Monday, July 12, 2010

Bombs in Uganda: Islam, Martyrs, and Making an Impression

Over seventy people in Uganda were killed while they watched the soccer World Cup games. Al Shabaab, a "Somali Islamist militant movement" (CNN), says they did it. For Islam and country, of course:
"...'And the best of men have promised and they have delivered,' said an Arabic statement issued by Al-Shabaab's press office and obtained by CNN. 'Blessed and exalted among men -- (taking) full responsibility ...We wage war against the 6,000 collaborators; they have received their response.'

"The 6,000 is an apparent reference to African Union peacekeepers in Somalia. Uganda contributes troops to the peacekeeping effort.

" 'We are behind the attack because we are at war with them,' Al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamoud Rage told reporters at a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia.

" 'We had given warning to the Ugandans to refrain from their involvement in our country. We spoke to the leaders and we spoke to the people and they never listened to us.'

"Rage said young suicide bombers carried out the attacks, but did not specify their nationalities. 'May Allah accept these martyrs who carried out the blessed operation and exploded themselves in the middle of the infidels,' he said...."
My guess is that folks in Uganda are thinking about Al-Shabaab now. Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, raised a significant, if rhetorical, question:
"...'If you want to fight, why don't you attack soldiers or military installations instead of fighting innocent people watching football?' said Museveni, who on Monday visited a rugby sports center where two of the blasts occurred Sunday...."
The two targeted sites mentioned in the CNN article were an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby center.

This is speculation, but I suggest three possible reasons for picking such sincerely civilian targets:
  1. Killing lots of innocent people makes the survivors feel bad
  2. By now, hitting civilian targets is a tradition among 'defenders of Islam' like Al-Shabaab
  3. Civilians often can't shoot back
    • Soldiers can

With Friends Like This, Islam Doesn't Need Enemies

My guess is that the people Al Shabaab wound up and sent to commit suicide and kill rooms full of people were quite sincere. They probably believed that they'd get a celestial whoopie house, or whatever Al Shabaab's recruiting line is.

Whoever's running Al Shabaab may really believe that they're setting up their 'martyrs' to get a grade-A-number-one harem, or a ever-full hookah, or whatever their clerics dreamed up as a reward.

That seems to work for the folks who get sent out to kill themselves. I doubt that praising "martyrs" who kill themselves and take dozens of football (soccer, here in America) fans with them is going to help Islam's image.

There are already quite a few folks who assume that all Muslims are homicidal maniacs following an insane religion. Al Shabaab's efforts won't change their minds - and might convince others that the anti-Islam crowd is right.

I've said this before: With friends like these, Islam doesn't need enemies.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.