Muslim Nations Organize to Fight Terrorism

 

You read the title correctly: Saudi Arabia has been working to develop a coalition to fight terrorism with 41 other Muslim countries. The new organization, originally discussed in December 2015, ran a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. They will have their first formal meeting as an organization, the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, today (Sunday).

The IMCTC announced their approach in May 2017 to understanding and fighting terrorism:

  • The causes of terrorism and extremism are not solely religious, but also personal, social, and political. All these causes need to be dealt with by preparing an appropriate ground on both social and political levels.
  • The wars and civil strife are also considered one of the causes of terrorism and extremism and an important source to attract terrorist organizations.
  • Terrorism does not emerge from Islamic countries only, but also from non-Islamic countries. Therefore, all countries around the world must unite their dealing mechanisms and common perspectives and share intelligence information among them in order to combat terrorism.
  • The integrated intellectual, communicational, social and military approach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopted in countering terrorism is considered a role model worldwide.
  • The world should also prepare for post-Daesh-defeat phase given the enormous defeats this terrorist organization is facing and the importance of undermining any attempts by the organization to reposition itself.
  • IMCTC, led by KSA, is a qualitative step in the field of countering terrorism during the last few years, especially due to incapability of any country to face terrorism all alone.

I found this list pretty impressive. The latest announcement cited “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent”; this statement suggests that not only are all terrorist groups put on notice, but all sects of Islam should be protected. The membership list is here. Noticeably, but not surprisingly, Syria and Iran are missing, as is Iraq, although Saudi Arabia is working to develop a working relationship with Iraqis.

Although this new organization has potential, I also wanted to explore the downsides of its goals; I found an article written by the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner, published by Public Radio International, who foresaw problems. Here are the major points the article made:

Iran and Syria are not in the coalition. There’s nothing to be done about this problem at this time, given the rivalry between the Saudis and Iranians and the chaos in Syria. Gardner also suggests that the coalition might have difficulty operating within those two countries, but there only limited plans to pursue the terrorists there.

The Saudis have a broader definition of terrorism than many countries. The Saudis have labeled dissidents as committing acts of terrorism; the degree to which the other coalition members would agree isn’t clear.

Saudi Arabia is in part to blame because ISIS practices a Wahhabism similar to the Saudis, so the Saudis are criticized internationally for not working hard enough to defeat ISIS. I’m scratching my head on this one; I think this allusion to guilt by association with a similar religion is not reasonable and, I believe, is based primarily on perception, not fact.

Certainly, other problems may arise: will Saudi Arabia give serious consideration to implementing the ideas of the other members? Will the other nations’ contributions according to their abilities (which is stated in the IMCTC mandate) be sufficient for them to be taken seriously? How will decisions be made? How will strategies be developed most effectively?

So although the organization’s intentions may be sincere, operationally there will be many challenges. Still, fighting the war on terror, particularly with the help of anti-terror Muslim countries, could be a powerful force.

As a side note, I wonder if the bombing of a mosque in Egypt on Friday was intended to send a message to IMCTC?

What are your thoughts on this new organization? What roadblocks to their efforts do you anticipate? What will it take for them to be a successful organization?

Published in Islamist Terrorism
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There are 33 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Saudi Arabia is in part to blame because ISIS practices a Wahhabism similar to the Saudis, so the Saudis are criticized internationally for not working hard enough to defeat ISIS. I’m scratching my head on this one; I think this allusion to guilt by association with a similar religion is not reasonable and, I believe, is based primarily on perception, not fact.

    As I understand it, it is more the money that has been pumped into Wahhabist mosques and the clerics assigned to those mosques. The Saudis are said to have attempted to buy peace with their loopier coreligionists and sent them hither and yon spreading their violent interpretations of the religion.

    • #1
    • November 26, 2017 at 3:49 pm
    • 8 likes
  2. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Saudi Arabia is in part to blame because ISIS practices a Wahhabism similar to the Saudis, so the Saudis are criticized internationally for not working hard enough to defeat ISIS. I’m scratching my head on this one; I think this allusion to guilt by association with a similar religion is not reasonable and, I believe, is based primarily on perception, not fact.

    As I understand it, it is more the money that has been pumped into Wahhabist mosques and the clerics assigned to those mosques. The Saudis are said to have attempted to buy peace with their loopier coreligionists and sent them hither and yon spreading their violent interpretations of the religion.

