This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/58
"AM local leader" "I don't care if an attack kills my own children"
by David Cohen
April 22, 2004
MIM: Islam , a married middle class British born Muslim, left his job and the university to collect unemployment, (the dole ) and work full time for Al Muhajiroun. He is the Luton leader of the group and plastered the town with posters of the 9/11 hijackers as "The Magnificent 19."
Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths pour heated words of revolution.
"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."
"Pass the brown sauce, brother," says Abu Malaahim, the IT specialist, devouring his chicken and chips.
His friend, Abu Musa, the security guard, smiles radiantly. "It will be a day of joy for me," he adds, speaking with a slight lisp.
As they talk, a man with a bushy beard, dressed in a jacket emblazoned with the word "Jihad", stands and watches over them, handing around cups of steaming hot coffee. His real name is Ishtiaq Alamgir, but he goes by his adopted name, Sayful Islam, meaning "Sword of Islam". He is the 24-year-old leader of the Luton branch of al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Muslim group with about 800 members countrywide, who regard Osama bin Laden as their hero.
Until recently, nobody took the fanatical beliefs of al-Muhajiroun too seriously, believing that a British-based group so brazenly "out there" could not be involved in something as "underground" as terrorism. The group is led by the exiled Saudi, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, from his base in north London. Yesterday, in a magazine article, Bakri warned that several radical groups are poised to strike in London.
For all its inflammatory rhetoric, al-Muhajiroun has never been linked to actual violence. Yet, with the discovery last month of half-a-tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser - the same explosive ingredient used in the Bali and Turkey terror attacks - and with the arrest of eight young British Muslims in London and the South-East, including six in Luton, extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun are under the spotlight like never before.
Detectives fear that the "enemy within", the homegrown extremists leading apparently normal lives in suburbia, now pose the greatest threat to security in Britain. Sayful and his friends fit this "homegrown" profile: three were born here, two came as young children from Pakistan; all were educated in local Luton schools; and they grew up in families of full employment - one of their fathers is a retired local businessman, two are engineers, and two worked in the local Vauxhall car plant.
The question is: how worried should we be? Is al-Muhajiroun nothing more than a repository for disaffected Muslim youths who have adopted an extreme interpretation of Islam - perhaps to cock a snook at the white establishment - but who are essentially posturing? Or does the group also perform a more sinister function, sucking in alienated young men and brainwashing the more impressionable into becoming future suicide bombers?
Although none of the arrested Muslims - aged 17 to 32 - appear to be current al-Muhajiroun members, rumours have circulated of informal links to the group. Moreover, parents of the arrested men have spoken anxiously of the "radicalising influence" of al-Muhajiroun militants who " corrupt" their children at mosques.
Nowhere has this public confrontation between radicals and moderates been more apparent than in Luton, which has the highest density of Muslims in the South-East - 28,000 out of a total population of 140,000 - and has long been regarded as a hotbed of extremism.
Sayful Islam, for one, is particularly proud of his contribution to Luton's hardline reputation. His exploits include covering the town with " Magnificent 19" posters glorifying the 11 September suicide bombers. "When I joined al-Muhajiroun four years ago, there were five local members," he says. "Now there are more than 50 and hundreds more support us."
The strange thing is that four years ago, Sayful Islam was a jeans-clad student completing his degree in business economics at Middlesex University in Hendon, north London.
The son of a British Rail engineer who came to this country from Pakistan, Sayful grew up in a moderate, middle-class Muslim family in Luton. At the local Denbigh High School, he is remembered as one of the smartest kids, and was selected to attend a science masterclass at Cambridge University. He would go on to marry, have two children and find work as an accountant for the Inland Revenue in Luton. He was thoroughly uninterested in politics.
THEN he met Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad at a local event. Within two years, he had swapped his decently paid job as an accountant for an unpaid one as a political agitator. What turned him into an extremist? And how far is he prepared to go to achieve his aims?
Prior to seeing the group at the fastfood restaurant, Sayful meets me at his semi-detached rented home in Bury Park, Luton's Muslim neighbourhood. He no longer works, even though he is able-bodied, he admits, preferring instead to claim housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance. He smiles sheepishly and says the irony is not lost on him that the British state is supporting him financially, even as he plots to "overthrow it".
