mercredi, août 10, 2005

article that chills the soul

I'm not necessarily astonished at this article, which appears in the two comments below. Be forwarned that this is a long article, though worth reading. click on the link below to read it in it's webform. The radical Muslim views expressed in it are indicative of the young Muslims of France and the young Muslims of the EU. Interestingly, I was quite disturbed to see the huge number of Muslims growing to even larger proportions in Philadelphia about a month ago when I visited there. It's of huge importance I think to educate our children in the ways of Islam, what is right and what is wrong about Islam, how to understand them and how to deal with them properly... The phrase "know thyself" is rooted in the idea that if you know your opponent well, you can makke a good showing. In that case your opponent is yourself. It holds true of other situations and cases. I'm sure that seeking to understand them is vital.

more on this later, I've got to run.


Blogger Meowmix Chatul said...

part one of that article

Hassan Butt, a 25 year old from Manchester, helped recruit Muslims to fight in Afghanistan. Like most of the London bombers, he is a British Pakistani who journeyed from rootlessness to radical Islam
Aatish Taseer

Aatish Taseer is a former "Time" reporter. He is now a freelance journalist

It is not hard to imagine what the Leeds suburb of Beeston was like before it became known that three of London's tube bombers worked or lived there. For someone like me— a Punjabi with parents from each side of the India/Pakistan border—the streets of Beeston reveal a pre-partition mixture of Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. Despite the commotion caused by half the world's media, men in shalwar kurta (traditional dress from the subcontinent) stand around on street corners chatting as if in a bazaar in Lahore. They oppose Britain's involvement in the Iraq war, they "hate" America, they might even think that the west has united in a fight against Muslims, but these are not the faces of extremism. Their involvement in 7/7 is a generational one: they have raised the people who are the genus of Islamic extremism in this country—the second-generation British Pakistanis.

One appears next to his father on the street corner. Unlike his father, there is nothing about his appearance that indicates he is a Punjabi Muslim. He is wearing long Arab robes and keeps a beard cut to Islamic specifications. I ask him why he is dressed the way he is. "It's my traditional dress," he says in English. "Isn't your father in traditional dress?" I ask. "Yes, but this is Islamic dress," he clarifies. His father looks embarrassed. A man standing next to me jokes of how he complained to his neighbour that his son never did any work, and the neighbour said, "You think that's bad, mine's grown a beard and become a bloody maulvi [priest]."

As a half-Indian, half-Pakistani with a strong connection to this country, I have observed the gulf between what it means to be British Pakistani and British Indian. To be Indian is to come from a safe, ancient country and, more recently, from an emerging power. In contrast, to be Pakistani is to begin with a depleted idea of nationhood. In the 55 years that Pakistan has been a country, it has been a dangerous, violent place, defined by hatred of the other—India.

For young British Muslims, if Pakistan was not the place to look for an identity, being second-generation British was still less inspiring. While their parents were pioneers, leaving Pakistan in search of economic opportunities, enduring the initial challenges of a strange land, the second generation's experience has been one of drudgery and confusion. Mohammad, who owns a convenience store on Stratford Street in Beeston and who knew all the local bombers, says, "They were born and raised here, we did the work… and these kids grew up and they haven't had a day's worry. They're bored, they don't do any work, they have no sense of honour or belonging."

Britishness is the most nominal aspect of identity to many young British Pakistanis. The thinking in Britain's political class has at last begun to move on this front, but when our tube bombers were growing up, any notion that an idea of Britishness should be imposed on minorities was seen as offensive. Britons themselves were having a hard time believing in Britishness. If you denigrate your own culture you face the risk of your newer arrivals looking for one elsewhere. So far afield in this case, that for many second-generation British Pakistanis, the desert culture of the Arabs held more appeal than either British or subcontinental culture. Three times removed from a durable sense of identity, the energised extra-national worldview of radical Islam became one available identity for second-generation Pakistanis. The few who took it did so with the convert's zeal: plus Arabe que les Arabes.

The older generation of Beeston is mystified as to where some of their children found this identity. By all accounts it was not in the mosque. I met Maulana Munir of the Stratford Street mosque, which, according to some newspapers, was attended by some of the London bombers. Munir, a small, soft-spoken man, said he had never known them. "This younger generation," he says, "are owners of their own will, they come when they like, they don't when they don't like. The mosque is not responsible for these people." Munir, like the others of the older generation, is a man cut off from the youth movements around him. He has not faced their loss of identity and meaning.

Hassan Butt, the young British Pakistani who was a spokesman for the extremist group al-Muhajiroun, and active in recruiting people to fight against the coalition forces in Afghanistan, embodies this journey from frustration and rootlessness to radical Islam. The world he describes before he was first approached, aged 17, by members of the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), was a disordered one. When I interviewed him last year, he described HT as showing him an Islam that could bring order to his life. Accepting Islam meant the creation of a social equilibrium that had been absent before. Islam was playing the role it had in 7th-century Arabia of bringing law and structure to decaying communities.

Butt parted ways with al-Muhajiroun (itself a breakaway from HT) and its founder Omar Sheikh Bakri because they supported the Islamic idea of a "covenant of security," by which Muslims in Britain are forbidden from any type of military action in Britain. Butt believed that military action against Britain would be unwise for the practical reason that it would jeopardise the protection "Londonistan" was offering radical Muslims, but he could not tolerate the position that such action was un-Islamic.

I was reminded of Butt's cold hatred for Britain when a colleague of mine said that Beeston's younger generation were saying to her, a week after the London bombs, "Well what's the difference between al Qaeda and MI5 anyway?" and "It's sad people died, but what about the ones who died in Iraq?"

There it is again, the extra-national sentiment, in which no nation matters save the Islamic nation and its Arab culture. Butt spoke passionately about Arabia and wants to go there. "I believe the Arabic language will give me that key to have access to those things I don't have access to at the moment." Again, that yearning for Islam to fill the gaps in his own identity.

And yet, on the one occasion he came close to having a national identity, he seemed to love it. From the way he described his two years in Lahore, it sounded like the only place he ever felt a sense of belonging. "I've never had a better two years in my life. I see Pakistan as the only country having the potential to lead the Muslim world out of the disarray it is in."

Butt is an ardent supporter of "martyrdom actions." Whether he will achieve the martyrdom he desires remains to be seen. But during our interview, he did say something very interesting in the light of the London bombs. "If someone were to attack Britain, they would be a completely and utterly loose cannon. It would be someone who wasn't involved in the network." What worried me when I went to Beeston and met some of its youth, many as full of vitriol as Butt, was that maybe the London bombings had been such a "loose cannon" operation. The bombers certainly had outside support, but there seemed to be a frighteningly independent quality about the operation, a cottage-industry terrorism growing in Hamara youth centres.

