Q.1 (Kourosh Ziabari): ISIS terrorists, and their ideological leaders, claim to be representing Islam and continually make the assertion that their pseudo-government is an “Islamic Caliphate.” At the same time, all the major Muslim scholars, both Sunni and Shiite, and the majority of Muslim world politicians, have condemned ISIS, and called it a deviant current whose practices run counter to the basic principles of Islamic faith. Has the global public believed the mantra that ISIS is really an Islamic state? What could be done to preclude the reinforcement of this conviction that ISIS carries out actions that are sanctioned by Islam, including the beheading of Christians and raping the women?
A.1 (Madhav Nalapat): Unfortunately, several individuals, especially in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have accepted the view that ISIS represents the "conqueror and fighting" phase of Islam, in which the Word of God got disseminated and accepted by vast territories and myriad peoples. Wahabbi thought explicitly posits that an equally sharp acceleration of dissemination of the faith ( ie Wahabbism) is feasible, and ISIS is feeding on this thought and this desire. Money comes from those who have in their personal lives been dissolute and believe that they can escape hellfire in the afterlife by helping ISIS (a view intelligently spread by the protagonists of this terrible creed), while recruitment takes place among the young already exposed to Wahabbi ideology, who regard it as feasible to engineer a second "conqueror and fighting" phase of Islam. The only way to prevent this is to return to the true meaning of the Word of God and get accepted the fact that the core qualities of a Believer are compassion, mercy and beneficience and not resort to violence and cruelty under any pretext. We must (1) separate the core qualities from the others are seek to ensure that these be universally accepted (2) excommunicate and not tolerate or pamper Wahabbis as being betrayers of the Word of God and (3) take strong action to eliminate any manifestations of this ideology, by military means wherever needed, otherwise mere statements against ISIS will not prevent the ideology from spreading.
Q.2 (KZ): The data and figures on the foreign fighters that have joined ISIS over the past 3 years are mind-boggling and unthinkable. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on January 29 that as many as 1,200 French citizens, 600 Britons, 250-300 Swedish nationals, 150 Austrians and more than 1,000 Germans have been fighting in the ranks of ISIS. Even the Australian government has reported that 100+ citizens of this Oceanic country have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight for the ISIS terrorists. Why have so many Westerners embarked on this risky journey of joining such a ruthless terrorist cult? Some commentators claim that they’re all immigrants and offspring of Muslim families in these countries. Is it really so?
A.2 (MN): A few are from the indigenous population but the overwhelming majority are from the immigrant population. Since the 1980s, there has developed within the member-states of NATO a cult of Wahabbi jihadism, which has been celebrated ever since such individuals were armed, trained and funded by NATO powers to do battle against the USSR in Afghanistan. Certainly the Soviet invasion needed to be reversed, but this job should have been left to Pashtun nationalists, who are religious moderates. Instead, such healthy elements in Afghan society were ignored in favour of Wahabbi fanatics, who were empowered to fight not only the USSR forces but also those Afghans who did not accept their toxic ideology. Textbooks inculcating hatred and a predisposition towards violence were designed in US universities to ensure that young minds globally turned towards Wahabbism. Since the 1980s, an estimated $ 380 billion has been expended by individuals, agencies and countries to build up the Wahabbi International. It should not therefore be a surprise that many of the young coming from Muslim countries where this indoctrination took place are turning to ISIS, which is after all from the same ideological matrix as other Wahabbi extremist groups. The USSR having collapsed in 1991, this "demon" has been replaced by the entire non-Wahabbi population of the globe, all of whom are seen as "devils" by Wahabbi ideologists. Even a casual look at Wahabbi literature would demonstrate this fact. Hence the need to criminalize Wahabbism worldwide and roll back the Wahabbi international network, including by removing Wahabbi literature from educational curricula.
Q.3 (KZ): In one of your pieces, you wrote that 1936-37 was the period when the Nazis could have been rolled back and eliminated efficiently. But the world didn’t take appropriate action, the Nazis rose to prominence and exterminated thousands of people. As you maintain, today is the best time for forming a global coalition against ISIS and defeating it. However, again it seems the international community is not sufficiently determined to fight ISIS and that’s why they’ve been able to grow their power and become stronger. What’s your idea on that?
A.3 (MN): The Wahabbi International has been active in throwing money at scholars and policymakers within the NATO bloc, so that they repeat Wahabbi doctrines and seek to discredit those fighting this enemy of civilisation. For more than a century, countries in Europe and later North America have assisted Wahabbis, first against the Turkish caliphate (which is why it is ironic that Turkey now has a Wahabbi as Head of State, who is systematically destroying the Kemalist base of that country). Later, in the 1950s and the 1960s, they used Wahabbis to wage a "thought battle" against Arab nationalists such as Nasser, who were challenging former European colonial powers unlike Wahabbi establishments, who have always talked tough but acted in a slavish manner towards former colonial powers. In the 1980s, the creed was used to fuel the war against the USSR in Afghanistan. It was only after September 11,2001 that the NATO bloc understood the danger posed by Wahabbism to themselves, a danger pointed out by me in 1987 and in 1992 in the US, at a period when the Clinton administration was funding and assisting Wahabbis worldwide, especially in Afghanistan.
