May 23, 2017

More Sunni Arab jihadism, not Shia Iranian, in Manchester suicide bombing

Although the Gulf Arabians, Israeli Zionists, and their Pentagon sponsors are currently railing against the Persians of Iran spreading their "Shia Crescent" throughout the Middle East, back on Planet Earth the jihadist in the Manchester suicide bombing was a Sunni Arab whose family fled Libya when Qaddafi was in charge.

That means his family was a bunch of Islamist fanatics who couldn't tolerate the secular nationalist government of the Qaddafi era; the fact that many of them returned to Libya after Qaddafi was toppled, and jihadists had filled in the power vacuum, shows that it was not only this one guy who was an Islamist extremist in the family.

These are the people we are taking into our borders when we prioritize "refugees" from a country run by a secular strongman. That strongman is using force to keep the Islamists from exploding the country into anarchic jihadism, so those most likely to be fleeing such a country are those very potential jihadists. The Manchester suicide bomber's family was fleeing Libya under Qaddafi in the '90s, while future suicide bombers are fleeing Syria under Assad right now, incubating within America's and Europe's borders and destined to explode in the not too distant future.

While in Britain, the family must have been further radicalized by the extremist mosques in the country, most of which are run by the Deobandi movement, whose most infamous followers are the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is similar to the Wahhabi / Salafi extremism promoted by the Saudi government in the Middle East, which has given the world al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Deobandi movement comes from the Sunni branch of Islam in South Asia, where they are a substantial minority of the population (around 20% of Muslims), but exert an outsized influence in the religious schools (where they are about 60%) and religious militant groups (where they are about the only gang in town).

The Muslims of Britain are mostly South Asians, so this pattern is reproduced in that country as well.

Of the four schools of Sunni Islam, some are more prone to extremism, such as the Hanbali school of jihadist ground zero, Saudi Arabia, but also the Shafi'i school of Somalia and the Saudi-sympathizing region of Yemen. Those are the schools that urge female genital mutilation.

The Hanafi school found in the Near East and South Asia is relatively more moderate, but they are still prone to radicalization. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Erdogan regime in Turkey, the al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Hamas in Palestine, and the Deobandi movement in South Asia, are all testament to how susceptible the Hanafi regions are to periodic radicalization, despite earlier periods of relative religious moderation.

Of course the schools that are naturally more extremist provide funding and other support to Hanafi regions in order to inflame the latent potential there, which has now stabilized into a Saudi-Pakistani axis of radical mosques.

Notably absent from the jihadist phenomenon is the Shia branch of Islam, and particularly Iran. Just go ahead and name for us all those Iranian suicide bombers in foreign nations, 9/11 hijackers, and invaders who convert others by the gun, and who destroy religious sites not favored by their narrow sect for being offenses against idolatry.

Hezbollah in the Levant is a national liberation militia, designed to expel unwanted foreigners by force. As long as unwanted foreign nations do not occupy their land, they don't care and don't attack them, let alone pro-actively invade to convert others to their sect, destroy monuments, and so on. They are defensive rather than invasive.

The same is true of the Iranian Revolution, which was designed to end its status as a client state of the US under the Shah. They did not forcibly convert or murder the non-Shia minorities, and during the 1980s they were at war with another Shia nation (Iraq), albeit one whose government was led by a Sunni. That was all about defending national sovereignty, not religious sectarian conquest.

There is something about Shia Islam that makes it less prone to intolerance toward other sects, proselytizing, revivals in the fundamentalist literalist puritanical direction, and attempts to radicalize members into jihadism. In outward behavior, it is more like the Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity, whereas the Protestant branch is more prone to periodic radicalization (even from members within the otherwise staid Mainline churches), with some Protestant churches being permanently radicalized.

That analogy is a topic for another post, but in the meantime have a look at a compare-and-contrast between Sunni and Shia Islam, topic by topic (you can ignore the third column). It's striking how Protestant the Sunni branch is, and how Catholic and Orthodox the Shia branch is, across a number of dimensions. I speculate that this stems from the Shia branch being deeply rooted around an early center of the religion, Baghdad, just as the Catholics are rooted in Rome, and the Orthodox in Antioch and Alexandria, the three early centers of Christianity.

