Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2013

US invasion or Islamic education fuels terrorism?

Islamic-education-madrassaOn Wednesday, the US Treasury designated a Pakistani madrassa (Islamic school) as a terrorist organization and imposed sanctions on it. It is the first time ever that sanctions are imposed on an educational institution. While the Treasury claims that it is the madrassa which is radicalizing the insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan, another report of recent days forces one to put such statement to doubt. A military court in Washington State is hearing a horrendous case of a U.S. Army Sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012. Cases like this are sure to alienate Afghans against foreign intruders much more than any kind of religious teaching in madrassas.

Explaining the measures against the Ganj Madrassa in Peshawar (north-western Pakistan), the US Treasury said in the official statement that, “The Ganj Madrassa serves as a terrorist training centre where students, under the guise of religious studies, have been radicalized to conduct terrorist and insurgent activities,” and that, “In some cases, students were trained to become bomb manufacturers and suicide bombers.”

The Treasury said Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al-Peshawari, known as Shaykh Aminullah, controlled the school. In 2009, both the U.S. and the United Nations accused him of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But 83-year-old Haji Alam Sher, who founded the school as a mosque more than two decades ago, denied this.

“He was just a regular prayer leader here but he left eight months ago and I’ve never heard of him again,” Sher told Reuters angrily. “I condemn perpetrators of terrorism and would never support those carrying out suicide attacks.”
“This is a religious school where purely religious knowledge is given to the students,” Maulana Mohammad Ibrahim said.

It is the first time ever that an Islamic school is targeted by US Treasury sanctions. Trying to be cautious, the Treasury statement adds that, “This action does not generally target madrassas, which often play an essential role in improving literacy and providing humanitarian and developmental aid in many areas of the world, including Pakistan.”

In fact, one may only wonder why this action was taken now. It is an open secret that during late 1980s – early 1990s, a number of religious schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan served as a breeding ground and training centers for what later emerged as the Taliban movement. At that time, the US Treasury preferred not to notice the developments – most probably because for the time being, the Taliban created by the US then-closest ally and proxy in the region, Pakistan (as well as Al Qaeda, created directly by the CIA) suited Washington’s interests.

But even if we put aside the days of auld lang syne, another question is worth asking. What is in fact radicalizing the insurgents in Afghanistan and wherever the US is confronting the Islamic militants?

Really, imposing sanctions against this or that institution resembles curing symptoms of a disease rather than addressing the core reasons. What emerges as radical Islamism is to a great extent simply a reaction to the most belligerent way the West led by the US is trying to impose its so called “values” – like “democracy”, “human rights” (including LGBT rights), etc.

It seems that the West is too ignorant to realize why the rest of the world is no so eager to embrace those values and reacts accordingly.

The haring at a military tribunal at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, clearly demonstrates that the ignorance of the top brass leads to atrocities committed by the rank and file. The case heard there concerns a horrendous incident which occurred in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province in March 2012. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales killed 16 civilians, most of them women and children, shooting them at close range.

And although Bales pleaded guilty in June (obviously having one aim in mind – avoiding death penalty), he does not seem to have any remorse about what he did.

According to the BBC, after the attack Sergeant Bales told colleagues: “I thought I was doing the right thing. I’m sorry I let you guys down. My count is 20,” referring to the number of Afghans he believed he had killed.

There are still scores of thousands GIs in Afghanistan who “think they are doing the right thing.” After that one may only wonder why there is only one madrassa “radicalizing its students.”

Since the announcement of the seminary’s designation, some residents are afraid that the U.S. might mount an attack. U.S. drone missiles have targeted militants in areas near the Afghan border since 2004.

“Some people are saying that US drones will now fire missiles to hit this madrassa,” said resident Sabz Ali. “All of us are worried.”

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