by Eyal Zisser
An unknown organization by the name of Qaidat al-Jihad claimed responsibility for the terror attack that took the lives of five Israelis and a Muslim Bulgarian bus driver in Burgas last week, restoring jihad — holy war — to the headlines. This holy war, in which the Muslims are commanded to fight their enemies, has served as the impetus and the excuse for many of the attacks against Israeli and Western targets over the years.
Jihad is one of the basic elements of Islam. It unites all Muslims against their enemies in efforts to eradicate infidels from the earth, spread Islam and expand Muslim rule.
But the term "holy war" has evolved since the days of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. The term has taken on one form, then another, and its meaning has completely changed. Besides, every Islamic sect and every Muslim adjudicator has a different interpretation of jihad and its practical manifestation.
After all, leaders of Arab or Muslim states have always had to exercise pragmatism and ignore religious edicts that didn't conform to reality. Indeed, Arab leaders have used the concept of jihad in their battle against Israel, but when it came down to it they abandoned their commitment to jihad and turned to peace instead.
Over the last few decades, radical Arab and Muslim groups have begun using jihad to advance their political agendas. Thus extremist organizations in the Arab world declared jihad on their own governments, arguing that the government was an infidel regime. But these radicals have traditionally waged their battles locally, focusing only on their own countries.
Al-Qaida, however, has tried to restore jihad to its historic glory. It has declared a holy war on any Muslim not living in the Muslim world – especially those living in the West and in the U.S. – alongside Israel and the Jews.
The question of whether it was al-Qaida or one of its subsidiaries that perpetrated the Burgas attack, or possibly Iran and Hezbollah as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains, should be left to intelligence experts. But we would be wise to remember that Hezbollah's fight with Israel, and all its enemies, is also based on the principles of jihad. The Hezbollah security cabinet is even called the Jihad Council.
There is one thing that all Islamic extremists around the world have in common: the willingness to kill Israelis and Jews in the name of Islam.
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