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Zarqawi’s war

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Tuesday, 13 June 2006

World leaders have celebrated Zarqawi’s death as an important victory in the fight against terrorism. Our own Foreign Minister was quoted as exclaiming how “delighted” he was at Zarqawi’s death.

But the real celebrations will be on the streets across Iraq. Thousands of Iraqi citizens and security personnel have been killed in sectarian violence directly orchestrated by the Jordanian-born terrorist, over 25,000 since the destruction of a Shia Muslim shrine in February this year.

Zarqawi’s life personified self-evident truths too often obscured by such neo-Conservatives - that politically inspired violence of groups like al-Qaida and JI claims many more Muslim than non-Muslim lives. And that terrorism hardly deserves the label “Islamic”.


Since September 11, neo-Conservative writers have lined up to recite the mantra that Islamic theologies and cultures preach violence. The natural corollary of this claim is that the West and the Muslim world are on some inevitable collision course.

The argument even captivated prominent theologians like Cardinal Pell, who relied heavily on such sources during his February speech to a Florida Catholic summit, concluding the Koran is a document that preaches violence toward non-Muslims.

In August, the Centre for Independent Studies hosts neo-Conservative columnist Mark Steyn as part of its “Big Ideas Forum”. Steyn regularly contributes to a number of papers in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia. Steyn’s allegedly big idea can be summed up in four words - terrorism is inherently Islamic.

Yet almost three years ago, the CIS also hosted Dr Muhammad Fajrul Falaakh, a senior legal academic from Indonesia’s prestigious Gadjah Mada University and a leader of Nahdhatul Ulama (Council of Islamic theologians), the world’s largest Islamic organisation.
During his CIS Acton Lecture, Professor Falaakh listed protection of civilian life as one of five basic principles of sharia, the Islamic legal code Zarqawi claimed to implement but which he and his colleagues so frequently flouted.

Iraqi Muslims, like their Indonesian co-religionists, have been subjected to terrorist violence from groups wishing to impose an alien version of Islam-worship. Like Judaism, Islam has a sacred law. Yet both Judaism and Islam teach their followers to worship God, not the law.

Zarqawi and his colleagues represent a subtle form of blasphemy in which establishment of their form of Islamic state become an end in itself. God must play second fiddle to the establishment of God’s state, even if it means flouting God’s own prohibitions on killing innocent civilians.


Zarqawi formed a key plank of al-Qaida, a network formed from the remnants of more radical veterans of the Afghanistan conflict. A number of al-Qaida operatives (including bin Ladin himself) received training and support from the United States, which used the various Mujahideen groups to fight a proxy war against the Soviet intervention forces present in Afghanistan since 1980.

All were fed anti-Shia propaganda produced by religious scholars close to the Saudi royal family, close allies of the US. Shia Islam is a minority strain whose followers make up around 12 per cent of the world’s Muslims. It is the dominant sect in Iraq, Iran and Azerbaijan. Substantial Shia minorities also exist in Pakistan and a number of Middle Eastern states.

Shia Islam is the official religion of Iran’s theocratic regime. The US-sponsored Afghan “jihad” coincided with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran. The US, together with its Western and Arab allies, supported Iraq with weapons, finance and intelligence.

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First published in The Canberra Times on June 12, 2006.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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