Snouck Hurgronje’s thesis was rejected by many when it first saw the light of day. In time however, it proved triumphant, and provided the basis for the successful pacification of Aceh. It was only when the Dutch authorities aligned their military strategy with Snouck Hurgronje’s insights that they began to win the war. Military success came as a huge relief to the Dutch authorities, and meant that by 1902 Snouck Hurgronje was able to write, “Now no one any longer doubts that the dogmas of Islam on the subject of religious war, so fanatical in their terms, supplied the principal similes to the obstinate rebellion.” (However individual acts of “Acehnese murder” did continue – albeit in significantly decreasing numbers – right up until the Japanese occupation in 1942.)
The theological framework for the Acehnese jihad, which Snouck Hurgronje exposed to the understanding of Dutch leaders in 1893, happens to be exactly the same as that used by jihadi scholars such as Abdullah Azzam in the late 20th and early 21st centuries to stimulate what western elites refer to as “terrorism.”
It is a classical dogma of Islam that when Muslim lands are occupied by infidel forces, it is an individual religious obligation upon all Muslims to do their utmost to defend their lands against the infidels. This belief drove the Acehnese insurgency over a century ago, and it drives the Afghan conflict today.
Snouck Hurgronje also explained that the practice of deceit – manifested in feigned friendship leading to what we would now call “insider killings” – can be derived from the dogmas of Islam and specifically from religious attitudes to infidels.
It is disappointing that after more than a decade of war, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are mystified by the phenomenon of “insider killings.” Has political correctness so neutered their capacity to wage war? Are they so blind to the religious nature of the war they are fighting? How can they be unfamiliar with the classical dogmas of jihad, which make it a compulsory religious duty for individual Muslims to fight against infidel occupiers of Muslim lands?
The US generals, indeed any army fighting a jihad insurgency in Muslim lands, would do well to read Snouck Hurgronje’s report, especially volume I (see here).
The insider killings of Afghanistan today are essentially the same phenomenon as “Acehnese murder” of over a century ago. The straightforward, rational explanation for Afghan soldiers turning their US-supplied weapons against their “allies” can be found in the beliefs outlined by Snouck Hurgronje in the late 19th century: the dogma that Muslims have a duty to defend Muslim lands against infidel occupation; the dogma that if Muslims are killed in jihad, paradise will be their reward; and the dogma that in jihad, deceiving the infidel is no sin.
Reuters has reported that in Afghanistan:
Field commanders have also been given discretion to increase numbers of so-called “guardian angel” sentries who oversee foreign soldiers in crowded areas such as gyms and food halls, to respond to any rogue shooting incidents.
This is reminiscent of remarks by the Acehnese poet Anzib Lamnyong, reflecting on the assassination of a Dutchman by Lém Abah, an Acehnese man from his own village:
Very often people attacked the Dutch like that, so that the Dutch had to keep a very close guard on Banda Aceh, night and day, all around the whole city. But no matter how well those guards kept watch, they still kept getting attacked by our people, who would strike them down … The Dutch were in great consternation about our brave people, who did not fear the bullet that might strike them dead in the twinkling of an eye.
One expects that, when the last infidel troops have left Afghanistan, and Muslim sovereignty has been fully restored, the memory of the Afghan jihadis who are even now perpetrating “insider killings” may come to be held in high renown, just as the name of Teuku Umar is revered in Indonesia to this day.
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