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Thread: Sunni and Shi'a Terrorism: Differences That Matter

  1. #21
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Written by Islamic scholars sht. history of Sunni v. Shia

    http://www.islamfortoday.com/shia.htm

    If one doesn't get lost in the list of holy names at end of this article, you can see some basic differences between and among Sunni vs. Shia Muslims.

    Please note that this site, printed from 2007 I believe, suggests that Shia Muslims are more prone to martydom vs. Sunni Muslims. One of you guys brought out this point last night I believe?

    Statistically, if correct, this article also suggests that of the world's Muslims around 15% are Shia.

    In Pakistan, the northern areas are majority Sunni, whereas the ruling groupings in Punjab and Sindh Provinces in the middle and south of Pakistan are Shia. Current President of Pakistan is Shia, whereas the Taliban and al Qaida are Sunnis.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 02-21-2009 at 01:44 PM.

  2. #22
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Certainly understanding the differences is key, but so many factors contribute to the mix.

    For example, the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudi Sunnis. I have heard, and based on my experience in the PACOM AOR believe, that when Indonesian Sunnis who arrived in Iraq were expected to also be suicide bombers they told their AQ handlers to F off and went home. Asian muslims don't blow themselves up. Many seem to think that this is a muslim tactic, but it is actually a middle eastern Muslim tactic, and we need to consider that nuance carefully.

    Speaking of bad assumptions made early in the GWOT that have been holding back the overall effectiveness of our operations, I need to take a few minutes to start a new thread on that line. I believe there are several
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  3. #23
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Talking to newsmen on Friday, the Prime Minister said the provincial government held talks with the Jirga for restoration of peace and as some of the areas falls in the jurisdiction of the federal government, the president's consent is required to enforce the Shariah System there. Regarding the Western opposition to the agreement, he said there was nothing against the constitution of Pakistan and Islam in this agreement. He pointed out that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) could not allow any thing to happen in this country which was repugnant to Islam.
    See complete Peshawar FRONTIER POST news article (from Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 edition) from which this quite comes:

    http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News....at=ts&nid=4030

    Always remember that both Pakistan and Afghanistan are Islamic Republics, religious nations, based on the Quaran, whose interpretations of course differ between and among Sunnis and Shias.

    The historic and current tense fact that the leadership of Pakistan has been Shia while that of Afghanistan has been Sunni reflects to me "the classic divide" between these two arms of Islam.

    Would be glad to have others deal in statistics or data to challenge some "facts" I have been reading on the Internet which "assert" that Shia are a minority in and of Pakistan. My past (ancient) experience and modern day readings suggest that nationwide inside Pakistan Sunni and Shia are about equal in numbers.

    Factually documented comments on this "religious population" census will be appreciated.

  4. #24
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Wikipedia breaks it down 80/20:
    The Religious breakup of the country is as follows:

    Islam 173,000,000 (97%) (nearly 80% are Sunni Muslims and 20% are Shi'a Muslims).
    Hinduism 3,200,000 (1.85%)
    Christianity 2,800,000 (1.6%)
    Sikhs Around 20,000 (0.04%)

    Concentration and location is more important than percentage though. For example, it is less than 5% of the Thai populace that is Muslim, but they are concentrated on the Malay border where I believe they are also the majority.

    This is why an issue like abortion where the stake holders are mixed across the country is nowhere near as dangerous as slavery, which also divided the opponents by region.

    If you really want to look for potential Shia-Sunni issues in Pakistan, look for a map that shows density by location. But even then be sure to overlay tribal and colonial history, etc so that one does not jump to conclusions that appear logical, but that just aren't true. (Example: You go to an NBA game and see that all of the players are black and then determine that all blacks play basketball). My example may seem rediculous, but I've seen equally rediculous conclusions made about Muslims.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  5. #25
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    Default As to the following ...

    from George
    Please note that this site, printed from 2007 I believe, suggests that Shia Muslims are more prone to martydom vs. Sunni Muslims. One of you guys brought out this point last night I believe?
    I'll enter a not guilty plea for everyone - no prior reference to martyrdom in this thread before above.

