Countering Al Qaeda’s Message

Ed Husain
Ed Husain


Date posted: October 13, 2013

While world leaders gathered in New York last month to talk about moderation and peace, terrorist attacks claimed innocent lives in Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Iran’s leader and the American president were right to underscore diplomacy to avoid further bloodshed, but many of the killers in these conflicts are non-state actors. How can we stop their inspiration and prevent their embrace of martyrdom?

To this end, Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, co-chairmen of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, have announced the creation of a global fund to support those voices at the forefront of countering violent extremism. The idea behind the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience is to combine financing from the public and private sectors to establish credible, on-the-ground groups working to undermine Al Qaeda’s message.

Such an endeavor, long overdue, can finally begin. Money will flow. But what kind of work will really make a difference in damaging Al Qaeda?

First, bulging youth populations, high unemployment and the popularity of satellite TV across the Middle East have been exploited by Islamic extremists. Whether in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, there is no shortage of radical preachers preying on young minds through television, while many moderates lack the money to establish satellite TV channels to reach those same audiences. Long-term financial commitments are needed to create revenue-generating TV networks that spread the voice of moderation.

Second, extremist preachers are incredibly popular on university campuses from Europe to the Middle East and Pakistan, operating networks through Islamic societies and student unions. Their literature is freely available in prayer rooms, and they readily offer themselves as Friday preachers. Those on campuses trying to counter their message do not have the funds to provide for moderate speakers, disseminate literature and hold religious events. Money is required here, too.

Third, when terrorists are caught and jailed, they often spread their insidious message to other inmates in prisons from Pakistan to Europe to the United States. Extremist imams are free to hold prayer gatherings, while moderate voices are often muted. This can change if funds and facilities were made available for moderate imams to enter prisons, supply literature, mentor inmates and facilitate visits from prominent Muslim scholars — as has happened recently in Saudi Arabia.

Fourth, while the Internet has become a key source of spreading extremism, Al Qaeda’s message is often sounded with equal resonance on mainstream Arabic Web sites, such as the comments section of Al Jazeera Arabic. Individuals and institutions committed to nullifying Al Qaeda propaganda are present in Arabic-speaking countries. Several governments have established units dedicated to countering Al Qaeda’s message — indeed, the State Department has a project that challenges false assertions about U.S. foreign policy. These projects need to be developed on a much larger scale, using private organizations that require financial support to establish a long-term sustainable presence.

Fifth, too often Muslims in the West have an idealistic vision of Muslim life in the East. Conversely, many in the East have negative, even paranoid views of the West. This fund would make a vast difference if it were to sponsor exchange trips for Muslim leaders from East to West, and vice versa. Eastern Muslims who visit Europe and the United States and interact with government officials, intelligence agencies, university students and media organizations, realize that there is no vast conspiracy against the Muslim East. Similarly, the millions of young Muslims growing up in Western society may have negative views of the West and feel that their real home is in the East.

By arranging exchange visits, young Muslims can become more resilient to the flawed message that the creation of a pure Islamic state is the only answer to the world’s problems. No such state has ever existed, can exist, or will exist. The programs disputing this message require long-term funding.

Sixth, important literature from mainstream Muslim scholars in Pakistan (Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri), Turkey (Fethullah Gulen), and elsewhere, which claim terrorists are not real Muslims, has yet to be translated, disseminated, or publicized more broadly in the Arab world, Somalia, Mali, or indeed Kenya. Al Qaeda’s extremists are all too ready to lampoon the majority of the world’s Muslims as infidels, yet very few Muslim theologians have made the scriptural case against Al Qaeda in the way that Gulen, al-Qadri, or Yemen’s Habib Ali al-Jifri have done. Saudi Arabia’s Salman al-Audah, once a mentor to Osama bin Laden, is now among Al Qaeda’s most vociferous and effective critics. These voices deserve more support and publicity to amplify their message.

The Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience is a long overdue and welcome enterprise, but it will only succeed if the Turkish and U.S. governments continue to foster civil society and public-private partnerships that put money behind ideas that make a difference.

While government programs often pursue the path of least resistance, this initiative requires more than a business-as-usual approach. Last month, Kerry, Davutoglu, their ministerial colleagues and others proved that they can launch a long-term global plan that can really make a difference on the ground and put Al Qaeda’s message in retreat.

Ed Husain is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Source: The New York Times , October 8, 2013


Related News

Turkey Concedes: No Evidence Linking Gulen to Coup Sent to Washington

Turkey is conceding it has not sent any evidence to Washington linking Fethullah Gulen to the failed July 15 coup attempt, despite increasingly angry calls by Ankara for the United States to extradite the Pennsylvania-based cleric or suffer a severe downgrade in diplomatic relations.

Georgetown University in Qatar professor authors book on interfaith dialogue, Hizmet Movement

Father Thomas Michel in his new book titled “Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society: Contributions of the Hizmet Movement at a Time of Global Tensions” explores how Fethullah Gulen and his movement are one of those voices speaking most vocally in favor of a world community, where different faiths and nations can come together at one table to solve the multitude of problems facing today’s world.

It’s up to us: Prominent Muslims call for fight against IS

Scholars and religious leaders said it was time for a show of defiance by allowing women to choose whether or not to wear the veil. A conference heard that moderate Muslims held the key to defeating extremism.

WaPo publishes editorial from Fethullah Gulen on the day Erdogan meets Trump

If nothing else, the timing of this is certainly interesting. Yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington for his meeting with President Trump scheduled for later today. It’s an encounter which I already described as problematic at best, given Erdogan’s new status as a strongman and tyrant, and it doesn’t seem to hold the promise of much benefit on our part.

Understanding Fethullah Gülen (1)

Ekrem Dumanli Some of the most reliable newspapers in the world published important articles about Fethullah Gülen last month. For instance, the International Herald Tribune wrote that Gülen was “an inspiration for Muslims who feel at home in the modern world.” After dwelling on his childhood spent in Erzurum, his youth, his activities following his […]

BBC Interviews Fethullah Gulen (Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric)

Tim Franks – BBC Newshour, Pennsylvania – Speaking to the BBC’s Newshour, Fethullah Gulen said: “It is not possible for these judges and prosecutors to receive orders from me.” – Fethullah Gulen has been called Turkey’s second most powerful man. He is also a recluse, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US. – But now, […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Developing Ghana; the role of Tudec and Galaxy İnt’l School

Turkey Continues Its Witch Hunt Against Gülen Followers

‘Erdoğan fights to eliminate Hizmet movement’

UN-affiliated aid organization becomes new witch hunt target

Erdogan vows for genocide of Gulen sympathizers: “We will not give them the right to life!”

Thunder’s Enes Kanter says his father has been arrested and faces torture in Turkey

Kimse Yok Mu reach out its helping held by distributing meat in Mongolia

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News