Taken for Noman Hanif's article "Ex-Islamist Inc: Fabricating a Link Between Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Terrorism"
Finding no hard conceptual or empirical evidence linking HT with violent activity, terrorism or even the methodology of jihadism, Husein then takes his argument to the illogical,
“As long as it remains legal for extremists in Britain to plan and finance Islamist attempts to mobilise the Muslim masses in the Middle East, and prepare an army for "jihad as foreign policy", there will always be a segment of this movement that will take jihad to its logical conclusion and act immediately, without leadership” (The Telegraph, 2nd May 2007)
As highlighted above even from the Sufi discourse, Jihad as an individual duty against occupation and aggression as well as the foreign policy of the state is well established in the books of classical Islam and leads directly to the Koran itself. Whether Husein agrees or is unwilling to accept the obvious is another issue. The reality is that the discourse with the relevant Koranic authority exists. The prohibition by HT of conducting violent action in order to achieve its political aims would put any of its members involved in such activity outside the fold of its organisation and method and hence they would cease to be a part of it as was the case of those members such as Omar Bakri which went onto form Muhajiroun. For this reason they can no longer be said to be acting in the name of HT. Thus HT was not responsible for Muhajiroun anymore than the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for Sayid Qutub or the Syrian based Sufi movement (to which Ed Husein himself belongs) was responsible for the British bomber in Israel, Asif Haneef.
The suggestion that because HT expounds the duty of individual jihad in theatres of military conflict, segments will act without leadership is a dangerous logic to expound for any Muslim. If one was indeed to follow this line of argument to its consistent finale then the Koran itself is responsible for international terrorism because of the many verses related to fighting and killing in the realms of defence, a conclusion I am sure Ed Husein will not be rushing to advocate.
With no concrete evidence to frame HT, Hussein has turned to manipulating facts in order to comply with his Home Office set agenda. Two examples of such manipulation stand out in his book “The Islamist”. The first centres around the unsubstantiated allegations that HT was responsible for inciting the murder of a Nigerian student, Ayotunde Obunabi, in Newham College in the 90’s. ( The Islamist pp149-153).
Contrary to eye witness accounts he maintains that it was not about drugs and gangs rather it was about “Muslim supremacist tendencies”. Although he admits he did not get directly involved, he along with a colleague from HT raised the ante. This is a very serious allegation and one in which he has been overwhelmingly contradicted on many forums. On his website Husein asserts that the details of the events were agreed with colleague Maajid Nawaz prior to the release of his book;
“We agreed that the Hizb had created an atmosphere that led to the murder. More than anybody else, Maajid and I were closely involved with developments on campus during those months” (www.theislamist.tumblr.com)
However, the real reason for Hussain’s spin on the murder and his refusal to correct his innacuracy is firmly revealed when he connects it with the terrorism narrative;
“TThe Hizb must accept their part in radicalising young Muslims in Britain, starting with the murder in Newham to the carnage of 7/7 and the 2,000 cases that the secret services are monitoring now.”( www.theislamist.tumblr.com))
Again no direct connection was established. Moreover, Maajid Nawaz’s brother Kaashif Nawaz felt it necessary to intervene in order to correct Hussein’s assumption.
“The murder at East-Ham college was not of a man who was a Christian, but of a man who was high on drugs, and carrying 2 knives with intent on attacking one of the students on campus, he was intercepted by a gang of Muslims, who intercepted him - nothing to do with Islamism or HT, but more to do with gang wars which Muslims got involved in and some HT members tried to resolve.” (Comment on The Islamist: A Review by Kaashif Nawaz)
The second refers to the radicalisation of Tel Aviv bomber Asif Hanif, whom Husein following the assumptions of Shiv Malik in Prospect Magazine, claims had been recruited by HT in Britain but according to intelligence reports had been recruited in Syria but not by HT. On the contrary, it has been alleged by people who knew Hanif from Hounslow that he was not very fond of HT. Rather, whilst in Syria, Haneef who became acquainted with Husein had belonged to the same Sufi movement as him. There is again more than enough doubt to even suggest a link between Asif Hanif and HT. In contrast the evidence linking Hanif with Husein’s own Sufi movement is more pronounced. The case in point merely demonstrates the dubious evidence employed and the lengths to which Husein is willing to go in order to provide the elusive link.
Shiraz Maher similarly follows the flawed logic of Ed Hussein. In a programme for More4, Maher tries to make the incredible claim that the Tel Aviv bomber Omar Sharif had been influenced to commit the action, nine years after he suggested that Sharif had any association with HT. According to Maher;
“The whole mind frame of Omar Sharif [took] an ideological backbone from Hizb ut- Tahrir. His vision of an Islamic state, his anti-west sentiments, all that came from their conditioning…So if he how goes on nine years later to act out an act of violence, who is to blame?” (More4, 15th May 2006)
As with Hussein, having failed to convincingly manipulate the facts in this case that of Omar Sharif, Shiraz Maher maintained the Darwinian hope of one day finding the ‘missing’ link between link between HT and terrorism. According to More4 Shiraz’s sentiment at the time was;
“They are non-violent at present, but they are a threat waiting to materialise.” (15th May 2006)
If over fifty years of HT activity has not provided the proof then exactly what is Maher searching or more succinctly hoping for? It must be noted here that HTB on its website categorically denied as baseless allegations that Asif Hanif or Omar Sharif had any association with HT. Uptil now no proof has been provided for this relationship, a fact that both Husein and Maher seem deliberately to ignore.
