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Islamists shift focus to Europe as jihad enters third phase
Guardian ^ | 11/18/04 | Simon Tisdall

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.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio; globaljihad; jihadineurope
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To: Pikamax

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.


21 posted on 11/17/2004 9:05:43 PM PST by wildbill
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Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

To: philetus
Europe does little until it's too late for them and then they yell UNCLE HELP US"

Heh, not a snowflake's chance in hell of us committing troops the help the French ever again. The surrender monkeys can just grow their beards, wear their burkas, tear down their Cathedreals and build Mosques as they slip forgotten into the dark ages.
23 posted on 11/17/2004 9:19:19 PM PST by konaice
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To: konaice

now wait a min France can't grow beards without first finding out if that is going to offend some one first


24 posted on 11/17/2004 10:20:51 PM PST by RichLane
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To: Pikamax

Muslim minds an oxymoron...


25 posted on 11/17/2004 11:17:58 PM PST by tkathy (There will be no world peace until all thuggocracies are gone from the earth.)
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To: Pikamax
We aught not forget that this article is only purest speculation. The notion that terrorists will strike Europe is not particularly helpful in winning this war unless one defines the nature of the strike. Will it be limited to a Madrid sized affair or a giant hit like 9/11? If the former, it will not do much more than add momentum to the appeasers, as it did in Spain.

The real fear in this war is a strike, or multiple strikes, with WMDs causing massive casualties and economic disruption. This is dangerous beyond the horror of the actual deaths involved because these massive asymmetrical attacks threaten western democracy itself. No one can guarantee how America will behave under the weight of the terror caused by a virus on the loose and the collapse of our economy. Would we send Jimmy Carter to cut a deal? If we cannot be sure how we will behave, even less can we predict the reactions of the Euroweenies.

On the other hand, a strike in Europe could easily change the entire dynamic in our favor and turn Europe into an aggressive ally. Al Quaida does not know the answer to this speculation either and will therefore decide the issue out of ingnorance, wishful thinking, desperation and superstition - which makes them so dangerous and unpredictable. But, in war it is always the better part of prudence to assume that the enemy will do what he should do. In this case I would conclude that the attacks will be aimed at America because an intelligent adversary will not make Hitler's mistake and gratuitously increase his enemies.

Finally, we cannot assume that terrorists are monolithic, that is, coordinated. French Muslim terrorists undoubtedly have different aspirations than Filipino terrorists. So we cannot assume that French terrorists, for example, will defer their ambitions for the greater good of the terrorist war effort and refrain from striking Paris over head scarves.

My bet is that the first group to get WMD will use it and no one can predict where that will be nor can anyone confidently predict the reaction of our western democracies. We can only thank God that we have Bush and not Kerry to turn to.
26 posted on 11/18/2004 12:48:58 AM PST by nathanbedford
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To: Brad Cloven; nathanbedford; A. Pole

Serbs to the West: Reap what you sow! We told you so!


27 posted on 11/20/2004 8:33:41 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting johnathangaltfilms.com and jihadwatch.org)
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