General Aslam Beg
“Why don’t moderate Muslims speak up in favor of US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair when they resolve ‘to crush global terrorists who hate freedom?'” Arnaud de Borchgrave asks this question, which has occurred to many of us.
Then he supplies a disquieting answer from Pakistani General Aslam Beg: “One of Pakistan’s most respected former army chiefs supplied a chilling explanation this week: Because the ‘terrorists’ are the ‘freedom fighters’ of a ‘Muslim world facing unprecedented oppression and injustice.’ . . .
“In a lengthy e-mail, Beg said the Bush-Blair ‘strategy to combat global terrorism’ is ‘a declaration of total war on freedom movements, and it is the Muslim world that will be at the receiving end.'”
It’s one thing when a radical Muslim member of a terrorist group spouts this sort of thing (thanks to nicolei for the link), but Beg holds a position of influence in Pakistan’s government “” and he is by no means singular in his views. Says Borchgrave: “The anti-coalition resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, as seen by Beg, is ‘a new reality emerging — a surging tide of their Ã©lan and vitality.’ By the standards of Pakistan’s coalition of six politico-religious parties that govern two of Pakistan’s four provinces and hold 20 percent of the seats in the federal assembly, Beg is a moderate.”
“Musharraf estimates that the number of extremists in Pakistan amounts to ‘no more than 1 percent of the population.’ That’s 1.5 million religious fanatics who are holding, according to Musharraf, ’99 percent of the population hostage.’ But what happens when the moderates speak — only to echo the extremists? That certainly appears to be the case of Beg, a soft-spoken man who is a leading geopolitical thinker in a country that is one of nine nuclear powers in the world. Pakistan is also a Muslim nation where anti-Americanism is the issue that unites all shades of political opinion.
“Beg argues that it is the United States that originally sponsored the rent-a-jihadi, or holy warrior, when the CIA sought the support of jihadis from all over the Muslim world to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Some 60,000 mujahideen passed through a system that was sponsored by the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Their numbers are now growing daily, says Beg, and they ‘form the core of the global Muslim resistance… engaged in fighting in Chechnya, the Palestinian territories, Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Iraq.’
“‘They are highly motivated, selfless, and fearless people, obeying no earthly authority,’ he says, ‘they are hard to subdue by military force, and recognize no international borders in pursuit of their goals… they have frustrated the designs of the two superpowers and are surging forward to carve out their own destiny.’ The Bush administration dismisses the ‘Islamic resurgence’ by ‘maligning such liberation movements as terrorism.’ But, adds Beg, the United States will soon find that Iraq and Afghanistan are ‘quagmires’ from which ‘safe exits’ will become increasingly difficult. As for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, ‘all wars of liberation have splinter groups who lose sense of direction and indulge in wanton acts of terrorism.’ But the United States has only itself to blame. . . .”
Beg, according to Borchgrace, speaks of American “anomie”: “For Beg, this ‘anomie’ stems from America’s alleged lack of ethical values, which, in turn, begets violence, ergo Bin Laden is not responsible for 9/11; America is. This is a switch on the still widely held belief in the Muslim world that the CIA and Mossad were co-conspirators in the 9/11 plot, whose objective was to provide a rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. This taradiddle also had its roots in Pakistan when Gen. Hamid Gul, a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and a classmate of Beg, said he had evidence that the US Air Force was also involved in the plot (the fact that no US fighter planes took off to shoot down the hijacked aircraft). Both Beg, the head of a think tank, and Gul, who is ‘strategic adviser’ to politico-religious parties, are held in high regard by the Pakistani military.
“Either way, the warped, apprentice-sorcerer thinking goes a long way to explaining the recent Pew Foundation’s survey on global attitudes toward the United States: As a trustworthy leader, Bin Laden scored higher than Bush in most Muslim countries.
“There are no quick fixes for change. Despite all the constantly repeated assurances given to the United States about reform, Pakistan’s madrassas, or religious schools, are still churning out 750,000 jihadi-prone male teenagers a year. The madrassas were the spawning grounds of the Taliban. Today, a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan continues to enjoy the same logistical support — and casualty insurance.”