Maher and Husein did not have to wait too long for their next opportunity. The failed bombings at London and Glasgow airport in July, 2007 provided the perfect occasion for their endeavour. Maher was co-opted heavily by the print and television media. The reason for this was his claim that whilst a student at Cambridge he had befriended one of the doctors, Dr.Bilal Abdullah, responsible for attempting to ram a jeep into Glasgow airport and now being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The script could not have been more perfect for Maher and Husein. The media and Home Office machinery went into action. Supposedly, they had found the missing link between HT and terrorism. Maher was interviewed on BBC Newsnight for three nights in row and then published his account in the New Statesman. The framing of HT by insinuation was not difficult to decipher. For Maher it was the best self marketing opportunity for his credentials as an ex-Islamist that had occurred since he offered his services as an ex-Islamist Inc. Tom Nuttall, deputy editor of Prospect Magazine which had interviewed Maher and Husein stated that they were finding it hard to cope with the interest generated in these guys. Ignoring the fact that Dr. Abdullah had been of a jihadi persuasion before Maher met him and by Maher’s own admission on BBC Newsnight that Dr.Abdullah had rejected HT’s approach to join the organisation because he disagreed with the non-violent or political methodology of HT. Despite this, the main focus of Maher in his interviews and articles remains the pursuit of fabricating HT’s ‘inevitable association’ with terrorism. Maher writes;
“And so it was through my involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir and its ideology of extremist political Islam that I came to befriend Bilal, the would-be bomber. That's why I believe it's wrong to distinguish between "extremism" and "violent extremism" as the government has been doing in recent months. The two are inextricably intertwined. Without movements such as Hizb creating t he moral imperatives to justify terror, people like Bilal wouldn't have the support of an ideological infrastructure cheering them on. And, I believe, it's a fallacy to suggest that the culpability of agitators and cheerleaders is any l ess than for
those who actually carry out acts of terror.” (New Statesman, 5th July, 2007)
The British government and the security services having sat back and let the media frenzy run riot in creating a hostile Islamophobic environment of distrust towards Muslim doctors and professionals, Ed Husein re-entered the fray. Ed ‘Einstein’ had just come up with a ground breaking theory. The case of the Glasgow doctors had empirically demonstrated that Islamic movements whose membership and leadership consists of medical and technical personnel has the propensity towards terrorism. Amazingly but not surprisingly Husain was allowed an audience for this schizophrenia through the US publication Newsweek. According to Husein’s theory;
“They (engineers) approach the Qu'ran as though it were an engineering manual, with instructions for right and wrong conduct. Literalism and ignorance dominates their readings. This flaw is deepened by the haughty mindset of the engineer or medical doctor that academic achievement, a place at a university, now qualifies him to approach ancient scripture without the guidance of the ulama. To the Islamist engineer, centuries of context, nuance, history, grammar, lexicon, scholarship, and tradition are all l ost and redundant. The do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude to religious texts, fostered by doctors and engineers of secular colleges, produces desperate, angry suicide bombers devoid of spiritual guidance” (Bin Laden’s Army, Newsweek, 10th of July, 2007)
Of course Bin Laden the “engineer” and Zwahiri the “doctor” were predictable case studies in this theory of guilt by professionalism. However, this was merely the starters. The main menu was of course HT. Lo and behold, HT had failed to install a fool proof screening system which detected doctors and engineers. Hence logically they were bound to produce angry terrorists and suicide bombers! Ridiculously humorous as it may sound, this is exactly what Husein argued;
“The rank-and-file of Islamist organizations, the precursors to terrorism, are filled with activists with a technical education. The instructor of my first secret cell in Hizb ut- Tahrir in London was a town planner; my second cell-leader was a medical doctor. Even today, medical doctors manage the British arm of Hizb ut-Tahrir-a global Islamist political party working for the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate: doctors Nasim Ghani, Abdul Wahid, and Nazreen Nawaz. Globally, the central leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir is a Jordan-based engineer, Abu Rishta. The story of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is similar. When Islamists graduate to jihadist terrorism the profile is equally chilling.” ((Bin Laden’s Army, Newsweek, 10th of July, 2007)
By logical deduction one would presume that in Husein’s own professed Sufi circles there exists either no doctors or engineers or access is denied to them because they have the propensity of DIY literalism and terrorism. Whatever one may think, Ed husein seems to have convinced himself that he had finally found the “missing link”. The detective had at long last found the proof linking Dr. David Bannister with the incredible Hulk. Before one could pronounce Dr. Abdullah, Ed Husein had gone global with his theory.
