The Counter Crusade

Saturday, February 25, 2006

For the Sake of the Women: The Beginnings of the Iraqi Jihad Movement

I was reading a very interesting article on the rising Jihadi movements in the Middle East, and something very interesting became clear: the reason the resistance movement began in Iraq was women. And the reason many Jordanians today are trying to go fight in Iraq is for the very same reason: to protect the honor of Iraqi women! Of course this is not the only reason, and it might not be the main reason anymore, but it is a reason- and a reason that should not be ignored.

Now the article is very very long, and contains a lot of information about many different jihadist movements. The women thing was never pointed out in the article, but when you see how it pops up more than once by different people, you begin to realize its importance.


"Few people are in a better position to understand how the jihadist aspect of the Iraqi insurgency took shape than Huthaifa Azzam, because he, a Jordanian, helped start it. He is the son of Abdullah Azzam, who was born near Jenin, Palestine, in 1941, left for Jordan following the 1967 Six-Day War and became something like the father of jihad in Jordan.

[you should read the article for the details here about Huthaifa Azzam's life up till he went to start the movement in Iraq]

Three days after America’s invasion of Iraq began, Azzam and other followers of his late father crossed over from Jordan into Iraq and established a base for themselves in Falluja. The only source for this is Azzam himself, but his telling the story at all involved some risk to him, and his command of the detail and of the personalities involved lent him credibility; it also matched up well with information I had gathered on earlier reporting trips to Falluja and Baghdad. “We were trying to convince Muslim scholars to begin the resistance,” he said. “They had no plan. They were sleeping. For one month they did not agree. They said, ‘Go back to your country.”’

For Azzam, leaving Iraq alone to work out its own fate was not an option. He said he believed that resistance would start, and he wanted to shape the process as well as hurry it. “We were more than 30 or 40 Arabs, without weapons,” he said. “We went from mosque to mosque, from school to school. People said, ‘The U.S. brought us democracy!’ They believed the lies of Bush that he will bring democracy and freedom.”

Everything changed, he said, on April 28, 2003, when American soldiers killed 15 demonstrators in Falluja, then killed 2 more in a subsequent demonstration. (Iraqis said that the first demonstration had been to protest the Americans’ using an elementary school as a military base.) After that, rumors spread of four American soldiers raping a 17-year-old girl, with pictures distributed on the Internet. (Those pictures may well have been fabricated.) “This story was the main cause of starting the resistance in Falluja,” Azzam said. It “made them reconsider, but there was still no action. I was watching from afar — with a smile. In the beginning they had said, ‘Go make jihad in your own country.’ After the rape story, they said, ‘O.K., we want to start now, or tomorrow we will find our mothers or daughters or sisters raped.’ This story exploded the resistance in Falluja. They called us for a meeting and said, ‘You were right.’ We had told them from the first day that the Iraqi Army abandoned weapons that they should take, but they said this is stealing, haram, looting. You could buy an R.P.G. for three U.S. dollars in those days.”

Azzam says he spent four months in Iraq imparting his knowledge of guerrilla warfare to the indigenous resistance. His background, he told me, gave him immediate currency. “I am the son of Abdullah Azzam,” he said, “so everybody wanted to listen. And I have experience in three or four jihads in different countries, and a lot of the Iraqi resistance had no plan. We gave them our experience so they could start from where we stopped, so they don’t start from zero. Jihad is an obligation as a Muslim. If you can’t support jihad with fighting, you can support with ideas or teaching. So we tried, and we still do. Followers of Abdullah Azzam helped plan the resistance in all of Iraq, and we had hoped for a united resistance with Shias. We were aiming to bring unity between Sunnis and Shias with resistance on both sides, but the Shia leadership was against us, and Zarqawi spoiled it, making it fail.” "


Now the author of the article moves on to a different group: 10 Jordanians during a trial in a military court in Jordan, being charged for crossing to Syria with automatic weapons and meeting with members of jihad groups there, for the sake of fighting in Iraq.

As the judge was reading out the charges, the prisoners erupted in protest. “I am not guilty — you are guilty!” shouted one prisoner.

“Jihad is not guilt,” shouted another. “... We are protecting the honor of our sisters in Iraq. Is that guilt?"

You may think I'm making too much out of these two quotes. I don't know. Like I said above, this is only one reason, but an important one, I think, nevertheless.

Iraq's Jordanian Jihadis


  • No, I don't think you're making too much out of the quote.

    My mother said once that when politicians start making too much out of women -- i.e., protecting women, supporting women, etc. -- look out.

    By Blogger FrauBudgie, at 1:02 PM, February 25, 2006  

  • I only read your post and not the article. But frankly it seems like some type of projective process is going on. I read a number of stories about Iraqi women and girls being raped by Iraqis in the chaos after the U.S. invasion in 2003. So I'm sure there was a lot of raping going on but I don't believe U.S. soldiers were doing most of it. And also there are men in Iraq who blame their "sisters" for being raped so I don't believe they are fighting "for women." When men say they are fighting for "their women" they really mean their own honor.

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 3:21 AM, February 26, 2006  

  • well, i dont really believe that iraqis raped girls in the choas. i could believe in one or two cases, maybe. if there was any raping, i'd say it would have been US soldiers.

    anyway, whatever the reasons, i just thought i'd highlight this, simply because i found it interesting and because no one has talked about it before. i thought that if this really was a reason, then ppl should know about it just like any other reason.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 8:09 AM, February 26, 2006  

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