    That certainly makes more sense described that way. In the version I read, that was not clear. It’s still an indirect contributor, since it’s not clear that they wanted to support terrorism. Thanks for clarifying, Percival.

    • #2
    • November 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm
    • 1 like
  3. Member

    I have nothing to offer but my gut. Color me skeptical. When the rooster says we have a problem with sexual harassment down at the hen house. Well…….

    On the other hand, my gut tells me it couldn’t make it any worse. So let’s wait and see. If the Saudi’s are serious. I would expect some attacks on the house of Saud.

    • #3
    • November 26, 2017 at 3:58 pm
    • 7 likes
  4. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    I have nothing to offer but my gut. Color me skeptical. When the rooster says we have a problem with sexual harassment down at the hen house. Well…….

    On the other hand, my gut tells me it couldn’t make it any worse. So let’s wait and see. If the Saudi’s are serious. I would expect some attacks on the house of Saud.

    That’s why I’m not totally skeptical, Kevin. Saudis have been attacked in the past, and they know it’s going to get worse. I think they’re trying to get ahead of that movement, but you’re right–we have to wait and see.

    • #4
    • November 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    • 2 likes
  5. Thatcher

    The danger to the Saudi arisocratic system from the more extreme Muslim elements has been evident and increasing for many years. Possibly it has finally reached a level of urgency that they cannot hide their heads in the sand any more. I am not at all denigrating actions initiated purely by self-interest, but make no mistake about it: They are watching out for old #1. And if that incidentally lines up with our own self-interest, cool.

    Time will tell, though, if this is anything more than just words.

    • #5
    • November 26, 2017 at 4:53 pm
    • 8 likes
  6. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Chuckles (View Comment):
    The danger to the Saudi arisocratic system from the more extreme Muslim elements has been evident and increasing for many years. Possibly it has finally reached a level of urgency that they cannot hide their heads in the sand any more. I am not at all denigrating actions initiated purely by self-interest, but make no mistake about it: They are watching out for old #1. And if that incidentally lines up with our own self-interest, cool.

    Time will tell, though, if this is anything more than just words.

    There is quite an internal tug-of-war, Chuckles, between the modernists and the conservatives. Some of this commitment is certainly self-preservation—taking responsibility because of outside pressures, and giving a nod to the modernists, and also trying to do it without losing control.

    • #6
    • November 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm
    • 3 likes
  7. Member

    Anything to keep the US on the ‘right’ side of the coming Iran/Saudi bloodbath.

    • #7
    • November 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm
    • 4 likes
  8. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Anything to keep the US on the ‘right’ side of the coming Iran/Saudi bloodbath.

    Unfortunately, Doc, I think that’s coming, too. Iran is not going to sit back and watch this kind of shift of power happen. They’ve worked too hard and too long without anyone seriously affecting them. I wonder if and how the Iranians will respond if this new coalition has any power. Watch out.

    • #8
    • November 26, 2017 at 5:44 pm
    • 1 like
  9. Thatcher

    I don’t believe it. Holy war is inherent in Islam, and it must go through a Reformation before terrorism can be eliminated. As long as the Quran advocates conversion by the sword, bloody jihad will continue. It’s pretty farfetched to expect the Saudis to initiate reformation.

    • #9
    • November 26, 2017 at 6:13 pm
    • 5 likes
  10. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I hear you, RB. And you’re right. And I still can’t help hoping.

    • #10
    • November 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm
    • Like
  11. Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I don’t believe it. Holy war is inherent in Islam, and it must go through a Reformation before terrorism can be eliminated. As long as the Quran advocates conversion by the sword, bloody jihad will continue. It’s pretty farfetched to expect the Saudis to initiate reformation.

    I agree to your overall point, but not in calling it a Reformation – the capital “R” making it a reference to the Protestant Reformation, I assume. What Islam needs, actually, is a Pope and Magisterium to definitively say just what is and is not acceptable doctrine and practice. Islam is quite “Reformed” in that sense already – because there is no authoritative body, there will always be multiple yet legitimate versions of Islam, and some are toxic.

    Judaism has, in certain times and places, commands to kill in its sacred texts. However, Judaism does not have the command to evangelize the world, and those texts are seen as only relevant to their times.

