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June Today in Terrorism

June 22, 2016: Terrorists assassinate Sufi leader in Karachi

On June 22, 2016 members of the Pakistani Taliban terrorist group killed renowned Sufi spiritual leader Amjad Sabri in Karachi

KARACHI, PAKISTAN – Sufi Muslims are generally seen as harmless and very spiritual. Why would a terrorist group target them?

One of my favourite novels of all time is actually a trilogy – actually a four-part trilogy. I am speaking of course of Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy by the UK sci-fi writer Douglas Adams (yeah, yeah, I know it started as a radio series). If you have not read it or seen the 6-part BBC series (NOT the movie with Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel – I did NOT like it!) you really are missing something unique.

Of all the many, many lines from that creative art one sticks out in my mind. When Earthling Arthur Dent wants to know what the Hitchhikers’ Guide has to say about his home planet he learns that it has a one-line entry: harmless. This gets upgraded 100% to ‘mostly harmless’ in a later edition.

‘Mostly harmless’ describes a lot of things, including Sufi Muslims.

The Sufi sect of Islam is generally seen as a more ‘spiritual’ one, although this should not imply that other versions of the faith are not equally spiritual, Sufis do engage in practices that are not common in ‘mainstream’ Islam, such as dancing (or maybe ‘whirling’ is a better description) and singing (chanting). This unorthodox behaviour has caught the attention of Islamist extremists who, not surprisingly, don’t like it.

On this day in 2016

Members of the Pakistani Taliban terrorist group fired shots at a car driven by Amjad Sabri, one of the country’s best known singers and a practitioner of qawwali, a 700-year old tradition of Sufi devotion in South Asia. Sabri was hit in the head and died.

Coward terrorists.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif describing who was responsible for killing Amjad Sabri

The Pakistani Taliban actually claimed responsibility for Sabri’s death, saying that they carried out the assassination “for blasphemy.” So, let me get this straight: a bunch of ‘cowardly’ terrorists whose faith is an abomination call a spiritual leader a ‘blasphemer’?

Pot meet kettle.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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