Sunday, January 24, 2016

Town Hall Meeting about Terrorism and Foreign Policy

 Mike Ghouse’ Townhall meeting |

Saturday, January 9, 2017, Dallas, TX – “War on Terror is the dumbest idea ever floated” was the title of my talk, and I spoke at two places; one was a private gathering, and the other was a group from College of Complexes at Roma Pizza Place on Greenville Avenue.

Here is a full video - including Q&A -

About 60 people attended the event at Roma Pizza Place; this was my 3rd time speaking with this group represented by diverse American political values. There were conservatives, liberals and moderates; Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents, and a whole range in between. I love this group, as rarely do I speak to such political diversity and walk out learning as much as sharing my views.

Three out of sixty were ethnically and racially different – there was me, and a Black Gentleman, and the third one was of either Hispanic or Native America Origin and is running as a libertarian against Republican Congressman Kenny Marchant, whom I have voted twice.

I've been doing these town hall meetings for a while, it is good to be a moderate and have the ability to see different points of view without prejudice. I ask them “ Don’t go home regretting that you should have asked that lingering question, I will welcome any tough question, we are here to place everything on the table, be sincere with our expressions and deal with the issues honestly. You cannot upset me with any question. ” I encourage frank talks and people do open up to me, and hats off to them for dialogue in the most civic manner possible.

Let me take a detour with my background – in the late eighties, I was tuned into David Gold, the talk show host on AM 570 in Dallas, who was so venomous towards Palestinians and Arabs and made a hill out of every mole. They would not take my calls; they would screen the calls and would not take any one who was opposed to him.  Lo and behold, years later David became my tenant, and I had a conversation with him. His income went up with the ratings, and ratings went up with rants and antics, why would he want to dilute his show with facts?  He inspired me to go get my own Radio show in 1996, on AM 1150 which I ran for 5 years – I made sure both sides of the issue were addressed equally and fairly and no opinion was screened out.

I am looking to get going again in Washington DC with a talk show hour, and I am looking for volunteer research assistants to fact check on Limbaugh and his likes, we still have some talk hosts who will not put opposing views, and we will challenge them to facts. Americans deserve to see two sides of the coin, and not bamboozled by one or the other.  I am a moderate,  and there aren’t any moderate shows out there, although a majority of Americans are moderates.

I asked my audience to lay it out and they do. However, it puts a huge responsibility on our shoulders to repair the world, it was not easy to hear fabricated stuff and the propaganda that some of my fellow Americans have bought into, but what can we do, for that is all they know.  I was not surprised to hear Trump justifiers. We have a lot of work to do.

Town hall meetings are true research material, honest people will tell us honestly what they think about the issue, in this case Muslims.  

There were several rational and good voices in the meeting, some of them who spoke well for Muslims had one thing in common- I.e., each one of them cited examples of good Muslim interactions-- I was particularly buoyed because, one lady said,  had it not been for the medical treatment she got from the Islamic center of Richardson,  she would not have been alive, and that center was set up and established by my late wife Najma and Dr. Amer Shakil, God bless her and may give the strength to Muslims to do more of this.

The second one was the guy who had attended Texas Muslim Barbeque in Cowboys stadium headed by late Dr. Lalani, and the first few meetings for that big event were held in my house, I was one of the three initiators of it besides Ambassador Ahsani. It is so good to hear its lasting effects almost after a decade. This meeting has pumped me up with the initiatives they I've proposed over the years. 

I have responded to some 15 questions, and then about 10 of them shared their 2 minutes  comment, did not get a chance to address them all, but concluded the meeting with a commitment to address them soon. 

The full video will be out in 15 days; instead of negatively reacting to those comments,   we have to think, what is that we need to do to fix the problems. 

These meetings are helpful in learning about each other, what our problems are, and how we solve them. 

We have to become Amins of the society. Praise the lord, many a Hindus Jews, Christians and others consider me as an Amin; the foundation for building cohesive societies.  Amin is some one who tells it like it is, the truth, is trustworthy and around whom people feel secure.

There were several questions and comments - I have made some note and hope to repond to them this week, right here as an update of this note.

A few more pictures

Dealing with Terrorism, the Islamic way

Dr. Mike Ghouse, community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. He is deeply committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day; he will discuss how the Bush and Obama methods of handling terrorism have not worked, where the first method created more terrorism and the second one has not mitigated it.  

