tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera November 17, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm EST
>> that's our broadcast. thank you for watching. i'm john seigenthaler. i'll see you back here tomorrow. ali velshi on target is next. a "on target" i'm ali velshi "on target" from istanbul. i.s.i.l. exposed. what it wants and more importantly, how it can be defeated for good. welcome to istanbul turkey. tonight the fight against i.s.i.l. after the paris attacks. we need to figure out what i.s.i.l. wants and why and more importantly, how to defeat it. first secretary of state kerry
is in paris today. he was talking with francois hollande. they were atalking of ramping up pressure on i.s.i.l. >> we have to step up our efforts to hit them owe core where they're-- them they core where they're planning thugs things and obviously do more in borders and the movement of people. the level of cooperation could not be higher. we've agreed even to exchange more information and i'm convinced that over the course of the next weeks d.a.e.s.h. will feel even greater pressure. they're feeling it today, they felt it yesterday and in the past weeks now you heard him use the term d.a.e.s.h. that is an arabic word, the term that many people use for i.s.i.l. it is an acronym in are abic and it means a lot of thing. it's the ago nipple for islamic state in iraq and the levant.
i.s.i.l. itself does not like the terminology. they don't like being called d.a.e.s.h. i.s.i.l. is actually according to some press reports threatened to cut the tongues of people out who use it. that's because it can be seen to be a disrespectful term. it sounds like other arabic words that can be disrespectful. you will hear john kerry calling it d.a.e.s.h. while obama refers to it as i.s.i.l. some people call it i.s.i.s. and some call it the islamic state. whatever you call it, you need to understand what motivates it. if you don't understand that, it's impossible to defeat >> reporter: i.s.i.l. is annoy synonymous with its brutal attacks like the ones in paris, salveage beheadings of people. the majority of muslims around the world denounce. while the group's threat commands global attention, it was only in january of 2014 when
president obama referred to i.s.i.l. as a jv meaning junior varsity team compared to al-qaeda. the president insisted the u.s. is not underestimated the threat posed today by i.s.i.l. >> understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is that you have a hand full of people who don't mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. that's one of the challenges of terrorism. >> reporter: he said 65 countries have joined forces to fight i.s.i.l. with 8,000 air strikes targeting the group. in the last two weeks alone i.s.i.l. has claimed responsibility for the downing of a russian airliner over egypt. the attacks in paris and last week's suicide bombings in beirut that killed more than 40
people. air strikes have intensified targeting i.s.i.l.'s strong hold in raqqa, syria. it is part of the territory syria and iraq under its control. the group was born in the aftermath of the iraq water. sun sunnis had been factional identified. they had ties with al-qaeda but split. in 2014 it declared itself an caliphat as one leaders and no national boundaries. it has used media to spread around the globe. how many members there are is unknown, but estimates range from 30 to 100,000. they bank rolled themselves by seizing oil and natural gas fields in iraq and syria and have made millions in ransom money from kidnappings. the question is how to crush
them. mary snow i want to talk more about the motivations of i.s.i.l. graham wood is a fellow with the council on foreign relations also a contributing editor to the at lon kick. - shall did atlantic. he wrote an article called what i.s.i.s. really wants. i have re-tweeted the article, post on media, facebook. you have taken a good amount of criticism for this article. i've even taken criticism for posting the article on your behalf, but i think it's important that people read it because you deal? of the theological underpinnings of i.s.i.l. i want to talk about the apocolyptic nature of the organizations. you criticise them for the idea that you think i.s.i.l. should be seen to be a real and legitimate form of islam because of some of the things it does and professes can be found in
carnic text. others argue you can pined the same in other religions. it doesn't make if legitimate if it's written in a book. >> there are different ways to be christian and jewish. if you look into christian or jewish texts you find practices like slavery, like killing adulteroys that you find in muslim texts. the fact that you can find in texts ways to be muslim that lead you to be like i.s.i.s., doesn't mean it's the only way to be muslim. it's chosen by very few worldwide. there's no question that the people who follow i.s.i.s. who think that they are on the right track, that they're reaching into the islamic tradition, that they look at the same text but draw different conclusions. when i say i.s.i.s. is islamic, i'm trying to say that it's from a broad diverse even contradictory tradition and that is called islam you actually take issue with the fact that if people say that
i.s.i.s. is un-islamic, if muslims say that is not their faith, we're missing the point and we will not successfully defeat the ideology because we're not acknowledging its legitimacy. is fay fair? -- that fair >> muslims do say it's not their religion, what they consider is the right form of islam. when they say it's not islam at all, i think oftentimes their reacting-- they're reacting sometimes very emotionally and sometimes-- emotionally and without knowledge of how they draw on the same texts and traditions. we need to is to differentiate clearly between what eyise believes and what other muslims believe. that means looking carefully at what they say and what they think and how they use those texts because if you just say they're not islamic, they have nothing to do with us, then i think you're leaving too much
space for them to make arguments that they're right within those same traditions. you want to make very clear what the differences are and why the vast majority of the world's muslims choose a different way to be muslim one of the things you've done in your article which i recommend people read is you have pointed to texts and historic muslim texts, religious texts which justify some of the things that i.s.i.l. professes. at the same time those who have criticised it have said that you haven't shown the texts that actually counter what they do. there are things in islam that are specifically forbidden that i.s.i.l. does. why did you choose to point out the ones that i.s.i.l. follows and not the ones that i.s.i.l. contradicts? >> i actually do go to some lengths to speak to muslim scholars, to speak to american and american imam in particular who opposes i.s.i.s. on the
