Juan Cole: Alleged Christian Terrorists Has Much in Common with Mahdi Army





[Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com.]

FBI raids on the Hutaree Christian militia brought to light this formerly little-known group based in Adrian, Michigan.

Unlike the generally secular white supremacist organizations, Hutaree are explicitly Christians. Many seem to be millenarians, expecting the end of time to come soon. Like the so-called Patriot Movement, they are gun nuts. They are said to be organized to kill the Antichrist, and some reports say that they planned violence against American Muslims....

I am struck that Hutaree has a great deal in common with the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq. The Hutaree militia seems to recruit from the poor or lower middle class. Michigan's real unemployment rate is said to be 17%, and for many Michigan workers there have been years of hopelessness and joblessness, inducing despair and anger. The Mahdi Army likewise drew on Iraqi unemployed and angry youth. Many Sadrists believe that the Mahdi or Muslim messiah will soon come, perhaps accompanied by the return of Christ. The Mahdi Army has sometimes targeted Christian video or liquor shops, as a symbol of the oppressive other (yes, that is unfair to Iraqi Christians but they had the misfortune to be W.'s co-religionists.). The Hutaree, a mirror image, target Muslims. The Mahdi Army considered Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the Dajjal or anti-Christ. Both have an unhealthy interest in firearms for political intimidation of others. The Hutaree fear the United Nations, as the Mahdi Army fears the US occupation. (Muslim radical groups often also hate the UN.)...

The US press is saying the Hutaree people are a Christian "militia" but is avoiding calling them 'alleged Christian terrorists." Apparently only organized Muslim radicals can now be called terrorists.


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