Wednesday, September 15, 2004

From the mouth of a radical 

An endorsement that the Labor opposition leader Mark Latham could do without:

"([Bashir] is handed a recent copy of The Bulletin, with Mark Latham on the cover, and at first mistakes him for John Kerry [!], then is told it is the Australian opposition leader.) What can he [Latham] do for Australia? [the interviewer asks]

"[Says Bashir:] He should be able to fix John Howard. He [Howard] is on the slide because he has been cheated and lied to by George W. Bush. I hope this person [Latham] can fix him and he does not return again to fight 'terrorism' as defined by Bush. I agree to fight against terrorism but it should be a true terrorism and not in accordance with Bush's definition. Bush is being used by the Jews. The Jews are the most evil men in the world. John Howard has already been cheated."
Australia's "Bulletin" interviews Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiah, the al Qaeda's South East Asian affiliate, which has claimed responsibility for the Jakarta Australian embassy bombing a few days ago. Bashir is currently in custody, awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy over the 2003 bombing of Marriott hotel, also in Jakarta. The interview offers some interesting insights into the mindset of a radical Islamist:

"I suspect that America and Australia themselves are behind the [embassy] bombing, for two reasons: one, the US issued a travel warning before the bombing. It means they already knew in advance; and two, the bomb intentionally exploded about the embassy gates which made victims of ordinary people, who are Muslim. It means it is aimed at pushing Islam into a corner. On these two indicators, I suspect the US and Australia are behind the bombing."
The Bashir world-view bears a striking resemblance to that of Lyndon LaRouche mentioned yesterday: it's all a conspiracy by nefarious and shadowy Western insiders to variously destroy liberties at home or Islam abroad. One thing though always remains the same: the real perpetrators are never the real perpetrators. Muslims of course, according to Bashir would never kill in cold blood their fellow Muslims ("I disagree with fighting using bombing in a peaceful country like Indonesia") - so it must be somebody else:

"The Americans are clearly savages, especially toward Islamic people. They destroy Afghanistan, which was innocent, and then they destroy Iraq without any reason... I have no doubt the purpose of America is to destroy Islam in this world."
But even if the acts of terror, such as the Jakarta bombing, are not provocations by the wily Westerners themselves, but as the conventional wisdom has it, are "done by those who hate Australia, there must be steps that need to be corrected by Australia." So either way, it's our fault and our problem. Abu Bakar Bashir, meet the Western left.

Still, maybe there is an olive branch towards the Great Satan and Little Satans like Australia. Bashir first answers the question whether Australia and Indonesia can coexist peacefully: "Yes they can, as long as Australia understands they should not fight a war on Islam. We even can live together with America, under the same conditions. In Islam, we are asked to peacefully help non-Muslims as long as non-Muslims do not disturb Islam and do not make war on Islam." Which offers a promise of peaceful coexistence along the lines of "let's all mind our own business."

In the end though, the olive branch wilts, and the onus in on us: "As long as the West do not want to live peacefully and always force Islam to change in line with its own interests, this clash will continue. Peace can only be achieved after Islams triumphs... The world and Indonesia belong to Allah. Therefore it should be ruled under Allah's law without bargaining. I believe that the clash of civilisations will continue but in the end, Islam will definitely win. It has been predicted by our Prophet Mohammad." And:

"I suggest to the Australian people and government, if you all want to be safe and good, please try to embrace Islam because you are created by Allah for Islam. It's only now that you are being disturbed by demons. If you are still unwilling not to embrace Islam, do not follow the steps of George Bush."
And there's not much good news for the moderate Indonesia either: "We dontt need to compromise. The Islamic state must be fought for."

It's not a clash of civilizations, really. Countries as diverse as Morocco, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and yes, even Indonesia, have shown that moderate Islam can, to various degrees, peacefully coexist with modernity and globalisation. No, if this is a clash of civilizations, it's between the West as it is, and Islam like it was centuries ago, and how people like Bashir - and indeed bin Laden - want it to continue to be. It might be a losing struggle for them, but no less bloody and bitter for that. As
John O'Sullivan writes:

"We are at the start of a long war against revolutionary Islamist terrorism -- a war akin to those against the French Revolution and against Nazism.

"At the start of all such wars those who advocate strong forceful resistance to the revolutionaries -- men such as Burke and Churchill -- are seen as extreme, unreasonable and too violent in their proposed solutions. Most politicians believe that the revolution can be appeased or that the revolutionaries can be directed to other nations and their own spared.

"But the Burkes and Churchills gradually convert others to their point of view when it becomes clear that the aims of the revolutionaries are essentially limitless, that they can be diverted only temporarily, and that nations under attack must therefore hang together or hang separately. Americans learned this lesson early because Sept. 11 was plainly directed at them. Europeans will learn it in the future as it becomes clear that Sept. 11 was the first installment of an attack on the entire West."
(hat tip: Real Clear Politics)


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