Saudi Crackdown on Terrorists Bears FruitI can't be sure, but this sounds like the terrorist rehabilitation program I wrote about in "Jihad Rehab" (August 22, 2007). "The New York Sun" article, "1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling," quotes Muhammad al-Nujaimi, a man on the special committee to reform jihadists in the Saudi kingdom:
"The committee has met around 5,000 times to offer counseling to 3,200 people, who were accused of embracing the takfir ideology. The committee has successfully completed reforming 1,500 people," which sounds like wonderful news.
I'm underwhelmed by this achievement. The terrorists promised to lay off their violent ways - on the Arabian Peninsula. There's not much on the Arabian Peninsula, except Saudi Arabia.
In other words, the kingdom whose people provided most of the 9/11 hijackers and many of the foreigners who have been jailed in Iraq for trying to overthrow the Iraqi government, now has extracted a promise from members of a terrorist group that they will not attack Saudi Arabia.
This is a great accomplishment?!
For the House of Saud, I suppose so. For all the rest of us infidels and insufficiently-Islamic people, not so much.
MiscellanyI always dig up more facts than I use, when writing these posts. This time, I have an unusually big pile of stuff that didn't quite fit into the body of the post: and some of the pieces are too interesting to file or forget -
Saudi SensibilitiesSaudi Arabia is a marvelous kingdom. Its foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, hadn't wanted to go to the peace conference at Annapolis. He knew that there might be at least one Jew there, and al-Faisal did not want to be forced into a position where he might have to shake the Israeli prime minister's hand.
Patriotism can make people do personally repugnant things: Saud al-Faisal said he'd go to the Annapolis conference anyway, to see about getting back territory that Israel has held since 1967.
Takfir?!There isn't all that much on Takfir ideology on the Web. I take what I find on Wikipedia with a grain of salt, but that's where I found the least suspect/most detailed discussion. Here's how the Wikipedia article on Takfir started:
"In Shia terminology, "takfir" is the practice of crossing the arms when standing upright during salat (or takattuf, called qabd by Sunnis).
"In Islamic law, takfir or takfeer (تكفير) is the practice of declaring unbeliever or kafir (pl. kuffār), an individual or a group previously considered Muslim. The act which precipitates takfir is termed the mukaffir."
1967 and Unintended ConsequencesThe year 1967 shows up quite often in Middle East news. That's the year when the Arab world rose as one and drove the Jews into the sea. That was the original idea. What actually happened is that Israel refused to cooperate, pushed back, and held some territory it deemed to be strategically or tactically important.
There are more delicate ways of describing the Six Day War, but that seems to be the gist of it.
Another ResourceThere's an interesting discussion of Takfir ideology and other ideas in Jordan, at "The Jordanian Regime Fights the War of Ideas."
I found this at the Hudson Institute: Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. What caught my eye was the word "and" in the title. In this context, that's a very hopeful word.
Saudi Arabia, the Taliban, and other bastions of the the world as it was a millennium ago may not be Islam's best representatives. The Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World discusses an exciting development in Islam, which the organization claims got more serious attention after the 9/11 attack.
The Center seems to believe that Islam, and the social/political reforms that started with the Magna Carta in Europe, can exist side-by-side. The leap from tribal mores and autocratic regional authority to the 18th century philosophies of systematic thinking and individual rights is huge. However, I think that there are people in the Muslim world with the brains and the guts to make the leap.