What Do They Want?

Amir Taheri in the Times Online:

But sorry, old chaps, you 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.

The ideological soil in which alQaeda, and the many groups using its brand name, grow was described by one of its original masterminds, the Pakistani Abul-Ala al-Maudoodi more than 40 years ago. It goes something like this: when God created mankind He made all their bodily needs and movements subject to inescapable biological rules but decided to leave their spiritual, social and political needs and movements largely subject to their will. Soon, however, it became clear that Man cannot run his affairs the way God wants. So God started sending prophets to warn man and try to goad him on to the right path. A total of 128,000 prophets were sent, including Moses and Jesus. They all failed. Finally, God sent Muhammad as the last of His prophets and the bearer of His ultimate message, Islam. With the advent of Islam all previous religions were “abrogated” (mansukh), and their followers regarded as “infidel” (kuffar). The aim of all good Muslims, therefore, is to convert humanity to Islam, which regulates Man’s spiritual, economic, political and social moves to the last detail.

But what if non-Muslims refuse to take the right path? Here answers diverge. Some believe that the answer is dialogue and argument until followers of the “abrogated faiths” recognise their error and agree to be saved by converting to Islam. This is the view of most of the imams preaching in the mosques in the West. But others, including Osama bin Laden, a disciple of al-Maudoodi, believe that the Western-dominated world is too mired in corruption to hear any argument, and must be shocked into conversion through spectacular ghazavat (raids) of the kind we saw in New York and Washington in 2001, in Madrid last year, and now in London.

That yesterday’s attack was intended as a ghazava was confirmed in a statement by the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe, an Islamist group that claimed responsibility for yesterday’s atrocity. It said “We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid (ghazava) in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.” Those who carry out these missions are the ghazis, the highest of all Islamic distinctions just below that of the shahid or martyr. A ghazi who also becomes a shahid will be doubly meritorious.

There are many Muslims who believe that the idea that all other faiths have been “abrogated” and that the whole of mankind should be united under the banner of Islam must be dropped as a dangerous anachronism. But to the Islamist those Muslims who think like that are themselves regarded as lapsed, and deserving of death.

It is, of course, possible, as many in the West love to do, to ignore the strategic goal of the Islamists altogether and focus only on their tactical goals. These goals are well known and include driving the “Cross-worshippers” (Christian powers) out of the Muslim world, wiping Israel off the map of the Middle East, and replacing the governments of all Muslim countries with truly Islamic regimes like the one created by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and by the Taleban in Afghanistan.

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I proclaim myself the most

I proclaim myself the most recent prophet of Islam. I have come to reform the cross worshippers of America and teach them the error of their ways. Everyone else is wrong. Conveniently, I agree with all of the non-controversial Christian beliefs in the Bible. You all must learn to tolerate and live in harmony with the sodomitical apostages that infest the coasts of our great land until they can be pharmacologically rehabilitated. Allah commands you to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Please don't tell me that

Please don't tell me that this site too is turning into another little node of the Bush administrations War on Terror: Media relations department...

Lets see, we now have bashing the muslims, and branding certain people who question the official story as isreal hating racists!

Or, rather, this enemy does

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.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I think beating up on muslim

I think beating up on muslim extremists is just as useless as liberals constantly flogging Bush during the 2004 election. It feels good, but you really can't do anything about it, so there is no point in being preoccupied. It just gets people worked up.

And that's exactly why they do it. Have a nice 2 minutes hate. CLAP LOUDER!

I don't know if I'd say it's

I don't know if I'd say it's "very much correctable". In some ways, I do agree, it is correctable. With a wiser foreign policy, many disgruntled individuals in the Middle East and beyond could warm to the US, making recruiting efforts by AQ more difficult. People with legitimate beefs and are cognizant of where to direct their anger.

But then you have the madrassahs and some of the more extreme mosques, which churn out radicals who see events like 9/11 as a step in a long process. These aren't places where valid grievances against the West are discussed with negotiations on the mind. They are institutions of hate, with a long term goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate where the Koran is the global constitution while non-believers, and Jews in particular, are to be damned. As one Muslim in London, a safe-haven for loose cannons, said, "We don't need to fight. We are taking over! We are here to bring civilization to the West. England does not belong to the English people, it belongs to God."

This doesn't sound like someone who's simply disgruntled by the situation in the West Bank and Iraq.

What US foreign policy position would this person agree with, short of installing a cocktail of sharia law and socialism in America?

Jonathan- this articles

this articles "they" seems to to clearly be the muslim world, not the terrorists. The likely effect of such a peice is to demonize an entire people not a few attackers. How would this article look if it were talking about the evil christian people, implying that all were bad because a few blow up abortion clinics?

