Japan’s ideal and less ideal victims

The brutal murders of Japanese hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa at the hands of ISIS have understandably captured the interest of the Japanese nation. Opinions on the victims have ranged from the deeply sympathetic to the victim-blaming. Moreover the Japanese public seems more willing to embrace Goto as a true victim than Yukawa. These domestic sentiments are important because they touch upon a question that is inherent in every crime: why are some people given victim status and others not?

Yukawa and Goto both suffered the same tragic fate, but the domestic reactions to the hostage crisis have made it clear that similar fates do not necessarily warrant similar victim status. Goto has been described as a brave and kind-hearted person on a journalistic mission to tell the truth about the Syrian war. For a while an “I am Kenji” campaign was even gaining momentum on the internet. There was little or no doubt about Goto’s status as a legitimate victim. Yukawa, on the other hand, was viewed with much more skepticism, not to say disdain. Yukawa was characterized in Japanese media as a confused loner with a death wish, who had gone to Syria as a military contractor in order to restore meaning in his life. Although few said it aloud, many Japanese probably felt that Yukawa had taken unnecessary risks and to a certain extent “had it coming”. Needless to say, no one “was” Haruna.

The denial of victimhood in Yukawa’s case has an ugly precedent. In April 2004 five Japanese who had been abducted in Iraq while doing media and voluntary work were released and allowed to return to Japan after suffering through horrendous threats of being burned alive by their Islamist captors. However upon their return they were met by angry protestors at the airport wielding contemptuous hand-written signs, one reading “you got what you deserve!” The Japanese government even demanded that the returnees pay the 6000 USD air fare. Most of the victim bashing emphasized that, by venturing into Iraq despite governmental warnings against doing so, the victims had failed to take ‘self-responsibility’.

It might not come as a surprise that circumstances apart from the actions of the perpetrators determine whether or not victim status is granted, but is it possible to say something more specific about what these circumstances are?

In order to answer that question it is useful to look at the case of Megumi Yokota, arguably one of the most famous and undisputed victims in Japanese history.

Yokota gained nationwide and eventually worldwide fame in 2002 when late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il admitted to a Japanese Prime Ministerial delegation that Yokota was one of 13 Japanese citizens whom North Korea had abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. Megumi Yokota, or just Megumi as she is frequently referred to in otherwise formal Japan, had been only 13 years old when she was kidnapped at the shores of Niigata in 1978. The purpose of the abduction had been to have her teach North Korean spies how to “become Japanese” so that they could infiltrate Japan undetected. Moreover North Korea claimed that she had committed suicide in 1994 – a claim that the Japanese government still denies.

Megumi’s tragic story captivated the Japanese public and she quickly became the poster child of the Japanese government’s various enlightenment campaigns aimed at solving what became known as the North Korean abduction issue. Mangas and animes carrying her name and depicting her life story became popular, and Noel Paul Stookey of the American folk band Peter Paul and Mary wrote the ballad “Song for Megumi” which he performed at the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office. Furthermore, Megumi’s parents became household names as the front figures of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea.

But why did Megumi, and not the other abductees, become the rallying point of the various abduction issue campaigns?

The answer is because she was an “ideal victim”.

Criminologist Nils Christie has argued that in most criminal cases the victim isn’t completely blameless and the offender isn’t completely culpable. However the closer one gets to these extremes the more likely it is that the injured party will be given “the complete and legitimate status of being a victim”. This is what he calls the “ideal victim”. Christie developed five criteria for the ideal victim. As we shall see, Christie’s criteria are perfectly fulfilled by Megumi Yokota.

1)      “The victim is weak. Sick, old or very young people are particularly well suited as ideal victims”. – Megumi was 13 years old at the time of her abduction. By far the youngest of all the abductees.

2)      “The victim was carrying out a respectable project”. – Megumi was on her way back home from badminton practice.

3)      “She was where she could not possibly be blamed for being”. – Megumi was walking the same path as always.

4)      “The offender was big and bad”. – The offenders were adult North Korean spies who had illegally entered Japan by boat.

5)      “The offender was unknown and in no personal relationship to her”. – See above.

Megumi is the living (hopefully) incarnation of the ideal victim. Her symbolic power has unquestionably contributed to the fact that the abduction issue has captured far more interest among the Japanese public than conventional security issues like the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Going back to the case of ISIS victims Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, one can argue that the only thing that substantially separates them is the second condition – “carrying out a respectable project”. It is hard to find fault with a journalist who goes to Syria reporting on the suffering of ordinary people in what is arguably the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Going to said crisis as a military contractor, however, is not likely seen as a “respectable project” in Japan, where anti-militarist sentiments have been strong since the end of WW2.

It is harder to say why Goto was perceived more favorably than the 2004 Iraq hostages, who also arguably were carrying out “respectable projects”. Maybe it simply boils down to the fact that Goto died and the Iraq hostages survived. However it is also possible that Goto’s legitimate victimhood was secured because his death followed the Charlie Hebdo shootings, which spurred a tremendous celebration of freedom of speech, and Goto was, after all, a symbol of free speech.

There are of course no absolute laws of human behavior, but there seems to be a general correlation between victim status and points scored on Christie’s criteria list. This probably stems from our human disposition to simplify an extremely complex world. We constantly seek simplicity, and simplicity is often found in dichotomies such as good/bad and innocent/guilty. But in order judge about innocence and guilt, we need criteria, and Christies’ criteria are probably the closest we can get to saying something general about the construction of victim status.

It is, however, important that we do not let an imperfect victim status overshadow or justify the actions of the perpetrator, as sometimes has been the case in Japan. Beheadings and abductions are not justifiable.


Ulv Hanssen

Ph.D. candidate in Japanese studies at Free University Berlin’s Graduate School of East Asia Studies (GEAS).

Contact: ulvhanssen@hotmail.com

Ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres 65 years ago by Ishtiaq Ahmed

One of the completest cases of ethnic cleansing – that entailed the murder of 500,000-800,000 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs – took place in 1947 in the Punjab Province of British India. Until now very little research had been conducted on it though in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi literature the horrors of the partition have figured extensively, mostly in short stories but also in novels and poetry. The trauma of a gory and shattering destruction of the demographic structure and culture in Punjab has never been absent from the public conscience although the generation that went through it is now on the way out. However, once the Punjab was partitioned it was impossible for an Indian citizen to visit the Pakistani Punjab and do research and likewise a Pakistani scholar stood no chance of doing the same in the Indian Punjab. International research on the Punjab partition had also been limited – confined to some cities and districts.

As a Swedish national of Pakistani origin, I did manage to visit both Punjabs and do extensive field research. Therefore now for the first time after 65 years a holistic, detailed and penetrating research on the events of 1947 have been published under the title, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts (Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2012, ISBN 9780199064700, pages 640).  It is theoretically and empirically a very distinctive study, because it seeks to solve the Punjab partition puzzle as part of a general phenomenon that has appeared elsewhere in the world as well.  More than 250 interviews were conducted over a period of 15 years, though the most intense period was 2003-2005 when a very generous research grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskaprådet) enabled me to do field research in both the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs. In some cases I traced people from both sides of the divided Punjab after 50 and more years to check the same incident.

Punjab was partitioned in mid-1947 as part of the overall partition of British India into two independent nations of India and Pakistan. The main party of Indian Muslims, the All-India Muslim League, had argued that the Muslim minority (roughly one-fourth) constituted a separate nation from other communities of India. Therefore they were entitled to a separate state in areas where they were in a majority. This was reluctantly agreed to by the Indian National Congress, the main secular-nationalist party, which was dominated by Hindus. The British, who had decided to withdraw from India by June 1948, also agreed to the partition of India. However, the partition of India was also to include the partition of two Muslim-majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab.

Map of Punjab 1941

The total population of undivided Punjab was nearly 34 million living in 357,692 sq. km. Of it more than 28 million lived in territories directly administered by the British and its territorial expanse was 256,640 sq. km.  The Muslims constituted a slight majority of 53.2%, while Hindus and Sikhs together formed a very large minority. Less than 2% belonged to other religions. In the directly administered British territories the Muslim percentage was slightly higher, 57.1%. The Sikhs, who were a minority of around 14%, were essentially a Punjabi people – their religion and history and most of their community was located in Punjab. On the other hand, Punjabi Hindus and Muslims could link up with their communities in all nooks and corners of India.

The Sikhs were insistent that if India is partitioned on a religious basis then Punjab should also be divided on the same basis. They feared persecution under Muslim rule based on a religious notion of nationhood. The problem was that the Sikhs were not in a majority anywhere in Punjab. They were, however, an important community because they were disproportionately overrepresented in the British Indian Army and were also a propertied community with regard to agricultural land and even business and commerce. When it became clear that India could not remain united because the Muslim League and the Congress would not agree on a mutually acceptable formula the latter threw its full weight behind the Sikh demand for the partition of Punjab. While the western regions had a clear Muslim majority and eastern regions of Punjab a Hindu-Sikh majority the central areas, even though mostly comprising Muslim majority, had substantial Hindu-Sikh minorities and in some districts even majorities.

