Pakistan, Madrassas, and Militancy
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the US government has become increasingly concerned with madrassas, Islamic schools of religious education in Central and South Asia. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced these religious seminaries as radical institutions which produce Islamic jihadists capable of threatening U.S. national security and interests. This thesis examines the history and current evidence available on madrassas. Specifically, it analyzes their historical evolution and reaction to domestic, regional and international developments. It finds that there is little evidence to connect madrassas to transnational terrorism, and that they are not a direct threat to the United States. However, Pakistani madrassas do have ties to domestic and regional violence, particularly Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in Pakistan and the Pakistani-Indian conflict in Kashmir, making them a regional security concern. This thesis argues that the best path for combating religious militancy in madrassas is by helping to create better alternatives to madrassa education, including state run and private schools, and not by targeting madrassas directly.
- Humanities and History