"easily correctable" is debatable, but I wasn't referring to all of the problems in the middle east but rather the rampant anti-american sentiment which probably is "easily correctable" at least as much as the termc ould apply to anything in politics. We know what we have to do: first stop increasing terrorism by fighting wars in Iraq. Second, decrease terrorism by reducing our military presence in the middle east. Third, eliminate the root cause of most of the hatred by supporting the international consensus of Israel withdrawing into it's pre 1967 border (within which it could build whatever walls it pleases.)

Our problem is actually the sympathy that people feel with terrorism- there will always be crazy people, the question is "under what circumstances will they gain prominence?" The quote you gave is the equivalent to a guy in my hometwon who has a bumpersticker that says "nuke 'em"- we don't really need to worry about that guy, we only need to worry about what causes people to listen to him, and I daresay an article like this one contributes.


you are dealing with an

you are dealing with an enemy which feels that way, sure. But that's hardly the point. The real PROBLEM we're having is that tremendous anti-US gov't sentiment abounds in these countries which allows a network like Al Qaeda to function. Thus talk of fighting the enemy is really quite silly, and only serves a propaganda function: namely to demonize all arabs by insinuating that "they" don't care about anything, and as a result to cease all high minded notions of civil rights for prisoners, abidance by the geneva codes, etc. The sentiment that allows al qaeda to exist and to continue recruitment efforts is very much correctable, though certainly not via the current path of the Bush administration (which has been doing precisely the opposite.)


Please don’t tell me that

Please don’t tell me that this site too is turning into another little node of the Bush administrations War on Terror: Media relations department…

We were hesitant about signing on at first, but you should have seen the check they gave us.

Stephan, is the description

Stephan, is the description of radical Islamists given here incorrect? We can agree that it is correct without having to agree with Bush's foreign policy. There are plenty of options.

Patri, The author makes it


The author makes it very clear that there are different subgroups of Muslims starting with the sentence "Here answers diverge".

The people who blew up the Underground and the WTC are certainly demons, if the word "demon" has any meaning. I have no problem demonizing them. Deliberately targeting innocent people is demonic. There are no excuses to be made on their behalf.


While many military interventions may be justified with non-deserving epithets, other epithets are entirely reasonable. Nazis were nazis. Islamicists who deliberately target innocent people are the enemies of civilization.

There are a lot of things

There are a lot of things that a lot of different terrorists want - they are far from a homogenous group. And some of the things which they say they want are far milder and more reasonable than this - for example, getting the US out of Saudi Arabia.

Just because some terrorists are psycho doesn't mean they all are, and that we should just give up any hope of reason or compromise and start engaging in genocide against their ideology, which is the sort of message I'm getting from this piece.

Demonizing your enemies is bad, there are very few demons.

I was going to mention

I was going to mention something similar as Patri. There's a wide spectrum here among the anti-American 'Arab Street'. There are those who have legitimate grievances who could easily "warm" to the West if US foreign policy were altered. But at the same time, there are assorted madrassahs and radical mosques churning out those whose long-term goal is to establish a dark-ages Islamic caliphate where the Koran is the global constitution (a.k.a. sharia law), non-believers be damned. 'Tis true it's wise to separate the two.

But where I differ here is that I believe terrorists – such as those who 'voiced their opinions' by blowing up a London subway carriage – are well deserving of the madman/lunatic/psychotic label. This albeit small group cannot be appropriated Western standards of "reason".

Patri, Thanks for phrasing


Thanks for phrasing that the way you did. I tried replying earlier, but had to delete the reply cause I couldn't find a good way to say it.

I've noticed this trend in military justifications: the enemy is always a
"mad man", a "lunatic", impossible to reason with, *nazis (where * is a
less than three syllable prefix relating to your current/planned foe),
etc. This then absolves one of all responsibility for ones previous
actions and means that the only solution is to kill the untermenchen....er
monsters...er *fascists......

I do not believe some of

I do not believe some of what is being written here. For the first time in history we are now asked to tailor our foreign policy so as to defuse various hates groups. It’s our fault that terrorists step outside of the bounds of human decency. All we need to do is to deflate the arguments of the terrorist recruiters. So let’s try it. Say. I’m a terrorist recruiter. “Hay Abdul, In the name of Allah we want you to do a suicide bombing at a kindergarten and blow up a bunch of infidel children, which will assure you 70 virgins in heaven.” Abdul “Oh, I would but the Americans say that they are withdrawing their troops from Saudi Arabia. I don’t think so.” Get real!!! We did that and it didn’t work. Islamists give us no credit for stopping ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia or helping them defeat Soviet Russia in Afghanistan. So we should try something else. Maybe if we deserted the Iraqis or Israel they would like us.
Why didn’t the Communists think of this? If the Sandinistas had blown up a few Wal-Marts, you would be saying “Let’s withdraw from Nicaragua.” Maybe Castro can get us to lift the embargo. Just kidnap a few Americans and threaten to cut off their heads.