The Shia Strategy
In Iraq and Pakistan
January 11, 2005
In the post September 11th scenario the world has
been turned on its head. Once, close friends have become open foes.
were a creation and brain child of Pakistani Intelligence services
(ISI) were betrayed and classed as terrorists by their founding
fathers. Mullah Zaeef the Foreign Minister of the Taleban regime
was captured, shaved and handed over to the Americans by the brotherly
Pakistani government. Taleban who had massacred and butchered thousands
of Shias in Afghanistan during their reign of terror have retreated
to the safety of caves and mountains following in the foot steps
of their forefathers.
The regime of Saddam Hussain who had more
Shia blood on its hands then any other government in this century
was finally destroyed
and brought to its knees by the American might. Saddam Hussain,
a tyrant and a dictator who brought fear and death to his own people
was captured from a little hole in the ground. Despite all the
claims of bravery, Saddam Hussain did not offer any resistance
to the American forces and instead surrendered without a fight.
He was humiliated and paraded in the world media as a coward and
a broken man.
The collapse of Taleban and Saddam regime have impacted
the Shias more than any other group of people in this world. The
Afghanistan and Iraq are finally free to practise and follow their
religion without the fear of being killed or put in jail. The Shias
all over the world have hopes and dreams of a better future where
they can live in peace and harmony and rebuild their shattered
lives. The massive gatherings of Chelum and Ashoora in Karbala
are a testimony to the freedom enjoyed by the Iraqis at the moment.
Similarly there have been big muharram processions
and majalises all over Afghanistan including Khandahar (the ideological
of Taleban) and many parts of Southern Afghanistan which were the
bastion of Taleban power. The Pakistani Shias were also delighted
to see the back of Taleban who had given shelter and refuge to
the terrorists of Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jangvi
(LJ). These two organisations are involved in the killings of hundreds
of Shia professionals in Pakistan.
The two most repressive governments
from the Shia point of view i.e. the government of Taleban and
the regime of Saddam Hussain
have disappeared and the state sponsor
killings and massacres of the Shias have come to an end in both Afghanistan and
Iraq. However a new evil in the form of Wahabbi sponsored terrorism has become
the biggest threat and challenge to the lives of ordinary Shias especially in
Iraq and Pakistan. The deadly suicide attacks on Ashoora in Karbala and Khadmiya,
the massacre of Shias on the same day in Quetta Pakistan, and the subsequent
massacre of Shias in Karachi Imambargahs are a testimony to the distorted ideology
Today our world has become a global village. Internet,
media and economy are all global. There is no country, nation or
people who can live and survive
in isolation. Events which take place in one country affect the lives of people
in another. Unfortunately in today's world terrorism has also become a
global phenomenon which affects the lives of everybody in this world. The whole
world knows that the only truly global terrorist organisation is Al-Qaeda which
has its sympathisers and supporters in almost every country of the world. The
aim of Al-Qaeda is pretty straight forward. They want to establish a global so-called
Islamic state stretching all the way from North Africa to the shores of Europe.
This so-called Islamic state would obviously be
based on the narrow and rigid interpretation of Salafi and Wahabbi
doctrine. In this global Islamic state there
would be no room for the Shias. We have already witnessed the glimpses of this
Islamic state under the regime of Taleban. The lives, property and women of
Shia in Afghanistan were a commodity for the Taleban and Al-Qaeda.
Hundreds of young
Shia girls were taken as slaves (Kaneez) by Taleban and their Jihadi masters.
The lives of the Shias were worth less than the lives of astray dogs on the
streets of Kabul. It is estimated that almost 60,000 Shias were
butchered during the
reign of Taleban.
Al-Qaeda have identified three prime enemies in
their mission to form this global Islamic state:
1- Shias of the
2- Muslim rulers
3- The West, specially America
In this article we will focus on the strategy and policies that
we as Shias should adopt to face off this threat and challenge
from Al-Qaeda and its
First of all we have to understand how Al-Qaeda works. Al-Qaeda is funded
and supported by many rich Saudi and Arab Sheikhs through a network of charities
which is spread all over the world. In every country Al-Qaeda works with
groups which adhere to its ideology and aims. In Afghanistan it was the Taleban,
in Iraq its Zarqawi's group, in Pakistan its Sipha-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jangvi,
Jaish-e-Mohammed and many other jihadi outfits.
We will concentrate on two
countries where Shias have become a prime target for Al-Qaeda.