The book argues that if India had not been partitioned Punjab would also not have been partitioned. However, that did not mean that if India were partitioned then Punjab must also be partitioned. Had the Muslim League and the Sikh leaders agreed to keep Punjab united even if the Punjabi Hindus did not they would have made up such a large majority that Punjab could have remained united. Why could not the Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs agree to that? That is the main puzzle I have tried to solve.  No division of Punjab would have been a satisfactory to all three main communities – Punjabi Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Moreover, any partition of Punjab would have inevitably divided the Sikhs into the two states. The British governors as well as the chief secretaries, who from 1945-47 were Indians, were warning that Punjab would explode into unprecedented violence if it was partitioned and pleaded for a power-sharing formula that could prevent its division.

Historically Punjab had excellent record of inter-communal relations as Sufi Islam, the Bhakti Movement of Hindus opposed to the caste system and the early Sikh Gurus (spiritual leaders) had over the centuries preached communal harmony. In the 20th century religious revivals took place, which instead of bringing Punjabis closer drove them away from each other on the basis of religious purity as compared to the folky forms of Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Yet, from 1923 onwards when the Punjab Unionist Party, headed by Muslim leaders and supported by Hindus and Sikhs, was founded on shared Punjabi values and interests the three communities had managed to live in peace and harmony. Both the Muslim League and the Congress had no major following in Punjab before the 1940s.

Trouble started in Punjab during the 1945-46 election campaign. The Muslim League had to wrest Punjab away from the Punjab Unionist Party and that necessitated portraying it as an agent of anti-Islam forces. Consequently, ‘Islam in danger’ was launched as the battle cry, the Muslim League was projected as the saviour and Pakistan as the utopia where no exploitation would exist, moneylending would be abolished and a model Muslim society based on Islamic law would come into being. Pages 81-106 of my book The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed provide the details. Islamic slogans, of which the most famous, Pakistan ka nara kiya? La Illaha Illillah (What is the slogan of Pakistan? It is that there is no god but God), were used profusely. The pirs (custodians of Sufi shrines) and ulema (Muslim clerics) told the Muslims that voting for the Muslim League would be voting for the Prophet Muhammad; those Muslims who did not do so, their marriages would be annulled, they would be refused an Islamic burial, and so on. The Hindus and Sikhs were told that they would be tried under Islamic law and they would have to bring their cases to mosques. Governor Sir Bertrand Glancy noted on September 13, 1945, “Muslim Leaguers are doing what they can in the way of propaganda conducted on fanatical lines; religious leaders and religious buildings are being used freely in several places for advocating Pakistan and vilifying any who hold opposite view. Communal feel is, I fear, definitely deteriorating. Sikhs are getting definitely nervous about Pakistan, and I think there is no doubt that they will forcibly resist any attempt to include them in a Muslim Raj” (page 84).

He noted on February 2, just days before the elections, “there seems little doubt that the Muslim League, thanks to the ruthless methods by which they have pursued their campaign of ‘Islam in danger’ will considerably increase the number of their seats and unionist representatives will correspondingly decrease” (page 88). The Muslim League swept the reserved Muslim seats. It won 73 seats (later increased to 75) out of 86. Its tally, however, fell short by at least 10 to form the government in the 175-member Punjab Assembly. The Congress swept the general vote getting 50 seats, and the Sikh Panthic parties secured 23 reserved for the Sikhs. The Unionists were reduced to a rump of 18. The rest were reserved seats for the scheduled castes, Christians and Anglo-Indians. A coalition government comprising the Punjab Unionist Party, the Punjab Congress and the Panthic Parties was formed with Khizr Hayat Tiwana as premier. The Muslim League felt deprived of the chance to form the government but it could not produce evidence that it enjoyed a majority in the Punjab Assembly.

Meanwhile, violence elsewhere in India increased sharply in 1946. The Muslim League ordered ‘Direct Action’ or mass agitation in Calcutta in August 1946. It resulted in thousands of deaths. The violence was unleashed by Muslim groups but later the Hindus and Sikhs struck back with equal savagery. Thousands of people were killed. Violence then spread to Bihar where the provincial Congress government was involved in a butchery of Muslims.

Punjab too was heading towards a confrontation and Chief Secretary Akhtar Hussain reported that “private communal armies” were being recruited. In December 1946, the Sikhs and Hindus of Hazara district, NWFP, were subjected to unprecedented savagery of Muslim mobs. Thousands fled to Punjab, some got refuge in Rawalpindi, but most went eastwards where Sikhs were in substantial numbers. On January 24, Tiwana ordered police raids on the headquarters of the Punjab Muslim League and the RSS. Muslim League leaders who resisted were arrested. It triggered a mass movement of defiance of authority by Muslim League agitators. Every day Muslims courted arrest and the jails were filled with them. Slogan mongering against Tiwana was conducted in the filthiest of Punjabi abuses and taunts. The agitation also became increasingly violent. Glancy’s successor, Governor Sir Evan Jenkins noted in his report dated February 28, “The Sikhs have been profoundly moved by the obvious desire of the Muslims to seize Punjab for themselves and would not permit them to do so. The agitation has shown Pakistan in all its nakedness and was a fair example of the kind of treatment that the minorities, including the Sikhs, might expect from Muslim extremists”(Page 124). Chief Secretary Akhtar Hussain wrote on March 4, 1947, when direct action was over and an uneasy peace had been established, “Muslims in their stupidity disgraced Sikhs, singled out Sikh policemen for their attacks and brutally murdered a Sikh constable. The effect of this was grave in the extreme and, as has been stated, communal strife between Sikhs and Muslims was almost inevitable if the League movement of defiance had continued” (page 125).

On February 20, 1947, the British government had announced the transfer of power to Indians by June 1948. Although the Muslim League agitation ended on February 26 and all Muslim League detainees released, Premier Tiwana had lost heart because British rule would soon end. He therefore resigned on March 2, 1947, precipitating an acute political crisis. On March 3, Master Tara Singh famously flashed his kirpan (sword) outside the Punjab Assembly, calling for the destruction of the Pakistan idea. That evening, Hindu and Sikh leaders gathered in Lahore and made even more extremist speeches (pages 128-135).

Next day Hindu-Sikh protestors and Muslims clashed in Lahore, the capital of undivided Punjab. The same day in the evening, Sikhs and Muslims clashed in nearby Amritsar. On March 5, violence spread to Multan in south-western Punjab and Rawalpindi in north-western. The same day, Governor Jenkins imposed governor’s rule. Punjab remained under governor’s rule until power was transferred to Indian and Pakistani Punjab administrations on August 15, 1947.

In Multan, the fight was uneven from the first day. There were very few Sikhs and the Hindu minority was also heavily outnumbered. Almost all casualties were those of Hindus and a few Sikhs. The gruesome murder of Seth Kalyan Das, a highly respected gentleman, whom all communities respected, is narrated by old-timer Ataullah Malik (pages 160-161).

In Rawalpindi, Hindu-Sikhs and Muslims clashed on March 5. In the evening of March 6, Muslim mobs in the thousands headed towards Sikh villages in Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum districts. Until March 13, they had a free hand to kill, burn, rape, and forcibly convert mainly Sikhs but also Hindus. I have given eyewitness testimony of Muslims, and a Sikh survivor from Thamali, interviewing him in Kapurthala city in the Indian East Punjab (pages 165-193). The pictures of the interviewees are also given.

According to British sources, some 2,000 people were killed in the carnage in the three rural districts. The Sikhs claim 7,000 dead. Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League and founder of Pakistan, committed a major blunder when he did not issue any condemnation of those atrocities. An exodus of Sikhs took place in the thousands to the eastern districts and Sikh princely states from Rawalpindi, where they narrated their woes, and set up the nucleus of a revenge movement.

The Sikh leaders had been working on some Sikh princes to convince them to try establishing a Sikh State. If India could be partitioned for two nations based on religion, then why could it not into three for the Sikh nation as well? To achieve that, a compact Sikh majority was needed and that could be achieved only by expelling nearly six million Muslims from East Punjab. However, 1947 was too early for such a bid; it emerged in the 1980s as the Khalistan movement.

By May 1947, it dawned upon Jinnah that the Sikhs were not going to join Pakistan. For a while he argued that Punjabis and Bengalis shared a common culture and identity. However, since it contradicted his basic stand that Hindus and Muslims were separate nations who did not share any national character, the discovery that Punjabis (Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) and Bengalis (Hindus and Muslims) shared the same culture was the weakest argument in his brief for the Two-Nation Theory. He then demanded that a corridor should be provided through more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory to connect East and West Pakistan!