Also, as a moderate Muslim, Mike will discuss the Islamic way of handling terrorism, to wit:  “Mr. Baghdadi, you have three days to stop killing innocent people and destroying Allah’s creation, life and environment.  If you do not heed the warning, we will hunt you down an ambush wherever you hide.  If not, we will gas you, a few square miles at a time, not to hurt you, but to capture and put you on trial and ask you to give up the false claims you are making about your religion.   Soldiers from around the world will be on the front line against you.”  He argues that blaming the religion is the dumbest thing to do, because we cannot beat, kick, hack, shoot, hang, kill or bury a religion, it’s an intangible thing!   

Mike concludes that we can blame the individuals and restore trust and harmony back for the society to function peacefully and cohesively. See also 


Using cool heads against terror

This is indeed a good piece, my piece which is similar was published at Arab News as well 

Mike Ghouse

 Using cool heads against terror

After long years of reading from the hymn sheet provided by its hosts, sense finally seems to have dawned on the United Nations. The world body has apparently concluded that it is insanity, in the words of Einstein, to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.  
Addressing the UN General Assembly last Friday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did not beat about the proverbial bush as he unveiled a blueprint to tackle the challenge of extremism.
The UN chief was unusually honest in his counsel to those busy fighting the ever widening war on terror: “We all lose by responding to ruthless terror with mindless policy – policies that turn people against each another, alienate already marginalised groups, and play into the hands of the enemy. We need cool heads and common sense. We must never be ruled by fear – or provoked by those who strive to exploit it. Countering violent extremism should not be counter-productive.”
Cool heads and common sense? That’s the last thing anyone in the coalition of the willing wants to hear right now as it fights ‘Islamist terror’, forever shifting goal posts in the crusade against imagined enemies.
Has anyone noticed that for the first time since the end of the last Great War, the two superpowers, United States and Russia, and their numerous gofers all find themselves on the same side of the fence as they purportedly take on the monster called Isis or Daesh.
Indeed, it is interesting that the usually voluble Washington did not make even perfunctory noises when the Russian bear barged into what has traditionally been Uncle Sam’s turf.  
In his last State of the Union address, President Obama trashed the talk of an imminent World War III between the West and Islam, accusing clowns like Trump of playing into the hands of Isis.  The first black president of the most powerful white, Western nation may not see it as such but many in the West already seem to have concluded that this is indeed a civilisational battle for survival.  In fact, Pope Francis already sees the Middle East conflict as World War III.
Whether one likes it or not, after long years of Western wars and the violent extremism of groups like Isis that they have spawned, this has indeed acquired the proportions of a civilisational clash, something that neocon pundits like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington have long dreamed about.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani columnist of a popular Urdu newspaper thoughtfully pointed out that with the involvement of the US, Russia, UK, France, Germany and other members of Nato in the Middle East’s theatre of war, nearly all major schools of thought representing Christianity – from the Catholic church and Church of England to the Russian Orthodox church – are waging wars in Muslim lands or fighting forces that claim to speak on behalf of the believers.
Hardly surprising then, notwithstanding the anger and revulsion that the Isis tactics and its claim to represent the Muslims evoke everywhere, it continues to attract the young and restless from around the world. 
On the other hand, after all these futile wars and years of carnage and destruction that have left millions dead and homeless in the region, not to mention the mindless destruction of historically rich countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya, there is still no sign of a willingness to confront or even acknowledge the sources and drivers of this conflict.
Indeed, a few weeks ago the New York Times reported that the US is considering a Pentagon proposal to set up a string of military bases in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Africa which could be used, “for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes” against Isis’ many affiliates across those regions.
The bases would serve as hubs for Special Operations troops and intelligence operatives who would conduct counterterrorism missions, creating what the Times described, in Pentagon-speak, an “enduring American military presence” in these volatile regions.
This despite the overwhelming evidence – and acknowledgement by President Obama among others – suggesting that the Western invasion and occupation of Iraq gave birth to the spectre called Isis.
There cannot be a more absurd idea.  An “enduring American military presence” from the Middle East to Africa, over and on top of what already exists across the region, may be the best thing to happen to the extremist fringe, from Isis to Al-Qaeda and TTP to Boko Haram, further allowing them to portray themselves as the ‘defenders of the faithful’ and inflate their ranks.
If this isn’t precisely what the West and their allies are secretly hoping for, they would do themselves and the region a huge favour by not taking that perilous route.
Military force and brutal, police state tactics cannot defeat terror and extremism.  Short-sighted and crude measures like UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s threat to deport Muslim women if they do not learn English and his promised ban on the Muslim veil do not help the cause of fighting extremism either.  These pronouncements are hardly any different from the intemperate rants of US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Camerons and Trumps would do well to spare 15 minutes to scan and mull over Ban Ki-moon’s proposals, delivered as part of the UN action plan to counter extremism.  The UN chief offers 70 specific recommendations for action under five broad categories:
Prevention: It requires improving underlying conditions, helping individuals attain their full potential growth. It is humiliation and desperation that drive men towards extremism. “Extremism flourishes when human rights are violated, political space is shrunk, aspirations for inclusion are ignored, and too many people – especially young people – lack prospects and meaning in their lives”, pointed out the UN chief.
Principled leadership and effective institutions: The UN calls for building “inclusive institutions that are truly accountable to people.” The UN chief points out that “poisonous ideologies do not emerge from thin air. Oppression, corruption and injustice are greenhouses for resentment.”
Prevent extremism by promoting human rights: “All too often”, the UN chief noted, “sweeping definitions of terrorism or violent extremism are used to criminalize the legitimate actions of opposition groups, civil society organizations and human rights defenders. Governments should not use these types of sweeping definitions as a pretext to attack or silence one’s critics.”
Inclusive approach: An ‘all of government’ approach that breaks down “the silos between the peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian actors at the national, regional and global levels – including at the United Nations.”
UN engagement: It involves actions by the UN itself while also promoting coordination with and support for national plans of action that address the many inter-linked dimensions of the violent extremism and terrorism threats.
Real food for thought there. The UN approach at last acknowledges why violent extremism has spread so rapidly around the world and attempts to craft an effective response to it that, in the words of Rami Khouri, cuts out its core drivers at the roots, rather than snipping off the buds that sprout at its extremities.
But if governments around the world, especially the world powers and their allies busy fire-fighting in the Middle East, do not take these recommendations seriously and adopt them as a global action plan, the UN recommendations are not worth the paper they are written on.
Doubtless, the battle ahead is long and arduous. You cannot win it by quick-fix, dishonest tactics or by unleashing more firepower and boots on the ground. What is really needed is serious, meaningful dialogue and hearts-and-minds engagement between the West and the Islamic world at the civil society level, while addressing the ideological drivers and sources of this long-festering conflict.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The plight of Kashmiri Pundits