Radical Islam draws recruits from many walks of life, but in Britain its agents are of a type—second-generation British Pakistanis. Somehow they have been worst hit by the populations shifts of the last 50 years and the alienation that came with them. A few have rallied under a banner which brings an intense sense of grievance. And when they are done chasing absurd dreams of caliphates, there is always martyrdom. "For me there's nothing bigger," said Butt. I met many in Beeston with his makings: small, rootless lives, seeking bigger things.

Butt briefly became a minor celebrity of British Muslim extremism when he returned from his recruitment activities in Lahore in December 2002. He was arrested, had his passport revoked, and remains under surveillance. This interview took place last year in his home town, Manchester. Butt is short but powerfully built and was wearing robes. He has an Islamic beard and a pleasant, friendly face. He collected me at the station and we went to Sanam, a restaurant in Manchester's curry mile which does not serve alcohol. Everyone there knew him and greeted him like a celebrity.

Butt: I used to be part of al-Muhajiroun, but we parted because of differences… They have this idea—derived from the Koran, a valid Islamic opinion but not one I believe is applicable to British citizens—of a “covenant of security.” This means Muslims in Britain are forbidden from any military action in Britain. Now, I am not in favour of military action in Britain, but if somebody did do it who was British, I would not have any trouble with that either. Islamically, it would be my duty to support and praise their action. It wouldn’t necessarily be the wisest thing to do, but it wouldn't be un-Islamic, as al-Muhajiroun said.

This, I believe, is a compromise when it comes to representing certain key concepts of Islam. I've always had a policy that if you're going to come to the media, either speak the truth or don't speak at all. Don't come to the media if the heat is too hot for you.

Taseer: Where do you think the covenant of security idea comes from? I spoke to an imam who said that you cannot strike against your host country. If you want to support Iraqis, go there and support them.

Butt: Most imams, as you know, have come here not as British citizens. There is a difference between a citizen who is born in a country and someone who is here on a visa or a permit. Islamically, I agree that someone who runs from the middle east—where people like me are persecuted—and says, “Britain, I want you to protect me” has entered a covenant of security. They say, “Look, protect my life and as a result I won't do any harm to you.” That I agree with 100 per cent, but most of our people, especially the youth, are British citizens. They owe nothing to the government. They did not ask to be born here; neither did they ask to be protected by Britain.

Taseer: So they've entered no covenant?

Butt: They have no covenant. As far as I'm concerned, the Islamic hukum (order) that I follow, says that a person has no covenant whatsoever with the country in which they were born.

Taseer: Do they have an allegiance to the country?

Butt: No, none whatsoever. Even the person who has a covenant has no allegiance, he just agrees not to threaten the life, honour, wealth, property, mind, and so on, of the citizens around him.

Taseer: Your argument is based on these people being “British,” so don't they necessarily have some loyalty to Britain?

Butt: No, that's what I'm saying. They have no loyalty whatsoever; they have no allegiance to the government.

Taseer: Perhaps not the government, but to the country?

Butt: To the country, no.

Taseer: Do you feel some?

Butt: I feel absolutely nothing for this country. I have no problem with the British people… but if someone attacks them, I have no problem with that either.

Taseer: Who do you have allegiance to?

Butt: My allegiance is to Allah, his Shari’a, his way of life. Whatever he dictates as good is good, whatever as bad is bad.

Taseer: Has it always been this way for you?

Butt: Always? No. I grew up in a very open-minded family; there are only four of us. My parents never made us pray, never sent us to the mosque, which was very different from your average Pakistani family who would make sure that the child learned something. I learned absolutely nothing.

Taseer: So how did you discover Islam, or rediscover it?

Butt: Well, being Kashmiri, I'm hot-headed by nature, and so are my brothers. Even before I was a practising Muslim, I was very hot-headed. That hot-headedness was leading us down a path of destruction. A lot of the people I grew up among were on drugs, were involved in crime, prostitution, at very young ages. I remember when I came across the first Muslim who talked to me about Islam in a language I understood. He pointed out that I had a lot of anger and frustration that I should direct in a more productive manner. It was from there that I got discussing Islam seriously—even though we were hotheads, me and my brothers always had brains, we weren't thugs. We were still excelling in our studies and getting top grades in our exams.

Taseer: How old were you when you changed?

Butt: I was 17 when I really started practising.

Taseer: Was it through a mosque?

Butt: No. It was through individuals whom I met, who started speaking a language that I understood, who went beyond just the prayer. I understand the huge importance of that.

Taseer: How did they approach you?

Butt: My elder brother was in college, I was still at secondary school. The college being a bit more open to Islamic activities than high school, we met some members of Hizb ut-Tahrir inside a masjid (mosque) and got talking. At that time the masjid was full anyway, since it was Ramadan. They showed me that beyond the recitation of the Koran, the praying, the fasting, the hajj—that Islam is a complete system, a complete way of life, and how that applied to us and our place in society.

Taseer: What is the philosophy of Hizb ut-Tahrir?

Butt: The idea is that Muslims in Britain need to keep to their Islamic identity and work for the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate, or khalifah as they would say, based upon the first four caliphates of Islam.

Taseer: Where?

Butt: In the Muslim countries. That is one of the differences I had with them.

Taseer: You would like to see the caliphate here too?

Butt: Absolutely. How could we restrict something that initially started in Medina but then spread through the entire Muslim world?

Taseer: Would everyone have to be a Muslim, or would it work within our existing society?

Butt: No, it’s a structure of law and order…

Taseer: A central authority?

Butt: A central Islamic authority. Whether the people are Muslim or not is irrelevant. But even orientalist authors like Gilles Keppel agree that Islam was so powerful that it was the only way of life that both the conquered and the conqueror embraced. When the Mongols attacked Islam, they became Muslims; the same happened with the Turks. Even the people Islam conquered, they themselves embraced the way of life. People say it was forced by the sword, but if so, when the sword was removed, why did these people not revert back? Simply because it was never actually forced upon them. The inherent beauty of Islam made people want to embrace it.

Taseer: There are places it didn't happen, like India.

Butt: For me, the subcontinent was a tragedy; it never had the Islam that was introduced in Spain, for example, or north Africa. Very early on, the Mughals took power and India distanced itself from central Islam. The Arab Muslims never concentrated on these people enough, which is why the majority of Muslims there never embraced it.

Taseer: You said that you were once hot-headed; are you calmer today?

Butt: I find myself just as emotional as I was then, but more able to express that emotion in an Islamic manner. I would hate to be an emotionless person. You hear this a lot in the Muslim world today, from certain intellectuals: “Don't be emotional about it, think rationally, think logically.” I guess it's an imperial complex from being under British rule for so long. British people are seen as being very cool-headed, calm and collected, but if your sister has been raped, your mother tortured and your father is being brutalised, how could you stay without emotion? Having no emotion is like being a brick. Now I can channel my emotion in an Islamic way rather than an un-Islamic way.