Nevertheless, Viceroy Mountbatten brokered talks between Jinnah and the Sikhs during May 14-16 with a view to keeping the Punjab united. Jinnah offered very generous terms. Hardit Singh Malik who acted as spokesperson of the Sikhs reported the following concluding remarks:

“This put us in an awkward position. We were determined not to accept Pakistan under any circumstances and here was a Muslim leader offering us everything. What to do? Then I had an inspiration and I said, ‘Mr Jinnah, you are being very generous. But, supposing, God forbid, you are no longer there when the time comes to implement your promises?’ His reply was astounding…He said, ‘My friend, my word in Pakistan will be like the word of God. No one will go back on it.’ There was nothing to be said after this and the meeting ended” (page 213).

Meanwhile, the British military had on May 12, 1947 come round to the view that if Pakistan was created it would be good for their interests in South Asia and the Persian Gulf. On page 209, I have quoted verbatim the memorandum the British heads of the three branches of the armed forces and Field Marshal Montgomery prepared in support of the creation of Pakistan.

In any event, on June 3, 1947, the British government announced the Partition Plan. It brought forward the transfer of power date to India and Pakistan to mid-August 1947. On June 23, the Punjab Assembly voted in favour of partitioning Punjab. It was followed by the deliberations of the Punjab Boundary Commission, which culminated in the Radcliffe Award of August 13, which was made public on August 17. In June, the Hindu-Sikh locality of Shahalmi in Lahore was set ablaze. I traced one of the culprits whose confession is given in detail on pages 237-243. Until July, the East Punjab Muslims were not attacked. On August 17, when the Radcliffe Award became public, all hell broke loose on the East Punjab Muslims. In India, scores of studies exist on the suffering of Hindus and Sikhs in what became West Punjab. The fact is that more Muslims were killed in East Punjab than Hindus and Sikhs combined in West Punjab. 500,000-800,000 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lost their lives altogether. The macabre dance of death that took place in western Punjab until June 1947 was now played out in East Punjab more pitilessly and on a much grander scale.

The evidence is based on heart-wrenching interviews I conducted over a period of 15 years with many Muslims. Pages 411-525 highlight the slaughter of Muslims. The book also documents cases of extreme magnificence as Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs saved lives across the communal divide, sometimes of complete strangers and at great risk to their own lives. Humanity was debased in 1947 but not without outstanding examples of sublimation as well.

At the end of the day, 10 million Punjabis had been driven away from their ancestral abodes: it is the greatest forced migration in modern history. Except for the tiny Malerkotla State, Indian East Punjab was emptied of all Muslims; equally, from the Pakistani West Punjab, Hindus and Sikhs were driven out to the last man almost.

I have developed a theory of ethnic cleansing, which is tested in the Punjab case. It has also served as the theoretical framework to explain and analyse the events that transpired in Punjab in 1947. The theory can be usefully employed to analyse the events of ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iran and other such cases. Each case has its unique characteristics but they also share some essential common features. Among them the main are the end of a particular type of state system without a power-sharing formula being agreed among apprehensive communities suffering from great anxiety about an uncertain future. When state functionaries assume partisan roles ethnic cleansing and genocide can take place as organized force and terror can be used against the enemy groups.

by Ishtiaq Ahmed

The writer has a PhD from Stockholm University. He is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. His latest publication is: The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012; New Delhi: Rupa Books, 2011). He can be reached at: billumian@gmail.com

Osama bin Laden og Ayman al-Zawahiri i Afghanistan og Pakistan

De to terrorister, som jeg vil fokusere på, er Osama bin Laden (født 10. Marts 1957 i Jiddah i Saudi Arabien, død 2. maj 2011) og i mindre omfang Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (født 19. Juni 1951 i Cairo i Egypten).

Fælles for disse to terrorister er, at de har opholdt sig meget længe uden for deres hjemlande. Osama bin Ladens spin på dette faktum er en sammenligning af hans eget liv med profetens. Ligesom Muhammad pendulerede mellem Mekka og Medina under sit hijra, har bin Laden været i eksil i Afghanistan (Bergen s. 161). Profeten endte med at opnå politisk kontrol over sin hjemegn. Bin Laden har endnu ikke opnået dette, men han har forsøgt at gøre Muhammad kunststykket efter.

Med moderne øjne ligner bin Ladens og al-Zawahiris rejsevirksomhed turistens eller globetrotterens i og med at de frivilligt har rejst til fremmede lande på flere længere rejser. Ligesom nogle turister tillægger deres rejser et altruistisk formål kan bin Ladens og al-Zawahiris tidlige ophold i Pakistan blandt afghanske flygtninge karakteriseres som en solidaritetsrejse. Det var gennem deres udviklings- og rehabiliteringsarbejde, hvor bin Laden bidrog som organisator og pengemand og Dr. Al-Zawahiri arbejdede som anæstesi læge, at de opbyggede den hird af kamptropper, som senere blev al Qaida. Deres altruistiske rejse til et sted i det fremmede udmøntede sig altså til en verdensomspændende kamp. Fra 2001 har de prominente arabiske gæster udgjort en stadig større risiko for deres værter i Afghanistan og Pakistan. Bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har hver en FBI dusør på 25 millioner dollar på deres hoved.

At yde statsligt eller ”privat asyl” til eftersøgte personer er ikke uproblematisk. ”Asyl til alle” stod der malet på nogle mindre installationer foran DR byen i København, da jeg cyklede forbi den 6. September. Nogle gæster på længerevarende tålt ophold – som Karl Marx i London – er måske fredelige i deres daglige færden på kort sigt. Opfordringen til at give ”asyl til alle” er måske endnu mere problematisk når princippet udstrækkes til personer som Bin Laden og Zawahiri er fordring er måske mindre klog i tilfældet bin Laden og Zawahiri.

I dette paper forsøger jeg at  angribe disse spørgsmål i klassiske Simmelske termer gennem et studie af forholdet mellem gæster og værter, som opstår, når de indfødte i et eller omfang inkorporerer fremmede, der kommer som turister, solidaritetsarbejdere, hellige krigere, guruer eller asylsøgere med henvisning til forfølgelse. Naturligvis er hverken Bin Laden og Zawahiri den gængse type turist eller udviklingsarbejder.  Alligevel vil jeg her gøre et forsøg på at anskue deres liv og levned i mere universelle og samtidigt ganske hverdagsagtige termer. Vi lever i standardiserings tidsalder, hvor teknologiske produkter og økonomiske processer vurderes ud fra fælles homogeniserede målestokke.[i] Hele kulturer og livsverdener holdes op imod hinanden og sammenlignes som man sammenligner æbler og pærer. Jellingestenen, Tingvellir, Geirangerfjorden, og det sydlige Öland er alle kulturhistoriske og naturhistoriske perler opført på Unesco’s standardiserede World Heritage liste. Så hvorfor ikke se på bin Ladens og Zawahiris liv og levned i skæret af turisternes eller udviklingsarbejdernes eller antropologernes? Ligesom antropologer forlod bin Laden og Zawahiri deres relativt sikre liv i storbyen for at slå sig ned i yderkanten af civilisationen for at bære vidne om forholdene dér og hermed lade omverdenen forstå dialektikken mellem center og periferi.


Osama bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har i de sidste mange år været utilgængelige for vestlige journalister og forskere. I marts 1997 interviewede journalisterne Peter Bergen og Peter Arnett og fotografen Peter Jouvenal Osama bin Laden i Afghanistan. Et foto af denne begivenhed findes i Peter Bergen’s The Osama bin Laden I Know med undertitlen An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader. I denne bog samler Bergen egne og andres indtryk af mennesket bin Laden til et kalejdoskopisk livsforløb. Det er bemærkelsesværdigt at meget få afghanere har bidraget til bogen. Den pakistanske journalist Hamid Mir giver sit besyv med. Han er den eneste fritstående journalist, der har interviewet bin Laden efter 11. September. Derudover stammer de repræsentationer af bin Laden, som Bergen viderebringer, mest fra saudier, egyptere og andre arabere, samt fra enkelte vesterlændinge. Billedet af bin Laden tegnes således ikke af de folk, som han har boet iblandt i mange år nemlig afghanerne og pakistanerne. Disse subalterne folk, hvis liv er påvirket af deres arabiske gæster, høres næppe i Bergens bog.

Lawrence Wrights monumentale bog Al Qaida. Vejen til 11. September er ligesom Bergens journalistisk, men Wright formår på en sjælden måde at flette de utallige oplysninger, som han baserer sin bog på, sammen til én lang fortælling om de skæbner, der krydsedes 11. September 2001. Desuden har Wright i et par artikler i The New Yorker formået at give et interessant indblik i Zawahiris liv og levned.

Til trods for at Osama bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har været utilgængelige i en årrække har de ikke været tavse. Deres foretrukne kommunikationsmåde har været videoer produceret af al Qaidas eget propagandaapparat al-Sahab (Skyerne.)[ii] Jeg vil kun i begrænset omfang henvise direkte til disse produktioner. I det følgende vil jeg især benytte Bergen og Wright som kilder.

