Khorasan to al-Quds and the Ghazwa-e-Hind
[ by Charles Cameron — expecting the unexpected — transcribing Bill Roggio on “something that everyone is overlooking” and Ambassador Haqqani on “one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write” ]
I’ve talked about the “Black Banners” hadith and the Mahdi‘s victorious army marching from (roughly) Afghanistan to Jerusalem more than once, and perhaps less frequently, the other prong of the jihad, the Ghazwa-e-Hind, which flows from Pakistan into India. In the video that follows, Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal talks with Husain Haqqani, one-time Pakistani Ambassador to the US — and both have some striking things to say.
We pick up the conversation close to the end of the first half of a two-tape session at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — and I’ve provided a transcript after the video, for easier quotation and annotation.
One of Al-Qaida’s propaganda since it took a beating in Iraq was, that they made the Khorasan, which is an old Islamic empire basically in central Asia and South Asia, they said that this is where we are going to beat them, and once we win in the Khorasan, we’re going to move towards the Levant. So this has become a key part of AQ’s propaganda. What do we think is going to happen when we lose in Afghanistan, when the second superpower loses? That is going to be a huge recruiting boom for foreign terrorists operating in Afghanistan. I think this is something that everyone is overlooking as we’re running for the doors in Afghanistan.
That’s a pretty powerful prediction, though prediction itself is a high risk enterprise. And it bears repeating that the Khorasan hadith is explicitly an “end times” prophecy. Ambassador Haqqani then doubles up on Bill Roggio’s concern, adding in the Ghazwa-e-Hind, which he describes as both “famous” and “the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr”…
A lot of people make fun of the Pakistani analyst and Youtube personality, Zaid Hamid, who seems to be the main public proponent of the Ghazwa — take a look here to see a wild sampler! — which is why I find Ambassador Haqqani’s response particularly impactful.
You know, there are days when I think I should have stayed in the scholarship business and written some of that stuff I was writing at that time. This was one of the things, even before Iraq, I had pointed out. For example, bin Laden had given a statement at that time about Americans being the new Mongols, and nobody could understand what he was talking about, and I said he’s talking about the 1258 conquest of Baghdad, and he’s playing on Islamic history and Islamic mythology.
And so Khorasan was an important element in that because, if you remember, the Abbasids rose to power through Khorasan, because that was an important element, they overthrew the Umayyads based on the argument that there is a hadith – which in my opinion is of relatively weak significance, but I am taking off my hat of a theologian since I never completed my religious training – but anyway, they used that, that there is a hadith, that the people from Khorasan will come and save the people of the Levant or whatever. And so that was used, and that was used again, and that has been part of the Al-Qaeda thing.
And then the other part is this famous Ghazwa-e-Hind, and the Pakistani groups use it – actually, just as jihad is the war, a holy war or war for religious purposes, ghazwa is a battle — and there is ostensibly a saying of prophet Muhammad that before the end times, the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr is going to take place in Hind, which is India, which is the land east of the river Indus.
So Khorasan takes care of what is today Afghanistan and some parts of central Asia, and all of that – it means a lot to people who believe in it, these end times prophecies etcetera. So one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write, I wrote a piece on it once, an article I think, which said, that, you know, Americans pay a lot of attention to their own end time prophecies, but getting into that whole theater, they have totally neglected this.
And so far as recruitment is concerned I am totally agreeing with you, that failure in Afghanistan is going to be a big boon for both. The TTP — the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan — and the Pakistani groups are going to start saying, Right, now is the time to start recruiting, and fighting in that famous Ghazwa-e-Hind –let’s get ready for that. And the Arab groups are going to say, Ah, salvation is coming by joining up with the folks who are fighting in Khorasan.
And both those fronts are going to be a source of a lot of problems.
Increased jihadist recruitment, and India as a second major front for the jihad — that’s quite a left lead and right cross combo…
Do you recall the opening of Aldous Huxley‘s final novel, Island?
“Attention,” a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had suddenly become articulate. “Attention,” it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone. “Attention.”
