Lee Kuan Yew: To Stop Terrorism, Go After the Queen Bees, Preachers

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

I have always believed that to address Islamic militancy, we have to address its root: Wahhabism, and to address Wahhabism, we must begin by muzzling the so-called moderate Wahhabis, as part of security policy.  People do not become radicalised overnight.  Wahhabi exceptionalism begins with little steps, from delegitimising neighbours, moderate practices, to segregation from non-Muslims in all manners from refusing to greet them to attending functions.  The way forward to make a statement by banning their celebrity preachers, people like Ismail Menk and Nouman Ali Khan, and then organisations, books, and then looking into criminalising association in the same manner we have done with groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.

In that light, we should begin with eyes wide open, and recognise that organisations like MUIS and PERGAS are essentially compromised, and require more oversight.  Currently, they are part of the problem, not the solution.  Their recommendations of speakers cannot be trusted, because MUIS has been responsible for allowing these types to come in and spread their poison.  I believe that the government should take a hardline approach and detain more people, because that is preferable to having even one terrorist scare.

The following is a short abstract taken from the Institute for Strategic, Political, Security & Economic Consultancy (ISPSW), a private institute for research and consultancy.  The following was by Dr. Christina Lin, from October 2014.

Singapore’s former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, recognised Wahhabi Salafism as the root cause of ISIS back in 2003.  He argued that Asian Muslims were traditionally moderate and tolerant, but they have been radicalised in the 40-odd years since the oil crisis and petrodollars became a windfall for Saudi extremists to proselytise in mosques and madaris.  He noted terrorists are only the worker bees, and the queen bees are the preachers that radicalise young minds.  As such, he said, moderate Muslims must enter the mosques and madaris to counter these extremists’ teachings.

When Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek interviewed him regarding Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism in Iraq, he warned, “In killing terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees.  The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centres, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”  He further warned, “Americans, however, make the mistake of seeking a largely military solution.  You must use force.  But force will only deal with the tip of the problem.”  A decade later, General Jonathan Shaw, Britain’s former assistant Chief of the Defence Staff echoes the same warning as we face ISIS in Iraq redux.  He told The Telegraph that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had ignited a “time bomb” by spending billions of dollars promoting and proselytising the militant Wahhabi Salafism, and this must stop.  “The root problem is that those two countries are the only two countries in the world where Wahhabi Salafism is the state religion – and ISIL is a violent expression of Wahhabist Salafism.”  Indeed, Lee Kuan Yew also points the finger at Saudi Arabia for the cause of terrorism in Asia.

Saudi-funded madaris radicalised Asian Muslims.  According to Lee, Muslims in Southeast Asia were traditionally moderate and tolerant.  But in the 40-odd years since the oil crisis and petrodollars became a windfall in the Muslim world, Saudi extremists have been proselytising, building mosques and madaris that preach Wahhabism.  As a result, this extreme version that Lee characterized as a “venomous religion” have radicalised Southeast Asian Muslims, and pitched to Muslims throughout the world that the gold standard for being a good Muslim is Saudi Arabia.  Southeast Asia, thus, has fallen victim to the Wahhabi-driven Al-Qaeda affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah (JI), that was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing and a string of terrorist attacks in Indonesia from 2003 to 2005.  Now, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines are witnessing a revival of Islamic extremism via the spread of ISIS.  There are renewed activities with JI as well as other splinter groups, Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid and Abu Sayyaf, and the spiritual leader of JI bombers, radical cleric Abu Bakr Bashir, has pledged allegiance to ISIS.  In fact, militants from Indonesia and Malaysia fighting in Syria have formed a military unit for Malay-speaking ISIS fighters called Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah, or Malay Archipelago Unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) disclosed this unit was formed in the town of Al-Shadadi, in Syria’s Hasaka province, last month.  The embedded Wahhabi ideology among Southeast Asian Muslims continues to express itself via violent jihad.  Sri Yunanto, an expert on militancy at Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency, said many jihadi groups within Indonesia are using the Syrian war to create a pool of combat-trained and indoctrinated recruits.  At least four Indonesians have been killed in Syria and Iraq, and one of them was a suicide bomber, Wildan Mukhollad, who blew himself up in a restaurant in Baghdad earlier this year.  His teacher at an Islamic boarding school expressed pride at his jihad: “He was a good boy, a smart boy …  I knew that it was his dream, he had reached what he dreamed from a kid: to be martyred and go to heaven.”  This is the type of perverse indoctrination Lee despises at the Wahhabi schools.

Asian Muslims could wage ideological battle against Wahhabism.  ISIS is already gaining popularity and openly recruiting in Indonesia with over 200 million Muslim population.  Chep Hernawan, a fund-raiser and self-proclaimed leader of the Indonesian chapter of ISIS, further supported this virulent ideology and told the Associated Press, “I am convinced that these are religious acts based on Islamic teachings that strike fear in the hearts of enemies of Islam.”  As such Lee exhorted moderate Muslims must have the courage to go into the mosques and madaris to switch off the radicals and stem the spread of this virus of the mind.  He added unless militant groups in Arab states and Islamic theocracies are seen to fail, Jemaah Islamiyah and other militant groups in the non-Arab Muslim world will continue to recruit extremists.  General Shaw likewise argued that in the short term the U.S.-led coalition could achieve tactical success via military force against ISIS, but in the long-term this will be an ideological battle to counter extremist theology.  The air campaign would not “stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity … it is not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and creed, which has gotten out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil.”  Lee concurs.  In a prescient 2002 speech for Singapore’s National Day, he argues the big divide is no longer between communist and democratic countries, or between the West and the East.  “Now it is between Muslim terrorists versus the U.S., Israel, and their supporters.  A secondary battle is between militant Islam and non-militant modernist Islam.”  He does not believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or U.S. action in Afghanistan and Iraq are the cause of Islamic terrorism, and that terrorism would continue even if the Middle East problem were solved.  Lee continued that in Southeast Asia “Malaysia and Indonesia have to face the challenge of militant Islamists, those who go for militant jihad and want to implement shari’ah law so that Muslims will be strict in dress code, in food, in prayer, in punishment for crimes. Fortunately, the majority of Muslims seek their way forward through trade, investments, knowledge, management, science and technology.”  Thus, Asian Muslims could stand up and delegitimise the Wahhabi brand of Islam, and go after the queen bees to stop terrorism in Asia.


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