Fremmede på længerevarende feltarbejde

Antropologiens adelsmærke siges at være det længerevarende feltarbejde. Nu omstunder har antropologer ikke længer tid til unødigt at forlænge afstanden mellem tanke og faktura, men idealet blandt rigtige antropologer er stadig at bo i mindst ét år blandt de fremmede i det fremmede. Det har Zawahiri og bin Laden også gjort. Ligesom antropologer og andre på længevarende feltarbejde har de dermed fået den rolle, som den tyske sociolog Georg Simmel benævnte ”strangers”:

The stranger is thus being discussed here, not in the sense often touched upon in the past, as the wanderer who comes today and goes tomorrow, but rather as the person who comes today and stays tomorrow. He is, so to speak, the potential wanderer: although he has not moved on, he has not quite overcome the freedom of coming and going. He is fixed within a particular spatial group, or within a group whose boundaries are similar to spatial boundaries. But his position in this group is determined, essentially, by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, that he imports qualities into it, which do not and cannot stem from the group itself (Simmel).

Den fremmede var i Simmels analyse en ”objektiv” person, fordi vedkommende kunne bevare en vis distance. Den fremmede har ofte vundet folks tillid, men han er også blevet udsat for mistænksomhed: ”In uprisings of all sorts, the party attacked has claimed, from the beginning of things, that provocation has come from the outside, through emissaries and instigators” (Simmel).

Hvis lange ophold er mistænkelige i de lokales øjne, er lange fravær mistænksomme i hjemlandets øjne. Antropologer med lange fravær bag sig er ofte blevet beskyldt for at have ”gone native”, at have mistet deres oprindelige identitet. Længerevarende ophold i det fremmede sætter den fremmedes loyalitet over for sit oprindelige hjemland på en prøve. Både bin Laden og Zawahiri er kommet på kant med deres hjemlande. Zawahiri havde allerede været involveret i statsfjendtlige aktiviteter, før han kom til Pakistan for første gang. Bin Laden fik meget lang snor fra Saudi Arabien, som støttede hans projekter, men den Saudiske kongefamilie (som havde gjort bin Ladens far hovedrig) endte med at fratage Osama hans statsborgerskab i 1994 ligesom hans familie samme år (eller først efter 11. September?) slog hånden af ham. På trods af at den fremmede med års udlændighed bag sig kan opnå en privilegeret ”objektiv” position, ses vedkommende ofte på med blandede følelser i både sine gamle og sine nye omgivelser.

Efter Sovjetunionens invasion i Afghanistan i 1979 øgedes antallet af signifikante udlændinge i Afghanistan. Afghanerne blev stillet over for et valg mellem de fremmede. Nogle afghanere allierede sig med Sovjetunionen; andre førte modstandskamp i samarbejde med både Vesten, Pakistan og den øvrige muslimske verden. Ifølge Bergen var en af årsagerne til at bin Laden besluttede at danne egne arabiske enheder i stedet for at lade frivillige indsluse i afghanske enheder, at bin Laden ville forhindre, at de arabiske frivillige blev inddraget i indre afghanske stridigheder eller ”political games” (Bergen, s. 29). Strategien må siges at være mislykkedes: Saudierne og de fleste andre arabere bibeholdt ganske vist en grad af etnisk og social eksklusivitet, men de mistede deres ”objektivitet” og blev inddraget i afghanske modsætninger i den grad, at der opstod et ”Great Game” om loyalitet og indflydelse. Bergen fremhæver to akser: Palæstinenseren Abdullah Azzam, som blev bin Ladens guru, da han først kom til Pakistan, opnåede tidligt en forståelse med den afghanske krigsherre Ahmad Shah Massoud. Zawahiri derimod skabte en tæt forbindelse til krigsherren Gulbuddin Hekhmatyar. Azzam blev myrdet i 1989. Bergen er tilbøjelig til at tro, at Hekhmatyar og Zawahiri lå bag mordet på Azzam (Bergen, s. 93). Hekhmatyar og Massoud forblev fjender indtil Massoud blev dræbt af al Qaida udsendinge 9. September 2001. Forløbet viser at The Great Game om magten over Afghanistan startede allerede kort tid efter at de fremmede var ankommet til regionen, og at spillet delte såvel de lokale som de fremmede. De fremmede kunne ikke oparbejde den neutralitet, som udefrakommende, ifølge Simmel, kan erhverve sig.

Deltager-observation: Deltagelse

Antropologers foretrukne arbejdsmetode er kendt under navnet deltager-observation og bygger på idéen om at man bedst lærer at forstå et samfund ved at indlogere sig tæt på de lokale for at kunne deltage i dagligdagen. De færreste antropologer er vant til at arbejde i marken og det er derfor ofte begrænset hvad de i praksis får udrettet som deltagere (Ovesen 1988: 93). Som terrorist og guerilla-soldat er der desuden naturlige grænser for i hvor høj grad man kan tillade sig at deltage i omgivelsernes daglige aktiviteter. På den anden side er det ifølge Mao kendetegnende for den effektive guerillaenhed, at den oppebærer en høj grad af kontakt med det omgivende værtssamfund: ”the guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea” eller i en anden oversættelse ”The people are like water and the army is like fish” (Mao i Aspects of China’s Anti-Japanese Struggle fra 1948).

Bin Laden var blandt de første arabere, som kom til Pakistan for at hjælpe afghanske flygtninge efter Sovjetunionen gik ind i Afghanistan i julen 1979. Flere tusinde arabere fulgte efter, men på et givet tidspunkt var det kun nogle få hundrede til stede. De fleste arbejdede som nødhjælpsarbejdere (Bergen s 63). Kun et mindretal var soldater. Nogle var på meget korte ophold, hvad en saudisk journalist kaldte ”Jihad vacation” (Bergen s. 41), hvor mere eller mindre velbemidlede entreprenante arabere valgte at tilbringe en kortere periode i farlige omgivelser ligesom turister, der gerne vil være de første på et eftertragtet sted før stedet bliver ødelagt af masseturisme (jf. Damm 1995).

Moderne hensynsfuld eller bæredygtig turisme søger at regulere tilstrømningen og afstrømningen, så den er i overensstemmelse med de lokale forhold. Indtil han blev dræbt i 1989 gjorde Abdullah Azzam et stort arbejde med at kanalisere arabere og andre ind i systemet via et kontor i Peshawar kaldet Services Offices (Bergen s. 92). Som helhed må man dog nok sige, at trods Azzams og bin Ladens organisatoriske evner har mujahideen-markedet været et ret dårligt reguleret marked. Jeg husker selv en dag i begyndelsen af 1992, hvor jeg skulle lave et opkald fra hovedpostkontoret i Peshawar i Pakistan. Postkontoret var fuldt af radikale ”brødre”, der ringede hid og did for at få kontakt med andre ”brødre”, som ofte ikke anede hvem de talte med – et problem der forstærkedes af at alle dengang som nu opererede under en række pseudonymer. Der var allokerings-problemer i mujahideen-sektoren. Det er måske ikke usædvanligt, når folk bevæger sig langt væk hjemmefra. Når studerende tager på feltarbejde ender de oftest et sted, hvor de kan skaffe kontakter gennem deres netværker (deres lærere eller deres medstuderende eller deres arbejdspladser) snarere end et sted tilsagt af faglige overvejelser.

Det har oftest været eksterne faktorer, som har nedjusteret antallet af frivillige og hellige krigere. Iran har aldrig været opmarchland for hellige krigere på samme måde som Pakistan. I lang tid var der stort set fri passage i Pakistan, men efter 11. September begyndte Pakistan at tynde ud i antallet af fremmede krigere. I FATA ledte Pakistans øgede pres på al Qaida efter 2001 til sammenstød mellem pashtuner indbyrdes om hvor lange veksler usbekere og andre skulle kunne trække på gæstevenskabet og den fælles kamp mod de vantro.