No human being should endure the humiliation and injustice.  This is what makes the society less than civil. 

The suffering of Kashmiri Pundit’s is shameful, and they have been thrown out of their own homes where they lived for centuries. It is time that we the people talk about it and resettle them back in their homeland.

No nation should ignore injustice to her citizens.  I hope Mr. Modi can take care of this, it’s long overdue.  It's painful what has happened to the pundits.  We have addressed this issue in our annual Holocaust and Genocides programs over the last ten years, along with many issues around the word including the Sikh Genocide, Bangladesh Genocide, Gujarat Massacre, and Burning of Dalit Villages.

As humans, we should feel the pain for every human and rise about the religious lines; indeed, it is the sectarianism that breeds most of the conflicts.

The menace of terrorism must be dealt with appropriately. The war on Terror will not cut it, it is the dumbest idea ever floated by Bushmen, and it has not receded, but aggravated it further. A dialogue is critical, only the powerful have the ability to shape things for common good. Only the powerful have the ability to demonstrate their civility, our government should take responsible steps to restore justice to the Kashmiri Pundits.

Here is a video produced by Anupam Kher.

Mike Ghouse 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

War on Terror is the dumbest idea ever floated, there is another way to rid terrorism

War on Terror is the dumbest Idea ever floated | 
Indeed, war on Terror is the dumbest idea ever floated, there is another way to handle it; the Islamic way or through education and dialogue. 

If a thief breaks into your home, would you ask him his religion? And if he were to say, he belongs to your faith; would you let him get away?

When a terrorist attacks and claims to be a Muslim who follows Islam, would you be gullible to buy his alibi, and look for faults with his religion rather than nailing him for his acts?