Iraq is an ancient country and Shias and Sunnis have lived in this
part of the world for centuries. In the last 30 years Saddam
Hussain ruled Iraq with
fist. Saddam had a particular dislike for the Shia and butchered hundreds
and thousands of them in his long and brutal rule. The discovery of mass
all over Iraq is a testimony to his inhumane legacy which was beyond belief.
After the downfall of Saddam's regime Shias were hoping for a change of
fortune but another evil and deadly enemy in the form of Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi
has surfaced to deny the Shias a bright future in Iraq. Zarqawai is Jordanian
by birth, he with other Jordanians and Arabs came to Pakistan in 1980 to join
the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. During Afghan jihad Zarqawi met
several members of Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and was inspired by their anti-Shia
ideology. He later joined Sipha-e-Sahaba (SSP) and became a close friend and
associate of Riaz Basra who headed the military wing of Sipha-e-Sahaba (SSP)
known as Lashkar-e-Jangvi (LJ). Zarqawi alongside Basra participated in several
Shia massacres in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
On June 20 1994 Ramzi Yusuf
(now in American custody) along side Al-Zarqawi planted a bomb in the
Holy city of Mashad in Iran which resulted in the deaths of more
than 100 innocent Shias.
Zarqawi's anti-Shia grooming began in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Zarqawi
wrote a letter outlining his strategy for Iraq, his letter was found
on a computer disk after U.S. forces arrested Hassan Ghul, an Al-Qaeda
courier in northern
Iraq. Hassan Ghul is a Pakistani linked to various jihadi groups and
Sipha-e-Sahaba (SSP). Following are some extracts from Zarqawi's
letter which can be seen
in full here.
"[They are (Shias)]
the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty
and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom"
"The unhurried observer and inquiring onlooker will
realize that Shi'ism is the looming danger and the true challenge.
the enemy. Beware
of them. Fight
them. By God, they lie"
"Shi'ism is a religion that has nothing in
common with Islam"
danger from the Shi'a, however, is greater and their damage is worse
more destructive to the [Islamic] nation than the Americans"
"I come back
and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military,
and other cadres among the Shi'a with blow after
blow until they bend
to the Sunnis"
"Those [Shi'a] are the most cowardly of God's
creatures and that killing their leaders will only increase their
and cowardice, since
with the death of one of their leaders the sect dies with him"
"As for the Shi'a,
we will hurt them, God willing, through martyrdom operations
and car bombs"
From the above extracts it is clear what Al-Qaeda
feels and thinks about the Shias. It considers Shias as a bigger
danger and threat than
It wants to strike blow after blow against the Shias in the hope that
they in turn
will attack the Sunni muslims of Iraq and start a sectarian war. The
Iraqi Shias are far too sensible to fall in such traps. They realize
brothers who are attacking them in Najaf and Karbala but it is the foreign
terrorists and jihadis who are responsible for the carnage of Karbala
During the last Hajj many extremists and jihadis
from Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and many other muslim
countries went to Saudi Arabia
as pilgrims. There they linked up with various Salafi and Wahabbi jihadi
groups of Saudi Arabia and travelled to Iraq across the border to wage
the jihad against
the Americans and their age old enemy the Shias. The suicide bombings
of Karbala and Khadmiya were perpetuated by these foreign fighters
by the former
The Najaf police chief Gen Ghalib Al-Jazairi after
months of investigation finally confirmed that it was an Al-Qaeda
cell headed by
a Libyan who carried
bombing of Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf. This resulted in the martyrdom of
Ayatollah Baqir-Al-Hakeem and over one hundred other worshippers. The
Libyan has been
named as Haidar Waw Shnawa who has also accepted the responsibility for
bombings in Karbala and Khadmyya.
Al-Qaeda wants maximum instability
in Iraq. The daily suicide car and truck bombs against the Iraqi
police, Iraqi army, Iraqi politicians and
done to destabilise the country as much as possible and terrorise its
people. The killing of Izzedine Salim was one such incident. He was
a great Iraqi
leader who had vision for his people and his country and wanted to
bring Iraq back
into the 21st century. He wanted prosperity and justice for all Iraqis
but in the
eyes of Al-Qaeda this was his biggest crime. Al-Qaeda also has a vision
for Iraq, it wants Iraq to become another Afghanistan where Shia, Sunni
each others throat. Lets hope the Iraqis can see this plot of Al-Qaeda
and through unity and brotherhood defeat this menace.
