In and Out of Islamism with Maajid Nawaz - Part 1/4

The Roots of Violent Extremism - Maajid Nawaz - The Roots of Violent Extremism   Part One

This is a quote from the 60 minutes show, perhaps the most important video segment that we will see this year.   The guy who was profiled is Maajid Nawaz, a former radical who has a plan to win back the hearts and minds of radicalized Muslims

I share this with you in the hope that you will join me in supporting the Quilliam Foundation with a $5 or $10 gift.

Thank you.


"The Narrative" told by radicals to young Muslims

They believe we attacked ourselves so we could go to Afghanistan and kill Muslims. "What I’m sensing is that there is an enormous amount of anti-Americanism. Am I right?" Stahl asked. 

"Give us one single reason to love America and we will forget about the rest of the millions of reasons to hate America," the student replied. 

After a statement like that, you begin to question whether even a former extremist can uproot the idea in places like Peshawar that the West is out to destroy Islam. 

"You're one person. And you're kind of blowing into the wind. It's almost like Don Quixote…tilting at windmills," Stahl remarked. 

"There are people who are as frustrated as we are with extremism in their own country, in Pakistan. But they've never had anyone to articulate that frustration, to organize them and to help them work along those lines," Nawaz said. "That means work. It means we have to be in it for the long haul. And it means the solution isn't going to come through bombs or through prison. It has to come through the ideas debate, which is by definition a long strategy."

Steve McCrea;contentAux





worth 2 minutes of your time.



Let’s try to support this guy and his work.








from Wikipedia


Maajid Nawaz (born 1978 in Westcliff-on-Sea) in Essex is the British Pakistani former member of the Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He holds a B.A. (Hons) from London University's School of Oriental and African Studies and a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics.

While growing up, Maajid cites racism and being amidst two identities, Pakistani and British, as important factors in his struggle to find his own identity. Nation of Islam and the genocide in Bosnia were also influential.[1] Maajid's experience in the field of Islamism stretches back to being 16-years-old, when he left home to pursue a design course in London. It was then, he was recruited to Hizb ut-Tahrir (The Liberation Party).[2] Maajid very quickly became a national speaker and an international recruiter for the Party, traveling first to Pakistan and then to Denmark to export the Party's ideology and set up cells from London. He resigned from Hizb-ut-Tahrir in May 2007.[3]

Maajid Nawaz studied at Newham College alongside the British writer Ed Husain.[4] Today he is the director of the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim counter-extremism think tank, created by former activists from radical Islamist organisations including Ed Husain.

Nawaz entered the spotlight when as part of a compulsory year abroad as part of his university degree,[5], he travelled to Egypt and was jailed in Alexandria in 2002 with two others, Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst, for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, a banned organization in Egypt.

During his time in the same prison he spoke at length with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership such as Mohammed al-Badee’ - who in his youth personally smuggled Qutb’s Milestones out from prison - and their spokesman Dr Essam el-Erian. He also befriended Dr Sa'ad al-Din Ibrahim and the imprisoned runner-up to Egypt's 2006 presidential elections, the liberal head of the Tomorrow Party, Ayman Nur. Throughout this time, Maajid continued his studies, sitting with graduates of Cairo's al-Azhar University and Dar al-'Ulum. He specialised in the Arabic language whilst studying historical Muslim scholastics, sources of Islamic jurisprudence, Hadith historiography, the art of Qur'an recitation and committing half of the Qur'an to memory.[3]

During his imprisonment in Egypt, Maajid was tortured along with his fellow prisoners.[6] During his trial, Maajid Nawaz was adopted by Amnesty International as a "Prisoner of Conscience".[1]

Reasons for Nawaz’s departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir, were due to profound doubts. As he describes in his own words: "My journey from prison was not an easy one to make. After all, there were many reasons for why I should not leave, and very few for why I should. The one reason that I could not ignore, the one reason that grew deep inside me till it consumed me with guilt was the realisation that I was abusing my faith for a mere political project. After learning through my studies in prison that Islamism was not the religion of Islam, but rather a modern political ideology, I no longer felt guilty simply for criticising a political system inspired by 7th century norms."[7]

Since his departure from Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Maajid Nawaz has been active in the Quilliam Foundation.[8] He also writes regularly for UK and international newspapers and speaks at a variety of forums worldwide. On July 11, 2008, he addressed US Senate Homeland Security and Government and Affairs Committee on the subject of Islamist extremism.[9] In January 2009, he attended the Doha Debates alongside other Muslims to debate the issue of the threat of political Islam to the West. He presented the Lent Talks on BBC Radio Four on March 10, 2010.