Hvad angår indkvarteringsforhold for de fremmede lader der til at have været tre hovedformer:

Gæstehuse i byer for de nyligt ankomne eller etablerede islamister under udnyttelse af byernes relative anonymitet[iii]

Pensionatslignende former hvor lokale stormænd og krigsherrer – tilskyndet af en kulturel fordring om grænseløs gæstfrihed – tillader udenlandske krigere at bo, arbejde og måske endog at indgå ægteskab lokalt under deres beskyttelse, ofte formodentlig mod pekuniære eller militære modydelser

Befæstede militærlejre i mere eller mindre afsidesliggende områder ofte udelukkende beboet af arabiske krigere

De tre typer kan kombineres: For så vidt som privatpersoner tilbyder hellige krigere  gratis logi, således som Zawahiri har opfordret til, sparer organisationen penge, der ellers skulle have brugt på at leje eller købe egnede opholdssteder.[iv] Hvorom alt er muliggør to af disse bosættelsesformer en grad af deltagelse i det omgivende samfund: Gæstehus-logerende og stormands-gæster kan i visse tilfælde bevæge sig omkring og dermed deltage i det omgivende samfundsliv. Alligevel har de færreste fremmede krigere lært sig pakistanske eller afghanske sprog. Dette gælder også al Qaidas ledere. I sin tale til de pakistanske folk i august 2008 medgiver Zawahiri, at han ikke har lært det charmerende sprog Urdu trods sine mange års ophold i området. Det må have gjort det svært for ham at kommunikere med afghanere og pakistanere, som i reglen ikke forstår hverken talt eller skrevet arabisk. For at nå ud til pakistanerne talte Zawahiri engelsk, hvilket han beklagede. Man må dog lade Zawahiri, at han allerede tidligt nærmere sig afghanerne ved at bære afghansk klædedragt. De udenlandske krigere, som har været flittigst ti at lær lokale sprog er måske usbekerne i FATA, hvoraf mange siges at have lært sig pashtoo. Dette kan hænge sammen med at de har haft tættere relationer til deres værter igennem længere tid.

Udenlandske krigere i lejre kan beskrives som rene ”ex-pat kolonier”. Disse lejre har formodentlig været ydmyge på trods af at bin Laden i tråd med sin entreprenør-baggrund har brugt mange penge på at udbygge infrastrukturen. I kapitel 3 ”From Donor to Holy Warrior” nævner Bergen lejren nær landsbyen Jaji, som var bin Ladens første base i det østlige Afghanistan oprettet 1986-7 (altså et par år før al Qaida blev dannet) kun ti mil fra grænsen til Pakistan. Lejren kaldtes al Masada, Løvernes Hule. Sammenlignet med de ca. 170.000-250.00 afghaneres, som selv bekæmpede Sovjetunionens soldater, var de arabiske soldaters indsats symbolsk, men eftersom bin Laden regnede de arabiske soldater for mere modige, fordi de bevidst søgte martyriet, regnede han en araber for mere værd på slagmarken end en afghaner. Løvernes Hule var således et tidligt eksempel på en ren arabisk lejr.

Hvor Azzam, ifølge Bergen, ville sprede araberne, ville bin Laden at de skulle danne egne enheder. Allerede i 1984-85 var (nogle i) Services Office bevidst om at etablere særskilte gæstehuse for arabere. Bergen citerer algiereren Boudejema Bounoua for at have sagt:

”We have founded this bureau to gather the Arabs and to send them inside Afghanistan instead of going to the guesthouse of [someone like Afghan leader Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar. It’s better to save them from the political games of Afghans. So we need to stay in separate guesthouses. We are here as servants. We are proud to serve the boots of the mujahideen inside Afghanistan. We are not here to guide them, to tell them what to do. We are here to serve them, to liberale their land”. (Bergen p. 29).

I tiden omkring det amerikanske angreb på Tohra Bohra cirkulerede i blandt andet den danske presse historier om befæstede luksuriøse hulebyggerier dybt i bjergets indre. Bergens portræt af Jaji og senere lejre underbygger ikke disse rapporter om luksus. I den årrække, hvor Taliban var ved magten i det meste af Afghanistan, levede bin Laden og hans nærmeste dog et noget mere komfortabelt og sikkert liv som Mullah Omars gæster i Kandahar. Bergen (?) refererer således et besøg aflagt af en gæst, som var i stand til at gå helt ind i bin Ladens gemakker, fordi der ikke var nogen hjemme. Mens han boede i Kandahar var Bin Laden i stand til at tage på udflugter for at skyde fugle eller han kunne tage familien med på picnic, hvor konerne og børnene fik mulighed for at lave lidt ”simple physical exercises” (Bergen, s. 266). Hvilken form for gymnastik de lavede melder Bergen ikke noget om, men eftersom bin Laden havde gået i en fin skole kan man formode, at han havde lært almindelig gymnastik dér. Dertil kom at bin Laden på udflugterne oplærte sine koner i brugen af skydevåben.

Bergens beskrivelser tegner et billede af en ret så kedelig hverdag udlevet i afsondring fra det omgivende samfund. De TV-billedsekvenser vi alle har set, hvor bin Laden ses omgivet af sine skydegale mænd, er i virkeligheden undtagelser. Interviews med vestlige journalister har været få og kortvarige og mit nedtryk er, at bin Laden og Zawahiri heller ikke har frekventeret al-Sahah studiet særligt ofte. Bergen kalkulerer, at bin Laden og Zawahiri har produceret et lydbånd eller videotape hver 6. uge efter 11. September (Bergen, s. 377). Mit gæt er, at de to topterrorister oftest har haft en ret indholdsløs dagligdag med ret få møder, men dog afbrudt af relativt hyppige besøg af beundrere. De to ledere har i hvert fald ikke været gjort til genstand for en større offentlig daglig kult med lange taler og parader. Lederne er i stedet blevet projiceret enten via de trykte og elektroniske medier eller gennem personlige møder. En undtagelse var Osamas søns bryllup, hvor 4-500 gæster (de fleste fra al Qaida og ikke fra Taliban) var inviteret til Kandahar i begyndelsen af 2001. Bin Ladens bidrag til festen for sønnen Muhammad var et lille digt, som næppe vil sikre ham en plads i den orientalske poesis annaler (Bergen, s. 256). Man kan indvende mod denne argumentation, at bin Laden nødvendigvis afstår fra offentlige fremtrædener af sikkerhedshensyn. Det medgiver jeg, men Tv-produktioner er i sig selv også en sikkerhedsrisiko. Bergen er af den opfattelse, at det bedste spor til bin Laden er al-Jazeeras kontor i Pakistan (Bergen, s. 377).

Observation og teori

Flere af de ”tidligt-moderne” muslimske erobrere af al-Hind var gode observatører. Mest berømte var stormogulerne. Dynastiets fremtrædende mænd førte detaljerede dagbøger, hvori de beskrev flora og fauna og meget andet i deres nye omgivelser. Senere britiske erobrere og koloniembedsmænd var banebrydende etnografer, historikere og naturhistorikere. Nutidens arabiske gæster i regionen har indtil videre ikke udvist et lignende talent. Jeg vil hævde, at den stive form for Islam, de har bragt med sig, står i vejen for både observation af og teoridannelse om omgivelserne. Dertil kan man indvende at det eneste form for observation og teori, som militære ledere kan forventes at befatte sig med, er viden direkte relateret til krig og terror og at de arabiske gæster har været innovative på dette område.[v] Ikke desto mindre vil jeg argumentere for, at de teorier eller verdensbilleder, som bin Laden og Zawahiri tog med sig i felten, har bidraget til at befæste deres teoretisk fattigdom selv i de sydasiatiske omgivelser, som kunne give anledning til eftertanke.

Rationaliseringen (forstået i Webers forstand forstået som de måder systematisk tænkning i får samfundet til at rykke fremad) af Islam er ikke særlig vellykket på trods af en stor indsats for at udforme religionen til en konsistent samling påbud og forbud. Zawahiri og bin Laden har af og til forsøgt at underbygge deres aktioner med fatwaer udstedt af religiøse autoriteter for derved at skabe et konsistent handlingsgrundlag, men sådanne blåstemplinger oftest har de udstedt deres egne fatwaer. At gængse autoriteter inden for religionen ofte ikke støtter al Qaida, fortolkes af al Qaida som et udtryk for at disse autoriteter er korrupte. Som det ofte er tilfældet i Islam ender intern debat derfor ofte i gensidige beskyldninger om at modparten ikke er muslim, men en fredløs frafalden (Bergen, s. 74). Denne teoretiske dead-end har medvirket til at isolere al Qaida.

Zawahiri er ellers rundet af en veluddannet familie. Hans slægt tæller en lang række læger og flere skolede teologer. Zawahiri begyndte sin revolutionære karriere i sit hjemland, men tog ligesom bin Laden tidligt til Pakistan. Zawahiri og hans bror Mohammad var tilknyttet gruppen Al Jihad. Da de begyndte at rekruttere deres landsmænd til den afghanske jihad kom de hurtigt på kollisionskurs med ægyptere fra den Islamiske Gruppe (Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya):

Before long, representatives of the Islamic Group appeared on the scene, and once again the old rivalry flared up. Osama Rushdi, who had known Zawahiri in prison, told me that he was shocked by the changes he found in him. In Egypt, Zawahiri had struck him as polite and modest. “Now he was very antagonistic toward others,” Rushdi recalled. “He talked badly about the other groups and wrote books against them. In discussions, he started to take things in a weird way. He would have strong opinions without any sense of logic.” (Wright 2002)

Zawahiri har som nævnt skrevet to bøger. Disse er begge nedslag i den standende debat om den hellige krigs principper. Hans anden bog blev skrevet for at gendrive den dybdeborende kritik af Zawahiri og af al Qaida, som Dr Fadl (egentlig Imam al-Sharif) havde fremført. De to kendte hinanden fra medicin-studiet i Cairo og de havde arbejdet sammen i Peshawar i Røde Halvmåne efter begge at have været involveret i terrorisme i Ægypten. Wright skriver:

Fadl held a low opinion of Zawahiri’s abilities as a surgeon. “He asked me to stand with him and teach him how to perform operations,” Fadl told Al Hayat. “I taught him until he could perform them on his own. Were it not for that, he would have been exposed, as he had contracted for a job for which he was unqualified.”

