The times they are a changing and a righteous kill.
Militant Islam directed at the West, was actually a change in policy. It grew out of the complete failure to politicize the populations of the Arab world. For decades, attempts had been made to topple the totalitarian regimes that ruled with a fist of iron and had not improved the lot of the common man by one iota in all that time. All those regimes were and are, still essentially corrupt.
Peaceful political means failed mainly because the forms of government extant simply banned any emergent party that opposed the status quo and imprisoned its leaders. Pseudo military means failed too because it’s virtually impossible to assemble, train and keep secret a force of any meaningful size where the authorities are not bounded by anything resembling the Rule of Law. Given this history of failure, any anti-government movement found it impossible to get the populace on their side in any meaningful way.
A change of strategy was required and one was suggested. Why not blame the West for all the woes of the common Arab? All it would require is a preparatory propaganda campaign to lay all the blame for domestic poverty on the rapaciousness of the West rather than the despots and then start attacking the West. That would swing the populations behind the movement, who would appear to be fighting Arab poverty but there were several problems with this strategy, mainly of a theological nature.
Nearly all forms of Islam proscribe the injury or murder of innocents and there’s absolutely no justification in the Koran for suicide bombing, which was to be a key component in an asymmetrical military campaign. The solution was to find influential Islamic theologians who could interpret the Koran in such a way as to justify these actions. This is precisely what happened and the new strategy was adopted.
The propaganda phase had two elements; one domestic and one foreign. Within the Arab countries, they stopped criticising the rulers and instead blamed everything on the West, especially “the great Satan”America. This preaching was largely ignored by the authorities there since it was not directed in any way at the rulers.
Abroad, in the West, the same message was pumped out in radical mosques but the target audience was the first generation Muslim youth, who for reasons of perceived discrimination and the ghettoizing effects of Multiculturalism, felt no emotional connection to the countries or cultures they were born into. This looked like free speech in action to the Western governments so it was ignored but that assessment was a serious mistake. This was actually the selection, recruitment and training of the soldiers for the coming military phase.
Once the military campaign kicked off, the first casualty was the propaganda mechanism, both domestically and in the West. New laws were enacted banning incitement to murder and Multiculturalism was consigned to the dustbin of history. Both law enforcement and internal security services started rolling up the propaganda and recruitment infrastructure but Al Qaeda is not a centrally controlled terrorist organisation, it’s more like an organisation of independent franchises with only one thing in common; a charismatic figurehead leader. This job will occupy the attention of security services across the world for years to come.
All across the Arab world, the fire of popular revolution has been ignited this year and it’s directed at the despots, not the West. The Genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back in this time. A lot of ordinary people are going to be killed fighting for some measure of real freedom and the chance of a better future for their children. Above all, what they want is change, real meaningful change and my heart goes out to them.
The opportunity is there now for us to help them by giving more than token military aide. If we really help them in their hour of need, we’ll not only be doing the right thing but we’ll also dealing a fatal blow against western-directed militant Islamic terrorism. If someone has just helped you secure your freedom, what support will you give to extremists attacking your friends? Against this background and the successes against it, Al Qaeda has been increasingly seen by the ordinary Arab as irrelevant.
Every country has the right to defend itself. If you’re the leader of an organisation that has killed thousands of a nation’s people, expect them to come after you and they’ll be bringing a gun to the knife fight. The laws of a democracy will be temporarily parked to one side because the people they’re fighting don’t operate within any framework of law and there’s no other choice. I’ve no problem with this since the alternative is to stand by ineffectually and order a lot of body bags for your citizens.
This was a righteous kill and at a very significant moment in the Arab world. With the elimination of its talismanic figurehead, Al Qaeda is on the back foot so now we can concentrate on helping those brave freedom fighters. I wish them luck.
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