Al-Qaeda’s Mission: Demonizing Islam

By Anthony Zeitouni

TIME magazine named Facebook’s Co-Founder and CEO   Zuckerberg, 26, as Time’s Person of the Year 2010. Meanwhile Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, 28, was recently named the “Stockholm bomber” after he blew himself up in a street in Stockholm last week in a suicide attack. What a paradox, two young men of a similar age, living in the west, graduated in the same year, 2004; one chose to kill himself and others in the name of Islamic “Jihad”, the other one chose to “making things that help people connect and share what’s important to them” as he stated on his Facebook page. Both had the same basic opportunities to make a better world. Al-Abdaly chose to kill the people while Zuckerberg set up his goals of “making the world open” as he recently said to Wired magazine.

My point here goes beyond a comparison between al-Abdaly and Zuckerberg as people. I want to look at the set of ideals and values that Modern Society offers and the values that extremists have given young Muslim people. Before he was recruited by terrorists, Al-Abdaly’s goals were much closer to Zuckerberg’s, to be a successful in life. That is why Al-Abdaly spent three years studying for a university degree. Afterward, Al-Abdaly’s goals twisted to became the same as those of his brainwasher, Anwar al-Awlaki of Yemen.

Al-Abdaly is the father of three children from a Swedish wife who converted to Islam upon his request. He graduated from a British university. Al-Abdaly, who lived in Sweden since his childhood, in fairly good circumstances, certainly could have been a successful person, a happy father, and a faithful Muslim as well. What drove him to blow up himself and others? What make him a terrorist? What made him so hate the country that granted him citizenship, freedom and a financial safety net? It is absolutely not the Muslim faith that supported Al-Abdaly’s terrorist suicide. The culture of hatred, accusations of heresy, nullification of others, intolerance and violence that is widely spreading among Muslims by several perverted Imams.

Some of the Islamic movements are brainwashing the minds of young Muslims to transfer them to Al-Qaeda’s ideology. This ideology links Islam faith with violence in the minds of Muslims, causing a link between Islam and terrorism in the rest of the world. That is what drives Al-Abdaly and his fellow terrorists Omar Abdul Mutallab, the Nigerian Muslim who tried to blow up a plane last Christmas, and Major Nidal Hasan of Fort Hood. This ideology drives many other Muslims to commit the atrocities that they do. It is the influence of Al-Qaeda more than the teachings of Islam.

The big question now is determining the worldwide leader of the Muslim faith. Is it Osama bin Laden or the King of Saudi Arabia? Anwar al-Awlaki of Yemen or Al-Azhar of Egypt? Who are the leaders and mentors of young Muslim minds around the world? The official Muslim Muftis and other Muslim authorities need to speak out now to loudly and clearly condemn such terrorist attempts, and to unlink terrorism from the real notion of “Jihad” in Islam. The battle is now inside Islam between moderates and extremists. Al-Qaeda is more than ever standing against Islam; it is practicing a war against Islam.

I consider it a war to “demonize” Islam. Al-Qaeda is simply hijacking Islam, creating an existential threat against Islam. Al-Qaeda is at the point of brainwashing and recruiting Muslims, especially in the West, to practice what they called the “individual Jihad” like the case of Stockholm bomber, Omar Abdul Mutallab and to certain extent Major Nidal Hasan. Due to the high security measures taking after 9/11, and more recently the drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda can’t practice macro-terrorism anymore; it is committing “micro-terrorism” as Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine named.

It is the role of wise and courageous Muslim religious leaders to reverse the rhetoric, to define and defend their religion, to emphasize and sustain the moderate concept of Islam, which is compatible with other religions, to shore up mainstream Islam, and to get Muslim extremists back on track.
Recently, in a comprehensive interview with Jihad Alzein, the Op-Ed editor of An-Nahar (The Day) daily paper of Beirut, Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar of Egypt, condemned suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, and he added that “only the ignorance of the Islamic heritage leads to extremism”.

In his article entitled “The Revival of Al-Azhar” Jihad Alzein emphasizes the need to “restore Al-Azhar’s leadership toward Salafist and fundamentalist currents and even toward the Wahhabism”. Al-Azhar, the largest and oldest Islamic Sunni school has always being the symbol of “reason-ability and moderation” in Islam, el-Tayeb added.

Several months ago, the world widely condemned the call of Terry Jones of Florida to burn the Quran during Ramadan. In the US, the voices of religious leaders made a huge impact and won that battle. They made it clear that Jones is not a part of any major denomination of Christianity, he had not graduated from a recognized theological school and no one ordained him as Christian minister. Consequently Jones does not speak on behalf of any church in America; he only represented himself as such.

In that manner, Muslim religious leaders can and should condemn any person who commits an act of violence in the name of Islam. Moderate Muslim leaders need to collectively form a charter regarding what is and, almost more importantly now, what is not a part of the Islamic faith. This charter should then be made public to inform individual practitioners of Islam what authority Muslim leaders have. Widespread knowledge of the governing principles of their faith will prevent the more radical leaders from endorsing militant Jihad and terrorism as well as the more mundane fatwas that are created on demand. Without governing guidelines, I am afraid that Al-Qaeda and its actions will continue to link Islam with the devil in the minds of non-Muslims.

Editor’s Note: Anthony Zeitouni ( ) is a Washington-based analyst, working in conflict resolution. He focuses on reform, good governance, human rights, minorities and interfaith dialogue in the Middle East. Zeitouni has published in Search for Common Ground and with Middle East Times. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He is a regular contributor of News Junkie Post for Middle-East issues. His web site is



11 Responses to Al-Qaeda’s Mission: Demonizing Islam

  1. Sarah Farrukh January 3, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Islam is the Religion of Truth and Peace….

