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July 13, 2007

Horror Inside The Red Mosque Calls To Question The Nature Of Muslim Extremism (Updated)

Topics: War on Terror

Back in August 2006, Shelby Steele, in his piece at, wrote of how the simple back-and-forth of war can create the illusion that both sides have a legitimate point to make even when this is not so. As a case in point he noted how the recent war in Lebanon made clear that Israel could do nothing to appease the Muslim animus against her, and that the West is also in a similar position - living in a state of ever-heightening security against the constant threat of violence from Islamic extremists, and pointed to an unappeasable hatred that seems to exist for its own sake, a hatred with very little actual reference to those it claims to hate, that has come from the Muslim world. (Even the fighting of Islamic terrorist groups is oddly self-referential, fighting not for territory or treasure but for the fighting itself).

Although this unappeasable hatred has, for the most part, been directed against the Jews and the West, the fact that Muslim extremism - always in the name of Islam and their interpretation of the Koran, is now being exhibited in Muslim lands, Pakistan being a prime example, is finally making it clear, even to leaders in Muslim nations, that Muslim extremism is a threat to the entire world and that Islamism has little to do with God and everything to do with hate for the sake of hate, and power for the extremists, purely for the sake of power - using religious texts to justify their actions.

However, how does one go about describing an animus that finds justification in religious texts for suicide, murder, and intolerance against literally every human being and government that disagrees with their ideology, and what can be said about so-called "religious" clerics that brain wash children into committing suicide or blowing up others, and hoarding machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, antitank mines, unexploded suicide vests and a crate of petrol bombs made from green Sprite bottles, homemade bombs, gas masks, electronic scanners and scores of alleged jihadi DVDs? All of these items were found in the Red Mosque after 75 militants had been killed, along with 11 soldiers in the final operation to clear the compound.

And what do the horrors found inside the Red Mosque after the final assault say about the animus of Muslim extremism? What kind of animus drives such evil and blind hate in such a distorted reality as to love death and hate life?

The windowless room inside the girls' madrassa was charred, transformed from a seat of religious learning to an inferno by the suicide bomber who detonated his charge as the Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque compound.

Five of the people who were sheltering inside the room were so badly burnt by the explosion that it was impossible to tell their gender or age. Yet the officer who led journalists into the site of the week-long siege said that his men had found a severed head, presumed to be that of the suicide bomber, on the floor.

In the next room, swarms of flies buzzed over the stained floor and the chunks of broken masonry where militants had built a bunker. Walls that had been painted with Islamic verses were riddled with bullet holes, evidence of a vicious 35-hour assault in which commandos fought from room to room against 70 heavily armed militants. "The resistance was beyond our expectation," said the commander who led the siege.

Inside the madrassa, an inscription on a blackboard read: "O God give us a martyr's death." Another inscription, in what had been one of the biggest religious seminaries in Pakistan, read: "Even if you are alone and your enemies are in their hundreds, do not see your weakness but have faith in the Almighty."

As Musharraf said in yesterday's televised speech to the nation: "What kind of Islam do these people represent? In the garb of Islamic teaching they have been training for terrorism. They prepared the madrassa as a fortress for war and housed other terrorists in there."

However, as important as it is for Muslims and leaders of Muslim nations to finally be questioning "the kind of Islam these people represent," and for them to be alarmed that Muslim extemists cloak their teachings in the name of Islam, the key question is yet to be asked: What is in the nature of Islam and the animus of its followers that makes a human being susceptible to such a distorted view of reality as to worship death and have a willingness to resort to even the most evil deeds imaginable (as in "baking" little boys and serving them to their parents for lunch) in the pursuit of goals that appears as though they have absolutely nothing to do with territory or treasure, but rather for the sake of killing and fighting and power over those that do not believe in their sick ideology?

In other words, the real issue, made so vividly clear in the horrors found inside the Red Mosque after the assault, boils down to two things: What is it about Islam that provides a template that can be so conscrued as to justify murder, suicide, and unimaginable cuelty against fellow human beings, and what lies in the animus of its followers that makes them so susceptible to being brainwashed into following the teachings of Muslim extremists.

Until such time that these questions are addressed and answered, the world has no option but to fight Muslim extremism in every manner possible, in every corner of the world, with unrelenting force. Up to now, the key obstacle to real success in defeating Muslim extremists has been Muslims themselves. They have remained silent, hidden from plain site by choice, essentially in denial of the threat of Muslim extremism - the jihadists, even to some degree or another, somewhat in support of the extremists in the course of what they felt was supporting the ummah.

With Musharraf now finally coming out so strongly against Muslim extremists, and the horrors of the Red Mosque now made clear to the Muslim world, we can only hope that it is a beginning of more Muslims recognizing what Islamism is doing to their faith - and help stop it.

Read more about the horrors at Inside the Red Mosque: charred bodies and a call to seek a martyr's death...

Welcome Reuters readers, thank you for stopping by.

Posted by Richard at July 13, 2007 8:19 AM

I think Shelby Steele is male, at least if it's the Shelby Steele who is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Posted by: Roger at July 14, 2007 11:16 PM

So that's the question? Hmmph. I thought the real question is "when will western political leaders start killing Muslims until the survivors decide to play nice with the rest of the world, or until there aren't enough Muslims left to be a threat".
I have grandchildren. I invite you to guess how many Muslims I would gladly trade for just one of those grandchildren.

Posted by: Peter at July 15, 2007 1:43 AM

Shelby Steele is male, Roger is correct - our error.

As for Peter's point, surely we all hope it doesn't have to come to the point that all Muslims or even a majority of Muslims, buy-in to Muslim extremism - Islamism.

And yes, we all share the feeling that not a single member of our family is worth 1,000 Islamists - dead set on killing our families.

The questions and issues at hand are for Muslims themselves to answer. It is Islam that has spawned Islamism, and it is they that must finally begin to correct their problem from the inside, as the rest of us will have to deal with it in our own ways from the outside. It is Islam that needs reforming, not Western civilization.

Posted by: Richard at July 15, 2007 7:05 AM

Till there is a ban of the crazy wahabi trained preachers from Saudi Arabia, there is not much hope for reformation.

Posted by: archigabe at July 15, 2007 7:57 PM

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