Al-Qaida: Planting The Seeds For A "Holy War" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Holy war

Ayman al-Zawahri has issued a new video calling on Muslims to rise up and defeat all those who are aligned with Western civilization. Clearly, al-Qaida sees the turmoil in the Middle East as an opportunity to recruit new members...and by portraying the struggle as a religious war they are much more likely to be successful. The current world conflicts may be the beginning of a much broader struggle that could potentially expand well beyond the confines of a war on terror. The Associated Press has the full story here.

CAIRO, Egypt -- Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader issued a worldwide call Thursday for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."

In the message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said that al-Qaida now views "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."

"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims for more than seven centuries until they were driven from power in 1492.

He also called for the "downtrodden" throughout the world, not just Muslims, to join the battle against "tyrannical Western civilization and its leader, America."

"Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Quran)," al-Zawahri said.

Kamal Habib, a former member of Egypt's Islamic Jihad militant group who was jailed from 1981 to 1991 along with al-Zawahri, said the al-Qaida No. 2's outreach to Shiites and non-Muslims was unprecedented and reflected a major change in tactics.

"This is a transformation in the vision of al-Qaida and its struggle with the United States. It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight," he said.

The rhetoric seems to be an attempt to recruit from all the various sectarian groups as well as Muslim's native to other regions, likely a key to being able to successfully execute attacks around the world. In the United States, there is ample concern that U.S. born sympathizers will establish terrorist cells in order to conduct attacks. Recent terrorist activity in other regions seems to indicate that al-Qaida is achieving success by attempting to characterize this conflict as a battle of religions.

While I understand Israel’s right of self-defense, it seems apparent that a larger issue is unfolding. Since 9/11, a point in time when the U.S. had the sympathy and support of much of the world, the effort to extinguish terrorism has unfortunately been transformed into an ideological conflict with religious beliefs as the point of focus. Sadly, the Bush administration has fueled the conflict with ill-advised remarks such as the oft cited use of the term "Crusade" and increasing accusations of Islamic extremism...instead of remaining focused on the illegitimacy of terrorist acts. This administration seems determined to jump over the politics of this conflict despite their obvious existence.

The invasion of Iraq marked an important turning point in the war on terror. When the invasion began, the argument made by the administration that Iraq had WMD's, although subsequently found to be inaccurate, kept the conflict focused on terrorism. As it became evident that there were no WMD's and that the Bush administration had manipulated the intelligence to support the invasion, two unfortunate things occurred.

First, the motives of the U.S. were suddenly met with suspicion, thereby allowing al-Qaida and others opposed to Western culture to begin the process of reframing the conflict for their supporters. Second, once the administration realized that the WMD rationale would no longer suffice, they shifted the focus to spreading democracy...with the argument that democratic states don't, by their design, promote the conditions that lead people to support or engage in terrorist activities. While that argument may be valid, it was a key tactical error because it allowed our extremist opponents to reframe the conflict on an even broader basis. All of a sudden, the U.S. efforts to defeat terrorism could suddenly be characterized as the exportation of Western beliefs and culture...and of course an affront to Islam.

The U.S. continues to ignore the well established realities of the tipping point perspective. While we believe our efforts to bring democracy are noble and that in time the benefits and the outcome will be positive and accepted, we ignore the environment and the associated perceptions that support a movement in an equally motivated, but opposite direction. Once that perception becomes reality in the minds of those we seek to influence, the battle is virtually lost. Unless people accept and adopt that which we offer or impose, the noble intention is irrelevant. Further, if the noble effort becomes the language that permeates the oppositions rhetoric, the noble goal is self-defeating.

In this nuance one can see how fine the line is that separates the perceptions of reasoned diplomacy and unbridled imperialism. The danger is such that what may have been motivated by good intentions is subsequently defined differently by the intended recipients and thus corrupted and destined for failure. Once religion is inserted into the equation, dogma and doctrine are applied to politics and the conflict will necessarily be tainted by the propensity for absolutist rationale...hence the likelihood of a holy war or a jihad.

Once this polarization is cemented into the dialogue, such conflicts are rarely resolved absent the sword and history can document this succinctly and repetitively. As both sides begin the process of demonizing the enemy and expressing their beliefs in absolutes...whether originally intended or subsequently implied, the process of moving back to diplomacy is immeasurably more difficult.

In the end, the consolidation of power in the hands of a select few...the underlying premise of the neoconservative philosophy and the converse of self-defeating. When power eclipses or abandons persuasion, the amount of power needed to maintain the status quo increases exponentially as those upon which power is being exerted or imposed believe their autonomy is subrogated to the tenets of those in power. This administration may believe that democracy is on the march...but in reality they may simply be providing the drumbeat for those that seek to see its demise.

We are told we are safer now that Saddam is out of power and that fighting the war there is better than fighting it here at home. The problem is that while we are fighting in Iraq, we are seeing the Middle East as well as a number of other countries moving towards extremist ideologies. As we are attempting to install a democracy in Iraq, radical groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have captured more power...and they've done so through democratic means.

While our democracy, in the hands of the neocons, moves towards using force to export and expand democracy, those we deem as extremists are using persuasion to democratically assume power. That, in my opinion, is perhaps the epitome of irony. Worse yet, it is an indication that our foreign policy is an unmitigated failure that may well alter the world order for decades.

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2006 | 8:11 AM
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1 On July 28, 2006 at 10:55 AM, Zou wrote —

I have always belived that the arabs/muslims 'perceptions of the Bush foreign policy was the most critical factor. It seems however that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and co have strongly believed that the political battlefront was at home rather than the Middle East. Either they have never cared about the opinions of those they were seeking to democratize or have been incredibly naive thus operating through wishful thinking.
Bin Laden's "intervention" in the last presidential elections to help Bush was extremely revealing. They both need each other because they look alike. Bush has ironically become its main ennemy in the war on terror because he has simply become the main source of recruitment for terrorism.

2 On August 10, 2006 at 8:54 PM, Kathleen Bushman wrote —

I agree that "the consolidation of power in the hands of a select few[is]...the underlying premise of the neoconservative philosophy." That being true here at home, this administration has shown what I consider to be obvious contempt for our own democratic traditions - thus Bush's signing statements and his disregard for our laws, our civil liberties, and our constitution. Given that BushCo does not seem to value our own democracy, I find it hard to believe that this administration ever had any serious intention to export democracy. Exporting democracy to the middle east was a rationale offered only after the falsehood of WMD was obvious, so I think it's probable that "exporting democracy" was just the latest glib lie to use war as a means of expanding and consolidating executive power at home.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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