by Timothy R. Furnish, Mahdi Watch — May 20, 2014
Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic, African and World history and works as an author, analyst and consultant to the US military. His website is www.mahdiwatch.org and he is on Twitter as @occidentaljihad
Earlier tonight (May 20, 2014), a debate ensued on “Fox News Channel” between faux-moderate Juan Williams and Dr. George Will (as well as Dr. Charles Krauthammer) about the Obama Adminstration’s incessant attempts to differentiate between “core” and “non-core al-Qa`ida” [AQ], which have been going on for almost two years now. (Nothing quite beats listening to a journalist lecture those more educated than him.) Then just a bit ago I ran across a news item on the Egyptian Muslim terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, “Supporters of the Holy House” [Jerusalem], describing how ABAM is threatening to move its jihad out of the Sinai and into Egypt's cities and towns to fry the Western evil of KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken to old Kentuckians like yours truly). Here is ABAM’s logo:
The top slogan, to the right of the AK-47 barrel (nice banana clip, by the way), says “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messnger”—the standard-issue flag of Islam going back to the 8th century AD Abbasids (as I blogged on just last week). The circle, which contains a map of Eurasia and Africa and a Qur’an below them, is emblazoned with Arabic which reads “kill them until fitnah no longer exists, and only the religion of those of Allah exists"--which is almost verbatim from [the Quran] Sura al-Baqarah [II]:193. ( The very bottom Arabic script is the group’s name.)
ABAM is neither “core” nor “non-core” AQ—in fact, it’s not AQ at all. But it is no less dangerous for that. The same is true of the 34 other non-AQ Islamic terrorist groups on the current State Department list. Taking orders or even cues from AQ leadership, or being an AQ “franchise,” is really irrelevant—because it is not AQ which creates the bitter mindset leading to Islamic terrorism; it is Islam itself, when a literal reading is applied to the Qur’an’s many jihad passages, the supporting Hadiths, and the historical example of Muhammad himself. The four Islamic AQ groups, and the other 34 Islamic non-AQ ones, have not radically re-interpreted Islam—they have simply returned to Islam’s historical and standard expansionist jihad mode, after some decades of such being suppressed by Western-inspired ideologies between about the end of World War II and 1979 (the year that marked the rise of the mujahidin to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Iranian theocratic revolution, and the abortive Mahdist coup in Saudi Arabia).
A better differentiation of terrorist groups would be Fawaz Gerges’ one beween those aiming to attack the “near enemy” and those targetting the “far” one(s): Hamas, Hizbullah, Lashkar-e Taiba and Boko Haram at one point fell under the former category (going after local or regional “non-Islamic” rulers); while AQ was the quintessential latter one (skipping over Mubarak’s and Saddam’s dyed heads to go after the Great Satan itself—us). But that distinction matters much less nowadays, as the Islamic ummah has increasingly come to see itself as a global one united against not just the encroachments, but the predatory attacks, of both Western secularism and Christianity, “Zionism,” Chinese Communism—and now, with Modi’s election in India, Hinduism; and, concomitantly, that Islamic terrorist groups are actually, for the most part, soldiers of Allah defending Islamdom.
Again, note ABAM’s slogan: “kill them until fitnah no longer exists, and only the religion of those of Allah exists.” Fitnah is plural for “civil/religious wars,” as well as for the more nebulous "mischief." So the ones to be killed can be either “apostate” Muslims who engage in the former, or those who stir up problems for the ummah in the latter vein, behind the scences (likely Christians and Jews)—and probably both categories. So while the name of the group bespeaks the urgency of conquering Jersualem for Islam, the clearly-expressed aim is Allah-sanctioned killing of all enemies. That idea comes from Muhammad, not Bin Ladin or al-Zawahiri. And almost the same ideology is expressed by most of the Islamic groups on State’s list. The issue, then, is not whether an organization is “core” AQ—rather, the degree to which it's core Islamic, and the degree to which the seeds of Allah and Muhammad have germinated.
[Addendum, as of May 21, 2014: I owe the idea for the title change, as well as the importance of the "mischief" aspect of fitna, to a certain good Canadian mathematician friend.]