The following are excerpts from the interview with Jalaluddin Patel, which was conducted on 29 July, 2004 at the London Continental Hotel. A complete transcript of the interview is available at: www.jamestown.org/images/pdf/st_002_008.pdf
Mahan Abedin: Could you please give us a brief biography.
Jalaluddin Patel: I was born in London but my parents are originally from India. I am an IT support engineer by profession. I joined the circles of Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1992 at the age of 16. I became a member in 1994 after completing studies in the three core books of the party. At that stage I took the Qasam (the oath) of the party.
MA: When did you become the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK?
JP: I became the leader of the party in the UK in the year 2000.
MA: How did this come about?
JP: I was elected to the leadership of the UK party. Throughout the party globally, HT holds elections for its Executive Committee. As you may know HT is divided into Vilayas (provinces). In our case in the UK, we are not strictly speaking a Vilaya, but we are a branch that is entrusted with its own administrative affairs. There is an executive committee charged with executing these tasks and elections are held to determine the composition of this committee. The elections take place every two years and the entire membership of the party in any given province takes part in these elections. I was elected as leader in 2000 and 2002.
MA: Are you coming up for re-election this year?
JP: We have just had the elections and I was again elected together with 8 other members onto the UK Executive Committee.
MA: Give a brief account of HT's activities in the UK.
JP: In the UK, HT works on 2 levels. Firstly with the Muslim community, explaining the duty to work for the Khilafah (Caliphate) state, living by Islam in the West without loosing our identity and projecting a positive image of Islam in Western society. Secondly with the wider community, by articulating the cause of the Muslim world, presenting a case for the Khilafah state as a valid model for the Muslim world and explaining Islam as a political and intellectual system. We have had numerous conferences, seminars and debates to achieve this, as well as opening up a line of dialogue with Western thinkers.
MA: Give an account of how HT assesses 9/11 and its consequences.
JP: As far as the events are concerned, in particular the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we said that such attacks are not condoned by the Shari'ah. We immediately declared that this is not the proper or even effective method of fighting Western imperialism. We do see Western imperialism as the key factor in the continuing decline of the Islamic world and we do impress upon Muslims that they have to confront this imperialism. However that confrontation should be well planned and should not involve actions that are not only against the Shari'ah but are in fact self-defeating. The correct method is to establish a strong, modern and viable Islamic state, i.e. the Khilafah state, and the manner by which we can achieve this is to remove the rulers of the Muslim world.
MA: How do you assess the consequences of 9/11; do you think America has benefited from these attacks?
JP: The immediate reaction of course was the declaration of "War on Terror" by America which is in reality a cover for a war on Islam and Muslims. After 9/11 America invaded two Muslim countries and imposed its own sovereignty on these countries through the might of its military. America has been working hard to remove any semblance of political Islam. The Americans have put forward policy initiatives that engage with Muslims at one level but only in a way that dilutes Islam and reduces the Islamic ideology to a mere religion that is compatible with Western capitalism. The sum of these actions has mobilized Muslim opinion decisively against America and the West. Muslims are acknowledging more and more that the governments of America and the West are enemies of Islam and do not wish to see them prosper.
MA: Therefore do you not concede that in this sense, i.e. by establishing a consensus against America in the Muslim street, the attacks on 9/11 serve the long-term interests of Islam?
JP: I don't like to put it in those terms. I would like to say that the consequences of 9/11, in particular the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, have harmed Muslims and led to the brutal death of thousands. But it has also raised the levels of concern and awareness of Muslims regarding the true nature of America and her allies.
MA: You mentioned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; how do you see the resistance in these countries? Is this resistance legitimate according to HT ideology?
JP: We say that such resistance is condoned by Islam. Islam permits Muslims to resist the occupation of their land. The American invasions of these 2 Muslim countries are no different than the Serbian war against the Muslims of Bosnia back in the 1990s.
MA: How do you conceptualize this resistance; do you just call it conventional resistance against occupation or do you in fact see it as Jihad?