Taseer: Tell me a bit about your daily life. Do you read books and see movies?

Butt: No, no, no. (He laughs)

Taseer: How do you pass the day?

Butt: Daily routine would be getting up to pray the fajr without failure, staying awake for as long as I can, for at least an hour, an hour and a half, reciting the Koran, purely in Arabic…

Taseer: Is your Arabic good?

Butt: My Arabic, unfortunately, is not the best and I guess I have my parents to blame for that. But I do plan, once they give me back my passport, to go to an Arab country. I think it's the key to everything.

Taseer: Do you work?

Butt: I don't want to go into specifics. I do have business partners, but they don't like me coming out publicly and saying that they're affiliated with me. I do various different trading things. I don't have a normal nine-to-five type of job. Whenever I have applied for a job in the past, they have found out who I am and the views I hold, and as a result they don’t want me. But wherever I go, I will always be involved in Islamic work.

Taseer: At work?

Butt: Even at work. I’m always trying to help my colleagues, as Muslims, to have a more Islamic way of life.

Taseer: How would you describe yourself as a Muslim, given that there are so many labels bring thrown about—“moderate,” “extremist” and so on?

Butt: I would agree to being called a radical and one day I may even be called a terrorist, if Allah permits me. That is something it would be an honour to be called.

Taseer: Surely, even in an Islamic context, that can't be a positive label?

Butt: There is a speech by the Prophet in which he says: Allah gave me five things. One of them was the power to strike fear, to strike terror into the heart of the enemy from a mile's distance, and this was a reference to a battle he had commenced. The way the warriors had prepared themselves was so terrifying that the enemy didn’t even turn up to the battle. Besides that, in the Koran the word irhab is the root word for terror in Islam, and irhabiyun is the word for terrorist. Allah mentions the word in the Koran many times—the one who strikes terror into their hearts is an irhabiyun. If I could have that title Islamically then I would be more than happy to take it and be proud of it. But unfortunately, I haven't reached that level yet.

Taseer: Why not?

Butt: Because I am stuck in this country. It would be unwise to carry out military operations here.

Taseer: Why?

Butt: It would harm a lot of people. Britain is a very liberal country in comparison to America where Muslims don't have many rights. This is the type of country where you do have a lot more rights. Now with Afghanistan gone, the Muslims don't really have a place where they can come back to and regroup, have time to think and relax, without the authorities breathing down your neck.

Taseer: Was it difficult growing up here as a Muslim? Did you sense an anti-Islamic feeling?

Butt: The British establishment has always hated Islam. Look at the crusades. I watched that programme on the BBC, The Secret Policeman (an undercover report on trainee policemen) and one of the police officers had the honesty to admit what he felt: he said he would kill a Muslim if he could get away with it. What he said briefly is that he represents the majority, the only difference being that he has the courage to articulate it. And I do believe in my heart of hearts that the majority of British people—the majority being outside of London—would do that if they had the opportunity. Historically speaking, there has always been an enmity. I experienced it as I was growing up, going into majority white schools and having a problem trying to be a Muslim.

Taseer: Would you try to leave?

Butt: If they give me my passport, I will fly straight out of here. I won’t be here a day longer than I have to.

Taseer: And never come back?

Butt: And never come back unless absolutely necessary.

Taseer: Until they give you your passport back, you can’t leave?

Butt: There's no point in my leaving. I could leave if I wanted to, but it would be illegal and it wouldn't be very hard for them to start taking criminal proceedings against me.

Taseer: In the past you have demonstrated the failures of British security. Has it improved?

Butt: It's funny you asked me that. I have been reading a book—Jihad by Gilles Keppel—not for the sake of learning anything, but to see whether these people have understood us. In the past, and I'm talking 100, 200 years ago, the reason the British were successful in destroying Islamic government or the Ottoman caliph is that they actually lived among them and they made an effort to understand what they wanted to destroy. Now they're trying to understand something that is a theory. It's in my mind, it's in peoples' minds, but it's not a practical manifestation of the system that we aspire towards, so it's very hard for them to contain it. As a result of that, the security services have lost their ability to analyse how Muslims think—I mean real Muslims, the ones who are not ashamed to talk about their opinions and to express them in public. That is why they will lose this war on terror, because guys like Keppel don’t understand us.

Taseer: Do many Muslims in Britain feel like you do?

Butt: I would say the majority of Muslims in this country care about neither moderate nor radical Islam; they care about living their day-to-day life. They're happy with that. But of those people who are practising, the majority of them hold my views. The difference is that some people come out publicly and others keep quiet.

Taseer: What would you say the size of this latter group is?

Butt: Official figures say there are 3m Muslims here. [There are in fact 1.6m.] Out of that, I would say there are 750,000 who have an interest in Islam and about 80 per cent of those were over the moon about 9/11.

Taseer: Why?

Butt: The motivation is the pleasure of Allah, first and foremost. Allah says in the Koran “We have sent you,”—the Muslims—“the best nation in the world, to mankind.” But there are conditions attached to that because you must enjoy goodness and forbid evil. As long as Muslims do this, they will see themselves as the best nation. And the reason why the majority of Muslims feel this inspiration is because we understand that Islam is by its nature beautiful; it is not a backward, medieval-type way of life as a lot of westerners believe. That's why, historically, even after Islam had left these areas as a political force, people still held on to its way of life. Even in the crusades you had Muslims and Jews fighting alongside one another in order avoid Roman rule because they said Islam was just towards them; Islam gave them rights. In the 15th century, during the Spanish inquisition, where did the Jews run to? To the Ottoman caliphate, Islam was an inspiration. All human rights are based on Islam, to ensure peace and security in the world.

Taseer: So given the situation in the world today, what is the duty of the Muslim?

Butt: Every Muslim must work for the Shari’a to be implemented as a political way of life. They can do that physically, by involving themselves in revolutionary coups, or through political means. As long as they don't attack or compromise other Muslims who are doing something different from them, I have no problem with any of these ways of establishing the Shari’a.

Taseer: Is it going to be possible for Muslims to live alongside non-Muslims?

Butt: We did it in the past, why can't we do it now?

Taseer: Would it have to be a Muslim polity?

Butt: Yes.

Taseer: Or could it be like England?

Butt: No, it couldn't be like England. The so-called liberal countries in the world, France for example, boast about liberty and their so-called revolution, but they are banning headscarves. Where have the rights of the Muslims gone there? Where are the rights of Muslims in Britain to be able to support their brothers who are being attacked in Kashmir? So many of the organisations proscribed by the British government are Kashmiri freedom fighters, or terrorists as you would call them.

