What can you tell us about the Taliban’s thinking?
In order to understand the Taliban, you’ve got to also understand the type of Islam that exists in Saudi Arabia. Because it’s the thinking that makes you what you are.
These are the people who say no music, no dancing. Women should not go out unless they are covered. I’m told they even have a morality police, and when it’s Friday at prayer time, they make sure everyone is in the mosque. You can’t wear a cross in Saudi Arabia. You can’t take a Bible. It’s a 100% Islamic system. If you’re caught with drugs, they cut off your head and I’m told they still use a sword. They think they are killing someone who deserves to be killed. Apostasy is punishable by death, adultery by stoning, though I don’t know whether they still practice it.
That’s Saudi Arabia, a very extreme form of Islam.
Their thinking also depends on what they learn at the Madrasa [a school attached to a mosque where the Koran is taught].
The Muslim idea of Revelation is different than the Christian one. They believe the holy book was sent down by Allah, already made. [They believe] he first gave a holy book to the prophet Moses. Then he gave another holy book called the Torah, which for us is the first five books of the Bible. Then he gave another book — the book of Psalms — to the prophet David. Then the third holy book, as Muslims see it, was given to Jesus, who they believe is a prophet. They call it the Gospel, as Muslims see it, not the 4 Gospels. And the last holy book, they say, was given to the final prophet, Mohammed.
These are all holy books. And therefore they call the Jews and Christians “people of the book”. They say we all have revealed books. So a good Muslim looks at things broadly and will say: “You are my brother or my sister. We are people of the book”.
But the Islamic extremists say: “You are a Christian, you have three gods, and you say God has a son — God who is the Creator, all Mighty and all Merciful. This is a crazy religion. And you put statues in your churches and you light candles and adore them and kiss them. You should be killed. Don’t spread this rubbish religion of yours.”
That’s the extreme form of Islam. They say democracy is rubbish: “What is democracy? It’s man’s will. You are choosing. We are going the will of God.”
Therefore, the terrorists operating in Pakistan are basically attacking the State. We are a democratic country. We have a democratically elected government, however imperfect the democracy may be.
But something else is behind it. They look back at the glory days of Islam, when the Muslims were living in Spain. It was the time of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks. The Turks went almost up to Vienna. They had the Balkans and that whole area. They are looking back at the old Turkish Empire.
What is the most dangerous part of their thinking?
The most dangerous part of their thinking is that they say the Crusades never really ended. If you’re a fanatic Muslim, you look at the West as being Christian. Europe, the United States — all the “white” world, if you want — are Christians. Although not all Christians nowadays in Europe and the United States are.
They believe the Crusades have only taken on a different form. They believe the West — that means Christians — want to dominate and humiliate the Muslims. They point to Iraq and Afghanistan as examples. “See what they’ve done Iraq,” they say. “See what they’ve done in Afghanistan. See what they’re doing with those Zionists to oppress the Muslim Palestinians and grab their lands.”
So they say, “hit back”. They’ve been using the word “Crusaders” for the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The mosque schools have often been used for brain-washing, to convince young boys that God is calling them to fight a holy war. When America was present in Afghanistan, there were up to 3 million Afghan refugees coming into Pakistan. The boys were taught to look at the poor children and the women fleeing, carrying their belongings on their back, and to think: “What are the Americans doing there?” They were told: “Don’t you see they are persecuting Muslims, and tomorrow they are going to be here. Do you think they’re just going to go away.”
And if you die, you’re a martyr for the faith. You’ll go straight away to heaven. That’s how they built up the Taliban.