JP: It is important here to describe what we understand to be Jihad. We say that the work required for establishing the Khilafah state does not involve in any of its stages the concept of material struggle or Jihad. We say that this work must emulate the Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) method, which was essentially peaceful. However there is a difference between establishing a Khilafah state and defending one's land. It is the duty of Muslims to defend their lands from invasion.
MA: So resistance here is different than Jihad.
JP: No, we say that any form of material resistance comes under the rubric of Jihad. The subject of Jihad has very clearly defined rules and there are specific rules relating to targets, methods and the humane treatment of prisoners of war. The West often likes to distort Jihad by depicting it as acts of random violence.
MA: According to some sources, in the instructions to its followers before 9/11, HT recommended the use of flying objects against Western targets, is this true?
JP: It is categorically not true. This is the first time I have heard it and it comes across as a clumsy attempt at propaganda and disinformation. There is a lot of this nonsense around. For instance, the Uzbek government has recently produced papers describing what I would call phantom articles accredited to members of HT. I don't think even Western commentators take these shoddy propaganda campaigns seriously.
MA: Do you think most of these disinformation campaigns originate in Central Asia where some of the governments face a serious threat from HT?
JP: Recently, yes. But the Jordanian government has also in the past decades disseminated disinformation about the party. We think that most of the Arab governments and the Muslim governments strive to discredit the party.
MA: HT maintains that Jihad is only permissible if it is sanctioned by the Khalifah (Caliph). How does this square with violence undertaken in the name of Jihad in various Muslim countries, particularly those recently invaded and occupied by the Americans?
JP: I should elaborate more on the concept of Jihad. Jihad as a defensive enterprise can be undertaken with or without an Amir and with or without an Islamic state. This is because it is the duty of every Muslim to defend his land and property. Therefore the defensive Jihad requires no authority to sanction it.
MA: Are you making a distinction here between defensive and offensive Jihad?
JP: I am yes.
MA: Can we reduce this distinction to improvisation and planning? In other words, in the case of defensive Jihad, Muslims can improvise and resist the invaders, whereas offensive Jihad requires the authority and planning apparatus of an Islamic state.
JP: Yes, absolutely. In an offensive situation, where there is an Islamic state that possesses the appropriate political and military capabilities, it is the only authority that can sanction and undertake offensive Jihad.
MA: Where does HT's doctrine of non-violence come from?
JP: HT works to re-establish the Khilafah state. In this endeavor we are obliged to emulate the Prophet Muhammad (PBUM) in his struggle to establish the first Islamic state in Medina 1425 years ago. The Prophet established this Islamic state without resorting to violence against the Quraish. Instead he worked to mobilize public opinion in favor of Islam and endeavored to sway the political and intellectual elites of the time. This was despite the provocations, the persecutions and boycotts of the Muslims and the threats to his own life. We adhere closely to this struggle because we believe this is the correct and effective way of reviving the Islamic state.
MA: So you believe that mobilization of public opinion amongst these Muslims around the world is an effective way of reviving the Caliphate?
JP: Absolutely! The only manner in which an Islamic state can arise is for public opinion to be in favor of it. We are not interested in imposing a state on the people. We wish to engage with the public, the thinkers and the elites and build a powerful support base for the return of this state.
MA: What I understand of your analysis of Jihad and violence is that there is no clear cut and tightly held belief in non-violence. For instance you say that attacking American forces in Iraq is justifiable, but the problem is that you can easily take that a step further and claim that attacking U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia is justifiable in the same vein.
JP: No, in fact we say that attacking U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia does not resolve the main problem of the Muslim Ummah (Community). It does not address the real issue, which is in this case the Saudi government. The way to deal with that is to mobilize Saudi opinion against the House of Saud and not to engage in rash and ultimately self-defeating acts of violence.
MA: Do you mean that attacking U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia would inadvertently bolster America's regional hegemony?