Shouldn’t your attitude be, “Don’t give me that crap, I know your religion; it does not teach you to kill a single soul, let alone yourselves, I have read that myself. Shame on you to attempt to pass the buck to your religion, I am not buying it either! You committed the crime, you disturbed the peace, and you are going to pay for it. 
God has created everything in balance and has given us the responsibility and a brain to preserve that balance between various elements of nature for our own good. The universe (planets, trees etc.) runs obediently and precisely as programmed (55:6) within the bounds of the universe (55:7), and God advises us to learn from nature, and not transgress (55:8) our limits (moderation). We have to act and preserve that God-given balance, and avoid the short cuts (55:9). Mind you, the earth is for all living beings, and for each one of the 7 billion of us (55:10).
Your act of murdering fellow humans is not an act of people who follow the Quran. Your claim to follow Quran is false and baseless. Quran 5:32 says, “If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”
God advises how to deal with you; “Enjoin doing what is right and forbid doing what is wrong,” Quran 9:71. The wisdom is simple – God created everything in harmony and you messed it up, and it is our responsibility to forbid you from doing that, and restore harmony and cohesiveness of Allah’s creation.
We are not going to kill you blindly; we will give you ample notice to stop destroying Allah’s planet and his creation, and if you do not heed it, we will find you wherever you hide, ambush and kill you. However, Allah advises in the next verse to be kinder and gentler towards you if you reconsider and surrender.
If you repent and bow down toward Allah’s guidance to preserve the balance, and harmony of the world around you, and enjoin doing what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and keep within the bounds (respect all of his creation) set by Allah. He promises glad tidings to “all” believers (9:112), and we hope you would become a believer in the Quran that you claim.

This will put an end to the recruitment efforts of the ISIS or Al-Qaeda and cut into the roots of terrorism. Misintpretation and mistranslations of God’s word have to be brought to an end. God is not a villain and he loves every one of his creation, period. God does not favor a single soul who is not good to his creation; life and environment.

We have to tell the terrorist Daesh, we will gas you guys, not to hurt you, but to capture you and put you on trial and ask you to give up the false claims you are making about Islam. We will give you copies of the Quran and ask you to read and explain – not what is dished out to you by the Ulema (Scholars) of the past, but what the God-given common sense has allowed to you. We will give you a formula to study the Quran, don’t you read a singular verse, but study three before and three after the given verse to understand Quran’s wisdom to build cohesive societies. After all, Islam is about common sense and a faith of nature.
By the way, you don’t own Allah, the Prophet, Islam or the Quran. It is the book of wisdom for the whole humanity and I am not going to let you claim exclusive ownership of it. (Huffington Post "Quran is not for Muslims by Mike Ghouse").
Blaming the religion is the dumbest thing to do, because you cannot beat, kick, hack, shoot, hang, kill or bury a religion, it’s an intangible thing my friend! You cannot do a thing about it.
War on Islam in the guise of war on terrorism,  is certainly a stupid pursuit that will create more chaos and not peace. 
When God created animals and humans, he gave horns, fangs and paws to the animals to resolve their disputes, but what did he give to humans? He gave us the ability to dialogue to resolve the conflicts. War should be the very last resort and should not be a sadistic venture.
If our objective is to punish the criminal (s), and cut down on more acts of terrorism, then blame the bloody individuals and make them pay for it. Obama did the right thing by nailing Bin Laden
Restoring peace and sanity should be our goal and not bombing and creating more chaos and terror in the name of busting terror.

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslampoliticshuman rightsIndiaIsrael-PalestineTerrorism and foreign policy. Over 3000 Articles have been published on the subjects. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 63 links at and bulk of his writings are at  

Humiliation is the Root of All Terrorism by Peter Gabel

Rabbi Michael

Death with dignity is better than life with humiliation.  – Maya Angelou
She also said something to the effect that people will not remember hurts, but will carry a grudge if you humiliate them.

“No one wants to be a terrorist, but if you push them to a corner and give no options to be out of it, they only satisfaction they get is hurting you while going down”

Editor's Note: We at Tikkun have long advocated  for the adoption of a Strategy of Generosity in US foreign policy, decisively shifting our perspective on how we relate to the rest of the world from the "power over" approach which has failed miserably for 7000 years and produced nothing but violence and counterviolence to a deep spiritual approach that recognizes the humanity of others and demonstrates our care for the well-being of all who live on the planet. In the following piece published on Truthout yesterday, our Editor-at-Large Peter Gabel offer a philosophical foundation for that vision that shows the relationship between healing and repairing the wounds that separate us and ending the otherwise unending cycle of violence that causes so much human suffering.

