The Turning Point Of The Arab World
Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, declared that by beating Israel, this war between the Arab states (Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq) would be the “battle of destiny” (al-Ma‘raka al-Masiriya in Arabic). The famous “6 Day War” between the Zionist Nationalist state of Israel and it’s Arab Nationalist states would be overwhelming for Israel when it was all said and done. The war began on June 5th 1967 and ended June 10th 1967, with Israel capturing the Gaza Strip, The Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), West Bank along with the Golan Heights (Syria). Israel would later admit that it militarily stuck first against Egypt, claiming that it was a preemptive strike in the face of a planned invasion by Egypt.
It was also during this conflict the American USS Liberty had been under attack from Israeli jets and torpedo boats, nearly sinking the ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171. Israel said the attack was a case of mistaken identity, and that the ship had been misidentified as the Egyptian vessel El Quseir. Yet there are rumors of U.S and United Kingdom military assistance to Israel during the war regardless of this incident, although U.S officials continually have denied this accusation, so have certain Israeli dignitaries (unreliable these are). U.S Marine staff sergeant, Bryce Lockwood, after 40 years vehemently denies that Israel didn't know it was an American ship. “You just don’t shoot at a ship at sea without identifying it, making sure of your target!” Nevertheless U.S President, Lyndon B. Johnson, simply accepted the apologies from Israeli President, Zalman Shazar without any qualms to enact punishment for the offence.
Meanwhile the Israeli border began to expand under the newly captured prizes of their defeated Arab adversaries. This would have reverberating consequences that would have effects felt still to this day, with the religious sector within the deep burrows of the Arab world arising out of its shadows.
Israeli Nationalism began to grow exponentially due to the victory. It gave Israel the global recognition as a “military superpower” and also gave Zionism the power it needed to influence its citizens and those who will influence vast power, politically, abroad…most notably in the United States, for which the Christian evangelicals were a voting bloc with immense financial wealth and political influence. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would have financial backing from the Christian evangelicals almost seemingly overnight since the end of the “6 day war”.
The division between the Ara world and Israel began immediately. Under Jordanian rule, Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and were effectively barred from visiting the Western Wall, with Arab mobs attacking Jewish neighborhoods in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco, burning synagogues and assaulting residents. Communist countries around the world saw a rise in anti-semitism and the Jewish liberal community in the United States saw a “Jewish diaspora” of sorts, as some American Jews began taking steps to relocate back to their homeland. According to American-Israeli historian, Michael Oren, the war enabled American Jews to…
“..walk with their backs straight and flex their political muscle as never before. American Jewish organizations which had previously kept Israel at arms length suddenly proclaimed their Zionism.”
There were murmurs of dissent in the far reaches of the desert landscapes in Egypt, especially from local clerics who saw the defeat as “morally oppressive” towards the Muslims as a whole. With the martyrdom of Sayyid Qutb, Muslim Brotherhood and spiritual author by Egyptian security services, a year prior to the war, in 1966 and the recent defeat of Arab Nationalism, there was a vacuous space to fill the empty hearts and broken minds of the Arab world. The Islamists began to take necessary steps to fulfill the destiny brought forth by the likes of Hassan Banna, Sayyid Qutb (Muslim Brotherhood) and Abul A’la Maududi (Pakistan Islamic scholar and philosopher). Maududi once stated that the next step for Muslims was to encroach on the idea of an “Islamic state”, an idea which Maudedi was once against.
“An Islamic state is a Muslim state, but a Muslim state may not be an Islamic state unless and until the Constitution of the state is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.”
It would not be called a “theocracy” but instead a “theodemocracy” because the state would be based on the total autonomy and rule of all Muslims and not the “ulema” (Muslim rulers). This idea would spread into the religious sector, and by 1975 small Islamic sects began to form in Egypt. By 1980, Al Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) formed under the infusion of two Cairo branches led by Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj and Karam Zuhdi. The organization’s original primary goal was to overthrow the Egyptian Government and replace it with an Islamic state. Faraj would be the force behind the group’s initial stages, as Zuhdi pleaded for backing by the military and political arm of Egypt.