"I made a decision that I wanted to follow what Islam really said," Sayful begins, sitting on his sofa in his thowb (a traditional robe) and bare feet. "I went to listen to all the local imams, but I found their portrayal of Islam was too secularised. When I heard Sheikh Omar [the leader] of al-Muhajiroun speak, it was pure Islam, with no compromise. I found that appealing.
"At the same time," continues Sayful, "wars were happening in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan. People were being oppressed simply because they were Muslim. Although I had never experienced racism in the UK, it opened the eyes of a lot of Muslims, including mine."
But it was the events of 11 September that crystallised Sayful's worldview. "When I watched those planes go into the Twin Towers, I felt elated," he says. "That magnificent action split the world into two camps: you were either with Islam and al Qaeda, or with the enemy. I decided to quit my job and commit myself full-time to al-Muhajiroun." Now he does not consider himself British. "I am a Muslim living in Britain, and I give my allegiance only to Allah."
According to Sayful, the aim of al-Muhajiroun ("the immigrants") is nothing less than Khilafah - "the worldwide domination of Islam". The way to achieve this, he says, is by Jihad, led by Bin Laden. "I support him 100 per cent."
Does that support extend to violent acts of terrorism in the UK?
"Yes," he replies, unequivocally. "When a bomb attack happens here, I won't be against it, even if it kills my own children. Islam is clear: Muslims living in lands that are occupied have the right to attack their invaders.
"Britain became a legitimate target when it sent troops to Iraq. But it is against Islam for me to engage personally in acts of terrorism in the UK because I live here. According to Islam, I have a covenant of security with the UK, as long as they allow us Muslims to live here in peace."
HE USES the phrase "covenant of security" constantly. He attempts to explain. "If we want to engage in terrorism, we would have to leave the country," he says. "It is against Islam to do otherwise." Such a course of action, he says, he is not prepared to undertake. This is why, Sayful claims, it is consistent, and not cowardly, for him to espouse the rhetoric of terrorism, the "martyrdom-operations", while simultaneouslylimiting himself to nonviolentactions such as leafletting outside Luton town hall.
He denies any link between al-Muhajiroun and the Muslims arrested in the recent police raids. But, as I later discover at the fastfood restaurant, not everyone attaching themselves, however loosely, to al-Muhajiroun draws the same line. Two members of the group - Abu Yusuf, the financial adviser, and Abu Musa, the security guard - scorn al-Muhajiroun as "too moderate".
"I am freelance," says Abu Yusuf, fixing me with his piercing brown eyes. What does that mean? I ask.
"The difference between us and those two," interjects Abu Malaahim, pointing to Musa and Yusuf, "is that us lot do a verbal thing, [but] those brothers actually want to do a physical thing."
Referring to the latest truce offered by Bin Laden, and Britain's scathing rejection of it, Abu Malaahim adds: "He tried to make a peace deal. When terrorism happens, you will only have yourselves to blame."
How far are you prepared to go? I ask.
"You want to know how far I will go," says Abu Musa, his high-pitched lisp rising an octave. "When Allah said in the Koran 'kill and be killed', that's what I want. I want a martyr operation, where I kill my enemy."
Are you saying, I probe, that you are looking to kill people yourself ? "Yes," Abu Musa says, "to kill and to be killed." He emphasises each word.
What's stopped you doing it? "As you know from watching the news," intones Abu Yusuf, "there are brothers who do leave the country and do it." He is referring to the four Muslims from Luton who died fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the two British Muslims, said to have had ties to al-Muhajiroun, who last April left to become suicide bombers in Israel. "In-shallah [ Godwilling], there will be a time to go."
It is hard to know whether Musa and Yusuf are deadly serious or just pumped full of misguided, youthful bravado. Though I see coldness - even ruthlessness - in their eyes, I sense no malice. Both young men agree, perhaps foolishly, to be quoted using their real names, though they decline photographs - thus illustrating their uncertainty of which way to jump.
Muhammad Sulaiman, president of the Islamic Cultural Society, the largest of the 14 mosques in Luton, dismisses al-Muhajiroun as "verbal diarrhoea".
"They are an extreme Right-wing group - the Muslim version of the BNP," he says disdainfully. "They think Muslims should dominate, just like the BNP thinks whites should dominate. They use Islam as a vehicle to promote their distorted beliefs, particularly to unemployed young bloods who are vulnerable."
ALTHOUGH unemployment in Luton is just six per cent, the rate among Muslim youths is estimated at 25 per cent. "They are no more representative of our Muslim community than the BNP are of the white community."