JP: Possibly. The problem is that America has created a climate where the overwhelming majority of Muslims—even those one could consider secular—are strongly anti-American. In this climate there are bound to be sincere Muslims who wish to take direct action against America. HT advises these Muslims to hold back and think about the causes of American interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. The main cause is the rulers over the Muslims and the priority must be to remove them.
MA: Let us discuss the specifics of HT ideology. One of the striking features of your ideology is that you reduce politics to a tight relationship between the state and the Ummah, thereby drastically narrowing the scope of politics.
JP: I disagree with your statement. We say that politics in Islam is about looking after the affairs of the people. The state looks after these affairs by implementing the Islamic system. The people in turn have a duty to account the state by forming parties and joining the Majlis al-Ummah (the Ummah Council) that represents different constituencies.
MA: Okay, the key question here is how the people account the state; surely they must be organized.
JP: Absolutely. These institutions which I mentioned are not to be organized by the state. We say that political activity must be the preserve of all the people and not just a select few.
MA: You say the Islamic state will allow the formation of political parties. Will they have to be exclusively Islamic?
JP: The society we envisage is a one where political parties should be formed. HT literature makes the point in no uncertain terms that one of the key factors behind the decline of Islam and its civilization was the gradual eroding of the checks and balances needed to account the state. Parties have a long tradition in Islamic history and in the early periods were an effective method for holding the rulers to account.
MA: But is it the case that these parties will have to conform to Islam and there will be no scope for parties and interest groups that fall outside the confines of what you would call Islamic?
JP: Absolutely. These groups will have to be formed upon the tenets of Islam and parties that are not based upon Islam will not be allowed. However this does not mean that if they held a valid Islamic opinion that was premised on a legitimate interpretation of the Islamic texts they would be persecuted in the event of this opinion conflicting with the opinion of the Caliph.
MA: How about if they wanted to reform the structures of the Islamic state and perhaps even reform it beyond recognition?
JP: We have to make a distinction between structures that have been ordained by the Islamic texts and those that perform a purely administrative function. We say that the state has to modernize administratively according to the needs of the day. For instance Omar Ibn al-Khattab, the second of the rightly guided Caliphs of Islam, borrowed the Diwan administrative system from the Persians. Therefore as far as the reform of the administrative organs are concerned there is plenty of scope for change. However when it comes to institutions that have been ordained by Islam, there is no scope for alteration.
MA: In effect the fundamental features of the Caliphate are perennial, right?
JP: Yes, that is correct because they derive from sacred texts.
MA: Okay a few questions on Aqeedah (doctrine). Would you say HT has reduced Aqeedah to a form of organizational control in the party?
JP: No, HT does not adopt an Aqeedah. HT is a political party and thereby allows all Muslims to join the party as long as they believe in the core beliefs of Islam. HT is above all interested in being a platform for all Muslims in their endeavor to create the Khilafah state.
MA: How do you interpret Aqeedah?
JP: Aqeedah is the core creedal concepts that Muslims believe in. Aqeedah is distinct from Ahkam Shari'ah which constitutes the rules and regulations that are based on Aqeedah. The differences of opinion arise from different interpretations of Ahkam Shari'ah. Aqeedah constitutes the basic tenets of Islamic belief which then leads to different branches and these have caused legitimate differences of opinion and contentions throughout Islamic history. HT does not subscribe to any particular view when it comes to these branches; rather we make sure that our members adopt the core basis of Islamic belief.
MA: How about your constitution for the future Islamic state which has 186 articles. Is that based on a combination of Aqeedah and Shari'ah?
JP: The Islamic state should not adopt an Aqeedah. It should not adopt one of the branches I alluded to earlier. For instance, when HT members met with the late Ayatollah Khomeini before he took power in Iran and presented him the proposed constitution, they impressed upon him that the Islamic state should not promote a particular branch of Aqeedah.
MA: Is your constitution derived from all shades of Islamic Fiqh, and opinions?
