2009-02-24

PRESENTATION: Mujahideen

Mujahideen translates from the Arabic as a struggler involved in a holy war. It has specific religious and military connotations as it was employed by Muslim rulers/warriors who conquered land in the name of spreading Islam. Today, it often stands in for an "insurgent".

Mujahideen are best described in the 21st century as armed warriors who subscribe to militant Islamic ideology. Their presence is established in various countries of the world but they are best known for their exploits in Afghanistan, Pakistan/India (Kashmir), Chechnya Somalia/Ethiopia, and the Balkan region. They however are also found in Myanmar, Phillipines, Iran and Iraq.

Mujahideen have been alternately romanticized and demonized in the public perception. As late as the Regan era, they were praised as "freedom fighters" and portrayed as heroes in hollywood movies including Rambo 3 and The Living Daylight.

Much of their training came through established Western (or pro-western) government agencies including the CIA, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - especially during the height of the Cold War and the Soviet war efforts in Afghanistan.

In the modern war against terrorism, the word has taken on important meaning as a renewed symbol of resistance to Western power. New encryption software known as Mujahideen Secrets was described "the first Islamic computer program for secure exchange [of information] on the Internet" on Al-Ekhlas (an Islamic news forum) in Jan 2008.

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