Cheerleading for killers and terror-mongering has become synonymous with the countries where religious extremists enjoy popular and official support.
The world saw a massacre in Aleppo, the assassination of Russian ambassador in Turkey, a brazen terror attack in Berlin and a shooting incident in a Zurich mosque – all just last week. We also saw religious extremists across the Muslim world cheering for the killers of both the Russian envoy and the truck driver in Germany.
ISIS hailed the Berlin terror attack and the killing of the Russian ambassador while themselves facing imminent extinction due to massive Russian, European and US led strikes against their strongholds in Mosul, Raqqa, Aleppo and other cities.
Terrorists such as ISIS and their sympathizers seemed translating this chaos into another opportunity to pour the “victim narrative” into the minds of naïve Muslim youths apparently in the hope of recruiting more soldiers for their holy war.
One incident of the behavior witnessed in Pakistan where the biggest religious political party was seen cheerleading for the anti-Russia attack, hailing the extremist Muslim killer, Melvut Mert-Altintas, as a hero.
Jamaat e Islami (JI), a radical political party in nuclear-armed Pakistan, has never been able to win popular support in the parliament, yet is being blamed for the butchery against Bengalis in 1970s. Jamaat is involved in celebrating the killers, and they have hundreds of thousands of followers across the Subcontinent as well as in Pakistan.
This is not the new trend for JI, as they have been involved in marketing the radical version of Islam while celebrating the terrorists like Osama bin Laden as heroes for decades.
Hence, cheerleading for killers and terror mongering become synonymous with the countries where religious extremists enjoy popular and official support.
This is exactly what is wrong with the Muslim world where masses are kept ignorant by these radical mullahs from the real challenges such as poverty, illiteracy and disease.
Instead, at the behest of the powerful extremist regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which throw unlimited money into poor countries to expand their radicalization, extremist religious parties feed the people with the false notion of the supremacy of their creed.
It often appears that, out of this havoc, these terror organizations and their handlers are fixed on dragging the world back into the Stone Age by invoking their counterparts in the West as their “rivals” to get the kind of imaginative wars they were taught about by their “spiritual” role models.
The Berlin terror suspect Anis Amri who was shot dead by Italian police in Milan after he opened fire on police for demanding identity documents on Friday.
He was one of the petty criminals who were hooked up by ISIS to massacre so many innocent shoppers in Berlin.
Paris terror attack mastermind Salah Abdeslam is another example of such low-life criminals who took the path of killings in pursuit to become a hero for cause of ISIS.
Anis Amri was reportedly in touch with a hardliner extremist organization in Germany after entering the Europe disguised as an asylum seeker.
There seems to be a clear pattern in the working of such terror organizations, which run as propaganda and recruitment fronts, mostly among youths who are “seeking a purpose” after failing to succeed in life.
However, the wrong political policies of governments in Europe are also to be blamed for the rise of Islamic extremism in the world: they allowed the existence and breeding of such organizations on their soil at the first place.
There are many fanatic groups and organizations operating in the West, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, TWR True Religion, Al Muhajiroon, Al-Ghurabaa, Al-Shabaab, as well as dozens of small groups operating in different mosques in the name of charity and support for Syrian victims.
On December 23, 2016 two British men were convicted of funding extremists in the Middle Eastern war zone.
Some terrorists have entered Europe with the refugees. If the amount is just one percent, that number comes to 10,000 people. Most of them mainly work only as foot-soldiers during the terror campaign, while instructions and logistics support are provided to them by their already established comrades — such as the Paris attack terrorist, Salah Abdeslam, who killed 130 innocent people and injured more.
Some of the terrorists involved in the attacks in France were reportedly picked up from refugee camps, thus indicating coordinated plotting by these killers.
In the wake of terrorist attacks in 2015, some of the gunmen were identified as routine visitors to Molenbeek, a district of Brussels considered the hub of jihadists, drug addicts and dealers, and gangs, while acting as a no-go zone for police and as a safe haven for criminals.
“Routine visitors” included most of perpetrators of the Belgian attacks: the French-Algerian, Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people at Jewish Museum in Brussels, as well as the two suspected terrorists shot dead by Belgian Police in the eastern town of Verviers.
|Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the planners of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, was — like many terrorists in Europe — from Molenbeek, Belgium.|
These no-go zones, right under the noses of law enforcement agencies, provide terrorists with the opportunity to flourish — and then all asylum seekers have to face the accusation of being suspected terrorists.
