AN ATHEIST SPEAKS
By Tariq Saeedi
With Sergi Pyatakov and Tamara Orlova in Moscow
Additional reporting by Qasim Jan in Kandahar and GN Brohi in Kharan and Nushki
(nCa) — Lucky breaks come when you least expect them. A major break presented itself recently, revealing the involvement of the USA and India in the terrorism spate in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We will come to it near the end of this narrative.
When working on this series of investigative reports, we understood early the need to think out of the box.
In an attempt to think out of the box we decided to consult an atheist. It was on his prodding that we went back to the field and found something big.
Vitaly was a professor of gosateism (state atheism) at the now-defunct department of atheism at the Moscow State University (MGU).
An atheist by choice rather than opportunism, Vitaly is as knowledgeable about Islam as any well- educated and well-read Muslim scholar. To bolster his argument, he can quote verses from the Koran and the sayings of The Prophet(PBUH ) from memory. The fundamental difference between Vitaly and a Muslim scholar is that Vitaly studied Islam to debunk it. In several interviews, we discussed suicide bombing with him.
Our first report in this series (‘Final Solution’ Frenzy – Part One: From Afghanistan with Love) was the basic raw material from which we expected Vitaly to come up with a plausible explanation as to why some young people would agree to act as suicide bombers.
In that report we mentioned that the Americans were running at least two training camps in Afghanistan, they were most probably preparing the kind of young people who looked like Muslims but acted otherwise, quite possibly some young men who looked like Taliban were being transported in American helicopters to areas near the border with Pakistan, automobiles were being stolen or snatched at gunpoint in Balochistan and some of those vehicles were being used in the acts of terrorism, there were huge numbers of unregistered automobiles in half of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, and there was a wide corridor in Balochistan that was being used by different kinds of people for illegal traveling between Afghanistan and Iran.
Here we present the essence of our conversations with Vitaly in the form of question-and-answer sequence:
Talking to Vitaly
nCa: Before we discuss the process of suicide bombing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, could you please give us some insight into non-personal acts of suicide in general?
Vitaly: Right at the start, I must make it clear that the use of suicide as a tactic or weapon, what you call non-personal act of suicide, is not exclusive to religion – any religion at all. The incidents of the use of suicide as a method of advance or retreat, offence or defence, desperation or exhilaration, are scattered throughout the history of mankind. It is a mindset that can be induced or acquired.
For instance, Jim Jones and 909 of his followers committed mass suicide in November 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana. Except for 9-11, it was the largest number of American casualties in a single event. Jones and his followers described themselves as communists, and in their last will they left assets worth more than US $ 20 million for the Soviet Union. Their mass suicide can be described as an act of desperation and retreat.
The Kamikaze pilots blew themselves – and the enemy – to pieces not for God but for the King and the country.
The Tamil Tigers have their land and their political agenda, not God, in mind when going for a suicide mission.
As far as organized religion is concerned, it is susceptible to manipulation after reaching the inevitable stage of ‘intellectual coma.’
It was the intellectual coma that generated the early waves of crusaders to their sure death.
nCa: How do you define intellectual coma?
Vitaly: Intellectual coma is when an organized religion gets disconnected from spirit. It is the triumph of form over substance. It is when the written and spoken word of scholars divides the adherents instead of uniting them.
For example, when Saladin was knocking at the doors of Jerusalem in 1187, the Christian scholars were debating in earnest whether Jesus Christ was the son of man or God. In 1258, just 71 years later, when the Mongol armies under Helegu were entering Baghdad, the Muslim scholars at the main square were contesting hotly whether crow was halal or haram.
nCa: How does it relate to suicide bombing in Islam?
Vitaly: Suicide as such is probably not permissible in Islam. In one of the early battles of Islam, a companion of The Prophet fought valiantly and got seriously wounded. The onlookers praised his bravery but The Prophet said that he may end up in hell. This made some listeners wonder and they kept an eye on the wounded companion to see as to what he would do next. A few hours later, he committed suicide in his tent.
This incident is universally quoted by the body of Muslim scholars who speak against suicide.
However, it is possible to divide the act of suicide into two categories i.e. the permissible and the forbidden. For instance, a convincing case can be built that commitment of suicide to escape despair, law, shame or pain is forbidden while suicide as a tactic in asymmetrical warfare is permissible.
