Patterico's Pontifications

2/19/2010

The Politics of Terrorism (Updated)

Filed under: Politics,Terrorism — DRJ @ 4:53 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Department of State recently participated in a conversation about counterterrorism with a Kentucky college class as part of the students’ Terrorism and Political Violence course:

“Students and Faculty from Bluegrass Community and Technical College connected to the State Department via digital video conference for a conversation on US Counterterrorism efforts as a part of their Terrorism and Political Violence course. Ahmed al-Rahim, Senior Advisor on Political Islam in the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism discussed the United States’ efforts to combat terrorism and political violence globally, specifically political Islam, and terrorist organizations’ influence on regional organizations to promote their global interests.”

When did “radical Islam” become “political Islam” … and does this mean some peoples’ politics is the enemy? If so, I guess right-wing extremists could still be at the top of the list.

— DRJ

UPDATE 2/20/2010PowerLine offers another Obama Administration official’s view of political Islam:

“Rashad Hussain is the deputy associate White House counsel who is Obama’s recently designated representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We wrote about his appointment here, noting his 2004 expression of support for convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian. Al-Arian was the North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Anyone who bothered to read al-Arian’s 2003 indictment would see that al-Arian was a long-time, active supporter of PIJ’s terrorist operations.

According to Hussain in 2004, al-Arian was the victim of “politically motivated persecutions.” Hussain also reportedly asserted that al-Arian was being “used politically to squash dissent.” Hussain denied recalling the quoted comments expressing support of al-Arian and the White House publicized Hussain’s denial.”

This illustrates my concern with defining terrorism in political terms: Doesn’t this make it easier to blur the line between terrorism and freedom fighters?

25 Responses to “The Politics of Terrorism (Updated)”

  1. political Islam is the apologist arm of radical Islam.

    They should buy an ad next superbowl that promotes the stoning of women as simple justice

    SteveG (909b57)

  2. An analogy…
    Political Islam = Sein Fein
    (lying sacks of s… who said they deplored the violence, but sat at the table whilst it was planned);
    Radical Islam = The Provo’s
    (Provisional Irish Republican Army, who would kill their own grandmother if she took tea & cakes to a Protestant neighbor).

    AD - RtR/OS! (02a1f9)

  3. Just a coincidence I am sure, but I heard the term “Political Islam” on NPR for the first time just this afternoon. I guess that getting the message out clearly requires coordination, but I sure would like to know who selects the message, and how, and to whom, it is coordinated.

    sherlock (e1e91e)

  4. Thanks for the segue, DRJ. 😛

    I sent out a request on my blog for those blog-owners who wanted to self-declare as Right Wing Extremist™ Blogs back in April of last year. I renewed my invitation to self-identify in the interest in saving the government money in searching down these blog sites in September of last year.

    If any blog owner wants added to my list, in the interest of helping the government save money, feel free to go over there and request your blog be added. (A disclaimer was posted in my April invitation.)

    John Hitchcock (879d99)

  5. Patterico:

    If the question is not a bad-faith question, then the answer is:

    Political Islam is a term for a wide array of modern ideologies predicated on the notion of a political role for Islam, and a reformation of Islam.

    Radical Islam generally contains connotations of violence in pursuit of a religious objective by Muslims, which may be political in nature.

    Therefore, there’s overlap, but the vast majority of adherents of political Islam do not engage in or even advocate violence.

    Political Islam as a modern phenomenon can be traced to such thinkers as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani who advocated the modernization of Islam as a means of bringing the Islamic world to the same level of sophistication as the Western world. It currently contains both radical Islamists, such as those of al-Qa’ida, and advocates of modernization and democratization, such as Hizb al-Wasat in Egypt.

    There’s a lot more, if you’re genuinely interested and the question was a good faith question.

    Smily (dc088c)

  6. Smily wouldn’t know good faith if it bit him in the arse.

    JD (192c60)

  7. JD, you truly embody the concept of the non sequitur.

    Smily (dc088c)

  8. Islam has always melded the political with the religious, since the basis of governance is Shariah Law.
    They are just trying to erect a cover (such as the IRA did with Sein Fein) to put a happy face on it until all oppostion can be swept away, or reduced to Dhimmitude.