Sulaiman insists that Sayful Islam and his crew are not welcome at the mosque. He cannot prevent them praying there, but he will never give them a platform. "I've told Sayful to bugger off and ejected him many times," he says brusquely. "Even Sayful's father, who I know well, thinks his son has been brainwashed."
But Sayful and his friends laugh at the idea that they are local pariahs. "The mosques say one thing to the public, and something else to us. Let's just say that the face you see and the face we see are two different faces," says Abdul Haq. "Believe me," adds Musa, "behind closed doors, there are no moderate Muslims."
They also mock the idea that they are attracted to al-Muhajiroun because they have suffered alienation from white society. "Do we look like scum?" they ask. "Do we look illiterate?"
As they call for the bill, Abu Malaahim flicks open his 3G mobile phone and, with a satisfied grin, displays the image, downloaded from the internet, of an American Humvee burning in Iraq.
Abu Yusuf says: "That's nothing. I downloaded the picture of the four burnt Americans hanging from the bridge." It's oneupmanship, al-Muhajiroun style.
Sayful, the only married one in the group, prepares to go home to his wife and children. Before he departs, he says he has a message to deliver.
"I want to warn that the police raids - if repeated - could create a bad situation.
"Islam is not like Christianity, where they turn the other cheek. If they raid our homes, it could lead to the covenant of security being broken.
"Islam allows us to retaliate. That would include" - he tugs his "Jihad" coat tight against the night air - "by violent means."
The new leader of the National Union of Students (NUS), Douglas Trainer, has reaffirmed his intention to have Hizb ut-Tahrir and what he calls "other such organisations" banned from university campuses in Britain (see BMMS for October and December 1995; January, February, March and May 1996)...
...Omar Bakri Mohammed, former leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir and now leader of Al-Muhajiroun, in an interview with the Guardian (23.08.96), said that his group intends to organise on university campuses under different names and through existing student societies. He said: "They will not be able to ban peace and human societies. If they do, it will only backfire...We will use other people". Lucy Manning, the Guardian journalist, claimed that Al-Muhajiroun planned to target Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities, and that it had already established a presence at the School of African and Oriental Studies, University College London, and the London School of Economics.
MIM Note: According to BBC news reports 8,500 people attended the HT conference which indicates that it is not such a fringe movement " as the Muslim Council of Britain would like people to believe . The conference photos indicate that there were many families and older people in attendence.
Organisers called it " the largest gathering of Muslims in the U.K. since September 11th".
Abdullah Robin was one of the featured speakers together with Imran Waheed, who wrote a threatening United States Institute of Peace research fellow Dr.Gabriel Weimann with a lawsuit because of what he wrote about them in his study about terrorism and the internet . http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/56
See link on MIM site about : Hizb ut Tahrir threatens USIP professor with lawsuit.
Hizb ut Tahrir Event -10,000 people attended
BEYOND SEPTEMBER 11TH: THE ROLE OF MUSLIMS IN THE WEST Since the events of September 11th, and the declaration of America' 'war on terrorism', Muslims in the West have been forced to mak choice - either they accept the Capitalist ideology and its colonialist worldview or otherwise be labelled the 'terrorist'. So what choi should Muslims living in the West make? This conference, with distinguished speakers from across the world, will delineate a clear, distinct and definitive path for Muslims in the West to follow. SUNDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER 2002 11 AM - 8 PM LONDON ARENA - DOCKLANDS - LONDON - UK Speakers include: Dr Imran Waheed (UK), Waleed Gubara (UK), Mohammad Ismaeel Yusanto (Indonesia), Ferdeous Ahmed (UK), Abdullah Michael Vivash (Australia), Dr Abdullah Robin (UK), Naveed Butt (Pakistan), Taji Mustafa (UK), Imam Abu'l Hassan (Sudan), Dr Abu Talha (USA), Imam Issam Amireh (Palestine), Mohammed Akmal (UK) International Audio & Video Linku Book Stall Panel Discussion Creche Faciliti Media Enquiries +44(0)7946-510006 Websites: www.al-islaam.org www.khilafah.com (for live PalTalk broadcast)
The faces of Hizb ut Tahrir at www.1924.org
Hizb ut Tahrir is the ' yuppie' contingent of Al Muhajroun .