JP: Absolutely. The Islamic state should embrace and defend all Muslims, irrespective of their idiosyncrasies. Moreover, the Islamic state should not even adopt a particular state Mazhab (school of thought), rather it should strive to represent the diversity inherent in Islam.
MA: Is this constitution really the definitive blueprint for the future Islamic state?
JP: We call it a proposed constitution because the future Caliph may not be a member of HT. In that case we will propose this constitution to the future Caliph and present it as the sum of all the work and research we have done in this field, in the form of a working document which he can accept, amend or indeed reject in favor of his own opinion and Ijtihad (interpretation).
MA: Then is there scope for radical alterations in this constitution? In other words, it is not set in stone?
JP: This constitution is based on Ijtihad. It is based on a comprehensive and robust interpretation of Islamic texts and traditions.
MA: Then the core of this constitution is likely to survive, is it not?
JP: We would hope so. Nevertheless one of our functions today is to present this constitution to various Islamic groups around the world. We draw them into a debate and ask them to comment on this constitution. On many occasions, critical feedback has convinced us to modify certain aspects of this constitution.
MA: What is going to happen to HT once this Caliphate becomes reality?
JP: We say that there is a great danger in the Islamic state being closely aligned to political parties. We have written in our book "Ruling System in Islam" that there needs to be a clear separation between the Islamic state and political parties. However HT and other parties need to exist to create checks and balances and accountability in society. The party will work to consult and account the state. HT will never assume the role of a vanguard party.
MA: How does HT ideology coincide and conflict with Wahhabism and Salafism?
JP: HT is not a Mazhab. It is a political party. Both Wahhabism and Salafism are schools of thought. We debate with these schools of thought as we debate with others.
MA: Has there been some penetration from these Mazhabs, in particular from Wahhabism?
JP: No, this is not the case when it comes to these particular schools of thought. However we present a unique model when it comes to adopting ideas, we are not interested in the origins of a particular view as long as it comes from authentic Islamic sources. The scholars within HT scrutinize these views and adopt them based upon what is strongest. So when formulating the constitution we adopted from the main schools of thought, such as Shafi' and Hanafi and also from opinions accredited to individual scholars.
MA: What is the HT's position on Salafism?
JP: We have debates with other groups and schools of thought and we really prefer not to publicize the content of these debates due to the Islamic etiquettes of debate and discussion.
MA: Do you have these kinds of debates with Shi'as?
JP: Yes, as I mentioned, for example, before Nabahani interacted closely with Baqir al-Sadr.
MA: That is ancient history now! What about more recently?
JP: Recently we met with the late Ayatollah Khomeini and we have also met Shi'as from the Ahl ul-Bait society in London. Once they allowed one of our speakers to address their audience and we actually discovered that a lot of the differences that exist were debated in an amicable fashion. We are not really interested in flaming sectarian and Mazhab type differences.
MA: But more broadly your methodology of unifying the thoughts, doctrines and opinions of Muslims has been a failure, has it not? I mean more than 50 years after the emergence of HT you have not achieved any of your core aims.
JP: This is a very interesting point. The West is probably in a constant state of denial when it comes to assessing the mood of the Muslim street. Today the overwhelming opinion among Muslims is for the implementation of Islam and the Shari'ah. Just look at the situation in Iraq where both Sunnis and Shi'as have united to call for Islam following the downfall of Saddam Hussein. We see a situation where the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject their rulers and are keen to seek Islamic solutions to their problems.
MA: This may be the case but that does not mean they share your ambitions to create a Caliphate.
JP: Most Islamic groups today openly state in their constitutions the need to have a Khilafah state as their ultimate goal, albeit with differing methodologies. This is a reflection of the mood of the Muslims who have tried all ideologies and political systems but failed to better their situation. The central point to be made here is that the concept of the Khilafah state is not rejected by Muslims.
MA: So what is stopping the onward drive to revive the Caliphate? Is it the regimes in the Muslim world that, according to you, are propped up by the West?
