- - Friday, February 6, 2015

It’s a convenient notion that the barbaric decision to burn Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-KaseasbehMoaz al-Kasasbeh alive is a step too far even for the Sharia enforcers of the Islamic State, and that as a result we can expect a wave of rejection across the Arab world which might arise to shake off the Islamic State like a dog shaking off fleas.

Unfortunately, contrary to the belief of President Obama, the ideology of Islamic State isn’t bankrupt, but is based on the Islamic law. The execution itself was based on two concepts. The first, that because al-Kaseabeh had conducted bombing missions against the Islamic State, by burning him and burying him in rubble they were essentially meting out a punishment equivalent to being bombed. This concept that retaliation should be equivalent to the offense is called qisas. It is the same reason a Saudi court ruled a man’s back should be broken after the man paralyzed someone. It’s based off the Koranic citation Sura 16:126, “And if you punish [an enemy, O believers], punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.”

Secondly, Islamic State cited medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, whose works on takfir (declaring as an apostate one who violates Islamic law, rather than only those who affirm their own apostasy) are heavily cited by many modern jihadists. Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb utilized Ibn Taymiyyah in establishing the Brotherhood’s practice of applying the concept of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) to modern Arab regimes thus justifying them as targets of a legitimate jihad.

It’s thus no surprise that while many were up in arms about the Islamic State’s  decision, Muslim Brotherhood cleric Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, tweeted a defense, and their citation of Ibn Taymiyyah, saying that those who reject Ibn Taymiyyah, reject the Koran (H/T to @iaskmaie on Twitter for finding and translating the tweet which few if any have picked up on.) Al-Zindani is an influential leader of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood’s Al-Islah Party. Al Zindani is also a specially designated global terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department due to his role in the Union of the Good, which supports Hamas, and his influence on al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Nor is Al-Zindani alone. The watchdog group MEMRI recently published a Jordanian media video where Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Hamza Mansour patently refused to identify the Islamic State as a terrorist group, despite pressure from the interviewer:

Interviewer: Is ISIS a terrorist organization?

Hamza Mansour: There are terrorists of every sort – Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims, Christians, Jews …

Interviewer: The Islamic State organization, sir – do you consider it to be terrorist?

Hamza Mansour: There is no definition of terrorism today. Anybody who says a couple of words is automatically considered a terrorist. We condemn terrorism in all its shapes and sizes.

Interviewer: And ISIS?

Hamza Mansour: Let me tell you….

Interviewer: I’m asking a clear question. I insist on getting an answer. This is a yes/no question.

Hamza Mansour: I condemn terrorism in all forms. Are you giving me the third degree?

While it’s certainly true that there is outrage around the globe, the underpinnings of Islamic State — through al Qaeda to the Muslim Brotherhood to Shariah law itself — remain in place, and they will continue to be influential to those attracted to the cause of establishing the caliphate and instituting Islamic law. Underestimating that appeal or focusing solely on the brutal reality of the Islamic State instead of the intellectual and ideological framework built by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (which has itself issued a call to jihad against Egypt) is a recipe for continued failure in defeating not just the Islamic State but the global jihad movement more generally.

Kyle Shideler is director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy.


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