Taseer: Why is it that an attack on Muslims in another part of the world affects British Muslims?

Butt: Because Allah is the way of love. Racism has infiltrated Christianity and Judaism. It is inbred in the people. Christians never see themselves as one brotherhood, but rather many dominions, whereas Muslims, no matter what colour they are, no matter what race they are, no matter what nationality they are, see themselves as one brotherhood. Ultimately this is what Islam teaches; that black, white, brown, red, green—if there were aliens in Mars—these people are brothers. Poor or rich, it has no effect on how we should treat one another. It doesn't mean that we should divide. And that is why when Muslims are being attacked, the majority of Muslims kick up a fuss, because these are their brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, there are Muslims today whose only reason to pick up a cause is for political support or their personal ambitions. Ultimately, if your brothers and sisters were being killed in any part of the world, you would make your utmost effort to try to help them.

Taseer: Where do you see Muslims under attack?

Butt: Everywhere. It's not limited to just one place. Wherever Muslims are they are under attack and until they start viewing themselves like that, they will always remain an inferior nation.

Taseer: And why are they under attack?

Butt: If they're not being attacked physically, they are being attacked mentally. They are being told that their way of life is backward, they’re being told that for women to cover themselves is against human rights, they're being told that to cut the hand of the thief, which Allah ordains in the Koran, is outdated. They're being told that their way of life is inferior and bad and should not be followed. And they're often stripped of their identity, as they were in Bosnia: Muslim by name only, no culture whatsoever. That is still a war as a far as I'm concerned.

Taseer: Why is there a "Muslim problem” today? Ten or 15 years ago there wasn't the sort of movement you see today. What changed?

Butt: I don't agree with you. Ten to 15 years ago the Muslims had just experienced their first victory of the 20th century, against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The belief that this was due to American support is ridiculous. Muslims, especially from the middle east, financed the jihad just as much, if not more. This is well documented. With that victory under their belt, the Muslims began to realise that they could control their own political destiny, whether by revolution or other violent means. To be honest with you, I don't think the Americans, British or French are the best lecturers on how to change a society, simply because they have themselves experienced revolution to attain the way of life they believe in. So why, when we do it, are we so different from them? Muslims woke up. You then had Iraq being attacked, you had Chechnya, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Algeria, you had all these Muslim areas being attacked and you had Muslims waking up and saying, “Hang on, this isn't a coincidence.”

Taseer: Why do you think that is?

Butt: Because after the fall of communism, America began to realise that Islam was a threat.

Taseer: The larger fall of communism wasn't the result of Islam even if you think that that may be the case in Afghanistan...

Butt: That's what I'm saying; it was a catalyst for collapse in Afghanistan.

Taseer: Why?

Butt: Because Islam is a way of life, a way of life superior to communism and capitalism. Christianity is a mere religion and can’t cater for people’s way of life, but Islam can. With the fall of the Soviet Union, people started turning to Islam as a way of life, whereas America wanted to spread capitalism across the world. That's why Islam became the enemy.

Taseer: Yes, but why are Muslims the only enemy? Are they the only ones fighting American colonialism?

Butt: No, you have your South American states that are involved in the struggle. But with the exception of them and a few African nations, the majority of the people fighting against American colonialism are not Muslim nations, but Muslim people. Muslim governments are more than happy to embrace the other way of life in order to stay powerful.

Taseer: Do you consider yourself a religious teacher of sorts? Do you speak to people in the community?

Butt: I speak to a lot of people in the community. I have a gym in my house where I invite people to come back and exercise and we have regular study circles at my house.

Taseer: What sort of people are these?

Butt: A lot of them are youth because I believe that when Islam is being practised by youth, Islam will be alive. If it's practised by the older generation, it will always remain old, slow.

Taseer: Are they receptive to your views or do they resist and say, “No, we want to go out with girls and drink” and so on?

Butt: A lot of people will say that to me, but when it comes to their absolute happiness, a lot of people realise that Islam is their way of life.

Taseer: What do you say to them?

Butt: One of the first questions I ask them is: why do you celebrate Eid? If you like their way of life, celebrate Christmas. That provokes thought in their head that the reason they celebrate Eid is because they are different. It's not just Eid or Christmas, it's their whole way of life being different. How they speak to their people, how they speak to their fellow brothers and sisters, how they speak to their teachers, how they progress in their education: they have different ways. Ultimately, if someone believes in Allah and his messenger, he will always have at the back of his mind the notion that he’ll go back to Allah when he dies. And I'll ask people, “Don't lie for the sake of me, you don't have to say something to please me, but do you believe in Allah? Ask yourself that question, do you really, really believe in Allah? Do you really believe that there is hellfire, do you really believe that there is heaven and hell, or not?” And if someone believes that, there is no reason why they won't realise that, “Yes, our life does belong to us.” And from there, we'll go further. To those brothers who say, “I pray all the time,” I reply, “That's not enough: give your life for Allah, that's what he wants, he wants you to live and die for him, that is the ultimate sacrifice, he gave you that life, give it back to him.”

Taseer: Given that the Koran is incontestable to the letter, and that it is unique because there is no another religion in which there is a text so pure, handed down from God to man, can there be a moderate Muslim?

Butt: No. You've hit the nail on the head. If someone believes that it's the incontestable word of Allah, how can he take a moderate view? We must fight if it is the will of Allah. I don’t want to say that Muslims don’t believe in Allah, but what I will say is that their faith in Allah is weak. They fear man the same way that the Jews feared the pharaoh, who they feared more than Allah and that's why they were afraid to do anything against him, until Moses came and liberated them. The lack of leadership in the Muslim community is simply because they are too afraid to stand up against this so-called undefeatable giant of the United States.

Taseer: Coming back to the youth, are they angry?

Butt: Many are from quite wealthy families, as I am.

Taseer: So you don't see this rise of extremism among British Muslims as rooted in economic disadvantage?

Butt: I think that's a myth, pushed forward by so-called moderate Muslims. If you look at the 19 hijackers on 9/11, which one of them didn't have a degree? Muhammad Atta was an engineer [he was actually an architect and town planner] at the highest level. His Hamburg lecturer said, “I didn't have a student like him.” These people are not deprived or uneducated; they are the peak of society. They've seen everything there is to see and they are rejecting it outright because there is nothing for them. Most of the people I sit with are in fact university students, they come from wealthy families. Islam caters for everybody: the economically deprived and the most educated person. It doesn't make any difference: the message will still be the same. But this myth—that the only reason these people go for Islam is because they have nothing else to do—is a lie and a fabrication. People who say that should be very careful. Even Osama himself, Sheikh Osama, came from wealth that I could never dream of and he gave it all up because it had no value to him. Who can say he came from an economically deprived condition? It's rubbish.

mercredi, août 10, 2005 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger Meowmix Chatul said...

part two of that article

August 2005 | 113 » Cover story » A British jihadist (part two)

Aatish Taseer

Taseer: Clearly you have a sense of an enemy. What is the face of this enemy? Is it America?

