chapter  5
18 Pages

Hizb ut-Tahrir and political violence

There is a widespread perception, which has been partly fueled by the tragic events of 11 September 2001 that engaging political Islam is synonymous with the War against Terrorism. This is not by any means the case, although there is obviously some linkage. Without a doubt, judged by Western political standards, Hizb ut-Tahrir has radical views and deliberately uses extremist language to propagate its message to Muslim communities. Hizb ut-Tahrir presents a particularly difficult challenge to Western and Muslim governments, since it aims at the restoration of the Caliphate, but openly rejects violence as a tool of political change. Hizb ut-Tahrir is illegal in every Muslim country apart from Indonesia,

Malaysia, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. On 12 January 2003, German authorities outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir, accusing the group of promoting religious extremism and anti-Semitism at universities and calling for the destruction of Israel. One month later, the Russian Supreme Court banned Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization. Following the identification of perpetrators of the July 2005 terrorist attacks in London, Tony Blair announced in early August 2005 his intention to proscribe the British branch of Hizb utTahrir. The British prime minister argued that ‘glorifying, condoning or justifying terrorism’ constitutes a criminal offence and from his point of view Hizb ut-Tahrir’s rhetoric falls into this category.1 However, as of this writing in January 2009, the British government has not yet banned the group. The Uzbek authorities have often accused Hizb ut-Tahrir of organizing

terrorist attacks. Following blasts at the Israeli and U.S. embassies and the general prosecutor’s office that killed at least three members of the Uzbek security forces in Tashkent in July 2004, President Karimov argued that Hizb ut-Tahrir must bear primary responsibility for the attacks. ‘[The terrorists] base their ideas on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s teaching … Hizb ut-Tahrir made the biggest contribution to that terror,’ Karimov told public television.2 However, the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir issued almost immediately a statement denying any involvement in the events in Uzbekistan.3 There is no evidence connecting the group with terrorist attacks in Central Asia and this is why it

was not placed by the U.S. government on the list of terrorist organizations in the wake of the 11 September attacks. Yet, there have been a number of published suggestions that Hizb ut-Tahrir

is linked to international terrorism. According to Zeyno Baran, Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Washington DC-based Hudson Center, ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir is part of an elegant division of labor. The group itself is active in the ideological preparation of the Muslims, while other organizations handle the planning and execution of terrorist attacks … Hizb ut-Tahrir today serves as a de facto conveyor belt for terrorists.’4 In the words of Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC,

Hizb ut-Tahrir may launch terrorist attacks against U.S. targets and allies, operating either alone or in cooperation with other global terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. A Hizb ut-Tahrir takeover of any Central Asian state could provide the global radical Islamic movement with a geographic base and access to the expertise and technology to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.5