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Among Kuwait's Salafis, a rejection of violence

Inside a desert tent, Islamists speak benignly of US and of ways to thwart attacks.

(Page 2 of 2)

While the group of Kuwaitis at the evening meeting agree that Abu Ghraib was the trigger that turned Enezi into a militant, they all maintain that the treatment he received from Kuwait also contributed.

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Indeed, some analysts say that domestic security organizations play a significant - and underrated - role in driving some young Muslims into the arms of Islamic extremists.

"I am convinced that the best explanation for much of the Islamist violence and terror that we have witnessed recently is explained by the deadly, dehumanizing combination of indignities people suffer at home from their own government and parallel anxieties due to policies of the US, Israel, or other foreign parties," says Rami Khouri, a Jordanian political analyst and columnist for Beirut's Daily Star newspaper.

Kuwait's minister of Islamic affairs, Abdullah al-Matouq, told Al-Anbaa newspaper last week that Enezi had been warned several times about calling for a holy war in Iraq, which Enezi denied. The minister described the preacher, who allegedly went to Iraq to fight US forces there, as "contradictory and cowardly."

Accusations that Enezi was tortured have been denied by Kuwait. "There are no signs of torture on his body, and the cause of death is heart failure," Interior Minister Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah said Monday, the Associated Press reported. "I don't know why some people are casting doubts."

Desert forum

Inside the tent, a charcoal brazier and a gas heater keeps the interior warm from the chill night air. A servant squats beside a low metal table filled with the trademarks of Arab hospitality: tiny handleless coffee cups, thin glasses for tea, conventional cups and saucers for serving hot creamy milk. A tall brass coffee pot with a long thin spout is used to pour traditional pale brown cardamom-flavored coffee.

The traditions are timeless, but there are modern conveniences, too. A generator hums noisily outside, providing the electricity for the two lights and the television.

The Kuwaiti men gathered here say they are shocked by the unprecedented violence of the past month and have no shortage of ideas on how to confront the specter of Islamic extremism.

"One of the main reasons for terrorism in Kuwait are the religious websites," says Abu Turki. "Young people log onto these websites and absorb misguided ideas about Islam. The government has to close all the religious websites."

Fighting extremism

The Kuwaiti government has blocked in the past week two websites belonging to a radical preacher and is planning to launch an awareness campaign against Islamic extremism.

Jamal blames Al Jazeera for what he says is the satellite channel's tacit support for the Iraqi insurgents and serving as a platform for Osama bin Laden.

"It's the responsibility of the family," says Abu Gharah. "Parents have to monitor the behavior of their sons." Otherwise, he adds, they could turn out like Enezi.

"When I was his student, Amer [al-Enezi] was teaching us the history of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him," says Abdullah. "But Amer never understood that Islam is a religion of peace and rejects violence. Amer didn't represent Islam, he only represented himself."

Wire reports were used in this article.