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Understanding Radical Islamic Fundamentalists

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  1. Understanding Radical Islamic Fundamentalists The “New” Global Threat or History repeating itself? Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Buffalowww.PsychologyofTerrorism.com

  2. Islam and the Arab World • The People • The Religion • The Arab Conquest • The Dilemma of Modern Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  3. Early Arabs • Prior to the 7th Century, Arab groups existed mainly as small tribal units, largely desert dwellers • few large cities and no central government • hardly a blip on the radar of civilization • Mohammed and his followers unified the Arab tribes under the banner of Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  4. Mohammed’s Gift to Arabian Civilization • Provided law and order • distinguished good from evil • charity and compassion for the weak • Provided a sense of ethic unity • Provided the hope for a future • limited on earth but Paradise awaits • Provided a purpose in life • Provided a religion Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  5. Law and Order • The old ‘laws’ were made by powerful men • a ruthless society where “he with the most power makes the rules” • constant fighting and power struggles to determine who rules as the most powerful • Islamic law is God’s law • transcends the will of man • uniform code of law applies to all Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  6. Ethnic Unity • Arabs identified with individual tribes and clans • other tribes were seen as outsiders competing for control of limited resources • allegiance was to the tribal unit • Islam taught equality • fostered Arabic brotherhood • emphasized common purpose and beliefs • allegiance shifted from tribe to serving Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  7. Hope for the Future • Life is difficult, a constant struggle, but life • can be improved on earth by following the Will of God (Islam) • is rewarded by an afterlife in Paradise for the true believer and righteous practitioner of Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  8. Purpose in Life • To do God’s Will and follow the teachings of the prophets Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  9. A Religion • The Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mohammed, relaying the words of God • Mohammed memorized these holy words and taught them to his followers • Shortly after Mohammed’s death his followers wrote these sacred words down in what would become the Koran • The Koran is uncorrupted and supplants the Torah and the Gospels Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  10. Basic Tenants • “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His messenger.” • The Five Pillars of Islam • Practical aspects • Islamic scholars provide definitive interpretation of the Koran and other scriptures • Caliph heads the faith and the nation Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  11. The Five Pillars of Islam • Declaration of Faith acknowledging there is only one God and that Mohammed is His messenger (Shahadh) • Five daily prayers (Salah) • Giving of alms (2.5% to charity, Zakaah) • Fasting from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan (Sawn) • Pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Zul Hijjah (Hajj) These “Five Pillars” follow the Sunni belief which includes around 90% of the world’s Moslem population. Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  12. The Descendents of Abraham • Common father (Abraham, Ibrahim), different mothers • Moslems: Hagar’s son Ismael • Jews (& Christians?): Sarah’s son Isaac Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  13. “People of The Book” • Islam teaches tolerance and respect for people who revere the words of the prophets • Jews and Christians along with Moslems are considered “People of The Book” • “People of The Book” (dhimmis) are protected people under Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  14. Tolerance Towards Jews and Christians • "There is no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from falsehood: whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the strongest rope that never breaks. And God is All-Hearing and All-Knowing." (Qur'an 2:256) • Non-Moslems pay a special tax (jizyah) but are otherwise free to practice their religion, engage in commerce, and own property • Some rulings (fatwas) have forced conversion or expulsion of nonbelievers from Islamic domains Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  15. The Prophets • Adam • Noah • Moses • Abraham • Jesus • Mohammed Judaism Christianity Islam Christianity & Islam Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  16. Primacy of the Koran • Moslems believe that the earlier Jewish and Christian writings were divinely inspired but have become corrupted over time • edited and re-edited by men • various (imperfect) translations • The Koran is widely used in its original Arabic without editing Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  17. Historic Islam • Spread by the sword? • Mohammed conquered Mecca and much of the Arabian peninsula • Immediate successors spread Islam throughout the Middle East • Later Arab armies conquered Northern Africa, India, parts of Southern Asia, and even parts of Europe Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  18. Rapid Expansion of Islam Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  19. The Arab Conquest Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  20. Western Civilization Under Siege • Moslem armies • conquered the Middle East • conquered Greece and most of the Balkan peninsula and much of India • conquered North Africa • conquered Portugal and most of Spain • reached the gates of Vienna • Christendom was in retreat Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  21. The Golden Age of Islam • While Europe was in the dark ages • The Islamic world • excelled in art, literature, mathematics, textiles, and medicine • kept the heritage of ancient Greek philosophy alive • spread ‘civilization’ throughout much of the known world Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  22. The Decline of the Islamic Empire • Internal fighting within the Empire • Reconquista of Christian lands • Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I (1918) • Expanded Western interest in the oil rich Middle East • Aggressive Western intervention during the Cold War era Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  23. Arabia Today • Only remnants of a once great civilization—far behind the West • Dominated by despotic rulers who regressed to the pre-Mohammed “might makes right” principle • Few true Islamic states • No true democratic governments • Growing desire for Islamic dignity Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  24. The Seeds of Change • Islamic Fundamentalists • offer the promise to return to the Golden Age of Islamic culture • view the decadent West as the source of most problems • Few if any viable alternatives to produce desired change • status quo has stagnated Arab culture and economic progress for centuries Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  25. Fundamentalists Beliefs • God’s words are recorded in the Koran and other Islamic works • Islam is the source of all true law • Society should strictly follow Islamic law as interpreted by its senior scholars • Secular societies based on man’s laws deviate from