Terrorism and Extremism, Who Benefits?
By Shaykh Daoud Rosser-Owen – July 5, 2006
[Paper delivered to the Gulf Cultural Club, 45 Chalton Street, London NW1, on 5 July 2006]
I begin with a slight digression; and at the end of the Paper, I invite you to make up your own minds, because I believe it goes beyond the obvious – or the “usual suspects”.
In two days time, we will reach the first anniversary of the London Bombings, described by Keith Mothersson in an advertisement in The Independent yesterday as the “biggest slaughter in London since the Luftwaffe” with 56 people killed and many injured and yet the government is resisting calls for an independent enquiry claiming that it would be a “distraction” and “too expensive”. In today’s newspapers it has been revealed, as if it were relevant, that the “Bloody Sunday” enquiry has cost so far £400 million.
Why should we need a public independent enquiry? Well, for a start, to establish just who exactly the perpetrators were, how they carried out the atrocity, and the significance of the events of that day and related events on later days – such as the egregious murder of the Brazilian electrician Jean-Charles de Menezes.
But why rake over the past? Can’t we just put it behind us? Why waste all that money? We all know who did it. It was those four Anglo-Pakistanis from Leeds.
How do we know this? Because the authorities say so. Yet, having demonstrated that they are willing to lie us unconscionably into the commission of two wars of aggression against sovereign countries that in no way threatened British interests, I fail to see why, exactly, we should take the authorities’ word for the perpetrators of 7 July without being presented with substantial evidence of the kind that would stand up in a court of law. But no such evidence has been produced. Nothing has been seen that would establish an actus reusmens rea.
These famous terms of British law come from the principle stated by Sir Edward Coke CJ namely, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means, “an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty” – that is to say, the general test is one that requires proof of fault, culpability, or blameworthiness both in behaviour and mind.
Anthony Charles Linton Blair, who today [5 July 2006] has yet again been impertinently lecturing the Muslim communities in the UK on weeding out the extremists in their midst, has so little respect it would appear for Her Majesty’s Muslim subjects or the Rule of Law that he refuses to prove the claim he made just three hours after last year’s bombings that it was “Muslim suicide bombers” who did it. And so, as a consequence, the entire Muslim community in the UK has been demonized on an assertion.
Which brings me to the topic of extremism and terrorism, and who benefits from them?
Roger Scruton, in The Dictionary Of Political Thought (Hill & Wang, New York, 1982) defines “extremism” as:
“A vague term, which can mean: 1. Taking a political idea to its limits, regardless of ‘unfortunate’ repercussions, impracticalities, arguments and feelings to the contrary, and with the intention not only to confront, but also to eliminate opposition. 2. Intolerance towards all views other than one’s own. 3. Adoption of means to political ends which show disregard for the life, liberty, and human rights of others”.
This is a pretty fair definition of the concept. And hearing it put like that most Muslims would recognize two things – firstly, this is stating the antithesis of Islamic scholarship, and secondly, that there are quite a few people in the Muslim communities who embrace such a style. So, immediately, I am claiming that ‘theological or doctrinal extremism’ of the second category is illegitimate in Islam.
On the website “islamfortoday.com” there is a fairly long and comprehensive list of offerings from various people – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – expatiating on the notion that extremism is illegitimate in Islam under the heading “Muslims against Extremism and Fundamentalism”.
It is thus demonstrable that many scholars have been pointing this out for quite a time. So how is it that, apparently, the Muslim Communities are beset by such demagogues and their followers?
Well, firstly, to put it into context, very few of the imams and community leaders can actually be categorized that way. Nearly all of them – whether Shi’ah or Sunnah - embrace and teach “traditional mainstream Islam”. The hand-full of well-known faces from the front page of the tabloids or broadsheets, have largely achieved their notoriety because of the attentions of the media. One could say that they are largely creations of the media: most people in the Muslim communities have avoided them, and have frequently questioned their credentials.
The theology they have espoused – a derivative of Wahhabiism (itself considered heretical by much reputable scholarship from both the Shi’ah and Ahlu-s Sunnah) – is clearly deviant. Their followers have been, for the most part, sadly quite disturbed or disillusioned individuals. It needs to be stressed that there are very few such people in the UK Muslim communities. Though they appear, through their “Walter Mitty-esque” theatrics and loudmouthed opinions to be more and more dangerous than they really are, they are actually relatively few in number. And the teachings of their gurus have frequently been condemned by many authorities from, for example, the late Dr Zaki Badawi KBE (yarhamuhu-Llah) to the visiting Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
It is a moot point, however, how these people were able to preach and act as they have for so long unhindered, given that much of what they have said has been actionable, without there having been a considerable degree of connivance from the authorities, making them in effect, if not in fact, agents provocateurs. And it isn’t as though the authorities have been unaware of their presence or the disquiet felt within the Muslim Communities at their activities – this has been made known to them since before the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in St James’s Square on 17 April 1984. The notorious occupation of the Finsbury Park Mosque by Abu Hamza al-Masri and his cronies was a matter that was allowed to drag on by the authorities for some four years – until January 2003 – despite the police and the Charity Commissioners being informed about it just after it happened. And similarly have been the indulgence shown to Abu Qatada, and to Umar Bakri Muhammad.