JP: Absolutely. If one of these regimes fell and an Islamic state came in its place this would create a domino effect and every puppet state in the Muslim world would crumble.
MA: You really believe that once this state emerges all the nationalistic, sectarian and ethnic divisions that have been in the making for centuries, if not millennia, would just disappear?
JP: As long as these sectarian and national identities are obstacles on the way of a unified Ummah, yes they will whither away. This does not mean however that different national characters and allowable customs will simply cease to exist, as long as these existed for the purpose of recognition not division.
MA: Given the wretchedness of the Muslim world today and the ease with which it is overwhelmed and dominated by outsiders, don't you think what Nabahani called the gloom and decline of Islam and its Ummah is continuing unchecked?
JP: I have to correct you here. Nabahani did not say Islam is in gloom and decline, but rather it's Ummah and society is in gloom and decline. Islam itself is intact. The decline of Islamic society started with intellectual stagnation and the closing of the gates of Ijtihad. However this gloom is beginning to lift insofar as Muslims are more optimistic of their own capabilities and potential.
MA: And you really think the future for the Muslim world is political Islam?
JP: That is not only its future; it is in fact the only way out.
MA: I say this because some analysts contend that the fortunes of political Islam reached its peak in the late 1980s and in recent years it has been declining. Presumably you reject this notion outright.
JP: I absolutely reject this analysis. This assessment is based on superficial factors.
MA: Their analysis is mainly based on the inability of Islamic opposition groups to dislodge these so-called corrupt regimes. The Algerian example is often cited insofar as the Algerian Islamists had the best chance to seize the state but were ultimately foiled through a mixture of military, security and political measures.
JP: Algeria is an exceptional case since the Islamic movement, in spite of being a sincere movement, had not studied the correct method of establishing the Islamic state. They undertook actions, namely joining the democratic process, which ultimately proved self-defeating.
MA: Okay, let us discuss the history of HT and its organization. Please give a brief account of HT's history since its inception in the early 1950s.
JP: HT was established in 1953 by Taqieddin Nabahani. It was established in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and in the 1950s it spread all across the Sham (Levant) region. In the 1960s it moved further a field, encompassing Turkey and North Africa and soon thereafter it spread all across the Muslim world.
MA: Can we still speak of a single, coherent HT today?
JP: Yes we can. We have one leadership, one global strategy to revive the Khilafah state and we are all unified in that objective.
MA: How are your different branches coordinated? Would you say HT is a centralized party with a central executive directing all the Vilayas?
JP: Yes we have one central leadership or Qiyada headed by the scholar and thinker ‘Ata Abu Rishtah. He used to be our spokesman in Jordan throughout the 1980s and was imprisoned by the Jordanian regime for being critical of it. Our central leadership sets the agenda and strategy internationally. That strategy is in turn interpreted and implemented by the various Vilayas around the world. The regional executive committees subscribe fully to the opinions and decisions of the central executive.
MA: Where would you say HT was strongest in the world?
JP: I actually don't have that information.
MA: Would you say it is still strongest where it all started, i.e. the Levant region?
JP: Wherever HT can operate openly and free of severe repression, you can see the overt existence of the Party and its activists. For instance, recently a judgment was passed in the Turkish courts ruling that HT is not a terrorist movement. Following that in the last month we have been holding demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul and other cities…
MA: HT has a strong presence in Turkey?
JP: Yes, footage from Turkish media would attest to this. In Central Asia we have made major inroads in the past 2 decades. According to external commentators we number at least 7,000-8,000 in the prisons alone.
MA: This presence in Central Asia has only come about in the past 2 decades?
JP: Actually I can't confirm that. All I can confirm is that post-Soviet era HT was able to publicly promote its ideology and hence gained massive support as a result of it.
MA: Was the party severely repressed by the former Soviet Union?
JP: Yes. My understanding from some external sources is that many members were even exiled from their home countries. The Soviets ferociously repressed any Islamic activity.
MA: Why is HT strong in Central Asia?