In the mid-eighties, Fadl became Al Jihad’s emir, or chief. (Fadl told Al Hayat that this was untrue, saying that his role was merely one of offering “Sharia guidance.”) Zawahiri, whose reputation had been stained by his prison confessions [efter mordet på Sadat havde Zawahiri under tortur og manipulation forrådt en af de eftersøgt], was left to handle tactical operations. He had to defer to Fadl’s superior learning in Islamic jurisprudence. The jihadis who came to Peshawar revered Fadl for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Koran and the Hadith—the sayings of the Prophet (Wright 2008a).

I 1988 udgav Fadl The Essential Guide for Preparation en håndbog i jihad, som blev flittigt brugt af al Qaida. Argumentet heri lød:

”The “Guide” begins with the premise that jihad is the natural state of Islam. Muslims must always be in conflict with nonbelievers, Fadl asserts, resorting to peace only in moments of abject weakness. Because jihad is, above all, a religious exercise, there are divine rewards to be gained. He who gives money for jihad will be compensated in Heaven, but not as much as the person who acts. The greatest prize goes to the martyr. Every able-bodied believer is obligated to engage in jihad, since most Muslim countries are ruled by infidels who must be forcibly removed, in order to bring about an Islamic state. “The way to bring an end to the rulers’ unbelief is armed rebellion,” the “Guide” states” (Wright 2008a).

I 1994 begik Fadl The Compendium of the Pursuit of Divine Knowledge, som også er en opfordring til jihad mod snart sagt alle afvigere, herunder muslimer som ekskommunikeres af andre muslimer med henvisning til doktrinen om takfir (Wright 2008a). Zawahiri var yderst tilfreds med denne bog, men han redigerede i den uden forfatterens tilladelse. Blandt andet ændrede han titlen til Guide to the Path of Righteousness for Jihad and Belief og fjernede Fadls kritik af den Islamiske Gruppe, fordi Zawahiri på det tidspunkt var ved at tilnærme sig gruppen. Fadl afslørede Zawahiris manipulationer og fjendskabet mod dem forøgedes til højder, som er akademikere værdigt: ”Zawahiri and Fadl have not spoken since, but their war of words was only beginning”.

I de følgende år tog stadig flere gamle ægyptiske jihadister afstand fra jihad, dels af pragmatiske runde – de ville alligevel ikke vinde – dels af ud fra mere etiske overvejelser. Lange fængselsstraffe og lange debatter i fængslerne bidrog til denne proces. 11. September satte yderligere skub i disse overvejelser, som udmundede i bekendelser, hvor jihadister (som e.g. Karam Zuhdy, en Islamic Group leder) tog afstand fra deres fortid: ”Zuhdy publicly apologized to the Egyptian people for the Islamic Group’s violent deeds, beginning with the murder of Sadat, whom he called a martyr” (Wright 2002).

Fadl selv blev efter 11. September anholdt i Yemen og overflyttet til et ægyptisk fængsel, hvor han stadig befinder sig. Herfra har han fra 2007 udgivet en række revisionistiske artikler startende med “Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World” som udkom på 10-års dagen for massakren på turister i Luxor. Hermed følger Wrights lange opsummering af Fadls argument:

The premise that opens “Rationalizing Jihad” is “There is nothing that invokes the anger of God and His wrath like the unwarranted spilling of blood and wrecking of property.” Fadl then establishes a new set of rules for jihad, which essentially define most forms of terrorism as illegal under Islamic law and restrict the possibility of holy war to extremely rare circumstances. His argument may seem arcane, even to most Muslims, but to men who had risked their lives in order to carry out what they saw as the authentic precepts of their religion, every word assaulted their world view and brought into question their own chances for salvation.

In order to declare jihad, Fadl writes, certain requirements must be observed. One must have a place of refuge. There should be adequate financial resources to wage the campaign. Fadl castigates Muslims who resort to theft or kidnapping to finance jihad: “There is no such thing in Islam as ends justifying the means.” Family members must be provided for. “There are those who strike and then escape, leaving their families, dependents, and other Muslims to suffer the consequences,” Fadl points out. “This is in no way religion or jihad. It is not manliness.” Finally, the enemy should be properly identified in order to prevent harm to innocents. “Those who have not followed these principles have committed the gravest of sins,” Fadl writes.

To wage jihad, one must first gain permission from one’s parents and creditors. The potential warrior also needs the blessing of a qualified imam or sheikh; he can’t simply respond to the summons of a charismatic leader acting in the name of Islam. “Oh, you young people, do not be deceived by the heroes of the Internet, the leaders of the microphones, who are launching statements inciting the youth while living under the protection of intelligence services, or of a tribe, or in a distant cave or under political asylum in an infidel country,” Fadl warns. “They have thrown many others before you into the infernos, graves, and prisons.”

Even if a person is fit and capable, jihad may not be required of him, Fadl says, pointing out that God also praises those who choose to isolate themselves from unbelievers rather than fight them. Nor is jihad required if the enemy is twice as powerful as the Muslims; in such an unequal contest, Fadl writes, “God permitted peace treaties and cease-fires with the infidels, either in exchange for money or without it—all of this in order to protect the Muslims, in contrast with those who push them into peril.” In what sounds like a deliberate swipe at Zawahiri, he remarks, “Those who have triggered clashes and pressed their brothers into unequal military confrontations are specialists neither in fatwas nor in military affairs. . . . Just as those who practice medicine without background should provide compensation for the damage they have done, the same goes for those who issue fatwas without being qualified to do so.”

Despite his previous call for jihad against unjust Muslim rulers, Fadl now says that such rulers can be fought only if they are unbelievers, and even then only to the extent that the battle will improve the situation of Muslims. Obviously, that has not been the case in Egypt or most other Islamic countries, where increased repression has been the usual result of armed insurgency. Fadl quotes the Prophet Muhammad advising Muslims to be patient with their flawed leaders: “Those who rebel against the Sultan shall die a pagan death.”

Fadl repeatedly emphasizes that it is forbidden to kill civilians—including Christians and Jews—unless they are actively attacking Muslims. “There is nothing in the Sharia about killing Jews and the Nazarenes, referred to by some as the Crusaders,” Fadl observes. “They are the neighbors of the Muslims . . . and being kind to one’s neighbors is a religious duty.” Indiscriminate bombing—“such as blowing up of hotels, buildings, and public transportation”—is not permitted, because innocents will surely die. “If vice is mixed with virtue, all becomes sinful,” he writes. “There is no legal reason for harming people in any way.” The prohibition against killing applies even to foreigners inside Muslim countries, since many of them may be Muslims. “You cannot decide who is a Muslim or who is an unbeliever or who should be killed based on the color of his skin or hair or the language he speaks or because he wears Western fashion,” Fadl writes. “These are not proper indications for who is a Muslim and who is not.” As for foreigners who are non-Muslims, they may have been invited into the country for work, which is a kind of treaty. What’s more, there are many Muslims living in foreign lands considered inimical to Islam, and yet those Muslims are treated fairly; therefore, Muslims should reciprocate in their own countries. To Muslims living in non-Islamic countries, Fadl sternly writes, “I say it is not honorable to reside with people—even if they were nonbelievers and not part of a treaty, if they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum with a decent life and other acts of kindness—and then betray them, through killing and destruction. This was not in the manners and practices of the Prophet.” ….

The most original argument in the book and the interview is Fadl’s assertion that the hijackers of 9/11 “betrayed the enemy,” because they had been given U.S. visas, which are a contract of protection. “The followers of bin Laden entered the United States with his knowledge, and on his orders double-crossed its population, killing and destroying,” Fadl continues. “The Prophet—God’s prayer and peace be upon him—said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, every double-crosser will have a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.’ ” (Wright 2008a)

Zahwahiris svar kom i form af et 200-sider langt ”brev” med titlen The Exoneration, Frikendelsen. Heri fremturer Zawahiri mod Islams mange indre og ydre fjender, men han kommer også ind på de argumenter Fadl rejser punkt for punkt:

To dispute Fadl’s assertion that Muslims living in non-Islamic countries are treated fairly, Zawahiri points out that in some Western countries Muslim girls are forbidden to wear hijab to school. Muslim men are prevented from marrying more than one wife, and from beating their wives, as allowed by some interpretations of Sharia. Muslims are barred from donating money to certain Islamic causes, although money is freely and openly raised for Israel. He cites the 2005 cartoon controversy in Denmark and the celebrity of the author Salman Rushdie as examples of Western countries exalting those who denigrate Islam. He says that some Western laws prohibiting anti-Semitic remarks would forbid Muslims to recite certain passages in the Koran dealing with the treachery of the Jews (Wright 2008).

