Al-Qaeda’s Anti-Black Racism [Excerpts]
George Orwell’s famous statement that some pigs are more equal than others can also be applied to al-Qaeda today.
The premiere Islamist terrorist organization that all others try to emulate has always prided itself on welcoming equally as brothers all those who adopt its narrow and violent version of Islam. But the current conflict in Mali, where al-Qaeda attempted to take over an African country in a military offensive, has helped reveal the falsity of its equality claim, exposing on closer inspection the Arab racism against black African jihadists in Al-Qaeda’s North African franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The current battle against Islamists in Mali that saw their gunmen advance several hundred miles south, dangerously close to the country’s capital, before French intervention forced them back involved fighters from three different jihadist groups. One, Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), is made up of Mali’s native Tuaregs who inhabit the country’s northern part. Another is the more famous AQIM, while the last is the relatively unknown Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), which broke away from the AQIM in 2011.
Largely unnoticed by the mainstream media, the reason MOJWA splintered off from AQIM was due to the marginalisation of its black African members and the contempt in which AQIM’s Arabs hold blacks in general. For example, AQIM is definitely not an equal opportunity employer. No black African is known to hold a leadership position in the terrorist organization.
Robert Fowler, a former Canadian diplomat, witnessed up close this Arab racism against black jihadists in AQIM when he was an AQIM hostage for 130 days in the Sahara Desert in 2010. Fowler was on special assignment for the United Nations when kidnapped with another Canadian diplomat in Niger. He recorded his experiences in his book A Season In Hell: My 130 Days In The Sahara With Al Qaeda. Fowler noted that “there was a big gulf in the AQIM between those who were black and those who were not,” observing that Arabs, primarily Algerians, were the AQIM leaders, while blacks and young Arabs composed the rank and file.
AQIM’s anti-black racism even appeared when one of his Arab kidnappers tried to get Fowler to convert to Islam, emphasizing as a positive point his religion’s egalitarianism regarding other races. Using blacks as an example, the jihadist explained to Fowler: “No matter how black they are, how ugly, how flat their noses, or how much their sweat smells, God considers them equal.” The irony of his choice of words somehow escaped their speaker.
Fowler encountered a possibly more telling example of Arab racism against blacks when an Arab jihadist saw Fowler and his fellow Canadian captive washing their clothes. The Arab asked whether their wives did this at home. Upon receiving a positive response as well as an explanation that they sometimes did it together, the Arab appeared both amazed and disgusted. This prompted the two hostages to ask their captor whether he performed this chore in his household. Genuinely horrified, the jihadist responded: “Of course not! We have slaves for that!”