I must have been six or seven years old when I first heard the words 'white lie'. My mother explained that it was ok to tell a lie to spare someone's feelings. At present a gigantic white lie is being perpetrated on the American people. The government warns that the war against Islamic terrorism will go on for years, but fails to tell us why. That white lie spares us the feeling of despair we would experience if we knew that we're not only fighting ISIS and its acolytes in Syria and Iraq, but eventually like-minded groups that stretch across entire swathes of the world.
As long as the public is only aware of ISIS and Al Queda, it can resign itself to the idea of the Untied States having 'one more enemy' in the long list of enemies it has faced Were people aware of the fact that the convictions that motivate ISIS and AQ are shared by ever rising numbers of Muslims around the world, they would be so distraught that they might actually begin to wonder what those convictions are, so that perhaps an open-ended war could be averted.
I've always disputed Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations' because it implies that Western civilization is superior to all others. Now it's precisely that conviction that is being challenged ever more forcefully and ever more broadly by Muslims, at a time when many Westerners have arrived at the same conclusion.[tag]
There are two strands to Muslim opposition to the West: the one we hear about is religious, focusing on sexual freedom and attitudes toward women, however, the Muslim world counts a growing cohort of secular young people. As we saw with the Tamarod movement against President Mubarak, many of these youth are attracted to neo-liberal 'democracy', with its accent on 'progress' and 'making it'. But there is another group, epitomized by the young Turks who demonstrated for weeks in Istanbul's beloved Gezi Park to prevent it from being razed to build a shopping mall. This group rejoins a growing number of Westerners who see consumerism as detrimental both to the planet and the soul.
Now just imagine that the religious majority of the world's Muslim population of 1.6 billion (23% of the world's population), is affected by the spread of Islamist groups. That is what is being hidden from Western publics, as governments gear up for another round of war.
Aymenn Jawad Al Tamimi, a graduate of Oxford University and a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, has analyzed support for radical Islamist leaders, including Baghdadi, in countries across the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific.
The first part of his analysis was published last August by Jihadology http://jihadology.net/2013/08/22/musings-of-an-iraqi-brasenostril-on-jihad-bayah-to-baghdadi-foreign-support-for-sheikh-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-and-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-ash-sham/. It leaves out Malaysia and China, as well as the 'Stans' on Russia's Southern border, but it is sufficiently broad to command attention. Here are some excerpts from his country-by-country analysis:
Gestures of support from Saudi Arabia primarily take the form of anonymous individuals holding placards declaring admiration for ISIS. The ideological inclinations of the placard-holders are made clear by calling Saudi Arabia 'Bilad al-Haramain' ('Land of the Two Sanctuaries'- referencing Mecca and Medina).
A photo taken near the Kaaba in late July, 2013, celebrates the successful prison breaks orchestrated by ISIS at Abu Ghraib and Taji in Baghdad that resulted in the release of hundreds of detainees, including muhajireen who had been imprisoned since 2006/7. The placard reads: 'Greetings from Bilad al-Haramain to the lions of the two rivers [Tigris and Euphrates] for the liberation of Taji and Abu Ghraib prison; for the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham'.
In a photo released on a jihadi forum a young Saudi girl holds a placard with ISIS insignia. The first and relevant part of the placard reads: 'How excellent you are, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and your heroic soldiers! Verily you have caused pain to the Safavids.' In this context, the term 'Safavids' is a derogatory reference to the Shi'a.
I would suggest that by conveying these gestures of support from Saudi individuals to ISIS, jihadi circles are implying that ISIS is receiving significant funding from private Saudi citizens who support ISIS.
Somalia, home to the official al-Qa'ida affiliate Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM), has also seen gestures of support for ISIS and Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as illustrated by images released by the pro-ISIS media channel ash-Sham, which is based in Raqqa, Syria. There have of course been rumors and anecdotes of Somali fighters in Syria. Somalia itself has also seen small demonstrations in support of the uprising in Syria.
Despite Sheikh 'awahiri's indication of the need to dissolve ISIS, not only are al-Qa'ida affiliates elsewhere acknowledging ISIS and Sheikh Baghdadi as the leader of the jihad in Bilad ash-Sham, but also official jihadi forums like Shamūkh Islām no longer appear to be deleting posts put out in ISIS' name.
Tripoli, marked by sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Alawites, has long been known as an area of greater Sunni religiosity than other parts of Lebanon. For years, observers on the ground (e.g. my friend and colleague Phillip Smyth), have noted the regular appearance of the black flag of jihad at rallies.In a similar vein, Facebook pages dedicated to the Sunni community in Tripoli feature the ISIS banner to indicate ideological affiliation. Noteworthy are the thousands of likes these pages have received.
While it may be the case, as Diana Rudha ash-Shammary suggests, that many of these likes come from fake accounts or duplicates, the numbers must reflect in some way a significant support base for ISIS in Tripoli, especially when corroborated with other evidence.
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