Holy War 101
Pakistan’s Islamic madrassas continue to churn out students of jihad, eager to try out what they’ve learned on the nearest infidel. Newsweek proves tonight that they’re not totally given over to Dean-flavored appeasement, with a hard-hitting and scary look at Pakistan’s Universities of Jihad: Holy War 101.
A far greater worry, at least in the West, is the blood that will be spilled if the madrassas keep on teaching violence and hate. Sitting below a poster of —himself holding the Qur’an in his right hand and a Kalashnikov in his left, Samiul Haq says he fully supports what he calls “the real freedom fights” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir. He’s the principal of the Darul Uloom Haqqania mad-rassa, 20 miles east of Pesha-war, one of the biggest religious schools in Pakistan. He and his 3,000 students proudly call it “the University of Jihad.” Its alumni include at least eight senior Taliban leaders, and Mullah Omar sent a personal message to every graduating class until his regime’s collapse two years ago. Without a trace of irony, Haq denies that his school teaches extremism. “I challenge Musharraf to find any extremism here,” he says. “This madrassa is not a military base. It has no guns or tanks.” He adds: “We teach jihad because the holy Qur’an teaches jihad, which is the defense of Islam.”
A NEWSWEEK reporter attended the school’s commencement ceremony a few weeks ago. About 1,000 white-turbaned graduates and thousands of relatives jammed the madrassa’s courtyard under banners depicting AK-47s and antiaircraft guns. The crowd seemed uncontrollable until Haq’s eldest son, Rashidul Haq, took the microphone and announced: “If you are a friend of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, please sit down. But if you are a friend of Bush, keep standing.” Everyone immediately sat, and a mullah delivered the invocation. “I request that almighty Allah protect the Taliban and our popular leaders Mullah Omar and Osama,” he prayed. “They are living in caves and suffering. We pray for their assistance and health.”
Ten miles closer to Peshawar, in the tiny village of Qumber Khen, tribesmen recently greeted a homecoming student with jubilant bursts of AK-47 fire in the air. Talawat Shah, 28, was arriving from his graduation at the Darul Uloom Sapia madrassa, not far from the Khyber Pass. Shah told the crowd that he was dedicating the day to Mullah Omar. “If we forget the jihad, God will forget us,” Shah said. “But if we return to jihad, God will lift us up.” His first priority is to start a madrassa in Qumber Khen. He’s eager to spread the message of jihad to his students.