The matter at hand here is that the Muslim communities have done everything that could be expected within the law to limit the activities of such demagogues – further steps could only be taken by the authorities. It is therefore unfair to demand of the Muslims that they “should put their house in order”. How, precisely, without breaking the law? If the authorities will not use their powers under, for example, the Ecclesiastical Places Act 1860, what more do they expect of the members of the Muslim communities?
Many of the angry youths who gravitate to the presence of these people have previous to this been outside the ambit of mosques and religious leaders of any stripe. How to reach out to them generally is a question for sociologists and people experienced in the psychology of disaffected youth. But, in a manner of speaking, their entering the suhbah of the demagogues may well make them accessible eventually to the traditional scholars. But, that notwithstanding, it seems to bear out the dictum that should be familiar to the authorities with the extensive experience of Her Majesty’s Security Forces in countering extremism that “if you don’t give the moderates today something to take home to their communities, you will be dealing with the extremists tomorrow”.
By making foolish statements generally anathematizing the Muslim communities and their leaders, politicians, other authorities, and the media are actually exacerbating any problems that the communities have with extremism; and apparently showing to the potential recruits that the mainstream leaders are ineffectual. Why not go with Demagogue A, he might do better? And then, eventually, we end up with a generation of dissociated and alienated people: how do they then become responsible members of civil society? This returns us to the area of government policies, and is not wholly – or mainly - the responsibility of the Muslim communities.
So, in the authorities’ previous culpable indulgence of these people, and their present almost hysterical demonisation of the Muslims generally, it can be said with a certainty that the UK Muslims are not benefiting from extremism. The only benefit seems to be for those who can enjoy or take advantage from the discomfiture of the Muslims, whoever they may be.
As for Terrorism; when I asked a representative from the Association of Chief Police Officers for a definition I was referred to the Terrorism Act 2000 where there is in Part 1, a rambling and almost inchoate treatment of the topic:
1. - (1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where-
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c ) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c ) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
(4) In this section-
(a) "action" includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c ) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d) "the government" means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.
(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation…”
This appallingly badly drafted description is actually stating in effect that an armed bank robbery that takes place in, for example, the Republic of Ireland in which actual bodily harm is caused to a member of the public is prima facie an act of terrorism in the UK. This is a palpable absurdity.
However, there is a rather more succinct definition offered by the American writer and former State Department official William Blum in his book <>Rogue State: a Guide to the World's Only Super Power<>:
“The word "terrorism" has been so overused in recent years that it's now commonly used simply to stigmatize any individual or group one doesn't like for almost any kind of behavior involving force. But the word's raison d'être has traditionally been to convey a political meaning, something along the lines of: the deliberate use of violence against civilians and property to intimidate or coerce a government or the population in furtherance of a political objective. Terrorism is fundamentally propaganda, a very bloody form of propaganda. It follows that if the perpetrators of a terrorist act declare what their objective was, their statement should carry credibility, no matter what one thinks of the objective or the method used to achieve it.”
So, from this, terrorism is a methodology aimed at forcing a superior power to concede demands, usually withdrawal of forces, or the granting of independence, or some such goal, but it is geared to raising the political cost through promoting fear among the civilian population which then forces the government to give in. It is a tactic. It is not an entity in itself, with a life of its own. It is Terry Jones’s “abstract noun” that he rhetorically asked George Walker Bush how one bombed it.
It is considered an illegitimate tactic under the Geneva Conventions that otherwise allows (under Art 47 of the APGC77) “insurgency” warfare even by those not displaying any form of symbol providing the arms are borne openly. Such organizations may resort to it but at other times employ more conventional tactics – at the one incident they are terrorists, at the other they are “protected persons”.
For example, at Warren Point the IRA committed a straightforward guerrilla ambush of a British Army unit – this was not “terrorism”; however, the Bishopsgate bombing (or any of the Europa Hotel, Belfast, bombings) were terrorist acts.
It is entirely illegitimate in Islamic Law. It is to be distinguished in Islamic terms from Resistance or Guerrilla Warfare, which are targeted at "those bearing arms against you" and cannot be allowed to be confused with terrorism. This is literal: as soon as one of “those bearing arms against you” puts down his or her weapon, for whatever reason, he or she becomes sacrosanct. This applies to off-duty servicemen and women, and to police, as well as emergency services, and civilians generally.