After decades there is an opportunity in Iraq to
have the first majority Arab Shia government and this opportunity
must not be wasted. Syria and
Lebanon already have pro Shia governments. Once Iraq stabilizes, and
held and democracy
returns to Iraq, the Shia being the majority will be at the helms of
power. We are looking at a Shia state stretching from the Persian
all the way
up to the Mediterranean (Lebanon). This in fact is the biggest challenge
threat to Al-Qaeda and they are well aware of this as Zarqawi mentioned
in his letter.
"As the days pass, their hopes are growing that they
will establish a Shi'i state stretching from Iran through Iraq,
Syria, and Lebanon and ending
in the Cardboard
Kingdom of the Gulf"
The Salafis and the Wahabbis regard Shiaism as a
cancer in the muslim ummah. For decades the Salafis and the Wahabbis
have been preaching their anti-Shia
message, they have been writing books, giving lectures and warning the
muslims about the beliefs and the practices of Shia Islam. The Shias
ahl-e-bida and apostates by the Wahabbis. They can never accept the rise
of the Shia to
power in any country of the world, let alone in their own backyard (the
middle east). Things aren't going according to plan for the Salafis,
a Shia state stretching from Iran to Lebanon is not part of the
This is the reason why we have daily car bombs, truck
bombs, and suicide attacks in Iraq. They have no choice but to
of what we
think about the American invasion of Iraq, we must work with the coalition
bring peace and stability to Iraq. America has over 130,000 troops
in Iraq, if America pulls out all of its troops today then Iraq
and this would directly benefit Zarqawi and his misguided jihadis.
On the other hand if Iraq stabilizes and starts producing oil to
it would become one of the richest and the most prosperous country
in the whole of middle east.
It would be far more wise for Ulema like Moqtad-as-Sadar
to take into account the broader Shia interest in Iraq before making
a decision to challenge
the Americans. Moqtada-as-Sadar must realize that before the American
invasion of Iraq there
was no Mehdi army and Sadar city used to be called the Saddam city. It
only after America over threw Saddam that Shias were able to rename Saddam
Sadar city and Moqtada-as-Sadar was able to raise the Mehdi army into
a proper malitia.
Imagine if Moqtada-as-Sadar and his Mehdi army would
Saddam's regime! There is no doubt that Saddam's republican guards
would not only kill every single member of Mehdi army including Moqtada-as-Sadar
but would have also tortured, jailed and killed their family members
too. This new found freedom that the Shias have under the American
led government must
not be misused.
Instead of using the Mehdi army to rebel against
the Americans it would be far more sensible for Moqtada-as-Sadar
his young followers
police force, security services and the army of Iraq. This would not
only enable these young unemployed Shias to get a job but would also
their country against the Wahabbi inspired insurgency.
Many analysts and experts among the Muslims claim
that Iraq is under American occupation. They fail to realise that
a country can only be occupied if
it was free in the first place. Iraq was under Saddam and Bathist occupation
where no Iraqi citizen had any rights whatsoever. Only Bath party workers
and Saddam's chorines enjoyed a life of unprecedented luxury whereas
everybody else in the country suffered especially the Shia majority.
Prior to the
American invasion of Iraq there were no political parties in Iraq except
the Bath party,
there were no elections either local or national ever held in Iraq during
the 30 years of Saddam's rule.
Nobody in the country was allowed to say
a word against Saddam and his
regime and if anybody did then they were tortured, jailed or executed.
of Baqar-as-Sadar, the gassing of Kurds in Halabja and the poisoning
of the marshlands
in the south were some of the tactics used by Sddam to subdue his political
rivals and crush any opposition to his rule in the country.
It is utter
rubbish to suggest
that some how Iraq was a free country and now it is under occupation.
Iraq was never free, at least now the people of Iraq enjoy freedoms
not even dream off. There are hundreds of political parties in Iraq
now, there is
freedom of expression, there is freedom of press, people can protest
against the government and there will be elections where everybody
if they choose to. This infact is the reality of Iraq and many Muslims
ignore this due to their hatred for the Americans.
Finally I would like to say that there is a chance
to rebuild and reconstruct Iraq and to end the discrimination and
sufferings against the Shias once
and for all. Iraqis have suffered immensely under Saddam specially the
it would be a tragedy if the Shias fail to avail this golden opportunity
their fair share in Iraq's future.
Pakistan was created in 1947 as a state for the Muslims of India.