Countering the Narrative


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Address: 34-36 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6AE
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The transcript from 60 Minutes


When it comes to terrorism and extremism, intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Europe have been grappling with the bewildering phenomenon: that a surprisingly large number of Islamic radicals are relatively well off and well-educated Westerners. 

To look into this, we recently went to Great Britain, where there are more supporters of al Qaeda than anywhere else in the West. 

In London we met a British Muslim, Maajid Nawaz, who told us that what is turning so many of his countrymen into radicals is something called the "narrative," that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. 

It's an ideology Islamic radicals subscribe to. 

We asked Nawaz, a former true believer: exactly what is the narrative? 

"That America is waging a war against Islam, invaded Iraq because it hates Muslims, invaded Afghanistan because it hates Muslims," he told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl. "And that the only way to stop this war is for Muslims to start fighting back on all fronts against the West." 

Asked if he bought it all, Nawaz said, "Absolutely, yeah. I believed it." 

"You accepted everything you were saying? There was no cynicism within you?" she asked. 

"No, and I put my neck on the line for these beliefs. I was a genuine, committed ideologue," he replied. 

Nawaz was a leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Party of Liberation - one of Britain's most active Islamic extremist groups. He joined when he was in college at the University of London. 

"This is where I actually took the oath, the membership oath," he recalled. 

It is also where he recruited other students to fight against the West. 

"Was it easy to recruit kids here? Were they susceptible? As you say, they're very intelligent, they're well-read," Stahl asked. 

"It was very easy. And I've got to say, that actually intelligence makes it easier. And it's intelligent people that adopt ideologies," Nawaz said. 

He points to people like the alleged Christmas Day bomber, who also attended the University of London; and the ring leader of the suicide bombing of the London Underground, who went to Leeds Metropolitan University. 

In a martyrdom video, the ring leader of the London suicide bombing told the British public that by invading Iraq, the West demonstrated it was out to destroy Muslims. 

"Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world," he said in the video. 

"And this is in a thick Yorkshire accent, someone who's born and raised in the U.K. saying to his own fellow countrymen, 'Your people have attacked my people.' What suddenly made him think that the British public had attacked his people, who are the Iraqi public, when he's a member of the British public, born and raised here?" Nawaz asked. 

The ringleader of the London bombings is the picture of homegrown terrorism, with a biography similar to Maajid Nawaz. 

A third generation Pakistani-Brit, Nawaz grew up in an upper-middle class home in Essex, east of London. His father was a successful engineer in the oil business and growing up, Nawaz was both happy and assimilated. 

"All my friends were non-Muslims. I actually knew very little about Islam, like very little," Nawaz recalled. 

He told Stahl he wasn't religious at the time and didn't go to mosque. 

Everything began to change in his early teens, when he and his mostly white friends were attacked by racist gangs. 

According to Nawaz, they were skinheads. "They didn't attack me directly. But they attacked my white friends in front of my eyes to discipline them, to make examples of them for being blood traitors," he told Stahl. 

"Just by being your friend, they were 'blood traitors"? Stahl asked. 

"Yeah," Nawaz replied. 

"So, you'd be out with your white friends and the skinheads attacked them, not you?" she asked. 

"They would hold me back and force me to watch them stab my friends…with knives. I was about 13, 14 years old," Nawaz remembered.


He says that primed him and made him susceptible to the radical message. 

"I was primed because of this racism to already feel that I didn't belong in my own society. I felt that there was something different about me. And it was at that phase, at that stage of my life, that I came across a young medical student," he explained. 

The medical student was a recruiter for the group Hizb ut-Tahrir, or HT, which has supporters around the world, from Indonesia to England. Unlike al Qaeda, it does not advocate the use of terrorism, but it is fervently anti-Western and deeply committed to the narrative. When HT recruiters worked on Nawaz, they played on his sense of alienation. 

