Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How Islamist Militant Organisations Have Harmed Muslims Worldwide


By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

14 October 2020

Recently the Secretary General of Muslim World League Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Karim al Issa criticised the extremist Muslim organisations as enemies of Islam who have harmed the image of Islam due to their radical and extremist ideas that result in violence and terrorism. He said that they do not represent Islam and the Muslims who defend them directly and indirectly were exactly like them.

Flag used by various al-Qaeda factions


Al Issa's is one of the few sane voices in the Arab world from where the extremist and radical ideology originated and spread in most part of the world. Al Qaida and ISIS and their affiliates and off shoots like the Taliban, Al Nusrah, Al Shabab and a host of others spread in most Muslim and European countries. They preached violence as a means of eradicating injustice and oppression against the Muslims. But in reality they harmed Muslim communities in Muslim majority and minority countries by giving the governments to crackdown on them to flush out terrorists and extremist and in the process thousands of Muslims were killed and displaced.

Al Qaida claimed that it planned to destroy th US and for that purpose it attacked American citizens and embassies and finally attacked the twin towers in New York giving the US and the NATO forces to start operations against the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan. During the 20-year long operations, Afghanistan was destroyed and its economy was shattered.

Yemeni extremist preacher Anwar al Awlaqi formed his extremist group in Yemen and threatened to destroy the US inviting US military action in Yemen and killing him subsequently.

The terrorist activities of Pakistani Taliban invited drone attacks by the US forces in the tribal areas of Pakistan killing hundreds of civilians there.

In 2014, the ISIS emerged and took over a big part of Iraq and Syria and established its so-called Khilafat there. The entire area, the size of Britain became a battlefield where bloody clashes between the forces of Syria and the ISIS raged for almost five years. As a result of the war, a large part of Iraq and Syria was ravaged; many Muslims were killed and millions of people had to take refue in European countries. They are still living in refugee camps there.

After being subdued by the US forces, the ISIS took to terrorist activities in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sweden and Philippines and launched their online magazine in India and other countries. In Sri Lanka they attacked civilians both Muslims and non-Muslims and contributed not only to the growth of Islamophobia but also made Muslims in Muslim minority countries doubtful in the eyes of non-Muslim majority.

These extremist organisations claimed to fight for the rights of the Muslims or to end oppression of the Muslims, but in fact, they caused them more harm and bigger rather irreparable damage to them. For example Al Qaida claimed that it wanted to destroy the US but in the end it led to the destruction of Afghanistan.

The ISIS claimed that it wanted to establish caliphate but caused the destruction of Iraq and Syria and death and displacement of millions of the Muslims of the Middle East. These militant organisations of a handful of fugitives and Kalashnikov wielding religious fanatics try to make the Muslims believe that they will defeat the mighty armies of powerful nations or will make them surrender with some suicide attacks or mortar attacks on the 'enemy posts'. In reality, they give the armies of the powerful nations to take military action resulting in the civilian casualty. In this way, they have caused more damage to the Muslims than to the US and the European countries.

The most recent case of these extremists causing huge damage and harm to Muslims is the crackdown of the Myanmarese army on the Rohingya Muslims. In 2013, a man called Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi formed a militant organisation called Harkah al Yaqeen or Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and recruited villagers from the Muslim majority province Rakhine. He tried to organise the Rohingya Muslims against the Myanmarese Army.

The group was poorly equipped. All the members had in the name of weapons was sharpened bamboo sticks, machetes, swords, iron rods and other improvised tools. They also held bomb-making workshops. In one of the training camps, a bomb exploded and it came to light that the trainer was a Pakistani. They started attacking security forces.

This caused a reaction not only in the Myanmarese military but also among the Buddhists of the Rakhine state and they formed their own militia to combat the threat posed by ARSA in 2016. On 25 August 2017, the ARSA planned an organised attack on 30 army posts in Rakhine state.

According to the reports, Ataullah Abu Ammar circulated his instructions for attacks through WhatsApp messages, which were conveyed to the villagers by some mullahs or village preachers. The plan of the attack got leaked and the attacks on 30 posts resulted in the death of only 12 security men. The emergence of ARSA had already hardened the national sentiment against the Rohingyas

The attacks justified the apprehensions of the military and Buddhist militia. The army started its crackdown under "Clearance Operation" and simultaneously there were large-scale anti-Rohingya riots. The crackdown resulted in the mass exodus of about 7 lakh Rohingyas and the riots resulted in the death of more than 24000 Rohingyas.

Thus the immature and childish ambition of Ataullah Jununi of becoming the saviour of Rohingyas by taking on the powerful Myanmarese army with iron rods, bamboo sticks and swords caused one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century. About 10 lakh Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh and are living in the refugee camps in Bangladesh since 2017 and before that. Though injustice to the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has a long history and riots against them have taken place even before but the misadventure of the ARSA was the main trigger behind the large-scale crackdown, riots and exodus.

Now the ARSA has penetrated into the refugee camps of Bangladesh where it is involved in drug trade. Its members often clash with rival drug mafia in the camps resulting in firing, explosion and arson in the camps. The group also recruits youth from the camps for terrorist activities. The Rohingya Muslims living in the camps are terror stricken due to their presence. They say that a handful of these men have made their life hell and they would live in peace without them.

This is the reality of the mass base and strength of these militant organisations. The ARSA killed only 12 security personnel of the Myanmarese army but provided the Myanmarese army the excuse to kill 24000 Rohingyas and drive out 10 lakh of them from Myanmar. The ARSA, the self-proclaimed friends of the Muslims caused them the harm an enemy could not have done.

The political problems of the Muslims should be resolved by the Muslim countries on political and diplomatic level. In the absence of political initiatives at diplomatic level, the vacuum is filled by militant organisations, which proves suicidal and detrimental to the Muslims.

Under the current situation, it is heartening to hear the voices of people like Al Issa. It is hoped that he and other activists like him willl work towards creating awareness about the dangers of extremist ideology and the need to unite the Muslim countries on the issue of the persecution of Rohingyas, Uighurs and other persecuted Muslim communities of the world and find a peaceful and viable solution to their problems. Until it is done, militant groups will continue to push the Muslims towards death and destruction.


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