The various Sunni schools are farther away from the eastern Fertile Crescent, and if they felt like "getting back to their roots," they would turn elsewhere back to the very beginning in Mecca and Medina. Similar to Protestants being rooted outside of the early Christian centers, and harking back to the Holy Land itself, and during Jesus' own time, for revival.

Going back to the very beginning unwinds all of the traditions that have developed in the meantime, so those groups without a root at the very beginning are less stabilized by tradition, and are more prone to radicalization.

Just a few initial thoughts, and something to explore at a later time.


  1. There's another factor here: the founding myths in relation to geography and emerging nationalism. It's possible that the prophet never existed, but was a useful, unifying device. If you have time to read The Hidden Origins of Islam, a collection recently translated into English by German scholars, your take would be welcome.

  2. It's also possible that Jesus, Joseph Smith, Augustus, and George Washington never existed, but were useful unifying devices for an emerging religion or empire.

    What does that have to do with the differences between Sunni and Shia, or among the schools within the Sunni branch?

  3. It's relevant because the Shia and Sunni have fundamentally different reactions to the lost traditions of the Arabian Empire, including all of the Syrian conquests. We know very little about the circumstances of Iran, Mesopotamia, and Syria in the 7th Century. This means that, say, a more tolerant Persian identity has breathing room to emerge.
    Very different from the followers of Jesus, who went as far as India in less than a generation. That's much more historically grounded.

  4. Except that Shia didn't spread throughout Persia until 1000 years after that period, by the Safavids.

    It also doesn't explain why the Shia on the other side of the Fertile Crescent are non-sectarian, defend Christians, not so vulnerable to literalism or fundamentalism, are the targets of Salafis, etc.

    Shia was in the Levant far before it was the mainstream in Persia -- at least during the Fatimid Caliphate around 1000 AD, compared to ~1600 AD in Persia. And the Levantines are Semites, not Persians, so hard to chalk that up to shared culture or ethnicity.

    It seems more like Shia and the Hanafi school of Sunnis are an adaptation to the places with a history of civilization (large cities and agrarian economies). The Hanbali and Shafi'i schools are for nomadic pastoralists in the M-E and similar peoples of East Africa.

    Still, the Hanafi school is more susceptible to radicalization than the Shia, despite both groups being found in civilized as compared to barbarian places. That would seem to have to do with their different histories.

  5. Some more info:

    "On the other hand, Iranian author Vali Nasr in his 2006 book The Shia Revival ticks off an impressive string of parallels between Shi'a and Catholicism: a strong emphasis on clerical authority; an approach to the Qur'an accenting both scripture and tradition; a deep mystical streak; devotion to a holy family (in the case of Shi'ites, the blood relatives of Muhammad) and to saints (the Twelve Imams); a theology of sacrifice and atonement through the death of Hussein, the son of Muhammad's cousin Ali, who was martyred in Karbala, Iraq, in 680; belief in free will (as opposed to the Sunni doctrine of pre-destination); holy days, pilgrimages, and healing shrines; intercessory prayer; and strongly emotional forms of popular devotion, especially the festival of Ashoura commemorating Hussein's death."

  6. People have really being brainwashed the past few days to think Saudi good, Iran bad. I saw a stupid comment left on Drudge about Manchester that called for war against Iran as retaliation.

  7. Those first three paragraphs are spot on considering his brother was also arrested in regards to Islamic State connections. They're trying to say that the parents became "worried" about his radicalization and took his passport but I don't quite buy it because, as you said, who's going to return to a jihadist shithole but jihadists?

  8. "People have really being brainwashed the past few days to think Saudi good, Iran bad."

    It seems worse than if Jeb were President. A large chunk of Republican voters would be wary of getting even closer to the Saudis, giving hundreds of billions in arms that will end up in jihadist hands, and the whole spectacle of partying with devious Bedouin wizards.

