The Challenge of Hizb ut Tahrir - deciphering and combatting radical Islamic ideology - MEQ book review
September 3, 2005
The Challenge of Hizb ut Tahrir: Deciphering and Combating Radical Islamist Ideology. Edited by Zeyno Baran. Washington, D.C.: The Nixon Center, 2004. 119 pp. $6.95, paper.
The Nixon Center's February 2004 Istanbul workshop on Hizb ut-Tahrir was intended both to "decipher and combat radical Islamist ideology" in general and to assess the specific terrorist threat posed by the group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). The meeting was off the record and not all participants permitted their work to be published. The proceedings consist of a short paperback book of twenty brief and informative papers. They provide diverse portrayals of Hizb ut-Tahrir but offer no operational or strategic consensus.
Five papers are of special note because they highlight the academic, law enforcement, political, religious, and social perspectives—those of Rohan Gunaratna (Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore), Madeline Gruen (New York City police department counterterrorism research analyst), Rusen Cakir (writer on Turkish Islamist movements), Mateen Siddiqui (vice president of the Supreme Islamic Council of America), and Michael Whine (counterterrorism expert for the Jewish community of the United Kingdom).
Their assessments of Hizb ut-Tahrir diverge as much as their backgrounds. Gunaratna identifies members of the Al-Qaeda organization connected with the group (such as Pakistani Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Jordanian Abu Musah al-Zawaqawi, and Indonesian Hambali) and concludes that this proves "adherents of HT are actively engaging in global terrorism." In contrast, Cakir finds it unlikely that Hizb ut-Tahrir would use terrorism in Turkey. Gruen finds that "in the United States, HT was following the patterns of white ethno-nationalist groups, who are exploiting interests in the Internet, computer games, and music," and predicts that HT will continue to make da'wa (propaganda) efforts in the United States. Siddiqui emphasizes the virulently anti-Semitic, totalitarian nature of the group and its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood with its objective to establish an Islamic "world dominance through Islamic rule." Whine reports that "there is no evidence that HT is involved in or engages in terrorism in Europe" but holds that it "represents a long-term threat of subversion."
Challenge of Hizb ut-Tahrir informs but does not draw conclusions, leaving the reader wondering whether Hizb ut-Tahrir is a group linked to Al-Qaeda that must be eradicated, or an elitist club to be scrutinized but tolerated . http://www.meforum.org/article/727