If you find this compelling, help us spread the message. Join our interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives or donate to Tikkun at Read our proposed Global Marshall Plan which would be a massive step toward implementing what Gabel calls for in this article. Don't just read and love this article--join us in making it happen!!! This article will also appear in a new section of our Tikkun home page which will assemble a variety of articles on how best to deal with ISIS and all other forms of religious and/or nationalist fundamentalisms and which will be updated several times a week: check it out frequently at

So If you have a strategy or want to argue against ours, please send it in an email to me.  ---Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor Tikkun

Humiliation is the Root of All Terrorism  by Peter Gabel

The recent killings in Paris and San Bernadino have many people at once scared for themselves and their families, angry in a way that makes some susceptible to anti-Muslim rhetoric, and also utterly shaken that people in our own midst can be drawn to ISIS and others who want to do us great violence for seemingly no reason. How could anyone wish to start shooting and killing large numbers of innocent, anonymous people in the name of restoring a patriarchal Califate from a thousand years ago? Syed Farook was a seemingly normal county employee, an environmental specialist earning $77,000 per year living in relative economic comfort in southern California, recently married, and the father of a six-month old daughter. How are we to make any sense of his and Tashfeen Malik's secret devotion to ISIS and their decision to suddenly become mass murderers who simultaneously effectively committed suicide, leaving their little child with her grandmother? And how could tens of thousands of such people like these two be massing in Syria and Iraq, ready to become martyrs for such a cause?
As compelling as these questions are, one would have to infer from the public discussion of these killings and from the mass media that we do not really want to know the answers. The idea that ISIS and other radical jihadis are simply "evil," or that they "hate freedom" or are simply incomprehensible purveyors of a "hateful ideology" (to quote the repeated formulation of Barack Obama) just begs the question of why they are the way they are and why they believe what they believe. To actually understand Farook and Malik and those who engage in violent terrorism, and based on that understanding begin to do something to change the conditions that have produced and will likely continue to produce so much human suffering and loss, we have to attempt to grasp the terrorists' experience of life from the inside, to see them as human just as we are, and to see what shaped them such that their thoughts and actions make sense to them.
Only then can we develop a course of action to alter the future that is more effective than the plan to "defeat and destroy" a large and scattered population in a decades-long, diffuse war that will involve our children and grandchildren. Thus please consider the following:
All human beings are born seeking love and affirmation from others and every child manifests this longing in a way that he or she expects to be reciprocated. We know this from the newborn child's search for eye contact, from the fullness of the child's vulnerability as he or she extends him or herself to mother, father, to all others whom he or she first comes in contact with.
But up to the present time, the world that children enter is not only suffused with love and generosity and care, but is rather also corroded by fear and doubt, and by violence, rejection, and what we might call "non-recognition."
When a child extends him or herself toward the other with a newborn's open heart and encounters the trauma of non-recognition of his or her humanity, often manifested as open rejection, indifference, or even violence, the child suffers a profoundhumiliation. Instead of the world being the embracing and loving and affirming place that the child had been born anticipating and fully expecting, the world becomes a traumatic environment of never-being-seen and never-being-embraced.
Although every child begins his or her life inside the small cocoon of a family of some kind, he or she immediately encounters in every adult the legacy of the wider world that has shaped each adult's being and that expresses the wider world's "quality of life," its interhuman essence. Although every child is born to one or two or a few people, that child very quickly becomes enmeshed in a vast network of social structures and social relations, interhuman patternings that manifest either the love and affirmation carried by true recognition and embrace, or the humiliation and pain carried by interhuman patternings of non-recognition, rejection, the mutual distancing of the rotating fear of the other.