Butt: At the moment, America.

Taseer: Who else is part of it?

Butt: You have an apparent enemy and a hidden enemy.

Taseer: The apparent enemy?

Butt: The American enemy. As far as I'm concerned, you have America spearheading the attack, followed by Britain, France, the EU, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF…

Taseer: India?

Butt: India.

Taseer: Thailand?

Butt: Thailand, especially after what happened recently. [Attacks on Muslim rebels in the south of the country]

Taseer: What does it take to join the enemy?

Butt: To support them. The Japanese only have 500 troops in Iraq; as a result they've declared war on Islam. China from day one has been testing its nuclear missiles in the Xinjiang province; it's a Muslim province, so China is another enemy of Islam. As far as we're concerned, until an Islamic government makes treaties with these people, the world, for me, is an enemy. But there will be people who we prioritise, so I won't start attacking the South American states. I have bigger and more important enemies to deal with, those who are having direct influence in the Muslim world, like America.

Taseer: In your capacity as a teacher and leader, what is your wish for the British Muslim?

Butt: I would say every Muslim needs to be proud of Islam, without feeling inferior, and to read a book by Mohammad Assad, a convert from Germany in the 1930s. As far as I'm concerned, the British are still ruling the subcontinent, and the way they're doing that is by the inferiority complex. They instil this idea that people have to follow the western design in order for them to progress. It was such a clever ploy by the British. 100 or 200 years ago, their security services were much more intelligent than they are today. My advice to Muslims is start to get out of this inferiority complex, start to realise that Islam is beautiful, don't be ashamed of it. If someone says jihad, don't be ashamed; if someone says hijab, don't be ashamed. What Allah says is good is good, what he says is bad is bad, don't be ashamed of saying what is good and bad. This is my advice, be proud of being a Muslim, not only be proud, be loud about that. If you watch a really good movie, you'll go out and tell the whole world: “That movie was just so brilliant, you've got to watch that movie, you've got to see it.” It’s the same way with Islam. If you believe it is the truth, if you believe it is the most beautiful way of life, if you believe it is the divine word of Allah, don't keep it to yourself, tell the whole world about it and don't be ashamed of it. British Muslims, especially, have this platform, because something said in London or Britain can reach the whole world. The Muslims in the middle east don't have that benefit or the liberty we have. We must take advantage of it.

Taseer: Is military action part of the plan?

Butt: If someone wants to go into military action, I would encourage them, because Allah says in Surah Taubah, “From the believers I ask for their wealth and their life and the best among you are the ones who fight and kill and be killed for me.” This is the promise that Allah makes. These people are the ones that gain the supreme success. For me there is nothing bigger if somebody goes out there and kills for the sake of Allah or is killed for the sake of Allah.

Taseer: Why suicide bombing?

Butt: There is a difference between suicide and martyrdom. Suicide is about unhappiness, depression. That's not what these people are. These people have an urge to be with Allah, to be with the Prophet, live among him, to be close to him. They are happy before committing these actions. They are probably at the highest level any human being can be before doing this. They are the most peaceful and content. There is a complete and utter difference between martyrdom operations and suicide operations: with the former, you want to do it not because you are fed up, but because you are happy to enter the next step of life, which is the afterlife. With the latter, you are completely and utterly fed up with life.

Taseer: You've claimed in the past to recruit British people for martyrdom operations. Who are they?

Butt: The majority of people who, after 9/11, went to Afghanistan like myself were educated. They understood the reality of this war, and many came from secure family backgrounds. They had wives, children; they had no reason to leave. But they had a call within themselves that was urging them to go forward.

Taseer: What’s the position of the radical Islamic movement in Britain today? Is it growing or declining?

Butt: I do believe that support is growing. In the public eye it seems as though only a tiny number of Muslims are making this noise, but the fact is that only a tiny number have the courage to speak out. The rest won't, simply because they're worried about being persecuted by the government.

Taseer: What about the imams? Are they helping?

Butt: There are many brilliant imams in this country, and then a lot who are not so brilliant. My main grievance with the imams is that they are not public enough. Maybe they know better than me because they're older and more experienced. But I’ll give you an example: the letter that was sent out publicly by the Muslim Council of Britain to the mosques saying that we should be spying on one another. I spoke to ten different imams—from London, Birmingham and London—in ten different masjids; all ten disagreed with the letter, but they never publicly said so. The letter said that you should spy on Muslims and report them if they were involved in any Islamic activities. Even when the IRA was being attacked in Britain, many priests had their anonymity protected by law because they were religious people. They were under no obligation to inform the police about any potential terrorist attacks by the IRA. So why the hell would we as Muslims go around spying on one another?

If the MCB letter had been a private thing then fine, but this was public and these people need to be corrected publicly. In Islam, for example, if somebody is a homosexual under an Islamic government, but practices it within his own home, Islamically he won't be punishable because he's not coming out with it publicly. So in that sense homosexuality is fine for him. The moment he comes out publicly with it, it becomes an issue for the public. My grievance with these imams is that they aren't saying these things publicly—why does it take someone like me, who is 24 years old, who has no Islamic credentials except with the youth I speak to who look up to me? Why are you imams, you people who have gone through the Islamic disciplines, not coming out and saying that this is haram? This is completely and utterly unacceptable in Islam.

Taseer: What about your future?

Butt: I believe I have a bigger and bigger role to play. Yesterday I was talking to five or six senior brothers about our different roles. I was saying that if I had a passport, I wouldn't be in this country, and I kept saying to these guys, you've all got passports, you don't have any problem, why are you not leaving the country? But then one of the brothers made a very beautiful point. He said, “Every decade or century Allah makes somebody different, so initially you had political thinkers like Hassan al-Banna, Maududi, Sayeed Qutb. But now we have reached the more militant side of Islam, so you have Osama, Zawahiri, and Emir Khatab and Baseyev in Chechnya. Throughout time, each will have their own role to play.” And I do believe that I've got a bigger role to play and when that time comes, I will make my preparations to play that role.

Taseer: It's martyrdom, isn't it?

Butt: Absolutely. It's something that makes me really depressed being stuck in this country because I know I'm so far away from it. I know that if I was to pass away in my sleep, then I would not have the mercy of Allah upon me because I have been such a bad person. And I don't see myself in any way as getting into heaven that easily, except through martyrdom.

Taseer: Where would you go if you got your passport back?

