From 9/11 to Mumbai: Connecting the dots
In 2006, Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, explained the origins of Islamic-jihadist hatred of the Judeo-Christian West. But why, in 2008, did Islamic jihadists kill over 200 Muslims and Hindus in Mumbai, India, a city most definitely in the non-Judeo-Christian East?
To connect the dots between 9/11 and Mumbai, go back to 1948 when Egypt was ruled by the self-indulgent King Farouk. Enter a 42-year-old middle-level bureaucrat by the name of Sayyid Qutb (pronounced: kah-tub) whose writings against Farouk’s materialism and licentiousness caused Qutb’s frightened friends to pay for his first-class passage to America.
Qutb was disgusted by the materialism and, to him, the blatant sexuality of post-war New York City. By his own admission, Qutb was sexually dysfunctional. That, added to the Arab male’s innate fear of the liberation of women (See: The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom by Sandra Mackey for more on that), drove the celibate Qutb to embrace Salafism – the most straight-laced branch of Islam.
By the summer of 1949, Qutb was a graduate student at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado. Qutb found the scanty dress and the liberated demeanor of his female classmates disgusting. The dots connected in his mind: The modern Western world was debauched and a holy war, a jihad, must be waged against it. To find salvation, the world must be returned to the Golden Age of the Prophet, circa: the 13th Century.
Following his return to Egypt in 1950, Qutb plotted against the government. Eventually, Qutb was imprisoned, tortured and hanged. But Qutb’s writings resonated with the teachings of Mohammad ibn Adbul Wahhab who taught that his followers had permission to kill or rape or plunder those who did not follow the instructions of the Prophet. Also imprisoned and tortured was Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Wabbabist who would team with Osama bin Laden’s inherited fortune to found al-Qaeda.
Al-Zawahiri is the inventor of the suicide murderer. When using remote-controlled or timed devices for mass murder in places like Egypt and Yemen yielded less than satisfactory results, al-Zawahiri had a new idea. A university-trained physician, al-Zawahiri discovered it is possible to teach Muslim youth to hate their targets enough to commit suicide.
But first, al-Zawahiri had to get around the anti-suicide teachings of both the Koran and the Hadith. Neatly reversing the language of the Prophet, al-Zawarhiri proclaimed that a jihadist suicide bomber would not suffer the punishment of Hell. Instead, the selfless sacrifice of heroic martyrs would result in an extraordinary reward in Paradise.
Yet, if Islam is a religion of peace, how can Islamic jihadists justify the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? Here is Ayman al-Zawahiri’s collateral-damage rationale: Those Muslims who have fallen away from the true faith deserve to die. They go immediately to Hell. Those Muslims who have kept the faith are rewarded with immediate passage to Heaven.
So, professor, what’s does all this have to do with Islamic jihadists killing Muslims and Hindus in Mumbai? The “sin” of Mumbai is modernity. Mumbai is the financial and technological capital of India. Mumbai is literally connected to the West. Call any number of U.S. or European companies about parts for an appliance or to upgrade your phone or satellite-dish service and that person speaking to you using British-accented English is probably in Mumbai.
Wait a minute. If the Islamic jihadist hate the modernity of the West and even East Indian Mumbai, how come al-Zawahiri and his followers are so good at using the Internet to coordinate their bombing plots and so good at using video tapes and satellite TV to disseminate their propaganda? That’s a good question some enterprising reporter should ask al-Zawahiri.
The Patriot Act and other Bush Administration security measures have made mainland America an unattractive target. Ergo: The blame-America-first-crowd will say that Mumbai is our fault.
William Hamilton is a syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today. This column, number 1400, means "Central View" has appeared each week in newspapers across "fly-over" land for 27 years. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2008. William Hamilton.