    Seriously, martyrdom (in the traditional sense) is quite different from suicide bombing - in my view, which follows as IMO for the next two paragraphs:

    Martyrdom means I am willing to die at the hands of another for my faith. In its highest form (non-violent resistence by the martyr), it is the ultimate expression of passive resistence - also the Golden Ticket to Salvation ("baptism by blood").

    Suicide bombing means I am willing to kill another at the assured sacrifice of my own life caused by my act. If my motive for killing the other guy is because I claim God wills me to do it, I would be guilty of a heresy in modern (as opposed to medieval) RC theology - whether I live or die. If I manage to kill myself, I am guilty of suicide (which modern RC theology tends to consider a form of insanity - some debate there).

    -------------------------------
    As BW points out, suicide bombing is not a generally-accepted Islamic legal-theological concept. Thus, Zawahiri was forced to write a long treatise "Jihad, Martyrdom and the Killing of Innocents" (in The Al Qaeda Reader) to justify that tactic, and others used by AQ.[*]

    COL Lynch's report discusses both suicide bombings and martyrdom operations (e.g., pp.39-40, his refs are in footnotes 62 & 63):

    A second common Islamist terror tactic meriting comment is that of suicide bombings. While neither unique nor exclusive to Islamist-inspired terrorism —the Tamil Tiger rebels of Sri Lanka, for example, have used suicide terror in their insurgency for many decades— Islamist terrorists have a well-earned reputation for extensive use of this chilling attack technique during the past twenty-five years. Indeed, Islamist suicide bombings have trended steadily upward since 1981. Hezbollah was the first to use suicide bombings as a tactic for Islamist terrorism beginning with attacks against U.S. and French targets in Beirut during 1983, ultimately carrying out at least thirty-six suicide attacks within Lebanon in the 1980s. The group continued to use the technique against Israel in the 1990s. Iran also made use of a variant of this tactic from 1982 through 1988, employing suicide combatants in waves during its grueling war against Iraq. Thus, it is clear that terrorism by Shi’a actors may feature suicide operations when the tactic is feasible. However, suicide operations by Shi’a terrorist groups in non-combat zones have been somewhat subdued over the past decade-and-a-half, and principally focused against Israel. [62]

    At the same time, Sunni terrorism, and especially by Salafi-Jihadist groups, has featured “martyrdom operations” extensively since the early 1990s, and SalafiJihadis have garnered most attention for their widespread adoption of this particularly heart-wrenching form of terrorism over the past decade. [63]The trend is strong and growing more pronounced as expertise from in-combat zone operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is shared across the jihadi terror community. Nevertheless, when it comes to suicide terror operations against western targets in non-combat zones, policymakers should not be fooled by the recent profile of Sunni-inspired radicals. Shi’a terrorists are highly capable and deadly efficient in these kinds of operations as well. The good news is that much of the work done to combat terrorism overseas against one sect’s suicide terrorist operations should produce valuable defense against “martyrdom operations” conducted by the other.
    In short, there are what I would consider to be "heretics" (as viewed from an RC theological standpoint) in some Shia and Sunni groups.

    ----------------------
    [*] Zawahiri makes a good (but to me unconvincing) legal argument for “martyrdom operations”. The various Islamic discourses are, of course, both legal and theological (since there is no distinction between the two in Islam - a theonomy, in Paul Tillich's terms, "God's law"). As such, the Islamic writings are, to me, another aspect of comparative law.

  6. #26
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    Default Is there such a reference ...

    from BW
    If you really want to look for potential Shia-Sunni issues in Pakistan, look for a map that shows density by location. But even then be sure to overlay tribal and colonial history, etc ...
    COL Lynch's report has very general stats for the nations he lists at p.47 - see Table 3, p.49. It would seem to me that a more-detailed breakdown within countries would be useful - although complex. E.g., besides Shia and Sunni, we also have Sufists - as I understand it, that take on Islam cuts across both the Shia and Sunni communities.

    BTW: George - I've been tardy in not agreeing with you that, so far as Pashtuns are concerned, our primary focus should be on how they chose to distinguish themselves. COL Lynch's report is more applicable to the Fertile Crescent and the Oil Lands to its south.

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