The Sub-Saharan Terror Pandemic – Sporadic or Islamic?

The Sub-Saharan Terror Pandemic – Sporadic or Islamic?

On Tuesday 6 April, RSG, South Africa’s National Afrikaans Broadcaster, interviewed Mr. Ganief Hendricks – member of Parliament and present leader of  Al Jama-ah political party.  The interview related to the recent attacks in Mozambique and how the media would, according to Mr. Hendricks, falsely refer to the attackers as Islamic insurgents and Muslim Radicals. 

Without expressing any remorse or concern for the countless lives lost, Mr. Hendricks blamed Western Media for accusing Muslims of committing these atrocities.  He then made numerous unchallenged statements on the air, saying that the killings in Mozambique were not motivated by Islamic groups, that ISIS does not exist and is actually the “bogey man” of America, and that the word Islam means peace. 

These comments are extremely disconcerting in the context of finding solutions for a deeply troubled region.    According to a report from the Global Terrorism Index of 25 November 2020, the total deaths by ISIS in sub-Sahara Africa have increased by 67% over the previous year (2019).  Seven of the ten countries globally with the largest increase in Islamic terrorism were in sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Mozambique, DRC, Mali, Niger, Cameroon and Ethiopia”.  In 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest number of ISIS-related terrorism deaths at 41% of the total attacks globally. 

Islamic extremism in Sub-Sahara Africa is becoming a terror pandemic, affecting millions of people.  Excuses simply won’t provide any solutions and neither will a victim mentality.  Muslims need to own up and respond.  All role players, including Mr.Hendricks, the Islamic community and leaders of other faith communities, must pursue peaceful solutions and engage in conversations based on factual evidence. 

In order to evaluate the claims of Mr. Hendricks here are the facts:

AL JAMA-AH

Al Jama-ah is a South African political party. It was formed in 2007 by present leader Ganief Hendricks and contested the 2009, 2014 and 2019 national elections.  The party aims to support Muslim interests and uphold Sharia law (a strict Islamic religious code based on traditional Islamic rules and practices). The flag of Al Jama-ah depicts a white gimel, ج, (the first letter in its Arabic name,) upon a field consisting of the other pan-Arab colors.

The word Al Jama-ah literally means a gathering, where people come together, i.e. a unification or community. 

“ISLAM MEANS PEACE”

It is widely acknowledged that the word Islam means SUBMIT and a Muslim is someone who SUBMITS to Allah (god).  For a scholar in Islam and a devout Muslim leader in the community to make this statement can only mean that either Mr.Henrdicks is deceived by his own religion or he is intentionally deceiving the South African public.

To find the meaning of the word Islam, the original and classical Islamic Arabic language should be consulted; not what others think it means or what a modern secular interpretation could mean.  On the website of Classical Arabic (https://classicalarabic.org/2020/06/19/what-does-islam-mean/) a detailed explanation is provided as to why Islam is often confused as ‘peace’ but in effect means ‘Submission’.  The article concludes as follows:

“So we found that the masdar Islam means submission and resignation to the Will of God, and also as a general reference to the religion of Islam. The verbal form 4 usage can mean to convert to Islam and/or submit your will to God. With a brief touch on history, we also find that there is no reason to be ashamed of the fact that Islam means submission. We also found that the noun silm means peace and also means the religion of Islam. We found Arab idioms stating that “he entered as-silm” means “he converted to Islam.”

Putting the two together, silm and Islam, you could say that the religion of Islam in a way can mean peace, but the word “Islam” means submission, linguistically. So conclusively: By submitting one’s will to the Will of God, you will find inner peace. This is Islam.”

“ISIS DOES NOT EXIST”

When a prominent community leader makes a statement of this nature it creates serious questions about his integrity, his willingness to find solutions and his ability to lead. 

ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) also known as ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has a leader, has territory, has military power, has influence, was one of the richest terrorist organisations in the world and has a religion.  This is an undeniable fact written in history and millions can traumatically testify to the fact that they brutally suffered under the reign of a group that was inspired by Islamic teachings.

History.com (https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/isis) gives the following background:

ISIS is a powerful terrorist militant group that has seized control of large areas of the Middle East. Infamous for its brutal violence and murderous assaults on civilians, this self-described caliphate (an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph) has claimed responsibility for hundreds of terrorist attacks around the world, in addition to destroying priceless monuments, ancient temples and other buildings, and works of art from antiquity.

The roots of ISIS trace back to 2004, when the organization known as “al Qaeda in Iraq” formed. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was originally part of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda Network, founded this militant group.  The U.S. invasion of Iraq began in 2003, and the aim of al Qaeda in Iraq was to remove Western occupation and replace it with a Sunni Islamist regime.