Wright ender med at påpege hvad ham kalder Islams ”rotten intellectual bits and pieces”:

Zawahiri’s argument demonstrates why Islam is so vulnerable to radicalization. It is a religion that was born in conflict, and in its long history it has developed a reservoir of opinions and precedents that are supposed to govern the behavior of Muslims toward their enemies. Some of Zawahiri’s commentary may seem comically academic, as in this citation in support of the need for Muslims to prepare for jihad: “Imam Ahmad said: ‘We heard from Harun bin Ma’ruf, citing Abu Wahab, who quoted Amru bin al-Harith citing Abu Ali Tamamah bin Shafi that he heard Uqbah bin Amir saying, “I heard the Prophet say from the pulpit: ‘Against them make ready your strength.’ ” ’ Strength refers to shooting arrows and other projectiles from instruments of war.” And yet such proofs of the rightfulness of jihad, or taking captives, or slaughtering the enemy are easily found in the commentaries of scholars, the rulings of Sharia courts, the volumes of the Prophet’s sayings, and the Koran itself. Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Egyptian Grand Mufti, has pointed out that literalism is often the prelude to extremism. “We must not oversimplify,” he told me. Crude interpretations of Islamic texts can lead men like Zawahiri to conclude that murder should be celebrated. They come to believe that religion is science.”

The War on Terror er måske ved at være slut i dens nuværende fase. The War on Error er ikke slut. Hvis Zawahiri er en teoretisk forarmet stivstikker kan det samme så siges om bin Laden eller har bin Laden nogle formidlende karaktertræk?

Bin Ladens formidlende karaktertræk?: Ydmyghed

Bin Ladens far var en meget succesfuld entreprenør. Han fik ca. 54 børn, hvoraf flere er veluddannede. Osama fuldførte ikke selv en længerevarende boglig uddannelse. I sine yngre år i Peshawar var han ret så tavs. Til gengæld giver Bergens kilder indtryk af, at bin Laden var i stand til at lytte. Han var ikke anmassende og han forsøgte ikke at overdøve andre: ”… he carried himself in a very low-key kind of way; he wasn’t a fire-breathing terrorist, he comported himself like a cleric”, bevidner Bergen baseret på sit møde med bin Laden i 1997 (Bergen s. 182). Netop derfor, mener jeg, har arabiske frivillige, som ønskede at indrullere sig i al Qaida, opsøgt ham i stort tal. En tunesisk ex-foldboldstjerne ved navn Nizar Trabelsi husker således, hvordan bin Laden småsnakkede med ham om hans familie og sine problemer, da Trabelsi fik foretræde (Bergen, s. 269-70). Bin Laden var tillige gavmild og afviste aldrig nogle selv når hans pengepung var ved at være tom, hvilket faktisk hændte (Bergen, s. 267, 56).[vi] Abdul Jandal ræsonnerede: ”I believe that God raised Osama bin Laden to a high status because despite his great wealth, he was very modest, and attached only to what rewards God would give him” (Bergen, s. 267). Bin Laden overbeviste eller forførte med andre ord potentielle rekrutter gennem sine talegaver og sit vindende væsen (Bergen, s. 265). Efter potentielle rekrutter var gået i nettet allokerede bin Laden dem så til de sine operationelt aktive underordnede.

Bin Ladens families levestandard beskrives som jævn og på ingen måde prangende. Da Mullah Omar tilbød bin Laden et valg mellem to steder at bo i Kandahar valgte bin Laden stedet med færrest faciliteter og uden rindende vand (Bergen, s. 194). Bin Ladens børn lignede alle andre: ”You wouldn’t believe it – they’re kids running around in old clothes”, husker Noman Benotman, en libisk kriger (Bergen, s. 175). Den datter, som på et tidspunkt rapporteredes at gå rundt i stramme jeans i selve lejren, melder Bergens bog ikke noget om.

Er denne type leder genkendelig? Mig minder disse beskrivelser af bin Laden om indiske gurus, som ofte sætter en ære i ”simple living” samtidig med at de ikke lægger skjul på, at de fra deres plads på periferiens Archimedes-punkt er i stand til uden de store armbevægelser at bevæge hele verden (jf. Nanda 2009, s. 80?). Indere opsøger ofte sådanne personer for at ”få deres darshan”, i.e. for at få del i deres spirituelle kraft ved at se på dem og ved at dvæle i deres nærvær. Bin Laden lader til at have noget af den samme karismatiske tiltrækningskraft. Bin Ladens evne til at lytte, small-talke og bedåre ændrede imidlertid ikke hans grundlæggende teori. Hans sociale kompetencer lader ikke til at have forøget hans intellektuelle kapital ret meget. Problemet i den måde bin Laden fremtræder – som en ydmyg uskyldig other-wordly asket der har forsaget sin fædrene rigdom – er, vil jeg hævde, at denne fremtrædelsesform ikke rimer med, at han samtidig stræber efter noget der nærmer sig verdensherredømme gennem brug af terror. Al Qaedas storhedstid hvad angår terroraktioner internationalt ligger i årene og til 11. September 2001. Efter den tid har al Qaida ikke kunnet gennemføre lignende aktioner uden for Afghanistan og Pakistan, men de har kunnet sprede frygt og rædsel over den ganske jord. At sprede frygt og rædsel og at ville herske over andre gennem terror rimer ikke med at være en ydmyg asket uden personlige ambitioner.

Dobbeltheden i bin Ladens karakter kom frem i en video, der viser ham modtage en gæst i Jalalabad i november 2001 (Bergen, s. 282-3). Bin Laden beretter for gæsten, at han havde forventet mindre ødelæggelse i New Yorks tvillingetårne end der faktisk skete. På videoen er selskabet meget fornøjede over, at det gik bedre end bin Laden havde regnet med. En dansk kommentar til synet af dette selskab var: ”Cykeltyve i jakkesæt”. Jeg mener det er en rammende kommentar: ”Jakkesæt” fordi selskabet bestod af disse pæne lidt ældre herrer. ”Cykeltyve” fordi det de havde gang i var kriminelt.

 Symbiose eller snylteri?

Ifølge Bente Wollfs studie af turisme på den indonesiske ø Nias forsøger værter at inkorporere gæster i deres samfund ved at indbyde dem til at bo og spise i deres store huse, som dermed omdannes til hoteller. Derved overfører de velbeslåede turister en del af deres rigdom til værterne, og samtidig opnår de lokale familier kontrol med de fremmede, som ellers kan virke farlige: “the enemy on the road is the guest in the house“ (Wolff 1999, kapitel 4). Gæster kan imidlertid være vanskelige at håndtere. I Afghanistan og Pakistan kan det være svært at afgøre, om al Qaida har levet i symbiose med sine værter eller om de fremmede har været en form for parasitter.

En god gæst bringer ikke sin vært i unødig fare, men skønt Mullah Omar flere gange bad/forbød bin Laden om ikke at foretage terroraktioner rundt om i verden ud fra sin base in Afghanistan fortsatte bin Laden sine aktioner uden at koordinere med Mullah Omar (Bergen, s. 161). Således indviede han tilsyneladende ikke Mullah Omar om 11. September på forhånd. Resultatet af aktionen var at Taliban blev væltet og Mullah Omar mistede sit emirat. I den forstand har al Qaida været en parasit, som har sat sig på sin vært.

Et lignende billede tegner fotografen Steve McCurry, som tog det berømte National Geographic billede af en afghansk pige med lysende grønne øjne. Idet han modstillede sit eget forhold til afghanerne med arabernes, gav McCurry sine værter og de andre gæster følgende skudsmål:

”The Afghans are really friendly people, and I could basically just kind of walk around with one person, even unarmed. For the [Arabs] to come in and act as though it was their war, their country, and they were treating the Afghans like they were just these sort of uneducated, uncouth, illiterate sort of bumpkins [who] didn’t really get it. These guys, they’re really, really nasty and very aggressive and very condescending, and just hateful. And the Afghans, actually it was their country being basically slowly destroyed, and they were often very good-humored” (Bergen, s. 89).

Bergens bog leverer andre eksempler på ødelæggende arabisk fremfærd. For eksempel betalte bin Laden på et tidspunkt i 1980erne pakistanske folkevalgte store bestikkelser for at de skulle afgive et mistillidsvotum mod Benazir Bhutto i Pakistans lovgivende forsamling. Benazir Bhutto reagerede på denne uhørte fornærmelse af en gæst på tålt ophold med at smide bin Laden ud af landet.