The town administrators and the residents of such dark areas, who largely come from an immigrant background, are also to be blamed for presence of such criminal activity in these localities. Because they themselves either sympathize or keep their eyes shut, despite knowing what goes on around them.
European governments have clearly failed to enact strong measures to deal with the danger they were facing. Warnings even intensified after the terror attacks in France and the mass sexual assaults of women by asylum seekers who had mostly slipped illegally into Europe from North Africa and Middle East.
Anis Amri was also such a criminal. He had spent four consecutive years in six prisons in Sicily, Italy, but authorities seemed not to realize the danger he posed. Even in Germany, he would deceive the law enforcement agencies with aliases and fake documents, and by exploiting the insufficient access German authorities seem to have to the overall backgrounds of suspects.
It seems time to take these petty criminals seriously when it comes to dealing with the problem of terrorism, as many of those being allured by the jihadist organizations have a background of small scale crimes.
Amri’s case again puts spotlight on the link between terrorism and the criminal background of the “youths” who join the band wagon of organizations like Islamic State.
Whipped up by extremists, intoxicated by ancient conspiracy theories that Muslims are facing “crusades” by the Christian world and the Jewish Israel, many confused Muslim youths are unable to realize that they are doing more damage to Islam and Muslims by committing such horrible crimes.
Such people, drunk on propaganda, claim to be the “representatives of the Muslims,” thereby putting the credibility of the whole community in question.
Europe was not blindfolded when its leaders invited in so many migrants from the Middle East amidst Syrian conflict; they already knew the risks involved in letting so many people into their countries. Yet many countries, such as Germany, went beyond the call of duty to help victims of the war.
Germany welcomed more refugees than any other nation (ca. 1 million) despite the warnings from their law enforcement agencies that terrorists were also entering Europe among the massive influx of migrants.
The mindset of the extremists in Muslim world that the “crusaders” are threatening them by invading their countries and looting their resources, is one of the biggest hurdles in the way of a campaign to avoid war and colonialism — a “peace campaign” being strenuously promoted in Europe, the US and elsewhere.
The critics of Western Muslims accuse them of lacking empathy towards the victims of Islamic terrorists and a failure to show adequate disassociation from that lot.
Many people across the US and Europe stood by the Muslims when they thought that this minority might be treated less than fairly by Donald Trump who, when he was campaigning, said that he wanted to ensure that Muslims entering the United States should be vetted to make certain they were not terrorists.
People in the US-organized protest rallies in support of Muslims; and Jews, about whom we often speak — unfairly — in disparaging terms, promised to register as Muslims if Trump tried to setup a special entry register for Muslim immigrants.
Student groups organized a human chain of solidarity to secure the Muslim students in the University of Michigan when they wanted to offer prayers in open grounds.
This is just one example of living together where all people from different social backgrounds are willing to stand by each other in the hour of need. Now if some rigid Muslim extremists are determined to kill our fellow citizens or impose their understanding of religion on everyone, and we do not take a fair stand against this, then that criminal silence also makes us accomplices in this injustice.
The Muslims would do well to bear the responsibility of showing solidarity with those who lose their lives in terrorist attacks committed by Islamists and with anyone who is hit by the inhumane acts of these terrorists. The time has come for all of us to understand that cheerleading for the killers is what encourages even more people to join the ranks of terrorism.
Keeping a strict check on extremist organizations and their operations would be needed through more intelligence gathering on their activities if they are related to loyalty and commitment to their own community or ethnic group rather than to society as a whole, and we should do that without discriminating against any religion or political belief.
Both governments and communities will have to put curbs on clergy who exploit Muslim youths by promising them a trip to paradise after committing mass murders.
Regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran might be spearheading such extremist campaigns with the design of gaining some political mileage and imposing their mindset on other countries or regions.
We need to send a loud message to terrorists, who are exploiting the name of Islam by unleashing terror against people of different faiths, and clearly state that we Muslims will have nothing to do with them.
Time has come for those who are still confused about the acts of these terrorists – or those who serve as terrorist apologists to try to cover up their deeds after every incident – to be exposed. A large number of Muslims are already sick and tired of these extremists.
We Muslims also need to leave no stone unturned to return the humane gestures that our fellow citizens have shown when we Muslims faced trouble.
In the same way they took to the streets for us, it is now our turn to show all our fellow citizens– non-Muslims as well as Muslims – that we also stand by them. Merry Christmas!!!
Khadija Khan is a Pakistan-based journalist and commentator.