basis of the same texts. i actually go to some length to make sure that it's clear that there are other ways to read those texts ores otherwise. i think it's important to show that when i.s.i.s. practices ask sex slavery when it stones adulters, when cruci ferrics ies people, that's taken out of the texts as well. to say that they have no connection at all, base i.s.i.s. will point to those texts and they will point to a lot of people by the virtue of their being able to say it says it here, execution, it says stoning. they're on the right track they will say. what you will need to do is that other imam who did, who i proceed filed in the article, show the ways that you can interpret things in different ways and live in completely peaceful friendly way one of the things in your article that you go into some length to describe it the
apocolyptic nature of i.s.i.l. they sort of believe in their mission that there will be a fight here where the last caliphate was, abdomen then it will-- and thenned it will end up in jerusalem at the end of days and jesus christ will come back. it sounds fantastical, but it plays into their mission and what they're trying to accomplish which makes it important for us to understand how to defeat that. >> yeah. they look back into again some of the same texts. these are starts stories that offise limb. they think these things are happening really soon, that is the end of the world is happening soon and they're taking it apart from bringing it about. as recently as when they issued the statement taking credit for the downing of the russian
airliner, they talked about it. geographically particular places in syria where they were expecting to fight crusader armys. when we look at what they're doing and having guesses on going forward, we might take into account their propoganda they take serious what do you do about it? how is this meant to inform the battle against i.s.i.l.? >> well, the first thing it does is it tells us what i.s.i.s./i.s.i.l. fighters are told to believe once they arrive there. they go through a kind of brain washing boot camps that they imbin this kind of theory-- imbibe this theory. we really want to be sure that we understand what is it that is motivating people to go over there. what is the story that's being told to them before they go.
i think once we understand that, we have a chance of diverting some of the people who would be otherwise going over there. on top of that, this is a military organizations, a terrorist organizations. it's also an organizations with ideas and ideals, a sense of eutopia and they spend a lot of effort projecting a particular image to the muslim world in particular, and fighting them requires more than military assault. we have to react to the kinds of appeal that they generate to outsiders who they're trying to recruit to their cause. you can't do that unless you understand who they are and what they think graham, thanks very much. thanks for getting me into so much trouble for posting your article, but i think it's worthwhile that people read it. it's in the atlantic, what i.s.i.l. really wants. when we come back, i will talk to somebody else who shares a lot of the same analysis but
particular book called islam without extremes, a muslim case for liberty. he understands a lot of the arguments that graham wood has made but he disagrees, as many people do fiercely, with wood's conclusion. i asked him why. >> mr wood is right to point out that i.s.i.l. mass something to do with islam in the sense that it speaks in the name of islam, it speaks through the language of the karan and the prophets life. also i.s.i.l. interprets these sources, islamic sources, in such an extreme an fanatic way that is unacceptable by all other muslims. it is too man attic for even al-qaeda at some point because you've seen al-qaeda taking issue with i.s.i.l. in some of the carnage saying this is too much. in that sense i think we should not say it has nothing to do with islam, but we should
understand it's a very fanatic a.m. strain within the current muslim world which of course speaks the language. why this is happening and where is this coming from? in my view there are two things that is synthesised in a poisonous way. a very rigid understanding of the islam which is called alter orthodox and very close to reconciling texts with the modern world, very strict, and grievances, hatreds against shiites. when you combine these things you have this very toxic ideology doesn't it let muslims off the hook like it lets other people of religions off the hook if you're able to say that's not
us, we're not like that. where people say in the west where are the muslims on this. how can you call for moderate muslims to comment on this. it has nothing to do with us. graham wood is not saying it has nothing to do with you as muslims. >> muslims intellectuals should do more. are they not doing it? there are many written documents, one of them was latelily published, and a document signed by hundred of scholars around the world. it is based on the religious arguments. this is the way it is in the karan and you have misinterpreted it. they don't necessarily make the headlines in the western media because radical voices do and other voices don't. the other problem could be many muslims, many moderate mainstream muslims cannot
believe that this might have something to do with that ir-- they don't think there's any connection to them >> they don't understand. they don't think it can have anything to do with their religion. many of them believe that this is actually a western conspiracy to put the blame on islam, to defame islam, which is wrong, obviously, but that's a very powerful point of view. in turkey if you ask ordinary conservative muslims what they think about i.s.i.l., to put a stain on islam. which is a solutional point of view in my mind. it shows that the theory comes from the fact that they can reconcile with the islam that they know, which is peaceful and traditional and moderate in many ways. i think we muslims should overcome all these sometimes ways of explaining it away and look into what it is how does that feel like or sound like to intellectualise
that as a muslim, to get away from saying it's not islam, but somehow be able to say it's not my islam? >> you can see jihad is love, dialogue, intellectual efforts. that would be it a struggle of sorts >> yes. even in a more traditional conservative traditions of islam, an sunni understanding, jihad is war between armies, fighting in the battle fields of vienna. it's war. what i.s.i.l. does and before that al-qaeda started to do, is to define modern day jihads without giving any attention for women and children, the noncombatants. attacks were not allowed on non-combatants. we in this poisonous jihadism beginning with al-qaeda and into i.s.i.l. which kills women and children. this is something we should
counter even from the traditional point of view. we should conquer it because they call it jihad or social war. they use the language of islam. we should see that and we should counter that by now you should have some idea of what motivates i.s.i.l. what it's all about next. i'm will talk to a man who says it's not a problem for american, but it's a problem for the muslim world in solving it.