In today's world, some sectors of the world's population have spent decades or perhaps centuries impoverished and demeaned by the world's dominant groups. Although these dominant groups have themselves acted, often unconsciously, out of fear of the other, accumulating wealth and power to protect themselves against others and displacing that process of self-aggrandizement onto the supposedly neutral effects of a globalized economic market, they have in so doing created pockets of humiliation, in which whole communities and peoples have experienced life as discarded, unseen, uncared about, and often on the verge of starvation. This is true of whole sectors of the Middle East, where the rooted lives of whole communities of people were destroyed and demeaned by, for example the imperialist carving up of the region by Western powers following World War I, by the imposition upon them of inauthentic puppet governments, by the rise of internal dictatorships resulting from the hierarchical and alienating distortions of these earlier interventions.
Furthermore, to the extent that members of these humiliated communities have sought escape in Western countries, they have often found themselves ghettoized and disappointed, in a sense re-humiliated refugees who were thrown into supposedly "free" societies, but where there was no plan for integrating them as fully human and for connecting them with others in a way that would have provided for them a sense of recognition, of being seen and embraced.
Against this background of profound and diffuse non-recognition and humiliation, it is not surprising that people from these marginalized and demeaned communities would be drawn to narrative interpretations of the world that would address and explain theirhumiliation and offer a way out, however pathological, however much such interpretations may involve substituting for their experience of humiliation an imaginary vision of the world that can seem to restore each person's sense of recognition and value, channel the rage resulting from the long legacy of collective humiliation into purifying violence, and bring into imaginary being the "perfect" society that once existed until being destroyed and defiled by "unbelievers," by those who might prevent the vision from being realized by denying or opposing it.
When terrorists engage in mass murder, they seek to reverse the dehumanization that was done to them by dehumanizing their imagined oppressors while seeking to bring about the redemption of an imaginary world in which they will become healed, become recognized, become finally included and loved as they anticipated they would be from their earliest days.
To summarize this in a simple formula: longing and vulnerability when met with non-recognition leads to humiliation, which leadsto substitute imaginary visions that resolve the pain of non-recognition through prideful grandiosity, perfect unity, and dehumanization of those who dehumanized you.
How should we respond to this situation?
First and in the short run, we must defend ourselves against harm and violence, since there is no instantaneous way of rectifying a psycho-social problem of this magnitude. Defending ourselves means not only engaging in whatever physical struggle is necessary against those determined to kill us, but also finding rational ways of protecting ourselves at home, in restaurants, in concerts and other public gatherings.
But second and most important, we must develop an approach to the problem of the legacy of non-recognition that seeks toheal the wounds that we ourselves are partly responsible for. This means transforming our policy toward those who have felt humiliated by us, by our imperialist forefathers, and by our existing institutions like the world market in such a way that we begin to truly recognize their humanity. We should seek to eliminate hunger among the impoverished and demeaned populations of the Middle East; we should help to rebuild their roads, their bridges, their mosques; we should begin to relate to these humiliated populations of the world as we always should have, with empathy and compassion and generosity and care. We should see them as our fellow human beings and offer them the recognition and affirmation and respect that they were always entitled to, but which has been systematically and often ruthlessly denied to them for decades, or even centuries, from the Crusades to World War I to the Iraq War to the present-day exploitation for our benefit of their oil reserves. In repair of disrupting, destroying and demeaning their historical communities, we should enter into present community with them.
This approach will not work with the most violent of our adversaries or with those most committed to a delusional end-of-days Armageddon, but it will begin to have an impact on those widespread communities—in the Middle East and in our own Western cities—to whom the most violent and apocalyptic currently appeal. It will begin to provide the "alternative ideology" that President Obama is constantly calling for but seems unable to find. And it will gradually undermine the appeal of the most delusional and most violent by healing the conditions that produce their charismatic power.