Regardless of the doctrinal stance one takes on this issue, the persistent occurrence of suicide bombing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan demands different treatment. Looking at the complexity of the situation, one needs to be mindful of external and internal manipulations.
To expand on this point, I would like first to give my personal understanding of Islam.
In the early texts, Islam was referred to as path (deen) – a very wide path – and the preference to walk on the right or left, or in the middle, of that path was defined as mazhab. It is only when public debates on religion became a fashion that Islam came to be referred to as mazhab.
You may rightly ask as to what difference it makes.
The sheer bulk of literature in Islam that appeared after the sacking of Baghdad, veered away from the main path, the deen. It was denial and retreat.
My understanding of Islam is that neither your body nor the soul is answerable because body is perishable and soul is an order (amr) of God. What is answerable is your consciousness. Your consciousness is the product of the lifetime of your commission and omission, negation or acceptance.
However, just read the Islamic literature created during the last seven hundred years. Except for some notable exceptions, the general impression is that everybody is going to hell except for a chosen few. Based on the bulk of literature produced during the intellectual coma, it appears that it is nearly impossible to please the God of Islam.
The Islamic literature of the past few centuries promotes hopelessness instead of hope. The scholars, by and large, don’t offer optimism; they dispense fear. This is one reason why it was easy to convince people of the validity of atheism in Soviet Union.
Looking at the main body of Islamic literature, it seems that paradise is a small island, able to accommodate just a handful.
It also gives the impression that God is an angry old man, taking pleasure in committing people to eternal torture, creating them merely to throw them into the hell. Considering that every author recommends every other author for hell, the Islamic paradise would be one lonely place.
When a common Muslim looks at the presumed demands made on him, he sometimes loses all hope and starts looking for a shortcut to heaven.
This opens door for internal and external manipulation. Suicide can be billed as cheap ticket to paradise. Ka-boom, and you are there already, in the company of eternal virgins along the banks milk and honey rivers.
This is just one of the several reasons why someone would agree to become a suicide bomber. I will come to another, more relevant reason, in a minute.
nCa: You are saying ‘internal and external manipulations.’ Could you please elaborate?
Vitaly: You told me that some young people, Muslim in appearance, were seen entering from Afghanistan into Pakistan, and they did not perform obligatory ablutions before their prayers. This is the sign of induced exclusiveness; this is what I call ‘Zombification.’ This is the other reason I am talking about that could be more relevant to the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
nCa: We are afraid we don’t understand your line of argument.
Vitaly: If you take a group of teenagers, preferably 12 to 17, and the idea is to make them suicide bombers, here is how you would zombify them:
If they are from Muslim families, chances are that they would know at last the basics of their religion. Your first job would be to rewire their acquired knowledge.
The sheer bulk of the extraneous and wrongly focused Islamic literature makes it easy. You can take any young man or woman and convince them easily that they are the only ones going to paradise; give them exclusivity and they will die in name of God, in the manner determined by you.
You would start building their uniqueness by giving permissions not available to ‘ordinary Muslims.’
As you tell me, these young men pray without ablutions. This permission can be created by twisting the provision that in case of non availability of water or in extreme danger, such as in the heat of battle, one can substitute full ablutions with dry ablution. All you have to tell them is that they are in the middle of a war, they are the chosen few, and the usual rules don’t apply to them.
If your finding is correct that the Americans are preparing and sending these people to Pakistan, there has to be more to it than just the practice of praying without ablutions. I will suggest that you go back and try to find more.
Back to spadework
We took his advice and returned to the field to learn more. To begin with, we were not sure of the location of American training camps in Afghanistan. Moreover, for several reasons, we did not want to talk with any of the probable graduates of the American training camps.
Our contacts in Afghanistan and Pakistani province of Balochistan started looking for people who may know something about the lifestyle and mindset of the young people we mentioned in the first report, who were saw praying without ablutions.
In that first report we mentioned that at least one American training camp was located in either Ghowr or Uruzgan province of Afghanistan. The later reconnaissance, carried out after our initial conversation with Vitaly, convinced that the camp was somewhere in Uruzgan, not very far from Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
In fact, the new discoveries we made are enormous in scope.
