Photo credit: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty
By Maajid Nawaz
At least 72 people were killed and 300 injured by the suicide blast that shook the crowded Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan, on the evening of Easter Sunday. Many of the victims were children. A Taliban splinter group called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted Pakistani Christians without warning. The group is believed to have carried out previous attacks, including the beheading of 23 paramilitary soldiers in February 2014. A spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said his group wanted to send a message that it has “entered Lahore.” He then threatened further atrocities.
Yesterday’s heartbreaking blasts made this the third time this month alone that Pakistan has been attacked by jihadists. All this just in Pakistan, just in March. And this needs to be understood in the context of the global jihadist insurgency that is upon us: unprecedented in its scale, pluralistic in its leadership, fractured in its strategy, nevertheless inspiring in its central message, and popular enough in its appeal that it is able to move masses.
Again, just in the month of March there have been jihadist attacks in eight different countries, and I’m not including the ongoing jihadist civil wars in Afghanistan or Syria, the similar one brewing in Libya, and smaller scale attacks and killings across the world. Turkey, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Belgium have all fallen prey to this insurgency.
A jihadist guerrilla war is being waged against world order, and the international community is woefully unprepared to address the problem.
Many still deny this insurgency exists, and it is true that these countries have locally specific factors that contribute to their respective insurgent conditions. Yes, the groups behind these attacks are not under one central leadership, rather they are either affiliates or offshoots of competing jihadist groups.
But they all share one cause.
They are all—including ISIS—derived from, or affiliated to just two jihadist groupings: al Qaeda and the Taliban. In turn, jihadists all drink from the same doctrinal well of widespread, rigid Wahhabism. And they share the ideological aims of popular non-terrorist Islamists. They are all unified behind a theocratic desire to enforce a version of Sharia as law over society. Considering that non-violent Wahhabi and Islamist Muslims exist in their millions globally, this drastically increases the potential recruitment pool for jihadists. The insurgency could not succeed were this not so. There is no use in denying it.
For many years, liberals—and I speak as one—have refused to acknowledge the ideology of Islamism. All talk of “ideas” was seen to be nothing but a “neocon” line taken directly from the worst excesses of the George W. Bush years.
Ironically, due to this very fear of political incorrectness we wound up repeating many of the mistakes of the neocon era. While we feared to engage in a debate on values with Muslim communities, we tried to restrict the problem to the realm of mere criminality, as something to be dealt with by law enforcement or, failing a solution there, by the military—and ultimately by war, even if that word went unspoken. Under this doctrine, President Barack Obama developed a secret kill-list, preferring simply to assassinate his enemies, even if they were American citizens, and he has wound up dispatching more drone strikes abroad than Bush ever did.
Anything to avoid discussing ideas.
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