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Different Means, Same End Game By: Jonathan Schanzer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 26, 2002


The videos repeatedly broadcast by CNN this week, including images of chemical weapons experiments on dogs, bomb-making demonstrations, and terrorist tactics, reaffirm the evil of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, a hub for the 10-15% of Muslims worldwide who support the ideology of Islamism, or radical Islam.

However, not every Islamist group will choose to use weapons of mass destruction, make homemade explosives, or train to kill. Indeed, tactics vary greatly from one group to the next. Still, they have one thing in common: the desire for their radical, utopian and totalitarian interpretation of Islam to reign supreme in regimes around the world.

A brief survey of events this week reveals the range of less violent tactics employed by Islamists throughout the Muslim world to achieve the same ends:

Financing From Afar: A group of Americans grieving the loss of loved ones from the attacks of last fall just filed suit in Washington against three senior Saudi princes, several Saudi banks and "charities" for financing militant Islamic terror. They seek damages of over $1 trillion.

Why the Saudis? For years, allegations have circled that the Saudi Arabian royal family and elite has financed radical Islamic terror in their effort to spread the radical "Wahhabi" interpretation of Islam, and to appease the radicals that threaten to destabilize them at home.

Today, the Saudi government is thought to have ties to 19 fundraising groups that directly contribute to al Qaeda. The Saudi government was also one of only three governments to recognize the Taliban, which provided asylum and training bases for Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network to launch attacks on Americans.

Further, there is now incontrovertible evidence, found when Israel raided Yasir Arafat's compound in Ramallah, whereby the "Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Quds Intifada," provided payment to relatives of Palestinian suicide bombers, singled out by the Saudis for their participation in an amaliah istish'hadiah, or "suicide operation."

Working Around The System: An Islamic court in northern Nigeria ruled on Monday that a woman must face death by stoning (according to Islamic law, or Shari'a) for having a child out of wedlock. Amina Lawal Kurami, 31, is now the second woman in Nigeria to be given the death penalty for such a "crime" since 2000.

In a clear violation of its constitution, which calls for a separation of church and state, 12 of Nigeria's 36 states have adopted or plan to adopt some version of Shari'a, thanks to pressure campaigns by local Islamists, with support from other Islamists abroad.

In many of these Islamized states, Islamist vigilantes patrol these states for violations of Islamic law — among Muslims and non-Muslims, alike. Infractions sometimes lead to verdicts based on the harsh Islamic "hudud" penalties, which include amputations, stonings and beheadings for varying crimes.

The result, according to Freedom House, a watchdog group, is a rash of internecine violence in Nigeria. An estimated 13,000 Nigerians have been killed since 1980. Most were hacked by swords and knives.

Working With The System: The Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF) launched a public relations offensive against the government this week after King Abdullah's decision to postpone parliamentary elections (which would likely yield a significant Islamist victory) until spring 2003.

The group, according to the Jordan Times, linked the postponed elections with perceived danger that makes "Jordan as well as the whole region… targets for the US, which would occupy the region 'to impose its culture on the people, redraw the area's map...and enable the Zionist entity to control the whole region.'"

Indeed, the group played the anti-America/anti-Israel card to undermine the government and further their Islamist agenda.

The IAF is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Jordan, and ranks among the most docile of the Islamist groups worldwide. As the largest opposition bloc in parliament, it works pragmatically (within the system, and without violence) in its efforts to Islamize Jordan.

By means of finance, vigilantes, or public relations, some Islamists seek to reach their goals without directly engaging in violence. But this makes them no less threatening.

While so-called "moderate" Islamists are tempered by their politics or other factors at home, the expansion of radical Islam continues to create instability worldwide.


Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury intelligence analyst, is Director of Policy for the Jewish Policy Center and author of Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror.


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