Takfiris American Style

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Adam Serwer argues in his article American Takfiris that in order to rationalize the killing of innocents which is forbidden by the Muslim religion, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri needed to find a justification for their killing of innocents. That justification was provided by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, aka Dr. Fadl. Dr. Fadl argued in his book “The Compendium of the Pursuit of Divine Knowledge” that apostates could be murdered and that Al Qaeda by declaring anyone they wanted an apostate justified their killing. This is known as takfir, “.the practice of declaring that an individual or a group previously considered Muslims are in fact kafir(s) (non-believers in God)” and in some cases legalizing the shedding of their blood”.

Mr. Serwer provides this as a comparison to John Yoo’s justification for torture, disregard to existing law, trampling of humans rights and torture.

The legal memos justifying torture aren’t very different in terms of reasoning–it’s clear that John Yoo and his cohorts in the Office of Legal Counsel saw their job not as binding the president to the rule of law, but to declare legal any tactic that the executive branch believed necessary to fight terrorism. They worked backwards from this conclusion, and ethics officials at the Department of Justice, we know know, decided that they they had violated professional standards in doing so. Whereas al-Zawahiri and bin Laden turned to al-Sharif for a method to circumvent the plain language of the Koran, Bush and Cheney went to Yoo and Jay Bybee to circumvent the plain language of the law. Most Islamic scholars, just like most legal experts, reject their respective reasoning as unsound.

The torture memos–indeed, all of the pro-torture arguments rest on a similar intellectual themes to the takfiris. Suspected terrorists are “illegal enemy combatants”, outside the framework of laws that would otherwise guide us.Just as the takfiris justify the killing of even self-identified Muslims by excommunicating them as “infidels”, torture apologists argue that even American citizens like Jose Padilla who are accused of being terrorists become legal “apostates” without any rights the president is bound to respect. This are extraordinary circumstances, this is an extraordinary war–and so, the Bush administration turned to Yoo, a man who believes the president is bound by no laws during wartime: he can murder a village of innocent civilian non-combatants just as surely as he can crush the testicles of a child or deploy the military against residents of the United States. The architects of torture are the intellectual mirror image of their declared enemies, depending on the perceived inhumanity of their foes to justify monstrous actions. It’s worth noting however, that the Bush administration did not take full advantage of the wrongs that the lawyers in their Office of Legal Counsel would have enabled. My point is not to equate the deeds of AQ with the deeds of the Bush administration–merely to point out justification for acts that are on their face unjustifiable take a similar intellectual path.

(emphasis mine)

Dr. Fadl sits in a prison in Egypt and has denounced his former colleagues and recanted his former work. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the American Justice Department would prosecute our own war criminals as have the Egyptians. Why isn’t the DoJ prosecuting Bush and his murderous cabal? What are they afraid of? The Truth? Or being complicit at this point?


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    • TMC on February 21, 2010 at 11:29 pm
  1. flip sides of the same coin.

    great find, TMC.

    • Edger on February 22, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush

    Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ”if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.” The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

    ”Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, ”I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ”This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .

    ”This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,” Bartlett went on to say.

    And now Obama and his DOJ dispense with inconvenient facts, and rationalize torture and the killing of innocents…

    • TMC on February 22, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Who would have guessed that Rachel Maddow and I read the same blogs

    Powerful, and true: http://is.gd/8UhcB

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