Written by a war correspondent, this book takes a first-hand look at how the seeds of al-Qaeda were planted by foreign jehadists in the 1980s before the Americans knew what the word jehad meant.
Beginning with the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, 16 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens and members of al-Qaeda, a multinational Islamist group funded by the richest and most powerful Saudi Arabia, “including members of the royal family.” Here the author admits that despite knowing the source of attack, “America ignored this and launched attacks on certain countries.” The author adds, “There’s never been a stranger war than the one America has been waging since the events of 9/11. Today, a half decade later, we are occupying Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks; are trying to destabilise Iran, which had nothing to do with the attacks and are threatening Syria, which had nothing to do with the attacks, with forcible regime change.”
According to the author, the ‘Real Axis of Evil’ is ISI, leading members of the Saudi Arabian ruling class and the violent extremist Sunni groups, like the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Moslem Brotherhood that Saudi Arabia funds and sponsors around the globe. He laments that while the world is busy tilting “windmills, this unholy troika remains more elusive, its goal nothing less than taking over the entire Islamic world, and after that, the rest of us.”
The author says that the al-Qaeda was present even before we got to know of the group. It began with Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when the Red Army’s superior firepower and willingness to use it on civilians and guerrillas earlier began to take its toll on the resistance. Here the author clarifies the popular misconception that Afghans are fanatics, and bloodthirsty bold warriors. Ninety per cent of Afghans are followers of the moderate Hanafi School of Sunni Islam “permeated with Sufism”. He quotes Sufi poet Hamim Sanai, who said, “At God’s door, what’s the difference between Moslem and Christian, virtuous and guilty?”
The author says that when he stayed at a Mujaheedin camp, he saw them pray towards Mecca and on finding the author not doing the same, they understood the situation and one of them, Sher Mohammed, asked for a piece of paper and pencil to draw what a church looked like so that “they can build it before your return. They are ashamed that there is no place for you to pray in their village.” So much for the “intolerant Afghans” and their “fanatical religion”!
The author vents his view that many of our strategies for defeating terrorism, “as well as our policies towards Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and other Moslem nations, only multiply the number of our enemies while doing little, effective enough to counter the terrorist threat – the worst of all problems in the world.” He adds Osama bin Laden is on record as having been inspired to destroy the Twin Towers when he saw a footage of Israeli soldiers knocking down Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip and had offered peace to the Western world in return for troop withdrawals from Iraq and Saudi Arabia and other changes in policy.
The author suggest three ways for catching Osama bin Laden in hiding and says that why the US is unwilling to catch him is because everybody knows that Pakistan is the main culprit as ISI officers recruit and train suicide bombers. People who live in a large and rich, highly mobile environment, are perfect suicide-bombing targets. The author points out that the threat we are facing can take so many possible forms that “it is impossible to protect against even a fraction of them.”
This is an interesting read.
(Jaico Publishing House, A-2, Jash Chambers, 7-A, Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai-400 001.)