INTERVIEW An Islamic view of terrorism
By Mahan Abedin
Yousuf Baadarani was born in Beirut in 1939. A writer on issues related to
human nature and widely considered as an Islamist ideologue, he has written
many books on the themes of ideology, conflict and Islam. These include European
hatred of Islam: A plot in its second millennium; Christianity; A
Roman political scheme; and 9/11 & Hijacking the World: An American
Mahan Abedin: What is your definition of terrorism?
Yousuf Baadarani: The most common definition is "the calculated
use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to
attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature".
Terrorism is an act and not an intention. Its
definition springs from ideals and differing points of view of life. The
terrorist could be a state or a group or individual. According to human nature
every person could commit adultery, lie, betray, blackmail or kill. Only the
thought or prospect of being accounted could stop a man from doing what is
against his beliefs or to suppress his burst of emotions.
MA: How does Islamic jurisprudence differentiate between
terrorism and legitimate acts of warfare?
YB: Islamic jurisprudence sanctions warfare in limited
circumstances - normally between armies, and not by armies against civilians.
Under Islamic law, warfare may be waged between states, or a state may use
violence to suppress a rebellion, or defend against an invading army. Islam
stipulates that all acts of punishment of civilians are strictly a judicial
duty and responsibility.
According to Islamic tenets, no incompetent person or group of people are
allowed to take the implementation of these tenets into their own hands. Such
an undertaking is considered illegitimate in Islamic sharia unless in certain
cases where the individual needs to protect his life. When an army attacks
civilians, as is the case when the US invaded Iraq, killing more than a million
people by direct bombardment of civilians or by instigating factional fighting
to mask or legitimize its ongoing campaign to kill civilians, then that is -
without doubt - a campaign of terror, and a prime example of state terrorism.
MA: What is the greatest source of terrorism in the world?
YB: Today, major world powers like Britain, Germany, Russia,
China - and above all the United States - use extensive and innovative
intelligence-gathering techniques to gather information on the smallest details
of political, economic and military activity in every corner of the world.
Hence no militant group can be formed without being noticed and monitored by
the intelligence service of one or all of these countries. It is widely
suspected that these countries use terrorist groups for their own purposes.
The greatest source of terrorism in the world is the behind-the-scene political
conflict between the major powers to dominate the world. When the political
means of one major power faces a deadlock, it resorts to local groups, which it
supplies with material resources to terrorize the people in its drive to
destabilize a local regime. There is no independent source of terrorism as
there is no independent group of terrorists.
MA: How do you explain the emergence of so-called Islamic
YB: It is the greatest lie nowadays to speak of "Islamic
terrorism". Since Islam forbids terrorism, then no terrorist could be labeled
Islamic. He would have had to abandon the Islamic path to become a terrorist.
However, as the label has been established by the propaganda machine of the
superpowers, we should be frank in saying that far from serving Islamic
interests, terrorist groups tend to serve American or British interests.
MA: Do you agree with the official version of the incidents on
September 11, 2001?
YB: I believe that the most pertinent facts surrounding the 9/11
incidents have been suppressed. What can be said of the real story is the way
the US used the issue to execute its geopolitical plans. These plans changed
the norms of international relations and the norms of war. Following the 9/11
incidents, the US government overhauled its diplomacy and either abolished or
severely downgraded civic international relations and norms to lay the
foundation for new forms of warfare.
It legitimized pre-emptive American intervention in any country it suspects of
ill intentions towards the US. This meant that it has effectively imposed its
control (whether directly or indirectly) over every single state, and
legitimized its interference in the local investigation of any crime, money
transaction and even media direction. None of these actions are related to the
9/11 incidents but to American plans to become an unrivalled hegemon on the
world stage. This is something the US could not have done without 9/11 or a
pretext of such magnitude.
MA: How does the 9/11 narrative serve American interests?
YB: As I have just outlined, it has allowed the US to pursue its
agenda of global domination in the post-Cold War world. During the Cold War,
the US had a pretext to its policies that were based on extending its authority
over the rest of the world. Namely, it used the threat of communism to justify
this policy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it lost that pretext. It
could not continue as an effective world leader with actual authority without a
recognized global war theater.
The world theater after the collapse of the Soviet Union became a diplomatic
one. This subjected American authority to many other qualifying factors,
including political differences with other countries. The Americans came to the
conclusion that allowing a multilateral approach to world politics would
greatly undermine the USís global position, authority and role. Because America
is not a country of ideals as it claims, Americaís posture in the world is
based on its military capacity and not on its ideology. It claims to be based
on an ideology only to justify its military actions against other countries. No
nation in the history of the human race has killed people as much as the
Americans have killed.
No country since humans started gathering in defined territorial spaces has
murdered more civilians on the pretext of war necessities as the US military
did directly or through its agents. No ideology could justify that unless this
is a false pretext. America needed 9/11 to justify imposing the military
theater on the world because America cannot dominate this world without its
military power. If America does not dominate the world militarily, it would
become just another great power and would have to continuously justify its
global position through conventional or quasi-conventional political, economic
and cultural norms and discourses.
MA: Are the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan justifiable from
an Islamic point of view?
YB: The insurgency, if it is against an invading army, is of
course legitimate. However, what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan against
civilians like random bombing or explosions in civilian quarters like markets,
streets, public buildings, places of worship, buses and the like could not be
acts of insurgency but illegitimate acts, and is absolutely unjustifiable and
illegal in Islam. Here it should be stated that these acts are only part of the
American political and strategic plan to fragment the social fabric of Iraq,
Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and any other place where the Americans
are bent on destabilization as a prelude to intervention or a full-blown
MA: Under what conditions can Muslims attack American interests?
YB: In the absence of an Islamic state anywhere in the world,
Muslimsí most urgent priority is to rally to establish the Islamic state that
alone has the right to undertake military actions. In the absence of this state
Muslims can only take action against an invading army of any Islamic territory
and not outside of that.
MA: Is military conflict between the future Islamic state and the
United States inevitable?
YB: It is not that the Islamic state when re-established will
have a priority of declaring war against any other state or against the world.
Declaring war is tied to many issues and circumstances. Unlike the United
States, the Islamic state is not a war-loving state but a complex ideological
entity that discharges its responsibilities in every sphere to the highest
Mahan Abedin is a senior researcher in terrorism studies and a consultant
to independent media in Iran. He is currently based in northern Iraq, where he
is helping to develop local media capacity.