- Waleed Aly/The Age with thanks to Gramfan
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Weasel Wally hates Bush
Snake-oil salesman Waleed Aly wants you to lookÂ elsewhere. America is the real terrorist…
From the “Stop resisting Islam” department:
AMID ALL the punditry about last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai being “India’s 9/11”, it is easy to forget that this brand of violence has become an entrenched feature of the country’s political landscape. Mumbai alone has now lost upwards of 600 lives in three terrorist attacks in the past 15 years. (continued below)
* Here’s something that makes more sense:
* More delusional Muslim BS:Â
But there is no need to go back so far to make the point. In the past six months there have been fatal attacks in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujurat, Argatala, Imphal and Assam. Lately, India has been averaging three a month.
Terrorism in India is diverse and stems from several direct causes, but they are typically relatively easy to identify. The country’s various Maoist, socialist and Sikh separatist groups have obvious causes, and much Islamist terrorism in recent years has been part of a cycle of violence with Hindu nationalist militants. The Mumbai bombings of 1993, for example, followed swiftly after the demolition of the Babri Mosque and anti-Muslim violence by Hindu militants. But hanging over every Islamist act of violence has been one loaded word: Kashmir.
Put briefly, if the partition of British India in 1947 was intended to create a Muslim majority Pakistan and Hindu majority India, the state of Kashmir rendered it a dangerously contradictory process. As a Muslim majority territory, it most logically belongs to Pakistan.
But, being under the rule of a Hindu maharajah at the time, and with India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, being a Kashmiri himself, it took on something of an ambiguous status: India claimed it, while promising the state a degree of autonomy.
Nehru pledged before the UN to hold a referendum on whether it would remain part of India, but this never materialised.
Hence three competing claims: that it properly belongs in India, to Pakistan, or to neither. The outcome has been a protracted and bloody dispute that extends well beyond Kashmir’s borders, and has fuelled non-state violence among Muslims in the region for decades â€” much of it assisted by Pakistan’s intelligence services. As William Dalrymple noted inÂ The Observer, this conflict is to South Asian Muslims what the Israel-Palestine conflict is to their Middle Eastern counterparts. It is hardly surprising, then, that the admittedly scant available evidence in the latest attacks so far points towards Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose focus has always been on the Kashmiri conflict.
But there is something qualitatively different this time that has captured the world’s attention. In part this is because the Mumbai attack had all the ingredients: sensational pictures and an evolving storyline that works very well in the world of television news. But the differences here were more than merely dramatic. Let us say immediately that so early in the aftermath we are still in the realm of making educated guesses. But as the smoke clears, it is possible to make out the silhouette of an evolving kind of terrorism.
The key development is the apparent targeting of foreigners, especially Westerners and Jews. Islamist terrorism in India has most commonly focused on public spaces where the victims are almost certain to be Hindus. Here, the primary targets were plush hotels, populated disproportionately by non-locals and non-Hindus. Why the tactical shift? It is possible, of course, that it was calculated to seize international attention precisely as it has done. Westerners, it seems are more newsworthy victims than Hindus.
But an alternative interpretation is possible and even compelling: that we are witnessing the development of a political narrative that, while certainly retaining its more traditional factors surrounding Kashmir, is broadening to encompass the West and Israel. This much is visible in the language of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s senior figures. Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed, for example, now speaks of “Christians, Jews and Hindus” as the “enemies of Islam”. For him, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s aim is to “unfurl the green flag of Islam in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi”. Precisely what Israel has to do with Kashmir is not abundantly clear. It seems Lashkar-e-Taiba’s circle is widening.
And it is here, rather than in the particular methods of violence, that we may discern the impact of al-Qaeda, not as an organisation, but as a symbolic ideological force. Its most significant contribution has not been mass death, but a new way of formulating militant politics that transcends the local and parochial, and imbues it with a global resonance. So, to take an example, the brutalising of Muslims in Kashmir may no longer be understood as a problem that begins and ends with India. It may now be constructed as part of a broader, more global conspiracy, spearheaded by the US.
In this connection, Kashmir becomes a symptom of a more general disease that also explains the plight of Muslims in places as disparate as the Palestinian territories, Chechnya, Somalia, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines, all of which may now be generalised in the one struggle. This is, in a phrase, the globalisation of terrorism.
This is a powerful idea because it magnifies the significance of local grievances â€” and there is no shortage of them across India and Pakistan â€” potentially enhancing their motivational potential. With the resurgence of the Taliban across the Afghan-Pakistani border, this region is presently the most significant for global terrorism. Accordingly, if it is true that this globalised narrative is beginning to make inroads in the subcontinent among groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, this is no trivial development â€” especially for its increasingly Western targets.
Waleed Aly is a lecturer in the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University.
* I hope this makes you feel safe. Does it?