"They broke you down so that you were no longer British. You, a person who had had no religion, became a Muslim," Stahl remarked. 

"Yeah. Along came these Islamist activists and said, 'You're being targeted because you're Muslim and non-Muslims hate Islam.' When the skinheads who attacked me didn't have a clue I was a Muslim. They were looking at the color of my skin," Nawaz replied. 

"As an angry, young, naive 15, 16-year-old," Nawaz said he bought the argument. 

"And I became suddenly not just a Muslim in faith. I became a Muslim in politics. Somebody whose politics were pre-defined by one interpretation of Islam," he added. 

Asked what his job was once he joined up, Nawaz said, "To recruit as many people as possible to this group, and spread this narrative far and wide." 

After working in England for five years, he was sent abroad to spread the narrative to Pakistan and then to Denmark. When he went to Egypt in 2001, he was arrested in a post-9/11 crackdown on Islamic radicals. It was the beginning of his journey back from extremism, a journey that began in the dungeons of Cairo's state security headquarters. 

"Everyone was given numbers. My number was 42. And then what they did, is they started with number one. Called number one into their interrogation cell. And the rest of the hundreds of people that were there would have to listen to number one scream as he was being electrocuted. Then, they would call number two. And everyone had to hear number two scream and get electrocuted. They'd call number three. And they'd go up the numbers one by one. So, you can imagine…I was 42," Nawaz remembered. 

"I'd have to listen to 41 people…being tortured," he said. 

Asked what he meant by "electrocuted," Nawaz said, "Electricity was applied to their genitalia and their teeth." 

During his trial, Nawaz remained defiant. He would walk in and out of court shouting out radical slogans. After he was convicted and sentenced to prison for five years, he was locked up with the assassins of Anwar Sadat and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

"Boy, if you weren't radicalized up until then, you certainly would've been then," Stahl remarked. 

"Well, the interesting thing with these guys is that, in the 20 or so years since they've been imprisoned, they'd gone through a process where they had abandoned their jihadist views," he said. 

"They did?" Stahl asked. 

"Yeah. And my initial reaction was, 'Oh, my God, you've sold out.' And so, I approached them with an idea to try and actually convince them they were wrong," Nawaz said. 

Nawaz believed he could "re re-convert" them. "And what ended up happening was through the discussion process, I began doubting the strength of my own convictions," he explained. 

They were able to persuade him that today's radical ideology is closer to fascism than true Islam. So after four years in prison, he returned to England in 2006 and soon left HT. 

Asked how difficult it was to break away like that, Nawaz said it was "traumatic." 

"Because all my friends, friendship circle, my family at the time, my wife was also a member of HT," he explained. 

According to Nawaz, his marriage fell apart; they're no longer together. 

He decided he wanted to make amends for the 13 years he had spent as a radical, so now he devotes himself to rebutting the very narrative he once passionately promoted. 

"Frankly, Lesley, I think it's 'the' key factor in solving the problem we're experiencing in the world at the moment," he said. "Countering the narrative is the core of the solution, making this narrative as unfashionable as Communism has become today."


To do that, he co-founded the Quilliam Foundation, a think tank that is mostly funded by the British government. The idea is to influence the two million British citizens who are Muslim, and especially the roughly 2,000 of them who the government says are Islamic radicals who pose a threat to national security. 

It is their views Nawaz attacks. On the BBC, he debated an extremist who wants to turn England into a caliphate, a religious state under Sharia law. 

"In your so called caliphate, you'd have me killed, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you have me…am I an apostate that deserves death?" Nawaz asked the extremist. 

At Oxford, he took difficult questions, like the one about the drone attacks in Pakistan. 

"They bombed the buses, school buses of children, and they fired on them," a student told Nawaz. 

"I'd be very angry and want to attack them back. What's the link between wanting to attack someone who's killed my family and wanting to enforce one interpretation of Islam over the entire country?" Nawaz asked. 

And now Nawaz is taking his war of ideas to Osama bin Laden's doorstep, Pakistan, where HT had sent Nawaz 11 years ago to spread the word. 

