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Hajj and Terrorism

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The scenario is all too familiar. When things seem to be under control, terrorists manage to strike where unexpected. The latest incident was a suicide attack in Kirkuk, the center of Iraq's northern oil fields. The bombing near the ethnically-mixed city came during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. It rocked an area that has seen fewer attacks than other regions in Iraq. A few days ago, it was Mumbai, India. Next week -- who knows?

"Islam does not support terrorism in any form and strictly prohibits shedding blood of innocents," Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said in his Hajj sermon addressing about three million pilgrims in Mt. Arafat as they neared the completion of the last rituals of their journey.

"The world must criminalize terrorism... we must be cautious of terrorism and fight hostile criminal gangs that destroy countries and people," the Grand Mufti added. The attacks in Kirkuk occurred despite his plea. Islam, the religion of more than a billion and a half believers, has been hijacked by a few individuals.

For eight years since the terror attacks of 9/11, Bush's "global war on terror" has been the cornerstone of American foreign policy. To be clear here, the "global war on terror" is merely a code phrase for a war on radical Islam. Where else has the US been fighting this war but in Muslim countries or against Muslims living in Western countries? But as has been evident from the never-ending terrorist attacks, Bush's "global war on terror" has failed. Radical Islam can only be defeated from within.

The sooner President-elect Barack Obama understands this, the faster innocent lives will be spared. US strikes on Islamists, such as when a US predator pilotless aircraft hit a house killing six people in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal district this Thursday, will only fan the flames of hatred and resentment towards the US. Several past "targeted strikes" have killed many innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

What needs to happen is that Muslim countries must take serious action and stop playing the condemnation game. And by "action" I do not mean the arrest of dissident groups and Islamists as has been happening in countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Action means serious steps towards democratization, wealth distribution, employment for the youth and proper education. This is where the US can be more effective than all the predator aircrafts it sends to the Middle East.

Finally, let's not be in denial about the impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the war in Iraq on Muslims across the globe. With the advent of satellite television and the internet, millions of Muslims are subjected to very polarizing images almost daily. They are reminded again and again of the American occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Images of carnage in Iraq and pictures of Palestinian children haunt viewers throughout the region. To ignore this, Mr. Obama, is to wish for déjà-vu all over again.

Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV