Saturday, November 29, 2008

Antecedents and follow-ups to Munbai.


by Raphael Israeli


The events of Munbai,  the “surprise” they  caused, the clumsy fashion they were treated, and  the almost glorifying attitude meted out to them by the world media, demonstrate, 7 years after September 11, that little was learned in the West from them while the pledges of Islamic terrorism to pursue its novel strategy  proved credible and feasible. For, after Madrid, London, Bali and other acts of mega-terrorism, the west still hesitates to  pronounce the M- word , and talks about “Militants” , who draw sympathy in the Islamic world, instead of condemning them as Muslim terrorists and try to rally moderate governments worldwide in support of the war against them. Moreover, instead of vigorously rejecting the Muslim notion of jihad, in the name of which all these horrors are done, the West has been indulging in the vain distinction between Islam and “Islamism”, ignoring the fact that they are one and the same faith and that jihad is the language of both.


Abu-‘Ubeid Qurashi, one of the aides of Osama Bin Laden, published after September 11 in the Arabic press and in the al-Qa’ida site on the Internet, a stunning article regarding his organization’s strategy in its unseemly confrontation with the US and western civilization in general. This article demonstrates that not only do those champions of evil do their home work adequately, and that they are equipped with the requisite patience, sophistication and methodical thinking, the fruits of which were seen in the deadly precision of their operation against the Twin Towers, but that  western democracies have something to learn in the war against terror. For it transpires that the Muslim terrorist organizations which have been waging war against  the West directly are inspired by al-Qa’ida  war doctrine, and it is not too early to try to comprehend their schemes.  Qurashi, who has obviously  studied the most recent  western research in matters of the future battlefields and war doctrines, has come up with conclusions that are alarming: first, that the era of massive wars has ended, because the three war models of previous generations have been eroded;  second, the fourth-generation wars of the 21st century will consist of asymmetrical  confrontations between well-armed and well-equipped armies, who have a turf, a way of life and material interests to defend, and therefore are clumsy -- against small groups armed with light weaponry only, who have no permanent bases and are on the move at all times. Thirdly, in these wars, the main target is not the armed forces, but civil society that has to be submitted to harassment and terror to the point of detaching it from the army that fights in its defense; and fourthly, that television is more important than armored divisions in the battlefield. The Twin Towers, the terrorist explosions in London and Bali, the Israeli confrontation with Hamas and Hizbullah on its borders,  and now Munbai, show how these doctrines can be rendered operational.


This war doctrine lies in the gray zone between war and peace. Namely  those who initiate this kind of war, e.g. by wanton terrorism, would not declare it openly, and would leave it to the defenders to announce war and thereby become the “aggressors”. The terrorists themselves would create atrocities that are sure to attract the attention of television so as to “strike fear in the heart of the enemy” (a Qur’anic prescription), and enable them to retreat to their bases, if they can, or sacrifice themselves in what the dismayed victims wrongly call “suicide bombings”, for there is no suicide there, only large scale killing of the enemy even if it involves  large scale self-sacrifice. But when the victim strikes back in self-defense, television can again be counted on to show the “abuses” of the “aggressor” and create sympathy for the cause of the terrorists, like in Afghanistan and Gaza.  On television, the huge armies which crush everything in their path will always look more threatening than the “poor”, “frustrated” “freedom fighters” who are “oppressed” and “persecuted” by far superior troops. Thus, the author could show that small groups of poorly equipped  Mujahideen have been able throughout the past two decades to defeat super- and lesser powers: the Soviets in Afghanistan, the US in Somalia, Russia in Chechnia and Israel in Lebanon and then in Gaza. According to this analysis, the three major components of modern warfare are: early warning, the ability to strike preventively, and deterrence -- exactly the elements that were paralyzed by al-Qa’ida on 11 September. As for the early warning, the writer claims that the terrorists have achieved a strategic surprise, in spite of American technology, on the scale of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, or of the Nazi attack against the Soviet Union in June 1940, the assault on the Cole in Aden in 2000, and the Suez crossing in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. On the basis of the above analysis, the terrorists were able to deliver a deadly blow on September 11, and levy on the Americans a very heavy economic and psychological price. The ability to deliver a preventive strike is linked, in the mind of Qurashi, to the issue of early warning, because when the latter fails, then a preventive strike becomes irrelevant. But even if it had worked, there would have been no one to strike against in retaliation, as the terrorists are small groups, hidden and mobile. And finally – deterrence totally collapses in the face of the asymmetry between an institutionalized state which  values life and a desire to live and prosper, and a group of Mujahideen who are indifferent to life, and indeed desirous to perish in the Path of Allah and attain the delights of Paradise. Thus, since nothing can deter them, they can always determine, against all odds, when, where, how,  what, and whom to strike, without fearing that anyone will retaliate against them[i].


It is harrowing to reflect on how applicable this doctrine is in our daily lives, starting with the Middle East, but going to the periphery of the Islamic world, in places like Australia and Canada.  For example, the Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is linked to al-Qa’ida, not only ideologically, has had some successes, but has also exported this doctrine to the Muslim terrorist movements in the Palestinian Territories, such as the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Moreover, “secular” organizations such as the Tanzim and the Aqsa Brigades have been converted to these tactics, once Arafat’s call for martyrdom, with himself at the helm, had become the favorite form of struggle against Israel. There is, however, a way to  counter every deed or doctrine, with a view of reducing its effect, thereby immunizing western society from its deadly threat and eliminating the terror it imposes on all civilized people. For example, if the terrorists intend to  detach Western societies from their armed forces, an area where they have been partly successful by inculcating doubts into the publics by supporting protest movements from within, perhaps it is time for these societies to realize that they have been unwittingly used by their enemies to attain their ends: to dismantle national unity, to incite publics against their governments and to play into the hands of the terrorist subversive doctrine. If television is a declared means to discredit Western societies and their systems of defense,  the media should not be allowed to the battlefield  until the end of hostilities.  Perhaps it is better for governments to be accused of obstructing the media than to let them document the asymmetry between  the established strong defenders of freedom and the weaker terrorists in the field.


If terrorism has adopted the recourse of fighting by using Islamikaze "martyrdom", because there is arguably nothing to be done against “suicide-bombers”, each of whom can terrorize and paralyze an entire public,  then it is necessary to demonstrate, like President Bush, that we are facing not a war against individuals who are desirous of death, and whom we cannot bring to justice when they succeed in their task, but against those who train them, dispatch them, arm them, indoctrinate them, support them and finance them. And that as long as we keep them on the run, they will be less able to concoct and carry out their dark and cruel schemes against the West.  That Islamists pursue their campaign of intimidation against the West  is not new, but what does seem surprisingly new, compared with the legendary  fighting spirit of the British, is the seeming capitulation of European capitals to their tormentors, and the baffling incomprehension they exhibit of the Islamist phenomenon which has repeatedly declared itself so clearly inimical to them. Just consider the spirit of dhimmitude which has inundated the entire West due to its much-cultivated dependence on Muslim oil and the  humiliating consequences thereof. This state of mind, which dictates caution, surreptitious maneuvering in order to survive, and a self-humiliating sycophancy toward the Muslim rulers in the hope of gaining their favor, has been inherited from many centuries of Islamic rule on vast swaths of Christendom, from Sicily to the Iberian Peninsula, from the Balkans to the gates of Vienna. This aggressive Islam which attempted, but failed, to Islamize Europe in the past, had also subjected large Christian communities to the dhimmi regime  in the Near East that was conquered by the emerging new faith of Islam: like the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians in Iraq, the Maronites in Lebanon,  and countless other Christian communities which first became subjugated majorities and then systematically persecuted minorities in their own countries. This  amounted, after many centuries of oppression and contempt by the rule of Islam, to a self-diminution of the dhimmis -- a loss of their pride  and confidence in themselves that they did not stand up to the standards set for them by their rulers, and a total distortion of their self-image and the image of their oppressors. So much so, that many Christians and Jews, years after being liberated from dhimmitude, continued to think and act as dhimmis, namely to hold themselves grateful to their Muslim masters, who beat, humiliated, and mistreated them. Any observer of the international arena today would have noticed how Western and Israeli policy-makers sycophantly  submit to Muslim demands even when they are not compelled to.[ii]


What is more, the spirit of dhimmitude has been adopted, or taken over, by many Western societies today which, for reasons hard to understand or explain, pretend not to hear or comprehend Muslim threats. Instead,  Western societies evince "understanding" in the face of those threats, and seem to be marching foolishly toward spiritual and cultural capitulation and enslavement. Take, for example, the regime of self-defense and of intruding into the privacy of the air-passengers, which has been imposed in airports all over the world in the past three decades due to Muslim terrorism. Instead of prosecuting it and eliminating it at its roots, the West surrendered to it and adopted, at considerable financial, human and moral cost, measures to live with it in what has amounted to submission to a mammoth collective punishment of innocents.[iii]  Even more ominous is the wholehearted and  even enthusiastic support of Europeans to Muslim fundamentalists on their own turf, when they rushed to sustain Bosnians and Kosovars  and other Albanian Muslims in Macedonia, that have been supported, financed and trained by revolutionary Iran; and when many Muslim volunteers from Chechnia to North Africa and the Middle East were recruited to fight  a jihad for their cause. Again foolishly,  the West let  Muslim jihad  take root on the continent  while emphasizing the  Serbian  ethnic cleansing (abhorrent in itself), thus causing the severance of Christian continuity between  Russia and Central Europe to the Aegean Sea, by creating and sustaining a continuous string of revived Muslim presence from former Yugoslavia  to Turkey, hoping thereby to extend the Turkish model of "Islamic  moderation" and salvaging the European borders from a Muslim onslaught.  As it turned out Kosovo  was totally subtracted  from Serbia under UN auspices, while in Turkey a Muslim fundamentalist party took over government  in 2002[iv].


Standing up to the menace of world Islam,  in unison by all Western and other non-Muslim  cultures,  has then become the key to successful struggle against it. For even Muslim regimes who cooperate with the West, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, have a problem of legitimacy in their own countries, and their populace usually takes the pro-Jihadi stance against the policy of their governments. Even in the cases where legitimacy was addressed through democratic elections, like in Pakistan and Turkey, large parts of the population remain anti-American and resent Western involvement in their countries. That means that clearer borders have to be traced between those who give shelter to terrorists, even if half-heartedly, and those who defend themselves against them.



[i] .Al- Quds al-'Arabi  (London), February 9, 2002, in  Memri 344,  February 10,  2002.

[ii] . See Bat Ye'or's classic  books  on this theme:  Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide  (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison 2002); The Decline of Eastern Christianity  Under Islam,( Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 1996); and Eurabia, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 2005).


[iii] . Ibid.

[iv] . R. Israeli, “From Bosnia to Kosovo: the Re-Islamization of the Balkans”, Ariel Center for Policy Research, No. 109, November 2000, pp. 1-33.



Raphael Israeli

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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