    There would be an even greater reaction about "Oh great, another Bush getting us into another Middle Eastern war..."

    But by forcing Trump to be the public face of the arms deal, the Pentagon has managed to head off a lot of the resistance from within their own party. The non-interventionist wing of the GOP is far more Trump-friendly than the militarist wing, but they also don't want to believe that their hero can ever do wrong, let alone at such a level as this arms deal.

    So, they'll rationalize away the deal if Trump is its public face, to a degree they never would if it were Jeb or McCain trying to sell it.

  9. The simple fact to remember is that American foreign policy in the Middle East is dictated by Israel. Israel wants stable Arab states such as Syria (and previously Iraq) overthrown because Israel would rather deal with the muddle ofsmaller groups that rise up in Syria's place. Better than dealing with a State with a strong military and a supportive population. The fact that thousands of Christians are slaughtered and millions of refugees are created in the process holds zero interest for Israel.

  10. American foreign policy is dictated by America, i.e. the globalist Pentagon seeking to maintain a crumbling empire. You can only frame it as a foreign nation hijacking or over-riding the US govt / military if you assume that our govt only acts in the best interests of the homeland and its people, rather than pursuing their own power plays divorced from the homeland -- and if anything, endangering the homeland via blowback from our jihadist allies, not to mention the trillions in debt that they run up.

    Our longest ally, with the most to give us (oil access), and who can stab us in the back with impunity (9/11 etc), is Saudi Arabia -- not Israel, who are #2, who's only been an ally since the '70s, who we sided against in the Suez Crisis, and who had to apologize and pay us blood money for attacking the USS Liberty.

  11. I can't disagree with you. But our first Jewish President, President Kushner, places Israel's interests on a par with, if not above, America's interests.

  12. Kushner has no influence or power -- he's the son-in-law of a President who himself came into office with minimal political capital, and whose only leverage in DC is the supporter base that he can mobilize.

    Kushner cannot mobilize any of the Trump supporters, so he is not a representative of that power group.

  13. Easy way to tell who has power in DC -- who will not be a "person of interest" in a "probe"? I.e., the target of a witch hunt.

    Trump -- target. Pence -- not.

    Flynn -- target. McMaster -- not.

    Kushner -- target. Priebus -- not.

    Sessions -- target. Mattis -- not.

    First column has less political capital, second column much more.

  14. Israel is almost incidental to everything. Their genetically (and thus culturally) distinct from gentile Euros and even Ashkenazi (Euro) Jews. They haven't the might or influence that Jew consipracists would like to think they've got.

    They don't have oil (although they still can be used and are used for various geopolitical purposes).

    As Agn. has detailed rather arduously and depressingly at this point, post-WW2 Western countries are run by older generations hell-bent on finally cracking the toughest nutshells (Iran, Iraq, Russia, etc.). We took a dump on Russia in the 90's, and they eventually sent the worst (and heavily American) carpetbaggers home while also 86-ing sellout Russian elites.Then we toppled strong men in Iraq and Libya, not understanding or not caring that these countries were barely held together even before we bumbled in their affairs.

    As long as so many Americans (delusionally) believe that modern Western liberal democracy should be spread by warheads, callow in their unwillingness to reflect on whether it's a long-term benefit to not only other regions but indeed America herself, we're stuck. And we've got nobody to blame but our parents and grandparents who can't or won't accept the idea that American expansionism/interventionism has long past the point of diminishing returns.

    The US military itself is dominated by a distinct Celtic-American subculture of "fighting is just what we do" that's dovetailed with the increasing aggression of the last 70 years. Blase Nords, and yes, nerdy Ashkenazi Jews, are not going to be welcome. Recall that the most heavily German/Scandi part of America (the Midwest) was kinda in the doghouse during WW2 out of suspicion that Lutherans didn't want to fight their kin in the Fatherland. Micheal Barone pointed out some months ago that the Upper Midwest in particular has long favored dove politicians.