The Egyptian citizenry began taking notice and backed the group. Faraj closely followed the works of Sayyid Qutb and also insisted that Muslims begin taking steps towards returning back to the days of Muhammad. He argued that modern Muslims had specifically neglected jihad, which he placed after the five pillars as the most important aspect of Islam, something Qutb had once stated in his book “Milestones” where the Arab universities and its politics were becoming too “Westernized”. Faraj also believed that peaceful means could never bring about a truly Islamic society and so jihad was the only option.
The Islamic uprising took the world on notice, 1979 would be the year in which many began witnessing the Orthodox movements begin uprisings against the corruption within their country. Saudi Arabia, which is the epicenter of Wahhabi ideology and is the birth of many of these radical ideologies within the extreme sects in the Sunni world, experienced the violent usurping of the Grand Kaaba home to the Great Mosque in Mecca. Juhayman al-Otaybi, A Saudi militant and former soldier led the seizure of the mosque during the early morning prayers on November 20th, 1979. The seizure of the Kaaba, was an unprecedented move, especially in the Kingdom, where many within the more prominent members of the Royal family were manifesting themselves to the Western aspects that the religious scholars saw as “haram” or forbidden.
The seizure was in response to the Kingdom’s crackdown and subjugation of many of its influential Islamic scholars, one of those imprisoned was Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, one of the most astute Islamic theologians in Saudi Arabia who would later become its Grand Mufti in 1993. Many of the imams in Saudi prisons began secretly making audio tapes proclaiming the United States and Israel as being manipulative to the Saudi family, and that only an uprising of the Jihadi mindset would change the country.
The occupation would only last two weeks, as on December 4th 1979, members of the Saudi National Guard and the Saudi Army finally rushed into the center of the grounds and expelled the remaining dissidents. Over 255 pilgrims, troops and fanatics” killed and “another 560 injured while casualties suffered from the Saudi military were were 127 dead and 451 injured. Before Otaybi was captured, his doctrines for the Saudis were declared before the re-capture of the mosque was attained. Some of his decrees were the following:
1. The necessity for the Muslims to overthrow their present corrupt rulers who are forced upon them and lack Islamic attributes since the Quran recognizes no king or dynasty.
2. The requirements for legitimate ruler-ship are devotion to Islam and its practice, ruler-ship by the Holy Book and not by repression, Qurayshi tribal roots, and election by the Muslim believers.
Otaybi saw himself as the reincarnation of the Mahdi, the redeemer of Islam. His execution was immediate, as he and 63 others who participated in the seizure were publicly executed by beheading. The incident however was not ignored in time. Almost immediately the religious scholars from both the Sunni and Shia schools of jurisprudence saw this as just the beginning. Uprisings were taking place in most of the Arab world. In Islamabad, Pakistan large mobs would take to a U.S Embassy and burn it down to its foundations, all under the influential decrees of Iran’s most influential and venerable leader, Ayatollah Khomeini who told a radio audience that it was the United States whom was ultimately responsible for the seizure in Saudi Arabia.
General Zia ul-Haq ordered the Pakistan Army to rescue the trapped Americans, and soldiers brought the situation under control. Meanwhile Iran itself would witness a Shia uprising as 66 American citizens were taken hostage by Iranian radical students during a takeover of a U,S Embassy in the capital of Tehran. All the while the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan's capitol, Kabul, was taking place as well. The call to Jihad had begun.
There were other Egyptian cells, more notably the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya headed by Omar Abdel Rahman (Blind Sheikh) which began taking shape in 1992, this was after the break down of leadership in the EIJ where Karam Zuhdi and Abdel Rahman disagreed with the leaderships goals. One event in particular that helped create the more extremist views of those within EIJ, was the assassination of Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat. In 1978, the Arab-Israeli relationship began taking steps to “re-connect”, under the watchful eye of U.S President, Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat met with Israeli Defense Minister, Ezer Weizman as well as Israeli President, Menachem Begin, on March 26, 1978…it was called the “Camp David Accords”. The main features of the agreement were the mutual recognition of each country by the other, the cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the rest of the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. It would also mark the first time an Arab leader had personally met with an Israeli leader. The agreement however was not mutually agreed nor accepted for those in the Islamist circles as Christian Evangelicals and Zionist Jews saw Sadat as the future of Arab-Israeli partnership. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.
