Posted by Mary at Exit Zero
The “root cause” of Islamist action against Jordan is this: the Hashemites are moderate Muslims, possibly the most successful in distancing their religion from Zarqawi’s barbarism. Jordan is modernizing and has become friendly with the U.S., the UK, Europe, and Arab moderates.
The Hashemites have contained radicalism and denied the jihadists safe haven within the country. Amman rejected Damascus’ occupation of Lebanon, Syria’s support of terrorism, and al-Qaeda’s extremist ideology. Lately, government officials say Jordanian imams were able to reform Islamist militants jailed for violence. The concept of participating in the war of ideas has been tested in Jordan: successfully or not, moderate clerics, supported by the government, attempted to use parts of the Koran to negate the Wahhabi doctrines, allegedly based on a literal interpretation of that same Koran.
There is also a basic personality clash: Abu Massab al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian national. His bloody role in Iraq has reached the zenith of jihad. He wanted to teach the apostate monarch and his Western educated queen a lesson. This takes on added importance for the terrorist, because it is his homeland. Zarqawi wants to attack Jordan, not because he misses the souvenirs of his childhood, but out of geopolitical ambitions. The Sunni triangle’s closest and most natural borders are with Jordan. By striking in downtown Amman, Zarqawi will be opening a Western front, thereby creating more room for his terror network which is under increasing strain as Iraq strengthens its democracy, military and police.
For al-Qaeda, Jordan is ripe for violence. The Islamists inside the country have reached an apex of influence, but they have also reached their limitations. Zarqawi attempted to use biochemical agents two years ago to destabilize the regime – an attempt which failed and exposed Syria’s deep role in jihad, since Zarqawi’s men came through Syria.
Al-Qaeda believes that a majority of Jordanians are sympathetic to its views. In fact, the Islamists in Jordan make up about 18 percent of the population, and hence, the parliament. The majority of the fundamentalists are members of the Palestinian community in Jordan. They are still a minority, but their community is growing quickly, and the Islamists believe they will have a majority in the future. But the jihadists also believe they don’t have to wait to achieve a numerical majority. Their points are based on regional considerations.
Jordan is an ally of the United States and is training Iraqi security forces. Once Iraq securely establishes a pluralistic, democratic nation capable of defending itself, Jordan’s jihadist threat will be contained. Thus, al-Qaeda’s strategists plotted to strike two birds with one stone: by destabilizing Jordan, they would deprive Iraq of its most serious regional ally. By destroying the Hashemites, the terrorists would serve the interests of the Wahhabis.
Hence al-Qaeda struck downtown Amman against tourist symbols, as it did in Bali. The jihadists expect to start a chain reaction: Jordan’s economy dwindles, civil war erupts, its support for the War on Terror vanishes, its potential alliance with Iraq goes down in flames, and eventually an Islamic emirate or caliphate rear its head in the region.
Al-Qaeda is living out a fantasy. Unfortunately, if we do not hold a tough line in Iraq, its fantasy could become Jordan’s nightmare.
From the San Jose Mercury News – UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl discusses Wahhbism and the current schism within Islam:
Abou El Fadl describes modern developments as follows:
European colonialism eroded the old system, as Western-influenced laws and lawyers rivaled traditional Islamic institutions.
After the colonial era, autocrats in Muslim countries who cared little for the faith seized remaining Sharia schools, formerly run by religious endowments independent of the state. Jurists and mosque leaders became state functionaries and lost religious legitimacy.
This impoverished intellectual climate created a dangerous “vacuum in religious authority” that has been filled by popular movements, radical schools and religious edicts from ill-trained propagandists.
The key to the current split is Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi movement. It originated by treating non-Wahhabi Sunnis and Shiites as virtual apostates, which justified repression, torture and killing of fellow Muslims – along with unwavering hostility toward non-Muslims.
This movement disrupted Muslim unity and replaced tolerance with a “very narrow and idiosyncratic view of Islamic law,” Abou El Fadl says. Out went music, chess and pets (he defiantly keeps three dogs) and in came required beards, dress codes and severe restrictions on women.
Especially since the 1970s, the oil-rich Saudis have funded an aggressive campaign to spread Wahhabi and related “Salafi” ideas worldwide, and to repress other forms of Islam as illegitimate. But claims of restoring “the only legitimate form of Islam” are “fraudulent,” he asserts.
He is equally severe in his denunciations of American Muslim leaders for ineptitude, which Khan says has made him a rather isolated figure.
Abou El Fadl says that after Sept. 11, U.S. Muslim leaders should have led a “massive” response and “expressed pure, unmitigated outrage.” He also says they run undemocratic organizations and lack courage to denounce the Saudis for promoting “this radical ideology of hate.”
Of America’s Muslims, a community of somewhere between 2 million and 6 million, he says: “We have the numbers, we have the wealth, but not the power or influence or voice.”…
…He blames the tyranny in Muslim nations on Europeans, who liked democracy but gave little of it to peoples they colonized. Because “civil society was practically absent,” homegrown despots took over with independence.
Though the frustrations of terrorists are understandable, he says, their tactics are “illogical and strategically stupid.” Worse, they ignore Islam’s ethical teachings and traditions. And they cause masses of people to associate Islam with violence and terrorism.
“Is that what we want for our religion?” he asks. “What will become of what Islam stands for a century from now?”