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Reader comment on item: Bolstering Moderate Muslims

Submitted by Dr.Richard L. Benkin (United States), Apr 19, 2007 at 18:45

For years, I have been crying out in the wilderness it seemed for a de-emphasis on the Middle East and a focus on Muslims elsewhere. My particular emphasis is South Asia where I have been working with moderate Muslims, fighting Islamists, and where the second, third and fourth largest national Muslim populations reside. It is therefore gratifying to see the same call in this RAND study.

I had another experience recently highlighting another point in the study (and by Dr. Pipes, as well). In February, I spoke at the Intelligence Summit on the situation in Bangladesh and with Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. There was a sub-conference going on as well on Secular Islam. It helped verify the presence of moderate Muslims (severely anti-Islamist) but repeatedly made another point: While our Islamist enemies have developed networks both nationally and internationally, anti-Islamist Muslims often remain disparate and have little contact with one another.

One of the sub-conference speakers was Shahriar Kabir, a secular Bangladeshi Muslim facing sedition charges. When I approached him, he responded that having heard I would be in attendance, he was looking for me. It seems that there is little cooperation and even suspicion between his network and Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. He remarked that give the success of our efforts, it would benefit our mutual cause if we ended that. We are now beginning to do so.

The point is that together we could accomplish so much; separately, we accomplish less and leave valuable colleagues vulnerable. What the RAND study raises, and what Dr. Pipes has been raising for some time as well, is of immense value to defeating the horror of Islamism.

Dr. Richard L. Benkin
Special Advisor to The Intelligence Summit on Bangladeshi Affairs


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