July, 2016 Terrorism

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Crispian Cuss
Until recently much of the violence caused by extremists in Southeast Asia has been as much about local conditions as Islamist ideology. The return of local jihadists from the Middle East threatens to change this. As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group continues to lose territory as it battles on all fronts in Iraq and Syria, so the nature of the threat in Southeast Asia is set to change.


by Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Post
ISIS's pretensions to statehood are receding as it loses ground, but the organization is anything but defeated.
The latest wave of bombings by Islamic State confirm a pattern long observed. As it continues to lose ground in its heartland and its "provinces," so the organization turns back to an intensified focus on international terrorism. This is in line with previous experience of international Salafi-jihadi organizations.


 

by Mark Durie, The Spectator

 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thinks that his Iftar dinner guest, Shady Alsuleiman, should "reflect on what he has said" about homosexuals and adulterers.
A widely-publicised Iftar dinner, intended to show that Malcolm Turnbull gets what it means to be inclusive, ended badly after he was advised that one of his guests, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, had taught that Islam prescribes death for adulterers, and homosexuals spread diseases. No rogue maverick, Australian-born Alsuleiman is the elected national president of the Australian National Imams Council.

Although insisting that "mutual respect is absolutely critical," Turnbull subjected this prominent Muslim leader to public humiliation. He regretted inviting him to dinner and counselled the sheikh "to reflect on what he has said and recant." In the middle of an election, wanting to limit fallout from the dinner-gone-wrong, held only days after the Orlando massacre, Turnbull stated that his no-longer-welcome guest's views are "wrong, unacceptable, and I condemn them."

Well, Mr. Turnbull may deplore Alsuleiman's teachings, but the real challenge is that these were not merely his personal views. The sheikh's teachings on homosexuality and adultery reflect the mainstream position of Islam, preached by many a Muslim scholar around the world today. Telling a sheikh to reject the sharia is like telling a pope to get over the virgin birth.

Western leaders pretend that the objectionable teachings of Muslim faith leaders are personal faults.

Many Australian Muslims will be disappointed at the treatment meted out to Sheikh Alsuleiman. An event designed to honour the Muslim community ended up providing a platform to denigrate one of their most respected leaders for promoting Islamic doctrines. Several Australian Muslim leaders have since dug in their heels to affirm support for the sharia position on homosexuals. So much for recanting.

While Turnbull refused to pass judgement on Islam itself, saying "there are different views of different issues, as there are in all religions," he also sent a message that he is prepared to disparage Australian Muslims' religious beliefs. It was a bitter pill for Muslims to swallow that this came in the form of a humiliating invite-to-disavow game of bait-and-switch, conducted during a pre-election media storm.

The cognitive dissonance is startling.

On the one hand, Mr. Turnbull has stated, "I reject and condemn any comments which disparage any group of Australians, whether on the basis of their race, their religion, their sexuality, their gender." On the other, he is willing to disparage one of Australia's most prominent Muslim religious leaders on the basis of his religious teachings.

Turnbull has also said "It is vital in our multicultural society that every part feels included and that each of us gives to the other the mutual respect that each of them gives us." A video response posted on Sheikh Alsuleiman's Facebook page, and viewed more than 40,000 times, asks, "But that statement also includes respect for people's religious beliefs, doesn't it?"

Turnbull and others subscribe to the idea that the same basic values are channeled by all religions.

Turnbull appears to subscribe to the really bad idea that the same basic values are channeled by all religions. In 2011 on Q&A he praised Islam's moderation in embodying "universal values." This vacuous universalism has blinded him to the possibility that a religion might actually teach things that he would be duty-bound to disparage. No doubt the PM is also influenced by advice from ASIO not to alienate Muslims by criticising their religion. This policy is ultimately driven by fear of offending adherents of the one religion from which most terrorists are drawn; and why millions of dollars are directed to Muslim organisations, and not to Sikhs or Copts. Turnbull attempted to use a "shoot the messenger" strategy to minimise the cognitive dissonance of his conflicted statements, directing attention away from the religion onto an individual.

The fact remains that, whatever the sheikh's personal attitudes to gays, his teachings on adultery and homosexuality are not personal. Given his extensive training in sharia law, Alsuleiman's views could only be called personal if they had diverged from mainstream Islamic positions. But they did not.

Turnbull's staff might have googled the sheikh before they invited him to dinner. And as Alsuleiman's Facebook post put it, "the prime minister might have the same issue in future when inviting just about any other Muslim imam to any other function." Rather than calling out the sheikh as a hater, what is needed is to challenge the religious doctrines which have determined his preaching.

As long as our political leaders pretend that objectionable Islamic teachings are merely personal faults, while insisting that the religion of Islam is above reproach, we will stay stuck in this unhelpful place; where we tell a highly trained Muslim imam that we respect his religion, but denigrate his religious beliefs as bigotry. The conversation needs to be about Islamic sharia, not those who preach it.

Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. 

www.meforum.org/6106/its-not-personal-its-islam


by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi 
A screenshot from the video lists the "wilayas" (provinces) of the Islamic State.
Readers of this blog will have known that a long-standing interest of mine has been the structure of Islamic State (IS) administration, focusing primarily on internal documents. To mark the start of Eid, IS has released via its central media outlet al-Furqan Media a video on the very subject, entitled 'Structure of the Caliphate'. Below are some observations of mine:

 

Project Syndicate, Jeffrey Sachs
NEW YORK – Deadly terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Dhaka, and Baghdad demonstrate the murderous reach of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. The longer ISIS maintains its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, the longer its terrorist network will create such carnage.


by Efraim Inbar
BESA Center Perspectives

Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian society.
A senior Defense Ministry source in Israel said recently that a confrontation with Hamas is inevitable, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must be prepared for it. The source added, significantly, that "the next round must be the last one for the Hamas government."

 

Tom Hussain
In a world of cause and effect, the nightmare that unfolded in Dhaka on Friday night was entirely predictable. Since the opposition-boycotted 2014 elections, the most violent in its history, Bangladesh has steadily descended into a cycle of polarising politics, pitting the avowedly secular nationalist government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed against the country's religious establishment, key allies of opposition leader Khaleda Zia.


By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — In just the past few days, the Islamic State’s evolving brand of terrorism has revealed its deadly, shifting faces. n Istanbul last week, Turkish officials say, militants guided by the Islamic State conducted a coordinated suicide attack on the city’s main airport. In Bangladesh on Friday, a local extremist group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State butchered diners in a restaurant. And in Baghdad on Sunday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed more than 140 people.

MUSTAFA AKYOL, hurriyetdailynews
I pass through Istanbul’s Atatürk airport dozens of times every year. It is one of the places that makes me (still) optimistic about Turkey’s future. More than a million people pass through it every week. When you walk into the international terminal, you feel like you are at the center of the world, for you see faces from all over the worlds: Turks, Arabs, Israelis, Europeans, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, Americans, Africans, and all the diverse colors of God’s creation. When you stroll around the chic shops and cafes, or have the privilege to use the all-impressive Turkish Airlines lounge, you feel that Turkey has really accomplished something.

Politics, Terrorism, Turkey