Bin Laden var tilbage i Afghanistan i 1996 og indgik et samarbejde med Mullah Omar, hvor bin Laden leverer penge og krigere mod til gengæld at få frie hænder som ”honored guest” (Bergen, s. 160-1). Mullah Omar lovede, ifølge Bergen, måske bin Laden at han aldrig ville udlevere ham (Bergen s. 164). I den forstand var Mullah Omar sin egen kulturs fange bundet af gæstevenskabet bud. Ifølge den pakistanske journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai sagde Mullah Omar:

”I know I can’t fight the Americans, but if God helps me I will survive. I don’t want to go down in history as someone who betrayed his guest. I am willing to give my life, my regime; since we have given him refuge, I cannot throw him out now” (Bergen, s. 315).

I dette udsagn fremtræder Mullah Omar nærmest som fritaget for strafskyldighed pga sine pashtunske æresbegreber. Indespærret i sin kultur kan han ikke andet end holde hånden over bin Laden. Men havde Mullah Omar ingen brikker at rykke med? Mullah Omar taler arabisk. Skønt han kender meget lidt til verden som helhed er han dermed bekendt med i det mindste én kultur udover sin egen afghanske. Det skulle vel sætte ham i stand til at se sagen fra flere sider (som han i øvrigt også blev opfordret til af sin Udenrigsminister Wakil Ahmeh Muttawakil). Men hvad hvis de brikker, som Mullah Omar havde at rykke med, bestyrkede ham i hans adfærd? Problemet her er, at de arabiske og de afghanske samfund ligner hinanden ikke blot hvad angår religion som sådan, men også hvad angår social struktur og psykologi. Som ”soulmates” (Bergen, s??) indgår de let i et symbiotisk forhold.

Mange afghanere og arabere deler således en vis dødsforagtende fandenivoldsk antiautoritær oprørskhed. Afghanistan eller Pashtunernes land er blevet betegnet som Land of Insolence. “Insolence” betyder “uforskammethed“, eller ifølge The Concise Oxford Dictionary “ offensively contemptuous, insulting“. Afghanistan er i denne udlægning Yaghestan, The land of Rebels, eller med Louis Dupres ord ”Land of the Unruly, the Land of the Free and the Land of Insolence” (Dupres 1997). Det er samme egenskab, som Wright finder hos Zawahiri, der som dreng blev tilbudt et lift på vej hjem fra skolen af Egyptens vicepræsident og efter sigende afslog med ordene, “Vi vil ikke have et lift af en mand, der tog del i de domstole, der dræbte muslimer” (Wright, 2002, s. 55). Wright ser her et tidligt eksempel på Zawahiris hårdnakkede trodsighed, personlige frygtløshed og totale selvretfærdighed. De samme egenskaber genfindes blandt pashtunske ledere. For eksempel fremhæver Muhammad Ilyas Khan den nu afdøde Taliban-leder Nek Muhammad’s karaktertræk i en artikel indledt med ordene:

With his Byronic good looks and proud tribal mien, Nek Mohammad fearlessly cruises the rugged South Waziristan landscape in the company of his infamous guests as the hapless administration looks on. Just how does he do that?
Nek Muhammad ”proud tribal mien” viste sig også allerede i skolealderen, hvor han kom på kant med læreren og forlod klassen med en mine som om han ville vende tilbage for at dræbe læreren.[vii]

Så er Mullah Omar culpabel, hvis man medgiver at vært og gæst langt hen ad vejen bestyrker hinanden i deres reaktionsmønstre? At gæsten bragte værten Mullah Omar til fald tyder på gæsten var parasit og værten inculpabel. Omvendt er fælles kultur et godt moralsk og juridisk dække for kriminelle handlinger udført i gensidig forståelse.


Bergen, Peter 2006 The Osama bin Laden I Know. An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader, New York, Free Press.

Damm, Inge,1995, De nye turister. Eventyrere eller vandaler?, Fremad.

Muhammad Ilyas Khan, Nek Muhammad Wazir, Monthly Herald

Nanda, Meera, 2009, The God Market: How Globalization is making India more Hindu.

Ovesen, Ja, 1988, ”Gæsten og storpolitikken: Dialog med Pashai-folket i Afghanistan”, s. 87-110 i Kirsten Hastrrup og Kirsten Ramløv (red.), Feltarbejde. Oplevelse og metode i etnografien, Akademisk forlag.

Simmel, Georg, From Kurt Wolff (Trans.) The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press, 1950, s. 402 – 408, snuppet fra http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/STRANGER.HTML

South Asia News, ”Al-Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to support Taliban”, July 15, 2009.

Wolff, Bente, 1999, Extending the Self: Otherness in Cosmology adn Consumption, PhD, National Museum of Denmark and Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen.

Worth, Robert F, “Al-Qaeda’s Inner Circle”, anmeldelse af Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, i New York Review of Books, October 19, 2006, s. 12-6.

Wright, Lawrence, 2008a ”The Rebellion Within, An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism”, The New Yorker, 2. June 2008.


Wright, Lawrence 2008b Al-Qaida. Vejen til 11. September, København, People’s Press.

Wright, Lawrence, ”The Man Behind Bin Laden: How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror.” New Yorker, September 16, 2002,


[i] Tilføj re Lawrence Busch….

[ii] Zawahiri har forfattet to bøger. Den første fra 1980 bærer titler Knight under the Prophet’s Banner (Riddere under profetens fane). Se i øvrigt http://www.pwhce.org/zawahiri.html for arbejder af og om Zawahiri og http://www.pwhce.org/ubl.html for tilsvarende værker af og om bin Laden. Begge sider er forældede. Gilles Kepels og Jean-Pierre Milellis, Al Qaeda in its own wordsb har jeg desværre ikke konsulteret.

[iii] For eksempel, ”When bin Laden first came to Peshawar, he stayed at Azzam’s guesthouse”, (Wright 2002).

[iv] ”It is the individual duty of every Muslim in Pakistan to join the mujahideen, or at the very least, to support the jihad in Pakistan and Afghanistan with money, advice, expertise, information, communications, shelter and anything else he can offer”, ”Al-Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to support Taliban”, South Asia News, July 15, 2009.

[v] Spørgsmålet om videnskab generelt og militær teknologi specifikt er taget op af blandt andre Bernard Lewis med sigte på Osmannerne.

[vi] Ifølge Wright mistede bin Laden en stor del af sin formue under sit ophold i Sudan, hvor al Qaida transformeredes fra at være en terrororganisation til i højere grad at være et landbrugsudviklingsprojekt. Da bin Laden forlod Sudan var han angiveligt stort set pengeløs (fra Worth 2006: 16).

[vii] Jeg er klar over at Bin Laden ifølge nogle kilder ofte afholdt sig fra kamp, hvilket ikke underbygger argumentet om udbredelsen af denne noget hysteriske mandlige form for dødsforagt; se dog Bergen, s. 55-6 om bin Ladens heltemod.

Thailand: The terrorists that outsmarted the Government

Thailand has been plagued by terrorists for decades, almost a century even.

The people of especially the three most southern provinces – Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – lives like this: Almost all news from their part of the world involves bombs and someone dying. They attend funerals frequently. There are bullet holes in their kids’ classrooms. And no one goes about anywhere after dark. These people live in fear.

 Despite the high number of casualties – 4000 in the last five years – shifting Thai governments have been unable to stop the terror. Rather, it has managed to get the terrorism aimed at itself, leaving the people of the area largely without authorities, because talking to a police officer can literally get you killed. And people tend to try and avoid that.

The terrorists are an undefined group under two loosely structured movements: Barisan Revolusi National Patani (BRN) and Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), two groups of insurgents, who fight for an independent Muslim state in the area. Their weapons are bone chilling and range from setting booby traps with human heads as bait over roadside bombs to torture.

But however grisly the stories from the three provinces may be, the terrorists today are having no trouble gathering support for their cause.  

Because they are smart about their terrorism.  

Firstly – they contain the fighting within the border, thus making it a purely national problem. Secondly, they keep it out of the tourist areas and major cities, thus making it very easy to avoid international attention. And third – they are fighting for a cause, not fighting against an enemy, which makes it easy to sympathize.

It is the Thai government who has made itself the enemy to be fought; From official side, virtually all attempts to quash the insurgency, has been to install lots and lots of military and refuse to negotiate with anyone. It has been a maneuver in saving face by not giving into the insurgents and putting in more and more military. Today, there are 30,000 national troops posted in Patani and more to come, according to the country’s Foreign Minister.  

The massive military response have shaped the conflict into one with two clear sides and lots of weapon. Negotiation would probably be the most productive way to move forward, but having already put in so much military, a non-military approach at this point would cause the government to lose face.

So what to do? At this point it really does seem like the terrorists have the Thai Government backed into a corner and made the world as black and white as only the act of violence can make it. And national pride or not – for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, it comes down to this:

Do you want to save face or do you want to save lives?