From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
POWER OF NIGHTMARES / BBC
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WAR IS ABOUT SEX
Al Qaedaism and communism
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
June 17, 2006
Communism had Karl Marx. Al Qaedaism has Sayed Qtub. Who’s he, most
people would ask. The ideology that nurtured modern Islamic extremism,
and spawned every violent movement from Hezbollah to al Qaeda, was born
in 1952 when Qtub, an Egyptian writer, returned from studying American
literature at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.
The tipping point from detached observer to extremist ideologue
took place at a church dance in Greeley when, as Qtub recalled in “The
America I Saw,” the pastor dimmed the lights and put on the come-hither
number “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a hit tune from the MGM movie
“Neptune’s Daughter” — a guy, girl and bathing suit lemon — with
Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban.
“The room,” Qtub wrote “became a confusion of feet and legs; arms
twisted around hips; lips met lips; chests pressed together,” That was
the scene that turned him off American culture in particular and
Western culture in general — and onto Islamic fundamentalism.
“American girls,” Qtub said, “know perfectly well the seductive
power of their bodies… that it resides in their face, expressive eyes
and hungry lips. They know that seduction resides in firm round breasts
and hungry lips, full buttocks and well shaped legs — and they show
all this without trying to conceal it.”
As Doug Saunders wisecracked in Canada’s Globe and Mail, “If he had
stuck around a couple of years to hear the racier Louis Armstrong-Ella
Fitzgerald version of the same song, jihad might have begun much
More seriously, President Bush says, “They hate us for our freedoms
and for our democracy.” The equation is not a simple one. They don’t
see themselves as irrational fanatics, but rather as rational actors
with a different agenda.
Neither Manichean rhetoric nor Michael Moore’s paranoia captures
it. Qtub’s hatred of the U.S. was similar to the ingredients that bred
self-hating Americans. He viewed the world, as he saw it in 1950, as
decadent, corrupt, oppressive and generating endless violence and war
because of capitalist greed that was destroying Allah’s creations. Many
of the same strands were spun to justify the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
Qtub’s call to ideological arms came in response to Gamal Abdel
Nasser’s decision to sideline Islam by cracking down on the Muslim
Brotherhood, known as the Brothers (“Allah is our objective. The
Prophet is our leader. Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying on the
way to Allah is our highest hope”). Qtub’s prolific writings made him
the theoretician of the Brotherhood — and a hero of every extreme
Islamist movement since. The late Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, a Shia, venerated Qtub, a Sunni, as a martyred giant of Islam
and ordered a stamp issued with his effigy. Qtub was compulsory reading
in Taliban schools. Osama bin Laden once studied under Mohammed Qtub,
Sayed’s brother, who was also his editor.
Founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a 22-year-old elementary school
teacher, the Brotherhood stepped into the vacuum created by the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent ban of the caliphate
system of government that had kept Muslims united for hundreds of
Historians have compared Qtub’s pamphlet “Milestones” to V.I.
Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?” and deals with tactics and strategy that
lead to dismantling the nation-state and regrouping the ummah under the
laws of Shariah, prescribed by Allah himself. Qtub was to Osama bin
Laden what Karl Marx was to Lenin, or justification for dictatorship of
Nasser jailed Qtub and other leading Brothers in 1954 only to
pardon them all 10 years later. This led to three more attempts on
Nasser’s life and the Pan Arab dictator had Qtub, then 60, and his
cohorts executed in 1966. Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, pledged the
Brothers that Shariah would become the law of the land, and allowed
them to publish a monthly magazine to denounce the four enemies of
Islam — Crusaders (Western Christians), communists, secularists and
Zionists. But the Brothers turned against Sadat for his overtures to
Israel and four Brothers assassinated him in 1981.
Sadat’s successor, President Hosni Mubarak, allowed the Brothers to
resurface politically and run for parliament as independents. They
captured 20 percent of the seats. They also hold the chairs of key
Qtub is a Muslim fundamentalist’s equivalent of a patron saint. “In
the Shadow of the Koran,” the 4,000-page Islamist counterpoint to “Das
Kapital,” he never advocated terrorism or assassination to liquidate
the infidels. But he did foresee a “total war” as a “cosmic conflict,
both political and mystical” that would bring about a new world that
would worship only God. The main enemy is “jahiliyya,” or ignorance.
Men believe they can decide in God’s name, he says, and that’s why
“materialism dominates and manners and mores are bestial.”
The Jews — you guessed it — “are the ones who back most
malevolent theories that aim to destroy all values and everything that
is sacred for humanity.” Religious coexistence, therefore, is
“inconceivable, except as a temporary tactic… in order install a
global Islamic state where Shariah will reign over the planet.”
For jihadis and their Islamist fundamentalist supporters, the clash
of civilizations is well under way. Next to this one, the Cold War with
the Soviet empire was short-lived.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and
of United Press International.