On a serious note, as the media set about globalising Maher’s association with Dr. Abdullah whilst being a HT member, Husein followed Maher up by using his “professional association” theory to push for a ban on HT in Australia which led the Attorney General to reconsider the Australian position. According to ABC Australia;
“Hizb ut-Tahrir members are alleged to have associated with one of the men arrested over the failed London bombing….Last night on Lateline, a British defector from the group warned Australian members of Hizb ut Tahrir are Muslim extremists and take direction from London.” (ABC 6th July, 2007)
Again, the fingerprints of the UK Home Office were apparent. The co-operation and strategy between Britain and Australia towards HT’s proscription is a long standing one and has generally followed the same trajectory. Again both Maher and Husein were mere pawns in the ongoing strategy which does not look to proscribe HT but merely apply the threat of proscription in order to moderate and ultimately control it. Hence despite his best efforts to link Dr. Abdullah with HT and ultimately with terrorism, like in Britain, Husein met with the same response during his interview and debates. According to Jacob Townsend, research analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and co-author of a paper on the Hizb ut-Tahrir presence in Australia.
“The biggest risk from Hizb ut-Tahrir is if, and I say 'if', it acts as a conveyor belt for extremism, moving people from radicalisation and towards violence ideologies. There is only suggestive evidence, not conclusive evidence that around the world Hizb ut-Tahrir itself has ever been implicated in violence. So, we have to be careful in the sense that on the basis of evidence, 'no', Hizb ut-Tahrir does not authorise or organise violence”. ( ABC Australia, 6th July, 2007)
Having failed in his linkage with Dr.Abdullah, Husein thought he’d try his luck with the “Dr Bannister” theory;
“On a final thought, even here, the leadership of Hizb ut Tahrir as well as the leadership of Mohabist organisations are filled with engineers and doctors.” ( ABC Australia, 6th July, 2007)
In conclusion it seems evident that both Ed Husein and Shiraz Maher have found an extremely receptive audience in the Home Office and the media. The Home Office needed pawns for a specific strategy on HT and the war on terror, whilst Ed Husein and Shiraz Maher needed an opportunity to market their credentials as ex- Islamist insiders with the goal of establishing themselves as authorities on radical Islam and terrorism in general and more specifically HT. However, their reductiveness and obsession in a theoretically and empirically bankrupt mission to link HT with international terrorism seriously puts into question the very nature of their personalities and agendas. The manner in which they have attempted to prove their logic has oscillated from the ridiculous to the comical.
In doing so, they have disconnected themselves with the actuality of a narrative, which puts Western foreign policy and neo-colonialism towards the Islamic world as the prime cause of radicalisation, not only in the West but in the Islamic world. It is quite astonishing that while the majority of the Muslim’s and even non-Muslims vent their frustration and anger over the Anglo-American neo-colonial occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq both Husein and Maher remain silent on the issue. Moreover, the atomised fixation with proscribing HT with the overtly tacit support from the UK government and media machinery frames them within narrative of Western complicity in radicalism and terrorism. In this regards Maher is far off the mark when he suggests that;
“There is no quick fix to the problem of home-grown terrorism, but banning Hizb ut- Tahrir would be an excellent first step, sending a strong signal to aspiring terrorists that Britain has not changed the rules of the game. We no longer play that game.” (The Telegraph May 2nd, 2007)
No doubt Husein and Maher are in need of a reality check. The rules remain as does the game. In essence they remain averse to the actual logic of their argument of guilt by association which taken to its rightful conclusion would connect 9/11, 7/7 etc not with the Islamic movement but with the creation and fostering of jihadism by the Western security services to meet US and British policy objectives in Afghanistan during the 80’s and Bosnia during the 90’s. Bin Laden and Zwahiri were not the creation of HT but of the CIA., Taliban was hot the creation of HT but of the ISI and the CIA, Al-Muhajiroun was not the creation of HT but of Omar Bakri supported by MI5. The use and protection of Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza, Mohammed Aswat, Abu Qatada and Hassan Butt is not by HT but by the British security services. The narrative which puts terrorism specifically in the context of a blowback resulting from the Western use of jihadism has nothing to do with HT.(Please refer to the works of Nafeez Ahmed on the War on Truth )
The unfortunate reality is that the politics between the UK Home Office and HTB is locked in until at least one of the parties decides to change the rules. Until then Maher and Husein will most probably continue to justify their co-option by the UK government and media by maintaining a politics of fear through perpetual efforts at fabricating a link with terrorism along with the doomsday scenario of a Caliphate. As the quotes below clearly demonstrate, behind the actors garb operate British neo-cons disguised as ex-Islamist Inc.
“We can wait for their state to come about and then confront them as we did the Nazis, at a very late stage and at a high human cost, or we can stop appeasing Hizb ut- Tahrir and its offshoots and demand: either change, or perish. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye.” (Ed Hussein, Chilling Similarities, Commentisfree, Guardian, 10th July, 2007)
Copyright © Noman Hanif 2007