Note that many of the 1924 members have degrees in subjects like biochemical engineering, information technology, and in the case of British convert to Islam Abdullah Robin, a Phd in the molecular structure of foot and mouth disease.
Abdullah Robin explains why he converted to Islam 10 years ago and his total rejection of Western values and culture.It is interesting to note that he sounds exactly like Sayful Islam the local leader of Al Muhajiroun quoted in the above article .
It is a strange reversal of positions when today some young Muslims are speaking so proudly of Britain as "our country". They want to be British Muslims - I once held the British identity, which is characterised by secular values, and now I am Muslim and that is enough for me! Should I integrate? I was integrated once when I believed in the Western system of life. I used to be proud of democracy and the free market economy. I once believed in the intellectual basis upon which the Western way of life is built. I drank deeply from the philosophy of the West and its way of thinking was my way of thinking. So then I was integrated, not by the clothes I wore or the drinks that I drank, but by my belief in what was specific to the culture of the West. Capitalism provided a complete way of life built on the secular premise of man's freedom to govern himself according to his own will without the imposition of religion. Christian, Muslim, Jew or atheist made little difference to me because religion was a matter of personal taste and indeed the whole of morality is just a matter of taste for believers in such a system. So pervasive is this mindset that people of religion succumbed to it before Muslims arrived on Britain's shores. Are Muslims next into the melting pot? Well not me. I jumped out of the melting pot and have no intention of merging Islam's distinct thoughts and solutions for life with those of the Jahilliyah, which, by the favour of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala), I left twelve years ago.
Interview with Abdullah Robin in Khalifah, the magazine of Hizb ut Tahrir, explaining the Muslim professionals role in the Islamisation of the world .
Asif: Do you feel that there is anything wrong with Muslims living in the West aspiring for careers as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and scientists? In fact, would you encourage them to do so?
Khilafah Magazine Muharram/Safar 1425 (March 2004)
The team from 1924.org and Hizb ut Tahrir
MIM :The aims and work of Hizb Ut Tahrir in their own words:
|Bismillahi Al-Rahman Al-Raheem |
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology. It works within the Ummah and together with her, so that she adopts Islam as her cause and is led to restore the Khilafah and the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political group and not a priestly one. Nor is it an academic, educational or a charity group. The Islamic thought is the soul of its body, its core and the secret of its life.
Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in response to the saying of Allah (swt),
"Let there be among you a group that invites to the good, orders what is right and forbids what is evil, and they are those who are successful" [TMQ 3:104]
Its purpose was to revive the Islamic Ummah from the severe decline that it had reached, and to liberate it from the thoughts, systems and laws of Kufr, as well as the domination and influence of the Kufr states. It also aims to restore the Islamic Khilafah State so that the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed returns.
Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khaleefah and give him the bay'ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da'wah and jihad.
The Party, as well, aims at the correct revival of the Ummah through enlightened thought. It also strives to bring her back to her previous might and glory such that she wrests the reins of initiative away from other states and nations, and returns to her rightful place as the first state in the world, as she was in the past, when she governs the world according to the laws of Islam.
It also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's Work
The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da'wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society's existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them. Secondly the Party works to change the emotions in the society until they become Islamic emotions that accept only that which pleases Allah (swt) and rebel against and detest anything which angers Allah (swt). Finally, the Party works to change the relationships in the society until they become Islamic relationships which proceed in accordance with the laws and solutions of Islam. These actions which the Party performs are political actions, since they relate to the affairs of the people in accordance with the Shari'ah rules and solutions, and politics in Islam is looking after the affairs of the people, either in opinion or in execution or both, according to the laws and solutions of Islam.
What is manifested in these political actions is culturing the Ummah with the Islamic culture in order to melt her with Islam and to cleanse her of the corrupt creeds, false thoughts and erroneous concepts including the influence of Kufr thoughts and opinions.
What is also manifested in these political actions is an intellectual and political struggle. The manifestation of an intellectual struggle is through the struggle against the thoughts and systems of Kufr. It is also manifested in the struggle against false thoughts, corrupt creeds and erroneous concepts by demonstrating their corruption, showing their error and presenting clearly the verdict of Islam concerning them.
As for the political struggle, it is manifested in the struggle against the disbelieving imperialists, to deliver the Ummah from their domination and to liberate her from their influence by uprooting their intellectual, cultural, political, economic and military roots from all of the Muslim countries.