When Zarqawi was killed during a U.S. airstrike in 2006, Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri became the new leader and renamed the group “ISI,” which stood for “Islamic State of Iraq.” In 2010, Masri died in a US-Iraqi operation, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took power. 

When the civil war in Syria started, ISI fought against Syrian forces and gained ground throughout the region. In 2013, the group officially renamed themselves “ISIS,” which stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” because they had expanded into Syria.  ISIS rule spread quickly throughout Iraq and Syria. The group focused on creating an Islamic state and implementing sharia law—a strict Islamic religious code based on traditional Islamic rules and practices.

In 2014, ISIS took control of Falluja, Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq, and declared itself a caliphate, which is a political and Islamic territory ruled by a leader known as a caliph.  ISIS fighters attacked a northern town in Iraq that was home to the Yazidis, a minority religious group, in August 2014. They killed hundreds of people, sold women into slavery, forced religious conversions and caused tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee from their homes.

The attack sparked international media coverage and brought attention to the brutal tactics employed by ISIS. Also in 2014, al Qaeda broke ties with ISIS, formally rejecting the group and disavowing their activities.  

In response to ISIS violence, various countries—including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, several Arab nations and other countries—have initiated efforts to defeat the terrorist group.  The United States has primarily used targeted airstrikes and special operations forces to fight ISIS. In 2015, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. had launched nearly 9,000 airstrikes on ISIS.  The United States military dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS compound in Afghanistan in April 2017.

Reports have suggested ISIS has weakened both militarily and financially. The group has lost control of large amounts of territory in Iraq, and several of its leaders have been killed or captured, including the May 2018 arrest of five top ISIS officials in Syria and Turkey.  While notable gains against ISIS have been made, international efforts to control this powerful terrorist organization will likely continue for many years.

Bottom line:  ISIS exists and has contributed more hardship and violence in the name of a religion, Islam, than any other group in modern history

“THE KILLINGS IN MOZAMBIQUE DOES NOT INVOLVE ISLAM”

There is little doubt that Islamic insurgents are responsible for the attacks in Mozambique and neighbouring countries.  On 29 March the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack on Palma in Mozambique, saying it was carried out by the Islamic State Central Africa Province, according to the SITE extremist monitoring group.

The battle for Palma highlights the military and humanitarian crisis in this Southern African nation on the Indian Ocean. The three-year insurgency of the rebels, who are primarily disaffected young Muslim men, in the northern Cabo Delgado province has taken more than 2,600 lives and displaced an estimated 670,000 people, according to the U.N. 

According to the Global Terrorism Index, The Islamic movement of Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, has been responsible for more than 57,000 deaths since 2011. Nigeria sits at the epicenter of the violence and Christians are the terror group’s favourite target. 

Johnnie Moore, the co-author of the new book, The Next Jihad: Stop The Christian Genocide in Africa told CBN News that what’s happening in Nigeria is nothing short of Christian genocide. “It’s the exact same playbook that ISIS used against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq,” Moore said. “In fact, you might say that Boko Haram was the test case even before ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram was already killing more people, Christians, in fact than ISIS did at their height in Iraq and Syria.”

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

The heart of Mr. Hendricks’s message was that not all Muslims are terrorists.  This is absolutely true.  The majority of the global Muslim population are peace-loving, law-abiding people who serve their god with zeal and commitment.  There is no doubt that ISIS and other terror organisation do not represent the average Muslim.  But it is also true that most terrorists in the world today are Muslims.  And whether they are regarded as Muslims by the larger Islamic community or not is irrelevant. 

Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaida and other terror organisations find Islam to be a perfect vessel to execute their thirst for violence.  Muslim leaders across the globe need to recognize this, address this and mourn this.  Questions need to be asked why terror groups choose the religion of Islam as a vessel for violence and not Christianity, Buddhism or something else.  Denial will not provide any solutions and leaders like Mr. Hendricks need to acknowledge this and provide answers, not excuses.

Yes, Christian history is also riddled with atrocities.  Islam is not unique in this regard.  People will always use religion to establish power, fortune and territory and Christianity is also no exception.  The difference lies in the fact that Christians throughout the world have publicly denounced the atrocities of the Crusades and have repented of it.  We acknowledge that the name of Jesus was, and still is, abused for political power and we mourn the hardship it caused.  Muslim leaders need to do the same and western commentators need to hold them accountable in doing so.

SOURCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jama-ah

https://sunnahonline.com/library/beliefs-and-methodology/71-meaning-of-ahl-us-sunnah-wal-jamaat-the

https://islamqa.info/en/answers/10446/meaning-of-the-word-islam

https://classicalarabic.org/2020/06/19/what-does-islam-mean/

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2021/march/islamic-extremists-unleash-ongoing-brutal-attack-killing-dozens-in-northern-mozambique-town

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jama-ah

 

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