Bokom Haram et al: Guns don’t kill Ignorance

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Jihadi John’s mysterious color blindness – The Mouth Odor of Suicide Bombers –  Wahhabism, Salafism, explained

Jihadi John’s mysterious color blindness

Let’s say, for the sole sake of argument, that Jihadi John became color-blind after some terrible, mysterious eye infection at age 9. To be precise multiple light sense cones in his eyes packed up.

But he was fortunate to get a replacement by a popular wizard eye surgeon in town named Dr Kahn. On the day, he got his cones replaced he could see green cars, red apples, purple flowers etc. He was exhilarated, finally, he knows what he knew he does not know.

But  ignorance could be nastier. After close examination, his friends realized there is something terribly wrong with the entire green cars-red apples business. Quickly, they realized that their green car was John’s red car, their red apple was John’s green apple, and so on.

His friends soon found out that the wizard eye surgeon in town was more of a full-blown quack, who has been fighting hunger for years. John has been gifted a reality that is completely false. Who now, mysteriously, believe that green is red, and for some reason, red is green. And, to make matter worse, he is convinced (beyond reasonable doubt).

The Mouth Odor of Suicide Bombers

The first time I heard about Boko Haram, I was in College in Nigeria. They seem at first to be a relatively innocuous sect under the aegis of its founding leader Mohammad Yusuf when they started back in 2002 [i]. But, in an event of an inevitable mutation they went completely wild, killing thousands of people, in the most ugly ways imaginable.

The North-Eastern part of Nigeria,  where Boko-Haram strives, is a terribly poor region. The poverty in this region will make you go into comma (and I mean it). The same can be said of many places in the world where Islamic extremism strives. And what happens when one is poor, he feels powerless and dejected; suddenly he becomes very susceptible to Dr Khan’s surgery.

They are given this narrative of 8 to 10 virgins, and swiftly – green becomes red, and red becomes green. And again, you are convinced well beyond reasonable doubt. After all, why will you die a street beggar, when you are gifted the opportunity of dyeing as a martyr (with, of course, beautiful virgins).

But we have to thread carefully, what of the silent evidences? It turns out there are loads of poor people in the world who aren’t blowing people up, poverty can’t be the sole cause of terrorism, even if it provides an excellent breeding ground. To put salt to injury, thanks to the internet, some well-fed (and well-read) people from the west are beginning to suck up the virgin narrative. This is an indication of something more complex.

Next, I turn to what seems to be akin to Dr Khan surgery, what the European Parliament in Strasbourg has referred to as the main source of global terrorism –  Wahhabism [ii].

Wahhabism, Salafism, Explained.

Wahhabism is an extreme strain of Islam (Sunni Islam), founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century. It’s core principles include Tawhid (Oneness of God). Punishment for crimes such as apostasy and blasphemy include flogging, stoning, and beheading. And this does not exclude other Islamic sects such as the Shittes and moderate Sunnis [iii]. It’s the state religion of Saudi Arabia.

In an effort to wipe out other Islamic sects, the US state Department and the EU intelligence experts has reported that Riyadh has invested billions of dollars in spreading the gospel of Wahhabism by funding madrassas and mosques around the globe. Some of these madrassas reportedly lead to the birth of some terrorist organizations, leading to some sort of untamed Wahhabism [iv,v].

Except that, there are shi’a terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, even the now infamous Christian Terrorist group in Uganda –  Lord’s Resistant Army, has killed thousands of people in Africa. In addition, in Saudi’s favor, some commentators have pointed out that the Saudi government have rebuked the practices of Islamic terrorist vehemently and even fought terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda operationally [vii].

But one must say that this does not annul the great dangers of religious intolerance.

What we have here is a typical wicked problem, one that cannot be solved by just pointing fingers at a single factor. It is a terrible mix of religion intolerance, political and socio-economical debacles, cultural woes, poverty, and lack of education.

While I am not sure of the exact combination of interventions that will end terrorism (which I think is impossible BTW, as we can only manage/reduce it to the barest minimum), there are few things we can be sure of – guns don’t kill Ignorance.

No matter the number of Jihadi Johns blown up by US drones, red remains green, and green, red.

(Photo Credit)


[i] Boko-Haram, Wikipedia.

[ii] The involvement of Salafism/Wahhabism in the support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world, The European Parliament, June 2013

[iii] How Saudi Arabia exports Radical Islam, The Week,  August 8, 2016.

[iv] [vi] What is Wahhabism? The revolutionary branch of Islam from Saudi Arabia said to be ‘the main source of global terrorism’ The Telegraph, May 19, 2017

[v] Don’t Blame Wahhabism for Terrorism, The New York Times, October 19, 2016

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