  15. I saw a late 1970's Nam movie recently, called the Boys in Company C. It's a bit too brash and unfocused to be as affecting as the best 'Nam movies from the 80's. Still, I liked the character played by a perfectly cast Craig Wasson. He's a kinda ditzy long-haired guy from Seattle, and Wasson's blonde hair and borderline neotonous features make him seem like just about the last guy who'd jump into an ugly and pointless war. He has a hard time adjusting to the brutality of war, and a few times he finally snaps and questions/stops people who've gone too far.Nords are slow to age and slow to rile; not like Celts who burn through emotional and physical capital at in alarming rate.

  16. "He's a kinda ditzy long-haired guy from Seattle, and Wasson's blonde hair and borderline neotonous features..."

    that is the most homoerotic sentence ever written

  17. @Agnostic,

    Kushner may have no official power but he seems to have plenty of influence over his father-in-law. He is the most likely the cause for President Trump almost completely reversing the foreign policy platforms of Candidate Trump.

  18. "I saw a late 1970's Nam movie recently, called the Boys in Company C."

    Reading the descriptions, it seems like a pretty interesting movie, about how people from diverse backgrounds ended up fighting in Vietnam. It is one of the first movies made about that war, so it can be interesting to analyze it from that perspective.

    "He has a hard time adjusting to the brutality of war, and a few times he finally snaps and questions/stops people who've gone too far.Nords are slow to age and slow to rile; not like Celts who burn through emotional and physical capital at in alarming rate."

    Its more like Celts, or any more "corporeal" people, make better soldiers because they pay more attention to what's going on around them. Whereas the daydreamers miss out on a lot, so more likely to end up getting killed. And probably handle the trauma worse, because they are always visualizing it in their head long after its happened.

    Still, I think its a mistake to analyze the soldiers' experience too much from an ethnic/personality theory angle. Background and previous experiences, unrelated to ethnic makeup, makes a huge difference.

  19. @Jason Steiner,

    "People have really being brainwashed the past few days to think Saudi good, Iran bad."

    Absolutely. The Saudis are not our friends and Iran is not our enemy. Although our government (now including Trump) seem to be trying hard to turn them into one. Almost all terrorism comes from the Sunni branch, not the Shia branch.

  20. Kushner has been there since the beginning, whereas the foreign policy only changed after McMaster came in. Reporting from White House sources (probably Bannon) confirms that Bannon and Kushner are on the same side in foreign policy, with McMaster and his deputy Powell on the interventionist side.

    That's how it must be -- the Pentagon that McMaster represents has more power than the non-existent group that Kushner represents.

  21. Reading the descriptions, it seems like a pretty interesting movie, about how people from diverse backgrounds ended up fighting in Vietnam.

    Well, most war movies do have to acknowledge regional/racial diversity, but I can't recall any 'Nam movies from the 70's or 80's that made ID politics/conflicts a central theme. Charlie was mysterious and dangerous enough to to make Silent and Boomer Americans of all backgrounds feel like they were relatively united when they were in the war.

    70's movies about Vietnam tend to be weaker than the 80's equivalent because of idiosyncratic dawdling and also because people were so self-absorbed in the 70's that they tended to have a very caustic me 1st attitude, which showed up in the way 70's movies were written and the way characters were portrayed. In the 80's, 'Nam movie characters seem less whiny and have more poignant emotional depth and introspection. I've noticed that in a lot of movies made in the mid 70's thru very early 80's, some times people just seem bummed out and prone to starting shit/talking shit for the sake of being ostentatiously difficult (like Dennis Quaid in Breaking Away, he acts like a bratty jerk throughout the movie, presumably so restless Boomers could have a surrogate trouble maker). Since sincerity was "in" at the time, making characters grumpy doesn't necessarily totally alienate the audience, but by the time we got the best run of 'Nam movies in the later 80's (Platoon, FMJ, Hamburger Hill), the culture had changed enough that characters were more affable.

    They didn't call the 70's The Me Decade for nothin'.


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