Abdullah al Andalusi reflects on the bloody massacre that took place in a Peshawar military school on Tuesday.
Yesterday saw the tragic and horrific attack against a school in Pakistan, when the immoral and brutal members of the Fazlullah-led Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked the school in retaliation for the Pakistani Army’s operations in the tribal areas which saw hundreds killed and thousands of civilians displaced. There are three important reflections we need to understand about this event in order to understand it and stop it from happening again.
Firstly we need to understand, who the TTP are, and what caused them to arise. The TTP arose from the Pakistani army obeying pressure from the USA to clear away any safe havens in Pakistan for fighters fighting US forces in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Army, instead of rejecting the offer, or coming to the aid of beleaguered afghans suffering from invasion and bombing – they chose to deploy full military operations upon Pakistan’s own soil – allowing U.S. to violate Pakistan territory with Drone strikes and giving CIA some bases in Pakistan.
Predictably, into this maelstrom of violence arose the TTP as a reaction to these operations. If we should blame anyone for the rise of the TTP, it is the Pakistani Secular Liberal Elites who decided that Muslim blood is less dear to them than American foreign policy. These are the same Elites that permit drone strikes which killed hundreds of Pakistanis, including those ‘on October 30 2006 where at least 68 children were killed when CIA drones destroyed a madrassa – a religious school – in the Bajaur area of Pakistan’s tribal belt.
The attack was reportedly targeting then Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri. He escaped. On November 21st 2013, drones again targeted a madrassa, this time in Hangu, outside the tribal regions. As many as 80 students were sleeping in the building’. Where was the worldwide condemnation then as it is now? Drones reportedly kill far more ‘unidentified casualties’ than actual targets.
Pakistani army and the TTP
The first reflection is not that the Pakistani Army is exclusively to blame, but rather that the Pakistani Secular ruling-Elites turned their own country into a battleground in the name of a foreign power, where thousands of civilians have been killed and displaced – by both the TTP and the Pakistani Army. We should demand that both sides stop the senseless slaughter of our own people and our own children now. The deaths in Peshawar are sickening to the soul, and are part of a sickening war between Muslims – all in the name of an even more sickening Western foreign policy that has killed hundreds of thousands.
Secondly, we should be on guard for the media and politicians attempting to use the horrific incident that occurred in Peshawar as a propaganda tool to demonise all Muslims who call for Sharia. The fact of the matter is, the Sharia condemns ANYONE who kills innocent men, women and children – and if the Sharia were implemented, it would certainly execute the perpetrators of the Peshawar massacre. The understanding that the Sharia prohibits and condemns this tragedy has not only been affirmed by ALL Muslim scholars, but also even by the many Jihadi groups themselves.
The Afghan Taliban has strongly condemned the attacks saying: “The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
The TTP has always been a collection of different groups held together in a loose alliance.
The culprit behind the attack was the notorious ‘Maulana Fazlullah’ who was head of the SWAT valley faction of the TTP and was responsible for the pathetic closing of children’s schools which, he claimed, was in order for them to be prevented from being secularised.
He also ordered the killing of Malala.
It should be noted, that what most people don’t realise is that the mainstream factions of TTP at the time (2009) had ordered him not to shut down the schools – but he went ahead with it anyway (although he was pressured finally to relent – after the damage had already been done).
Since then, many of the (former) TTP factions had fought Fazlullah and left the TTP due to Fazlullah’s extreme tactics.
This year, Khalid Mehsud (leader of the South Waziristan ‘Sajna’ faction), and leader of the arguably biggest faction of the TTP, announced his leaving the group citing: “We consider kidnapping for ransom, extortion, damage to public facilities and bombings to be un-Islamic,” faction. “Tehreek-e-Taliban Mehsud group believes in stopping the oppressor from cruelty, and supporting the oppressed.”
Infiltration – Lessons from Algeria
Strangely, Khalid Mehsud, who was at one point second in command to a former leader of TTP (killed by US drone strike), complained that Fazlullah’s rise to power (albeit in a much more weakened TTP due to most factions leaving it) was facilitated by ‘shadowy forces’. I’m not one to engage in conspiracy theories without evidence, but we have past precedent for such tactics – especially considering CIA agents who are caught running around Pakistan (then released without explanation).
During the Algerian civil war, when the Algerian government annulled the elections because the FIS Islamic party were about to win (with almost 80% of the vote) – they immediately outlawed the party (an action which was supported by the U.S. and European countries I might add) – many Algerians then resorted to fighting the government. The rebels were popular and supported by the people, so the Algerian government used its intelligence agents to infiltrate the GIA rebel group, and support, encourage (or create) the most extreme elements it could find – and even perpetrated attacks on civilians.
