Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Jihad’s True Face

Columnists have approached last week’s deadly Mumbai terrorist attacks from many angles, as William Kristol points out in his New York Times column today. Are we dealing with the a repressed minoritystriking out? Revenge killings for prior attacks by Hindus? A coordinated group with an agenda? What does this mean for India’s peaceful Muslims?

Kristol emphasizes the attackers’ rationale over what Politico columnist Jim Leach describes as “barbarism.”

‘But Leach doesn’t want to discuss that rationale — even though it’s not hard to find. Ten minutes of Googling will bring you to a fine article, “The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups,” from the April 2005 issue of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. It’s by the respected journalist and diplomat Husain Haqqani, who, as it happens, is now Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

‘Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani explains, is a jihadi group of Wahhabi persuasion, “backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services.” He notes that “Lashkar-e-Taiba has adopted a maximalist agenda for global jihad.” Indeed, the political arm of the group has conveniently published a pamphlet, “Why Are We Waging Jihad?,” that lays out all kinds of reasons why the United States, Israel and India are “existential enemies of Islam.”’

I suspect that there is a middle-way; one that underscores both the senseless, cultic (to use a loaded word) practices of jihadist violence and the nationalistic agenda-based jihad that is at odds here. Cambridge author Laurent Murawiec wrote an article for this blog (Can Terror Be Understood? Oct. 9) rebutting a study of terrorists that seemed to indicate that a street-gang-like sense of belonging has as much to do with terrorist motivations as anything else.

Murawiec’s The Mind of Jihad, instead, examines the practice of jihad as something truly barbaric, but with definite roots.

Read Murawiec’s article here >>

Latest Comments

Have your say!