The third and last of the series of essays entitled “Reflections on the Aceh Jihad 2010” has appeared. Like the first two parts it is a work of strategic thought. Furthermore, it is well within the mainstream of both jihadist and global revolutionary thought, drawing on sources ranging from the Quran to Mao. The fact that Indonesian jihadists draw on far-flung influences isn’t a new discovery. (More authoritatively and at more length, see here.) In fact, in some sense, it is a reflection of Indonesia and Indonesian culture writ large. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see an example in the context of jihadist “strategic studies.” The author of this series of essays (does anybody know who he is??) clearly has a good head on his shoulders. In my view, he’s precisely the sort of intellectual who is actually dangerous. Guys like him scare me. I hope that the Indonesian authorities find him soon and either kill him or re-educate him. That said, he is not ten feet tall, strategically speaking. In particular, like most other salafi jihadists, he is gratifyingly unwilling to form big-tent coalitions against the West and the “apostate” regimes.
The author’s main thesis in the latest essay is that physical jihad is “not the medicine for every disease.” In particular, he argues that jihadists should consider political conditions when deciding how to act. For instance, “The region of Indonesia, with its Muslim majority, is best to be made as the object of da’wah, not the object of jihad yet. Not just any da’wah, but the da’wah that supports the journey of jihad.” That said, however, not everybody needs to rush off to fight, except in cases of direct invasion by the infidels, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the author writes that “jihad is a war that is universal in characteristic, covering every element of man’s life. Covering military, politic and economy.”
Given this, the jihadists should have a “map of contributions” to indicate how each person can contribute to the cause, whatever his profession. Hence, for instance, they should not encourage the administrators of pro-jihad websites to rush off to fight, as they are doing good work where they are. The author lists an amusing selection of other occupations in which people should stay in preference to running to the sound of the guns. This includes doctors, educators, specialists “in dealing with the deviated sects,” specialists “in fighting Liberalism and Pluralism,” specialistists in fighting the Shia and the Christians, “and all other elements of the ummah which have the roles of guarding the big house from the gnawing of the rats of munkar and falsehood.” (It is amusing to see the author of this essay pointing to taqiyya as one of the things that make the Shia so particularly dangerous to the Sunnis.)
The author then turns to security. Unlike da’wah which is quite open, he argues, jihad is a matter which must be handled more clandestinely.
The jihad that is interpreted as fighting in the battlefields, should choose the best cadres who have a high level of security. Because, it had already been repeated times that armed jihad was proclaimed in Indonesia, but it always ended up in pitiful arrests. We must always be careful and selective in choosing the cadres who are prepared to conduct jihad with weapons, because, the character of jihad is different from the character of da’wah.
Not all people whose speeches are sweet in supporting jihad are right to be invited to jihad in the battlefield. The intelligence are swarming about, many of whom looking very “salafi” and very “jihadi”. It is too difficult to tell those who are really truthful and safe to be invited for jihad from those we are harming jihad instead.”
The essay also argues that Jihadists should have strategic patience and a long-term perspective, because “Jihad can take a very long time, like the Crusader War that took place for about 200 years.” The author points to the history of Afghanistan since 1979 as an example. Given this, he says:
Jihad must be interpreted as a ‘universal war’, not a ‘momentary clash’. Being mistaken in the perception of jihad will produce confusion in realizing jihad.
In the English language there is the term ‘war’ and the term ‘battle’. ‘War’ is a long warfare between two parties, while ‘battle’ is a short-term clash between two armed groups. Or in other words, war is a series of battles performed by two parties that are mutually hostile to each other.
The author then takes a new whack at a theme he’d developed in an earlier essay when he criticized those jihadists who simply wanted to die gloriously, but who didn’t accomplish anything useful in the process. “The fight between the Islamic ummah against the kafir with all of their stooges is a long fight and battle which is of a cross-generation in nature. Due to that, it’s more accurate to be called ‘war’.” He goes on, “Jihad fie sabilillah…is more accurate[ly] to be placed in the interpretation of ‘war’, not ‘battle’. Jihad is not how to hit and beat the enemies in a short time but unable to sustain that victory.” Interestingly, the author quotes Hazim al-Madani, “one of the Afghan jihad figures who had a close link with Al-Qaeda,” in support of this argument. (Al-Madani, wrote an interesting book in 2002 called This Is How We View the Jihad and How We Want It which dissected the repeated failures of the jihadists in the Levant. He said these failures were largely due to sloppy implementation of jihad, inadequate da’wah and media efforts, poor political efforts, and the opposition of the ulema.)
The author closes with a plea for unity between the mujahideen and the people. “The Mujahideen are like the fish and the ummah is its water. If the Mujahideen leave the ummah, the ummah would also leave the Mujahideen.” He again quotes al-Madani:
Today, the international world is fighting a war against us. If there are those who do not take part in the coalition to fight us, it is not because they are sympathizing with us. But, more to because of their wish to obtain a larger share from this ghanimah (we are all ghanimah for them). Though the reality was as such, they who do not join in the international coalition have the potential to weave partnerships with us. But the problem is, we must prioritize loyal partners who are prepared to sacrifice for us, not the partners who would one day betray us. And in brief, the loyal partner is the Islamic ummah itself.
On the basis of al-Madani’s advice, the author notes that the governments of Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Palestine, and Yemen have all let the people down. However, the individual Muslims from these places have all been steadfast, contributing their blood and treasure to the cause.
The author closes this essay with a promise to start a new series. I can’t wait.