Pakistan's Mainstream Jihadism and the Times Square Bomb Plot

The New York Post is reporting today (9/30/10) that Faisal Abbasi, an employee at Pakistan's state-run Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises on Islamic affairs, has been detained for playing an allegedly significant role in assisting the failed New York Times Square car bomber, Faisal Shahzad. According to the Post,

The suspect [Abbasi] accompanied, the Pakistan-American bomber, to Pakistan's northwest to meet militant leaders...The secretary general of the council [the Council of Islamic Ideology] confirmed Abbasi had worked there but had been on "vacation" for the last three months.

A September 2005 report on Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) by Militant Islam Monitor included this revelation about the groups' embrace of classical, aggressive jihad doctrine:

Jehad [Jihad] is no defensive war!...[T]he Council for Islamic Ideology in Islamabad declared that it was wrong to label jehad as a defensive war alone. The truth according to CII was that jehad could be offensive as well. According to Nawa-e-Waqt , the CII stated that Western propaganda against jehad had pushed it into the background, but everyone should be grateful to Afghanistan for having revived it. It said that the greatest act of piety was participation in jehad and one cause of the decline of the Muslims was their abandonment of it.

Faisal Abbasi's "vacation" notwithstanding, the CII's own self-proclaimed ideology, is in turn consistent with what Pakistan's political, military, and clerical leadership have openly espoused since the 1979 publication of Brigadier S.K. Malik's The Quranic Concept of War.

Under "President" Zia-ul-Haq's patronage, the mainstream Pakistani text on jihad warfare by Malik, was published in Lahore, originally in 1979. Malik's treatise was endorsed in a laudatory Foreword to the book by his patron, Zia-ul-Haq, as well as a more extended Preface by Allah Buksh K. Brohi, a former Advocate-General of Pakistan. This text-widely studied in Islamic countries, and available in English, Urdu, and Arabic-has been recovered from the bodies of slain jihadists in Kashmir, for example.

Brigadier Malik emphasizes how instilling terror is essential to waging successful jihad campaigns -- like those acts of jihad terror we are witnessing, daily, around the globe.

Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent's heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy (sic); it is the decision we wish to impose upon him...

"Jehad," the Quranic concept of total strategy. Demands the preparation and application of total national power and military instrument is one of its elements. As a component of the total strategy, the military strategy aims at striking terror into the hearts of the enemy from the preparatory stage of war...Under ideal conditions, Jehad can produce a direct decision and force its will upon the enemy. Where that does not happen, military strategy should take over and aim at producing the decision from the military stage. Should that chance be missed, terror should be struck into the enemy during the actual fighting.

...the Book [Quran] does not visualize war being waged with "kid gloves." It gives us a distinctive concept of total war. It wants both, the nation and the individual, to be at war "in toto," that is, with all their spiritual, moral, and physical resources. The Holy Quran lays the highest emphasis on the preparation for war. It wants us to prepare ourselves for war to the utmost. The test of utmost preparation lies in our capability to instill terror into the hearts of the enemies.

Or consider the work "Islam and Modernism," written by a respected modern Pakistani Muslim scholar, Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani. Mr Usmani, sat for 20 years as a Shari'a judge in Pakistan's Supreme Court (His father was the Grand Mufti of Pakistan). Currently Usmani is deputy of the Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Council of the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- the major international body of Islamic nations in the world, and serves as an adviser to several global Sharia-based Islamic financial institutions. Thus he is a leading contemporary figure in the world of mainstream Islamic jurisprudence. Mr. Usmani is also a regular visitor to Britain. During a recent visit there, he was interviewed by the Times of London, which published extracts from Usmani's writings on jihad, Saturday, September 8, 2007.  The concluding chapter of Usmani's "Islam and Modernism" was cited, and it rebuts those who believe that only defensive jihad (i.e., fighting to defend a Muslim land deemed under attack or occupation) is permissible in Islam. He also refutes the suggestion that jihad is unlawful against a non-Muslim state that freely permits the preaching of Islam (which, not surprisingly, was of some concern to The Times reporter, Andrew Norfolk!)

For Mr Usmani, "the question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not." "If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?" He answers his own question as follows: "Even in those days . . . aggressive jihads were waged . . . because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah." Usmani argues that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practice Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle.

Usmani explodes the myths that the creed of offensive, expansionist jihad represents a distortion of traditional Islamic thinking, or that this living institution is somehow irrelevant to our era. More ominously, mainstream Islamic legists like Mr. Usmani, mainstream Islamic military theorists, epitomized by Brigadier S.K. Malik, and mainstream Islamic government advisory groups such as Paksitan's Council of Islamic Ideology motivate and validate the murderous acts of jihadism committed (or attempted) by pious Muslims, including Faisal Abbasi and Faisal Shahzad.