April 2nd, 2013 at 4:03 am
I agree that Afghanistan is definitely going to be a great recruiting tool for AQ and other Islamist groups but IMO, the situation is ameliorated by a few factors: (1) Afghanistan was not primarily an AQ battleground but a Taliban led campaign which although undoubtedly Islamist in nature, also has significant ethnic, economic and geo-political influences and infact the Taliban may not want it to become a recruitment poster for the (even) more fanatical groups because that could undermine their own position in relation to negotiations with the Afghan national govt. and its allies as well as their future aspiration for being a significant player in Afghan power circles, (2) India, even with its disorganized and sometimes weak strategy towards terrorism emanating from its neighborhood has more or less managed to keep foreign fighters away (due to a very active border management policy in Kashmir, aggressive CI ops in sensitive areas of Kashmir and last but not the least, because of various political solutions that it offers to its large Muslim population etc.). The real danger here could be smaller cells/lone wolves that having been inspired from events in Afghanistan attempt highly visible, albeit isolated, strikes in the “infidel” nations. Other possible negative outcomes could result in homegrown Islamic terror groups in India (like the Indian Mujaheedin) trying to use this to intensify their terror campaign against the Indian state or the same old story of the Pakistani state falling prey to the lure of using some these groups for their objectives in Afghanistan and India. I have no doubts that atleast if not the US, the neighborhood around Afghanistan is very keenly observing this situation unfold.
April 2nd, 2013 at 9:14 am
“A lot of people make fun of the Pakistani analyst and Youtube personality, Zaid Hamid, who seems to be the main public proponent of the Ghazwa”
Yes, Zaid Hamid has been the front line whistle blower of the “Ghazwa e Hind” but he also proposes that TTP are ‘Kharjies” and they are carrying rebellious agenda against Islam. Kharjies are the people who rebelled against Muslims and Islam in the times of Islamic Caliphates. Caliphate Ali (RA) was martyred by the Kharjies. Kharjies are considered as a ‘Fitna’ (upheaval) in Islam. A number of Islamic scholars believe the same about TTP. I don’t agree with Hussain Haqqani that TTP could ever threaten India. They are infact doing vice versa, they are threat for Pakistan itself and are widely believed to have links with Indian Intelligence agency “RAW”.
April 2nd, 2013 at 4:10 pm
Bilal-Widely believed in Pakistan only. You give RAW too much credit 🙂
April 2nd, 2013 at 4:55 pm
In the U.S., the Major League Baseball season has just begun again. Every year, one team struggles through to win the final contests. Then Autumn and Winter pass, and it all begins again. Much speculation and many claims attend each season of competition. A small number of fans and players seem to feel deeply involved. Certain team payrolls are deemed to be obscenely high. And each new season a different team is likely to ascend to the throne and to hold it briefly–although in historical terms, that team will always be on record as having held that honorable place on that specific occasion.
Most people really don’t care about the sport at all and pay no attention to its outcomes. But the fans are avid and full of analysis to support their as yet unproven claims. Personally I find the sport to be beautiful–but only in its most continuously crisis-filled final games when every second, every gesture, has meaning. The rest of the year it is as unappealing to watch as a competition in professional laundry hanging. True fans, however, remain passionate even in the off-season.
April 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 pm
I see some parallels, StevE, but I’d also caution you as to the perils of comparisons between strategic issues and pop cultural references, as explored recently on Blog Tarkin by Adam Elkus, a friend of this blog.
I’d also note that the fanaticism of sports fans can in fact erupt into real warfare, as illustrated by the
Salvador-Honduras War of 1969, also known as the Soccer War:
As for me, I “remain passionate even in the off-season.”
April 2nd, 2013 at 7:28 pm
Charles, I agree that my comparison has its faults. To quote Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own”, “There’s no crying in baseball.” There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth in armed conflict. Ever so often I just get cranky about the attention demanded by the very small number of thugs and fanatics who insist on ruling history. The vast majority of people in war-torn regions (in my experience) just want to live peacefully and take care of their families. Instead, they have to vote for one war-monger or another (and so do I, even in the ultra-insulated U.S.), and they have to take up arms against the thugs and fanatics who have gathered their own frightened and angry minions on the other side.
It is extremely difficult to see beauty in these so-called “real life” situations. The symbolic warfare of sports allows form and excellence to complete themselves and to achieve a philosophical, aesthetic resolution. The same can often be true of commerce. Apparently I need persuading to envision hope in the question of altering the patterns of inhumanity. Although–I’m not yet quite resigned to tending some neatly laid-out garden of green grass on a sporting field.