Extremists follow ISIL's textbook, not religion

What the Arabic press is saying about ISIL's recent attacks in Europe, featuring Aletihad and Al Hayat.

People mourn in front of candles and flowers at the site of a Munich shopping centre where an 18-year-old German-Iranian student killed nine people. Christof Stache / AFP
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The case of an 18-year-old man with German-Iranian citizenship who shot and killed nine people and wounded more than 15 at a shopping centre in Munich is just one of a series of violent attacks on civilians in Germany and France in recent weeks.

Writing in The National's Arabic-language sister paper Aletihad, Dr Abdul Haq Azouzi tackled the motives of these terrorists.

“The attackers have adopted a nihilist, an anarchist cause. They call for the destruction of nations, for spreading fear and havoc. They seek to cause chaos everywhere, to destroy life,” he wrote.

But he wondered what religious sources underlie their actions. Looking at the Quran, the columnist could not find any verses that justify the attacks in Nice or Bavaria – or, for that matter, any of ISIL’s actions.

“The problem does not lie in religious texts or in the frames of reference. Rather, it is associated with the ignorance and with the manner of interpreting such texts,” he said.

In the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, columnist Mousa Barhouma compared the recent attack in Munich to the suicide attack staged by Palestinians near the same venue during the 1972 Olympics. He reflected how much water had flowed under the bridge of so-called "political struggle" or "religious jihad".

“Times have changed, and so have the values of ‘jihad’," he said.

He argued that unlike the Olympics attack, the intent of the perpetrators of the most recent attack was to “kill by all means, without discrimination, mercy or compassion whatsoever”.

The suicide attack against the Israeli Olympic team during the 1972 Olympics was carried out under the banner of freeing the Palestinians in Israeli prisons, through their exchange with the Israeli athletes.

“The Palestinians never wanted their operation to take such a tragic turn, but the violation of the negotiation terms resulted in the killing of 11 Israeli athletes, a German police officer and five out of the eight Palestinians,” he added. The Palestinian leader, Salah Khalaf, had given strict orders to avoid bloodshed.

The recent attack in Munich was not under any banner nor were any political claims made. The morally undeterred shooter opened fire in all directions, heedless of children, women, the elderly and other civilians.

An employee at the shopping centre where the attack took place said the shooting happened fast, just like in movies.

At Nice, a lorry ploughed two kilometres through a crowd of people, leaving behind dozens of innocent victims who had come to celebrate Bastille Day.

In his book Management of Savagery, ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Naji commends different criminal methods of surprising the enemy.

The official spokesperson and senior leader of ISIL, Taha Subhi Falaha (Abu Muhammed Al Adnani) called on “lone wolves” to “stab French and American infidels with a knife, hit them with a stone or run them over should they fail in throwing a grenade at them or in shooting them”.

In response, Barhouma noted that the way terrorist groups “operate under the banner of a ‘jihad’ void of justice and mercy” was demonstrated by their actions in these recent attacks.

“In these times of ‘Islamic jihad’, terrorists are holding on to the most hideous forms of savagery and barbarity in history, while scholars of terrorism elaborate on the ‘virgins of Paradise’ who await the criminals covered in blood and shame.”