The political struggle also appears in challenging the rulers, revealing their treasons and conspiracies against the Ummah, and by taking them to task and changing them if they denied the rights of the Ummah, or refrained from performing their duties towards her, or ignored any matter of her affairs, or violated the laws of Islam.
So all the work of the Party is political, whether it is in office or not. Its work is not educational, as it is not a school, nor is its work concerned with giving sermons and preaching. Rather its work is political, in which the thoughts and laws of Islam are presented in order to act upon them and to carry them so as to establish them in life's affairs and in the State.
The Party conveys the da'wah for Islam so that it is implemented, and so that its aqeedah becomes the foundation of the State and the foundation of its constitution and canons. This is because the Islamic aqeedah is a rational creed and it is a political doctrine from which originates a system that deals with all of man's problems, whether they are political, economic, cultural, social or any other issue for that matter.
The Place of Hizb ut-Tahrir's Work
Although Islam is a universal ideology, its method does not, however, allow one to work for it universally from the beginning. It is necessary, however, to invite to it universally, and make the field of work for it in one country, or a few countries, until it is consolidated there and the Islamic State is established.
The whole world is a suitable location for the Islamic da'wah. But since the people in the Muslim countries have already embraced Islam, it is necessary that the da'wah starts there. The Arab countries are the most suitable location to start carrying the da'wah because these countries, which constitute part of the Muslim world, are inhabited by people who speak the Arabic language, which is the language of the Qur'an and hadith, and is an essential part of Islam and a basic element of the Islamic culture.
The Hizb began and started to carry the da'wah within some of the Arab countries. It then proceeded to expand the delivery of the da'wah naturally until it began to function in many Arab countries and also in non-Arab Muslim countries as well.
A History of Hizb ut Tahrir
peaceful jihad, but there will be war
Central Asia is reaching boiling point as Islamic fundamentalists clash with corrupt, anti-Muslim regimes. In our final extract from his new book, Ahmed Rashid, the world's most influential war correspondent, explains how one extremist organisation plans to spread its message to the entire Muslim world and establish a powerful, unified Islamic empire.
In the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, militant Islam is gaining popularity. Little is known about the new extremist movements, but rumour, myth, and the ancient Central Asian tradition of storytelling have added to their mystique. In the villages of Central Asia, people speak of how the advance guard of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan guerrillas consists of beautiful female snipers who, armed with the latest scopes and night-vision goggles, can either seduce or kill a soldier from a long distance; or of how guerrillas have been blessed by Muslim saints to make their bodies impervious to wounds.
While poverty and unemployment increase across Central Asia - and economic opportunities decrease - its debt-ridden societies are ripe for any organisation or party that offers hope for a better life. More than 60 per cent of the region's 50 million people are under the age of 25. This new generation is unemployed, poorly educated and hungry - how long will it continue to tolerate the decline in living standards and the lack of rudimentary freedoms? It is, perhaps, unsurprising that underground, extremist Islamic groups are flourishing.
In addition to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an even more widespread Islamic movement, the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (the Party of Islamic Liberation), has taken root in Central Asia. If the IMU says little about its ultimate aims, the HT produces an abundance of literature about its goals, including a website (www.hizb-ut-tahrir.org). Its aims are probably the most esoteric and anachronistic of all the radical Islamic movements in the world today.
The HT, which, like the IMU, has declared jihad in Central Asia, seeks to unite Central Asia, the Xinjiang Province in China and, eventually, the entire Islamic world community under a caliphate that would re-establish the Khilifat-i-Rashida, which ruled the Arab Muslims for a short time after the Prophet Mohammed's death in 632. This period is revered by many radical Islamic movements, including the Taliban, as the only time in Islamic history when a true Muslim society existed.
In the scenario envisaged in HT literature, one or more Islamic countries will come under HT control, after which the movement will be able to win over the rest of the Islamic world. HT leaders believe that Central Asia has reached what they call "a boiling point" and is ripe for takeover. As Sheikh Qadeem Zaloom, the current HT leader and one of its most prolific writers, describes the situation: "The issue of transforming the lands into the Islamic homeland and uniting them with the rest of the Islamic lands is an objective which the Muslims aim to achieve, and the method which ought to be undertaken to achieve this objective is that of re-establishing Khilafah."
The HT has become the most widespread popular underground movement in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and its utopian aims are growing in popularity among college and university students throughout the region. The challenge that the HT poses to the regimes of these countries can be judged by the fact that there are more HT prisoners in Central Asia's prisons than those of any other movement, including the much better known IMU (the HT claims that there are more than 100,000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan alone, but this figure is highly inflated).