    AD - RtR/OS! (02a1f9)

  9. actually, political Islam in practice in the world is usually very violent. Very much like whatever we’re at war with in the GWOT.

    Our enemies arethose stoning rape victims and forcing women to be slaves too.

    and JD’s point was logical and well placed. Smiley again made an accusation that was ugly and unfair.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  10. Smily:

    In all sincerity, what is the view of the modern phenomenon of political Islam regarding the role of women in society?

    By your post, you seem to have a more than a cursory education in the matter.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  11. Smily — 2/19/2010 @ 9:10 pm

    There’s a lot more, if you’re genuinely interested and the question was a good faith question.

    It is a good faith question, although I asked it and not Patterico. What strikes me is that Ahmed al-Rahim, Senior Advisor on Political Islam in the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, appears to equate political Islam with violent radical Islam. This also seems to be another Obama Administration change in terminology, and both items surprise me.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  12. they might as well, DRJ, as they are two means to the same end, and inextricably intertwined. each one strives to build and further their goals off the w*rk of the other. think of them as “active measures” and “maskirovka”, as a general, but not perfect comparison.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  13. FWIW, it’s interesting to note that the recently-released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the blueprint that tells us where we’re to go with manning, equipping, and training the armed services, does not once mention the words “Islam,” “Muslim,” or “Islamist.” Even in the short discussion of 9/11.

    It’s shot through with the words “terror” and “Terrorist,” as well as mentions of “counterterrorism,” but nothing more specific than that.

    It’s like there’s a concentrated effort to de-link the two words.

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  14. Sorry, DRJ, for the mix-up.

    “In all sincerity, what is the view of the modern phenomenon of political Islam regarding the role of women in society?”

    It varies since, like I said, “political Islam” is a term that encompasses a diversity of groups, movements, and beliefs. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for example, has heavily promoted the inclusion of women in politics and government, and numerous women have run as candidates for parliament as members of the Brotherhood (winning a few in Brotherhood-heavy districts).

    Smily (dc088c)

  15. “Islam has always melded the political with the religious, since the basis of governance is Shariah Law.”

    This is an important point that I think leads most people unfamiliar with Islam or Arabic to the wrong conclusions.

    shari’a, which means roughly “the way” (lots of streets in an Arabic city might contain this in their name, much like lots of streets in Paris contain rue). There’s no consensus among the world’s linguistically, ethnically, culturally, and politically diverse 1.2 billion Muslims, but generally it is understood to mean a system for deriving law from the Qur’an, the sayings of Muhammad, Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), and consensus of the community.

    That is, there is no single set of codified laws that can be called “shari’a law.” The four schools of shari’a law were pretty frozen for centuries, though, until reformers–the first members of political Islam–came along in the late 19th century.

    Their argument, roughly, was that years of being frozen, ignoring innovation, etc, had left Islam at a significant disadvantage. Their argument was that a revitalization of Islam required rejecting centuries of accumulated superstitions and foreign borrowings, and returning to an original, pure Islam (this is where we get the term “salafism”) that was, they argued, innovative, founded on reason, compatible with science and democracy, etc.

    Long story short: they believed the shari’a could mean whatever they wanted it to mean and, in this case, things like parliamentary democracy (contained within the concept of shura or consultation) and so on. Some of their intellectual descendants still believe that, while others–Qutb, al-Zawahiri, et al–took their strand of political Islam in (pardon the pun) radically different directions.

    Smily (dc088c)

  16. Here’s another example of what I mean. (This is very dialectical, political Islam containing within itself its own contradictions.)

    Sayyid Qutb, once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and examplar of one strand of political Islam, argued in several of his books (and I’m severely paraphrasing here) that shari’a had to be the basis of government or else the government was un-Islamic; un-Islamic governments were by definition tyrannical and had to be overthrown violently; and that an Islamic government, based on shari’a, had no room for things like democracy. He was, of course, the inspiration for the Egyptian terrorist groups that were the precursor to al-Qa’ida.

