Sunday, March 06, 2005
Read and learn more.
By Alex Alexiev, from the Middle East Quarterly, via Internet Haganah.
Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad's Stealthy LegionsThe consensus view of them is that Tablighi Jamaat are completely apolitical and law-abiding. But their history in Pakistan is not so innocent. Many Pakistani members are also members of terrorist organizations, and high ranking officers in the Pakistani armed forces.
Every fall, over a million almost identically dressed, bearded Muslim men from around the world descend on the small Pakistani town of Raiwind for a three-day celebration of faith. Similar gatherings take place annually outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Bhopal, India. These pilgrims are no ordinary Muslims, though; they belong to a movement called Tablighi Jamaat ("Proselytizing Group"). They are trained missionaries who have dedicated much of their lives to spreading Islam across the globe. The largest group of religious proselytizers of any faith, they are part of the reason for the explosive growth of Islamic religious fervor and conversion.
Tablighi Jamaat is Deobandist. This is the school that, in in combination with Saudi Wahhabism/Salafism gave birth to the Afghan Taliban. The group is extremely fundamentalist, with no required reading other than the Quran and 7 Essays central to their way. Recruitment is cultlike, and frighteningly similar to stories of al Qaeda recruitment:
After joining Tablighi Jamaat groups at a local mosque or Islamic center and doing a few local dawa (proselytism) missions, Tablighi officials invite star recruits to the Tablighi center in Raiwind, Pakistan, for four months of additional missionary training. Representatives of terrorist organizations approach the students at the Raiwind center and invite them to undertake military training. Most agree to do so.And finally, TJ is very active in the United States of America
Within the United States, the cases of American Taliban John Lindh, the "Lackawanna Six," and the Oregon cell that conspired to bomb a synagogue and sought to link up with Al-Qaeda, all involve Tablighi missionaries. Other indicted terrorists, such as "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, and Lyman Harris, who sought to bomb the Brooklyn Bridge, were all members of Tablighi Jamaat at one time or another. According to Robert Blitzer, head of the FBI's first Islamic counterterrorism unit, between 1,000 and 2,000 Americans left to join the jihad in the 1990s alone. Pakistani intelligence sources report that 400 American Tablighi recruits received training in Pakistani or Afghan terrorist camps since 1989.And finally, the conclusion hits hard.
The estimated 15,000 Tablighi missionaries reportedly active in the United States present a serious national security problem. At best, they and their proxy groups form a powerful proselytizing movement that preaches extremism and disdain for religious tolerance, democracy, and separation of church and state. At worst, they represent an Islamist fifth column that aids and abets terrorism. Contrary to their benign treatment by scholars and academics, Tablighi Jamaat has more to do with political sedition than with religion.Missionary organization?
Or terrorist recruiters?