Before the 2000 election, back when President Clinton was the one bombing Islamist terrorists and Osama bin Laden was not yet the monomaniacal obsession of George W. Bush, The New York Times was willing to publish straightforward reporting on the Great Islamic Jihad.
Reporter Jeffrey Goldberg enrolled in the Haqqania madrassa in Pakistan and spent some time there studying the Koran and talking to his fellow students. In June of 2000 he published his report, “Inside Jihad U: The Education of a Holy Warrior”, in the NYT magazine.
|Very few of the students at the Haqqania madrasa study anything but Islamic subjects. There are no world history courses, or math courses, or computer rooms or science labs at the madrasa. The Haqqania madrasa is, in fact, a jihad factory. This does not make it unique in Pakistan. There are one million students studying in the country’s 10,000 or so madrasas, and militant Islam is at the core of most of these schools.|
|“The only enemy Islam and Christianity have is the Jews,” [the chancellor of the madrassa] said. “It was the Jews who crucified Christ, you know. The Jews are using America to fight Islam. Clinton is a good man, but he’s surrounded by Jews. Madeleine Albright’s father was the founder of Zionism.”|
|“I’m Jewish,” I told him.|
|There was a moment’s pause.|
|“Well, you are most welcome here,” he said.|
Back then the Taliban were ascendant in neighboring Afghanistan. Mr. Goldberg visited Kandahar and the surrounding region, where many of Haqqani’s alumni ended up.
|And the secret of the Taliban — the secret of Talibanism — is not found inside the Shrine of the Cloak of Muhammad. The secret is embodied in the two 11-year-olds cocking their fingers at me, and in the taunts of the students in the mosque who raised their hands for Osama bin Laden, and in the person of Mullah Haji Muhammad, my 17-year-old minder in Kandahar who has no interest in any book but the Koran, and in the hundreds of thousands of young men like him at madrasas across Pakistan and Afghanistan. These are poor and impressionable boys kept entirely ignorant of the world and, for that matter, largely ignorant of all but one interpretation of Islam.|
|They are the perfect jihad machines.|
But the most interesting parts of the article are the quotes from the President of Pakistan. While Mr. Goldberg was in Pakistan, he had the opportunity to attend General Pervez Musharraf’s birthday party, and spoke with the General at some length.
These quotes were uttered and published before 9-11, and thus are untainted by any hindsight engendered by that fatal day.
Concerning the madrassas:
Very few of these schools are engaged in any kind of militancy. Most of them are very humanitarian. They give food and lodging to these poor boys.
There is no question that terrorism and jihad are absolutely different. You in the West are allergic to the term “jihad,” but jihad is a tolerant concept.
Concerning American claims that bin Laden is a terrorist:
The Taliban has a stand on this subject. They say they need proof, which has not been given to them. We have asked for proof from the U.S. and we are in the process of getting this. From the legal point of view, I haven't seen the proof.
Concerning HUM, the terrorist group that hijacked an Indian airliner in 1999:
These people are not terrorists. They are fighting a jihad.
And, perhaps most ominously, on the question of the “Islamic bomb” being the will of Allah:
Yes, we do use the term “Allah's will.” We do consider God to be the supreme sovereign, and we do consider ourselves to be his representatives on earth. We being his representatives on earth, whatever has to be done is according to the teaching of Allah. But when we say “the will of God,” that doesn't mean we aren't using our brains, that we are trigger-happy fundamentalists.
Mind you, this is the man that the current administration considers a “staunch ally in the war on terror.” This is the regime which receives substantial fiscal and military aid from the United States. President Musharraf has been repeatedly fêted at the White House and has received the highest encomiums from President Bush.
I suppose we should be reassured that General Musharraf is not a “trigger-happy fundamentalist.” That’s a relief!
It’s good to know that he can shrewdly and cynically calculate his advantage, patiently awaiting the exact moment to execute the will of Allah.