Skip to comments.Islamists shift focus to Europe as jihad enters third phase
Posted on 11/17/2004 7:00:49 PM PST by Pikamax
Islamists shift focus to Europe as jihad enters third phase
Simon Tisdall Thursday November 18, 2004 The Guardian
Osama bin Laden's latest videotape, released before the US presidential election, was denounced by many as a crude attempt to scare voters and damage George Bush. But, beyond the US, interpretations differed. Some analysts said the tape showed America was winning the "war on terror" and al-Qaida was in retreat. "The tape is one of capitulation and bankruptcy," wrote Mamoun Fandy in Egypt's al-Ahram. "This tape tells George Bush: 'Leave us alone and we will leave you alone.'" According to the French academic Gilles Kepel Bin Laden's holy war, as originally conceived, is failing. Far from vanquishing the west, it has created a crisis in the heart of Islam, setting Muslim against Muslim.
"The principal goal of terrorism - to seize power in Muslim countries through mobilisation of populations galvanised by jihad's sheer audacity - has not been realised," Mr Kepel writes in a new book, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. Rather, the jihadis have suffered a string of reverses, in Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Bosnia and Libya.
Palestine's plight has only worsened. And terrorism gave the US a pretext to invade Iraq, Mr Kepel says.
Yet the age of jihad is far from over, he suggests. Instead, the battleground may be shifting to Europe. Understanding the true level of menace posed by al-Qaida and likeminded groups is crucial to informed debate about anti-terror strategy. It has direct bearing on everything from post-Arafat peacemaking to tougher EU immigration laws to the home secretary David Blunkett's new security measures.
If al-Qaida's power is waning, that is cause for celebration. Claims that governments are overreacting or cultivating a climate of fear will grow. But if Michael Scheuer, formerly the CIA's chief Bin Laden expert, is correct, the threat is still being underestimated.
The west had to understand, Mr Scheuer said recently, that al-Qaida, far from being a conventional terrorist group, was the still largely hidden face of a spreading, global Islamist insurgency. Mr Bush's claim to have killed or captured two-thirds of its leadership was "fantasy". "The difference between fighting a terrorist group and fighting an insurgency is one of size. Yet we still don't know how big it is," he told the New York Times. "We still, today, don't know al-Qaida's order of battle."
Mr Kepel argues that jihad may be entering a new phase. The first was characterised by insurgencies in Muslim countries aimed at overthrowing pro-western "apostate" regimes - what al-Qaida's chief ideologue, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called the "nearby enemy".
Then, in the 90s, "Islamist militants turned to global terrorism to advance their agenda" - targeting the "faraway enemy". The Islamists' new focus in a third phase, Mr Kepel claims, is the Muslim minority populations of European countries.
"The most important battle in the war for Muslim minds during the next decade will be fought not in Palestine or Iraq but in communities of believers on the outskirts of London, Paris and other European cities," he writes.
The challenge for Europe is thus how best to integrate these Muslim populations. The terrorists' challenge is to find fresh converts to jihad. The Madrid bombings and the assassination of the Dutch film-maker, Theo van Gogh, fit this analysis. Radicalised longtime Muslim residents allegedly helped both attacks. In Spain, the bombings brought the government down. In the Netherlands, the reaction to Van Gogh's murder was all Bin Laden could have wished: retaliatory violence that has shaken liberal traditions of tolerance.
The fear now is that what happened there could happen almost anywhere in western Europe. The so-called "clash of civilisations" is moving closer to home.
What the Euros don't understand is that Islamofascism is like water--it will run downhill in the easiest place.
Bush is making America like a walled fortress so the water will run around it and downhill to the Europeans.
Too bad, but they will have to build their own dike.
now wait a min France can't grow beards without first finding out if that is going to offend some one first
Muslim minds an oxymoron...
Serbs to the West: Reap what you sow! We told you so!