Terrorism (irhab), as it is aimed at civilians or the unarmed, is categorically forbidden. It comes under the heading of hirabah, which is the antithesis of jihad. Its advocates are not jihadis, as people have taken to calling them, but hirabis and this crime has always been considered to merit the most severe punishments.
And the further notion that there is something called “suicide terrorism” in Islam is also unproven “beyond a reasonable doubt” and given that suicide (intihar) is utterly forbidden in Islam, the presumption must be to demand the asserters prove that Muslims have actually committed such acts.
Suicide is "anticipating the Decree" and arrogating to oneself the dispensation over one's ajal that belongs to the Almighty alone. Some Muslims confused the description of one of the fighters at Badr throwing away some dates and fighting until he was killed, and a description of the War against the Dajjal when the Muslims would send out parties to fight him and they would all be martyred, and have taken this confusion to sanction suicide attacks. This simply betrays ignorance, and a lack of proper tarbiyah. The "fighting until one is killed" has nothing to do with blowing oneself up with explosives, when there is no chance of survival. In the cases described in the hadiths, there is always the possibility that when the fighting ends a person is left alive - their deaths are still at the discretion of the Almighty.
All this is clear, and has been elucidated by all the reputable authorities of the contemporary Muslim World, from the late Shaykhu-l Islam 'Abdu-l 'Aziz bin Baz yarhamuhu-Llah of Saudi Arabia, to the late Grand Mufti of Syria, Shaykh Ahmad Koftaro yarhamuhu-Llah, to the modernist scholar Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamene'i. There is no disagreement between Shi'ah and Sunnah, between Wahhabis and mainstream Muslims, between Ahlu-t Tariqah and non-mystics.
Remember, Qaradawi condemned 9/11 the day after it happened in the same terms that Bin Baz condemned the Riyad Bombers: whoever did it cannot be a Muslim because, even if they came from Islam, in perpetrating these outrages they had exited Islam. Ayatollah Khamene'i made some similar statement after last year's atrocity on 7 July. Qaradawi qualified his comments with the observation that though forbidden, in the case of Palestine it was understandable.
However, in the context of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for example, we are faced with resistance to occupations that are not “terrorism” per se, but are legitimate actions under the terms of the 1977 Additional Protocol – a recognition that is conspicuously absent from the Terrorism Act 2000 or any reference in it to the earlier Geneva Conventions Act 1957 or the subsequent Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1995.
There was demonstrable Irish “irregular military” activity (some of it terroristic) for 32 years from 1968-2000 within the United Kingdom. There has never been any proved such activity involving Muslims. And yet the Muslim communities have suffered a degree of intrusive and suppressive policing, and the population of the United Kingdom generally has had its “ancient liberties” constrained in a manner that was never experienced by the Irish or by the Roman Catholics since the late1960s, or at any previous time since the Stuart monarchy of the 17th Century. How has terrorism, and in particular George Walker Bush’s proclaimed “Global War On Terror” that we have been signed up for by the Prime Minister volens nolens, benefited us?
Indirectly, of course, it may well have benefited large corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, DynCorp, or the Carlyle Group through the reconstruction contracts they have been awarded in Iraq, but that’s not the same as seeing how the rest of us might have gained. In fact, we’ve lost much and are in the process of losing more.
I was re-reading yesterday the text of a lecture given by Lord Justice Judge, Deputy Chief Justice for England and Wales, in Buenos Aires on 29 October 2003 entitled “An Independent Judiciary”, and yet again it set me thinking. And I see in today’s [5 July 2006] newspapers that the judiciary are getting restive at being the butt of attacks from Mr Blair and his myrmidons.
We need a robust and independent judiciary today almost more than at any previous time in our history, with the Constitution being systematically destroyed and a large section of the Queen’s subjects, the Muslim communities, being demonised and hounded in the prosecution of an alien agenda by agents of Her Majesty’s government.
Judge LJ cited Edmund Burke. “One of our great thinkers, Edmund Burke, one of the many Englishmen who said publicly that the complaints of the then colonists, in what we now call the United States, in the 1760s were entirely justified, spoke of “the cold neutrality of an impartial judge”. And that encapsulates the twin principles of independence and incorruptibility.”
Indeed, meetings between judges of the Commonwealth produced the guidelines in 1998 known as the “Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct” which assert the principle that, “judicial independence is a pre-requisite to the rule of law, and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial”. Some might say that we are far too far down that road as it is, and that the Rule of Law in Mr Blair’s Britain is something in suspended animation.