JP: You have to look at it from two perspectives, namely the history of the peoples and the call of the party. Regarding the history of the peoples we find that the Soviet Union brutally suppressed Islam for many decades. As a result of that brutal suppression Islam became a hidden religion. Following the demise of the Soviet Union there was a genuine and sincere resurgence of Islam. HT began to address these societies and educate their masses in the ideology of political Islam.
MA: This is perplexing since there are local alternatives to HT. For instance there is a robust national/Islamic movement in Tajikistan. In the same vein the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a local rival to HT. Moreover for a people who have recently been freed from the shackles of a super state it would seem odd to long for joining another super state, albeit an Islamic one.
JP: But the Khilafah state will reflect the beliefs of the people. This is the key difference insofar as the Soviet Union did not reflect the beliefs and culture of the people. On the contrary it represented values that were wholly alien to Muslims.
MA: So you think there is a genuine yearning for the politics of pan-Islam in Central Asia?
JP: There is a genuine yearning for the establishment of the Khilafah state and the Islamic system amongst Muslims all over the world. The Muslims of Central Asia are not an exception to this.
MA: Do you think the Central Asian governments are making inroads in their disinformation and propaganda campaigns against HT and discrediting it in the process?
JP: They have been conducting far more than just a disinformation campaign! When Karimov said that he will fight ideology with ideology and thought with thought, he actually meant boiling some of our members alive and punishing them with the most barbaric of punishments. However this brutal strategy—which Karmiov is taking to extremes—has been the mainstay of the Arab regimes for many decades and hitherto it has failed to discredit or diminish the party.
MA: Okay, let us discuss broader issues. You mentioned the late Ayatollah Khomeini earlier, what were the nature and intensity of contacts between Khomeini and HT?
JP: We met Khomeini in France before he took power and impressed upon him the need to rule by Islam, establishing a state for all Muslims and not subscribing to a narrow school of thought which creates division. The initial discussions were positive. Consequently we sent a delegation to Tehran led by the late Ahmed Daur, the famous Jordanian member of HT and former member of the Jordanian Parliament. On that occasion, we were unhappy with the response we received from Khomeini, and understood after discussions, that Iran was on its way to becoming another colorless Muslim state, of which we have too many. In particular we saw his vision for a state falling short of what Islam required.
MA: I had heard that an HT delegation from Pakistan had met with Ayatollah Khomeini immediately after the victory of the Islamic revolution and had offered to make him the Caliph.
JP: No this is incorrect. The delegation initially met him in France, consisting of our members in Europe and then met him in Tehran, headed by Ahmed Daur.
MA: What does HT make of the Islamic regime in Iran? After all, some commentators in the Muslim world contend that it has presented a successful model of political Islam for the past 25 years.
JP: We don't regard it as an Islamic state. Its model for political Islam does not go beyond empty rhetoric and sloganeering against America when it is politically expedient. It is a nation-state based on sectarian principles. The ruling system that is implemented, contradicts the concept of the Khalifah running all the political affairs of the Ummah. Instead it establishes on one hand a theocracy and on the other a republican system – both concepts are alien to Islam. Unfortunately the past 25 years have distanced some people in Iran from Islam, not endeared them to it.
MA: So you believe it is just as bad as the other regimes in the Muslim world?
JP: Islam calls all regimes that do not implement Islam Dar al-Kufr (unbelivers' countries). Therefore from this perspective, the Iranian regime, like the other regimes, needs to be replaced by the Khilafah system.
MA: But compared to the other two models of political Islam in recent times, namely Afghanistan and Sudan, many would say the Iranian example has been much more successful.
JP: How could it be successful when it has failed to win the support of its own people? We hear reports these days that the some Iranian people are even turning away from Islam because of the conduct of their rulers, especially in the ineptitude of these rulers to address the problems of the people and regulate their economic and political affairs. No, I think we can safely say the Iranian regime belongs to the aforementioned camps.
MA: How about Sudan? Back in the early 1990s many Islamic groups in the West, particularly here in London, hailed Sudan as a genuine Islamic state.
