From The National Post
Radical muslim books too easily available: report
Stewart Bell, National Post Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Kagan McLeod/National Post Members of the Toronto 18, seen here in a courtroom sketch, were found with radical Muslim books that encouraged terrorism.
TORONTO — When police rounded up 18 terror suspects around Toronto in 2006, they found cash, detonators and videos that showed some of them yelling “God is Great” as they trained in the snow with guns.
Police also found copies of manifestos with titles such as The Book of Jihad, The Virtues of Jihad, Fundamental Concepts Regarding Al-Jihad and 39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad.
Such reading materials now enjoy “influence and popularity” in Canada, says a secret government study that identifies the ideologues whose writings it says are promoting “violent jihad” among Canadians.
The report by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre names Sayed Qutb, Abdullah Azzam and Ibn Taymiyah as the “key ideologues whose works have contributed to Islamist radicalization in Canada.”
All three are dead. Qutb was a controversial Egyptian executed in 1966. Azzam was Osama bin Laden’s sidekick, killed in a 1989 car bombing, and Taymiyah was a 12th century scholar from what is now Turkey.
“In the context of this assessment, radicalization is defined as the process by which an individual progresses to an Islamist extremist viewpoint where violence is a justifiable means to achieve ideological objectives,” the study says.
“One of the key radicalizing elements in this process is exposure to Islamist extremist messaging which promotes violent jihad. A relatively small number of Islamist extremist authors are the source of this type of messaging, which includes literature, speeches and statements.”
These materials “can be obtained from newspapers and other publications, public audio and video broadcasts, and extremist forums on the Internet,” the report says. It does not mention, however, that they can also be purchased from online booksellers and borrowed from libraries.
The Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg public libraries list Qutb’s works in their catalogues, and his most radical books are posted in their entirety on a website for young Canadian Muslims.
“Syed Qutb’s books and Ibn Taymiyah’s doctrines are widely available in Canada, but more accessible on the Internet,” said the Canadian Muslim writer and activist Tarek Fatah, an opponent of Islamist extremism.
The “Toronto 18” group circulated extremist literature in electronic form. Some of the materials were found on a laptop seized during the arrest of Saad Gaya, whose sentencing begins today in Brampton. He has pleaded guilty to participating in a plot to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto.
The classified intelligence report, released under the Access to Information Act, is one of dozens of studies that analyze why some Canadians participate in al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist activities.
Previous studies have focused on the role of extremist fathers like Ahmed Khadr, spiritual mentors, the Internet and foreign paramilitary training camps but part of the answer was apparently on the bookshelf.
A common thread among the targets of counter-terrorism investigators was that they were consumers of extremist literature that portrays the West as the enemy and advocates violence as a duty.
“Radicalizing literature in the possession of individuals of interest to Canadian authorities indicates the ongoing influence and popularity of the works of Islamist extremist ideologues,” the report says.
The police search of the Ottawa home of terrorist Momin Khawaja in 2004 turned up not only military rifles, wooden ammunition crates and electronic detonator components but also copies of Taymiyah’s The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad and Azzam’s Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan.
A 2006 study by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point concluded that Azzam was among the modern authors most cited by Islamist terrorists. Qutb ranked number one. Taymiyah was the most commonly cited pre-modern author.
A 2007 paper by Carleton University’s Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies singled out the same trio as the foundation of al-Qaeda ideology.
In his writing, Azzam appealed to Muslims around the world to join the fight in Afghanistan, claiming that an hour spent fighting for Islam was worth more than 70 hours of prayer.
“He brought modern warfare to the concept of ‘global jihad’ and passed on his acquired skills to his many protégés, including UBL [bin Laden],” the government report says.
Of the three authors, Qutb is arguably the most influential. Qutb studied in the United States but returned to Egypt after two years and wrote disparagingly about Americans, decrying their freedom, racism and “animal-like” mixing of races. He also began advocating for the global dominance of Muslims.
“He sought to transform Islam into a political movement in order to create a new society based on ancient Koranic principles,” reads the intelligence report. “Qutb is also known for articulating the concept of ‘global jihad.'”
In Milestones, he wrote that those who resist the worldwide spread of Islam must be fought until they are either killed or submit.
“Sayed Qutb defined jihad as a call to unremitting warfare against the forces of unbelief in order to ‘open the nations for Islam,” Angela Gendron of Carleton University wrote in “Al Qaeda: Propaganda and Media Strategy.”
A report by the RCMP National Security Criminal Investigations Section calls Qutb “the ideological father” of al-Qaeda. “Qutb validated extreme violence in the cause of faith, so ‘Islamic terrorism’ could more accurately be called ‘Qutbian terrorism,’ the RCMP report says.