliban and other terrorist group which Pakistan army is fighting along with US are Pakistanis.

There are enough lunatic elements in the region which were created by the US in the name of Jihad to fight against the USSR occupation in Afghanistan. Now these trained mercenaries are available to any forces which want to achieve their strategic objective in the region.

How to dismantle terror networks?

Now the important question, how to dismantle the network of these merchant of death? Yes they are murderer and killers who in the name of Islam try to achieve their hidden agenda. Let’s see what Allah Subhan’hu’tala revealed when Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) called on his enemies: when he was wounded in the battle, he involuntarily invoked evil upon his enemies and said, “How can that community prosper which wounds the Prophet?”

“(O Prophet,) you have no authority to decide the affair: Allah alone has the authority to pardon them or punish them for they are workers of iniquity. Allah is the Owner of whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth: He may forgive whomever He pleases and punish whomever He wills; Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. (Aal-e-Imran; 128-129).

When Allah Subhan’hu’tala does not endorse his beloved Prophet (SAW) saying few harsh words against his enemy who were after his blood how can Allah Subhan’hu’tala will accept the killings in his name?

Islam’s position is crystal clear. There is no confusion that killings in Islam are not allowed whatsoever the provocation. Jihad is for specific objective and under strict conditions. Even during Prophet Mohammed (SAW) time there were youth who had a sincere desire to attain martyrdom fighting for the cause of Allah. Let’s see what Quran says about those youth during Prophet Mohammed (SAW) time, who were so desirous of martyrdom that they had persuaded the Holy Prophet against his wish to go out of Al-Madinah to fight with the enemy.

“Be not faint hearted and be not sorrowful, you will surely gain the upper hand, if you be true believers. If you have received a blow now, your enemy also received a similar blow. These are the vicissitudes of time that We alternate among the people; this has been done so that Allah may test from among you who were believers and choose the righteous witnesses of the Truth; for Allah does not like the workers of iniquity-and by this test He willed to sort out true believers and to crush down the disbelievers. Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing any trial? Allah has not yet tried you to see who among you are ready to lay down your lives in His way and who will show fortitude for His sake. You used to long for death but that was before you confronted it. Well, now it has come before you, and you have seen it with your own eyes”. [Aal-e-Imran; 139-143].

This is no logic, no intellectual argument, just plain Allah’s word. We have no alternative but to accept it. It is ideological confusion deliberately created within the Muslim community by the anti-Islamic forces that is responsible for the Muslim youth falling prey to these fanatic organizations.

Islam does not enjoin revenge but promote patient amongst believers. Islam does not promote pessimism but enjoin believers to have faith in Allah.

“Give Glad tidings to those who exercise patience when struck with adversity and say, ‘indeed we belong to God and to him is our return’ such ones receive blessings and Mercy of their lord, and such are the guided ones,” (Qur’an 2:155).

Allah’s Apostle said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger,” (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 73, Number 135).

So to dismantle the network of these merchant of death it’s essential that quintessential Islam and authentic message of the greatest benefactor humanity as ever seen, Prophet Mohammed (SAW) must be propagated aggressively amongst all sections of society. Once the true words of Allah are presented the confusion and exploitation will go. It’s high time Muslim youth are protected from these fanatic forces. It should not be difficult as we are in an era of information and communication.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])