    • Bart January 3, 2011 at 6:19 am

      where Islam is the place for peace?
      where do you see?
      I see only your fight against the infidels

      • ANTIFA January 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm

        The same can be said about the fundamentalists of any religion, including Christians who seem blind to their own offenses against others. But, even as an atheist, freedom of conscience… of religion if one chooses, cannot be violated by bigotry and stereotyping. Even though I disagree with religion, I find that it is often an extension of a person, a context within which people can express themselves and their principles. There are many good, peace-loving Muslims; just as there are Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc, et al. Why? Because they are good, peace-loving people, and should not be judged by the lunatic fringe any more than any one else should be.

  2. fajas colombianas January 3, 2011 at 6:32 am

    We don’t know which religion is real and which are fake. What’s best to do is to respect each others beliefs.

    • Perinteger January 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

      If by “real” you mean literal and accurate representations of reality and by “fake” you mean not literal and accurate representations of reality; then you can safely assume they’re all fake.

  3. Mark January 3, 2011 at 6:50 am

    This is what happens when you tie religion to the state. It’s the religion that becomes corrupted into a tool for incompetent or corrupt leaders of the state.

  4. Ashmede Asgarali January 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    As a Muslim, I have often heard/read that Islam means peace, but it really is peace by extension because to me, Islam means “submission one of ones self to God” which requires that His commands on life/love/worship and the pursuit of happiness both in this world and the next be achieved by adhering to His commands/guidance via the Quraan and the actions of the Prophet Muhammad. Then if Muslims practice Islam as practiced by Muhammad, the outcome should be a peaceful and just society..then Islam means peace.

    Of course, much of what Muhammad taught vis-a-vis the way of life of a Muslim based on the living interpretation/understanding of the Quraan has been corrupted by those who think they know what God/Muhammad meant when they behave in ways that are clearly unislamic; they rationalize their interpretations. For example, for every “scholar” who will give fatwas/guidance/interpretation of one type on a way of life, there will be another “scholar” who will give an exact opposite interpretation and support his interpretation with Quraan verses and practice of Muhammad (sunnah -practice/hadith – sayings) etc. so the uneducated masses may easily become confused/mislead as can be seen in the so-called Islamic countries. Just like in Christianity, there are biblical interpretations that can be extreme, the same exists in Islam…its our jihad (inner war) to interpret Islam in the best possible way to be the most charitable/kind/generous/compassionate individuals, as opposed to the hateful interpretation that the “terrorist jihadists” embrace. We in the west do not see the evidence of “western hate towards Muslims” that the terrorist recruiters use to influence their potential recruits, so we cant understand why people from the west become terrorists…why would they fall under the influence of these hate mongers we ask….but as everyone knows, evidence can be used positively or negatively and I am sure that coercion is not limited to the mafia.

    Incidentally there are no true Islamic countries…they all practice a corrupted/bastardized version of the Islam as Muhammad practiced it. The true Muslims are not allowed to govern by the leaders of these countries. For example, there are no monarchies allowed in Islam…no genealogical kings and queens. Islam is supposed to have an “elected” caliph who is supposed to lead Muslims, but as we all know, there is not even unity among Muslims never mind a world leader.

    How well educated Muslims become terrorists also confuses us but it is not hard to preach for the hate mongers to preach that the western democracies are enemies of Islam with the way they prop up the leaders of the so-called Islamic states, although truthfully I don’t see what else they can do since to leave these countries to “evolve” from their uneducated societies to a more just one as “judeo-christian” countries have done over the 600 years A.D. may cost more to its own citizens lives especially women than the west can bear. Is there an easy answer? I don’t think so. Even if the west were to leave these countries entirely on their own, there will be “civil” war between the “moderates” and the “backwards fundamentalists”…I say backward fundamentalists because there can be forward looking fundamentalists that are also the best of Muslims.

    So all we can do is hope that Islamic practice evolves in the future. One thing is that Islam will never have separation of church and state…the values/principles that form who and what you are cannot be divorced from what u believe as a Muslim. For example, a Muslim cannot go to church and make obeisance to God and His commandments and after this go home and engage in a business activity that promotes/supports pornography for example in his personal/business life. Christian politicians are able to separate church and state even if it compromises the teachings of Christ….at least that is how I understand it.

    Anyway, I am grateful to Canada for allowing us Muslims to live/work/play/worship within a democratic framework that does not stop us from being Muslims and in fact encourages us to be Muslim. This is truly one of the greatest triumphs of a judeo-christian society.

  5. Kevin January 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

    i could go on and on and on and on and on

    for years on how the christinaty religion is equally, if not more, perverted; its just going through a quiet age right now, but its only a matter of time before the crazys walk again.

  6. Terex January 4, 2011 at 1:02 am

    If alan actually bothered to read articles it wouldn’t give him time to make hundreds of comments each day. Plus it’d mean giving up his ridiculous world view.

  7. Tranis January 4, 2011 at 1:03 am

    This is what happened with Christianity. People used to read the bible and the interpretations they got from it were pretty straight forward. You CAN own slaves, and gay people are going to hell according to the bible, but over so many years of civilization and pressure many Christian denominations have mellowed out. Modernity has forced them. Islam will have to do the same.

    • marie January 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

      nobody has to do the same, dude. Just cause Christians did that doesn’t mean any other religions will. This just shows how weak Christians are in their beliefs. I mean if they’re going to change every bit of the bible that some people has problem with it ain’t gonna be christianity anymore, but another religion…and if ppl are so against that why not choose another religion or live as they want to…

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