Acquiring sharp focus
Our findings are immense in nature. There is no denying that fact that our field team worked very hard but we must acknowledge one lucky break that made it all possible.
When Vitaly sent us back to the field, we didn’t know what to do therefore we simply started listening attentively to the local gossip.
There was the talk that an Indian citizen, who was disguised as Afghan mullah, had been caught in Kharan district of Balochistan, probably in the third week of March 2010.
We talked to people in Kharan to confirm whether it was true, and if so, who he was and what was he doing in Kharan, a district that does not touch with Afghanistan.
In those areas rumor mill works better than Twitter. Soon we found that an Indian citizen had definitely been caught in Kharan and he was in the company of two Afghans. They were traveling by public transport to Iran. This confirmed our earlier reports that a corridor exists in the territory of Pakistan that is used by certain elements for traveling between Afghanistan and Iran.
The reason for his being detected and caught is somewhat funny; it is directly related to the male instinct of stealing a glance at the others’ “endowment.”
In most areas of Balochistan the whole of the outdoors is used as an open-air public toilet. It so happened that when that unlucky Indian went to attend the call of nature, someone else also felt the urge to discharge his urine. Just by chance, the other person saw that the Indian was not circumcised. He told it to others and in no time at all about a dozen people gathered and started beating him. In those rough environs people beat first and ask questions later.
The Indian, who was not only bearded and turbaned like a typical Afghan mullah but also spoke Pashtu fluently, broke soon; after being roughed thoroughly he was handed to an FC patrol.
A college student in Nushki who has some friends in FC told us that the Indian was interrogated by FC before being transferred to the authorized agencies. The student told us that the Indian talked candidly to avoid further beating. He told the FC that he was an instructor in a training camp in Afghanistan where the Indians were subcontractors on behalf of Blackwater (now Xe). The camp was training young men to destabilize Pakistan, Iran and China through suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism.
He also told the FC interrogators that vodka smuggled from Tajikistan was mixed with orange juice and given occasionally to some trainees as a sample of what they might expect in paradise.
The other thing of significance that he told was some Indian female sex workers, brought from India as nurses, were on their staff and their services were available to some select students in the camp. He told also that some young Afghan boys, kidnapped by local warlords as sex slaves, were brought occasionally to the camp for servicing the designated suicide bombers. Those ‘nurses’ were also available, in their spare time, to ‘nurse’ some local warlords.
Our sources in Afghanistan confirmed that kidnapping of young boys for sex slavery was almost back to the same level when Taliban first appeared on the scene. In fact, the first rise of Taliban, in 1990s, started with the rescue mission to free a boy who had been kidnapped by a warlord.
Our sources also confirmed that, yes, vodka was being smuggled in large quantities from Tajikistan and it was generally used in the private gatherings of the warlords. Orange or mango juice was popularly used for mixing the cocktail.
So, Vitaly was right.
Resuming conversation with Vitaly
nCa: You were right. There was much more to it than just the practice of praying without ablutions. The American training camp is being run by the Indian subcontractors on behalf of Blackwater, and they provide female and male sex mates and alcohol to some if not all students.
Vitaly: This is the classic Sabbah formula. Remember the 11th century cult of Assassins (Hashashin), founded by Hassan bin Sabbah?
His cult, which plagued the mainstream Islam for more than 150 years, was built on exclusivity through sex, drugs, strong loyalty to the leader and distortion of tenets.
Whoever is running the camp in Afghanistan has certainly borrowed heavily from the Sabbah model.
nCa: What could be the training period in such a camp?
Vitaly: Based on my knowledge of human nature, I can say that the training period would be three to five weeks. In less than three weeks it would be difficult to rewire the brain – to zombify – and in more than five weeks there would be the risk of the student waking up from the trance.
Also, there is comfort in numbers. In this kind of training you cannot prepare would-be suicide bombers in isolation. The company of fellow crazies is a booster. Nonetheless, the size of each group would have to be small, probably five or so.
In the next report, due in about a week or so, it will start becoming clear as to why we have named this series ‘Final Solution’ Frenzy. A Russian and an American expert will interpret and augment our findings, cutting right to the heart of American plans for the region.
To be continued . . .