The Egyptian citizenry, still weary from the past wars with Israel that saw defeat every time, were enthralled at the notion of peace between the two countries. Meanwhile there were internal dissidents within the Egyptian military, most notably, General Saad Eddin el-Shazli who along with 18 others had plotted to commit to a coup of Sadat. The plot failed but the warning signs were there, even from those closest to him. Sadat began arresting many prominent Islamists for fear they would follow up on their threats to Sadat. The Egyptian Security Services arrested many in the mosques of the Southern branches, it would have a negative effect for Sadat. Sadat ordered a highly unpopular roundup of more than 1,500 people, including many Jihad members overall. Khālid al-Islāmbūlī was a high ranking Lieutenant in the Egyptian military, he was also a member of the EIJ.
On October 6th 1981, Sadat would attend the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal. It was here during the initial air show that members of the EIJ dressed as Egyptian Army. In front of the media thong and hundreds attending, Islambouli emptied his assault rifle into Sadat’s body while in the front of the grandstand as he raced out of a military truck. The fatwa of Sadat came from Omar Abdel Rahman who was part of the EIJ at the time. Zawahiri however would continue to have theological differences between he and Rahman. A number of leading figures in the jihādi movement argued against the nomination of Omar Abdel Rahmān as the leader of the new coalition on account of his lack of eyesight . One of the strongest opponents of Abdel Rahmān’s leadership was the martyr ,Esām al-Qamari, followed by Zawahiri.
Qamari was was a decorated tank commander and Major in the Egyptian army who followed the works of Sayyid Qutb, and was ultimately arrested for being involved in the assassination of Sadat. The arrest of Qamari came from information from al-Zawahiri who was mercilessly tortured by Egyptian Security Services, sometimes these torture sessions would extend to weeks. Zawahiri was taken from the Tora Prison to the Higher Military Court to give testimony against other jihādi members from the army. Under these terrible conditions, he admitted that they formed a movement inside the army to topple the regime and institute an Islamic government. The district attorney in the Sadat investigation asked Zawahiri about the motivations of the EIJ:
Question : What is the meaning of “ jihad ” according to your cell ?
Answer : “ Jihad ” means removing the current government through resisting it and changing the current regime to establish an Islamic government instead .
Question : How would you replace the current government with an Islamic one ?
Answer : Through a military coup . We were convinced that civilians and the military should cooperate to achieve this end .
Question : Why did you want to remove the current government ?
Answer : Because it does not rule according to the shari‘a of God , glorified be His name .
Thru these interrogations and questionings, the similar responses from this involved in the religious sector was the beginning to become loud and understood. The Islamic uprising of each country needed to be replaced with an Islamic rule of law (Shariah). Exactly how Sayyid Qutb once envisioned. In Afghanistan, the war would take place, this time another Saudi would become mentioned in time, as hen would financially assert himself in the war by using his families finances which came directly from the Saudi BinLaden Group. The construction firm located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was founded in 1931, by Mohammed bin Laden Sayyid.
Osama Bin Laden would build roads and also fund an organization which catered to helping Muslims around the world and train in camps located in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Maktab al-Khidamat (Afghan Services Bureau). Bin Laden would become easily influenced to a Pakistan imam, Abdullah Azzam who started implement a new ideology called “defensive jihad” which called for Muslims to commit to war against the disbeliever, Soviets. Shortly after al-Zawahiri’s release from prison he relocated to Afghanistan as Egypt began to expel the militants. al-Zawahiri’s mission of regrouping the jihādi movement in Egypt from Afghanistan was easier than the task facing the leadership of the Gamā‘a al — Islāmiyya. The dissenting members of Gama al-Islammiyya saw the EIJ as being far more active as opposed to the secretive nature of the Gama al-Islamiyya. Even Abdullah Azzam , the imām of the mujaheddin, was criticized by al-Zawahiri.