God’s law Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  26. Islamic Law versus Secular Law • Man’s laws are corrupt because they follow the will and desires of mortal man • Islamic law is prescribed in the holy works and must be interpreted by scholars who have dedicated a lifetime to study • Democracies and other forms of self-rule are evil because they follow the whims and perversions of man • Islam is to be lived not just preached—it dictates every aspect of life from social customs to commerce Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  27. Fundamentalist Moslems and Christians • Share a belief that society should be directed by God’s laws • emphasize religious scripture • use a literal interpretation of most writings which are seen just as applicable today as when they were written centuries ago • View civilization as a struggle between Godliness and manliness Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  28. The Practice of Islam • Strong devotion to religion • Practice of the Five Pillars • Focus on the Mosque • Protectors of the faith Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  29. Devotion to Religion • Religion is not something that is just practiced one morning a week or even with a daily prayer • Religion is a way of living that dictates every aspect of life • prayers five times each day • Friday services in the Mosque • fasting during Ramadan Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  30. The Mosque • Center for not only religious but cultural and political activities • Friday’s religious service is preceded by lectures, often expounding political views Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  31. Protectors of Islam • Protect the faith, even at the expense of ones own life • answer the call of Jihad • death in defense of Islam is martyrdom rewarded with Paradise • Protect fellow Moslems • Protect Islam from apostates and heresies Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  32. The Seeds of Violent Conflict • The protection of Islam is a requirement for all Moslems • Spreading the faith is debatable • Islam teaches tolerance, especially for “People of The Book” (e.g., Jews in Egypt) • Islam teaches that all of mankind are brothers but does not tolerate apostates • Most interpretations defend Moslem lands and all lands that have been Moslem (demanding reconquest?) Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  33. The Radical’s View • The lands of Islam have been corrupted by the West • desire for the riches of Arab lands • support for Jewish world dominance • support for apostate rulers • Islam and the Arabic people are under threat from the infidels • The struggle against the infidels is the duty of every Moslem worldwide Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  34. The Radical’s Method • Political solutions are not possible—power is never willingly surrendered only taken by force • Direct military confrontation is not (yet) possible • Terrorism is the only viable method Note: All three of these views are shared by most revolutionary movements Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  35. Radical Fundamentalists and Terrorist Acts • Terrorism is not just associated with radical Islamic fundamentalists • Terrorism is practiced by extreme radicals found in most religions and in many social-political movements (e.g., anarchists, Marxist-Leninists) Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  36. Terrorism and Christian Fundamentalists • Like Islamic fundamentalists, most Christian fundamentalists are nonviolent • But strong fundamentalist beliefs are sometimes brought to extreme expression by advocates of violence and terrorist acts Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  37. Terrorism Under the Banner of Christian Fundamentalism • Some white-supremacist organizations such as the KKK view themselves as Christian fundamentalists, protecting the “Christian way of life” as they interpret it • Some other Christian fundamentalist groups have racist views, although they are not organized explicitly with a white-supremacist mandate Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  38. To help view radical Islamic fundamentalism in its proper perspective, consider a case of domestically grown, radical Christian fundamentalist terrorism The case focuses on the polarized American opinion on women’s reproductive rights (i.e., abortion) Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  39. The Murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian • Amherst (NY) physician who performed legal abortions in a local medical clinic • Murdered (assassinated?) in his home on October 23, 1998 by James Kopp • Kopp viewed himself as saving the lives of hundreds of unborn babies • Kopp’s escape was aided and abetted by like-minded ‘Christians’ who saw him as a hero for their antiabortion cause Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  40. The Capture of James Kopp • Placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List • Escaped to Ireland and later to France where he received assistance from others active in the antiabortion movement • Apprehended in France, March 29th, 2001 • Sentenced 25 years to life on May 9th, 2003 • Allegedly shot other physicians who performed legal abortions in the U.S. and Canada • Expresses no remorse over his killing • Viewed as a martyr by some antiabortionists Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  41. Attacks on Medical Clinics Performing Abortions • Types of Attacks • clinic bombings and individual assassinations • Clearly constitute terrorist acts • terrorizes physicians performing this service • terrorizes people using this service • Loosely organized terrorist movement • few practicing blatant violence • many more supporting violent acts • tacit support from some religious leaders Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  42. The Threat from Radical Fundamentalists • Radical beliefs from various religious groups sometimes lead to terrorist acts, but • Radical Islamic fundamentalists remain the most serious threat to peace and global stability • active terrorists constitute a very small minority, but support for their actions is rapidly growing worldwide Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  43. Combating Radical Islamic Terrorists • Responding to Islamic terrorism requires a thorough understanding of Islamic culture and beliefs • “More of the same” is not working • U.S. foreign policy needs to be carefully reexamined • U.S. needs to win the propaganda war which it is badly losing to date Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  44. Steps Toward Combating Global Islamic Terrorism • Continued support for Israel balanced with strong support for the Palestinians • Strong support for moderate Moslem leaders and progressive Arab countries • aggressive economic aid • expanded cultural and educational exchange • Calculated response to terrorism • quick and decisive action, but sanctioned by moderate Arab nations and by European allies Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  45. The Dilemma of Modern Islam • To move forward or to move backward? • Should traditional Islam be adapted to a changing world? • Should the changing world be adapted to traditional Islam? • Split between progressive and fundamentalist Moslems Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.

  46. Modern Egypt—Predominantly Moslem with a Progressive Secular Government Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.