Butt: Probably Yemen and Syria initially, because at the moment I’m wanted in Pakistan for supposed involvement in an assassination plot on Musharraf,

Taseer: After Yemen and Syria? The enemy that you would finally confront would be the US, right?

Butt: Yes. Maybe America will be destroyed in my time, maybe I'll have something completely different to do. But I need to learn Arabic. As an English/Urdu-speaking person, I can see the beauty of Islam from the outside, but I really can't have access without Arabic. It's like having a beautiful house and only being able to see through the windows how beautiful it is inside. That is how I view Arabic. I believe the Arabic language will give me that key to access those things I don't have access to at the moment. Once I learn Arabic, inshallah, I will get myself militarily trained. It's like the Jews in Israel: conscription is incumbent upon every male and female.

Taseer: Why do you see it as something that ends in death? There are a lot of soldiers who don’t see their fight as necessarily ending in death.

Butt: Because death for us signifies the next stage of life. It signifies the beginning of eternal life. That's something we cannot understand, comprehend or really appreciate. For me, it's like when you say to a child, “Don't open the cupboard” and curiosity gets the better of him and he wants to know what's there. Only this time it's not curiosity; I'm sure that the next stage of life is going to far exceed the pleasure of this life.

Taseer: You're looking forward to death?

Butt: Absolutely. As long as it's done properly. I'm terrified of dying normally, growing old, grey.

Taseer: You don't see that as a selfish impulse, to care for nothing but your own salvation?

Butt: Ultimately, that's everybody's. The mother loves the child more than anybody. But even she, on the day of reckoning, will not look at the child; Allah says she will think of herself, solely of herself. Ultimately, that is what it's about: I'm going into my grave, you're going into your grave, everyone is ultimately going into their grave. In this duniya (world), we have as much as we can want, but ultimately it is for the benefit of your soul. It is the only point in Islam where an individual is actually allowed to be selfish.

Taseer: You've asked for martyrdom in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya: what do these causes have in common?

Butt: They're all just causes in which Muslims are being attacked by a foreign occupier.

Taseer: But why isn't an un-Islamic government just as much a problem, Pakistan for instance?

Butt: Absolutely. I pray that Allah accepts the man who made the second attempt on Musharraf’s life a few months ago. He did it as a martyr. The common thing for everyone around the world is jihad but the places you talked about—Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan—are occupied. Then you've got unoccupied ones: Riyadh, Bali…

Taseer: What kind of psychological strength or make-up do you need to be a martyr?

Butt: It takes a hell of a lot. You have to be at peace with yourself and have that comprehension. It is such a difficult thing to actually do. It's a level I'm not at, at the moment, without a shadow of doubt. Omar Sheikh [The LSE-educated killer of Daniel Pearl] is the only British Muslim I've met who is at that level… I think Mohammad Hanif and Omar Sharif [the two British Muslims who travelled to Israel as suicide bombers in 2003] were at that level too. Did you watch the video Hamas released of them? They looked so happy, and here I am, sitting here depressed, aggravated, frustrated and I look at them looking so happy and so at peace with what they're going to do, that I can only begin to imagine what kind of piety they are at to be able to say, “Allah here I am. This is what you've given me and this is what I'm giving back in return.” That's what the spiritual side of the training is there for, and many of the camps—which have now been dismantled—concentrated on that spiritual aspect, on making sure you know why you're doing this. Like I said, it can't be curiosity: you have to know that you will get to heaven.

Taseer: Do you think killing Daniel Pearl was part of Omar Sheikh’s fight for Islam?

Butt: Whether he killed Daniel Pearl or not, I don't know to be honest with you.

Taseer: If he did?

Butt: If he did, I'm sure Islamically he knew what he was doing.

Taseer: Would you approve of it if he did?

Butt: Absolutely—journalists have always been used as spies. Even Lawrence of Arabia, who was a spy, was initially a journalist. I believe Pearl was a spy: he deserved everything he got.

Taseer: What about Kashmir, have you been involved in the fight there?

Butt: I have lectured there twice to English students in the Pakistani-controlled area. I lectured in Islamabad in one of the hotels, with someone from Kashmir, I can't remember the brother's name now. He then invited me to give two separate lectures in English, to English students about how I think they should be focusing their lives. It was very productive. Kashmir is a place that has been forgotten by the world media. It's a shame. Personally I'm not the biggest supporter of the Kashmiri jihad, because I believe a lot of it is political gaming rather than pure jihad. I see a lot of innocent lives being wasted for political motives.

Taseer: For the motives of the Pakistani government?

Butt: Yes, forcing the Indian government to keep 750,000 troops in such a small area places it under massive economic pressure.

Taseer: Is Lashkar doing good work?

Butt: I'm not a supporter of Lashkar-e-Toiba, I see them as very government-backed. I think this is a general problem in the Pakistani organisations. The minute they start attacking the government, they fear losing everything they have built up and that is a weakness in every group I see. For me, the key concept of being a separatist is that if I ask you to sacrifice your life, your wealth, your health, then you do. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve what I would say is the goal for Islam, for example to liberate Kashmir. I think Kashmir has always been a proxy war for Pakistan, and they've never really wanted to liberate it. I even remember speaking to General Zahir Abbassi and Hamid Gul: both of them said, “Really, if we want to liberate Kashmir, we could do so very easily.” Lashkar has 200,000 followers, we only allow in 8,000 mujahedin at a time in that area. Why? Because if we sent everyone in there it would become unoccupied, and India wouldn’t have the economic burden of having to station 750,000 troops there. It's really disappointing.

Taseer: Why have the predicted terrorist attacks on the US and Britain following the Iraq war not happened?

Butt: If someone was to attack Britain, they would be a completely and utterly loose cannon. It would be someone who wasn't involved in the network… I mean the jihad network. A bomb in London would be strategically damaging to Muslims here. Immigration is lax in Britain—you know as well as I do that London has more radical Muslims than anywhere in the Muslim world. A bomb would jeopardise everyone’s position. There has to be a place we can come.

Taseer: So there is general agreement among the different groups not to attack Britain for strategic reasons?

Butt: Definitely, there is a central sense that we will not damage something for a bigger picture, but we will concentrate on our own areas.

Taseer: Why not more attacks in America?

Butt: America is much more difficult to get into than Britain—it's so far from the rest of the world.

Taseer: Do you see future attacks there?

Butt: Definitely, I can't see it stopping. As they say, cut the devil's head off. I believe that the head is America, and one of the arms is Britain. Cutting the arm off won't have an effect; cutting the head off will, so that's why I say attacks look more likely in America.

Taseer: What does it take to get past the various screenings that you have in your own group?

Butt: It's very hard, especially in Britain, where all of a sudden you've got the MI5 openly saying they are recruiting…

Taseer: Trying to infiltrate the groups?