JP: Except HT. We explained to the supporters of Sudan that the ‘Islamic experiment' of Sudan was no more than some rulers playing to the popular demand for Islam to be implemented in state and society. The Sudanese experiment hinged upon implementing Islam gradually because it was falsely believed that implementing the whole of the Shari'ah would be impractical. What occurred was a selective implementation of some Shari'ah rules, without the necessary frameworks that Islam gives when implemented completely, including the checks and balances required to account the state. It is interesting to note, the supporters of Sudan no longer praise it with such enthusiasm.
MA: What about the Taleban?
JP: Unfortunately the Taleban were not in a position to establish a viable and secure Islamic state due to the security situation at that time in Afghanistan. We also had some problems with their conceptualization of what an Islamic state is, and feared that the necessary research and study were not undertaken. However the reality is, the Taliban no longer rule Afghanistan. Instead America does.
MA: Are you adamant that HT has never accepted financial or logistical support from any of these three regimes or from any other government in the world for that matter?
JP: Absolutely! HT has always kept its distance from the rulers in the Muslim world. Our record of struggle and sacrifice testifies to this. HT is banned virtually everywhere in the Muslim world and almost everywhere our members are thrown in jail, tortured and even killed. Our message has never changed over the past 50 years, we oppose all governments of all shades in the Muslim world – and value our independence. Accepting any form of support from any of these governments contradicts our very existence, namely to re-establish a Khilafah state free from colonialist interference.
MA: Going back to the question of violence, please provide a final critique of Islamic groups that have taken up arms against their governments, particularly in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
JP: Islam mandates that the method to re-establish the Khilafah state is to establish it through intellectual and political work. The Prophet (PBUH) never raised up arms to establish a state, rather he worked according to a fixed method in emulation of this. To raise up arms against the regimes contradicts the Islamic method, in our opinion. Furthermore it does not address the problem correctly, as the regimes are one component, albeit very critical, to the present set-up. We need to convince the sincere members of the elites of the viability of Islam so that the Islamic state arises upon a strong powerbase.
MA: What were the circumstances behind the arrest of 3 HT members in Egypt?
JP: These members went from Britain, for a mixture of reasons ranging from furthering their language to business. The Egyptian government at that time cracked down upon the Party in Egypt and arrested a handful of our members including the 3. One of our members, Reza Pankhurst, was tortured by electrocution and they all suffered sleep depravation and coerced confessions. After a farcical judicial process, which was continuously adjourned due to the judge going on vacation, all defendants received a jail sentence ranging from 1 to 5 years. The members from Britain received 5 years. Far from being demoralized, we see this as part of the work to establish the state. In fact they are seen as heroes by most in the Muslim community in Britain.
MA: What about the British-Asian suicide members who attacked a bar in Tel Aviv in April 2003; is it true that they were affiliated to HT even though it is widely accepted they were acting individually?
JP: No, this is not true, and in fact as far as I know no one has ever stated this. They were rather involved in other groups.
MA: How do you see the patterns of al-Qaeda style terrorism developing in the medium to long term future?
JP: I have very little information in this regard, so cannot comment on how it will develop. But America and her allies have to realize that with every military onslaught against Muslim countries, they are creating a hotbed of discontent. Today, you merely have to visit the home of a Muslim, of any political or non-political persuasion, and they will elaborate on their hatred for Bush and Blair.
MA: Do you think an attack equaling or exceeding 9/11 is likely in the short to medium term future?
JP: If you mean in the Western world, I really can't say as I don't know. But I suspect due to the absence of the Khilafah state, the Muslim world will witness attacks far exceeding 9/11 at the hands of the American military. Such is the injustice we face.
Mahan Abedin is the editor of Terrorism Monitor. He is also a columnist for the Lebanese Daily Star and makes contributions to Persian language weeklies in London.
A complete transcript of the interview is available at: www.jamestown.org/images/pdf/st_002_008.pdf