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A War Against What?

A War Against What?

Only when "war on terrorism" becomes "war on militant Islam" can the war actually be won.


Militant Islam keeps on killing, but politicians and journalists still avert their eyes.

One terrible example comes from Pakistan, where a sequence of assaults on Christians, both local and foreign, has taken place over the past year:

* Oct. 28: an attack on St. Dominic's Church in Behawalpur kills 16.

* March 17: an attack on the Protestant International Church in Islamabad kills five (including two Americans).

* May 22: an attack on the executive secretary of Karachi Diocese of Church Pakistan, who was tied to a chair and injected with poison.

* Aug. 5: an attack on the Murree Christian School kills six.

* Aug. 9: an attack on the Christian Hospital in Taxila kills four.

* Sept. 25: an attack on the Institute for Peace and Justice, a Christian charity in Karachi, kills seven.

There have also been many more non-lethal assaults on churches and church services, the most recent this past Sunday. There is no doubt about the motives of the perpetrators: Militant Islamic groups brazenly speak their minds, declaring their goal is "to kill Christians" and afterwards bragging of having "killed the nonbelievers."

Victims know full well why they are targeted -- "just for being Christians," as one person put it. A local Christian leader states "that the terrorist attack was an act by al Qaeda or some pro-Taliban organizations."

Pakistani law enforcement also recognizes who engages in this violence and why. "We are investigating whether there is an anti-Christian gang operating in Karachi, made up of jihadis," the city's chief investigator explains.

A provincial police chief comments about the Sept. 25 carnage: "Unlike the usual terrorists, the killers [last week] showed no haste. They took a good 15 minutes in segregating the Christians and making sure that each one of their targets gets the most horrific death."

The murderers separated Christians from Muslims by requiring each hostage to recite a verse from the Koran.

A survivor of that slaughter recounts that the murderers separated Christians from Muslims by requiring each hostage to recite a verse from the Koran. Those who could not were seated at a table in the library, bound to chairs, gagged, and shot in the head (except for one person who was shot in a bathroom).

Politicians and journalists, however, pretend not to recognize the problem.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf reacted to the Sept. 25 butchery with seeming bewilderment: "I could not say who [was behind the killings]. It could be al Qaeda, it could be any sectarian extremists within, or foreign elements of RAW." (RAW is the Research and Analysis Wing, India's intelligence agency.) Pakistan's interior minister likewise emphasizes that RAW's role "cannot be ruled out."

The media is almost as bad: Paul Marshall of Freedom House shows that American and European reporting on these many massacres in Pakistan overlooks the militant Islamic dimension, instead presenting the atrocities as vaguely anti-Western in purpose.

This pattern of reluctance and euphemism in the case of Pakistan fits into a more general context. President Bush declared war not on militant Islam but on a faceless enemy he has variously called "terrorists," "a radical network of terrorists," "terrorists in this world who can't stand the thought of peace," "terrorism with a global reach," "evildoers," "a dangerous group of people," "a bunch of cold-blooded killers," and even "people without a country."

An enemy who cannot be named cannot be defeated.

The establishment media has been complicit. With the notable exception of CNN's Lou Dobbs, who talks about "the war against radical Islamists," it unthinkingly echoes the government's line that the conflict has nothing to do with religious motives. It's as though Franklin D. Roosevelt, after Pearl Harbor, declared war on surprise attacks rather than on the Japanese empire.

This evasion has consequences, for an enemy who cannot be named cannot be defeated. Only when "war on terrorism" becomes "war on militant Islam" can the war actually be won.

Fortunately, the president has on occasion hinted at this, as in May when he called the enemy those "defined by their hatreds: they hate . . . Jews and Christians and all Muslims who disagree with them."

It is not a war on terrorism, nor a war on Islam. It is a war on a terroristic version of Islam. Authorities in the United States, Pakistan and elsewhere need to face this unpleasant fact. Not to do so will mean the unnecessary loss of lives.

October 5, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, December 26, 2012 6:15 PM

Radical Islam or Militants in Islam

Well, i read the whole article and i as a Muslim agree with you guys. I have seen and visited many Masrasas, not all but 90% of them are teaching Holy Book just like teaching english in our area but you don't know what it says? Jihad is not like killing children,Old people or civilians but its only defend if attacked.These Madrassas are also a big problem for us as well because we are facing the ill mind, en educated and dirty community. Rest about others it's a sin to kill innocent

(5) Anshu Verma, October 10, 2002 12:00 AM

Not only Christians are suffering

This article has only reflected the atrocities being commited on Christian community of Pakistan.It seems that Mr.
pipes has not at all considered even once the pitiable condition of minority
Hindus in Pakistan.At the time of independence of Pakistan (1947)and after partition with India there were around 30 million Hindus which have been
left in Pakistan (the then Pakistan and Bangladesh united)after Pak-bangladesh division in 1971 there were around 12 million Hindus in pakistan which have been now reduced to less then 7 million
that is almost half.
The same story is of Bangladesh where Hindus are being subjected with extreme
torture and perpetrations on the name of Islam.Muslim goons destroys their temples,rape their gals,plunder their property only on the name of Islam.
In last 10 years only in Jammu and Kashmir in India Muslim terrorists of Pakistan have killed more then 10000 people on the name of Holy Islamic Jihad.
This is really shameful that on the one hand USA exhorts the universal cleansing of terrorism and on other hand has made Pakistan its closest ally.
Pakistan,Palestine,Libya,Iran and Sudan are the most dangerous countries of today from where most of the Islamic terrorists comes.
Amazingly and coincidently none of these countries have any civilized or demacratically elected govt. also.
I think the actual problem lies in the teachings of Islam that is in "Madarsas"
where the Fundamentlic Mullas inculcate the seeds of religious bigotry and hatred for all other religions in the innocent minds of Muslim kids.These kids in future becomes the so called Islamic millitants.
Muslims fight with every community,they hate entire non muslim world be it Christian or Jew or Hindu.Actually Muslims don't beleive in nationalism they rather beleive in universal Muslim brotherhood.
Really shameful that despite of all these,the media calls Parvez Musharraf
"the Ataturk of Pakistan",to that despotic dictator.
Don't forget that Yaser Arafaat was awarded Nobel peace prize along with Parez and late Rabin and everybody was knowing that Arafaat is a criminal,a terrorist and the father of this worldwide Islamic terrorism.
The time is ripe when West+ US should stop the appeasement of Muslims and clean the entire Islamic terrorism including their "strategic allies" like Pakistan.

(4) Lewis Loflin, October 7, 2002 12:00 AM

terror at home

Terror is a problem overseas but we have much potential here with home-grown hate groups.

I operate a religious website that promotes tolerant monotheism (Deism, Unitarianism, Judaism)and I can't believe the volume of hate mail I get attacking Jews and me for not attacking Jews. One wild conspiracy theory after another and it's growing worse as the economy keeps getting worse.

Most people don't seem to care or know just how bad is in rural America. I've been a displaced worker for years but don't hate Jews for it.

Anyway just wanted you to know Judaism does have allies.

(3) Michael Bland, October 7, 2002 12:00 AM

It is not as simple as it seems

I often wonder if the scourge of islamic terrorism is a problem without solution. I suspect that there will always be a percentage of muslims who are terrorist, and that this smaller group will always have at least the passive support of less radical muslim elements. How do we fight this war?

(2) Elliot Pines, October 7, 2002 12:00 AM

Classic Pipes

To the point with supportive evidence. Crisp and precise -- classic Pipes.

.. And yes, I agree. :-)

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