The Western political, defense and
intelligence establishments, for the most part, view Islam under the
"religion model." In this model, aspirations of Muslims are seen to
be no different from the ones in any other religious community. It acknowledges
the violent track record of Muslims and its probable origins in Islamic
scriptures, but hopes that, as is the case with other ethnic groups and
nations, over the passage of time, Muslims too will eventually overcome the
hurdles to become a cohesive component of the global community. This model
implicitly assumes coexistence.
However, unlike any other religion,
terrorism in the name of Islam, with the arrival of 9/11 attacks on America, has
become a strategic threat to Western civilization. While still clinging to
the religion model of Islam, the West is hoping to diffuse Islam-based
terrorism through a multitude of approaches. These measures range from
occupation of Muslim majority areas to crush the sources of terror, efforts to
help build institutions for development and governing, use of massive amounts
of aid, bring forth pressure on the financiers of terror, etc.
Smoldering Iraq, deteriorating Afghanistan,
increasingly destabilized Pakistan,
a virulent Iran, unabated
funding for terror from Saudi
Arabia and the unending supply of
anti-American jihadists compel us to realize that American strategy in the
global war on terror requires fresh perspectives and new approaches informed
by deeper insights. Specifically, the religion model of Islamic terrorism
itself requires rethinking.
Western sociologists and war
strategists have mostly utilized the dynamics of Muslims vis-à-vis westerners
and their ally, Israel,
to influence what they see as "root causes" of terror. Prominent
among these are the "grievances" Muslims feel in the hands of the
West and Israel.
The most prominent grievance is Israel's
continued military dominance of neighboring Middle Eastern nations and the
unresolved status of predominantly Muslim Palestinians. Although one could
argue that most of these grievances are self-inflicted, Muslims have managed to
successfully transplant the idea that being part of the weaker civilization,
they are the victims.
Wearing the mantle of a victim has
its advantages, including the ability to camouflage aggression as a form of
However, the dynamics of
Muslim-non-Muslim interaction in the developing world tells an entirely
different story. Far more aggressive tactics have been employed by Muslims
against much weaker opponents, be it in Darfur against black Africans or
against brown unbelievers in South Asia. Here
too terrorism is employed, but only as part and parcel of a multi-front
religious war of conquest (called jihad).
In the past sixty years, from every
Muslim majority region of South Asia – without exception – be it Pakistan,
Bangladesh or from India's own Kashmir valley, non-Muslims have been driven out
in massive numbers to Hindu-majority India. This occurred when Muslim
populations in these regions obtained political power. In 1971 about three
million Hindus were slaughtered by the Pakistani army in the then East
Pakistan and many more were driven to India, never to return. Surrounded by
many Islamic nations, even the mostly non-Muslim India is seeing signs of an Islamic siege
– the necessary instrument of an Islamic conquest.
This data bespeaks conquest in the
name of Islam, using terror and more. This has no parallel with any other
religion in the modern era. Most of these expulsions and genocides occurred
before 1972 – well before the large-scale infusion of petrodollars and Wahhabism.
This occurred despite the populations sharing ethnicity, language, culture and
food habits. Also notable is that unlike the advanced, powerful and wealthy
West, South Asia consists of populations that
are among the most impoverished and deprived on the planet.
The geographical extent and the
size of Muslim populations (about a third of the worldwide total) in South Asia make the above data an unlikely anomaly. This
data is indicative of absolute violation of coexistence and hence is outside of
the scope of the religion model. It compels one to scrutinize the roots of
Islamic scriptures and study Islamic history of conquest.
Bill Warner has published a ground-breaking statistical analysis
of the Islamic trilogy (consisting of the Koran, Hadith and Sira). His analysis
emphasizes the point that that the Islamic scripture is predominantly political
and that the religion itself was probably designed to extend Islam's
founder Mohammed's powerbase upon an edifice of theology.
That a conquest-based ideology
should use religion in its framework should be no surprise. Religion provides enduring
and powerful legitimacy, inspires followers and helps impose the will of a
civilization on unsuspecting alien populations.
Had western analysts been
perceptive to the ongoing dynamics of the Islamic conflict in South
Asia, they would have likely concluded that that the religion
model of Islamic terrorism would be grossly violated by this data and that a
different model is required.
Indeed, the conquest model of
Islamic terrorism not only explains the data discussed concerning South Asia, the enduring Israel-Palestinian conflict too
may be readily understood through this model. The revealing feature of the
conquest model is the Muslim passion for conquest through jihad-building, not
nation or community building. It comes as no surprise that significant aid
given to the Palestinians by Europe and others have been, to the most part,
wasted and the jihad directed at Israel continues.
The religion model would have the
grateful Islamic world thanking America
for siding with the Muslims both in Afghanistan (during the Soviet
occupation) and more recently in the Balkans, both in words and in action.
Instead, as part of the conquest vision, America has been relentlessly
attacked by Islamists, due to its preeminence as the non-Muslim super-power.
The conquest model is a much more
inclusive and nuanced one, where terror is just one of the many tools for
achieving objectives. It also explains why the Muslim population in Europe is
fast growing, angry and is disfranchised (through self-infliction) – to
deliberately create conditions conducive to Europe's
demographic conquest by the Muslims. The religion model of Islam also fails
here, as it would have likely predicted that the transplanted Muslims would avail
themselves of the opportunities like the Hindus in Britain and participate in its
Institutionalized mistreatment and repression
of Muslim women has long puzzled many observers. But this is readily understood
in the context of the conquest model and with the observation that Mohammed,
the founder of Islam, by historical accounts, was a strong male and that his
conduct was fully consonant with long established cultural precedents.
It is not the intention here to
claim that the conquest model of Islamic terrorism is an all-encompassing one.
Yet, this model is far more successful in explaining the dynamics of Islamic conflicts
and societal outlook of Muslims – including the contemporary ones – than the
In the context of the conquest
model, the Western approach to the war on terror would indeed be very
different. For instance, the notion of introducing democracy in Muslim nations
such as Iraq or Afghanistan
without weakening Islamic ideological hold on the population will be considered
flawed. Islamic religious institutions in the West will be seen as instruments
of conquest of unbelievers and a repressive element in the life of Muslim
citizens (these institutions are now protected under the religion model on the
grounds of religious freedom). A Muslim minority’s drive to segregate themselves
through special treatments will be seen as the first step toward creating their
own exclusive place and eventually their own land – a form of conquest.
In the conquest model, Islam itself
is seen as less a religion and more as an ideology of conquest – as an affront
to liberty and wealth-creation, much like communism. From this perspective it
is difficult to foresee how Islam can be reformed any more than Communism has
been. This view makes it possible to wage a far more comprehensive ideological,
political and military warfare against what is plausibly an ideology of