    Christians are called to evangelize the world, but the New Testament, unlike the Old, does not have any commands to kill. So while the Reformation means that there are thousands different Protestant denominations with differing doctrines, it doesn’t have some denomination somewhere claiming New Testament support for killing unbelievers.

    Islam, like Christianity, is meant to be universal. And, its sacred texts do have commands to kill. But, like Protestantism, it has no authoritative body, so as long as the Koran contains those commands there will always be some Muslim “denomination” that will choose to kill unbelievers in obedience to the text.

    • #11
    • November 26, 2017 at 9:22 pm
    • 3 likes
  12. Thatcher

    I am skeptically hopeful. But I notice that institutions involving Middle East members usually end up spending most their time condemning Israel or America for anything they can find. It will be interesting to see if they can break that pattern.

    • #12
    • November 26, 2017 at 10:41 pm
    • 2 likes
  13. Member

    Chuckles (View Comment):
    reached a level of urgency that they cannot hide their heads in the sand any more.

    Maybe the Saudis had a sand curse as well as an oil curse.

    • #13
    • November 26, 2017 at 10:47 pm
    • 1 like
  14. Member

    Susan Quinn:The causes of terrorism and extremism are not solely religious, but also personal, social, and political. All these causes need to be dealt with by preparing an appropriate ground on both social and political levels.

    In that case why should the focus of a wholistic response to terrorism be a military organisation? Is that logical, or does the ‘go to’ format reveal something about actual goals (wrt the causes of terrorism – limited) and targets (including anybody the Saudis find politically threatening, which is a lot of people, but not actually focused on the individuals and groups that fund the schools of Islam which metastasize into violence).

    What are your thoughts on this new organization? What roadblocks to their efforts do you anticipate? What will it take for them to be a successful organization?

    I think it’s a Sunni club comprised of Saudi clients and hangers on.

    There’s this contradiction at the core of the Saudis leading such an organisation. At the heart of Sunni tradition is the deep seated belief that leadership of the Umma (the Caliph, if you will) can properly only be selected by the Umma – that leadership (and therefore power) is not hereditary (oh, for example, like a monarchy might be).

    I absolutely believe that a major reason that terrorist groups emerge in Muslim societies is that there is no space of tolerance for political or social dissent from Al Quwwat (aka Le Pouvoir) – so dissent goes Contrary or it is subverted and dies. I find it hard to believe that the Sauds will be able to promote what is, in essence, democracy to make this moot.

    The membership list of this Coalition of the Willing is, however, quite interesting.

    Missing:

    • Iran – and by proxy, the Shia clergy from all over the Shia world (so not just Iran). Disappointing but not surprising.
    • Sunni Central Asia – Uzbekistan etc. are apparently not so keen to bend a knee to the Guardians of the Holy Places, Kazakhstan has its own oil thank you, etc. This indicates an organisation which is aligned with the other guys (not the Russians) – iow, an expression of our new Cold War rather than Something Muslim and New, and therefore of limited impact on the Muslim World.
    • Yemen (not even the embattled Government). Poor showing.
    • Afghanistan. (Ditto)

    .

    Surprise cameo appearances by:

    • Oman (a good neighbour, albeit not majority Sunni – so perhaps not so surprising).
    • Lebanon (maybe the door is not slammed shut just yet?)
    • Qatar (well. Well well well well well. Now that is interesting. I forsee a quiet climb down by all concerned and a muting of Aljazeera’s editorial line on Saudi’s internal affairs. I doubt that they’ll totally back off from Iran, despite this.)
    • #14
    • November 27, 2017 at 2:02 am
    • 1 like
  15. Member

    So the first thing they do is run an add in the WSJ?

    • #15
    • November 27, 2017 at 4:09 am
    • 2 likes
  16. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    Christians are called to evangelize the world, but the New Testament, unlike the Old, does not have any commands to kill. So while the Reformation means that there are thousands different Protestant denominations with differing doctrines, it doesn’t have some denomination somewhere claiming New Testament support for killing unbelievers.

    I don’t disagree, PJ, although I thought that Christians accept the Old and New Testament, both. I assume that’s not a selective acceptance, or maybe I’m incorrect.

    • #16
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:00 am
    • Like
  17. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):
    So the first thing they do is run an add in the WSJ?

