Counter-Terrorism: Interpreting the Koran


January 25, 2006: Many counter-terrorism operators are becoming expert in the complexities of Islamic theology. Partly, this is due to there being over fifty different sects in Islam. Only a few of these sects back Islamic terrorism. It's well known that the Wahhabi sect, from Saudi Arabia, is one of the most conservative and intolerant forms of Islam. What is less well known is that there are several different versions of the Islamic scriptures, the Koran, in circulation. Some of them are more conducive to aggression and terrorism than others. The original version of the Koran, created in the early days of the Prophet Mohammed's religious life, was a lot mellower than any subsequent version. Once Islam began to spread rapidly, often via the use of force, another version of the Koran appeared, one that was more agreeable to the use of violence in spreading Islam, and dealing with non-believers (infidels).

Things got worse in the 18th century, when the Wahhabis revised interpretations of the Koran to incorporate more inflammatory and violent examples of what Allah intended for the faithful to do while spreading the faith and dealing with infidels. The rhetoric got jacked up still more in the 1920s, when social critic, and Islamic radical, Sayyid Qutb tweaked the scripture once more. The Wahhabis admired Qutb's work. Unfortunately for the Egyptian Qutb, his countrymen did not, and he was condemned to death in 1966. But by then, the Wahhabis were the beneficiaries of a growing flood of oil money. If was considered virtuous for wealthy Saudis to contribute to religious charities, nearly all of them run by Wahhabis. Much of the money was used to establish pro-Wahhabi mosques overseas, run by clerics who could be trusted to preach the Koran as followers of Wahhab and Qutb saw it. This went largely unnoticed in the West until the 1990s. The full import of this bloodthirsty version of Islam became apparent to even the slow learners on September 11, 2001.

While Wahhabi Islam may not be very tolerant, most other sects are. Counter-terrorism efforts are now directed towards convincing the majority of Moslems, those who don't subscribe to Wahhabism, to openly condemn this pro-terrorist movement. This approach is having increasing success. Even many Saudis are having second thoughts about blindly following Wahhabi interpretations of the Koran. The true face of Islamic terrorism is losing whatever luster it ever had, and many Moslems are seeing the connection between the murderous violence, and the hate filled theology of Qutb and the Wahhabis.


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