The HT was founded in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in 1953 by diaspora Palestinians led by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani Filastyni. A graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo, an-Nabhani was a schoolteacher and a local Islamic judge before he was forced to leave Palestine to make way for the new country of Israel. He settled in Jordan in 1953, and there set up the movement.
An-Nabhani wrote many books and leaflets during his lifetime, which form the core belief of the HT. "The point at hand is not establishing several states, but one single state over the entire Muslim world," he wrote in 1962.
The HT believes in jihad as a means to mobilise supporters against non-Muslims, but it does not advocate a violent overthrow of Muslim regimes, as do other extremist groups, such as Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda. It may sympathise with the IMU, but it does not believe in guerrilla tactics.
Instead, the HT envisages a moment when millions of supporters will rise up and topple the Central Asian governments - particularly the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan - by sheer force of numbers. In the repressive climate of the region, this - combined with the HT's growing popularity - is enough to ensure government crackdowns against the movement, particularly in Uzbekistan.
An-Nabhani's concept of the future Islamic state envisages a political structure in which a caliph (civil and religious ruler) elected by an Islamic shura (council) would have dictatorial powers in a highly centralised system. The caliph would control the army, the political system, the economy and foreign policy. Sharia (Islamic law) would prevail, Arabic would be the language of the state and the role of women would be severely restricted.
The defence minister, whose title would be amir of jihad, would prepare the people for jihad against the non-Muslim world. Military conscription and training in preparation for this jihad would be mandatory for all Muslim men over 15.
The HT's popularity is stretching beyond Central Asia. Some of its leaders have set up offices in Europe, especially Germany and England. London is now believed to be a major organisational centre for the movement. There, the HT raises funds and trains recruits to spread the movement in Central Asia.
The HT has become extremely popular among Muslim students on the campuses of British universities. When it held a conference in the Docklands area of London on August 26, 2001, to debate the political crisis in Pakistan, busloads of HT supporters arrived from all over Britain and there was a live webcast on the internet.
Sheikh Zaloom, the present leader, probably lives in Europe, but his exact location remains a secret. There are no photographs of Central Asian HT leaders and no hint of who the other leaders are, how the chain of command works or where they are based.
In autumn 2000, I met, secretly, an HT leader in Uzbekistan, whom I shall call "Ali". He explained to me that the HT operates secret, decentralised five to seven-man cells throughout Central Asia, making it extremely difficult for the authorities to penetrate the organisation. The cells, called daira (circles), are study groups dedicated to the spread of Islam and the HT message. The cell chief, the only person who knows the next level of the party organisation, sets out weekly tasks for his members, who are expected to go out and create new cells.
The HT is starting to cause concern in Western capitals, even though little is known about the movement. During late 2000, an intense debate took place among Clinton administration intelligence experts about whether officially to declare the HT a group that supports terrorism. Washington finally decided against making such a statement because the HT had never participated in guerrilla activity, kidnapped people or set up armed training camps; in fact, it had always advocated peaceful change. But the fear is that young HT militants, who now face the same indiscriminate repression and poverty at home as IMU militants, may soon ignore their elders' advice and turn to guerrilla warfare.
Though the HT has still not taken the path of violence, "Ali" is not averse to issuing a dire warning: "The HT wants a peaceful jihad, which will be spread by explanation and conversion, not by war," he says. "But, ultimately, there will be war because the repression by the Central Asian regimes is so severe, and we have to prepare for that. If the IMU suddenly appears in the Fergana Valley, HT activists will not sit idly by and allow the security forces to kill them." The fear that the HT will move from an educational to a militant jihad may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But neither the HT nor the IMU has the power, the popularity, nor the military force to emerge as a victor in Central Asia. Their present success is due primarily to their repression by the Central Asian states, which turns them into martyrs, and the incompetence with which this repression is carried out. It is also the result of external sources of instability, such as the war in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the secretive leaders of these organisations cannot pose as alternatives to presidents such as Islam Karimov without first disclosing themselves and then spelling out what they have to offer the people of Central Asia. The best way for the Central Asian regimes to destroy the influence of these groups would be to bring them out into the open; to allow Islamic practice in their countries and to institute reforms that would leave the movements with only their alien ideologies to sell.
