December 08, 2008
THE attention spans of Western citizens are limited nowadays. And much as we truly, honestly, meant to keep the people of Mumbai in our minds, the images of the jihadist assault there faded away to ghosts within a matter of days. After all, India is a mysterious faraway place, terrorist outrages have become wearisomely familiar and, for once, it seemed these terrorists at least didn't want to kill us. Instead it seemed they were caught up in some atavistic sub-continental dispute over a dusty, disputed territory called Kashmir, a half-world away.
Only one image stayed behind with us, a little like the Cheshire Cat's enigmatic smile in that Lewis Carroll tale. When Indian sources reported that one of the Mumbai terrorists had been captured alive and was co-operating with police, our interest was piqued for a time. What was he like, this apparently calm, neatly dressed, baby-faced young man we'd seen on that closed-circuit television footage from Mumbai's CST train terminal? What makes him tick? And then that question, which has animated us since the events of 9/11: Would he be able to explain why he hates us so?
Ever since the siren song of romanticism gripped the fluttering hearts of the Western intelligentsia in the first half of the 19th century, we've been captivated by the idea of getting inside the heads of the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know. Serial murderers, petty mafiosi, posturing gun-toters of all kinds are grist to our mill.
Like so much else that is purely vicarious and lifestyle generated, we're often pleased to give this preoccupation the name of politics. But really it's just the urge to believe that extremists, people who flirt with the fringes of political madness, must be at bottom more interesting people than we are. And of course more alive, too. Which is to say, in a roundabout way, that we want to know more about what's wrong with us. It's cultural onanism masquerading as empathy.
And so, as might be expected, Western coverage of the incident was vague and rather confused. The captured terrorist was severally identified as Muhammad Kasab, or Ajmal Kasab, or Azar Kasav, or any of a number of variations on these themes. (Indeed, his photo was still being labelled Kasab in this newspaper's weekend edition.) He was talked of as a "high-quality militant" from a middle-class background. Perhaps he was freely telling all; or perhaps he was being tortured with exotic Indian injections. On some accounts he was a kind of Islamist Houdini, who'd faked death in extraordinary ways; on others he was an expert militant, programmed to blow up the Taj Mahal hotel, that monstrous pleasure-dome of decadent pagan Mumbai, with a righteous cache of high-explosive.
Meanwhile the less romantic reality was available to readers of India's fine English-language newspaper The Hindu, through the agency of its outstanding terrorism correspondent, Praveen Swami. As Swami painstakingly detailed almost a week ago, the young terrorist's name is in reality Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman. (The word Kasai - misheard by his Hindi-speaking interrogators - is actually the name of his family's caste in the lowly butchers' community of Pakistani Punjab.) And he's neither a hardened militant, nor a glamorous Ocean's Eleven-style saboteur, nor evidently a high-quality anything.
Born to a snackfood cart driver and a downtrodden housewife in a dirt-poor rural community in southern Punjab, young Iman was booted out of the family home at an early age, and took to a life of petty crime. While shopping for a handgun in a Rawalpindi bazaar, he was handed a pamphlet advertising the political wing of the Pakistani-based jihadist group Lashkar-e-Toiba, and, lured by the prospect of professional weapons-training, he decided to join.
A year or so afterwards young Iman found himself aboard a heaving inflatable boat bound for Mumbai. A few hours later again, on a roaring Kalashnikov high, he'd discharged several AK-47 magazines into the crowds at Mumbai's historic railway station, randomly killing as many as 55 people. Among his victims were six hapless members of a Mumbai Muslim family, the Ansaris, on their way to a village holiday ceremony. (Their five-year-old boy, Firoze, still asks for his parents.)
In short, Iman is that most familiar of figures from the supposedly fervent, intense, highly strung world of jihadist extremism. He's the gullible patsy, the man who does the dirty work.
In the Lashkar training camps in rural Pakistan they feed the raw recruits on a diet of weapons training and pseudo-Koranic sermonising: the same stuff David Hicks faithfully regurgitated to his mum about the need to kill all the Jews before Judgment Day, when even the rocks will cry out "There's a Jew hiding behind me!". For light entertainment the recruits are treated to grainy video footage of purported Indian atrocities in Kashmir (which may well be the same footage presented to recruits elsewhere as Israeli atrocities in Palestine).
Contrary to our romantic fantasies, these bewildered, otherwise purposeless young men aren't fired by some Byronic desire to recover the national homeland of Kashmir and thus reunite their divided souls. Rather, they're taught that unbelievers across the entire world are engaged in a concerted campaign to exterminate Islam and that the final battle has begun. They're like a marginal young Westerner with mental health issues who decides to self-medicate on premium-grade ganga. The whole scene is about as romantic as a back-street bus shelter littered with used syringes.
In point of fact it's not so difficult to fire up a few dozen disordered young males with the urge to kill others en masse, if that's your desire. All you need, when it comes down to it, is an incendiary ideology that serves to divide the world imaginatively into great camps of exploited and exploiters, righteous and unrighteous, clean and unclean, saved and damned, and which hands its acolytes the authority of the avenging deity. That, and unlimited stocks of ammunition.
We Westerners should surely know this better than anyone. After all, it was we who looked the other way while Stalin rid his country of traitors and saboteurs, Hitler purged the German volk of its unclean elements, the Northern Irish militias took God's work upon themselves, and the Baader-Meinhof brats separated their country into good Germans and bad Germans, and proceeded to murder the latter.
No wonder Indians are worried by our palpable lack of attention in their time of mourning. As absent-minded romantics we have serious form.
Islamic terrorism is and has only been allowed to inflict it's atrocities on the west because of the willingness of the left to accept Islam and it's demented followers as an ally in it's fight against their common enemy Judeo / Christian Western Democracy, the Islamists and the Socialists have conqured Europe the USA is all that remains,the remaining democracies are all but chicken shit without the military backing of the USA against the International Socialists and their mad attack dogs,Islam.
Is the war lost ? I am not prepared to admit defeat at this point in time, however lets say the war against International Socialism is lost, I cant tell you how much I am going to enjoy watching the "left light" Hollywood's beautiful people,elists,school teachers,unionists, free thinkers and self described progressives, squeal as they are tethered to the yoke of International Socialism / Islamism
Make Obama and his Godless goons prise them out of your cold dead hands.