The founding fathers of Pakistan had a very different vision
for this new state then
the one promoted by many religious organisations operating in the country
there has never been any Shia Sunni conflict at the people's level and
this is the case even now. Both Shias and Sunnis have lived peacefully
in the subcontinent for centuries.
However, the peace and tranquillity
of Pakistan was shattered by two extraordinary
events which took place in the neighbouring countries of Iran and Afghanistan.
One of these events was the Islamic revolution of Iran and the other
one was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
Iran is a majority Shia country. The Iranian revolution although Shia
in nature was not against the Sunnis. The revolution was against the
of Iran who
himself was Shia.
The leader of the Iranian revolution Ayatollah Khomeni
wanted to unite
all the Muslims to form a joint strategy against Israel and America.
However, this is not how General Zia-ul-Haq (a fanatical Deobandi)
and his Saudi
friends (Wahabbi mullahs) saw it. To them Iran was exporting its
Shiaism to Pakistan,
a majority Sunni country through the Shia minority living there.
General Zia and his Saudi friends analyzed and pondered over this
They decided to form a strategy to counter this supposedly
new challenge form Iran by forming an organisation called Anjuman-e-Sipha-e-Sahaba.
Off all the
things which are common between Shias and Sunnis for example namaz
(salah), Roza (fast), Hajj, Zakat, Quran etc they choose to ignore
it all and
only focused on Sahaba. Since Sahaba is one issue where there are
between Shias and Sunnis.
Anjuman-e-Sipha-e-Sahaba later to be called Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan
(SSP) used the issue of Sahaba to justify attacks against the Shias
Kafir (non muslims). This was done to keep Sunnis away from Shiaism
and in turn away
from the Iranian revolution too. The fatwas and the war of words
against the Shias soon turned violent. Shia doctors, Shia lawyers,
mosques all became a legitimate target for the cadres of SSP.
campaign against the Shias got an unprecedented boost from the Afghan
conflict. Even before the Taleban came to power SSP established
extremist groups operating in Afghanistan and got its men trained in
use of weaponry and explosives. After the rise of Taleban Afghanistan
second home and they forged strong ties with both Taleban and Al-Qaeda
who were both extremely anti-Shia. SSP and LJ would commit crimes against
in Pakistan and take refuge with their brothers in Afghanistan. Their
sanctuaries were finally destroyed by the American invasion. This
meant that many of
the hardcore fighters of SSP and LJ have returned back home and are hiding
major cities and towns of Pakistan.
The Shias of Pakistan have suffered
enough at the hands of SSP. A generation of Shia doctors, lawyers, ulema
and professionals have been assassinated
by the terrorists of SSP. And more recently the new menace of suicide
compounded the sufferings of the Shia nation in Pakistan. Its about time
form a strategy to counter this ruthless group of thugs and save the
Shias in Pakistan
from further carnage.
I suggest a two pronged strategy:
(a) Shias must Infiltrate
SSP to gather intelligence
The suicide bombings of Shia mosques and Imambarghas is the latest tactics
used by SSP to kill and injure as many Shias as possible in one hit.
Even developed countries like Israel and America who have state of the
to fully defend themselves against suicide bombings. With thousands of
Shia mosques scattered all over Pakistan there is very little chance
that we can
single one of them against such organised acts of terrorism. The only
way to prevent suicide bombings is through intelligence gathering of
in other words we have to infiltrate SSP and keep an eye on their activities.
should ideally be the work of countries intelligence agencies. Unfortunately
Pakistan being a third world country, its intelligence agencies are
not as efficient or well paid as they should be and often lack
needed to nab the terrorists. Hence the honours is on us to do the
the intelligence agencies and save ourselves from these inhumane acts
A few Shias in every city, town and village would
have to join and become part of SSP. These Shias would have to
visit and pray in mosques controlled
attend their meetings and gatherings and pretend to be inspired by the
ideology of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. These Shias would effectively be working
as spies on
behalf of the community. Once these Shias have gained the trust and the
the local SSP activists it would be easy to find out what these guys
are up to.
The leadership of SSP and LJ uses its local activists
as informers against
Shia community of the area. These SSP activists would keep track of all
the local Shia mosques, people who regularly visit the mosque, security
the mosque and any local Shias who are actively working for the community.
These SSP agents would simply pass all the information to their central
leadership who would decide which Shia mosque to target or which Shia
leader in the
area should be eliminated.
