Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A House Divided? Update

Instead of completely deleting this post I thought I'd update it. A few days ago I commented on an al-Qaida plan to attack pilgrims on the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj. I was curious as to why this story wasn't picked up by any of the major news networks and now I know why: it was false and/or misleading. I admit I should research more on an article before posting, my deepest apologies. The original story was written by the Middle East Times which is, as stated in this Arab News article, "a sister publication of the Washington Times which is owned by News World Communications" which is a media corporation owned by the Unification Church. What's the moral of the story? Always check all related sources cause you might be quoting a paper owned by a church. As long as the source is reliable, which in this case was not, double check before citing anything. Lesson learned.

[My Orginal post]
Last week the Saudi government launched a huge counter terrorism operation against an al-Qaida plan to launch a bloody assault on Muslim pilgrims taking part in the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj. I remember reading a similar story last year.This year the Saudi officials beefed up security
that included 20,000 ground forces, flights of combat helicopters and a large number of armored vehicles deployed at key locations, U.S. officials said. In and around Mecca, one of the two most holy sites in Islam, technical and other surveillance was increased and the site was monitored by 10,000 security cameras and Saudi agents mixed in with the pilgrims.
[You can read the story here]

The article goes on to explain how the Saudi government relentlessly pursued al-Qaida operatives after suicide bombers targeted ordinary Saudis along with members of the House of Saud on May 12 and Nov. 8, 2003, which killed 93 people. Which begs the question, why is al-Qaida attacking their own people?

As an American who watches American news my impression of terrorism boils down to "they (the terrorist) hate the smell of freedom and democracy and will stop at nothing to bring down the West." Of course I don't feel this way at all but I'm assuming most Americans do feel this way. "They attacked us because they hate us and what we represent." Really? If that is the consensus then we must figure out who we're fighting. While watching the news the terms terrorist and Muslim almost seem interchangeable. And I honestly don't remember the last time they aired a criminal's religious affiliation on the news when arrested unless they were Muslim.

Who's the enemy?

Is it a country like Iraq or Iran? Well yes and no. We "successfully" took out Saddam Hussein and we would like someone else in charge of Iran that will cooperate with our agenda but the citizens of those countries are innocent.

Is it an ideology? Ideas are hard to squash, if they're even squashable in the first place. But then again if we're trying to spread Democracy then
that contradicts the whole notion of ideology squashing. Unless you spread Democracy over any other ideologies like butter on toast. Spread not squashed.

Is it a religion? Our tongues may be saying no but I wholeheartedly believe that a few American guts are saying yes. Their is a lot of fear and hate towards Muslims because they have been labeled the enemy. Although if they were the enemy then we would have a real security issue since Islam is one of (if not the) fastest growing religions in America. Of course the terrorist watch list did receive it's 1 millionth customer last summer.

[Caution: That link takes you to so you might want to avoid it unless you want the Government to put you on the watch list too. Only terrorists are interested as to how many of them are on the list. Our government would never place any innocent people on their watch list.]

Is it a group or a person? At least this was our original motive. Get Bin Laden, get
al-Qaida. Our President-elect has vowed to refocus our attention back to Bin Laden and the Legion of Doom. But of course if we do take Bin Laden and any top al-Qaida leaders down their movement could still remain intact. Martyrdom sure goes a long way to promoting a cause too bad there aren't any celebrities willing to die for the environment.

Yet even after establishing who the real enemy is the question still remains as to why they
are attacking their own people?

I admit I have yet to read a detailed history of Islamic fundamentalists. From what little I know (and correct me if I'm wrong) they blame most of the world's current problems on secular (specifically Western) influences and believe that the path to peace and justice lies in the original message of Islam. So essentially they wish to turn back the clock to, what they believe to be, a golden era before any religious innovations or anti-Islamic ideologies. But before they can spread this message to the world they must first address their own house. They must convince their fellow Muslims, by any means necessary, to return to the original message and anyone that stands in their way is considered an enemy of God.

I personally believe this is hurting their cause more than anything, especially planning to attack pilgrims making their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to praise, worship, and ask God for forgiveness. That's like a splinter catholic group attacking the Vatican
or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Even though some non-Muslims may consider the Hajj as a series of
barbaric and pagan rituals meant to buy oneself into Paradise there is something peaceful, humbling, and awe inspiring about the pilgrimage that touches my non-Muslim heart. All the participants are united as one while dressed in simple white robes, circling the Kaaba with thousands of fellow worshipers disregarding race, gender, social status, and any other labels that divides us as humans together praising God with one voice saying "here I am oh Lord".

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