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Armageddon in slow motion

Bloody wars have been fought before but today’s media communications and live coverage has brought the horrors to our bedrooms, in almost real time.

In the past nations fought in the name of political ideals democracy versus communism sort of thing or nationalistic goals, but were really seeking territorial aggrandisement and domination. Modern warfare had also made civilians fair game after the bombings of Dresden, Coventry and Hiroshima.

People take part in a demonstration against the violent uprising of the jihadist group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL or ISIS), in the centre of The Hague, on June 29. The ISIL declared a ‘caliphate’ — an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire — extending from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in Iraq, rebranding itself the Islamic State. Pic/AFP
People take part in a demonstration against the violent uprising of the jihadist group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL or ISIS), in the centre of The Hague, on June 29. The ISIL declared a ‘caliphate’ — an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire — extending from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in Iraq, rebranding itself the Islamic State. Pic/AFP

For long, modern states held the monopoly to create organised and sustained violence. This was privatised on a global scale and perhaps forever, when the US helped Afghan and Pakistani Islamic foot soldiers launch the First Jihad International in Afghanistan.

Events in West Asia and Africa clearly indicate that the Second Jihad International is now in the making. One can be sure that those involved in this Jihad see this as the launching pad for a Third Jihad International in Europe and South Asia. And wars in the name of religion are unlikely to end soon, if ever.

There have been violent protests following the Israeli onslaught in Gaza globally and some in parts of the Arab world but none against the ISIS massacres in Iraq-Syria. Is it fear of the ISIS or silent approval of their acts? The silence after the renaming of the Caliphate as the Islamic State automatically suggests assent if not deference from the Islamic world.

Somewhere is this cauldron the significance of the Islamic State and the silence towards it has been lost in the crash of MH17 and the Israeli attack in Gaza, which has accounted for 450 deaths and counting. Some argue that these killings are not the work of true Muslims and cannot be in the name of Islam.

Maybe but this is not how it appears to the rest of the world particularly when the perpetrators say they are killing non-believers in the name of religion. There is today no voice strong enough to even condemn these creatures of violence, let alone stop this. Mindless religious violence is now the established creed, and let us not deny this. This is degradation of the human mind and spirit.

It is Armageddon in slow motion. Despite all the brutality and the high profile violent activity of the ISIS, many hope that this is not mainstream. However, this hope will transform into reality only if the moderate sections are able to assert themselves. If this does not happen, Islamist radicals will become mainstream.

3,000 foreigners from Europe and the US are estimated to have been participating in the current jihad in Syria and Iraq. Just as the Arab volunteers returned to their countries after the Afghan jihad in the 1990s to form the core of Al Qaeda, these jihadis in Syria and Iraq will one day return to their countries of adoption or origin to plan further jihad.

It is likely that the current conflict in West Asia will transform into either a sectarian conflict within the Muslim world or end up as a sub-ethnic battle with religious overtones. The region is not going to see peace descend early or completely.

Pakistan is likely to feel emboldened to try the only thing they know — renew the use of religious violence against India. It is also possible that this time Pakistan may descend from being the epicentre of terrorism to becoming the playground for the next jihad. We are not far away from these fault lines; in fact closer than many of us imagine considering what has been happening across the border.

Meanwhile, India should also worry that Ansar-ul-Tawhid ul-Hind, a terrorist organisation has claimed that Anwar Bhatkal, one of their brethren and related to Riaz Bhatkal, the founder of Indian Mujahedeen, attained what they call martyrdom battling in Afghanistan.

We cannot ignore the claims of Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi that he would raise a force of 5,00,000 to support Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. His offer to the Saudis (on his Facebook page), that they should recruit Ahle Sunnat youth from the Indian subcontinent to form a powerful Muslim army in the Islamic world, is incendiary talk besides depicting extraterritorial loyalty.

Nadwa tul Ulema, a Wahhabi seminary where Nadvi teaches, has not reacted so far. There is alarm among responsible Indian Muslims as well at the kind of offers Nadvi and others are making. This has to be stopped as there will be young Indian men and women who might want to join this global madness in the name of religion.

The writer is a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

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