Islamic terrorism did not die with al-Baghdadi
by Kamel Abderrahmani

Whether Al-Zarqawi, bin Laden or the late founder of the Islamic State group, the killing of jihadi leaders will not end the Islamist threat. This ideology does not depend on any living breathing person. It is something that goes back a long way; it is an updated version of a story that began with the birth of the Muslim empire and its conquests.

Paris (AsiaNews) – The international community is revelling in the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, founder of Daesh (Islamic State group). But “the ideas for which he killed and terrorised the innocent people who did not agree with him are still alive and well, and others will follow his path."  A young Muslim intellectual rejects the idea that "Islamism has nothing to do with Islam.” In his view, it is “the rotten fruit of mixing politics and religion ". the thoughts of our collaborator and expert in Islamic affairs follow. (Translation by AsiaNews).

Exhilaration reigns among some, following the greatest anti-terrorist feat since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the high master of Islamist terrorism bin Laden. The elimination of El Baghdadi made headlines in the international media. On the one hand, the event has been presented as a major success against global Islamist terrorism; on the other hand, it is being treated as a blow against this bloodthirsty and totalitarian ideology. Obviously, it is important to eliminate the maniac who perpetrated crimes against Muslims, Christians, Iraq and Syria, and civilians in Europe who participated in the destruction of part of these two countries and founded a Caliphate on their rubble.

This concerns me first and foremost as a human being and as a humanist. However, I'm sorry I do not want to be one of those people who naively think that Al Baghdadi is dead! Some will say that I admire him to the point of not accepting his death. Others will say that I am afraid, which is why I dare not show my joy! I will say that they are all wrong! It is neither out of solidarity or cowardice or lack of audacity that I react this way, but out of my conscience and out of prudence. I am quite conscious that even if he has been neutralised, the ideas for which he killed and terrorised the innocent people who did not agree with him are still alive and well, and others will follow his path. I refuse to fall into the trap of believing that Islamist terrorism will cease to haunt and threaten us, undermining the peace and stability of the peoples of the East as well as the West!

Islamism, with the many definitions it can have, does not depend on any specific living breathing person. The movement’s leaders are not so important to the ideology because they themselves are only faithful to this hegemonic and totalitarian ideology, contemporary Nazism. Yet they are often powerful and go so far as to seduce "moderate Islamists". I say "moderate Islamists" and I put it in brackets because I do not make any distinction between the two Islamisms: both advocate one way or another the re-establishment of the caliphate – especially after the Iranian revolution which showed that it is possible to set up a purely religious state. In other words, the only difference between the two is the degree of application of Sunni Islam in its political version.

So, we should not deceive or lie to ourselves and say that Islamism has nothing to do with Islam. Indeed, neither Daesh nor the Muslim Brotherhood represent Sunni Islam, but they apply it on the ground to various degrees! Even if the Muslim Brotherhood gives the appearance of being moderate by pretending to be modern, to believe in human rights, universal values and democracy, appearances are often deceptive, and theirs are always so! This is their atypical tactic, “a practice that involves putting on a modern mask to better mingle with the crowd”, i.e. Taqiya.[1]

Take a Sunni Muslim Arab, Turkish, Persian, Western, ask him how unbelievers are viewed? Talk about gender equality, jihad, homosexuals, there are many examples! Mention the topic of the Caliphate to him! The answers will be striking! Whether Islamist or Muslim Sunni, both have the same beliefs, the same references, the same book. Only their involvement makes the difference between them! Roughly speaking, Islamism in its Brotherhood or Salafist version is Oriental Nazism. Everyone should know for example that Mein Kampf is the best sold and widely read book in Mideast Islamist circles.[2] This fascism is motivated and ruled by a certain conception of Sunni Islam – no one can deny the intimate relationship between the two – which unfortunately is the majority.

We are sometimes tempted to justify the unjustifiable because, in my opinion, we cannot exonerate Islam by putting forward almost negationist ideas suggesting that this religion has no connection with Islamism. Those who still support this theory try to "hide the sun with a sieve” contributing unconsciously to the collapse of this religion even though they are supposed to remove violence from it, refine it and humanise it. They should stop using taqiya, exploiting the Islamic corpus in order to deceive the naive, or the useful idiots, so that they may follow them!

I say this loud and clear whilst assuming my responsibilities. Islamism is the rotten fruit of mixing politics and religion. To fight it is to defend spiritual Islam. Islamism has existed since the first night following the death of the Prophet, since the birth of the concepts of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-harb. The first is "abode of submission to God". It initially refers to the countries where Sharia is applied and then, by extension, those with a Muslim majority and/or governed by Muslims, and which should, according to Islamist movements and parties, be governed by Sharia. The second means the countries where Islam must be still be brought. The word Harb means "war"; hence the abode of military war, conquest, "war" through language and sword against other religions and beliefs.

It is proselyting, missionary and military efforts all wrapped into one. Yet, both concepts are absent in the Qurʼān and in the prophetic texts, and emerged only after the birth of the Muslim empire and its conquests – the conquests of the Umayyads, Abbasids and Ottomans – that is to say, the first major players to exploit Islam for political ends.

However, the most dangerous concept adopted by all Islamists – since "the ideological mould is the same" – is the notion of Dar al-Kufr which means "the abode of infidels or unbelievers". It designates the countries where the Islamic law applied previously, but no longer applies such as the Iberian Peninsula after the reconquista, Palestine under the rule of the State of Israel, Muslim countries under European rule or Muslim countries that adopted secular laws like Turkey and Tunisia. In other words, it is territories that were or should be part of the "abode of submission to God" but joined "the abode of war".

Today, the first goal of Islamists is to restore Sharia in these countries by every possible means including armed struggle against their compatriots. In other words, it is total re-Islamisation to make their vision and their interpretation of Islam triumph! That's why I refuse to consider Islamism a contemporary phenomenon because it is really only a revival of Islamic history: a story that repeats itself, driving Islamists to harm in the name of God.

[1] “Taqiya is indeed a technique designed to allow jihadis to hide between attacks. It's something obvious. It's a practice that involves putting on a modern mask to better mingle with the crowd. Thus, jihadis will pretend to live like everyone else, dance and drink, dress like most people... It is a tactic that involves going all the way to hide.” Translated from the original French. In “La Taqiya ou le concept coranique qui permet aux musulmans radicaux de dissimuler leurs véritables croyances”, interview with Annie Laurent, Atlantico, 20 November 2015, (retrieved on 26 November 2019).

[2] Ian Hamel, “Les éditions pirates de ‘Mein Kampf’ foisonnent dans le monde musulman”, Le Point, 11 January 2016, (retrieved on 26 November 2019).