    Not sure what you’re saying, I. It’s not the first thing they’ve done, and I know you’re probably saying that tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not sure what you’re inferring. Just curious.

    • #17
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:01 am
    • Like
  18. Member

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    Judaism has, in certain times and places, commands to kill in its sacred texts. However, Judaism does not have the command to evangelize the world, and those texts are seen as only relevant to their times.

    I think the last time Jews were commanded to kill a group of people was about 2500 years ago, maybe longer, and the people they were commanded to eliminate practiced human and particularly child sacrifice. However it was never part and partial of the theology of our faith. Most of the rest of our wars was in defending ourselves.

    As long as Islam teaches they are the only acceptable religion, and the world must convert to it, nothing will change, only the dialog.

    Read:
    November 23, 2017

    Daniel Greenfield

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/point/268484/narrow-moral-difference-between-isis-and-its-daniel-greenfield

    The Narrow Moral Difference Between ISIS and its Shiite Opponents

    • #18
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:08 am
    • 3 likes
  19. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Zafar (View Comment):
    In that case why should the focus of a wholistic response to terrorism be a military organisation? Is that logical, or does the ‘go to’ format reveal something about actual goals (wrt the causes of terrorism – limited) and targets (including anybody the Saudis find politically threatening, which is a lot of people, but not actually focused on the individuals and groups that fund the schools of Islam which metastasize into violence).

    Excellent points and questions, Zafar–as always. So let me address what I can. First, we aren’t sure about just what they will do, and whether it will be strictly military. The organization also points to social, political and cultural problems, which I assume will be handled within each country. You’re right–the problems that cause terrorism are far-reaching and considerable, including their own Koran, but I suspect that the IMCTC is starting with the least threatening approach for each country. These other issues must be addressed at some point, but it’s a start.

    Zafar (View Comment):
    I absolutely believe that a major reason that terrorist groups emerge in Muslim societies is that there is no space of tolerance for political or social dissent from Al Quwwat (aka Le Pouvoir) – so dissent goes Contrary or it is subverted and dies. I find it hard to believe that the Sauds will be able to promote what is, in essence, democracy to make this moot.

    Also a very good point (although I don’t know what Al Quwwat is). I do appreciate that at least part of the problem that leads to terrorism is the lack of tolerance and space for dissent, as you say. As @rushbabe49 also says, the religion will require major changes. I wonder if Salman is thinking that rather than starting with a religious overhaul (which would cause a major upheaval), an attack on some of the religious destructive beliefs that have a direct impact on the IMCTC membership, e.g., terrorism, might be a roundabout way to start looking at the religion. But I’m not a mind reader . . . ;-)

    I agree with your other points–those nations missing, those joining (although Qatar didn’t send a representative to the meeting yesterday, no surprise there). I appreciate everyone’s skepticism, but it’s still early.

    • #19
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:16 am
    • 1 like
  20. Member

    Maybe the right answer is a variant on Reagan’s “trust, but verify”: Be hopeful, but not reliant.

    • #20
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:36 am
    • 2 likes
  21. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Here is a summary of the discussion at the IMCTC meeting yesterday. I was especially glad to see them addressing the financing resources of terrorism.

    • #21
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:42 am
    • 1 like
  22. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I know that Islamist apologists say similar things, but I still liked reading this part of the IMCTC statement:

    Dr. Al-Issa said historical facts and scientific records of Islamic heritage prove with certainty that Islam has welcomed peace by all means. “Peace has become an integral part of its teachings, and a central term in its vocabulary.”

    “The ideological decline leading to extremist stances started with the abbreviation of sacred texts, the distortion of their meanings, and the failure to comply with the precepts of their interpretation. This is compounded by the phenomenon of groupthink, the manipulation of popular emotions that are devoid of conscious thinking, the flawed readings of facts and events, and the psychological conditions of some people, all of which result in a significant impact on the rising trend of extremism.”

    • #22
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:45 am
    • 1 like
  23. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Rodin (View Comment):
    Maybe the right answer is a variant on Reagan’s “trust, but verify”: Be hopeful, but not reliant.

    I would add that I don’t think we should even be involved. Trump called on them to deal with their own stuff, and these are steps in the right direction.