Under better economic and social conditions, such movements would have had little public appeal or impact and would have remained on the fringe of the Central Asian Islamic world, just as the HT remains marginalised in many other Muslim countries. It is the particular circumstances of the crisis in Central Asia that have pushed the IMU and the HT to centre stage and provided young people with alien role models.
Yet, as the threat increases, the Central Asian regimes have become more intransigent and less willing to address the pressing needs of their people. As the public becomes more angry and frustrated, the ruling elites continue to ignore the need for change.
The crisis that has blown up since the September 11 attacks is fraught with danger, but it also offers an enormous opportunity for change. By joining the Western alliance against al-Qa'eda, the Central Asian states have made a commitment to the international community's war against terrorism and Islamic extremism.
In so doing, they cannot afford to ignore the long-term consequences of their actions. If the American-led alliance succeeds in removing the threat of groups such as the IMU, the international community will be in a position to insist that the Central Asian regimes conduct themselves in line with international standards of democracy building, economic development, and social responsibility.
The Central Asian regimes are at a critical crossroads. They can ignore the lessons from Afghanistan and the collapse of the Afghan state and watch terrorism, instability and famine increase in their countries. Or they can take advantage of the global community's new engagement with the region to rebuild their countries. The real crisis in Central Asia lies with the state, not with the insurgents.
The Daily Telegraph, 24 January 2002
Iraq crisis a chance to oust Non-Islamic regimes: Muslim Party
uploaded 18 Sep 2002
LONDON, Sept 15 (AFP) - The unfolding crisis over Iraq is an opportunity for Muslims to sweep away corrupt regimes throughout the Muslim world, the British representative of the Islamic Hizb ul-Tahrir (Liberation Party) said Sunday.
Though Hizb ul-Tahrir opposes war on Iraq, it hopes the crisis will be the spark that leads to the creation of a new Islamic "khilafah," or caliphate, Imran Waheed told journalists.
"We see all the Muslim rulers remain silent, really, in essence, to America and Britain's war-mongering over Iraq," said Waheed, who helped to organize a important rally Sunday of several thousand Muslims in London.
"We call on the Muslims in the Muslim world to rise up and to remove their rulers and their regimes and to implement Islam," he said. "Certainly, this is an opportunity."
Sunday's all-day rally at the London Arena, in the Docklands financial district, was billed as the biggest gathering of Muslims in the West since the September 11 attacks last year.
Its theme was the role of Muslims in the West in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
Banned in many Muslim countries, Hizb ul-Tahrir rejects violence in favor of "political and intellectual" action with the goal of reviving the caliphate that disappeared with the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
It sees the unfolding crisis in the Middle East as foretelling a clash of civilizations driven by Anglo-Saxon capitalist interests.
"A lot of Muslims are going to die in this bombing of Iraq," said Sajjad Khan, another Hizb ul-Tahrir member.
"Of course, as concerned Muslims, we don't want anyone -- Muslims or non-Muslims -- to be victimized by the American colonialist agenda," Khan said.
"British soldiers and American soliders are going to die to fatten up the balance sheets of oil companies," he said. "At the end of the day, it's to feed a very few elite at the top."
Waheed said Iraq was today not an Islamic state, nor was its president Saddam Hussein an Islamic leader.
"But what we do not want to see in Iraq is America and Britain replacing Saddam Hussein with an Iraqi Hamid Karzai (the Afghan leader), a subservient and loyal puppet who will facilitate the harvesting of America's interests from the region, including the vast oil reserves of the Middle East," he said.
Organizers said almost 9,000 people attended Sunday's rally, paying five pounds (7.75 dollars, 8.20 euros) for admission to the cavernous venue that usually hosts hard-rock concerts and ice hockey games.
Speakers included Palestinian Imam Issam Amireh, a critic of Yasser Arafat; Iraqi dissident Abu Muhammad; and Moinuddin Ahmed, an Indian Muslim who witnessed the recent bloodshed in Gujarat state.
Founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by scholar Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, Hizb ut-Tahrir considers violence and armed struggle to be a violation of Islamic law.
Last month 26 of its members, three of them Britons, were charged in Egypt with belonging to an illegal organization, four months after they were arrested. Waheed has alleged that they have been tortured.
In October last year, Turkish police said they had arrested six suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members for distributing leaflets protesting US air strikes in Afghanistan.
Amnesty International has meanwhile reported the arrests of party members in the Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/58