discussions so far about what motivates i.s.i.l. in ways to figure out how to defeat it. steven cook is a fellow at council of foreign relations. he has got a different take on this. steven is someone i have counted on in the past to try and help us understand some of these issues. he said washington doesn't have anywhere close to enough of an inkling about how i.s.i.l. works to be able to defeat it and maybe shouldn't be in the game at all. how do you say that when you look at this attack in paris and you know but for the ability to get an ocean that could be happening in washington or new york. americans are in this one way or another. shouldn't we be leading in trying to solve this problem >> i think it goes without question that the united states has responsibilities to its allies whether it is the french,
turks or others. the u.s. going to be involved in leading of the effort against the islamic state. my only point is that dropping a lot of ordinance on raqqa or mosul is clearly not going to solve the problem. you must remember the name of the leader of al-qaeda in iraq. that was i.s.i.s. we thought that that problem was over in 2006 whoa we killed him in hann air strike. here we are nine years later and we're still talking about it. at the heart of this conflict is a political and theological one that i don't believe american policy makers understand well enough to get involved in. i think this is an issue which the muslim world and arabs need to fight in a political and theological level. we will certainly provide support to our allies when they are attacked. we're the only ones with the ability to bring that kind of
violence to bear on the islamic state, but we should not kid ourselves that we can kill our way out of this problem right. what we've been hearing from graham wood, you're familiar with his work, and others, is about the fact that this ideology is complicated. it's not even just politics. we often say we need to find a political situation to the circumstances in syria, but in this particular case the ideology of i.s.i.l. sort of prevents them from wanting to be involved in a political situation. i think that separates it a bit from al-qaeda for instance. there were political demands that al-qaeda had that were the world ready to meet could have to some degree solved that problem. that's just not the case with i.s.i.l. >> when i talk about a political challenge, what i'm talking about is the fact that you've had a number of political failures around the region that have provided oxygen for i.s.i.s., an organizations that has been around since the late
1990s. no-one is talking about i.s.i.s. and i'm certainly not talking about i.s.i.s. being part of a political solution in syria, but that if there was a political solution in syria, it might diminish the potency of i.s.i.s.' ied logical message to people who have been disoriented and uprooted and alienated of their society through grand failures throughout the middle east. there is, though, as they talk about, a theological problems that needs to be taken on heads on and that is important and needs to be done within the muslim world and the arab world let's talk about the grand failures of the middle east. it is failure after failure. afghanistan, libya, egypt is questionable in its potency, syria, iraq, you have some strong nations here. you've got saudi arabia you've got iran and then turkey where i am, which is very, very confusing, as you and i have discussed in the past.
i mean, turkey has got one eye facing this way to west, the christian european west, to america, towards the muslim east, isn't quite sure where it stands or what it's supposed to be doing. so where is the leadership that you are talking about supposed to be coming from in this fractured middle east >> i don't think that the leadership is necessarily going to come from the sisi, who is the president of egypt or the president of turkey who is a very strong leader who is just reelected. i think the challenges to the islamic state are coming from people at the grass roots level. they're coming from many different directions, social media. this is a long-term struggle. i understand the fact that the carnage in paris and the terrorist attacks on the russian airliner and the concern that terrorism will come to the united states are an mating
people who are looking for a solution. this is a long-term fight and because it is primarily a theological and political problem, this is something that's going to take a long, long time to come. it would be helpful, for example, if the saudis and the clerical establishment that supports the house did not engage in the kind of rhetoric that, perhaps, creates i.s.i.s. militants and terrorists and would - and it would be helpful if they advanced a message that undermined that message and that's something that we need to address. but ultimately the answer is within, as i said before, within the arab and muslim worlds always a pleasure to talk to you that is on target tonight frommise tan bull. the new-- istanbul.
the news continues here on al jazeera. jazeera. but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target. fears oft outsiders who might view. a desperation of who is caught in the middle. how to protect itself. america tonight special report, the paris attacks. thanks for joining us. as the hunt continues for those who launched the paris attacks and those who might be planning more, there's a broader search underway for answers about the wider crisis still facing europe, the steady flow