"It was 1999. Pakistan had just tested its atomic bomb. And the global leadership of HT had decided that they wanted to establish HT in this country so that the caliphate could go nuclear," he told Stahl. 

"Go nuclear! Oh, they had the bomb. They wanted a country with the bomb," Stahl remarked. 

"Well, because their intent is to establish their caliphate, their super state, and then declare jihad against the world," Nawaz replied. 

"You came 11 years ago to convert people to extremism. You've come back to [do] what? Undo what you did?" Stahl asked. 

"Absolutely. To undo what I did. But by using the same strategies and skills that I learned inside these organizations to try and use those skills against their message," he replied. 

In the past year, he's spoken to about 7,000 students across Pakistan, including places that are so dangerous he has to wear a flak jacket. 

The large gatherings are followed up with smaller workshops, like one he held in Lahore where he tried to rip the narrative apart. 

"America did not invade Iraq because Iraqis are Muslims. Oil, money, economic interests. Who knows? But it was not because Iraqis are Muslims. Do you know how many Muslims are in America. Do you know how many mosques there exist in America? Do you know Obama's father is Muslim?" he said at the workshop. 

Of the 70 students, about a third were women, some with head scarves, some without. All were engrossed as Nawaz railed against the Islamic radicals who set off their bombs in marketplaces or mosques and disparaged those who then remain silent. 

"Why are we busy making excuses for the terrorists?" he asked the group. 
"Why don't we protest against the terrorists like we protest against America? Is it not also a crime when Muslims are killing Muslims?" 

The students in Lahore seemed receptive to his message. But then Lahore is a city with a history of religious tolerance: Nawaz showed us a Sikh temple that was built in 1848 right next to the great Badshahi Mosque.


He had a much rougher time at another workshop with a group from Peshawar and the Swat Valley. More of the students there believe the narrative, and they challenged Nawaz: why do Western countries want to destroy Islam? Why does democracy lead to homosexuality? Why is the U.S. trying to prevent the teaching of Islam? 

"Why they are against Islamic teaching in Pakistan?" a female student asked. 

For five hours, Nawaz attacked their hardened anti-Western views. He debated, and pleaded, and argued that - okay, the civilian casualties from drone attacks are tragic, but al Qaeda has killed many more innocent civilians. 

"If a man walked in here today and he jumped in the middle with a suicide bomb, and he said, 'I'm going to kill you all because America has bombed Waziristan,' you'd be the first to stand up and say, 'What have I got to do with that? Why are you killing me?'" Nawaz challenged the group. 

And after all of that, Stahl wondered if he was making any headway against the narrative. 

"How many of you believe it is U.S. policy to be at war with Islam and to destroy Islam?" Stahl asked. 

About a third of them believed it. 

When a student got up to ask her a question about the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center, Stahl got a feel for how much we can talk past each other. 

"So you're telling me that al Qaeda didn't do 9/11? Is that what you're saying?" Stahl asked. 

"Yeah," the student replied. "We all know that al Qaeda was created by the CIA." 

He was saying it was the CIA that told Osama bin Laden to attack on 9/11. 

"Now we attacked our own Pentagon and the World Trade Center to have a justification to go into Afghanistan? Do you really believe that?" Stahl asked. 

"Yeah, yeah, I do," the student said. 

They believe we attacked ourselves so we could go to Afghanistan and kill Muslims. "What I’m sensing is that there is an enormous amount of anti-Americanism. Am I right?" Stahl asked. 

"Give us one single reason to love America and we will forget about the rest of the millions of reasons to hate America," the student replied. 

After a statement like that, you begin to question whether even a former extremist can uproot the idea in places like Peshawar that the West is out to destroy Islam. 

"You're one person. And you're kind of blowing into the wind. It's almost like Don Quixote…tilting at windmills," Stahl remarked. 

"There are people who are as frustrated as we are with extremism in their own country, in Pakistan. But they've never had anyone to articulate that frustration, to organize them and to help them work along those lines," Nawaz said. "That means work. It means we have to be in it for the long haul. And it means the solution isn't going to come through bombs or through prison. It has to come through the ideas debate, which is by definition a long strategy."


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