Recently The Wall Street Journal reported: “Radicals from [a group in Pakistan called] Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat [ASWJ] have dug wells as part of their campaign to deliver public services and solidify support. The water isn’t clean, but it is better than nothing, and grateful residents come to fill up buckets” (Saeed Shah and Syed Shoaib Hasan, “In Pakistan Extremist Group Expands Its Reach,” July 30, 2015).
This is a Sunni Islamist group that has been under an unenforced ban by the Pakistani government since 2012. There’s still a massive gap in the ideologies of Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The ASWJ is against the Shiites and has been very active against them.
It may be a mystery to many in the West how average citizens would align themselves with radicals they know to be dangerous. Many in the West aren’t struggling every day for resources like water for survival. When groups like the ASWJ come into a village and provide a necessity of life, it’s hard to reject them.
Supplying resources is not the only way these groups can be active. “ASWJ claims a presence in every district in Pakistan. Its leaders deliver public speeches, its followers organize rallies and its members are candidates in elections. In Orangi [a town in the metropolitan area of Karachi], it runs dozens of madrassas, or Islamic schools.”
It may be hard for the local villagers to recognize this as a political move, but that’s exactly what it is. These groups need support and allies, and the way to achieve that is by providing for those in need.
We see the same tactics with other terrorist groups. As was noted about Hamas in the Los Angeles Times, “Though notorious as a militant group, it is better known among Palestinians for its food banks and quality schools and clinics . . . The work Hamas does at home is an often-overlooked key to the domestic popularity of an organization most known elsewhere for killing” (Kim Murphy, “Hamas Victory Is Built on Social Work,” March 2, 2006).
And the same goes for the Shiite group Hezbollah. It’s been estimated “that about half of Hezbollah’s budget is dedicated to social services sectors such as health, veterans’ services, reconstruction and compensation, education, women’s groups, and even the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts (like the Boy Scouts). Such efforts are employed to capture the willing support of the people in order to further Hezbollah’s political aims” (Kenneth Poole, forward to Maj. James Love, Hezbollah: Social Services as a Source of Power, Joint Special Operations University Report, June 2010).
These methods are used because they work powerfully. And they are helped not a little by the evil that keeps the whole world under deception (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×).
One day the truth will set the world free (John 8:32 John 8:32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
American King James Version×; Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×). (Sources: Joint Special Operations University, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal.)