If some of our brothers join and infiltrated SSP
or LJ then we can keep track of their activities and plans. This
would allow us to pre-empt any
which are eminent or are in the pipeline. SSP has stalked and harassed
the Shia community
for decades in Pakistan and its about time we do the same by infiltrating
their organisation and acting as informers. This is the only way to fight
really don't see any other way of preventing suicide bombings except
through intelligence gathering on the activities of SSP and LJ.
General Musharraf is America's linchpin in its war on terror against
Taleban and Al-Qaeda. The Pakistani army and its security services are
with the American intelligence to nab the terrorists of Al-Qaeda and
Taleban. We can easily use the war on terror in our favour. As far as
the West is
concerned Taleban, Al-Qaeda, SSP and LJ are all one. This indeed is true
for us too, since
all these groups share the same anti-Shia ideology and have killed hundreds
and thousands of Shias one way or the other.
Any intelligence that we gather
or LJ can be simply passed to the Pakistani security agencies who are
closely working with the Americans. In this way we neither have
to kill, attack,
injure or hurt anybody. All we are doing is passing the information and
the rest is
done by the agencies themselves. This is exactly what the Wahabbis did
after the Iranian revolution, they collaborated with the Americans to
in every corner of the globe. Its time we treat them with their own medicine!
(b) Develop a pragmatic approach towards America
Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 some Shia organisations
like Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) and Tehrik-e-Jaferria
Pakistan (TJP) have been
an extremely anti American line in Pakistan. Any incidents of Shia killings
in Pakistan become a justification for anti-American rallies, protests,
speeches and slogans. We are told that the killings of the Shia is a
to harm the muslim unity. America is singled out as the great satan which
wants muslims to be divided so that they cannot challenge the American
anti-American speeches are delivered and Israeli and American flags are
burned and trampled over to show our hatred for America and Israel.
These conspiracy theories may have had some truth in eighties and the
early nineties at the peak of Iranian revolution but the reality could
now. All those forces (the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia and the Deobandis
of SSP) which conspired against the Shias in Pakistan have become America's
number one enemy after September 11th. America is now hunting down Taleban
and the Wahabbis
of Al-Qaeda in every corner of the globe. As America has shifted its
policy towards our worst enemies it would only be logical if we also
reconsider our position towards the American establishment.
Even organisations like ISO and TJP must accept
the reality that America is no longer conspiring with the Wahabbis
to kill the Shia in Pakistan
However Wahabbis and their jihadi prodigies are conspiring to kill American
and ordinary Shias all over the world. Its about time we drop the slogan
to America' once and for all. We haven't achieved anything through
such hollow slogans. The only people who have faced death and destruction in
the last 25 years since the Iranian revolution have been the Shias of the world.
On the other hand America has become the sole super power of the world after
the collapse of the Soviet Union so our slogan of 'Death to America'
has had absolutely no effect!
In Pakistan we are unable to defend ourselves even
against SSP who have killed hundreds and hundreds of Shias. When
our situation is so bleak then
right do we have of challenging the biggest super power in the world!
We can't even bring death to SSP but we are hoping to bring death
to the Americans!
We should stop living in this Utopia and face the reality. Its
time we close
the foreign front against America and concentrate on the local enemy
whose sole aim is the destruction of the Shias in Pakistan.
In the end I would like to say that Shias all over the globe
are sitting at a critical juncture especially in Iraq. The
policies and strategies
will shape our future for generations to come. We must make rational,
realistic and pragmatic decisions which ensures a bright future
for our children
and helps Shiaism flourish in the world. Shias have suffered throughout
the hands of non muslims but unfortunately at the hands of fellow muslims.
The dynasties of Banu-Ummayah and Banu Abbas had
massacred thousands and thousands of Shias in their quest for power.
against the Shias
are over seven centuries old. The Wahabbis and the Salafis of today
as one of the greatest scholars of all time. Our enmity with the Salaf
goes back many centuries.
America on the other hand has been a super
last 50 years or so. America has no historical rivalry with the Shias.
America is a materialistic power which has no permanent friends or
enemies in this
world. It does not care about Shia, Sunni, Wahabbi, Salafi, Sufi
etc. Like any other
country America only cares about its national and foreign interests.
However in the post September 11th scenario the American
foreign policy for whatever
reason has directly benefited the Shias specially in Iraq, Afghanistan
and Pakistan (and this is an undeniable fact!). If we use our
heads and follow
policy then we can change the course of history in our favour and
if we don't
then history will never forgive us
May Allah protect the lives and honour of the followers of Ahl-e-Bayat
(A.S) and grant them victory.