Thursday, November 03, 2005

Khalid Khawaja

In an earlier post, I mentioned a March 2002 story from CBS about Sheikh Gilani and a man named Khalid Khawaja. I cited a quote from him stating that Sheikh Gilani’s followers in the U.S. were more numerous and more committed than those of Osama bin Laden. A close friend of both, he should know.

Khawaja has tried to portray himself recently as a “voice of Muslim reason.” In August of this year, he authored an op-ed that appeared in the Financial Times. In it, he said,

“If we had, for example, the opportunity to bring a group of long-bearded, perhaps even ‘terrorist’ branded Muslims to Britain to meet senior law enforcement, intelligence and political officials, you would gain a much better understanding of who we - the radicals you fear most - are and how we can help you contain the cancerous mutants among you. No imam would dare preach hate in a British mosque if we were standing as members of the congregation to hold him accountable.”
Ha! If you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land I’ll sell you. You can read the whole op-ed reprinted (for free) by Pakistani newspaper, The Nation – here. I’m sure it will make you all warm and fuzzy inside.

However, in February 2002, he had a few other choice quotes. Newsweek ran a story about him a couple of weeks before the CBS story appeared. Khawaja, like Gilani, is a former agent of Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence Agency.

Q: Do you think suicide attacks are legitimate within Islam?

A: It’s difficult to say exactly yes or no to this question
, but in any case killing an innocent person is not permitted. The Qur’an says very clearly that if you kill one innocent person it is as if you have killed the whole [of] humanity. But the problem is also [that] in our ranks there are many people who do not [truly] know Islam....
Until the time Americans believe that others are also equal human beings, this problem will never be sorted out. Hatred will remain against America. And it is increasing, to a very great degree.
His position could easily be rationalized by those on his side to say that Americans are not innocent and that, yes, suicide attacks would be legitimate.
Q: Can secular Pakistanis live peacefully with Muslims?

A: Sure. Why not? You cannot force someone to be a Muslim, you can only ask them to read the Qur’an and decide for themselves. You Western people do not understand our religion. There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. You are either a Muslim or you are a hypocrite or you are an infidel.

Q: What do you think of Osama bin Laden?

A: In the media they have made him into a monster. The whole world is scared of him now, when even if Osama tries his best he cannot even scare my youngest son. I had many differences of opinion with him, but still I would say that Osama bin Laden is a man like an angel. If there was an election today in any number of Muslim countries, Osama would win.

Q: Why do you respect someone whom so many people consider a terrorist?

A: I ask your media to find at least two people who have lived with him and would tell me Osama is a bad person. I have had many differences with him. For example, he would revolve the total religion around jihad. I would basically agree that jihad is one of the most important factors in our religion, but you cannot totally revolve around it. My way of living was a little different, but still I could find him mostly better than me in many respects. We love him because of his unique sense of sacrifice. His brothers were living in a palace like the king of Saudi Arabia. But Osama would live in small flats, sometimes even in a trench.

Q: When was the last time you saw Osama bin Laden?

A: Ha, this is an interesting question. Let’s skip that.
I have to say I'm not really buying his attempt to come across as a kindler, gentler jihadi.

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