They accused him of being an agent for the Saudis one time and of the Americans another time , among other accusations. Azzam would later be killed shortly after the Soviet war ended, as on November 24, 1989 outside his home in Peshawar, Pakistan. A bomb placed under his car was detonated and exploded with such force, that his body would be shredded to molecules. Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were the new leadership of the Maktab al-Khidamat, which now saw offices located inside the United States.
When al-Zawahiri returned to Egypt after the Soviet-Afghan war, contrary to his better judgment, he ordered his followers to perform armed operations against some of the top Egyptian political figures.The first of these operations was the foiled assassination attempt on the former interior minister Hassan al-Alfi in 1993. The Egyptian Security Services began again cracking down on the religious sector once again. al-Zawahiri would rejoin Osama Bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan. During his trials and tribulations experienced during his prison stay in Egypt, al-Zawahiri’s ideology changed. He explained the idea of the near enemy and far enemy in an article entitled, “The Way to Jerusalem Passes Through Cairo”, published in Al-Mujāhideen in April 1995. He wrote:
“Jerusalem will not be opened until the battles in Egypt and Algeria have been won and until Cairo has been opened, “meaning that the main enemies are Muslim regimes, which do not rule according to Islamic shariah.”
Algeria would also witness it’s own civil war, as the Algerian Islamic Group headed by Mustafa Bouyali who was a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war of 1979 and Djafar al-Afghani, a 30-year-old black marketer who would become its emir in time. The conflict began in December 1991, when the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party appeared poised to defeat the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party in the national parliamentary elections in which members of the Algerian military quashed the election and saw fit ti imprison members of the FIS, notably Ali Benhadj and Abbassi Madani. The war saw some of the most brutal aspects of the primitive mind in recent memory, as mass executions of those favorable to the Algerian government, mass beheadings at the public square and the banning of all French residents from employment and television. The war ended in 2002.
Nevertheless, the Islamic movement was now a global phenomena, one in which saw itself as also a threat anywhere and everywhere, Its sights would now fixate towards the ultimate enemy, United States and Israel. Meanwhile the Intelligence apparatuses of the CIA, Mossad, Pakistan ISI, Mukhabarat, British MI6 and Saudi General Intelligence began infiltrating into these large Islamic groups. Collecting intelligence and monitoring agents from Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf (Philippines) Hamas (Palestine) Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet large scale Islamist terrorist operations would be completed all under these watchful agencies, sometimes with assistance it seems. The agendas made by Al Qaeda and those affiliated with it began to take a more “personal” turn and on February 23, 1998 an organization calling itself the World Islamic Front headed by Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mir Hamzah, Abu Yasir Rifa Taha and Fazlur Rahman issued a global fatwa, the title of this decree was called “Jihad Against Jews & Crusaders”. One part of the decree was alarming…
“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”
This marked a very important change in al-Zawahiri’s philosophy. This fatwa shifted the battle from targeting the near enemy to targeting the far enemy, namely the United States and Israel. The start of the campaign to kill the enemies of Islam began that same year with the bombing of two U.S embassy’s located in East Africa. The everlasting memory of Mohammed Ibn Abdel Wahab, the founder of Wahhabi Islam, whose very precepts would shape the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which helped propagate this ideology by funding almost every mosque and madrasa located in most of the Sunni Islamic world and even inside the United States which would help change the world after the events of September 11th 2001 took place.
The words of Sayyid Qutb would leave an everlasting effect which began the Islamic (Wahhabi) movement to take steps to implement it’s global jihad. A Jihad which is still felt today, and at times willfully ignored by the Intelligence Communities, the very same agencies who helped support the Mujahideen during the Afghan-Soviet war of 1979. The movement today however has changed, it is not primarily a religious one, but instead one that is used for geo-political agendas….agendas the late Qutb mentioned in his memoirs:
“This movement uses … physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili (disbeliever) system which prevents people from reforming their ideas and beliefs but forces them to obey their erroneous ways and make them serve human lords instead of the Almighty Lord. There is no compulsion in religion.” (Milestones, page 55)