    • #23
    • November 27, 2017 at 6:46 am
    • 3 likes
  24. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    Christians are called to evangelize the world, but the New Testament, unlike the Old, does not have any commands to kill. So while the Reformation means that there are thousands different Protestant denominations with differing doctrines, it doesn’t have some denomination somewhere claiming New Testament support for killing unbelievers.

    I don’t disagree, PJ, although I thought that Christians accept the Old and New Testament, both. I assume that’s not a selective acceptance, or maybe I’m incorrect.

    Susan we do, accept for we see the old testement as the old Covenant between God and his people. I.e. animal sacrifice for the payment for our sins.

    The New Testament, a “new covenant” between God and His people. The perfect and final sacrifice for our sin.

    Same theme runs through both. Salvation through faith. In the old, thru the coming redeamer. In the new, salvation thru Jesus Christ the redeamer. Gentiles were grafted in. Praise be his name.

    The new testament did not negate the principles of the old. Accept where the new covenant supersede the old.

    • #24
    • November 27, 2017 at 7:07 am
    • 1 like
  25. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    Susan we do, accept for we see the old testement as the old Covenant between God and his people. I.e. animal sacrifice for the payment for our sins.

    Just so you know: not all sacrifices were down as payment for sins. Many other offerings were made for other reasons. Interesting, the difference between negating and superseding. Thanks for commenting, Kevin.

    • #25
    • November 27, 2017 at 7:12 am
    • 2 likes
  26. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    Christians are called to evangelize the world, but the New Testament, unlike the Old, does not have any commands to kill. So while the Reformation means that there are thousands different Protestant denominations with differing doctrines, it doesn’t have some denomination somewhere claiming New Testament support for killing unbelievers.

    I don’t disagree, PJ, although I thought that Christians accept the Old and New Testament, both. I assume that’s not a selective acceptance, or maybe I’m incorrect.

    Yes, Christians accept both Old and New Testaments. But the New Testament asks that we pray for our enemies and return evil with good — it is seen as a perfecting of the Old. Jesus didn’t ask us to kill unbelievers, which the Koran does.

    • #26
    • November 27, 2017 at 7:23 am
    • 2 likes
  27. Member

    What we see in the West is the perception of governments like those we have have in the West. A centralized national government in Middle Eastern states. In the Middle East it is really a mix of tribal identities and loyalties.

    For example just before the fall of Raqqa tribal loyalists arranged for the escape of ISIS fighters from Raqqa. This was done without the knowledge of the coalition fighting ISIS.

    Pakistan has the same problem, although their intelligence service is supposed to serve the government there are competing interests within that service that the government does not really control.

    Iran’s problem is that they have some dissidents of their own, although up to this point they have been brutally efficient in controlling their dissidents.

    What we see as a monolithic Islam is not really the case. We should hope that the constant warfare in the Middle East, that also affects us in the West, will eventually persuade the residents of the Middle East that there must be a better way to live.

    • #27
    • November 27, 2017 at 9:22 am
    • 3 likes
  28. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    What we see as a monolithic Islam is not really the case. We should hope that the constant warfare in the Middle East, that also affects us in the West, will eventually persuade the residents of the Middle East that there must be a better way to live.

    I think that kind of change will require a movement from the tribal mentality that you describe, Doug. Societies can progress sufficiently to make that shift, but they have to reach a certain tipping point. I think a lot of us doubt that there is enough movement in that direction in any country in the Middle East to be successful. But we can hope.

    • #28
    • November 27, 2017 at 9:34 am
    • 1 like
  29. Inactive

    Where have they been all these years? This is probably a good thing, but I am extremely skeptical. As Solzhenitsyn wrote: “Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.”

    The fundamental issue is the ideology. I don’t see the Saudis doing anything about this except making excuses. It reminds me of the Chinese rulers wanting the benefits of capitalism without letting go of power.

    • #29
    • November 27, 2017 at 10:30 am
    • 3 likes
  30. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    So the first thing they do is run an add in the WSJ?

    Not sure what you’re saying, I. It’s not the first thing they’ve done, and I know you’re probably saying that tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not sure what you’re inferring. Just curious.

    I didn’t see the add. If it was informing us that they had stoped funding terrorist organizations, and lobbying to blunt Islam/terrorist linkages in the US. I’d feel bad about my wise crack.

    • #30
    • November 27, 2017 at 4:22 pm
    • 1 like
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