The United Nations Security Council could, if it grasped the truth of what I have written here and wanted to address it, call a meeting tomorrow and begin.

Peter Gabel is editor at large of Tikkun and the author of The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Things The Kenya Mall Attack Tells Us About Global Terrorism

The conclusion drawn in this piece is worth pondering, "If that pattern holds in other places, it means other terrorist groups pushed to the brink of survival might escalate their attacks on civilians as their political position wanes. Given the scale of horror at Westgate, that should be a sobering thought for policymakers."

Five Things The Kenya Mall Attack Tells Us About Global Terrorism

By Zack Beauchamp on
September 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm
Kenya Mall Attack
CREDIT: AP Photo/Ben Curtis

A small coterie of hostages still remain in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, the last victims of Somali jihadi group al-Shabaab’s assault on the Kenyan shopping center. What we’ve learned about the attack in the roughly 48 hours since it began reveal some important truths about the nature and future of transnational terrorist organizations. Here are five of them.

1) Transnational terrorism isn’t just a Middle Eastern or Western problem. When Americans picture terrorism, they usually think of mass casualty attacks on Western targets or suicide bombings in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the attack on a Kenyan shopping mall should remind us that global terrorism is a much broader phenomenon. In 2011, the most recent year Global Terrorism Database data are available for, there were 1,144 terrorist incidents outside of North America, Western Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.
Moreover, regional terrorist organizations can have global ties, as Shabaab does with Al Qaeda. Take Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Indonesian group responsible for the 2005 Bali bombings, as an example. JI began in Malaysia, trained by fighting the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, relocated to Indonesia, and developed loose strategic partnerships with the Filipino Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

2) Jihadist groups disagree with themselves — a lot.
The Westgate attack is the first major act Shabaab has conducted under the leadership of Ahmed Abdi Godane, who took power in June after a bruising, not yet fully settled internal battle. The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall reports that Godane was the avatar of a more extreme faction inside Shabaab. That says a lot: Shabaab already had a rep as a particularly brutal jihadi group before the “extremists” started taking over, but it hadn’t recently conducted a civilian attack on this scale.

Disagreement, including violent disagreement, is nothing new for jihadis. In 2005, Al Qaeda commander Ayman al-Zawahiri publicly reprimanded Al Qaeda in Iraq’s (AQI) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for counterproductively indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Al Qaeda command thinks of Shabaab’s attacks on civilians as similarly counterproductive.

3) Terrorist groups learn from each other.
Shabaab’s tactical plan — explosives and gunfire directed at a “soft” civilian commercial and social center — looks a lot like the 2008 Mumbai attack launched by (largely) Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba. “Modeling previous successful attacks is significant,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the author of Bin Laden’s Legacy and an expert on jihadi groups, told ThinkProgress. “This attack is, in my view, a variant of the previous attack in Mumbai.”

Gartensten-Ross isn’t alone in this conclusion. A well-established academic literature on how terrorist groups learn supports the idea that organizations share information with each other and study the history of other groups in a perverse sort of “best practices” learning method.

That means, according to Gartenstein-Ross, we should start worrying about more attacks on shopping malls. “They’re of economic and symbolic significance, hard to defend, and if you strike them successfully, it presents the enemy with a serious question about how to respond,” he said. “Implementing stringent security procedures tends to defeat the purpose of shopping malls.”

4) Weak states might be as much of a concern as failed states.
Everyone knows about the connection between failed states and terrorism: when there’s no government, the argument goes, there’s no one to stop terrorist groups from setting up shop.

But states with a weak government, like Kenya, may be vulnerable in other ways. The theory, first articulated by Davidson College Professor Ken Menkhaus (who wrote about the Westgate attack for ThinkProgress on Sunday), is that operating in failed states bogs down transnational terrorist groups in local violence and leaves them open to international intervention. Indeed, Shabaab had been put on its heels in recent years by a multinational intervention involving troops from Kenya, at least three other African nations, and the United States.

Weak states, by contrast, are arguably easier for terrorist groups to manipulate. Nations in which bribery is routinized or where borders are policed but porous allow terrorist groups to operate outside the law without having to contend with the total chaos that reigns in failed states. We’re not yet sure how the Shabaab operatives got into Kenya without being noticed, but it’s likely that the weakness of the Kenyan government had something to do with it.

Westgate isn’t a textbook example of Menkhaus’ theory: for one thing, Shabaab is based in the failed state, Somalia, and not the weak state, Kenya. But Shabaab’s incursion into Kenya should make us think about the different ways terrorist groups thrive rather than myopically focusing on the threat posed by failed states.

5) “Winning” a war on terrorism might look a lot like losing. A group of experts on East Africa and jihadi groups asked about the Nairobi attack almost universally agreed that Shabaab has been severely degraded in recent years. Westgate, the argument goes, is evidence of the group’s fundamental weakness. They’re attempting to use attacks on civilians to regain power they’ve lost on the more conventional Somali battlefield.

If that pattern holds in other places, it means other terrorist groups pushed to the brink of survival might escalate their attacks on civilians as their political position wanes. Given the scale of horror at Westgate, that should be a sobering thought for policymakers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Muslim Speaker Mike Ghouse

Muslim Speaker Mike Ghouse

A Muslim Speaker, thinker, organizer and an activist committed to building cohesive societies with a belief that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world and vice versa to sustain peace, harmony and prosperity.

To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; Life and Matter. Over 1000 articles have been published on a range of topics in Islam and Pluralism. Insha Allah, a book outlining the Muslim vision is on the horizon.

In defense of Islam, pursuing a civil dialogue  
Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it?

