Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where are we now in the war on terror?

Amir Taheri, Gulf News:
It was to be "The Mother of All Raids" (ghazvat al-ghazavat) that would bring down "The House of the Spider" as promised by the Shaikh in his mountain hideout.

The "raid" would terrify the "infidel" and hasten his demise just as the armies of Islam had destroyed the Persian and Byzantine empires with a series of ghazavat.

This time the empire that would crumble under the weight of Islam's attack was the American "Great Satan" which had been running away from its enemies for decades. It had run away from Saigon, Tehran, Beirut, Mogadishu, Kohbar and Aden. Even when attacked in the heart of New York, its real capital city, it had done little more than nursing its chagrin with petulance.

History, however, is never written in advance. And this time the "cowardly infidel", far from running away, decided to return and hit back. And hit back hard. A war that was to change several sobriquets, ending with that of "the war against Islamofascism", had started.

Within weeks the Shaikh's hideout in Afghanistan had been invaded and its rulers sent scurrying in all directions.

All that was five years ago when the people of United States were jolted out of decades-long slumber to realise there were individuals and organisations out there who regarded killing Americans as their sacred religious duty and a passport to paradise.

So, where are we now in this war? READ MORE

If this were a classical style war, the US would have no difficulty showing that it had scored a spectacular victory. It has succeeded in overthrowing two hostile regimes, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and forced several other states in the region to stop sheltering and financing the gahzis (holy raiders).

The principal organisation of the "raiders" Al Qaida has been dismantled and six of its top 10 leaders killed or captured. It is not their safe havens that the Islamofascist terrorists have lost. The network of financial, propaganda and logistical support they had created has also been partly dismantled.

Even more important is the gradual loss of support the terrorists have experienced among Muslims in many parts of the world.

Leading clerics from more than two dozen Muslim countries have come out with edicts declaring Al Qaida and its acolytes as heretics or worse. That position has been echoed in a number of Islamist political movements that had once provided Al Qaida and similar groups with ideological shelter whenever needed.

The process of disowning Al Qaida is known as bara'a or exoneration and is used by many radical Islamist movements as a means of rejecting those who produced the 9/11 raids.

Once the ulema in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia had disowned Al Qaida it was the turn of more openly political Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gamaa Islamiyah (Islamic Society), to issue statements condemning terrorism in the name of faith.

Any balance sheet for the past five years would show a positive bottom-line for the US in this war. But this does not mean that the war has been won.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban are making a comeback in four southern provinces. In Iraq, the alliance of Islamofascists and Baathists is still on a killing spree in parts of Baghdad and four western provinces.

Al Qaida's ideological siblings are also fighting Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan. As the Islamofascists came under pressure in the heartland of Islam they have tried to secure fresh spaces of activity in non-Muslim countries, especially in western Europe and North America.

Everywhere, however, the tide has turned against them. Despite numerous attempts at organising another ghazva, the Islamofascists have failed to produce another spectacular coup.

Though tragic, the attacks on the transport networks in Madrid and London resembled poor remakes of 9/11, underlining Al Qaida's desperation rather than ability to pursue its dream of global conquest.

Not succeeded

The fact that the Islamofascists have not succeeded in organising a new raid against the US in the past five years is a testimony both to American vigilance and the historic decline of Al Qaida style terrorism.

Five years after 9/11 the "House of the Spider" that was supposed to be the US has looked more like a citadel of steel. And that is a result of the most important victory that free peoples have won against Islamofascism so far: the realisation at grassroots level of the danger that the modern world faces.

Despite efforts by post-modernists, multiculturalists and apologists of terror to explain, and explain away, Islamofascism the overwhelming majority of free peoples, especially in the US, realise they are engaged in an existential struggle against an enemy that can and must be defeated both on the battleground and in the field of ideas.

The world is witnessing a new type of war in which none of the traditional causes of conflict such as territory, borders, natural resources and markets are the prize. The prize in this war is human freedom. And this is why that, no matter how long this conflict takes, the enemies of freedom cannot win.

Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.