Why is there Jihad?

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 3 months ago

A common misunderstanding among some on the far right or of the libertarian stripe (e.g., Patrick Buchanan, Ron Paul) is that the sole reason for the existence of the global jihad is the presence of U.S. troops on holy soil, i.e., Saudi Arabia.  It is, after all, the stated raison d’etre for 9/11 hijackers.  But this myth becomes muddled when it is pointed out that the Hamburg cell initially intended to wage jihad elsewhere.

Bin Ladin canceled the East Asia part of the planes operation in the spring of 2000. He evidently decided it would be too difficult to coordinate this attack with the operation in the United States. As for Hazmi and Mihdhar, they had left Bangkok a few days before Khallad and arrived in Los Angeles on January 15, 2000.

Meanwhile, the next group of al Qaeda operatives destined for the planes operation had just surfaced in Afghanistan. As Hazmi and Mihdhar were deploying from Asia to the United States, al Qaeda’s leadership was recruiting and training four Western-educated men who had recently arrived in Kanda-har. Though they hailed from four different countries-Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Yemen-they had formed a close-knit group as students in Hamburg, Germany. The new recruits had come to Afghanistan aspiring to wage jihad in Chechnya. But al Qaeda quickly recognized their potential and enlisted them in its anti-U.S. jihad.

Even further research proves that rather than U.S. presence in the Middle East being the raison d’etre for 9/11, it was merely the raison du jour that Bin Laden found convenient for his purposes.  A far different vision is being offered at the moment.

Osama bin Laden vowed in an audio tape to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary to continue to fight the Jewish state and its allies in the West.

The al Qaedaleader, who has placed growing emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it was at the heart of the Muslim battle with the West and an inspiration to the 19 bombers who carried out the attacks on U.S. cities on September 11, 2001.

“We will continue, God permitting, the fight against the Israelis and their allies … and will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on Earth,” he said in the message, posted on an Islamist website on Friday.

Bin Laden said Israel’s anniversary celebrations were a reminder that it did not exist 60 years ago, and had been established on land seized from Palestinians by force.

“This is evidence that Palestine is our land, and the Israelis are invaders and occupiers who should be fought,” he said in the tape, which was addressed to the Western public.

The Saudi-born militant also said that decades of peace initiatives had failed to establish a Palestinian state, and the West had proved time and again that it sided with Israel.

“The participation of Western leaders with the Jews in this celebration confirms that the West backs this Jewish occupation of our land, and that they stand in the Israeli corner against us,” he said. “They proved this in practice by sending their forces to southern Lebanon.”

An important (but mostly ignored) event occurred recently in which Ayman al-Zawahiri took questions from global jihadists concerning the future of the movement.

Zawahiri highlights several specific injustices that he feels effectively demonstrate the stark contrast between Qaradawi’s decision to postpone fighting and the Jihadist movement, which advocates violence immediately. They include Arab peace accords and trade with Israel, Israel’s blockade of Palestinians in Gaza, Arab military courts for trying Muslims, Arab hosting of U.S. military forces, particularly in Egypt, the prevalence of Western “vulgar media” and the secular constitution and laws of Arab countries.

Later, he gives us yet another justification for the jihad.

Zawahiri last discussed Lebanon in his public rhetoric in January and February 2007, when he twice condemned the presence of United Nations Peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon.

Zawahiri has given us a list of at least nine reasons for violent jihad, only one of which has anything to do with Arab hosting of U.S. military forces.  One significant issue Zawahiri addresses pertains to the strong differences between al Qaeda and HAMAS.  One reason they will never see eye to eye is the lack of global vision within HAMAS.

Over the past year, Zawahiri and other senior al-Qa’ida figures have been waging a vigorous propaganda campaign against the Palestinian organization HAMAS. Although Jihadists unanimously denounce Israel they continue to disagree over whether HAMAS should be considered a legitimate Islamic movement. For Zawahiri, HAMAS’ embrace of nationalism, democracy, and its legacy in the Muslim Brotherhood—arguably the three things al-Qa’ida hates most—delegitimizes the group.

Nationalism is evil and out of accord with the global aspirations of al Qaeda.  Nation-states are not just not helpful, or even a necessary evil.  They are quite literally an obstacle to jihad, not because they share the loyalties of jihadists, but rather, because they fundamentally don’t acquiesce to the vision of world conquest in the name of Islam and the forcible implementation of Sharia law.  What we see as a transnational insurgency is to the jihadists simply a world wide struggle.  They don’t recognize nation-states as legitimate.

It doesn’t stop with al Qaeda.  The most powerful man in Waziristan, Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, has global aspirations as well.

“We want to eradicate Britain and America, and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York, and London.”

There are other significant revelations in this question and answer session by Zawahiri, including much discussion over the jihadist fear that Iraq is a lost cause for them; they have been defeated.  The entire source document at the Combatting Terrorism Center, West Point, is worth the time to study and analyze in detail.

There is a not so fine line between trying to understand the motivations of the enemy and naively regurgitating their propaganda.  Repeating the myth that U.S. presence on foreign soil caused the 9/11 hijackers ignores the other very real objection that, according to other jihadists, the U.S. was far too slow to react to protect Muslim people from the Serbs.  Whether the U.S. is deployed across the globe or the U.S. didn’t deploy quickly enough, it’s all propaganda – convenient excuses used to brainwash young jihadists.  It is yet another step into the danger zone to mold foreign policy based on enemy propaganda and talking points.

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You are currently reading "Why is there Jihad?", entry #1107 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Baitullah Mehsud,HAMAS,Jihadists and was published May 22nd, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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