There Are Many More Zarqawis on the Way
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The American military finally got Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Good show, but alas, it is only part of the mission.
Even as the Islamist terrorist burned in a hail of fire and smoke, his masters were busy producing hundreds of new Zarqawis, slotting them into the terror pipelines leading to Iraq, Afghanistan, America, the greater Middle East, Israel, Europe, Somalia, and Canada, to mention just a few destinations.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the West’s fight against Islamic fundamentalism has been a tactical one focused on getting the foot soldiers. The broader strategic objective of wiping out their intellectual leadership has yet to be engaged.
Zarqawi was an influential terrormonger all right, but he also was the end process of a criminal enterprise that weaponized him, fanaticized him, and instilled enough hatred in him to make him suicidal. And so it is with many others. The principal force producing them is Islamic fundamentalism.
At its essence, this criminal enterprise rests on ideas propagated by an intellectual leadership – religious guides, imams, sheiks, masters of brainwashing, principals, presidents, teachers, preachers, and others heading madrassas and theocratic state-funded universities.
Together they form the superstructure of intellect to which 1.1 billion hapless Muslims flock like sheep.
These facilitators exist within most Muslim governments, protected by corrupt or fanatical leaders in exchange for those leaders’ continued religious legitimacy, as is the case in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In the West, the activities of Muslim fundamentalists are shielded by highly paid lobbyists and welfare systems that grant permission and citizenship first and ask questions later.
In America, those giving cover to Islamic fundamentalists’ political activities include at least two of our former commanders in chief, President Clinton and President George H.W. Bush, as well as a vast collection of senators, ex-officials, and lobbyists, all prostituting themselves for money from Arab oil-rich countries.
That is the extensive infrastructure to be tackled in a wider war on terror.
Muslim preachers never tire of reminding the world that the historical context of their war against the West goes all the way back to the Crusades. In that sense, they insist it is an existential war between civilizations. This war needs to be won. It cannot be lost.
Indeed, the Islamic fundamentalists view this as a global battle, as the fall of Mogadishu last week to Islamic terrorists showed.
Bloody manifestations of this war earlier surfaced dramatically in dark plots hatched in New York, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Lebanon, Egypt, and of course Iraq, as well as at small, obscure storefront mosques hidden in the ghettos of Brooklyn and Toronto, and in forgotten neighborhoods of other European capitals. In Canada last week, 17 Canadian Muslims were arrested as they tried to buy 3 tons of explosives. They also planned to decapitate the prime minister.
The Islamist fundamentalist intellectual leadership comes in all shapes and sizes.
It is eminent presidents and senior staffers of the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar University of Cairo and the Wahhabi Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, as well as their hundreds of tributaries spread across Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. The intellectual leadership’s work is eased by a well-oiled machine generously funded by a majority of Saudi Arabia’s 20,000 princes, wealthy Arabs from the Gulf region, and Iranian mullahs.
One hesitates to call this infrastructure intellectual. It is more like a factory blindly forging ahead, powered by the most reactionary tools of religious warfare and fanaticism.
This factory has been operating for more than 30 years, producing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Chechen Islamic movement, Hezbollah, the Iranian revolution and its mullahs, Pakistani madrassas, and various so-called Islamic liberation movements in Asia.
Their rallying cries vary. They range from the usurped nation of Palestine to the infidel invasions of past centuries and the Western exploitation of oil. Their goal is revenge.
Even after American soldiers get to Osama bin Laden himself, as they will, it is far more important to ratchet this fight several notches up, to the mindset and its enablers. America also must fight intelligently. The history of this war is too long for Western memory to be short and a global counterstrategy nonexistent.
President Bush baffled our secular friends in the Muslim world when he abandoned demands for democratic reforms and civil societies in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Persian Gulf. These demands are essential weapons in the fight. Dropping them is at best another symptom of the attention deficit disorder this administration suffers from.
The bottom line is this: It is unethical to send young American men and women, heroes of the U.S. military, to die in Iraq and Afghanistan while those at the top supply ammunition to the enemy.