Butt: Yeah, it's very difficult. For all you know I could be working for them. Things are working a hell of a lot slower than they used to. I'm of the philosophy more of Ramzi Yousef: take precautions, but keep them to a minimum because otherwise you're not going to get anywhere. I'm of the opinion that if somebody's a spy, he’s a spy, and he can only do what Allah has planned for them. So I'm not really going to be concerned for myself. I will carry out the very minimum checks.

Taseer: What kind of checks?

Butt: If it's somebody I brought in myself, I would get to know them and culture them. I would hope that, even if he were a spy, by the end of his time with me he would be converted anyway. He'd say, “I can't do this.” Assuming he is not a spy, I'd make sure I know where he's come from, who he knows. If he knew nobody, he would start right at the bottom and we would have to go through all of the procedures. But if he says I'm affiliated with X, Y and Z, I could take up references with those people, I'd make sure he'd done the things he'd claimed to have done. You always have references in the radical Muslim world, that’s how it works. You can go to Pakistan and reference me from such and such a place and they'd say yeah, we know him. Then I'd go back to the person and ask if he'd gone under a different name than the one he's giving me, and if there's a slip halfway down the line, I'd say I'm sorry we can't help you, inshallah there's somebody else who can.

Taseer: So there are very few who come in clean with no record?

Butt: No, very few. On Saturday evenings on this very road, we used to have Islamic stalls and we would actually recruit people from the stalls, take their contact details, and start building up a relationship with them, meeting them, and giving them the necessary Islamic culture for them to have the Islamic identity. But I would not push anyone to do anything unless they came to me. I would never tell anyone, “I think you should do military training.” I will never say that to anybody because it's something that has to come from the person's heart.

Taseer: Are there a disproportionate number of Pakistanis who want to take part in this sort of thing?

Butt: In Britain, the majority I know are of Pakistani descent and really are fed up with the British way of life, British standards; they are even fed up with un-Islamic Pakistani culture and traditions.

Taseer: Like what?

Butt: This issue of obeying your elders even if they're wrong, remaining silent at their mistakes. Forcing women to cook and clean and do nothing else. They're fed up with these stigmas.

Taseer: So would women have a stronger role in an Islamic society?

Butt: Oh yeah, I believe that women are the forefront of this war. If our women were correct in their minds, my job would not be necessary. If our sisters were teaching the children from a very young age to love jihad, to love Allah, to live for Allah, to die for Allah… I think they have the biggest the role to play.

Taseer: And it's not the economic conditions of the Pakistanis that make them well suited.

Butt: Not any more. The majority of the Pakistanis here are well established, they own their own homes, they're not on mortgages any more, many have gone to university, they don't have any problems, The Muslims who have the problems are the Somalis and the Bangladeshis, these are the economically deprived ones. But the Pakistanis have really got to grips with why they came here. Initially it was for economic reasons. I guess that's why the youth is a lot more responsive. The elders came here for economic benefit, so they were a lot less willing to come out publicly with their opinions, whereas the youth now are more disillusioned with what's going on around them. They've had everything they needed and they're rejecting it.

Taseer: You've had your passport revoked, right? What has the government told you?

Butt: Yeah, the official answer is that I am under investigation for links to terrorist activities and organisations and until these are cleared my passport is being held so that I don’t leave the country. They told my solicitor that the moment I leave this country I will be considered a threat to national security; as a result they bind me to Britain. This is now becoming a breach of my human rights. I am supposed to be able to travel freely to any country I want.

Taseer: Are you under constant surveillance?

Butt: As far as I understand, yes.

Taseer: Do you think they're watching our interview now?

Butt: I wouldn't be surprised if they knew about it, but whether they were watching it, I have no idea. I know my phones are most likely tapped. That's why I was quite surprised when you rang me because that number is very private, and only very few individuals have it. The other numbers keep changing, but that one I keep.

Taseer: When you were arrested, why couldn't they build a case?

Butt: They had nothing. The whole basis for my arrest was probably the information that you gathered off the internet. That's what made me realise at that point that I'd never been under observation until that day.

Taseer: Do you feel any guilt about using a country's freedoms to strike against it? If you were in any of the Muslim countries, you would be in jail.

Butt: I guess it's the British blood inside me. The British have been known for centuries to abuse everyone's resources. When they took over my father's homeland, the subcontinent, they reaped the resources, they raped the lands, even now the Queen's crown is made from jewels that don't belong to Britain. I'll hold my Islamic beliefs. I'm just continuing a trait of the British people.

Taseer: A tradition of deceit?

Butt: Yes

Taseer: You do see it as deceit?

Butt: Yeah, war is deceit.

Taseer: This is a war isn't it?

Butt: I don't see it any other way.

Taseer: Then how do you feel about a group like al-Muhajiroun which seems to say it's a war, but refuses to recruit?

Butt: It's their get-out-of-jail card. And this was one of my biggest concerns. I can understand they see war as deceit and they say it's not the aim behind the organisation and perhaps they do it behind closed doors, but I say you shouldn't be such big articulators of the war if you aren't willing to carry it out. This was our big difference. I'm not saying what they're doing is un-Islamic, but it's something I was feeling uneasy about as a Muslim. I could do it no longer, I was feeling hypocritical.

Taseer: If it's a war, you need soldiers, right?

Butt: Yeah. I'm not a soldier. My role is someone who tries to use the western media to get our message across. I remember speaking to one maulana (master) who I look up to a lot. At that point I was saying, “I really want to go and fight.” And he said, “Look, you have access to many things we don't. Go and utilise it, the war has many different fronts. We can't come to Britain. You think we have a lack of mujahedin waiting there? We've got hundreds and thousands of them. You're from Britain, you can use the media, you speak their language, you're an educated person, you have the passport, go there and utilise it. When the time comes for you to fight, if Allah wants that, you're going to do that. Don't worry about it.” So the war has many different fronts, and in the meantime that selfishness you were originally talking about is suspended until I get to an age where I can say: “I've done my best now, I have to think of my individual soul,” and then, inshallah, I will go and fight.

Taseer: And Omar Sheikh Bakri?

Butt: I have respect for him. He's an aalim (scholar), and he's much older than me, but I have my differences with him as well. It came to a point where I could no longer keep myself affiliated with his group, not because I disrespect them in any way, but because it would have been hypocritical to be with them and hold these views. I need to break loose because the views I was going to give would not be the views of the organisation al-Muhajiroun.

Taseer: Was the parting peaceable?

Butt: With any organisation I've been with, the parting is like a divorce. It's quite messy. But we're Islamic-minded people and we're still in contact, and I have a lot of respect for them. They're still more vocal than the majority of the Muslims in this country.

Taseer: What was the route to Afghanistan?

Butt: Just through Pakistan. It really amazed me that anyone could do it. You could get anything you like across the border and at that time with the Pakistani government being very friendly, it was never guarded as it is today.