Algerian asylum seekers in the UK (who were former soldiers) admitted they had been forced to wearing ‘Islamic clothing’ and attack villages and towns that were supporting the rebels ‘while looking like they were Islamic fighters’. Needless to say, the Algerian public turned against the rebels, and started supporting the government again. The majority of the fighters (including the leadership) in the GIA were disgusted at the attacks on civilians and left the faction, some forming the GSPC to disassociate themselves from the tarnished image of the GIA.
The remaining GIA faction controlled some towns and declared a Caliphate! Then started attacking all other Islamic rebel groups (and Algerian civilians) as being apostates for not joining them (does this sound familiar?). The Algerian spring – which happened long before the ‘Arab spring’ – subsequently failed?
Lastly, as stated earlier, Islam condemns terrorism, it condemns all those who participate in it, and Islam protects all non-combatants from harm, whether men, women or children – whether non-Muslim or Muslim –even if they are relatives or part of an ‘enemy’. Islam has strict rules of warfare. The problem with individuals like Fazlullah and his immoral actions is not some interpretation of Islam, nor ‘fundamentalism’ – it is the lack of fundamentalism.
Secular regimes in the Muslim world
You see, many Muslims after colonialism adopted Western ideas and methodology. Fazlullah’s justification for killing the children in Peshawar was not based upon any Quranic verses, nor on a fatwa or ijtihad – it was based upon a very secular reasoning ‘they kill our children, we kill theirs’. There is no justification in Islam for this.
The only civilisation that has historically and consistently justified its deliberately targeting of civilians to demoralise their enemies is the Western civilisation. From Churchill (‘strategic bombing’) to Eisenhower (nuclear bombing), to the wiping out of native American Indians or aborigines – to the brutal suppression of natives in India, Sudan and Northern Iraq (in 1920).
Not only do they target civilians, but they justify it as ‘necessary at the time’! Muslims who commit crimes today have been infected with secular ideologies and methodologies, like ‘the end justifies the means’ (western utilitarianism) – and this has led Muslims to turn on each other and kill each other in the name of foreign ideologies – nationalism being the biggest killer of Muslims in the Muslim world, and secularism being the biggest oppressing ideology (all Muslim governments, including Bashar al Assad, Saddam Hussein and Sisi are secular governments, that have successfully excluded Islam from restraining their powers against the people).
Isn’t it funny how despite all the deaths caused under the name of ‘Freedom’ (aka Secular Liberalism), all the invasions, all the [CIA] torture, all the Liberalist Terror groups throughout history, like the Nicaraguan contras or Nelson Mandela’s ANC (which bombed shopping malls, restaurants and cafes killing many children) – no one says ‘Secular Liberalism is the cause of terrorism and killing’ – yet, many politicians, media pundits and especially the Secular Liberal Elite in Pakistan will use the Peshawar attack as an opportunity to demonise all Muslims that desire to establish the Sharia. Even though the Sharia condemns such tactics no matter what the circumstances! We believe in ultimate victory from Allah (swt) by always keeping our morals – can secular liberalism, a materialistic ideology, claim that they have a promise that following morals will lead to victory? No, this is why they break their morals when they feel it’s ‘necessary’ to do so. You see, in the Western philosophy of Utilitarianism, evil is not defined as doing bad things, but rather evil is defined as merely doing ‘unnecessary’ bad things.
Muslims need to return to the fundamentals of Islam and rid themselves of false, irrational and foreign ideologies and methodologies. The fundamentals of Islam give inviolable rights to Muslims and non-Muslims – never allowing civilians to be killed, never allowing torture, and never selling Muslim (and non-Muslim) blood to do the bidding of foreign powers. If Pakistan lived up to the intentions of those who created it, and established Sharia that gave justice, protection and intellectual progress to all – we wouldn’t have the conflicts we have today – with the horrific casualties that ensure. Implementing Sharia would also rob any groups like Fazlullah’s of any legitimacy they could claim – effectively ending them. The Muslims of Pakistan would have confidence in a Sharia-based government, and this would not only create stability – but launch a new era of technological and educational progress like the Caliphate’s of old inspired. Muslims need to free themselves from fighting each other in the name of foreign powers and ideologies, and unify themselves under the banner of Islam.
“It is reported Muhammad (saw) said: “If people should break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force. If the leaders do not rule according to the book of Allah, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah making them into groups and making them fight one another.” [Ibn Majah, rated Hasan]
Abdullah al Andalusi is the founder of the Muslim Debate Initiative. He is an international lecturer, thinker, speaker and debater on Islamic and Muslim issues.