by Dr. Efraim Herrera
Adnani's assassination is a testament to the likelihood that moles penetrated the organization's leadership, since without real-time access to very detailed intelligence, it would have been impossible to take out such a senior Islamic State member.
Russia and the U.S. each took responsibility and credit for the assassination of Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani last week. At only 39, Adnani succeeded in encouraging young Muslims in Western European countries to commit terrorist attacks against their fellow citizens. Evidence of this can be found in the recorded testimony of Larossi Abballa, the French Muslim terrorist who murdered two policemen in June. Following the murder, and before he was shot and killed by police, Abballa uploaded a video to Facebook in which he stated that he was answering Adnani's call to kill "non-believers."
And this was Adnani's call: "If you can kill an American or European non-believer, the evil and dirty French in particular ... trust in Allah, and kill them by any means ... whether they are soldiers or civilians." Adnani did not just enthuse about the importance of murdering Crusaders and Jews, he was also responsible for acts of terrorism outside the Islamic State's borders. Experts view him as the mastermind behind the vicious attacks that took place in France in 2015, in which 130 were killed and over 400 people were injured.
Adnani's assassination is a testament to the likelihood that moles penetrated the organization's leadership, since without real-time access to very detailed intelligence, it would have been impossible to take out such a senior Islamic State member. But, as one expert on the Islamic State put it, the replacement of leaders is in the DNA of Islamic terrorist organizations: The assassination of a few leaders of the Abu Sayyaf organization in the Philippines did not bring the Islamist war in the country to an end. Just last week, in a daring operation on Mindanao Island, an Islamic stronghold in the Philippines, jihadis broke into a local prison and freed dozens of terrorists. The assassination of Osama bin Laden likewise did not lead to the dissolution of al-Qaida; its Syrian branch now rules a substantial portion of the Golan Heights border with Israel.
To die fighting for Allah is thought to be a great privilege, and Adnani will hitherto be called Sheikh al-Adnani. This is not to say that efforts at taking out the leaders of terror organizations are irrelevant: These blows weaken them, force them to reorganize, make them increasingly suspicious and prone to infighting, and kill those with the experience necessary to execute effective terror attacks. But this obstinate war must also be fought by uprooting the ideology motivating these terrorists.
Last week, French security forces raided a mosque in a suburb outside of Paris and discovered what many had already known to be operating there: an underground Islamic school teaching French Muslim children Salafi thought, awash in hatred for the Crusaders, the Jews and all the values of the West. And strangely enough, 12 of those who regularly prayed at the mosque were connected to a jihadi network that sent young men to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.
Dr. Ephraim Herrera is the author of "Jihad -- Fundamentals and Fundamentalism."
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