Suicide missions unislamic, says top cleric
24 April 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The perennially embattled security forces in Kashmir have received help in their fight against Fidayeen (suicide squads) from the most unlikely quarters: The top-ranking Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia. Mufti Azam Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh has called suicide missions and hijackings as ‘unislamic acts’ which Muslims must refrain from. However, local militant outfits here have chosen to interpret his message differently. Speaking to a Lonodn-based Arabic newspaper, the Mufti said: ‘‘I have no knowledge that suicide bombings have a basis in Islam or constitute a form of Jihad. I am afraid it could be a form of killing oneself.’’ The hijacking of planes and ‘frightening people’, he said, is against the Islamic Sharia and is not an act of Jihad. Interestingly, the army authorities here had issued a statement soon after the first major suicide mission carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba in November, 1999. ‘‘Suicide attacks are against the teachings of Islam,’’ a release issued by the 15 Corps had maintained. The army now hopes that the Mufti’s words will bring an end to suicide attacks. ‘‘The basic motivation behind Fidayeen attacks is religion and if the act lacks religious sanction, militants are going to think twice to take part,’’ an army officer said. Other security forces feel the same way. ‘‘The security agencies have no answer to these suicide attacks. We can, at the most, make sure that they will will not escape alive after launching the attacks,’’ a senior police officer said. ‘‘If a militant is ready to die, how can anybody stop him? You can only reduce the casualities inflicted by these suicide squads.’’ But the militants choose to interpret the Mufti’s words differently. Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, chief of the Markaz-e-dawat-ul-Irshad — the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba — told a local newsagency, that the decree was not related to the struggle in Kashmir and ‘‘makes no mention of Fidayeen operations that take place in the Kashmir struggle’’. In fact, Sayeed drew a distinction between a suicide mission and a Fidayeen strike. ‘‘A suicide bomber attacks his target after blowing up himself as well while a Fidayeen attack is an extremely dangerous mission where mujahideen aim to escape alive after inflicting heavy damage on the target,’’ Sayeed said. ‘‘And more than eighty per cent of Fidayeens have escaped alive after carrying out their attacks successfully’’. Sayeed may not be entirely correct in his thinking, however, as Fidayeen missions are essentially suicidal. The Fidayeen usually sneak into a camp and engage the forces in a gunbattle with few chances of escape. And attacks carried out by the other major Jihadi outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad, are technically suicide bombings. Jaish, the outfit led by Maulana Masood Azhar, launched its activities with a suicide attack in which a local militant rammed an explosives-laden car into the entrance of the 15 Corps headquaters here. And Masood’s connections with hijacking are infamous: He was the man released from a Kashmir jail when IC-814 was hijacked to Kandahar.