Taseer: That fight still continues?

Butt: Yes—the sad thing is that while the world media focuses on Iraq, a lot is happening in Afghanistan.

Taseer: Are people still going?

Butt: Yes, though not as many from Britain. The doors have been closed. They need people who are already trained. They don't have time to start training people and sending them over.

Taseer: What was your university experience like?

Butt: Until we got there [Wolverhampton], there had never been any Islamic activity. There was a group of 15 of us and we all decided to go to the same university and we recruited another ten to 15 in the next couple of months and we came out very explosively. We had Islamic awareness weeks, we demanded a prayer room, washing facilities.

Taseer: Was it radical?

Butt: It was absolutely radical and I think the university authorities felt really, really threatened. I even remember having visits from the so-called community leaders of the Muslims asking, “What are you doing?” Wolverhampton is only a small city, but we were sticking posters all over it. It was a really good experience, we radicalised the university a lot.

Taseer: You were expelled. What for?

Butt: I was accused of getting Muslims to assault a homosexual student. Now I don't hide my views about homosexuality: in Islam it's forbidden. If someone wants to do it privately, go ahead and do it privately, don't come out publicly with it. At the time, we were the largest society on campus because all the Muslims had joined us. Our grant was £500 and there was another society, I think the music society, which had fewer than 100 members and they had £5,000-6,000. I was really pushing this; I went to the racial equality person. I wasn't as radical as I am today, but just as active and aggressive. But I got rejected. I realised that the racial equality board didn't see Muslims as a race, hence we didn't have equal rights.

Anyway, with the assault case, they eventually got some “witnesses” to come forward. It was the most bizarre case—here I was in my final six months of university. I had spent two and a half years studying for a law and politics degree, and they were refusing to give not only the names of these witnesses, but not even their statements.

Taseer: But you didn't do it?

Butt: No, I did not do that at all. If I had done it, I would have come out openly. I would have acknowledged it. At that time, I believed more in political Islam, arguing, debating, having dialogues—this militant side of Islam came later. I was so surprised by the case. I wanted to say, “How do I know you haven't just made this whole thing up?” Fair enough, the witnesses couldn't be present, but at least give us their statements, their names, just so we know they are not made-up people. By the time we got the solicitor involved, my year had collapsed and it would have taken me another two years to graduate. It was enough for me.

Taseer: Did you like being in Pakistan?

Butt: I loved it, I've never had a better two years in my life. I see Pakistan as the only country having the potential to lead the Muslims out of the disarray they are in today. I see Pakistan as that nation.

Taseer: But the government isn't to your taste?

Butt: Obviously the government is the problem. I think the people are the most amazing I have seen in my life: people who experience hardship every day, and still have faith that Allah will give them something. The problem is that you have this very tiny minority that is always portrayed as the majority of the opinion in Pakistan.

Taseer: Who rules Pakistan?

Butt: The elite, you know how it is.

Taseer: I know it's a big question, but what's your wish for the global order, how would you like to see it readjusted?

Butt: I don't see it happening in my lifetime. 1,400 years ago you had a small city-state in Medina, and within ten years of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Islam had spread to Egypt and all the way into Persia. I don't see why the rest of the world, the White House, 10 Downing Street, shouldn't come under the banner of Islam. And this is what we believe: we are going to set the foundation for Islam bringing true peace, true security to the world.

Taseer: Will there be a lot of killing?

Butt: I can't see it not happening. Even what I say is very naïve. I can see Islam bringing peace to humanity for a short period, but man being what he is, being very rebellious and arrogant, he will naturally cause rebellion.

Taseer: You've spoken about martyrdom for yourself. Would you send your children into it?

Butt: It's funny you ask me this because my mother is arranging for me to get married. Unlike Pakistani tradition, which doesn't allow you to speak to the girl beforehand, I've made sure that I've spoken to the sister, that I've met her, that I'm compatible with her. Obviously I'm not going to date her or court her.

Taseer: Have you ever dated anyone?

Butt: No, never in my life. It's one thing I was never really that interested in. I started practising just about the age most guys started getting interested in girls. But I've always said to my mother, I must have someone like-minded. She must be at least as extreme as me, if not more so. I've already said to her—the sister my mother has got me engaged to—that I expect her to become a martyr before I do and I expect my children to be exactly the same. Do you remember the Moscow theatre siege? When you had all those sisters… when I saw that, I said to my mother: you have to marry me to someone like that, I'm not going to marry anybody who doesn't have those kind of views. My mother has found me someone who has just as strong views as those sisters did. I looked at that and I felt so ashamed of myself that day, women doing Muslim men's jobs while we're sitting here and they're carrying out this awesome display of courage.

Taseer: Have you ever had a moral lapse as far as Islam is concerned?

Butt: Absolutely, we're human, we all have our lapses. Yesterday: I told my brothers that I always fear that if I die tomorrow without dying a martyr, I would go to hell. I can't see myself as getting into jannat (heaven) with the actions that I've done, I've done so little for Islam. There's so much in my character I would love to improve. I see myself as a very weak Muslim who can only get better.

Taseer: Have you ever drunk alcohol?

Butt: No, and I've never smoked a cigarette.

Taseer: So what now? Where do you go from here?

Butt: First things first, I fight to the foremost to get my passport back. The quicker I get that back, the faster I get my plan of action together. Since leaving al-Mujahiroun, I have formed this group around me and I'm focused on this. There are about nine of us and we're not willing to accept anybody else now because we have the same ideas, the same thoughts. Each one of us may be playing a different role from the other, but we act collectively to gain a wider picture. Once I get my passport back, I definitely see myself becoming a face for Islam in the future, something Muslims have been lacking for a very long time. This is not out of pride, or arrogance or ambition. Rather, I believe I have the ability, and I pray to Allah to give me more ability.

Taseer: Tell me, why did you agree to do this interview?

Butt: Unlike other Muslims I understand the power of the media. At university I studied a module that showed me how media has impacted politics. I realised that the media was probably the most powerful tool, even more powerful than military warfare: using the media you can change nations, public opinion—you can get your message out there. Ayman al-Zawahiri actually propagates that: “Yes, you can be a martyr, but you've only done half your job unless you get your message out there.” I think this is missing generally in the Muslim world. The Taleban’s biggest weakness was that they didn't have any media outlet—when they eventually tried to get a grasp of the media it was too late. For me, the more we can expose ourselves the better. Even though what we say may be edited and twisted and taken out of context, I still believe that Islam twisted is better than no Islam. As a result of that, even if ten people criticise me, so long as one agrees with me, that objective is being fulfilled.

mercredi, août 10, 2005 8:29:00 AM  

Enregistrer un commentaire

<< Home