Silver LiningAddressing momentum of terrorism [Archives:2008/1196/Opinion]

September 6 2008

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The deadly terrorist attack on the US embassy in Sana'a last month has raised concerns that a fresh confrontation between the government and al-Qaeda militants is imminent. This unprecedented and daring attack in which two vehicles, one of them carrying militants armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, tried to breach the heavily fortified compound of the US Embassy sends an alarm that the group behind it has got new reckless strategy in Yemen to attain their objectives even through killing civilians and security personnel.

This is very clear from their attack in Hadramut against the security compound which also injured civilians living in the nearby houses. Hamza al-Quaiti who was killed in the security operation in Tarim in August was with this “the end justifies the means” ideology.

This means Yemen is heading towards a major confrontation with al-Qaeda militants. It seems also there is some kind of cooperation and contact between al-Qaeda militants in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia and investigations into the US embassy attack might reveal some information about this.

Yemeni president flew to Saudi Arabia after the attack and met the Saudi officials to show them that al-Qaeda militants in both the two countries are trying to take Yemen rugged mountains and vast deserts as a springboard to plot and launch attacks in both the two countries which require their coordination. He might have presented some evidence to the involvement of Saudi nationals in the recent attacks in Yemen.

Yemen has, of course, made some efforts to crack down terrorism. However, the springs that encourage the culture of terrorism are not yet dried up.

The government merged the religious institutes that were run by the Muslim brotherhood movement prior the unification and after by with the public schools. That was good. Following the al-Houthi insurgency in Sa'ada, the cabinet announced in June, 2004 that schools operating without license were shut down. However, president Saleh said later these “religious schools will not be closed down but they will be working according to the education law and their work would be organized so they can operate after completion of secondary schooling and under monitoring of the ministry of education.”

Most of these religious schools and universities have curricula that promote religious fanaticism and such institutions which produce fundamentalists are being supported by the state big guys.

Our schools and mosques in general teach curricula that legalize the killing of non-Muslims and consider them infidels; these curricula present the Western people and their civilization as immoral and whatever they produce in terms of technology as false and fantasy for the people there have lost their spirituality and their life is therefore fruitless and they will all go to hell. Muslims, however, are presented as the torch bearers of the truth and morality; we are all virtuous and non-Muslims are bad.

Judge Hamud al-Hitar and his fellow clerics have been conducting dialogues with a handful of extremist prisoners, convincing them to be loyal to the rulers by not carrying out attacks inside Yemen. By the end of the day, some of these people went away from jails and went back to their hostile ideology. The judge who is now the minister of endowment and religious guidance had better address the mosque sermons that promote hostility through praying to God to turn all non-Muslims and their wives spoils for Muslims. It is a disgusting religious discourse that portrays the Christians and Jews as enemies orchestrating all the trouble we are going through, neglecting the substantial reasons behind our problems.

Such curricula and sermons spitting out hostility and hatred should stop for such a language painted with religious holiness finds its easy way to the hearts of frustrated youngsters. Such a hostile religious rhetoric in this way turns into a day to day culture and a way of life. It is difficult to imagine how life will look when extremism that leads to terrorism becomes a culture for many of the people.

All in all, security action is not enough to address terrorism. Any serious steps in tackling the question of extremism and terrorism should start from reforming such curricula and mosque sermons that stand as the momentum of our plight with terrorism.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.