Counter-terror efforts focusing on neutralizing the threat at hand without addressing ideological motivations behind are akin to chopping off the branches while leaving behind the roots – A new plant is bound to sprout sooner or later. The result: An Osama bin Laden dies, an Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi comes to the scene. An Omar Mateen is killed, an Ali Artan is born.
Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, a former professor of Islamic law, and author of Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings, writes in the introduction to his Islamic Curriculum on Peace and Counter Terrorism:
Among the many causes of terrorism, the role of theology cannot be understated. Some people, either through genuine ignorance or for other less-innocent reasons, try to deflect the blame for radicalization entirely on to foreign policy and military ventures in the Middle East and elsewhere. While these issues no doubt play a significant role in the process of radicalisation, too often the theologically-based narratives that underpin the ideology of the extremists are downplayed or underestimated.
While young Muslims travelling abroad to fight what they see as Jihad is not entirely a new phenomenon, but [videos of] brutal beheadings committed by British ISIS recruits have certainly heightened public awareness of Muslims on the issue of extremism. The three London schoolgirls captured on CCTV footage travelling to become jihadi brides became emblematic of the way many young people, seemingly bright and from stable homes,have been lured to join groups such as ISIS, feeling a new sense of purpose in their travels to distant lands that are a far cry from the comforts of the Western world they once called ‘home’.
It is clear from these examples that young Muslims are being radicalised under the very noses of their oblivious families, friends, teachers and mosque Imams. Not only are the lives of families devastated by these youngsters, but if they return home, they become a potential national security threat. Even if they are not actively being sent back as sleeper terrorists, their enhanced grievances against their former governments coupled with their newly-developed skills and training make them ticking time-bombs.
Dismantling the “framework of distorted theological reference points and scriptural justifications that form the foundations of radical ideology“, the professor concludes, should thus be an essential part of any counterterrorism policy if it is to be effective in the long run. In other words, Islamic extremism will keep rearing its ugly head in increasingly violent incarnations of Jihadi terrorism until its single largest source, neo-Kharijite influences within contemporary Muslim religious thought, are identified and rooted out.
We’ve started Project Nipthebud to this very end. We seek to reclaim our diverse religious tradition hijacked by Islamist extremists.
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