By Mass L. Usuf –
Is Simon Elliot going incognito as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the infamous ISIS ? Allegedly, a Jew who was recruited by the Israelis to take the place of the world’s most wanted terrorist? Was this Simon Elliot trained by Mossad and the CIA? Was Al-Baghdadi created to fill the vacuum of Osama bin Laden? Was ISIS created to tarnish the image of Islam? Speculation is rife in the realm of conspiracy theories with some even providing strong evidence. Be that as it may, what is certain and crystal clear however, is that ISIS has been very successful in tarnishing the image of Islam and the Muslims worldwide. Paradoxically, if it could be so called, hovering over the head of Al-Baghdadi is a ten million dollar reward, dead or alive.
What most concerns us is the news that a 37 year old Sri Lankan had chosen to be part of this outcast outfit. Most Sri Lankans were hearing the news in shock and disbelief. The ripple effect was instantaneous. The aura of peace and happiness within the Muslim families were rattled. Parents were rethinking the sacred trust they had placed in their children. Some are worried if they now have to look over the shoulder of their kids to ascertain what they are up to.
The All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema (ACJU) a body of learned Islamic Scholars quickly sprang into action with a no holds barred condemnation both of the ISIS and the association with it by this adventurous Galewala man. At a press conference held on 23 July 2015, the ACJU took cognizance of the lurking danger of this menace on others, if not dealt with expeditiously. It spelt out the several immediate steps initiated to educate and create awareness that ISIS acts contrary to the teachings of Islam. The seriousness with which ACJU responded is a clear indicator of the extent to which the society has been shocked.
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) which was in a state of comatose, bankrupt with the lack of sensational news, erupted with spasms of Machiavellian ‘pleasure’. The analogy of rainfall after a severe drought is appropriate. Its coterie euphorically celebrated the truism in its “prophetic” foresight about the prevalence of extremists Muslims in Sri Lanka. Hallelujah ! Hallelujah !
Of course, this is far from reality. The gibberish of Gnanasara thero and company always encapsulated the hackneyed allegation about the flow of foreign funds for extremist activities within our borders. He boastfully cited a series of names including the ACJU, National Shoora Council and the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka. In his contorted deductive reasoning, the thero perhaps sees commonness with extremism in these institutions. Thereby, heroically, challenging the government to inspect their funds. In fact, these are organizations comprising highly placed professionals, scholars of repute, lawyers and doctors. We often hear the public relegating such ramblings of this Thero as symptomatic of schizophrenia. I am no medical scientist.
Several leading Muslim organization too issued a joint declaration. No, no, not refuting BBSs’ wild claims but stating their displeasure and condemnation of the ISIS. As an observer, my inference was that the BBSs’ brouhaha received a perfunctory dismissal from these organisations. The plea of ACJU as a respected and responsible body, at the press conference, was not to cast stones but to assist and join hands in defeating this new social phenomenon.
Citing Peter R. Neumann, Director, The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICRC), The Guardian (26.05.2015), stated that according to a report filed in the UN Security Council in late March 2015, 22,000 foreign fighters from 100 nations have traveled to Syria and Iraq, most to support ISIS.
Earlier this year, General James Clapper, the director of US national intelligence, told Congress that officials now believed that 3,400 citizens from western nations, including 150 from the US, had travelled to Iraq and
Syria to join violent militant groups. More than 700 British and 1200 French citizens are thought to have travelled to Syria – with about half returning to the UK.
This is, therefore, clearly an international phenomenon.
The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, is the self-proclaimed Islamic state with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph. The United Nations has held ISIS responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes. Several countries have designated ISIS as a terrorist organisation including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Egypt, and Russia.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces General Hassan Firouzabadi called on international legal bodies to prosecute Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ringleader of the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and asShams (ISIS), as a war criminal. The Iranian General described ISIS as a brainchild of the US and UK governments, established to get “revolutionary Muslim youths” killed in Syria and Iraq. (FARS News Agency, Sat Jul 12, 2014)
In late September 2014, 126 Islamic scholars, from around the Muslim world signed an open letter to the Islamic State’s leader al-Baghdadi, explicitly rejecting and refuting his group’s interpretations of Islamic scriptures, the Qur’an and hadith, used by it to justify its actions.
In late August 2014, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, condemned the Islamic State “[You] have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder … this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world”, the letter stated.
This puts indoctrination in the crosshairs. The attraction of youth of different nationalities towards ISIS is partly because of indoctrination. I had made mention of this danger in the context of the so called radical “nationalist’ movements in Sri Lanka in my article to the Colombo Telegraph of 05 June 2015, (Slow Genocide Of The Rohingya People of Myanmar (Burma). I emphasized that via a process of indoctrination the religious sentiments of a person can be manipulated.
In our context, it is especially significant when the noble ‘sivura’ is involved. People place their trust and confidence on those who don it. The masses expect to receive proper guidance. This is a huge responsibility that ought to be discharged in a morally and lawfully acceptable manner. Failure to do so is a clear breach of trust. To use the “sivura” for indoctrination against another people will only result in hatred and violence. Hatred that generates a situation of anger, making one community inflamed against another.
In this context, even Sinhalese parents have to be careful of the values their innocent child is imbibing. This is exactly what responsible, unbiased, civic minded Sri Lankans should fear against happening to our children, the innocent Sri Lankan masses and, most significantly, to the Samaneras (the novice monks). Hatred and violence should not be seen by these novice monks as the proper way to achieve their goals. Arguably the indicators are that indoctrination is taking place in Sri Lanka too, in a subtle way, unduly exploiting the honour and respect of the robe.
If this is proven then methodologically, ISIS is right under our nose.