Even after 9/11, the US and some of its partners focussed not on eliminating Wahabbi terror groups in Afghanistan but in removing Saddam Hussein, an enemy of the (Wahabbi-influenced) GCC regimes, in 2003. In 2011, they sided with the same regimes to remove Muammar Gaddafy from power and life in Libya and are now seeking to repeat that in Syria with President Bashar Assad. Because of the well-funded influence of Wahabbi doctrines within strategic community within the key NATO allies, they regard the Wahabbi International as a far lesser threat than they do Iran. This is similar to those in France and the UK who saw Hitler under Germany as being a lesser threat than the USSR under Stalin. Such people caused the deaths of tens of millions of innocents because of such an error or perception, and these days, that same blinkered vision is causing the spread of ISIS. Hopefully, sense will dawn before it is too late and a global rather than a limited war against the Wahabbi menace becomes inevitable, in my view by around 2019. This is why I call this the "Rhineland Moment”, the period in 1936 when Hitler could have been humiliated by the French armies and sent off to prison, where his capacity for damage would be much reduced. Instead, he was allowed to once again get away with conquest in 1938 (Czechoslovakia), thereby making the 1939-45 war inevitable.
Should a global coalition not get formed against ISIS and other components of the Wahabbi International, a coalition which includes Iran, this evil will spread within populations. This will be an "atomised" war, in which small groups of individuals such as suicide bombers and suicide automatic weapons carriers create havoc through technology which ensures severe destruction at a relatively low cost, and will take place across the globe, including the heart of the US and Europe. Such a war could ultimately be as destructive to life and property as the conventional wars which took place in the past. The potential of ISIS to spread its cells across entire countries rises with each month that the organisation continues to have a safe haven carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria. My sense is that President Obama realizes this, but not yet his Secretary of State John Kerry (who has lately been seeking to assist ISIS by preventing Moscow from giving President Assad the military means to defeat its gangs) or the UK or French leadership. David Cameron was a principal architect of the Libya disaster, which is the seed from which ISIS has grown, and the UK Prime Minister still seems oblivious of reality, living in a Lawrence of Arabia world.
Q.4 (KZ): In a meeting at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the former NATO Secretary General and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has suggested that Iran is the only country capable of fighting the ISIS terrorists. There are many others who think likewise. It’s noted by many commentators and analysts that Iranians are genuinely opposed to ISIS and have the prowess to stop its atrocities. If we accept this premise, then why doesn’t the United States ask for Iran’s help to address the concern of ISIS and eradicate it forever?
A.4 (MN): My view is that Barack Obama and possibly Angela Merkel understand this, which is why they prevailed over Hollande and others who sought to derail the nuclear agreement with Iran. Hopefully, the next President of the US will be a realist and not a fantasist in the mould of Dick Cheney.
Q.5 (KZ): There are worrying reports of some Western and Arab governments still providing ISIS with financial and military aid, even though all of these governments have been trying to absolve themselves of the accusation. The Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne has boldly claimed in an editorial that ISIS is a by-product of Western powers’ regional operations, and this sectarian terror group “won’t be defeated by the western states that incubated it in the first place.” Do you agree with this assertion? At any rate, is ISIS going to be beaten while it can sell massive amounts of oil and receive financial and arms assistance?
A.5 (MN): My view is that the US, UK and other NATO allies did not understand the damage which could get caused globally to themselves and to the rest of the world by the Wahabbi International, which is the ideological root of ISIS. Just as a combination of the US, the UK and the USSR defeated Germany in the 1939-45 war, the world needs NATO to ally with India, Iran, Russia and China to wipe out ISIS. Certainly it is correct that NATO cannot do it alone, but its involvement would be crucial in any anti-ISIS coalition. However, time is running out. The embrace of NATO with Wahabbi-supporting regimes need to end, and Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia need to be warned that any further assistance to ISIS through giving help to so-called "moderate" fighters who switch to extremist in the battlefield should end. The world is running out of time, as it did during the 1930s in Europe.
Q.6 (KZ): A group of right-wing commentators and pundits, including Will McCants, who is being cited as an authority on ISIS and “militant Islam”, have been striving to create connections between ISIS and the Islamic theology. They claim that Abubakr al-Baghdadi is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad and is a pure Muslim trying to establish an Islamic state as part of his historic, religious mission. Is there any point in portraying ISIS as an original Islamic creation and its leader a member of prophet’s family, while the massive majority of Muslim believers don’t sympathize with them?
A.6 (MN): In the past as well, there have been multiple individuals calling Wahabbism "the purest form of Islam" when in fact it is the opposite. Why take such "experts" seriously?