For whom does the bell toll in Syria?

The civil war in Syria has no connection with the Islamic concept of “jihad,” The word “jihad” in Islam is not meant for warfare.

Khaled Almaeena
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It was reported recently that some European states arrested “jihadi exporting cell” members and intercepted would-be jihadis on their way to fight in Syria. Also, in Britain a couple of weeks ago, there were reports of the arrest of a British jihadi who had just returned from Syria after undergoing extensive training in bomb making skills. Another was held after training as a sniper. More jihadis were also reported in the United States and were being held for questioning. It seems the zest for jihad is increasing among these young men many of whom are first-generation immigrants.

What is striking in some of these individuals is that they are fairly well educated and come from middle class families. It is shocking how these people get to the point where they suddenly abandon fairly well paying jobs, their children, good friends and an environment that is democratic and where the rule of law prevails. What twisted the minds of these healthy young men and in some cases women who had good potential for a bright future?! How can they be brainwashed by the distorted interpretation of jihad to leave their loved ones behind!


The civil war in Syria has no connection with the Islamic concept of “jihad,” The word “jihad” in Islam is not meant for warfare.

Khaled Almaeena

The civil war in Syria has no connection with the Islamic concept of “jihad”. The word “jihad” in Islam is not meant for warfare; it is rather a struggle for self-preservation and betterment in life. The war in Syria is insane and barbaric with Muslims fighting Muslims which is totally un-Islamic. All this blood being unnecessarily shed has no connection with any religious strife.

Social scientists are puzzled and alarmed by this threatening phenomenon. Who are the purveyors of death and destruction and how are they able to prey on the minds of educated and sane individuals and convince them to indulge in criminal activities?

European powers need to take serious measures to address the issue and put a stop to the bloodbath that continues in Syria. More needs to be done to end the flow of the young opting to fight in Syria.

A reminder from Hemingway

This whole episode in Syria somehow reminds me of Hemingway’s novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” which portrayed the Spanish Civil War with thousands of young men joining the two warring parties. They were a mixture of ideological firebrands and mercenaries. Many died and many others were captured and tortured by both sides. Today with the spread of the virtual world and its far-reaching power, these jihadi cells are able to disperse their evil terrorist messages and exhortations. They pollute the minds of these young people and twist their minds and thought processes.

In the Arab world, media campaigns have raised awareness against the dangers of brainwashing tactics that are practiced by these groups. Governments have also enacted draconian laws with heavy prison sentences and fines.

The European countries too should embark on such programs. Failure to do so will allow many of the "veteran jihadists" who return to their countries with warped minds and a hatred of civil order to continue their criminal activities and terrorist agendas. Europe ultimately risks plunging into chaos. The time to act is now.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 31, 2014.


Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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