    Hasan al-Hudaybi, second general guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and exemplar of another strand, rejected this argument in his own works by arguing (and, again, I’m paraphrasing here) that to accuse another Muslim of infidelity (as Qutb and his followers did) was to know the heart of another person, a power owned only by God, and therefore forbidden within Islam; that Islam required some rituals from its believers but possessed within it a vast area for human agency; and that most of the laws of Western democracies were fully compatible with shari’a, not because they were written as an Islamic law would be written but because they embody the same spirit (all that mattered, he said) as an Islamic law would–things like free and regular elections, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, etc.

    Long story short: to say that “political Islam” is no different from “radical Islam” is like saying “right-wing politics” are no different from “fascism” because one is, no matter how many times Jonah Goldberg promotes his piss-poor scholarship, a remote fringe subset of the other. But, I honestly believe this is mostly a result of ignorance (how many Americans have heard of Hasan al-Hudaybi or his work Preachers not Judges?) and not of bigotry.

    So anyway, DRJ–many experts on political Islam can talk about violent, radical Islam because most (not all, but most) violent, radical Islam is a subset of political Islam, but, much as political Islam is a minority view among the world’s Muslims, radical, violent Islam is a minority trend within political Islam.

    Smily (dc088c)

  17. What strikes me is that Ahmed al-Rahim, Senior Advisor on Political Islam in the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, appears to equate political Islam with violent radical Islam

    The link goes to a Dept of State news page telling what events occurred. Nothing indicates those are Ahmed al-Rahim’s words or that he does in fact equate the two.

    Try looking at the results from the following search and you will see several instances of what Smily is talking about.

    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&safe=off&q=%22radical+Islam%22+and+%22political+islam%22&start=0&sa=N&fp=7bb90598241b844f

    voiceofreason2 (221ca5)

  18. “smily” seems to be an appropriate nom de guerre for our commenter who attempts to paint a happy face on an evil mask.
    But, no matter how much lipstick and rouge you slather on the face of a pig, it’s still a pig.

    AD - RtR/OS! (e05987)

  19. Long story short: if you really believe that the Tea Party should not make normal folks nervous, try explaining why this event, captured on film, didn’t happen or, failing that, isn’t all that important, rather than just telling me I’m stupid, a liar, etc etc etc & etc.

    Comment by Smily — 2/19/2010 @ 3:36 pm

    Pretty much says it all – but maybe we can get him a dress and call him Nancy, while he skips away from those awful middle – aged people with their gruesome and frightening hand – made signs of protest. Someone should hold him, I think – he’s so vewy, vewy, scared.

    Dmac (799abd)

  20. I’ve updated the post with a PowerLine link. I’m not sure it’s related but it seems related to me.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  21. Smily:

    So anyway, DRJ–many experts on political Islam can talk about violent, radical Islam because most (not all, but most) violent, radical Islam is a subset of political Islam, but, much as political Islam is a minority view among the world’s Muslims, radical, violent Islam is a minority trend within political Islam.

    I can agree with this, but what I don’t understand is why use the broader term “political Islam” to discuss Islamic terrorism? It would be like talking about Christians or even Christian activists when referring to the much smaller subset of pro-life believers who think it’s okay to murder abortion doctors to stop abortion. It’s misleading and promotes misunderstandings.

    Maybe vor2 is right and the summary does not accurately state the opinions of Ahmed al-Rahim, Senior Advisor on Political Islam in the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism — although if that’s the case, it’s the Department of State’s website so they need to work on getting their message out more accurately.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  22. Diplomats are trained, and paid, to lie for the Government they represent.

    AD - RtR/OS! (e05987)

  23. They are two sides of the same coin. Islam is radical. They have the luxury of switching to any of the two whenever the need arises.

    Nigerian Observer (aa6be9)

  24. Hmm:

    Smily, meet Nigerian Observer.

    Also, thank you for responding to my question in an almost-civil manner. If you’ve a problem with Jonah Goldberg, take it up with him. No one here has even mentioned him.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  25. The reason for the switch is obvious: the Obama Administration doesn’t want anyone else horning in on their claim to the word radical! :)

    The snarky Dana (474dfc)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4206 secs.