February 16, 2004


Sorry, not much of a post tonight. I was bit phased by the discussion on this thread about the Zarqawi letter (the link doesn't seem to be working; you can also find it here). Unless I'm mistaken, my erstwhile commentator Abu Noor al-Irlandee seemed to be indicating that al Qaeda has been misunderstood:

Dan surely knows more about Al-Qaida than I do, but I also think that he is a little willing to attribute anything negative he can to them.

The "negativity" he referred to is Dan's suggestion that Zarqawi's letter showed a "contemptuous (racist?)" attitude toward the Kurds, whom Zarqawi describes as a pain and thorn and suggests that they will be dealt with last, although operations to kill their leaders will be carried out in the meantime (though I think it's unclear who did it, such assassination attempts are ongoing). The reaction of at least one Kurdish writer suggests that if al Qaeda hopes to win hearts and minds among the Kurds, it's following the wrong strategy:

The nature of the terrorist crimes perpetrated by the “incorporated” Islamic extremists and nationalist Arabs leaves no room to be dealt with by civilized means. People who go so far as to exploit and brainwash insane and unstable youth to blow themselves up and take many innocent and decent lives with them are hardcore criminals who have no worthwhile purpose in their lives.

Even though it is expected to see such criminals take advantage of the relaxing atmosphere that democracy provides, it is still difficult to imagine these debased Arab Muslims go as far as taking advantage of religious festivities, good will and hospitality to satisfy their lust for bloodshed and savagery. The twin suicide bombings on the first of this month in Hawler (Irbil) need no further proof to determine the depth of the animosity of these Arab terrorists towards the Kurds, in particular, and mankind in general.

The fact that Islam religion provides ample elasticity in the interpretation of the Quran and Hadeith (Mohammed’s sayings), the deep religious conviction of some Muslims may justify such criminal means to satisfy their religious and nationalist ends. Most Muslims who have been to different mosques and listened to different mullahs are well aware of the fact that the very same Quranic verse can be interpreted to either promote brotherhood and compassion or qualify animosity and murder.

I don't necessarily agree with a lot of the prescriptions offered after that, which seem to have been offered without a great deal of reflection, but I couldn't help noticing these (and again, I don't particularly agree with these):

- Generate strong anti-Islam emotions, as well as nationalist antipathy against the Arabs and their culture

- Encourage many Kurds to abandon Islam, go back to Zoroastrianism and/or embrace either Christianity or Judaism

I'll try to get back to Qutb's Milestones later this week, but I increasingly find it a dreary read compared to other things I'm going through.

Posted by Ideofact at February 16, 2004 11:55 PM


I had a feeling many would find it unacceptable to 'defend' Al-Qaida in any way. It is not my purpose to defend Al-Qaida. I have not devoted time to studying it, and my knowledge of Islam, the Muslim world, and the way the media and government propaganda machines work leads me to believe that most of what we hear about Al-Qaida is probably questionable or not true at all.

I simply don't believe that a one line comment in something supposedly from someone who is supposedly linked to Al Qaida should lead us as serious analysts of events to conclude that Al Qaida are racists.

I have said repeatedly that killing any innocent people is wrong and is forbidden in Islaam. This is the position of almost every Muslim and that is why even the percentage of Muslims who in some way are sympathetic to or support Al Qaida because they believe someone needs to be fighting against the enemies of the Muslims (governments) do not really accept that AlQaida targets innocents and/or does not support them on that basis. That is why many/most of those who would claim to support bin Ladin in the Muslim world believe in some conspiracy theory about 9/11 that implicates someone other than him in the attacks of that day.

In any event, Since you believe that Al Qaida is willing to kill Muslims who are Africans, Asians, and Arabs as well as Kurds I don't see why the willingness to target Kurdish leaders would make them racist.

Abu Noor

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at February 17, 2004 02:11 PM

Abu Noor,

What you say about Muslims believing that killing innocent people is forbidden in Islam is correct on the face of it, but depressingly, many Muslims get around that by doing mental gymnastics to define who is "innocent". Basically the problem seems to be that many Muslims believe what they want to believe first, and then twist the evidence to fit their worldview. They are instinctively supportive of groups that are targeted by US/Western forces and suddenly become "open-minded" or "skeptical" and demand "proof" (while disdaining the abundant proof coming from Western media). I'm also surprised how you are able to portray the most dismal facts about the Muslim world in a positive light--Muslims believe in conspiracy theories because murder is wrong in Islam?!

Posted by: Mahsheed at February 17, 2004 05:59 PM


I am not saying that conspiracy theories are positive or justifying belief in conspiracy theories. I am just saying the idea that Muslims believe that just randomly killing people is something good or something called for in Islaam is simply not correct.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at February 17, 2004 06:08 PM

We can debate about the Zarqawi letter and what was meant by the pain and thorn comment, but
the article by the Kurdish writer is undoubtedly racist and preaches a type of extremist nationalism which I find it hard to believe anyone would support.

I recognize that the Kurds have been through a lot, but the ideas in that article must be denounced. Just like one can understand what African Americans have been through and still understand that the racist teachings of the Nation of Islam are absurd, ridiculous and wrong.

To literally say that every Arab should be reported to the police, all sermons should be monitored and approved, anti-Arab hatred should be promoted and everyone should be taught some kind of Kurdish identity that predates Islam? What about the human identity that predates Kurdistan? If this is not fascism, I do not know what is. Of course it says it is trying to defend democracy.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at February 17, 2004 06:12 PM

Like I said, I don't endorse the comments. Although to paraphrase Abu Noor al-Irlandee, I don't the comments are racist so much as they're aimed at Arabs cooperating with the Ba'athists or the Islamists attacking the Kurds.

Posted by: Bill at February 17, 2004 07:02 PM


His recommendations specify every Arab.

I don't know if the article is translated or if English is not the author's first language (the grammar is poor in parts) so perhaps you are right that he is just referring to Islamist or Ba'thist Arabs.

I just wanted to point out that the ideas of the article, as written, were much more racist than anything in the Zarqawi letter. I did notice that you did not necessarily endorse the author, although you didn't specifically say what you disagreed with either.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at February 18, 2004 11:54 AM

To be honest, I didn't specify what I don't agree with because I don't know enough about the situation on the ground in Kurdistan. When you have a significant number of people trying to cross your borders and kill your leaders and your citizens, you'll have a slightly different view of civil rights than you would absent such attempts. There's different standards that apply in a war zone than in a country at peace. I do think the Kurdish writer goes overboard in some places, and the anti-Arab animus is troubling, but note that, as far as I know, he isn't directing a band of assassins who are actually killing people, but rather, advocating extreme measures to prevent those assassins from being successful.

Posted by: Bill at February 18, 2004 02:34 PM