I am minded of the late great judge Lord Denning in the trial of Gouriet v Union of Post Office Workers and Others 1977. Denning MR stated, “When the Attorney General comes… and tells us that he has a prerogative by which he alone can say whether the criminal law can be enforced in these courts or not – then I say he has no such prerogative. He has no prerogative to suspend or dispense with the laws of England. If he does not give his consent, then any citizen of the land – any one of the public who is adversely affected – can come to this court and ask that the law be enforced.”
In these days, with the Queen’s First Minister and a succession of Home Secretaries behaving like a collective Stuart monarch suspending habeas corpus, arbitrarily arresting people and holding them in secure prisons without charge or trial, anathematising a whole community by innuendo and assertion, prosecuting illegal wars of aggression against sovereign states on utterly mendacious grounds, and generally conducting themselves in a manner above the law, we need a return to the days of the Rule of Law.
I have quoted before the words of Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), “Be you never so high, the law is above you”. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution removed the Stuart king James II. Before he could be replaced by Queen Mary II and King William III in a collective monarchy they had to agree to the Bill of Rights in which it is stated, “The pretended power of suspending of laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without the consent of Parliament is illegal.”
But what happens when a House of Commons dominated by one faction arrogates to itself kingly powers, and does just that? It has “parliamentary consent” in that the House of Commons nowadays claims to speak for all. This is new ground, and we are entering into a parliamentary dictatorship under John Stuart Mill’s “tyranny of the majority”. Or have we evolved beyond that to a “tyranny of the executive”, or even – with the “presidential” prime ministership – to a “tyranny of the prime minister”? How do we trammel the arrogance of Parliamentary factions and their executive?
Perhaps there is indeed mileage in the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron’s, suggestion of a new Bill of Rights? The 1689 Bill was aimed at curbing the power of the Executive of the time. For Cameron’s suggestion to be useful it must trammel the power of an overmighty Parliament-dominating Executive as it did King William and Queen Mary.
As Thomas Jefferson stated in his inaugural address as President of the United States, “If the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable… the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression”.
Dr Samuel Johnson, the Tory essayist and compiler of the famous dictionary, observed in the 18th Century, “To permit a law to be modified at discretion is to leave the community without law. It is to withdraw the direction of that public wisdom by which the deficiencies of private understanding are to be supplied”.
Atkin J, in the famous trial Liversidge and Anderson 1942 AC, stated “In England, amidst the clash of arms, the laws are not silent. They may be changed, but they speak the same language in war as in peace. It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty for which… we are now fighting, that judges are no respecters of persons, and stand between the subject and any attempted encroachments on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law”.
Lord Justice Judge stated in his lecture, “[Lord Atkin] refused to accept the argument for a statutory provision, enabling the Home Secretary to intern those he believed to be unreliable or potentially dangerous to the defence of the realm without having to provide reasons”.
This is exactly the same specious nonsense being advocated by Mr Blair through the various Home Secretaries and Attorneys General, except that now they do not even have the excuse of being involved in a legitimate war. And there are so many problems and unanswered questions about the “official narratives” concerning the outrages in New York on 11 September 2001, in Madrid on 11 March 2004, and London on 7 and 21 July 2005 that give rise to concern that what we are actually seeing is a series of “false flag operations” to blame the Muslims and to justify illegal war.
Earlier in his ruling, Lord Atkin had said, “In this case I have listened to arguments which might have been addressed acceptably to the Court of the King’s Bench in the time of Charles I. I protest, even if I do it alone, against a strained construction put upon words, with the effect of giving an uncontrolled power of imprisonment to the Minister”.
Lord Atkin was overruled; but it is instructive to remember that, speaking in the House of Lords, another Law Lord, Lord Diplock, stated, some 40 years later, that the House of Lords should admit that Lord Atkin was right and the Law Lords were wrong in Liversidge.
It is instructive that it is their Lordships who have been resisting the attempts of Mr Blair to destroy the British Constitution, and who have as a consequence been on the receiving end of thinly disguised policies to curb their powers and independence.
As for who benefits directly from Terrorism and Extremism, I ask you to make up your own minds. Are they those who made obscene fortunes from the “put options” on September 11, 2001, or the subsequent insurance claims? Are they the members of the Orwellian plutocratic collectivism that seems to believe it can side-step responsible government? Are they simply those who would expand the power and intrusion of the state over its citizens? Are they those who treasonously believe that they can use Her Majesty’s Forces to serve the alien agenda of a foreign power? Are they those who have a vested interest in furthering the “security state”? Or who?
Benjamin Franklin, one of the drafters of the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America in July 1776, said, “Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.
Rinn m’anam còmhnuidh fhada bhuan le neach thug fuath do shìth. Gu cogadh tha iad togarrach; air sìth ‘n tràth labhras mi
(“My soul made dwelling for ages with a folk taking aversion from peace. They are keen for warring; I speak for a time of peace”)(Salm 120)
Last updated 10/07/2006