Dr Walid Phares was interviewed in the January 2009 issue of German Magazine Konkret. He analyzed the post Mumbai attacks world underlining the role of the masses in the region to confront the radical ideologies: "Democratic Revolution is best against Jihadi Terror." (Text Coming)
"IT IS ONLY WHEN A DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION SWEEPS THE MIDDLE EAST, THAT THE JIHADISTS WILL BE ISOLATED"
Dr Walid Phares was interviewed by Stefan Frank in the January 2009 issue of German Magazine Konkret. He analyzed the post Mumbai attacks world underlining the role of the masses in the region to confront the radical ideologies: "Democratic Revolution is best against Jihadi Terror."
KONKRET - What are the main features of this islamist terror attack that single it out from previous ones?
WALID PHARES: In fact this attack has some continuity features on the one hand but also significant differences on the other hand. If we look at the Jihadist movement in the Indian subcontinent as a whole both in Pakistan and in India we can see that it has been waging its campaign against Indian targets for years now. More particularly the so-called "Indian Mujahidin" (a joint effort between the Indian Islamic Student Union and Laskar e Taiba) had previously targeted several cities and locations, not only in Kahmir but also across the country, including in Mumbai. So this last operation wasn't the very first strike but an additional one in a wider conflict. But on the other hand, this most recent Terror attack –signed by the so-called Deccan Mujahidin- has created a benchmark. First, the perpetrators attempted to claim an "Indian" identity via the press release. But at the same time, ironically, they left inexplicable traces leading to Pakistan: boats, weapons, cell phones, calling cards, etc. As if there was an intention to lead the investigation across the border. As for the operation in itself it initiated what I have coined a model for "Urban Jihad" that is to seize buildings for as long as needed before succumbing to security forces. This will become a copycat elsewhere.
KONKRET- What are the goals and motivations of this attack? Is the Kashmir conflict a sufficient explanation?
WALID PHARES: First, the Kashmir conflict per se is an ethnic separatist uprising situated to the north of India. The strike targeted the financial capital of the sub continent. Second, the press release went way beyond separatism; it called for a fundamentalist emirate over large parts of the Indian state. These are ideological ingredient linked to the indoctrination of Jihadists. The real direct goal for this operation –in my understanding- is to strike at India so that in turn this would provoke a breakdown of relations with Pakistan. When the two nuclear- countries mobilize against each other, who profits? Obviously the besieged Taliban and al Qaeda in Waziristan.
KONKRET- How important is the role of Lashkar-e-Taiba within the global djihadist movement?
WALID PHARES: LoT is a significant Jihadist organization in Pakistan with branches inside India. According to Pakistani experts it also has members in the Diaspora. In previous press releases, the Laskar e Taiba declared its alliance with al Qaeda in a vast international alliance. So the group plays the role of regional Jihadists in a web where al Qaeda is in the center.
KONKRET - In an interview you mentioned connections to a group in Virginia. What kind of ties are these?
WALID PHARES: In 2002, US Court tried a group called the "Virginia Paintball Jihad" for involvement in Terrorism training and other illegal activities. The members of the group were sentenced and are serving in jail. Documents from the trials reveal that the group was connected to Laskar e Taiba and was training elements to join terror
operations: Which proves the point of the Pakistani experts that LoT has a presence overseas.
KONKRET - Why the attack on the Jewish centre?
WALID PHARES: The Jihadi Terror group from al Qaeda to other affiliates and allies believe that they are in a state of war with the Jews. The declaration of 1996 and 1998 specifically mentioned Jews and Crusaders. When there is an opportunity to strike at an Israeli or Jewish target, the planners includes such attacks. For example Jihadi attacks have targeted a Synagogue in the Tunisian island of Jerba in April 2002, and Israeli tourists in November of the same year in Kenya. But these decisions also factor in tactical reasons as well.
KONKRET - In the debate about djihadist terror, there are usually two main camps: The ones who do not take it seriously and dismiss warnings of a global djihad as exaggerated, and the others who say that it can
never be defeated since there arise two new terror groups for everyone that is destroyed. Is there any way to win this battle, and if yes, by which means?
WALID PHARES: Unfortunately the debate is behind the historical and geopolitical realities of the Jihadist movement. The West is still struggling with the understanding of the ideology of Jihadism eighteen years after the end of the Cold war. Some even confuse Jihadism with a social movement as many made the same mistake in the early 1930s with the fascist movements in Europe. What is being missed is the deep ideological nature of the movement and its global vision. So one school is missing the whole sense of the movement, but the other school misses the strategies needed to defeat this terrorist threat. In a sum, the most efficient strategy to contain and eventually defeat this menace is to counter its ideology. And to do so, it is up to the civil societies of the Arab and Muslim world to produce forces of change. So in the end, there are no military solutions to this conflict. The Jihadists will be marginalized by the rise of democracy forces promoting a progressive agenda. When women, students, artists, liberal intellectuals and even labor unions coalesce and rise in the region, the fundamentalists retreat. But the problem is that in most of these countries, authoritarian regimes have little interest in seeing democratic change taking place. So the Jihadists are seizing the microphones and dominating the political culture. As I call in my books, it is only when a democratic revolution sweeps the Middle East, that the Jihadists will be isolated.
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