If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero.

It is hard to imagine that anyone has worked harder than the Carrollton resident to demonstrate the peaceful and moderate side of Islam.

And that effort includes personally visiting Dallas' First Baptist Church last Sunday just to put a friendly face on the "evil, evil religion" that the Rev. Robert Jeffress denounced a few weeks before.

"It was wonderful," Ghouse said of the visit. "We were so warmly received."
He hopes a quick chat with Jeffress will be the start of deeper discussion about Islam and the importance of respect between religions.

"I want to have a dialogue with him, not to say he is wrong but to share another point of view," Ghouse said.

The 57-year-old Muslim was born in India and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He owns a small property management firm. But most of his day is devoted to building bridges between people of different faiths.

"It is my passion," he said in his distinctive raspy voice.

He has been a guest a dozen times on Sean Hannity's TV and radio talk shows. "I don't like the way Sean cuts me off, but I have to honor him for giving the American public a semblance of another point of view."

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history.

In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.

"It was all for politics," he said.
Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker."

Ghouse acknowledges that deep problems persist within Islam. "Three steps forward, two steps back," he said with a sigh.

And he agrees that mainstream Muslims have not done enough to counter violent images of their faith.

"That is very true," he said. "But part of it is that many Muslims have given up hope that we will ever be heard."

He said repeated denunciations of terrorism seem to fall on deaf ears.

And some efforts have backfired - like the proposed Islamic information center in New York. He said it should be hailed for furthering the moderate Muslim cause.
Instead, it has deepened hostility toward Muslims.

I have been astounded by the amount of anti-Islam propaganda that circulates via e-mail. Tons of it has come my way in the last few weeks.

One theme is that people like Mike Ghouse can't be trusted, that Islam encourages deception.

But Ghouse says actions speak louder than words. And he points to elections in Muslim nations.

More than half of Muslims live in countries with some degree of democracy. And time and time again, Islamist parties are overwhelmingly rejected in favor of secular, mainstream parties.

"The religious parties don't get more than 3 percent of the vote," Ghouse said.
Polls show deep mistrust of Muslims. "But the most important question in those surveys is: 'Do you know anything about Islam?' " Ghouse said. "Most people say no."
What keeps him going is faith in Americans, he said.

"The majority of Americans, if they know the truth, they will change their minds."
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer, thinker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India and Civil Societies passionately offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

He is a commentator at Fox News on the Hannity show, nationally syndicated Radio shows along with Dallas TV, Print and Radio networks and occasional interviews on NPR.  He has spoken at international forums including the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Melbourne, Middle East Peace initiative in Jerusalem, International Leadership conference in Hawaii, Washington and elsewhere.

Concerned by the divisiveness, he saw the need to bring Americans together and founded America Together Foundation committed to building a cohesive America, indeed it is in response to ACT America which is bent on pitching one American against the other.  We will be holding series of educational programs, conferences and workshops to address the issues that divide us such as Civil Right, GLBT, Quraan, Abortion, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racial Profiling and Stereotyping.

The Annual Unity Day USA is in its 7th year now, it is a purposeful event to bring Americans together, on this Unity Day, we the people of the United States of America of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, unity, prosperity and wellbeing of our nation.  

Thanksgiving Celebration is in its 15th year showcasing cultural diversity.

The 5th Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides is to learn and to acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things we have inflicted upon each other and commit to avert such tragedies.  Through this event non-Jewish people have consciously learned about Holocaust for the first time, it was also for the first time that people of 14 faiths came together to join in to commemorate the Holocaust that commemorated within the Jewish Community for years. They are not alone anymore in their anguish, we are all in it together with them, and it is a Muslim initiative to effect a positive change.

The programs, seminars and workshops conducted by the Foundation for Pluralism have become a part of the America Together Foundation. While the Foundation for Pluralism continues championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, the commitment to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress continues.

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Mike is working on two books scheduled to be released this year; The American Muslim Agenda and My Journey to Pluralism.

Mike has written over 1000 Articles on Pluralism, Islam, India, Peace & Justice and civil societies published in a wide spectrum of Newspapers and Magazines around the world.

Locally, he is a panelist at Dallas Morning News's and writes weekly on a range of issues facing the nation. Washington Post, Huffington Post and other news papers and sites regularly publish his work.  

Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your place of worship, school, work place, seminars, workshops or conferences. His work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at